Let’s jump in!
I want you to imagine a situation where you see the below MLS photos and the $600,000 price tag and you’re like “I’LL TAKE IT.” Yeah, I can’t imagine it either and IT IS EXACTLY WHAT I DID. Read all about that nightmare/dream come true here.
Quick recap: The house looked exactly like the photos above and I was, as one could imagine, not feeling very positive about becoming a homeowner. Through a series of insane circumstances, we put an offer on this home and they accepted without my husband ever seeing the inside of it (he was at work when I saw it by myself…like I did many homes during our search with my realtor Keely). Who does that?? Six long months later, we owned the home and the above furniture was moved out. Turns out, it was covering a myriad of issues. See the piece of furniture in the right-hand corner with the roses on top (in the photo above)? Seem random? It was on top of this:
This corner was the beginning of the end for us. Termite damage on hardwood floors points to one thing and one thing only: water damage.
The previous owners had disclosed that the roof had a leak in recent history so it wasn’t a complete surprise. I mean, the gaping holes in the wood floor throughout the home were a surprise but according to the former owners, they had repaired the damage, fixed the roof and everything was okie-dokie. The roof inspection wasn’t great but there wasn’t any hard evidence that at the first sign of rain I would have a waterfall coming into my house. Which I did. Two days later.
After the rotted wood/soaked wall situation, the entire house had to be taken down to the studs to see what was really happening. What had originally been a $100,000 renovation bid grew and grew. Once walls are open, everything changes. You see the truth and you can’t hide from it.
Here’s the punch list of things that happened in this room:
- Demo drywall
- Water damage repaired
- Rewiring (had original 1930 fabric wiring)
- New insulation
- Remove window AC unit
- Remove wall heater
- Replace sconces
- Add 2 sconces on the longer wall
- Remove ceiling light and fan in living room
- Add one junction box for light in the center of the living room
- Remove light in dining room
- Remove existing windows
- Reframe large window in the living room to a standard size (it was very low to the ground)
- Remove tile in the dining area
- Repair wood floors
- Sand and stain wood floors
- Open up the doorway to dining room as much as possible
- Hang new drywall
- Take out the old front door (we painted and reused it in the back house)
- Replace front door to match interior doors
- Replace baseboards
Unfortunately, I don’t have $$ totals of just this space because we had SO much going on at the same time. I can tell you this: by the end of this renovation, which included the back house and working on the “yard” between the back and front house, I’ve spent over $230,000. You did not read that wrong. No, I am not rich. No, I didn’t get free things. AND NO, MY HOUSE IS NOT A DREAM HOME. Yes, I am a very privileged person who has amazing family and also did a good amount of weaseling. I recommend reading my first post on the subject and to figure out your own stomach for risky behavior before proceeding in a market like LA.
But, this post isn’t about renovation. Today, I’m going to concentrate on the design decisions we ended up making in the dining and living rooms because of the fact that by necessity, we were essentially starting from scratch. (For anyone who wants to talk more about the renovation, I’ll meet you in the comments.)
Here’s what the house looked like empty (one day before waterfall in the corner):
Maybe you can’t see clearly, but that is a ceiling fan, directly next to a light fixture. Here’s a close up:
Did they not know that as a society we had already troubleshot the issue of wanting air circulation AND light? Can you even imagine the seizure-inducing effect if you wanted both on at the same time?
I want to apologize once again for my before photos. Past Emily was not aware that she was going to post them for hundreds of thousands of eyes. Also, we had a very unfortunate loss of photos during the process. Specifically November and December of 2016. Very frustrating. Luckily, I put a few on my Instagram…
Here’s a reminder of the layout, thanks to my (not exactly-exact) husband:
The general flow of the living/dining spaces stayed the same. Our house is 863 square feet, this space is 266 of it (despite how it looks in the drawing). It’s not a bad size. As you can see, a lot of the living room is, in fact, a walk-through space from the front door to the hallway which makes the real living space of the room about 12’x12′. I saw the layout right away though, and our furniture (that we already owned) would fit right in, thank God.
My contractor matched the height of the other sconces and added two on the wall to the right (where the old wall heater was). He took the width of my couch into consideration when deciding how far apart to put them. I found these matte black simple sconces at a local place in North Hollywood called Practical Props. If you live nearby, check them out for affordable new and vintage lighting. I believe they also do repairs on vintage lights. Everything I bought during this time was literally the cheapest so, as I’ve surely lost the receipt in a file of 1 million renovations receipts, I know they weren’t expensive. In fact, if you want 2 of them, slide into my DMs. I replaced the two on the right for reasons I will go into on the reveal post tomorrow.
An 8’x10′ rug was the perfect size for the room as it would fill the 12’x12′ space without overflowing into the walking area. As for the ceiling light…ah, that glorious light fixture. I fell in love and fell in love HARD with this light before the house was even finalized. I still love it so damn much. It’s handmade in Thailand, makes a huge statement and the shop owner is lovely to work with. I highly recommend it! #ipaidforthis
The wall where the wall heater lived would be a great (slash only) spot for the couch. With the large window straight ahead, it’s like I knew I would one day spend hours sitting on my couch, staring out at the mountaintops, writing these posts and wondering “what are the words I’m searching for??…………..Right! ‘Flirting with…f-i-n-a-n-c-i-a-l r-u-i-n. Perfect!'” We made the new window a little smaller (kept the original window above intact) so that we could actually fit a piece of furniture in front of it. We owned a metal IKEA console circa 2010 that would *just* fit under it.
There was one problem though: if the window was directly across from the only place to put our couch, where did the TV go?? TVs are v important in our home because Survivor. Let’s talk about it in the comments. I luckily thought ahead and had Ron (contractor) run electrical up where I wanted to mount the TV so that the power cords would be hidden. We really only use an Apple TV and a Firestick. Do we need both? Probably not, but both are attached to the back of the TV so we don’t see anything…and don’t need to figure out where to put a cable box.
Here’s an in-progress shot of an unstyled space:
Theater chairs: vintage | Mirror: vintage | Coffee Table: vintage | Rug on wall: vintage Textiles: vintage | Ottoman: IKEA
And here’s the other side of the room that I’m afraid to share with you because I think you’re going to like it too much…
Dining light: vintage | Chair: vintage | Coffee table: vintage | Dining table: vintage | Rug on ottoman: vintage | Wood hand: vintage…SENSING A THEME?? | Cats: Luxe Paws 🙂
I know, I know the green is pretty great. It’s my favorite green in fact, Backwoods by Benjamin Moore. It is not green anymore, you’ll have to check back tomorrow to find out my reasoning for that. For those of you wondering, the TV is directly to the right of the front door (on right). Sorry, I don’t have a bunch of pics of my TV ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ . You may have noticed we were actually able to open the dining nook up to the living room. Not as much as I wanted, but I think we gained about 2 feet which really helps it not feel so claustrophobic in there (it’s a 7’5″x7’7″ space).
We already owned all these things before we moved here, with the exception of the vintage dresser THAT I BOUGHT TO BE TURNED INTO A SINK FOR OUR BATHROOM. WUT?? You will know if you saw this post that the very idea of that fitting into my bathroom is so far removed from reality that you would question the career I’ve chosen. I just got up and measured it…it is LITERALLY twice as deep and wide as what barely fits in in the bathroom. The insane thing is, I pride myself on being extremely good at spatial planning and scale. It’s maybe the only thing in life I’m naturally great at. This, my friends, is what we call “optimistic potential owner” brain vs. “reality of house falling into an abyss” brain and it trumps any amount of “natural gifts” in design. Buy a house and you will very quickly realize if you are an optimist or a pessimist. Clearly, I’m the former.
So here we stayed, for quite a while. I was SO happy that stuff we already owned worked in this space which gave my mind some peace during some very intense months…okay, years. My foundation was crumbling, the garage was regularly flooding, I flirted with financial disaster, but I had my cats, and this light-filled, generally furnished space and it wasn’t perfect, I knew it, but it really did give me the life I needed (see first photo).
Tomorrow, I’m going to talk about how I designed this space to work for us (think organization and multi-function of furniture), why I painted over that gorge green, light planning, more cats, and the emotional state I find myself in three years after renovating. I leave you with this adorbs photo:
See you tomorrow for all the “afters” (but don’t forget to come back this afternoon for an “Afternoon Snack” second post).