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Durham Project: Progress City

The homeowners at the Durham project really steamrolled through this quick update with the help of their contractor who actually listened when they said, we have to finish this in a month before our baby is born.

What happened in about 3 weeks time? Interior paint, new flooring throughout most of the downstairs, kitchen cabinets painted, quartz counters on!

The Cosmos Carrara Classic counters are in, as well as their new faucet and single bowl undermount stainless steel sink. Subway tile backsplash awaits a light gray grout.

quartz countertop


Newly opened up space, combining the kitchen with the family room, the hub of the house. New flooring and paint color unites the space.

Flooring & paint progress

Unfortunately, the client couldn’t put hidden hinges on the existing cabinets, so they went on a quick hunt for polished nickel hinges to match our chosen kitchen cabinet hardware.

hardware matchup

Family room looking extremely fresh with new recessed lighting, Benjamin Moore Moonshine on the walls. The fireplace is primed in this photo. The homeowner liked the washed brick look and in a clutch decision decided not to paint the fireplace brick white.

Family Room moonshine

Horizontal backsplash border, some folks opt for a vertical bullnose border on the ends of the backsplash.

vertical backsplash border

Primed fireplace brick up close.

brick fireplace close

The TV is now mounted on the fireplace and the built-ins were repaired and got fitted with new shaker style cabinet doors.

TV installed2

Picking the right light gray grout for backsplash.

grout choice


Durham Project: TV Placement

You were introduced last week to the Durham project, thats the neo-colonial getting a little update. We want to tackle the determination of where to place the TV and how to improve, repair or remove the existing built-ins on either side of the fireplace in the family room.

Here’s the current space,

durham family room


Hmmm glad to see those lines in the carpet so that we know it was freshly vacuumed! I think this image definitely draws focus to the fact that the carpet needs to be replaced with hardwood which the homeowners plan to do.

What we know we have to do-

  • paint brick fireplace white
  • paint built-ins (if they remain) white
  • replace cabinet hardware on built-ins (if they remain)
  • paint room trim white

TV placement is what we’ve got to figure out and I’ve narrowed the inspirational images down.

Durham TV placement


My official position on the built-ins is KEEP them. After that, I would recommend that they ask their carpenter or cabinetmaker to create new bottom cabinets for the right side.

As much as I am intrigued by the last inspiration image with the TV to the right of the fireplace, I don’t think we have the width on the side to accommodate a 55″ flat screen. So we’re saving that idea for another day.

The TV is best placed over the fireplace and then the sofa floats in the middle of the room. The homeowners have a 55″ flat screen and we have enough space if the mantel and brick corbels are eliminated.

There was some concern about building code’s spacial requirement between a mantle or in this case a TV and the top of the fireplace. Some quick internet research on the part of a general contractor tells us that we are required to have a minimum of something like 6″ if the TV is more than an inch deep. If for some reason we did not meet the code requirement, I think the clients would consider not using the gas logs. It’s not really that big of a loss in North Carolina unless the power goes out in an ice storm and then gas logs are helpful.

This change really makes me excited for these guys because I think this change and layout rank high on the importance scale. It updates the main living area and changes the way the house feels and lives.



A Little Hippie Den Makeover

Hippie Den Makeover Before and After

This past week I took a quick trip to Fort Collins to visit with my brother and his wife and their sweet gaggle of children, Avery, Madeline & Ezri. They’ve recently moved from Los Angeles and are still making their new house a home. The split level ranch style represents an interesting challenge for a work-from-home momma that splits her time chasing a wild 2.5 year old plus a 8 month old oral explorer on the cusp of walking. The main floor features the most lived-in/baby proofed kitchen and living room combo, but we needed to carve out a more aesthetically pleasing family friendly solution in the forgotten downstairs den where the homies can all stack up and watch movies by the fireplace. Here is a look at the space before.

The family has amassed a fair suite of seating options for next to nothing from sites like craigslist as well as some serendipitous curb finds. I know as design bloggers we like to talk about dropping 44.5 gabillion budgets on a room redo, but the reality for most of us, is that a room might need to come together with more frugality than that. They had pretty much all they needed, so we approached this room with the idea to simply apply a plan to what they had. After a quick cruise at the local thrift store for just a few missing pieces, e.g. the pillows and a rug and a dig through a stack of textiles downstairs, we were able to pull together this little cozy hippie den.

I love how we ended up with something that felt like it speaks to the personality of the family and suits their needs as a second living area. What was once a careless den is now it’s own little slice of heaven for a nap by the fire or movie nights. My next suggestion for their collection might be a few floor poufs for the nights that their 8 year old son has a friend over for video games, and some hanging plants in the window to polish off that modern bohemian jungalow vibe.


Estate Envy: Topanga’s Million Dollar View

Remember this old series y’all…? It is where we get inside the virtual tours of homes we like to dream we live in. A recent Trulia stumble reminded me of the old past time. When I came across this getaway in Topanga, I got super starry eyed. The dude and I sat side by side thumbing through the pictures and dreaming up just how perfect it is for our lifestyle, including the gargoyle garden art.  It’s like a woodsy craftsman, just look at that patina on this door.

Dream House entrance

Dream House Living RoomThe lodge feeling holds strong once you get inside and it leaves a little to be desired in the way of style. Personally I look at images like this and my mind takes stock rapidly of all the changes I would like to make – and that gets me really excited. I’m happy to see some white walls, since I know that the battle to paint wood would be an uphill one. I picture the ceiling in a crisp white and think that this would be a stunning frame for the ocean views, but I know that Heffe won’t buy it, so I accept the beautiful ceiling as is and re-route my mind back to woodsy mountain living. Instead I begin the carpet removal process in my mind. How would this room look with a super dark floor? I know the fireplace will definitely need an update, and isn’t it unfortunate how difficult it will be to create a centered focal point on that wall with the balance of the tv? But look at that view. That’s just Palos Verdes in the background there, no bigs, just the ENTIRE Los Angeles coastline visible from your back deck.  Dream House bedroomOh, thank god! They’ve already painted the ceiling white in this room! Such promise. Might have to take away that rounded fireplace situation and I can’t bear the ceiling fan, but this room has great potential.Dream House Camper spotPlus, I know what’s waiting outside of those sweet french doors besides a jacuzzi. Situated on one acre of property, there is no reason not to get plenty of exercise walking the grounds to and from this lovely spot where I’m envisioning my Vintage Shasta Camper! This is where the dream really starts to sink it’s claws in.

The likely next step here is to do a quick google maps search and realize that this puppy is buried so deep in the Topanga hills that every trip to the grocery store will take a minimum of twenty minutes and dude’s commute to and from work will hit the hour mark. My dream balloon has officially busted and I slink away back down to reality.

Dream House pitch roof


Master Bedroom: Renovation Progress

I’m helping a friend remodel their master bedroom. The regular crew and I are taking a break from the Grout Cottage and lending a hand to this transformation from ho hum bedroom to master and commander with a dressing room and super organized closet.

This is the only true before image that I have.

Embedly Powered

via Flickr

Before it was a regular bedroom with a cathedral popcorn ceiling, a walk-in closet that was packed to the gills with not only clothing but also a huge water filter, two unnecessary windows and a boob light. Another tiny early 1900s closet and an adjoining closed in porch that was being used as a small junk room rounded out this space.

First order of business was to blow out that old 1900’s tiny closet and the wall separating the bedroom from the small junk room. Here’s a list of how the rest of the demo went down:

  • Demo cathedral ceiling to reveal 11′ original ceilings
  • Demo original yellow pine flooring, made floor system structurally sound
  • Demo fireplace mantel
  • Remove water filter and strip out closet
  • Eliminate two windows in walk-in closet
  • Eliminate existing window and move higher
  • Remove old windows in junk room
  • Remove old bi-fold closet doors to walk-in
  • Remove old builder’s best brass door hardware
  • Remove & discard two ceiling fans
  • Remove baseboard and shoe molding

The space in the before image above now looks like this,


Here’s what else is happening in this room, custom closet doors


book nook,


Brand new fireplace with spot to recess the flat screen, the mantle is just up there temporarily on closet brackets. We ordered brackets from Vintage Woodworks. Sconces ordered from here to flank flat screen.


Brand new casement windows from Jeldwen flood our soon to be dressing area with sunlight,


I’m trying to get a feel for what size pendant we need in the dressing area,


Here’s a snapshot of the inside of the walk-in closet, you can still see the old boob light hanging on,


Larger view of sleeping area,


Flooring is scheduled to arrive late this week, my friends selected hand scraped, hard as nails Hickory. We are in deep on paint color selection so stay tuned for that.






DWR Malm Fireplace

Just a friendly reminder that I want to own one of these. It’s been a little while since we talked about it. And I only bring it back up now because I’m keeping the dream alive. This puppy could cost you up to $3,000 from Design Within Reach. I am DIABOLICALLY opposed to that sum of money. But the other night I was cruising down Lincoln through Venice at warp speeds when I passed a storefront that had one of every imaginable color out on the sidewalk. I have to get back over there on a Saturday to see what the asking price is there.

The Estate of Things chooses DWR Malm Fireplace