When shopping for a new home, one becomes used to looking past aesthetics in order to see the potential in the space. Simple tasks like changing the paint color to more complicated undertakings like removing walls all take a certain amount of vision, and visualizing the space as it will look like in the future is one of the most thrilling parts of house hunting. I would have never thought the house we waited two years to find would involve me designing a room around a particularly vibrant shade of canary yellow. And yet, here we are.
We threw out our initial plans for the house about twenty minutes into our move. Originally, I’d wanted to tackle the walls and flooring, giving us a fresh start and a blank slate to make the house our own. The property had been owned by the same family for decades; it had been clearly loved and used for their hobbies and hosting alike. There was a love for art and literature throughout and, as you can see, a love for using a lot of color.
After the family began to clean out the estate, what was left in the house stayed in the house. This meant we were left with lots of garbage, a few antiques, and a couple of really wonderful gems—one of them being an amazing floral couch.
While I waited for Joe to arrive with our movers, I sat in the peach room, on our new (old) floral sofa I was so pleased to inherit. Movers came through the door with a few chairs that were placed next to me. They looked both at home and completely new all at once. I guess that’s when I decided to keep the quirks of the home we had purchased instead of washing them away.
The decision came from two impulses. The first was that I had been feeling a bit uninspired in our old house. Everything here was so new and quirky and not “me,” but in a way, it was also VERY me. It felt like I had the opportunity to design in a box I would have otherwise never felt I had permission to play in. The second was that I was TIRED and didn’t particularly feel like spending money! The thought of moving everything we had just unpacked only to tape and paint and move things AGAIN, all while the future is so uncertain…it just felt heavy.
Originally, we had planned to outline a very detailed, phased approach for you today, one that would include our renovation plans. And eventually, we will. Jim McDonald will be at our home today (from a safe distance) to do some ideation and there is no doubt I’ll be itching to get started once we put our heads together. Now, instead of talking about how to bring character to a blank slate, we’ll be talking about what to preserve and what to improve. It feels like a shift in thinking that makes way for a more resourceful approach to design, not to mention one that requires a renewed sense of creativity for myself.
Instead of talking about how to bring character to a blank slate, we’ll be talking about what to preserve and what to improve. It feels like a shift in thinking that makes way for a more resourceful approach to design, not to mention one that requires a renewed sense of creativity for myself.
Maybe it’s a sign of the times, the fact that I felt so drawn to working with what is. It wasn’t planned or even expected. Maybe I’ve come to appreciate the insight that comes with taking things slow instead of keeping up at a neck-breaking pace. Perhaps it’s the injection of color that has brought a renewed sense of optimism, the permission to be less than perfect or trendy. If anything, it’s a welcome change during an age of uncertainty. I can make something inspiring out of working with what I have, and now is the time to do so.
So far we haven’t spent any money on new furniture, paint, or materials aside from some 3M Command Strips and a T.V. mount. That will change. I have my eye on a couple of vintage pieces that will help bring the yellow and peach rooms to life and cost less than redoing the room completely.
We’re in the beginning stages of planning updates to the kitchen. While we are planning to move slowly with this space and preserve plenty of the existing character, some of the features in the kitchen aren’t in great condition (the cabinets, for one) and there are certain changes we would like to make. If there is one thing we will do, it will be adding a gas cooktop. Other updates may or may not include replacing the cabinets, floors, and countertops and making some changes to the layout. I’d like to open up certain areas and create a larger dining space for entertaining.
We will limewash and paint the brick in the basement, to help with the lack of natural light.
We will paint and wallpaper our bedroom, most likely to match the trim.
We will swap out the wallpaper in the kids’ yellow bathroom with something that better suits our style and brings the retro style to life.
We will replace ceiling fans with light fixtures, update our security system, and update the heating and cooling systems to be more energy efficient.
I would love to add more natural light to the entryway and eventually change the tile in the space. I’m not sure that will be in the budget if we do the kitchen.
And lastly, we will be making tweaks to the colorful rooms as they need to be addressed. The room that is in the best shape is the peach room. The yellow room and pink room have chipped plaster and peeling wallpaper beyond repair. While yellow will continue to be prominently featured, we may paint the ceiling white, match the trim with the wall color, and paint the mantle a contrasting shade of charcoal. The library may go from pink to lavender. We will see.
It feels so good to let my intuition guide this process rather than forcing all my decisions at once. Oftentimes we have to make decisions even when we have renovation fatigue, and that’s OK. But if you’re living in a house full of choices you’d never make yourself and a tight budget, consider what you might kinda-sorta like about a few of the quirks of the home. You might find a solution hidden in plain sight.
Kate is currently learning to play the Ukulele, much to the despair of her husband, kids, and dogs. Follow her on Instagram at @witanddelight_.
BY Kate Arends - May 26, 2020
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Thank you for being here. For being open to enjoying life’s simple pleasures and looking inward to understand yourself, your neighbors, and your fellow humans! I’m looking forward to chatting with you.
I absolutely love this! I have really enjoyed watching you embrace this home, and move slowly. Your thoughtfulness is refreshing, and I love how the colors are inspiring you. I have too felt a huge lack of creativity, and your project has been very rejuvenating.
Jessica this is so good to hear! Thank you for your comment!
I love the colors and architecture detailing of your new “old” home, it’s absolutely lovely! So happy you’re letting us join you in the journey. I too have a yellow living room, I love color! I also have a hot pink dining room, it’s the perfect place to throw a party and makes even daily meals feel like one. So glad you’ve decided to embrace the colors!! Enjoy!
I’m glad you’re enjoying the journey! Thanks for your comment, Amanda! Here’s to embracing color.
Simply delightful. Enjoyed viewing
I love this so much! I hate so much about our rental and I’m now looking at it through a new lens.
I’m so glad you love it, Christen! I’ve lived in many a rental (with lots of aspects I didn’t like) and sometimes a perspective shift is all you need to help you enjoy your space more.
I’m truly obsessed with your house. I love to see you make it your own without changing it completely.
I’m glad to hear you’re loving the process, Kassie! Thanks for your comment.
I am absolutely loving this. I look forward to your stories every day. The vibe of this house feels SO special— like you could feel something in the air there. In a time when everything on Instagram looks mostly the same, I have a hard time distinguishing my style inspiration from the seeds that have been planted in my head by the internet. I think resisting the urge to be “on trend” and instead honoring the character of the home is spot on. This is the content we all need right now! Thanks for inviting us along <3
I love this take Ashley. I think that’s why I’m so inspired by this home. It really reminds me of something you’d find in Paris and be blown away by. On my personal wishlist would be seeing the kitchen redone to match the timeless feeling of the rest of the house. But the windows as backsplash would be a ‘must keep’ on my list!
I’m SO glad to hear the space is inspiring you, Jill. The windows as a backsplash will definitely be staying! I love how they frame the view of the yard.
There is definitely something in the air here. Thank you for your kind comment, Ashley! It means the world.
Kate, If you are not already familiar, may I suggest that Sara Ruffin Costello’s New Orleans home might provide some inspiration. She mixes classic designs with modern pieces in a very organic way. I happen to love her colorful “swamp” blue library as she calls it. Her design is a quirky mix and family friendly. A ping pong table sits beside a chintz sofa in her huge formal dining room. Not ping pong table AS dining table but ping pong table in lieu of dining table. Also check out the interiors she designed for CeCe Colhoun — it’s another New… Read more »
These are such great recommendations. Thank you, Carmen! I’m always on the hunt for design inspiration and am definitely going to look into her work.
It is amazing to me that you have made these rooms looks so beautiful even though the colors were by complete chance. I love everything about this and can’t wait to see how it unfolds.
Thank you for following along, Veronica! I’m excited to share more as we go.
I’m a new follower and I started following because of your slow approach and embrace of colour! It’s so refreshing and inspiring. Our home has been a very pale grey since we moved in 4 years ago and I’m just itching to add colour to our home now!!
Same!! Love the colour and the un”trend” approach to design.
I’m so glad to hear this, Chantal!
Welcome, Marysia! I’m so glad you’re loving the approach. I’ll be writing more about embracing color/color theory in the weeks to come…I hope you’ll find it intriguing as you explore adding color to your home!
Love love love it all. I love deeper, more rich hues, and people have always thought I was crazy for wanting so much color (as opposed to the standard grey or white walls) but I think of it as a catalyst to becoming more creative in a space that can be challenging and uninspiring otherwise. Color has influence and while I love calming neutrals, my personality has always gravitated toward a boldness that only color and pattern can provide!
I love this perspective, Jess! Thank you for commenting! I’m definitely finding that these colorful spaces are making me feel more creative than I have in a while.
What a breath of fresh air, especially in this time. Beauty and design will always matter, but there are just more important things right now other than rushing to force 2020 trends on a house that is already beautiful. Here’s to taking our time in 2020.
Thank you, Mandi! Here’s to taking our time indeed.
I love the rich colors in your home. I am hoping that you will inspire me to change some of my “off-white” walls! I think about it but haven’t yet had the courage to do it! I am going to keep watching your progress and maybe it will give me that boost that I need!
I’m glad you’re loving them, Jo! Take your time with the decision, and if and when painting feels right, go for it. In the meantime, you can always hang up a few paint samples on your walls to test the waters!
That yellow room is so so lovely and has so much fun, fun potential. It reminds me of a West Elm email ad that struck me with its color palette. Mustard and mauve and warm woods. Beautiful!
Thank you, Stacy! I’m glad you’re liking the yellow room as much as we do.
I’m happy to see you taking this approach! A light hand makes for more interesting and unique design in my opinion. Long ago I tired of blogs with gutted houses and predictable finishes. No one was seeing the potential. We tend to be quick to dismiss anything that’s not perfectly in line with current trends but I think with a refresh you can get a richer result. I saw a house like your new one that “got away”. It was magical to me as is. But the buyer put the usual kitchen and baths in and vinyl fake wood floors… Read more »
Thank you for your thoughtful comment, Jody! I’m glad to hear you like the approach we’re taking. I definitely agree that we’re finding more interest and depth by using what we already have to start.
Any particular resources you’re using to learn more about how to use different colors throughout an entire home? Love the idea of a house where every wall isn’t white!
Hi Sammi! I tend to look a lot at the use of color in historical homes for insight and inspiration. We have a post coming to the blog soon that will explore the topic of color theory in design, so I’ll be writing more about this there. I’m glad you love the idea too!
great idea, Katie! I have never liked Pink for my home decor at all. However, after seeing the style you are doing here, I think that I need to change my mind.
Completely related to the motivation to have our home’s style be truer to us as a family and individuals. The result in our home has been so pleasant, and it genuinely looks so much better and more unique… which makes sense!
It’s so good to hear that, Jessica! I’m glad this perspective resonated with you.
Thank you for sharing this information about whats next for our new house . It was useful and interesting. You indeed have written it in a layman way so that anyone can understand and work accordingly. You have done a great job… Great post!! One must check this https://www.interiorpainting.co.nz/ it gives us more info on this topic.
Thank you so much for sharing this information about whats next for our new house. This is very nice and inspiring!! Thanks for sharing and look for more in future!! I hope you keep update us with such great tips and information in future too. This is a great post; I will share as much as I can.