Today, I have a very special treat for y’all.
As the title says, it’s a frumpy old house that gets a sparkling makeover.
And, could you please use a little restraint and not scroll ahead!
Okay, fine. you win. I would do the same. :]
But, for the three of you who are far more disciplined than most of us, haha, there’s more to the story than an old house makeover.
This is because it’s an old house belonging to Melissa.
Who’s Melissa, you ask?
Melissa is a darling woman who helps me keep the Hot Sales pages up-to-date. Thank God! Before she came along, I was so bogged down with that, that some of the pages, particularly the widgets which hold all of the images, weren’t getting updated as regularly as they should. And now, it’s so much better and leaves me more time for sourcing and watching ballet on youtube. haha
First a little background.
Melissa purchased this circa 1900 coastal charming New Jersey home in 2000 as a summer home and rented it out the rest of the year. But, after several years, it is now her permanent home. Here’s some of what she told me:
I would say to myself, this is the year I am going to do some renovations. However, it is a relief that I procrastinated because 10 years ago, it would not have been an unkitchen!
The old kitchen was done in the mid 80s before I bought the house. The only thing I did was to remove some wallpaper and paint.
Let’s take a look at the old 80s kitchen.
And then we’ll look immediately at the after, so you don’t get a headache.
Pinkie Beige cabinets, ditzy wallpaper. Ditzy is actually a technical term when describing a small all-over pattern.
But that window! Well, we know that isn’t original! Who in the hell would do something like that? Well, never mind. People are strange. That is fact. ;]
And I bet that you can already guess what the solution is!
After (no kidding!)
I want to show your readers, Laurel that even though there are no “uppers” in my new “unkitchen.” There is PLENTY of storage behind the pantry doors.
Oh, an interesting thing happened. Quite a massive boo boo, actually.
The contractor got his signals mixed up and painted the pantry doors in the Hunter Green, But we wanted them to be what they are, which is the Distant Gray. Therefore, we kept the inside the Hunter Green, as you can see, and had him redo the outside.
In another email, Melissa shared many details with me about her old house remodeling.
Melissa is in italics
[Laurel in brackets, unless there’s a lot of separation]
Dear Laurel, (haha)
Very excited to share this with you! The renovation on my NJ house is finally done and I wanted to share some of the photos taken last week.
The posts on your blog were really helpful: selecting the perfect colors AND inspirational: the unkitchen, the unbathroom. I think I have all three 🙂
Fortunately for me, Nancy Keyes was there to guide me through the (five-month) renovation of this old house.
As I was a renovation newbie, I was not prepared for the emotional distress, much less having to deal with the zillions of details and decisions to be made. Oy, what a process.
In any case, Nancy and Marc have done tons of renovations on their houses and Nancy has serious design chops.
[I know, I know!]
Gawd knows what I might do without her guidance.
[very lucky, you!]
One thing she said during the process that has really stuck with me was: “don’t settle for just anything because it is stressful and frustrating and you feel the need to take the easy way out. With all the money and effort you are putting into this, it is worth it to get what you want.”
[very, very wise]
Nancy and I obsessed on Pinterest and Instagram for months, looking for the perfect inspiration photos. That was the fun part. And all that obsessing really paid off, because at the end, it all turned out perfectly.
Here are some more details… You’re going to love this!
Just to add a little drama. As if there isn’t always enough. We made a last second change.
Originally, I had my heart set on navy blue kitchen cabinets.
Then, the day before the cabinets were to be painted, Nancy sent me a photo of that beautiful green DeVol kitchen (the one in your post on colors for the perfect English kitchen) saying what do you think? On the spot, we decided to change the color to the DeVol green. We just went with the gut on that one!
That set off a mad scramble to find the perfect green before the cabinet makers bought the paint. Lucky me, you had the DeVol kitchen in your post on the perfect English kitchen and the matching Farrow & Ball color so that was a starting point. And we looked at all the dark greens in the BM swatch book. Then tested 3 colors:
- A BM match to F&B Studio Green (too dull for the light in kitchen)
- Hunter Green (perfect in kitchen, too xmas-y for the powder room)
[Oh, that’s a Laurel Home Paint/Palette Collection Color!]
- Essex Green (too dark for the kitchen, perfect in the powder room)
And then, in an imitation is the sincerest form of flattery move, I shamelessly copied elements from Nancy’s old house renovation 😉 that she knew would work in my house:
- 4’ capped beadboard in the bathroom with bump out to insulate the sink pipes
- Kitchen cabinetry with inset style and hidden European hinges
- RH hardware–but in a burnished gold and different style (in the widget below, I used a substitute, not because of this post, but because I cannot add them to the widget.)
- Rejuvenation wall sconce in kitchen, just like the one in Nancy’s bath
- Vintage Fredrick Ramond lucite pendant, just like the one in her hall
- Vintage milk glass towel rack, like Nancy has
- An envelope of white walls (Benjamin Moore Distant Gray, stupid name!)
[Yes, verrrry distant the gray is. So distant that it IS definitely WHITE. But, it looks gorgeous here.]
The wall between the kitchen and dining room was removed
That created one big open space. Nancy was concerned about it looking like a bowling alley, like you might see in a new-build house.
So she sketched out beadboard on the ceiling with shallow coffers to break up the ceiling expanse. It really gives the room a vintage feel. Plus, two short walls to further define the space.
[LOVE the ceiling! It reminds me of one in this post about ceilings. ]
[And I love this little alcove off the kitchen. Wonderful prints. That’s a trademark of Nancy for sure!]
I didn’t know I needed a keeping room until Nancy explained that it would be a room that would work for me 99% of the time. The dining room clearly wasn’t.
The old dining room.
For instance, why did I need a dining room table that seats six, when I had only used it for that many people two times in the past 18 years?
Therefore, out with the dining room table, china closet, bar cart set (too matchy, matchy). In with two upholstered chairs, a gate leg table, and a 30” round white Saarinen-style table for everyday use. Should I ever decide to have more than two for dinner, I can open up the round drop leaf.
[that is freaking brilliant!]
Below is the new keeping room which I ADORE!
I don’t have a before shot.
Nancy sourced the amazing green Chinoiserie mirror — thinking it would look perfect with navy blue, and now even more perfect with the Essex Green. The room has a shed roof, so the mirror fits perfectly in there.
Plus, the vintage faux bamboo chandelier with green leaves. I seem to recall seeing one almost like this in this blog post about bathroom vanities.
The house had only one bath, and on the first floor of two-story house. Nancy insisted I needed a bath upstairs and that I would not regret it. Of course, she was right. So my daughter’s small bedroom with no closet became the new bath. Nancy wanted to make sure to leave room for a piece of furniture. (The contractor just rolled his eyes.)
[hope he didn’t hurt himself] ;]
Now a china cabinet from my parents holds towels and bath stuff.
[oooohhh, sounds charming!]
Looking back at some of the before pictures, I laugh at how *fugly* the rooms were before. (A couple of contractors thought the kitchen was not so bad.
Maybe they didn’t really want the job, and no, I didn’t hire them, haha.
[Seriously, you have to wonder…]
Next project: porch redo and living room refresh. Am reading your 12 Step Plan post to prepare!
And also Sunday’s post about the 21 mistakes. That one is a keeper too!
Below is the before and after of the exterior. The new shingles are red cedar shake and will weather to a silvery tone. But they were on their last legs, so they had to go.
before. It may not look that bad, but believe me, it was falling apart.
And here are some more before and after images that Melissa made for me!
wow. just wow.
I mean the whole thing– wow!
Nancy and Melissa, I know that you’re out there. It may be an old house, but you have breathed new life and energy into this charming gem. This is one of the most impressive home renovations after your own Nancy, that I have ever seen.
But, it takes a real collaboration and trust to create something as fresh as this. And yet, this is a home that retains its historical charm.
Nancy makes interior design and renovating look easy, but we know that it’s not.
She also told me that for the summer, they are leaving things spare and will probably add more cozy elements for winter.
And there’s something else that Nancy has confessed to me; it’s something that I have suggested a few times here. And it’s also something that Melissa mentions.
Most of us designers do it at least some of the time. Sure. We add our unique bent to it. Artists copy while learning from their master artists.
And so in the spirit of “shameless copying”, I have spent waaaaaay too long, but am having more fun than you can imagine creating a widget (below) of furnishings ala Melissa and Nancy.
Most of the appliances are exactly the same. However, many things in Melissa’s home are one-of-a-kind and so I went sourcing for products that we’ll say are “in the manner of.”
Of course, someone is going to go with the “I get everything at yard sales comment…” Yes, absolutely. Get things wherever you like. But I can’t put yard sale furniture in a blog post. :]
Please enjoy and if you want more information about the individual products, please click on the images. Also, there’s more info in the captions, as well. However, if you have any questions, operators are standing by. haha
Thanks so much Melissa and Nancy for sharing your beautiful home and work with us!
Please follow Nancy on instagram
and Melissa on instagram. (love her hydrangeas!!!)
BTW – Gerald Bland has gotten 675 new followers in one week! Way to go guys. Very proud of you!
PS: Some of you wanted to see what Nancy and Melissa were talking about regarding the short walls added. Here are two more pics.
Looking into the living room
Looking into the keeping room.
So beautifully done in keeping with the character of the house yet making it her own. Thank you so much Melissa and Laurel for sharing it. -Brenda-
P.S.: @ Laurel — I do have a question for you and hopefully you will not mind answering it. Are raised panel and overlay doors in kitchen cabinets dated/out of fashion? Reason for asking; I am contemplating the upgrade of my kitchen (to new traditional) that actually has two walls of pantries which are going to be custom built/painted however I prefer what I mention to that of shaker style and inset ones but am afraid that I might be caught in a time-warp …. ☺. I browsed several of your articles, however there was no mention per same unless I missed it. With appreciation of your input but fully understand if you prefer not to.
I am actually supposed to be on vacation. ha! But, I love inset doors. They are more expensive however.
What a transformation! Love it all. Quick question- Is the stainless ikea cart sturdy? I’m looking for a small cart on wheels and really would like a Boos cart, but they’re so expensive. Thank you. Love your blog.
Thanks so much! I suspect it is quite sturdy given what’s in it. But Melissa could give you a better answer to that one.
Hi Laura, thanks! I love the Ikea cart. And have a lot of heavy ceramic mixing bowls and stainless steel pieces on it so it is very sturdy. It will sway a bit if you push on it…I think that is because it is on wheels. Just make sure to lock the wheels when you have it in position. The rail around the bottom shelf is great so nothing is going to get knocked off the shelf by accident.
Bayhead? Belmar? Beautiful!
Not far. A little further north.
Oh my, this kitchen is stunning! I opened this post yesterday, read the whole thing, kept it open on my computer, and had to go back and look at it all again! I’m always amazed with someone’s talent when they can come into a period home and combine period touches with modern touches and have it all look like it’s always been there. I mean, who would have thought that a pristine white quartz counter top and modern light fixtures would look so at home in a 1900s cedar shake house?! It’s so *fresh.* I love everything – the green, the stainless stove with the “backsplash” continuing up the wall, the gorgeous pantry wall, the adorable artwork…. sigh. And the less obvious things, like making almost all of the under-counter storage be drawers instead of doors. I also have that, and I’ll never go back. (and to answer another person’s question, I spy the missing air vent on the floor next to the sink cabinet). Anyways, love your story-telling style, Laurel! Thanks!
Thanks so much Jean. I also have mostly drawers and I too, love them! I didn’t put this kitchen in, but I appreciate the drawers.
That powder room… I’m in love.
So lovely, isn’t it! I understand that they are working on styling the upstairs bathroom.
Just lovely! I have a similar size kitchen and wonder about getting a 36″ or 30″ range. Of course the salesperson wants to sell me a 36″…”go as big as you can.” But I keep thinking a 30″ is appropriate for the space. Also, there was a mention of half walls. Would that be like a pony wall separating the kitchen from the new keeping room?
I don’t see any pony walls and there isn’t an image of the kitchen going into the keeping room. I think that Melissa is reading comments and maybe she can answer that. Good question. And go with your instincts on the range.
Hi Kelly, Thank you! At the end of the pantry (away from fridge), there is a narrow vertical wall 16″ deep. A vertical wall was added on the opposite side of the room, the same 16″ depth. I like symmetry and it helps to define the kitchen and the keeping room. That size looked proportional to the room sizes.
The range I have is 30″ with 5 burners, with plenty of firepower. 36″ would have eaten up cabinet space as well.
I wait up late to read these posts! I am in the middle of building a farmhouse on an old family farm in the middle of nowhere. We are using your advice every…step…of the way! I’m about ready to pick paint and will be getting down and dirty with the paint guide and I can’t wait! Every time we have a decision to make, my husband says…go see what that blog lady you’re obsessed with says and let me know. That’s my cue to get kids to bed and get to work obsessing. Thanks for very well-researched advice!
That’s so sweet! Please tell your husband that the blog lady says “hi!” :]
Once again, these old houses just want to be pretty again and welcome a family home. Great job indeed!
Thank you Barbara!
Beautiful!! Am I missing the photos of the new bathroom? Would love to see that also!
oops! yes, one photo. I just added it.
Fabulous transformation. Thanks for sharing – it gave me some ideas to shamelessly share with my daughter and her new house!
Got a curiosity, Laurel. I see what looks like an air conditioning vent to the left of that tiny window in the picture of the original kitchen. I don’t see a vent in the new kitchen wall. Do you know how they managed the ductwork in the renovation by any chance? Thanks!
I wouldn’t have a clue in that regard. But perhaps Melissa or Nancy has a better idea.
Wow! Thank you so much for the mentions and incredible attention to the details! Your products in the widget and speed of finding them are amazing. Along with your writing which adds so much. Yes, a marathon indeed! So happy that Melissa is so thrilled with her new spaces! XOXOXO
Your talent never ceases to amaze me! And featuring anything you’ve done on the blog always makes me look good!
Many thanks, Dear Friend! XO
Love, love, LOVE your blog! I just can’t stop staring at that green!!
Thank so much Lisa!
How charming! Fantastic!
Wow! Great renovation! There’s so much to love here I don’t know where to start.
I love the fact that it looks so personal. That every part looks like its been carefully considered and accumulated over time rather than all at once during a renovation.
In particular, I’m totally smitten with the artwork. The groupings, framing, and hanging placement give the spaces real sophistication without looking contrived.
The comfortable chairs in the dining area transform the area. Great, great, great…
I concur with all! Thanks for the lovely comment Susan.
Thanks so much Barb. I can’t wait to see more of it!REPLY
That’s it!! I am taking a match to my house and starting again! lol lol. What a charming renovation, such interesting decor decisions that have made it all come together so beautifully, I would never move out….beautifully done!
haha. Glad that you enjoyed the post Danielle.
..I know you don’t want to hear about my feet ,Laurel, but the greatest compliment I can
pay this inspirational article, is it has given me ITCHY ones…that is, they can’t wait to get
moving, & walking around, scouring estate agents (a quaint Uk Term)
for my next renovation project.
I love a good ‘before’ & ‘after’, & this is a fabulous one.
Thanks to you, Laurel, for the wonderful story telling, ( as usual) & all the main
protagonists, that have ensured a happy happy ending.
I would love to hear all about your feet Joanna!
Thank you for the lovely comment!
A lovely renovation, the new kitchen looks not only attractive but functional.
OK so I just suggested adding more window to the kitchen existing window….to the left and what about going around the corner wall too? I know it is a small hallway there so it would be an intereior window to the outside door hall…..would that work?
I appreciate your wanting to provide suggestions, however, I would like to discourage that kind of discourse as the renovation is complete. And I have not seen the plans and don’t know what’s going on with plumbing and electricity. There are plenty of windows and light coming in. I love the window as is, in the kitchen. A double window would not be authentic to the period of the house.
Great renovation! My only suggestion would be to increase the kitchen window, if possilbe to the end of the wall to the left.
It’s simply wonderful. They did a fabulous job of keeping the charm of an old house, but breathing new life into it. I just want to crawl into the pictures and live there.
Just lovely. I so enjoy seeing how others transform their spaces. Congratulations Melissa! Charming home!
Thanks so much Barb. I can’t wait to see more of it!