Sunday, February 27, 2011

New House Ideas

In talking over our house purchase my partner and I are starting to think about the decorating phase. We know there are fundamentals to take care of first, like painting raw wood cabinet interiors so they don't look like dark holes where you store cookware and china and pantry items. Ditto for the closets. Everything was refaced beatufully but interior shelves and cupboards throughout the house are dingy and dark. This is a major undertaking in a house this size.
I've been gathering inspiration from designing blogs. Mostly, I'm trying to overcome really bad entrances and exits in the living room (narrow openings with glass french doors off the foyer and a solid frame door painted white in the back left corner of the room going into the crosshall behind. These have got to be overhauled and altered unrecognizably. I have to somehow make them stand out as some of the best features instead of trying to mask them as a decorating coverup never really fools anyone, least of all the decorator. Easiest ideas are the costly ones involving highly skilled labor which may not even be available here: such as a flush jib door with a discrete metal door handle for the back wall opening, or papering a section of the wall and covering the jib door as well with the same paper to really make it disappear until you need to open it. This way the stupid door is nearly always shut. If open, the doorframe in the living room is exactly lined up wth the study door behind it instead of section of hallyway wall I could decorate in a bold way to make the view beyond the door attractive. Unless I cover the study door in fabric or use a bold paint and tie it in with a bold wallcovering for the crosshall, it will be a dead-end ugly view of a typical suburban white paneled door with an ugly knob or if left open, a view of the study and it's half-size window. I plan to give the study a bold look as well but doing the living room, hall and study at great expense right off the bat is, well, a bit batty considering we are not rich.
The good news is it stimulates creativity to think of the best interim solutions we can live with while giving the whole ensemble some style.
Because of the raw wood cabinet interiors, I want to focus on the kitchen cupboards first, then the master bath and master closets. I've found great examples of how to open and redo the master closets by using a great deep color to set off clothes and build on my small start at closet organization with open shelves and drawers.

Plan for living room back (shortest) wall. Built in
bookshelves up to existing moldings. Ceiling is 9ft but
molding takes about 1foot of that. Cupboards on bottom
to store clutter possibly china we use for the dining room as we
have no butler's pantry. We'll skip the ladder. The top shelf is
for complete works and collectible titles we want out of reach.

Flush closet doors (at right), strip existing hinges and trim
from master bedroom closets. Still too "WHITE"

Wall sconces installed on either side of Dining Room sideboard.

Pantry storage, but where? Basement wine room?

Use dark grey/black paint and replace ugly hardware
for doors. Great contrast if using white walls.

Downstairs bath is a full bathroom with shower stall and tub, not
a powder room which is what we prefer. After all there are 4 other
full baths in the house.  I like this paneling and tile treatment.
We'd have to rib out the tub/shower to get this amount of space.

Closet organization: cubes, shelves, hanging rods, etc. The master closets
face each other in a small breezeway between master bed and bath.
They are "walk-in" but there isn't much floor space and they each have those ugly
fake panel doors (stark white, of course) with ugly pewter/nickel finish doorknobs.
Yuck! See below for a doorless solution to join the two separate closets, tying in
wall color, paint, etc into a single space. At least we are both men and there will
only be men's closthes on display. And besides, it's our bedroom so who is going to
be inspecting it?

Another dark door color with metal hardware.

The study has two double-door closets side-by-side on
a long wall. Door placement in this photo is identical to
the study;. Door at right is that problem door lined up with the
narrow living room opening across the hall and closet doors at
back are repeated. Right now they stick out like a sore thumb with
brass knobs and louver panels. Yuck Again! Smooth Finish flush doors with
invisible hinges, covering doors with wallpaper blends in with the room decor. A great
way to make these eyesores disappear.  Sure I like the storage but I don't want
an elegant room I want to spend time in to scream "Look. Wall Storage!" constantly.

View of dark door paint with light stain floor. Our foyer is painted white
and the wood flooring is even lighter than this. Have to coordinate dark paint color

Here's my open closet idea.  If the facing closets
do not have load bearing walls we can rip the drywall
and framing out and open both and the "breezeway" disappears,
there's more light from the bedroom and bath shining through
and we can unify them with a bold color statement that goes with
menswear. See men's closet photo down below.

Great Exotic powder room statement. Oh for
a true downstairs powder room. I know it sounds
indulgent to reject a full bath here, but no one is
going to shower or bath down there. The study will
not be used as a bedroom.

Another contrasting door color to make a virtue of bad
door placement. 

Attic guest room twin bed treatment. Paper the window
wall with a nice print, coordinate bedding accessories
with the wallpaper color, sisal over broadloom to add
texture and hanging bed lamps because the two twin beds
have no room for end tables. They have to share the chest
surface for water glasses, books and eyeglasses, etc.

Stain or dark contrasting color on cupboard interiors.
I'm not married to white for interior cupboards but I need the paint color
 to reflectlight, not absorb it, to see what's inside.  My eyes
ain't getting any younger, kids.

Typical bad boring dull suburban bath. 

Same bath reborn. Botanical illustrations from a
magazine pasted all over the wall. Textured framed mirror
or medicine cabinet. Neutral shower curtain replaces cold
metal stall frame.  Certainly softens and beautifies
the room. Not sure I want to wash and disinfect a curtain
liner when I have 5 bathrooms.

Floor to ceiling bookshelves, no discrete cupboards and no ledge
to stack books on. This one is backed with paper or panelling or the
wall treatment for the rest of the room with open backs? 

Another contrasting door color with downscaled hardware.
This door might work instead of two narrow glass-paned french doors
now hung in the living room foyer entrance.

More door color contrast. Blue foyer, violet door color
for living room doors.

What do with our huge cookbook collection? We have some
shelf space above the kitchen desk and we may use the ugly food
pantry next to it by ripping off the door and shelving more cookbooks
and some heavy cookware. 

Looks crowded, doesn't it? but scale is still right even for a smaller
room. It's intimate instead of cluttered. Console and painting mounted
on mirror over-scaled, while chairs and occasional tables are small scale with open legs
for air and light to travel. Dark glazed walls add luxury and mirror reflects
bookcase wall opposite.  Use floor lamp or wall sconces for lighting instead of table lamps
in living room where there's no floor space for lamp tables. Put armchairs or settees against the bookcase
and mirror walls and install sconces at reading height instead of lamps. 

Always remember sconces facing a mirror reflect nighttime
lighting and warms the room up for inhabitants.

Possible LR treatment with wall mirror and desk jutting
out into the room from the wall, lamp near outlet on wall,
of course.

This looks like stain. More trouble than paint and you can
tell what you may get with paint whereas stain is pain. It's always
uneven and streaked. No Thanks. I do like the contrast in tone.

Kitchen cupboard interior paint: Tiffany blue.

There is an arched window at one end of our LR. Maybe building an
arch for the single door exit on back wall will complement that and
get rid of the suburban box look.

Here's my closet idea with a great red that works well with
menswear fabrics and dress shirts. 

Benjamin Moore Iron Mountain black for LR doors

Benjamin Moore Just Black for doors


  1. You do a great service in the write ups by pointing out the importance in your pictures. Come back with more. Ann