Thursday, February 19, 2009

Making Home::Inside

During mid-winter and early spring, we have a tradition of making home. We refresh, refurbish, rearrange, redo, reinvent, repaint, reorganize, and otherwise remake our spaces. Sometimes it's about the little things, like new pillows or swapping furniture for different rooms. Other times it means a little demolition, painting for weeks and drawing plans. Plans, yes, we always have those. We know we can't always implement them right away, but that's okay with us. It's the thinking and planning that makes the dream happen, even if it is someday rather than now. Since our first days in our house, we have spent the mid-winter reimagining our home. Here's a look at the past seven years of reinventing, refurbishing, reimagining our home.

Living room as it was when we purchased our house.

and that spring (Easter 2002...look how little my babies are!)

That first fall:

How our livingroom looked about five years ago.

For about two years, the livingroom served as our unschooling/playroom.

Three years ago...

Our livingroom, as it basically looks now.

When we bought our house, when you entered in the front door, it looked like this (and you would have to take an immediate right into the livingroom to access the rest of the downstairs.)

Behind this awkward wall is where the previous owners put their laundry.

After we removed a wall, it evolved into this...

And now the hallway looks like this.

In the middle of our downstairs, we have one room that runs the entire width of our house that is between the livingroom and kitchen. It's a large room and has served as our diningroom, livingroom, family room, and studio. Before we painted, it was just primer white with hideous dark brown floors. The room divides naturally, so however we have purposed it, it usually serves two functions.

I chose a paint color called Honeydew that we still love, inspired by some of my chartreuse McCoy pottery. We find it a warm, easy to live with color. Vibrant and relaxing at the same time. We plan to repaint this room soon, just to freshen it, but it will repaint it Honeydew, that's how much we love the color.


As we settled into our house that first winter, it looked like this:

A year later...

One side of the room functioned as a play area when our kids were little (this picture was taken during our Chinese New Year celebration.)

By autumn of 2004, this room looked like this:

Boxing Day 2005...

Last spring.

Boxing Day, 2008.

Our kitchen was redone before we bought our house, which was great, and we haven't changed it much. This is one of our someday projects--to expand it into the diningroom area, make the layout flow better, and accomodate four cooks and bakers and our frequent party guests and a wood stove. For now, we live with too little storage, homey clutter and everything within reach.

As it looked when we bought the house. This red floor paint was pretty, but had to go as it came off on our feet and when we cleaned, leaving pink footprints everywhere.

The first couple of years, it looked something like this:

And currently it's this color.

Off the kitchen is the original bathroom, complete with clawfoot bathtub.

The downstairs bath before:

Then for a few years it was variations of this:

Then last winter, I changed it to this:

On the other side of the kitchen, we have our laundry room. When we bought the house, this room was nasty--horrible carpet and way under-utilized. It's small, but functions as our laundry, recycling center, seasonal storage, cat hang-out, pantry (big freezer and kitchen tools) and workshop. We pack a lot in and it's essential that we keep it organized.

Here it is before.



At first, our bedroom looked like this.

Then this...

But then it looked like this.

This is how our bedroom looks now.

When we bought our house, there was a lot of work to do on our circa 1890 Italianate. We painted every surface, including encapsulating the old paint and painting every single floor, restored the original interior shutters (all 69 of them), all while caring for our three and five year old (we had support from friends and family, thank goodness.)

The upstairs hall and stairs looked like this when we bought the house.

And now the hallway looks like this.

And this (it's a really long and wind-y hallway...)

Over the years as our needs changed and the kids grew, we swapped rooms around upstairs. We've had a guestroom at times, but now we have a studio space instead, for sewing, painting, and all around crafting. Here's how the spaces have looked.

Olivia's room then. This room is now the studio.

As we found it.

Then, how she wanted it when she was five years old.

The studio now.

This room has been my son's bedroom, then the guest bedroom and now it's my daughter's room. Here's its evolution.

And then it looked like this for a bit.

And as it is now.

This room was dingy and dark when we bought the house. It started out as the guestroom.

Now it's my son's bedroom.

The upstairs bath before. This is yet another someday project. It was great that it was redone just before we bought the house, but it would be nice to change some things so it functions better for us all.

And after:

So, as you can see, we do love to change things, mix it up a bit, that we love color and that we aren't afraid to add and edit as our needs, tastes and whims evolve. And I'm sure we'll keep changing it. For us, it's a love story. Our home holds our heartbeats, memories and life, but it also feeds us--our souls, our creativity, and is a well-spring of inspiration. We hope that this old house has been happy having us reside within its walls; we feel that it has. This poem says it all for me.

Sweet is the smile of home:
the mutual look
When hearts are of each other sure;
Sweet all the joys that
crowd the household nook,
The haunts of all affections pure.
--John Keble


  1. Incredible home Amy! I really enjoyed seeing the changes in the house and the kids, so cute!!!
    I wouldn't be able to pick a favorite of any of the rooms. They are all wonderful.

    I've painted my bedroom twice in the four years we've lived here. First a horrible purple, now it's a warm gold with chocolate trim. I got it right this time. Now I want to paint the living room.
    I am in love with your fireplace in your living room. The mirror above it is awesome!

  2. Wowza. That is cool to see. I also love to re-arrange, and move, and change room uses, and have completely new colors and textures often (usually each season). One area I am severely lacking is paint. The boys have been super intense so I waited (and we thought we wouldn't live here for long, hoping for an older home and land, but here we are!)...but this spring I want to paint too. So many plans...but I want wall colors that will accept my changing fabrics/rugs/curtains often too!

    I love the details in your home. So lovely. I miss older homes, although I appreciate all of the goodies of our green built space too.

    Great photos. I'll have to browse again...get ideas for paint colors! :)

  3. Such a delight to see how you mix things up with color and purpose and texture. I love your sense of fun--and style, of course! Such a beautiful house and not intimidating at all. I think I'd be overwhelmed if I walked in because I wouldn't know where to look first--it'd be a great adventure to check everything out, you never know what you'd discover!

  4. Your home is even more lovely in person, of course, but what an evolution! Interesting how your color sense has seemed to gel and become even more cohesive over the years. And, man, that original laundry-thing was just plain weird! With the pantry room sittin' there off the kitchen, why would anyone put it out in the middle of the house and force such an awkward traffic pattern?! You + Alex are amazing at creating home-spaces that exude style, art and love... Don't forget to show everyone the outside!!

  5. Thanks, everyone! I realize our style is not for everyone (it's not even for me, sometimes) but it's green (recycled), kid-friendly, homey and fun.

    Anet--your home always looks warm and beautiful. The mirror--yes, that was the first thing our eyes landed on and we couldn't believe it was still with the house.

    Denise--after moving so much in my life (35 times, I think?) and living with so much tones of oatmeal in characterless apartments, I (we) had to have color. I find color far more restful than the so-called neutrals. That honeydew green goes with everything. Green home--yeah, we think of ours that way, too--the ultimate recycling, existing footprint.

    Gabrielle--thank you. Mostly friends comment that nothing is ever in the same place twice. : >

    Annette(Mypepitas)--Everyone, this is Annette Of The Freaking Gorgeous Brownstone She Desingned Herself, Everyone, Annette. High praise indeed, thank you ma'am. I plan to write about the outside/garden, also. Thanks so much.

  6. Oh! Oh! Forgot to say how I love the kittehs! And the green floor in your son's room!

  7. I think I have moved about as many times as you have! :) This is the longest I have lived in one spot. But I expected to move and I had babies/toddlers/preschoolers, so we didn't paint. Now I'm ready! I have my husband looking at your wall colors too. :)

    I'd love to have an older home...I have so many allergies that I cannot live anywhere unless any renovation has been done with very specific types of products...which is SO hard to find (well, around here, at least!)!

  8. I just adore your style and loved taking a tour through all the changing seasons of your home.

    Thanks for sharing. :)



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