How to Turn That New House Into Your Home
These things take time
Throughout the process of re-doing our living area, being patient has by far been the hardest part. Once I had some pretty concrete ideas about what the finished product should be, I just wanted it done. We don’t have an unlimited redecorating budget though, so quite a bit of bargain shopping and DIY-ing was (and still is) involved. It’s taken a full year to get the living/dining area set up the way we want it, and even now there are some details we still need to work out. I have no intention of redecorating every few years, so if it takes a while to find pieces that are just right, so be it. In the meantime, we’re working with what we have and trying to take things one room at a time.
When you’re making improvements to your home, you might focus more on the bigger picture and not worry too much about the same details. However, small changes like a wall removal can make a big difference in the look and feel of your home. If you want to remove unwanted walls and open up your floor plan to maximize enjoyment of your home, a wall repositioning project is needed. While wall removal seems simple, a load bearing wall has a huge structural impact on your home. If these load bearing walls are not removed correctly there can be long-term, serious consequences to structural stability of your home, that is why this should be entrusted to professionals.
Riff on the existing details
The biggest thing that caught my eye on the listing for our house (other than the location, of course) was the floor. Maybe that’s weird, but it’s true! ‘No carpet’ was a big requirement for us – my allergies can’t handle it and our dog has big, occasionally muddy paws – so the freshly-polished hardwood floors in the photos drew me right in. Even better, the dove grey walls and white trim are exactly what we would have picked for colors anyway. Since the house already had a light, airy feel without any elaborate detailing we’re taking a sort of loose Scandinavian design approach.
Unfortunately the living room window treatments that came with the house were full length curtains, hung on black hardware, completely covering the windows and trim. Instead of feeling bright and airy, the room felt small and closed off. And it’s the biggest room in the house, for pete’s sake! I wanted to show off the window trim, so I thought interior-mounted Roman shades would be a better pick. Since I have some amount of proficiency with a sewing machine, I
stupidly bravely decided to tackle that project myself. Also, custom shades are really expensive. Ours are modeled after the Pottery Barn Grosgrain Ribbon Roman Shade with fabric from the Rag Peddler, a local shop that has great decorator fabrics. I followed a really thorough tutorial from Sailrite, except I didn’t glue the dowels in. I want to be able to take them down and wash them if necessary because allergies, so instead I sewed dowel pockets onto the back.
Furnish to fit the space
Our old house had a large, open living room & foyer with high ceilings, so our furniture was dark, bulky and squishy. You see where I’m going with this, right? The new place has lower ceilings and a shared living & dining area, so once we moved everything in it looked pretty overcrowded. It’s still a work in progress, but we’re getting House Washing in Wilmington DE and slowly replacing the furniture with pieces that are lighter in color with cleaner lines.
The one major purchase so far was a new couch. The old one we moved in with was really just two attached recliners, so it didn’t have a lot of seating for friends and of course the dog couldn’t lounge on it either. The living room is where we hang out most of the time, so we wanted to get a high-quality couch that would hold up over time. After lots of research we decided to go with the Joybird Eliot sleeper sectional in the pet-friendly Taylor Grey fabric. The manufacturing time is fairly long (a couple months) but worth the wait. The couch feels rock solid and it’s really comfortable. We did hit a minor snag when some pleat stitches popped on one of the cushions, but customer service responded to my email lightning-quick with an offer to send a new cushion over.
When I was thinking of worthwhile kitchen remodeling ideas, I noticed that the dining set was badly in need of replacing too. The shape of the table was a little awkward for the space we have now, and since it was a relic from the husband’s childhood it was starting to show its age. Not to mention one of the chairs was broken and the others weren’t far behind! We had trouble finding something we liked, so eventually we decided to to build an iron pipe base using a kit from Etsy and top it with a kitchen island butcher block. Not only was it way cheaper than buying a whole new dining set from the furniture store (we snagged our Ink & Ivy chairs on sale from Macy’s), it looks less formal and IMO more inviting. Also if it gets nicked up we can just sand it and oil it again!
We still want to switch out our end table and entertainment center with lighter-colored, more streamlined pieces but we haven’t found just the right thing yet. I’m trying to hold out for some a cool vintage credenza or something like that but they seem to be in short supply. And the best tip I can give you is to buy a very high-quality rug as that always enhances any room.