Our Happy Nest

(all "after" photos courtesy of the lovely and talented Rachel Garrison for Tamara Lackey Photography)

When we drove up to our house the first time, both Bryson and I agreed that it had tons of potential.  Great bones, great neighborhood, just needed some love.  It was a cute white Cape Cod with blue shutters, situated on a nice little slice of unkept land.  And it was for sale.  Those were the only things we knew for certain.  When we met with the realtor and were let inside for the first time, I was only slightly freaked out by the amount of work we'd need to do to make it livable.  After lots of back and forth and long conversations about whether or not we could do it - we decided to jump in head first and give it a whirl.  Nine months, lots of demo, several coats of paint, and a whole lot of love later - the formerly abandoned house emerged as the exact kind of "first home" we'd always hoped for.  Below are a few pictures of the transformation.

Exterior - The outside of the house was one of our favorite parts... after all, it's what originally drew us in.  But because the house had been abandoned for a few years before we moved in, it needed some major sprucing up.  The original house was a combination of siding and brick.  We replaced the siding with cedar shake (appropriate for the Cape Cod architecture) and gave the brick a fresh coat of paint.  We then stained the cedar shake so it was 25% of the brick paint color.  We changed the blue shutters to Plantation Green and updated the front door to dark wood.  And the overgrown shrubs were replaced with smaller foundation plantings along the front of the house.

Before: A Diamond in the Ruff

After: A Charming Update

Kitchen - The original washer / dryer were stuffed in a narrow closet that formed one of the walls of the kitchen, keeping it closed off and confined from the rest of the house.  First step was to remove the units, knock down the wall, and allow the kitchen to flow freely into the living spaces.  And of course, the hideous wallpaper HAD to go!!  We gave the cabinets a fresh coat of paint and installed new appliances.  And ta-da - a new cozy, cheery kitchen!

Before: Need I say DATED?

Kitchen After:  Fresh and breezy

Dining Room- The dining room didn't require a lot of work.  It had beautiful wainscoting around the perimeter of the room, which we loved.  We painted that bright white and the walls above in Atmospheric by Benjamin Moore to create a soothing and elegant vibe.  We love to see the ways the color changes in the different light.  The room is small, but perfect for intimate dinners with family and friends.

Before: Quaint but Gloomy

After: Cool blue and ready for guests

Family Room - One of our biggest criteria for the renovation was to make sure we could create a living space that we would truly enjoy spending time in.  We wanted something that was comfortable and inviting.  The best place to do that in the original floor plan was the master bedroom.  It was directly off the kitchen area and had great views of the backyard.  Again, horrible wallpaper!  But replacing that with a neutral wall color wasn't enough to make this a living space.  We were also able to bump up the ceiling to the original rafters and create the feeling of a "great room."  We added a few windows to bring the outside in, and now, it's the room we spend most of our time in.  Great for entertaining, taking a nap with a book, or watching the tube.

Before: A Master Bed that would put anyone to sleep

After: A Master Living space that's comfortable and open

Formal Living Room - Renovations in this room were fairly minor.  We ripped up ugly blue carpeting to reveal beautiful hardwoods in fabulous condition (why would anyone have ever covered those up with BLUE carpeting?!), painted the walls and put a new mantel on the original fire place.  The basic shape and layout of this room was already inviting, and because the space gets lots of natural light, we didn't have to hardwire overhead fixtures.  It's formal without feeling too formal.  Pretty without feeling too delicate.  

Before: The only living room in the house

After: A second entertaining space that's bright and updated

Master Suite - So where would we end up sleeping if we converted the first floor master into a family room you may ask?  Well, it turns out the previous owners had created a large library / study space that was just calling out to be the master bedroom.  It was architecturally one of the most unique spots in the house.  The vaulted ceilings had beautiful exposed beams, but the walls were covered in dark oak paneling, making it very dark and masculine.  Nothing a coat of paint couldn't fix. But the only other problem... no bathroom or closet space.  Adding a master bath and walk in closet / laundry room was the only addition we had to make to the house.  And it truly completed the master suite as a quiet sanctuary where we can unwind and relax.

Before: A man cave fit for a king

After: A soothing retreat for busy nesters

And there you have it!  Our happy nest.  It was a great journey with tons of interesting surprises along the way (I won't even get into the plumbing issues we never saw coming...), but in the end well worth the effort.  Thanks to our great contractor Walker Harris (Chase Building Company), and our shared vision, we're happy to report that there's no place we'd rather be...

... but, of course, every great space is a constant work in progress, and I'm always be on the hunt for my next project!