Thursday, September 1, 2011

Remodeling is Like Childbirth...You Forget the Pain & Do it Again!

...At least for some people-- like myself.  The before and after photos of my current house always raise an eyebrow or two.  But, when I look at the before photos, I think of how fun it was to transform the house, not how intimidating the before was. I have a knack for seeing beauty underneath tired and sometimes dreary fixer uppers, and an unusual interest in (and love of) the process that brings them to their full potential.
Before our house was banana yellow

I mixed my own paint to get this espresso brown color with a hint of purple.  Sashes are Benjamin Moore's  "Deep Space" 2125-20
I wanted our house to stand-out but not in the Haight Ashbury stand-out kind of way that many San Francisco homes do.  I wanted it to look like it fit with the neighbors but also had a look all its own.  I love deep color for exteriors and took a chance painting our house dark chocolate.  The hint of purple makes it a little more interesting.  I didn't want it to be brownie brown.  The trim color has a hint of yellow.  I really like the contrast of the green plants and trees against the rich brown.
A big section of the front porch tiles were missing, the door was on its last legs and the windows were painted shut.  Not a welcoming entrance to our home!

We added a new front door, Waterworks tile, operable windows and fresh paint to our front porch.  The flower box was made from old fence boards.  Still looking for the right plants to put in them.
Large Hicks Pendant shown here is from Circa Lighting
We hung the new door and left it raw-- no stain or paint and re-used the aged toe kick.  This was doable since the door opens to an enclosed porch.  The light fixture has a fabulous patina.

The tired blue carpeting and Holly Hobbie wallpaper were the first to go!
The original opening to the kitchen was to the left of the back wall.  We used that space to carve out a coat closet that opens to the hallway and a narrow pantry that opens to the kitchen. This is the first San Francisco home we've owned with a coat closet!  In the past, either the closet didn't exist in the space, or it was sacrificed for something else like a bathroom or a walkway.  Coat closets are important in this town.  My grandfather refused to move to San Francisco 50 years ago because as he said, "I'm not moving to a city where you have to wear a damn jacket every day of the year!"  

We moved the opening to the kitchen to the right so you can see straight through as you walk in. This is a typical SF shotgun style house where you can see all the way through from one side of the house to the other.
This is the new entrance to our home.  
The living room is on the left, the kitchen is straight ahead (facing the dining room), and the family room is beyond the kitchen.  We squeezed a powder room into a former closet under the stairs and found space for a coat closet in a hallway nook.  
Walls are Benjamin Moore's "Deep in Thought" AF-30

We took a chance and painted over the wallpaper with oil based primer and latex paint. Hopefully it will last!  Camouflaging the ugly wallpaper and removing the tired blue carpeting gave the home air to breathe.

The living room before reminded me of a mountain lodge.
This Old House Magazine received several complaints from historic preservationists about the removal of this original, craftsman style fireplace.  Honestly, it was so unattractive that I didn't even think it was original. When we took it out along with the awkwardly sized bookshelves, the entire room opened up and felt like it doubled in size.

What do you think?  Did we make the right decision?  
The white fireplace tile is "Repose" by Waterworks. The antiqued mirror tiles are also Waterworks. Library lights and pendant are from Circa Lighting.  Ottoman is Restoration Hardware.  Sofa was re-upholstered and painted by Vargas Restoration.  Roman shades are "Dawn" from The Shade Store.

The maximum capacity for our old "kitchen" was ONE!
It's still a mystery how the majority of the kitchen was moved to this tiny nubbin of a room off the back of the house.  The sink, all the cabinetry, dishwasher and only counter space were housed in this tiny 35 square foot room.  The room next to it, which housed the former actual kitchen, contained just a refrigerator and range.  My son's friend Taylor Belle said it perfectly, "Why did they put the kitchen in the pantry?"  It will always be a mystery!
We moved the kitchen back to its original location and opened it up to the dining room and family room.
I debated going bigger with the kitchen and expanding it into the addition, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized I wanted to preserve as much of the original feeling of the house as possible.  Our kitchen is the perfect size for us.  It's big enough to do all the cooking we need, but small enough to clean up in a snap.  If I made the island any bigger it would just become a magnet for homework, keys, mail and other irritating clutter.

The dark stained woodwork was tired and sloppy.  We think they tried to make it look like gumwood but it clearly isn't!
What a difference paint makes!  The built-ins have a hint of gray while the wainscot is Benjamin Moore's  "Frostine" which is a crisp white with a bit of gray/green in it.

The back porch was leaning over and barely standing on its spindly legs when we moved in

We replaced the nubbin with a bigger addition and added a roof deck.  The posts shown here will be covered in vines by next year.  The siding is pre-painted Hardiplank-- Colorplus "Iron Gray"
I am really excited about the Hardiplank siding.  It's a fiber-cement siding that I purchased already painted in what they call a "multi-coat, baked-on finish at the factory."  It looks great and I'm hoping it will withstand the San Francisco fog and all that ocean salt water.  The backs of houses in our neighborhood practically start peeling right after they're painted because of the elements.  Owning a 100-year old home, I never thought I'd go for a product like this, but the look of the siding is really clean and crisp, I liked the paint color, and I didn't see a huge difference between what I originally had and this product. Only time will tell if it will in fact outlive the traditional redwood siding, which requires a new paint job every 5 years or so. 
Before the yard was choked with blackberries, wild fennel and weeds

We added a cement patio with recycled glass surrounding a firepit. We also built a playhouse with leftover remodel materials.  The 4X4 posts will be covered in vines and the wires will hold fabric...eventually.
We haven't spent much time in the backyard lately.  We're all waiting for the summer fog to lift so we can celebrate our true summer which is supposed to start today-- September 1st!   I heard someone walking down the street mumbling about this being the foggiest summer in 30 years. I believe it!  My vegetable gardens agree.
Our raised edible gardens are made from old fence boards.
Hopefully, our gardens will perk up with some sunshine.  Next year, we're going to specialize in cool weather greens!

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