Grout Cottage: Interior Paint Colors

Grout Interior PaintI stayed relatively neutral with all of my choices because it’s not my living space– it was made to be attractive to all sorts of prospective tenants. I got to try out some new grays, Classic Gray and Moonshine. I especially loved Moonshine. Simply White is my new go to trim color and Woodlawn Blue was great for the bath in Apartment B. If you’re looking for a “greige” I’d test Classic Gray. If you’re curious about which colors went where, they will all be labeled on the posts about the individual rooms.

Grout Cottage: Apt B Bath & Bedrooms

Grout AptB Day 2 Head

This is the bathroom in Apartment B before the demo and expansion. It leaves umm…much to be desired.

grout apt b bath before

This was in use and although a sight for sore eyes it was operational. The biggest changes to this bathroom were 1) the addition of a window and the gain of natural light and 2) the creation and installation of a custom storage cabinet with glass doors to fill an awkward nook.

grout apt b bath before2


grout apt b bath vanity


grout apt b bath light

The wall color in this bath is Benjamin Moore Woodlawn Blue, I’m 99% certain that this color would perform well any where.

bm woodlawn blue

The best place to install our towel bar was here,

grout apt b toilet

One of the best parts about this bathroom renovation was the addition of a custom cabinet to fill this nook next to the shower. We put a vintage styled latch on the glass doors not long after this photo was taken.

grout apt b cabinet

The bedrooms were a relatively easy fix. Once we knew where we were going to put the bathroom and we knew that the apartment would remain a two bedroom, we got to work carving out proper closets for each of the bedrooms. Some sheetrock, trim and new maple hardwood flooring and someone could rest easy in these equally sized bedrooms.

grout apt b bedroom1


grout apt b bedroom2


And that folks concludes our tour of the Grout Cottage. The house has two apartments and a complete exterior renovation so in case you missed everything prior to this post, go back to the beginning here. The whole project reveal can be found in the “Renovation Projects section at the top of our page.

If you want to read about the decisions and the design process when it was happening simply type in the word “Grout” in to our search block.

Tomorrow we’ll have the color palette up for the house.

Grout Cottage: Apartment B

Grout AptB Day 6 HeadThis was the only entrance to the upstairs dwelling, Apartment B.


Scary exterior stairwell on the side of the house,


There was already an existing porch up there but the stairwell was literally sitting next to the porch, it wobbled when you stepped on to the landing and then if you made it up the stairs of death you were met with a small porch that could’ve fallen through on any given day. The entire porch and the stairs were completely torn off and rebuilt.


When looking at any of the before images of Apartment B, keep in mind someone was living here not long before the demolition began.

grout B entry before

grout b entry after

It was fun to re-configure the living area, kitchen and bath in this space. We had the bath in a couple of different spots initially but ultimately kept it in the same place but enlarged it.

Grout Apartment B kitchen before

After the Indiana project was posted, some readers commented that they wanted to see the same before and after angles and of course you do. Whether it looks like it or not this is the same angle.

Grout Apartment B living kitchen after

There are parts of the renovation process that some times have to be pretty fluid. When we framed up the cathedral ceiling in the living area, the plan was to install exposed, decorative collar ties–which are basically horizontal beams connecting the cathedral ceiling. They stayed up during the entire framing process and then before sheetrock installation we opted to remove them and enjoy the unobstructed view of our new cathedral ceiling.

Grout Apt B collar ties


Grout Apt B collar ties2

A shot during floor installation,

grout b progress floor install

And after the walls were painted Benjamin Moore Moonshine,

grout b progress paint

Apartment B is smaller than Apartment A but for this space the kitchen lives pretty large. I was skeptical about the actual space in the kitchen we planned for but it actually turned out great and a bit generous. The over-sized bar that separates the kitchen from the living area is a trade-off for the lack of space for a dining table.




I tried hard here to maximize storage space in this kitchen and I think I accomplished that goal. Apartment B’s kitchen would give my kitchen a run for it’s money in the storage department (I have a small kitchen!)

grout apt b kitchen cabinet


Grout Apt B kitchen before


grout apt b kitchen after counter

We even squeezed in a washer and dryer in this apartment!

grout apt B W&D

Come check out the custom bath cabinet tomorrow when we take a look at the bedrooms and the bathroom.

If you missed the beginning of the Grout Cottage reveal, go back to Day 1.

Grout Cottage: Apt. A Bath

Grout AptA Day 5 HeadWe started with a shell of a bathroom. When I say shell I mean just framed walls with plywood because the previous owner had at some point demolished the entire bathroom and was in the beginning stages of putting it back in. The shell of a bathroom that we had to work with was not quite big enough so we widened it and gained a few more feet. I also added a window in the bathroom because I just don’t like bathrooms without windows–that really goes for any room, natural light is always a good thing.

Grout AptA Bath Before After

I had a little fun and tried out a vanity in a color other than white in this bath. I waffled for a while about doing a gray vanity or a camo green vanity but finally settled on blue. The vanity is Benjamin Moore’s Stratton Blue mixed in Pittsburgh Paint’s Breakthrough paint line.

stratton blue



Apt A bath vanity after


Grout AptA Bath Vanity detail

I also had been itching to try a patterned tile and a Victorian age home like this was the perfect opportunity. I loved the black and white floral patterns but didn’t want to make it too feminine so I used this starburst SomerTile from Overstock. Along with the blue vanity, the tile gives this small bathroom a little interest and character.

Apt A bath tile closeupAnd to finish it off, we used a standard fiberglass shower/tub surround because its a rental property but if this was a private residence we would certainly go with tiled shower surround.


Grout Cottage: Apt. A Hall & 2nd Bedroom

Grout AptA Day 4 Head

When we began this project, the hallway in this apartment was a dark corridor with some wood paneled closets and some dirty and old beadboard wainscoting. The hallway is worth mentioning and taking a gander at because it’s no longer a hallway straight out of a horror movie.

Peeling back some of the layers in the old hallway,

grout apt a old wall


Again we salvaged the little stained glass window that was existing to add some character in our revamped hall. But we enlarged the window and had it made to match with the dimensions of the stained glass window to make it appear as though it was all one window but in fact it’s two separate pieces trimmed together to look like one. We also salvaged all of the old doors but in order to make a custom door for our linen closet, the carpenter cut down one of the old paneled doors to create a slim door for the closet. We added some great schoolhouse flushmounts and bronze hardware and refinished those heart pine floors and things are looking up.

grout apt a hall after


The trim is painted a non-traditional satin finish, most would use semi-gloss. The satin still has a pretty sheen. All the trim throughout the apartment is Benjamin Moore Simply White.

grout apt a hall trim detail


grout Apt A hall linen closet

We leave the hall and move in to Bedroom Two in the apartment. Bedroom Two is the smaller of the two bedrooms but to compensate for less space we went bigger with the closet. We left the single window in it’s original spot and doubled the size of the tiny closet to make it a walk-in. Refinished the floors, new everything and you have Bedroom Two.

Before, always scary-

grout apt a bedroom 2 before

More door salvage happening in here, we matched up two equally sized doors existing in the house and made a set of double doors for our new expanded closet.

grout apt a bedroom 2 closet after


grout apt a bedroom 2 closet after2

Tomorrow we are headed in to the bath complete with blue vanity and retro snowflake tile.

Grout Cottage: Apt. A Kitchen & Laundry


Grout AptA Day 3 Head

I created a new appliance and cabinet layout, added an island, a small pantry and took the opportunity to work in the two-color cabinet paint scheme that everyone is so wild about complete with a Farrow & Ball gray hue, Lamp Room Gray.

Grout Kitchen Before-After


We began with a kitchen that the previous owner had started to re-work but it wasn’t something that I wanted to continue with. So I went my own way and I went in to designing this kitchen knowing that I wanted to try gray cabinets and I wanted to try the two-color scheme. This is the color plan that emerged,

Grout Kitchen Color

We left the windows in the position that they were originally in and salvaged the stain glass window that was there because it would later add a bit of character in our finished kitchen. We removed the last bit of a chimney that ran all the way up through Apartment B. The floor had to be reconstructed in several places in the kitchen and the walls finally got some necessary insulation. We removed some doors, added a pantry with a custom shaker style door, all new electrical and new plumbing, built a new laundry and mudroom area–you know just a few small things. Let’s take a look!


grout apt a kitchen after



grout apt a kitchen after2

Grout kitchen island detail


With the counter top I wanted a marble look but without the price tag of quartz or marble. I think we came pretty close with River White granite. The only thing I don’t love about River White slabs is the occasional burgundy spotting.




We had to rebuild and restructure the back of the house. We needed a laundry area and a rear entrance off the deck so we carved out some space off the kitchen for those spaces. I designed a built-in storage bench with a beadboard back to create a coat rack and a place to sit down to take your shoes off. Our carpenter expertly cut a flush handle out of the bench to open it up to reveal some cedar lined storage.

Grout laundry

Grout laundry bench detail

Grout laundry bench

The Whirlpool Duet washer and dryer were a great score on Craigslist, almost perfect condition!

Grout laundry

grout apt a kitchen after3


Grout Cottage: Apt. A Living Room & Bedroom

Grout AptA Day 2 Head

Grout Cottage Apartment A Living Room

Apartment A is the downstairs apartment of the historic Grout Cottage. It is a two bedroom apartment with an eat-in kitchen, one bathroom and a laundry/mudroom combination. In addition to the interior transformation, we also added a deck on the back of the house for the residents of Apartment A to hang out on and enjoy.

In the beginning, Apartment A had a pretty odd layout. The apartment had two entrances from the front porch, one that entered the bedroom and the other that entered into a living room. Originally, if you wanted to go to the kitchen and you were hanging out in the living room you had to walk through a bedroom to get there. Obviously one of the first orders of business was to re-work the layout of the apartment.

This is the future living room originally functioning as a bedroom with a small existing closet, a free-standing closet that was added, an odd little storage space behind those two little doors up high and a lovely drop ceiling. Most of the house was filled with dirty, worn wainscoting.

Grout LR before3


Turning to the right we see this,


Grout LR Before


Continuing to turn around the room 180 degrees we see the front door,

Grout LR Before2


Here we are after all of the demolition is done. The closets are gone and we’re down to the studs now but haven’t taken the original beadboard ceilings down yet.

grout LR during

That old vent pipe needs to go,


grout LR during2

We eliminated those closets, walled over doors and tore everything apart except for the floor and then after several months our finished living room emerges,

Our new front door is a custom door made of solid alder with obscured glass and I love the additional light it allowed in to the room,

Apt A Living Room Entry Compare

We kept things relatively simple with window treatments, hardware and light fixtures because this is a rental property. Although they can be pretty much void of any style, it’s good to have a ceiling fan in the humid and hot summer in NC. If this were a renovation to sell or my own house I would definitely choose different fixtures and finishes.


Apt A Living Room to Kitchen Entry




The original 119-year old heart pine floors were salvaged. We made the necessary repairs with some reclaimed heart pine and then had them refinished and topped with a clear polyurethane.I decided to use the usual wider trim and baseboard with the crown molding on top but this time opted not to install the blocks at the bottom of each door frame. I see the simpler approach to trim in new or renovated farmhouses.

Apt A Living Rm Trim Detail copy


And that’s our living room in Apartment A.

Let’s move on in to Bedroom One in Apartment A. Bedroom One is the largest of the two bedrooms with a ton of windows letting in a bunch of great light.

When we began Bedroom One was functioning as the living room. It had a drop ceiling like the rest of the house, ugly light fixtures (always come with the deal), no closet and three doors.

Apt A Bedroom 1 Before 3 copy

Tons of great windows which we intended to keep,

Apt A Bedroom 1 Before (2)

We removed three chimneys from this house and one of those chimneys was in this bedroom. The carpentry crew removed the chimneys all while someone was still renting the apartment above. Although it is absolutely possible to renovate half of a duplex and remove three chimneys while someone lives in the other half, if I were doing it all again I would’ve asked the upstairs tenant to vacate at the start.

Apt A Bedroom 1 Progress


We got that chimney out, closed in the extra front entrance and started over with everything else and this is how Bedroom One turned out,

Apt A Bedroom 1 windows After

We borrowed our closet space for this room in part from the closet cavity in what used to be the living room and from the the 2nd bedroom.

Apt A Bedroom 1 closet After

Apt A Bedroom 1 hook

Apt A Bedroom 1 door after


Grout Cottage: Exterior Reveal

Grout Queen of Hearts top

Grout AptA Day 1 HeadThe Grout Cottage was built in 1895 for the Grout Family, who actually utilized it as their guest house. C.B. Grout and family used the early resort cottage for their guests in the early part of the 20th century. The house was converted to apartments some time in the 1930s.

The earliest photograph that the Moore County Historical Association has of the Grout Cottage looks like its from the 1960s, so we can’t see it in the early 1900s to determine what parts were original and what was patched over time but we have a pretty good idea that those clipped gables, sunburst motif and paneled cornices are original.

We bought this “fixer upper” in the fall of 2012 and before Christmas of 2012 we had started demolition. When we bought the Grout Cottage it was a duplex with two apartments, with an old dilapidated carriage house in the rear, an overgrown yard and two tenants living upstairs. Today, it is still a duplex but everything else changed.

The total renovation took a little more than nine months. The finished product is a unique rental space with modern interior amenities and an exterior that stays true to the Queen Anne architectural style without some of the fuss. We think it folds comfortably in to the landscape of the small quaint town it stands in.

The Grout Cottage now stands between a bunch of new narrow houses that resemble free-standing row houses. Some members of my family were a little concerned that the Grout Cottage would look out of place even though it was the native in the neighborhood. I wasn’t concerned, if you stand there for 119 years, neglected and most recently existing in the middle of a construction zone you deserve some time to shine and I think that’s what happened.

A lot of time, careful choices and consideration went in to every detail of this renovation. I’ll let the images tell the story.

Grout Exterior Before & After

Working in the spring on straightening those clipped gables out, before we got scaffolding,

Grout exterior ladders_optRight side of the front porch,


Grout exterior porch side before_opt


Grout right front porch


Grout exterior front entry before_opt


Grout front entry

Straightened out those dog-eared gables,

Grout exterior gable front before2_opt


Grout front gable after


Grout exteropr 2nd floor before_opt


Grout top right gable


Grout exterior brackets before_opt


Grout Exterior porch bracket after_opt


Grout exterior light_opt


Grout Exterior porch closeup_opt

Crusty brackets and railing before,

Grout exterior front porch columns before


Grout exterior columns & brackets after






So tell me was it worth the wait?

Sources: Light fixtures, porch brackets, porch railing, front door, house numbers





Grout Cottage: Exterior Lighting Choice

So we’ve checked out the field of choices for the exterior wall light for the front porch of the Grout Cottage. And this is the choice,

grout lightI chose the Masonic lantern because I needed a hanging fixture with a lantern style. I liked the simplicity of the hook and loop and the curve of the framing detail around the seeded glass. I am pleased with the scale and the end result, see for yourself.

Here it is in action on the front porch of the house,

Grout porch light

grout porch light2

 I know the house looks finished in the photo and I haven’t shown you the complete renovation but it’s coming I promise. Can you tell what paint color it is?

Grout Cottage: Exterior Paint Selection

Leaving dirty yellow, Pepto pink, white and a battleship gray foundation would be no trouble at all.

Grout front

From previous experience I know how painstaking the process of choosing an exterior paint color can be and I didn’t want to be rushed or procrastinate. I’ll sheepishly remind you all that I once had a house painted three times. In order to get ahead and never make that mistake again, I let samples stay up for something like two months at the Grout Cottage.

grout paint sample side2In gathering inspiration at the start of the project on the Grout Cottage pinboard, I pinned a few color combinations on Queen Anne style homes. For a hot minute, I kicked around maybe stepping away from the blues, greens & grays and doing some sort of terra cotta combo. Ultimately, I couldn’t depart from what I love so much so I decided that I would do something in the blue/gray family.

There were a few Benjamin Moore colors I have been curious about and wanted to try including:

1– Woodlawn Blue 2– Hollingsworth Green 3– Stratton Blue 4– Wythe Blue

grout paint sideI narrowed it to Woodlawn & Wythe fairly easily. After viewing them at different times of the day, I found that the intense sun washed Woodlawn Blue out significantly at certain times of the day.

So I chose Wythe Blue.

paint wythe blue

And then the rest of the players fell into place after that.

The Grout Cottage Exterior Paint Colors The Estate of Things


Views from the Morning

Out and about this morning, if you follow me on Instagram you’ve seen all of this business but for those who aren’t…

Preparing for the open house happening this evening at my old house. Couldn’t help but notice the limelight hydrangeas doing their thing in the front yard.

am limelightA quick PSA: Attention gardeners and landscapers in NC– who needs azaleas that only bloom for a couple of weeks when you can blast a mass of beautiful hydrangeas for two months that look good closeup and from afar. This gardener doesn’t– I liberated myself from the gazillion leggy, woody azaleas that were growing in this yard. Except for Encore azaleas, you’re cool and you can stay.

The view from the front yard of Mid Pines golf course. The course is looking good, especially with a little morning fog.

am Mid pines


And the porch brackets are up at the Grout Cottage, we’re bringing back a little of the Queen Anne. The painting crew is scraping the exterior now, we’re so close!

am bracketsApt B is getting finishing touches,

am apt b



Grout Cottage: Bye Bye Carriage House

To reviewthe Grout Cottage is a Queen Anne built in 1895. It is a duplex that we began remodeling in December 2012. Here’s the introduction post to the house.

grout carriage house

I know I said that we were going to keep the old carriage house but after taking a serious look at it in the back yard of the Grout Cottage, we decided that it would cost too much to save it. We wouldn’t really be able to recoup the cost to basically rebuild the dilapidated carriage house so last week it came down.

My Dad skillfully demolished it with the backhoe. Here’s a snippet of the action,

well that was fun if you like watching buildings being demolished…and then after a few hours work it was reduced to this,

Grout shed demoNice view of the neighbor’s pool now. They’ve got to love us after rehabbing this dump and they’ll love us even more after we plant some barrier trees.


Grout Cottage: Columns and such…

To reviewthe Grout Cottage is a Queen Anne built in 1895. It is a duplex that we began remodeling in December 2012. Here’s the introduction post to the house.

I thought you might like a little update on how the Grout Cottage is looking. We’re in the home stretch now.

The columns are up and the porch is about half way complete. The foundation was repaired and re-coated by Howell Masonry. The old picket fence was finally mended. We should wrap the exterior work up this week.grout columnsThis is what the “character grade” maple floors look like down in the apartment. This is a phone pic but they look seriously good.

grout floor

This is a view back towards the kitchen area and front door. The floor tile is down but not grouted. Cabinets are going in today!

grout kitchen

Moonshine is seriously a fantastic gray and you can see more of the maple flooring.

grout tile

What happens this week:

  • kitchen cabinets installed
  • floor tile grouted in kitchen
  • bath floor tile installed
  • countertops installed in kitchen
  • decorative porch brackets arrive
  • exterior repair completed



Grout Cottage: The Porch Plan

To reviewthe Grout Cottage is a Queen Anne built in 1895. It is a duplex that we began remodeling in December 2012. Here’s the introduction post to the house.

After hours and hours of pouring over pictures of Victorian era porches, Queen Anne style architectural accents and referencing my Field Guide to American Houses I’ve finally committed to a design plan for the front porch of the Grout Cottage project. I think it was more of a challenge to make design decisions this time because Queen Anne isn’t my favorite architectural style.

Front of house before renovations began,

I’m naturally pretty indecisive and I always pour over this stuff for too long, waffling back and forth. But I feel good about the plan that I’ve created. There is always a sense of temporary relief associated with making these big design decisions. But it’s only temporary relief because the next challenge in a renovation is never far off.

Front of house in June 2013 with repaired gable ends, dog-eared gables gone but still has the original porch.

After porchectomy in July 2013,

So here’s the plan,

A skinnier square column coupled with a curved bracket like the images below,

grout columns & curved

grout brackets & columns

This is the bracket I ordered to match up with my square column that the carpenter will construct,

grout crescent bracket

After pouring over different spindle designs for the railing, mulling over getting someone to make a pattern for me, I decided to keep it simple and purchase traditional turned spindles like the ones below. Also notice these spindles are paired with square columns and a mitered handrail. I love the panel on the base of the column, don’t you?

grout washington square2

Here’s the front of the same house, they have decorative brackets, square columns and turned spindles–all things that are good. Another thing to note about this house, its two colors–a trim color and a body color and the front door is stained which has really been my plan from the start.

grout washington square

That’s why I purchased a nicer wood species without totally breaking the bank, the front door at the project is a custom Alder door from Tucker.

The remaining part left undecided until yesterday afternoon was– should we add a gable accent on the front like this one,

This is a little more ornate than what I was considering but you get the idea. But yesterday we decided against the gable accent because our carpenter suggested that we trim out the top window to mimic the rounded gable vent trim on the sides of the house that looks like this,

You see that vent at the top with the pink trim, that little guy is original and that’s how we’ll treat the window up top on the front of the house. Genius! And I have no idea why that didn’t occur to me earlier because I love those vents. What’s even better is that my front door has the same curved shape at the top.

I’m still considering lighting for the porch, it is wired for two sconces, follow the Grout Cottage Pinterest board to see some of the selections.