It’s Beginning to Look a lot Like Christmas

This colonial revival house begs to be decorated for Christmas.  Not the type of people to go over the top crazy when it comes to decorating combined with a lack of time available to commit to that endeavor, we have kept it simple this year.  However, with a goal of being warm and welcoming, I think we have achieved our purpose.







A real tree


Stockings were hung…
We hosted the Dove-Tail company Christmas party





Room by Room – the Great Room

A wonderful feature of this old house is the grand living room. It is huge!  Several comments have been made about pushing the furniture against the wall and holding a full-fledged dance party.  It could happen.

In the process of restoring the floors.

This room has a grand old fireplace with intricate wood detail and two sets of French doors (one to the front porch and one to the back yard). We have not used the fireplace as we do not know the condition of the chimney and there are very few wood burn days in the Central Valley.  The wood trim and the crown molding continue in this room and add to its character.

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The wood floor in this room is also spectacular – old growth timber, quarter cut, gorgeous patterns. When Tim, our floor restorer, saw the floor in this room, he said not to let anyone else touch it – he wanted to be the one to bring it back to life.  We all agree that he did a great job!

One of many designs in the floor

We elected not to penetrate the ceiling to install built in light for this room. This meant less holes (and less expense).  However, now we need to add more floor and table lamps as the lighting is just a little too subdued.

Minor wall penetrations for this room!

There was no wallpaper in this room (thank goodness!), but it was painted a washed out shade of yellow and the crown molding had a wide blue stripe.  As  result, the fine wood trim and molding were not well showcased. In addition, the bold stripe in the crown molding made the ceiling feel lower.


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Painting the trim in the room would have been a huge job, so we cleaned it up a bit and decided to paint the walls a shade of latte. This color is enough to provide some contrast and really highlights the trim.


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We have enjoyed hanging pictures in this room (and in the dining room and entry as well) using the original picture rail molding.  We purchased picture rail hooks and wire, which allow us to hang pictures without making holes in the plaster walls.  If we want to change the location of a picture, we can just slide the picture rail hook along the molding.  Cool.


Room by Room – Kitchen and Dining

The kitchen, butler’s pantry, and dining room all received fresh paint in the renovating process. The kitchen and butler’s pantry were covered with the same wallpaper that had graced the breakfast nook.  This wallpaper was next to impossible to remove.  We did get most of it off in the kitchen; however, in the butler’s pantry, we ended up just using some primer and covering it with paint.  I was a bit nervous about the bolder color (ryegrass) that we chose, but now that it is on the walls, I really like it.  A new light fixture to replace the wooden/brass ceiling fan was a final touch.


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The dining room’s once pale pink walls were brightened up with the same shade of blue as in the entry. Besides painting and refinishing the floors, the dining room was also subjected to multiple penetrations as part of the electrical upgrade.  We really wanted to keep the original chandelier and wall sconces; however, when the fixtures were reattached, we discovered the very old wires within these fixtures caused major shorts in the circuits.  The sconces are still in the process of being painted and wired, and we are still hopeful that we can find someone to re-wire the main chandelier. Stay tuned.


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We had the privilege of hosting 20 plus family and friends for Thanksgiving 2016, so one final set of pix!

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Room by Room: The Library

Like the sun room, the library did not require a lot of paint.  In fact, no holes in the walls meant that we could preserve the vintage wallpaper.  We left the bookshelves blue and refreshed the room by refinishing the floors and repainting the ceiling white (covered over that dusty rose shade). This really brightens up the room and highlights the old-fashioned light fixture, which we really love!

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Sun Room – Check!

Fortunately the sun room was not covered with wallpaper, and the existing paint was in pretty good condition.  We were able to match the paint, so after the electrical work was completed, it was relatively easy to get this room done!

Before and during:

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We added a new ceiling fan and mounted the television on the wall. We even have pictures on the walls. A good feeling!

One space down – 15 plus to go.


The Paint Process

Well we have been in renovation mode for nearly 4 months now, and we have been living in the middle of it for almost 3.5 months.  A layer of plaster dust covering every surface including floors is just a given.

Updating all of the electrical is now, for the most part, completed.  A huge job that has taken months but so much of it is behind the scenes (or in the case of home renovations, behind the walls) and remains unappreciated.  New switches and some new lights are all we see of the great lengths of wire threaded through walls representing hours and hours of labor. But, now that most of the holes are filled in and patched (and wallpaper has been stripped), it is time for paint!

Unlike the electrical, paint is right there in plain sight covering walls and ceilings.  Nothing is hidden when it comes to paint. Nothing. Is. Hidden. Therefore, one must take special care when choosing paint colors.  That chosen color will be up front and center catching our gaze every time we look up. No pressure… Needless to say this process has taken time – lots of time. Starting with the paint chip or sample consisting of a very small patch of color and trying to envision a whole wall surface covered in one particular color can be intimidating.  Realizing that the paint color in one room needs to coordinate with the color in the next room and any room beyond that remains in your line of sight, can be a bit overwhelming. Matching a color to existing trim, floor tones, and floor textures are all part of the goal to make the colors happy together (Connie Enns-Rempel).  In addition, a color on a paint chip might look perfect until you get the sample paint and start slathering it on the wall. A color on a paint chip might be just that shade of blue until you hold it up to some existing trim where suddenly it has too much gray, or green, or yellow, or brown, or red.  A slight variation in lighting can also change that once fresh green into a shade of slime or swamp.

So the last few weeks have involved the placing of many swatches of paint colors on the walls.  On almost every wall. Many colors on the same wall. Many walls. Many colors. Much paint. Paint everywhere. I would not bill myself a decorating guru at any level, so I am thankful for input of others.  Our friend Connie Enns-Rempel has been kind enough to bring in her color samples and look at paint chips on multiple walls in multiple rooms under multiple lights and shadows.  We have also polled visitors and family members.

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Stay tuned…we will see how this turns out, and we hope our colors will all be happy together.

The Tree-House Effect

As young children, how many of you longed for that tree-house experience?  You know the one: that magical fortress high above the ground accessible only by a rickety rope ladder.  Or better yet, the retractable ladder that can be pulled up and out of sight as a way to deny access to unwelcome visitors.

My own children have never had the experience of inhabiting a tree-house as we always lived in brand new houses which included extremely small trees.  We did have a wooden play structure in the backyard (built with love by their grandfather and father).  It had climbing stairs and a towering platform.  But let me tell you, that was no tree-house.  Well, now my kids are in their teens (or a little past that for some of them), and they are finally experiencing that true tree-house effect.  In case you are wondering how this relates to restoring a rather old house, let me connect the dots.

First of all, our house has two floors with a very functional staircase – well constructed and in great shape.  That being said, we have been in the process of refinishing our wood floors, and we have been able to work around (or walk around) the “you can’t walk on the floors while the finish is drying” stage quite successfully. That is until today.  You see, today is the day our very capable floor refinisher started the staining of our dining room and front entry.  Two issues here: the staircase spills out into the front entry and our dining room is in the center of the house from which you can access the entry, sun room, living room, butler’s pantry, and breakfast.  Yes, this room has a lot of doors.  That being said, we are unable to easily move from the front of the house to the back of the house or the top of the house to the bottom of the house.  Our construction crew has rigged up an “alternative access route” by securing a rather tall ladder to Chloe’s patio. Hence, the makeshift tree-house effect.

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I do feel for our construction crew as they happen to be working on the electrical on second floor this week.  That means they are having to use this path of most resistance to get up and down.  Tomorrow we have the inspector coming to look at the work on the second floor.  Yes, he/she will also need to use our makeshift staircase.  That should be an interesting sight.

Good news – we should have full access by Saturday (just in case you were wondering, Mom. We won’t be making you climb any ladders). And our floors have been coming out beautifully, by the way.

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