A little over two years ago we were driving around our neighborhood and I stumbled upon the most absolutely terrible old home for sale. (So obvi I made us stop.) Let me reiterate that this was not one of those charming vintage finds you see in the movies. This was a full-on pink carpet, rock roof, yellow walls 1950’s fixer-upper. The moment I walked in I told the listing agent we would take it. (While my husband stood there looking at me like I was nuts.) She was thrilled, considering we were the only people who had crossed the threshold and didn’t turn around immediately and walk out. (What can I say, I love a challenge!) Forty-eight hours later we were in escrow, and ready to embark on our first live-in investment remodel as a married couple… with a six month old baby. (Insert hindsight being 20/20 here.)
When we got the keys the kitchen looked like this. No biggie, just spray it white and pop in an area rug, I said. This was supposed to be an investment/flip after all… right?! Well, NOTSOMUCH. Once we got down and dirty, we realized the cabinets were full of mold and other terrible rotted things from 1950 so out they went. Not to mention the fact that I was less than thrilled to have my washer and dryer next to my oven, so those had to go too. (Goodbye budget!!) We centered the sink under the window, (because um, hi OCD) and then we upgraded all of the plumbing, lighting and appliances. Inexpensive white 4×4 ceramic tile was my saving grace, and I made it interesting with a contrast grout. The charcoal quartz countertops hide a myriad of sins, and help break up all of the white. A roman shade with PeterDunham’s Fig Leaf fabric and a vintage turkish rug were my splurges, but I think they really add character and contrast.
While all this was happening, we started to tackle the odd-shaped family room. Insert audible gasp at horrific color palette and wood paneling here. And yes, that is brown carpet.
Want to know what was under the wood paneling? Floral wallpaper, plaster, and more wallpaper. So there was lots of drywall and paint and new doors and windows and all kinds of money flying out said windows. I did do a little happy dance when we pulled up the carpet and found amazing wood flooring that was original to the house, so you know I had that stripped and refinished and it came out so fab! The ultra-narrow built in cabinet and picture ledges are from Ikea and the rug is vintage turkish via our home store kate lester HOME. It also helped that as this was all going on our daughter got older, learned how to walk/talk and got super cute and photogenic. So she makes pretty much any room adorable.
The other day someone asked me if I had a company motto. I guess we don’t really have one at KLI, but I did have a motto for this remodel, and it was “more white paint”! Simply White by Benjamin Moore is my absolute favorite because it’s the perfect blend of white/yellow/gray and reflects natural light so perfectly. We used about three thousand gallons on this house.
It turns out that the bedrooms were less gross, but I mean, I guess it’s all relative isn’t it?! My daughter’s room (above) is literally the size of a Jimmy Choo box, so I was pretty sure she would be sleeping in one of the drawers of the dresser if I didn’t get it together pretty quickly. We ripped off the bad plastic wainscot, replaced the windows, and painted the whole room white (see remodel motto above). Under the carpet was more glorious original floor so we refinished that and voila! A much brighter, fresher livable space! Now we are all so happy, we never wear shoes, and no one is sleeping in a dresser drawer.
The “master” (let’s use this term very loosely) was the most vibrant shade of pastel yellow, it was a tough one deciding if we should keep it (i kid). My goal for this room was to create a palette that would help make it feel like a very tiny sanctuary where we could escape while the rest of the house was in shambles. So I painted it navy blue.
For those of you afraid to paint a small room a darker color, don’t be! Embrace it! It’s all about the contrast and accents. The last thing people ever say when they walk in this room is that it feels dark or small. Blending textures and lighter, natural tones keeps the color (Hale Navy from Benjamin Moore) from becoming too heavy, and the vintage textiles and rugs keep it from feeling too serious or masculine.
Apparently we had so much fun doing this we are getting ready to do it ALL over again! I mean look at us, don’t we look thrilled?! Just last week we found ourselves head over heels with another absolutely terrible fixer-upper a few blocks from the beach. We’re in escrow so it’s time to sell this sweet little labor of love. Hopefully we’ll make a nice big profit and I can spend it all on more white paint for the next adventure! Stay tuned! xo k.
All (good) photos via Lauren Pressey Photography.