So after things settled down a bit and we caught our breath, it was time to start thinking about the inside. We talked a lot about what we envisioned for the space. We talked as if money were no object. I guess we were pretty much daydreaming. But it was a good jumping off point. We came to terms with our must haves and negotiated the things we were willing to sacrifice. Crazy and unorthodox as it may sound, we chose not to do the kitchen and baths first. Maybe subconsciously I wanted to see how the whole place shaped up. I just felt like it would be kind of ridiculous to have a nice new kitchen and then when you glanced up from the shiny new countertops, and fancy new appliances, you would be jolted back into the reality of the rest of the house. Besides, we had come up with a shopping list of “little” things we could do while we saved for the big jobs!!!!! Ha!
We hired a contractor, (Rushton Concepts) which it turns out was a great decision. We had heard horror stories about contractors and before I finish telling this little tale of ours, I will share some of those stories myself. But Steve was a good guy. He was easy to work with, respectful, fair and honest. Most importantly his workmanship was top notch. He wasn’t the cheapest (his own words) but we thought we would try him. He listened to what we wanted and didn’t instead do what he wanted. He was patient and looked at a stockpile of pictures where we would brainstorm together about how best to achieve our vision!!!!!!
We hired Steve to put a tongue and groove ceiling in the great room with cross beams. If you have read our renovation story, then you will understand. We decided to do the tongue and groove to remedy the awful drywall. It was all wobbly and crooked. The heat and air registers were in the ceiling, they had to be moved to the walls to allow for a seamless ceiling. We also had a half moon window over the set of pocket French doors connecting the living room to what will be our library…..well, it wasn’t centered??? Who does that?? We had him center the doors and of course that meant new drywall on that wall.
We replaced all the hollow builder grade doors with solid 5 panel doors. We changed out all the traditional style door and window trim for a plain craftsman style. We replaced all the brass fixtures and door hardware with aged bronze.
The foyer had a pony wall with columns which was very dated, between the dining room and foyer. We had him replace that with a bulkier one that was more in line with the look we were trying to achieve. Read about our foyer makeover here. Our breakfast room is a square room, I think it is something like 14 X 14. One wall is an exterior wall, looking out into the area of the back yard that would become our courtyard. Well, there were 2 windows on that wall, side by side with a blank space where it looked like the 3rd window belonged. Who does that??? The only thing I can come up with to give the prior owner/builder the benefit of the doubt is that they owned an heirloom piece of furniture that happened to be a corner cabinet, so they built the house specifically with that piece in mind!!! Highly unlikely. I know, but hey….I tried!! So….we had a 3rd window added. Our house is not drenched in natural light, so that alone made a huge difference!
We had a proper staircase built. The stairs are in the back of the house, right off of the door that leads into the garage. When we bought the house, believe it or not, there was no exterior door for the stairway, the exterior door was inside beyond the staircase. We moved the existing door to where it belonged as soon as we moved in. It was a temporary fix, although we didn’t realize it at the time!! It would eventually be replaced with an antique (wood) door that I spent a summer lovingly stripping, scraping and sanding before finally conceding and hiring a professional to paint it. I spent too much time and effort on it to risk a lousy paint job. Read about the door here.
I guess to allow for a private entrance? But how in the world could the space stay heated and cooled with no door into the garage? There was a kitchenette up stairs that we removed, so I guess the upstairs could have been an in-law suite or something. The existing staircase was built of plywood with really dirty, worn berber carpet. There was no bannister , so we had the stair treads, banister, hand rail and newel post built from antique heart pine, which is what we intended to do our floors in….. eventually. Read about them here. Take a look at our DIY dash and albert stair runner, I’ll show you how we did it here.
We also had the fireplace moved and some built ins removed. I know it sounds like a lot. And it was!!! But………. the fireplace had berber carpet going up the sides of the hearth and white floor tiles (the same white floor tiles as the kitchen and breakfast room) on the top of the hearth. Who does that????? We had already hired a crew to come in and do massive amounts of drywall work and paint the entire house. Our house had walls painted every color of the rainbow along with a multi colored fruit wallpaper border. Gingerbread trim adorned the shelves above the doorways.
There was poor quality beadboard in the breakfast room and similarly questionable chair rail in the dining room. There was also some of that foamy type of crown molding in the office. I really don’t know what it was? I know what it wasn’t! Wood! My only regret is that I didn’t take more “before” pictures. You truly would have had to see it to believe it!!!!
We went about three or four months after completing this “phase” as I call it. Spring was quickly approaching and we thought we would talk to Steve about our screened in back porch. We met with him on a Wednesday and tossed around some ideas and he left with plans to return Friday morning with his electrician. Unfortunately he never made it back to our house that Friday. We were shocked to learn that he had died earlier that morning of a massive heart attack. We lost a true friend and a great craftsman.
R.I.P. Steve Rushton