Part three of my house’s birthday retrospective is dedicated to the little spaces that are so often forgotten: The closets, hallways, pantries, entryways, and other areas that we take for granted by rely on constantly. In my mind, these tiny “rooms” are easy to renovate—because they’re so small, right? Well, as anyone who’s ever groomed an emotionally sensitive bichon/Chihuahua mix can tell you, smaller isn’t always easier. You get sweaty and gross faster, everything is a mess, you’re on top of each other, the ladder won’t fit right, the drill is too big…ugh.
I regret that I don’t have a real before photo of the vestibule. It was awful. Picture brown fake-wood paneling and lots of peeling green paint. And graffiti.
It’s funny, as satisfying as I know it will eventually be to look at progress photos, sometimes I feel like I can’t bring myself to take pictures of things in my house when they look truly, truly awful. Before we embark on any projects, Evan always asks me if I want to take a before shot, and so often I decline. He checks to see if I want to stop and take photos as we progress, too, but if I’m feeling frustrated or tired or dirty or crabby (which is a lot of the time, frankly—home renovation will do that to you), I just don’t want to. I always regret it later, of course, so lately I’ve been trying to get better about documenting what we do as we do it.
Stay tuned for part four!
See also: Five years ago, part one. / Five years ago, part two.
so pretty! i love your entry way! thanks for sharing.
This is such a fun series you’re doing. I first found d16 when I had just moved in to my condo. It’s a one-bedroom in a 92 year old building. It has lots of original details — all original doors, door handles, some original windows… even an original light fixture! Unfortunately, it also had some gag-worthy corners, filled with years of hair, mold, and cat shit, and incredibly ugly 80s makeovers to the bathroom and kitchen.
At the time, I was feeling so overwhelmed at the number of things I had to change, but also restore. When I found your blog, it provided such an incredible amount of inspiration; it showed me that doing all this work myself was indeed possible.
So, thank you for sharing all of your hard work with us.
really really nice! well done!
I love these before & afters. Though it almost makes me not want a house since I probably would not be able to afford the renovations haha
We’ve done everything reeeeeally slowly and with a very tiny budget. Buying an inexpensive house that hasn’t been renovated makes a huge difference, too! We purposely didn’t buy a house that anyone had put money into already—we didn’t want to pay for someone else’s renovations (which we probably wouldn’t have liked, anyway).
Man, I love your house! I love your ability to step back and look at the space with a designer’s eye. Even though I’m trained as an architect, I have a hard time separating myself from my own house and my stuff to see it more objectively, the way I do with other people’s houses.
These are beautiful! What a fabulous makeover.
I understand the not wanting to shoot the before pictures. It’s like you just want it over.
congratulations on such dedication.
I have your HGTV show all worked out: Staring- You, renovationg another Newburgh home all DIY and thirty style, something really decaying, (you might cry sometimes, its good drama) Afterwards the house is used for a charity auction/non profit? Anybody have a good idea for a title?
If I didn’t have a full-time job and about 49857309485 side projects already, I’d totally be up for that. As it is, though, the title of the show would have to be “The World’s Longest Renovation”. 😉
Gorgeous. We just passed the 1 year mark and have miles to go before I sleep. Did you ever do a post on the process of stripping the paint from the stairwell? I’m in the middle of that project and it’s so slow going.
No, that was done before I (re-)started the blog. My mother did it, actually—I can’t take any of the credit! She used lots and lots of Citristrip to get the job done. It was MESSY.
I too noticed the stairway was striped. It looks awesome, and I imagine it was a lot of work. My grandma was always doing projects like that in her old home also. Love it. What are the medallions made of?
Most of the medallions are the original plaster, but a couple of them are resin repros. Once they’re installed and painted, you can’t really tell the difference!
Ah, nice mom! I have been using Peel-Away and it’s still very messy. Did she do the spindles too or were those simply repainted? In any case, it looks great. I really love the before and afters. It gives me hope for my “dream dump”. Thanks for the reply!
No, she just stripped the parts that are bare wood now (newel posts and banister). We didn’t strip any other paint in the house, we just scraped and sanded to make a smooth (ish) surface and the primed really well before repainting. Incredibly, the spindles only had one coat of paint on them, so they almost look brand new!
Amazing!, everything looks great. Thanks for sharing .
I am loving the clusters of before-and-afters! I love your style, and the amount of work you guys have done is fantastic.
I love what you’ve done with all the wee spaces. I have to admit, painting a closet or doing flooring in a closet makes my blood pressure rise. When we were doing the flooring in our the closet of our guest room/office, I thought one of us might kill the other out of pure frustration. Luckily we survived. So, with that in mind, I am so impressed with how fantastic you’ve made those spaces look. Kudos!!!
I so look forward to these updates! You’re home and apartment is such an inspiration!
This set of photos is such an inspiration! I love that you highlighted small spaces here. Living in a little 2 bedroom in Manhattan (which you obviously know with your apartment) means that there are a lot of small spaces (read: the whole thing is an over-priced small space). I like that you not only made every inch functional but also stylish.
Where are your wallpapers from? They are all so modern and fantastic!
Thanks, Sarah! And yes, having spent most of my adult life living in little NYC apartments, I know exactly what you mean. 🙂
The wallpaper in my vestibule is from Orla Kiely; the papers in the office, upstairs bathroom, and dressing room are from Ferm Living; and the silver paper in the hallway is from Julia Rothman/Hygge & West. (I think that’s all of them!)
I’m glad someone else asked about the wallpaper! I was going to ask the same thing. I’m obsessed with crosshatch patterns so after scrolling to the vestibule photo, my brain went: “Ohhh, I have to find out where that is from. Hmm, it MUST be Orla Kiely.”
It’s really amazing how much brighter your whole home is in all the after photos. What a transformation. I can’t wait to see part 4!
What a fantastic job that you guys have done with your house! My husband and I have been living through renovations at our house for the past 2 years, doing it room by room also, but we aren’t doing it ourselves!!! I can’t believe you guys have done it yoursleves. I have been reading your blog throughout most of the process, so it was fun to see it again. I love your bathrooms and front entrance the best. Are you still spending most of your time there now that you have the place in the city too??
It really depends on the week! My goal is always to be at the house as much as possible. I’m grateful to have the little apartment, but the house—and Newburgh—is where my heart is. That’s where I’m happy and home.
I love the wall paper in the vestibule/ entry way!! Is the new exterior light vintage or new?
It’s new! If you follow the link under the picture, you can read more about the light.
I’ve been adoring these retrospective posts Anna! Something about this one was just so impressive for me though; all that love in the little details is really inspiring. We’ve had our house for just on four years (so, soooo very different from yours – built in the ’70s, in Australia, on a little island, a couple hundred metres from the beach) and it’s a complete makeover job too. So I love seeing how even the seemingly small design decisions reflect your style. Love love love.
That’s such a nice thing to say, Janet. Thank you.
Wow… it’s come a long way over the past 5 years. Great job. My husband and I recently did a very small renovation (compared to yours). We still have a lot of details to fix…I’m so impressed by all the effort you’ve put into yours.
I love all these before and afters! It must be so rewarding for you guys to look back and see your handprint on so many little (and big!) places in your home. I voted for you over on the homies and I really, really hope you win! Best from Copenhagen!
I think I love your closet projects best – maybe because of the whole “small space, big impact, organizational inspiration” they offer.
You are my hero. There’s nothing else for me to say.
Amazing transformations. I love the closets that you have done over. It is much more difficult to redo tiny spaces.
I just came over from TCB. Can’t wait to see more.
Thumbs up to your mother – she did a great job with the staricase.
I just love it!
I’ve always wanted an old house, but these pictures kind of scare me… not sure I’d be up to the task. This was obviously a labor of love, and you’ve done such an amazing job. I especially love all your tile choices (the vestibule = swoony).
You are the BEST! :))
I love the finished jobs, just absolutely a relief for you I bet! I am still trying to paint my closet doors.. and finish my room. Not happening very fast, nor is it going so well. New homeownership lessons though! I am lucky that my mom is a master painter. She can show me how to do a lot of things.
You’re showing me, everything is possible, you just need to take the time to do it, and the reward is huge!!!
Man, I love your whole hallway/entryway situation.
Also, I totally remember how that post on your pantry got me all excited to clean up/fix the insides of my kitchen cabinets. Which… I should get on that!
Oh! And I was catching up on Chuck last weekend (this partially explains why I still haven’t done things I meant to do in 2008), and they totally played that Cornershop song you linked recently. It was such a random coincidence.
What’s Chuck? (TV show, I’m assuming…) Is it good?
I really need the organize the pantry, actually. It doesn’t look that neat and clean anymore!!
Yes it is. It’s entertaining. And it’s about nerds and spies so I like it. But it’s not life changing or anything.
That house sure was lucky to find you!
Sigh. Even your small spaces are gorgeous. I feel overwhelmed that I bought my house almost 2 years ago and I’m not nearly finished with half the projects I’ve started. And there’s just so many more that sometimes I feel like I’m so overwhelmed.
Your vestibule and stairwell are my current inspiration. (And I had plans to use that same wallpaper that you used in your upstairs hallway for my stairwell even before you posted your photos!)
ps Thanks for the sandblasting/powdercoating tips. I think I was calling the right places–but I’m going to be more persistent now. Did they also come out and take your tub for you? Or did you have to bring it to them? Can they do more than one color on the same item? I’m thinking black for the underside of the tub…
We paid them to come and get the tub/sink/radiators (and to bring them back again afterward). Clawfoot tubs and radiators are REALLY heavy, and even if we were physically capable of carrying them (we’re not), our car can’t support the weight. The powder coating guys have a Hummer (!)—this is one of the very few times that I think the profession actually warrants owning one of those beasts. 😉 They did require that everything be disconnected before they arrived, though (they’re not plumbers, after all), so it’s something you’ll need to coordinate well. We actually had our plumber disconnect everything when he was there to do a pre-work walkthrough to prepare his estimate.
They can definitely do two colors (they just mask off the areas that aren’t getting coated), but that might be more expensive. You might want to consider painting the outside of the tub yourself if it’s a really big price difference. Once it’s been sandblasted, you’ll get really good adhesion from a metal primer and high-gloss oil paint. You could even use a sprayer to get a perfectly uniform finish.
If out bathroom weren’t so tiny, we definitely would’ve considered black for the outside. Or even just black feet…!
so impressive. your attention to detail in those small spaces makes such a difference. renovating a house (or apartment) is definitely on my “someday” list! xo
Ooh, I LOVE “Before” and “After!” I’m knee-deep in some remodeling projects of my own right now, but our house is only about 6 years old and can’t touch the character, quality of construction, and level of architectural detail that your home possesses. I’m having some serious old house envy right now! I love the mosaic tile in your vestibule. Ugly before pictures are so important. It’s easy to get discouraged by the magnitude of the undone in a house that needs work. Photo documentation throughout can help you to remember where you started and to appreciate how far you’ve come.
Congratulations! The house looks amazing—you guys have done so much work and so quickly!
KATHY! You updated your blog!!!
The house looks beautiful. I went to college in Newburgh(MSMC). It’s nice to see one of these grand homes being restored. We are currently restoring a craftsman’s type cottage on Long Island.
I am a sucker for a good set of before and after photos! I just wanted to de-lurk for a moment to say “hi” and tell you that I really love the way your house is coming along. I admire your ability to stick to your simple palette. We are slowly remodeling our 1930s bungalow but I have to say that I have made more mistakes in color choices, etc. than I would have liked. Ah, well, that’s what re-painting is all about.
Happy 5 years!
I’m not sure why I never thought of this, but your post gave me the perfect idea of how to update my stairs in my run down apartment. Thanks!!!! Love the before and afters- Also I love your wallpapered shelves..another idea I might steal!
the love and care you two have put into this, the sweat and stamina, the resurrection of the old house, man. it does give me faith in human kind. you are so beautiful, to meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.
I’m kind of imagining Kermit singing that, for some reason. 🙂
Thank you thank you thank you – so glad I found your blog.
It makes me feel so much better about our reno – the tears, the frustration, taking years to finish projects…(it took me nearly a year to even patch the holes left by the electricians). It’s so refreshing to read about reno projects that aren’t perfect (though your results seem to be), or easy, and I’m always suspicious of those blogs that have every single step perfectly and beautifully documented. How do they do it? Sometimes it feels like they’re just renovating in order to blog about it, rather than blogging about a real renovation. Real people get tired and fed up and forget to photograph every angle in perfect light (though maybe I’m just a little jealous!).
Thanks for writing like a real person I can relate to, and for telling it like it is.
Your place looks amazing. Thanks for the inspiration!
I realize I’m posting this really late on a terribly old post, but it seemed the most logical place to ask the question if I was going to ask it! I notice you inherited the house with a crazy mix of door handles and locks, and that you’ve replaced everything with beautiful simple matching door handle sets and locks. My question is – how did you go about patching and filling the holes left behind? Also, did you manage to find a mortise lockset, or just a standard one? I have a door that looks like your before picture and I’m trying to figure out how to make it beautiful, weatherproof and secure!