The Bright Light at the End of the Renovation Tunnel

Hi Everyone,

This is going to be a relatively quick post. While the symptoms of my cold have vastly improved, my energy is not yet back.

But, yes, for the last three days, Brendan and Eugene have been working full throttle on the lower level beginning at 7:30 a.m. And finally, there is a bright light shining at the end of this long renovation tunnel.


The light at the end of the renovation tunnel

I’ve felt a bit emotional the last few days. (in a good way)


Here’s why.

First of all, I made a mistake, not an unfixable mistake, but certainly an annoying one.

I found these plinth blocks online and knew they needed to be trimmed from top to bottom. And that part I got exactly right. However, the blocks were too deep which didn’t occur to me. From some angles, they looked almost comical. But, again, not from all angles.


I had noticed last week, when it was only four of them, but figured it would be okay and besides, I felt too crummy to complain.


Well, by Tuesday afternoon, they had installed 14 of them. I came downstairs shortly before their quitting time, and suddenly, I could not ignore them.

No, I was standing in the bedroom (currently their primary work area) with Brendan and Eugene, and I wanted so badly to get my eraser and start over.

That’s the thing about construction as opposed to drawings. haha.


So, barely above a whisper, asked if it was a big deal to trim them down, knowing full well that it’s a big deal.


They reiterated what I already knew but said, “We’ll see what we can do.”

I heard them muttering as I walked away and assured them I felt terrible for asking.

The next day, which was Wednesday, all I heard was the sound of the buzz saw.


I returned to the workroom/bedroom near quitting time and asked Brendan if he was still speaking to me.


He looked puzzled and said, “What do you mean? Of course, I’m speaking to you! Why wouldn’t I be?”

I said, “Because of the plinth blocks.”

“Oh, that?” he said.

Then, Brendan motioned for me to look down at the gorgeous new baseboard, door casing, and plinth block. Everything looked fantastic.

Brendan smiled. ” We trimmed two of them down as much as we could. What do you think?”

I couldn’t believe it. They were as perfect as could be for not being custom-made.


But, as happened with the Chinoiserie cabinet, admiring their craftsmanship, I saw this out of the corner of my eye.


baseboard radiator cover the guys made for me as a surprise!

What on earth? They made a little house for the ugly baseboard heater?

Now, the guys were beaming. All along, they’ve enjoyed surprising me with little things.

I nearly began to cry as I sincerely gushed about its wonderfulness. Here’s the wild thing: They went to all that trouble for something that’s going to be completely hidden by the bed. Only I’ll know it’s there. I wish they could do those upstairs, but it’s a different heating system.


After they left, I went out and took care of the mirror.


Oh, Laurel, tell us more!


I’m sorry, I can’t right now, but I promise I will.

How much does it cost?

It costs more than a mirror from Pottery Barn. lol

Look, there was a time we were so broke, I couldn’t have afforded a napkin ring from Pottery Barn.

You know, the mirror I was going to get from France, which was going to cost $2,200 to travel from France to my living room, costs about the same, bottom-line price.

I promise to share more soon.


But, here’s what I need to tell you.


  • The carpentry for the bedroom is DONE!
  • And the carpentry for the embrasure hall is also DONE!


The light at the end of the renovation tunnel


Oh, do you notice anything in the image besides God beaming ear-to-ear?


Please look carefully and let me know in the comments if you noticed it.

In the meantime, a view from the entry looking into the embrasure door hall.


New Entrance hall - embrasure doors


Yes, guys, we have doors and door casings, all installed now.


Laurel, I give up. What were we supposed to notice in the bedroom?


Well, the dufus who I wished I had fired ordered the bedroom door with the door swinging the wrong way. It was specified clearly that it was opening to the left. Well, that’s life. If it were a big problem, I’d make them do it over again, but it’s not in the way. He also sent the wrong hinges. I specified that I wanted the ball hinges. However, the ends screw off, and they can send the balls which are more appropriate for these doors.

Okay, and just because I like messing around, I made another rendering to bring things to life.

I do not want everything to be white.


I knew that if I did white walls, a dark teal for the doors would be smashing. I considered a soft off-black like Benjamin Moore Soot or Farrow & Ball Railings. However, it’s a small area, and black seems to harsh, in this case. I also want to paint the closet door the same color to give the embrasure hall some definition and continuity. The deep teal blue door will also look terrific with the blackish and whiteish checkerboard floors.

So, I brought down my Samplize samples of Benjamin Moore Narragansett Green, Newburg Green (A Laurel Home Paint Collection Color), and Farrow & Ball Hague Blue.

Benjamin Moore Narragansett Green

Narragansett Green


Benjamin Moore Newburg Green


Farrow and Ball Hague Blue

Hague Blue


While they all looked lovely, the clear winner was Farrow & Ball Hague Blue.


There are still some things missing, but I think it gives a good feeling for what I’m going for, minus the stair railing. By the way, I believe that it will be installed next week, but I don’t know what day yet.


New Entrance hall - embrasure doors - bedroom-Linen closet Farrow & Ball Hague Blue Door - renovation tunnel


I kind of can’t stop staring at this! I added the art, door color, floor, and lantern, but everything else is as I found it this afternoon. That includes the handwriting on the walls. I’m going to miss that!


Oh, there’s so much to share! The light at the end of the renovation tunnel is shining brighter every day.


Please hang on until Sunday.

Mother’s Day!

There will be a big update.



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36 Responses

  1. This has been such a fun journey…to follow your reno, I know that it has been very tough on you, but can’t wait to see the end results…sure to be spectacular…

  2. I’m psyched you went with the F&B. I was thinking last night why wouldn’t you choose their paint? It’s so wonderfully grand to enjoy their paint as it changes colors throughout the day. With your eagle eyes, I know you would see the subtlety. I’m very happy for you!

    1. Hi Nancy,

      It’s interesting, because I’m using the Samplize samples, as well as samples I already have. All of the Samplize Benjamin Moore and Sherwin-Williams samples look like plastic and have a slight sheen. The Farrow & Ball samples are all dead flat and have a velvety finish. I wish all of them had this finish. I think it’s easier to see the colors and the samples look classier.

      One thing about the doors is that there will be some changes of light as there is some natural light coming hitting those areas, but it is very indirect, and on a cloudy day, the lights will have to be on. The light in the bedroom is quite lovely in the afternoon. I love going down there as soon as they guys leave if it’s a sunny day.

  3. Laurel,
    It is truly amazing and beautiful. Your choice of blue is perfect of course! Just have a question regarding quality of paint brands and wondering if you prefer Farrow & Ball quality vs Ben Moore? Thanks, Carrie

    P.S. You inspired me to purchase my new sofa in a teal color and I can’t wait for it to be delivered.

    1. Hi Carrie,

      I’ve only specked Farrow and Ball once and it was because it was my client’s choice. That was about 9 years ago. Otherwise, 90% of my paint was from Benjamin Moore and the other 10% was from Pratt & Lambert, as that was easy to get where I lived at the time.

      So, I can’t really speak with any great accuracy as to the difference. There are those who claim they can, but unless they have identical situations, I’m not sure how that’s possible. The only thing they can compare is how the paint goes on and amount of VOC.

      I’ve always been very happy with Benjamin Moore. All of their paint is now low VOC and it’s a pleasure because it dries fast and you can sleep in the same room that was just painted.

    1. Hi Gail,

      All of the doors had to be custom because no one stocks 8 foot doors in such odd widths, too. The Embrasure doors are from Select Door and I cannot recommend them highly enough. They machined everything perfectly. I ordered them from Little Harbor Window in Maine. I worked with Marcia and she was amazing! There was a choice of mouldings to use for the panels and it was a tough decision, but I found some doors on their instagram that I liked and we went with that.

      The other doors are excellent quality as well, from Trustile. The rep I got them from was well-meaning, but for whatever the reason, is not functioning very well. I found at least a dozen mistakes on his order which delayed everything further by about a month before he could come back to measure and make more mistakes. In the end, he still made two mistakes. However, over-all, I’m super happy with the doors. The Trustile doors have the standard bolection moulding which I think is the perfect scale for these doors to give them the over-all 19th c. look without being too overwhelming like the upstairs bathroom doors are.

      There will be more about the doors coming up soon!

  4. Wow, that last rendering is fantastic! The Hague Blue is perfect. I love the hint of the mural, the bell jar light, the flooring, and do I detect a pale bluish color on the ceiling (maybe BM Opal Essence??) Bravo, Laurel!

    1. Hi Sheree,

      Yes, you are right. I painted the ceiling a lovely aqua. A big YES to Opal Essence. That color makes the ceilings float above one’s head!

  5. Hi Laurel,
    That’s great news that you’re feeling better. The energy will come in time. You’ve been sick for a while now. It will take a while for the energy to return.
    I love the teal doors. They will look so nice. Have you selected door knobs?
    When I had my new doors put in my house I went with white porcelain knobs. I just hope I can still grip them as I age.
    Your guys are the sweetest. I love their little surprises.

  6. I’m so glad you are feeling better Laurel. Seems like colds back east eventually make their way west so I am taking precautions now. Ummm…..a heater vent under the bed? Doesn’t sound safe or like it would do much good in the winter. Also, the plinth blocks in the pic look OK to me – did your guys get them all fixed? (Of course, they would all look OK to me anyway haha). Your downstairs is going to be absolutely smashing. Oh, one more thing – that bedroom door will open to the left from the “inside the bedroom” perspective, right? :))

    1. Hi Liz,

      The heater has always been there and is perfectly safe or the inspector would make us rip it out. It’s not under the bed, but behind it.

      No, the door does not open to the left. Like I said, the idiot salesman ordered it with the swing to the right, not left, as specified. There’s a good 30″ between the door and bed and the door is only 22″ wide, so it won’t be a problem. There are lots of quirky things in this place, even with the new build.

      It’s like baking. You make a cake and realize it needs a little bit more of this or that and the next time you make it, the cake is perfect. Well, we don’t have that luxury. Some things early on, I made them do over because I could see it wasn’t going to work out. Some things, they changed on their own, and some things are what they are. (not too many and some unavoidable because of code restrictions. That 36″ wide staircase kills me because that six inches would’ve made a huge difference to the living space.

      But over-all, I’m very happy with how things have turned out.

      One thing, though, those little off-center things add to the charm and make it look a lot older than it is!

  7. The Hague Blue is sooo pretty! You have had me wanting to paint my dining room chairs teal ever since I read the idea on your blog a million posts ago… Now you’ve supplied me with the actual color, so thanks!

    We’ve been renovating as well for the past year, and I can’t tell you how grateful I am for all the inspiration you provide! Our light is a bit further down the tunnel as we are about to blast out a wall for the next part. But we are seeing much progress. The design for your house is stunning and I look forward to every post to see it all unfurl.

    Good luck with the five-week cold! It was a doozer!

    1. Hi Em,

      I love all shades of teal. Hague Blue falls on the blue side of tile meaning it has a lot more blue than green, but it is still a “warm” blue. There is no exact equivalent at Benjamin Moore. Narragansett Green is close but side by side it is definitely more green. Newburg Green is also lovely. Oh, there are so many of them!

  8. I’ve had the same virus. Horrible and lingering in coughing and lack of energy. While I did take some antibiotics I don’t think they helped,

    The dirt in the air as you are still under construction is probably not helping your cause. Feel better

    1. Oh, I’m so sorry, Bonnie! Actually, the air isn’t bad at all. I vacuum frequently, use heavy duty swiffers and have an air filter on 24/7 in my room with the door closed. Plus, most of the time, when the guys are working downstairs, the stairs are covered to contain most of the dust.

  9. My guess for what to notice besides God beaming ear to ear is that the light coming from the bathroom seems to be the sconces lite up. I’m assuming they are now installed

  10. Laurel, I admire your stamina thru this whole renovation process.
    Regarding the remark how much you will miss the handwriting on the wall…. Have you thought of keeping one of the notations that is perhaps in a discreet place, and paint around it . It would be like a small painting on the wall and a meaningful reminder of the talented tradesmen who worked on your home.
    One other idea, could you consider framing a before and after of a drawing of the renovation…perhaps hang in a lonely corner….(something positive to reflect on when faced with another challenging project!)

    1. Those are charming ideas, Dianne! I’m one of those weirdos who actually likes it when the walls are still under construction. Of course, I also like them in their finished state too. But, right now, the embrasure hall is shuttling me straight back to the late 18th century! Wow, the building is only late 19th century.

  11. I love your blog so much. I know you’re more than eager to have your space finished but I’ll miss the beautiful updates.

    1. Hi Joan,

      While there’s light at the end of the tunnel in terms of building, there’s still a long way to go before it’s finished. I just want to get things to a point where I can live in every room. But, after I move out of the den, there’s a bunch of work to do here, too. We’re narrowing the closet door opening by a foot and then putting in a real double door instead of the tacky bi-fold. You lose several inches of the opening with the bifolds, anyway. It will actually be easier to access the inside of the closet without wrestling with the doors!

  12. As to “ Oh, do you notice anything in the image besides God beaming ear-to-ear?”
    Should the door heights be the same? I would think you’d bring the height up with the modeling between the doors lower?

  13. Laurel, I’ve been scrolling up and down several times looking at the pics – they are wonderful. And love the blue for the doors. What a lovely bedroom suite! I cannot wait to see the railing – and then once all is painted, how the vanity sink (on its long, shapely legs 😉) and sconces look. My guess is that you cannot wait either. Bravo!

  14. Wow really taking shape – and a lovely one. Maybe the hinges will be a blessing after you’ve moved in?

    1. Hi Candy,

      Do you mean the bedroom door swing? One advantage is that as long as there’s no furniture on the wall next to the door on the right, the door swings all the way to the wall giving superb access. However, if swinging towards the nightstand, it can only go about 100 degrees before hitting the table. That’s still plenty ample, but it’s not the way it turned out.

  15. I’ve learned so much from you, Laurel. Your work and blog are unique and instructive. Ok – and entertaining! Thank you.

    1. Hi Beth,

      I’ve learned a lot from me, too. lol No really. I’m a completely different designer than I was 12 years ago. Writing the blog has forced me to think very hard about the process so that I convey what I do in a way that people will hopefully understand. I’ve also had to do a tremendous amount of research because I truly am constantly learning along with y’all.

      The embrasure doors are a perfect example.

    1. Hi Michelle,

      I’m constantly coming across your paint reviews and learning a lot from them. I’ve always been intrigued by that color. You’d think with the millions of dark blues that Benjamin Moore would have a good match, but no, they are either too gray or too saturated and that throws it all off.

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Hi, I’m Laurel, and Laurel Home is the website and blog for Laurel Bern Interiors.
I’ve been creating new-traditional interiors since 1988. The blog is where I share all.

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