There’s nothing like being welcomed into a home with a neat and organized entryway. It’s the stuff that makes me heave a sigh of contentment. But this old house did not a welcome entry have.
What it did have was… potential.
Upon first viewing, the partially wallpapered, partially stucco walls were covered in an area with what appeared to be mold. Thankfully, on careful inspection, I realized it was a faux sponge treatment gone terribly, terribly wrong (slightly shiny dark brown paint sponged on = no. Just no.)
Worried that the bank inspector would jump to the mold conclusion like we had, we may have tried to cover it up…Before anyone freaks out, we did remove part of that wall later and no, definitely not mold. Just a faux pas 😉 It was all good, I promise.
The biggest issue was that it was evident that people had tried to break in, on what appeared to be more than one occasion, since it was vacant for so long. A new door was ordered that first week at Remodelers Outlet in Fall River.
The biggest functional issue was the doorway opening to the right (when coming in), which meant you had to squish yourself into the corner on the front porch up against an outside wall to unlock the door (the keyhole would be shielded by the shadow of one’s body if we tried to enter that way at night) and once in, you’d have to push past a cast iron heater and go directly into the dining room to the left to be able to then close said door.
If you were coming in alone, ok, fine, it could be handled, but when welcoming in guests, it was a foreseeable nightmare:
Guests would be left outside in the cold, possibly pushed off the front steps by the door swinging out onto the porch. Others would make their way in, only to be scalded by the radiator or scared to death by their hidden hostess, who’d have to wait behind the door to let them in. Everyone would be corralled into the dining room before they could even get their coats off, let alone any wet or snow clad shoes.
Add in two little kids that would be coming in behind us every day and the scenario with the heater seemed even worse. Shudder.
With a new door, came a new swing. I told my dad my plans and in true designer fashion, he said it couldn’t be done; that it wouldn’t make sense. Me, being equally stubborn, protested and said I was going to switch it anyways and had already ordered the door.
Not until he came to finish the install process of trimming it out and tucking the door under the eyebrow arch of shingles on the porch did he concede and tell me I was right. Hahahaha, no, he never said that. What he did say was “Hmmmm, you could put a screen door on this now and it would open flush to the house from the outside and your front door would be opened flush to the wall on the inside.” Translation: YOU WERE RIGHT and IT LOOKS GREAT. I smiled and agreed, knowing what he meant. I’m sure it’s hard at times for a type A, perfectionist, trained designer, builder, and architectural illustrator to see that his equally type A, perfectionist, stubborn daughter could be equally as creative in the design world. He’s great at what he does and every time we get stuck with how to do this or figure out that, he figures it out. Every.Single.Time. Hugs to dad.
Finally, we had a new door. Cue the hallelujah chorus!
But once when I walked back in, the only thing it had going for it was the staircase up to the second floor with its original newel post and an interesting up-a-few-steps to go over down -a-few-steps into the kitchen. Oh, and this free piece of furniture from our friend who found it abandoned on the street in Boston on trash day. It was free, it fit perfectly in its intended nook, it was real wood, it provided extra storage and it fit the age of the house. Perfection.
I had fallen in love with the fuzzy pink damask wallpaper. Even Mr. G started to like it and helped me search for matching rolls online. Lo and behold, we found a match! I ordered two more rolls from two different eBay sellers and waited. Unfortunately, one was peachy pink and the other was slightly faded. Our painter friend who was stuck in our house scraping popcorn ceilings told us that because of the plastic stucco like effect that had going in the hall, the wallpaper would just keep pulling away like it was already doing in many spots. The crevices in the plaster would create air gaps that the wallpaper would be unable to adhere to.
So, we resold the wallpaper on eBay. I think we broke even.
We finally stripped the remaining wallpaper and then set to work covering over the stucco with mud. Our same painter friend has dubbed this house “The Mud House” because of the number of 5 gallon buckets of mud it took to make things smooth and level (and we’re not done yet).
I had come across so many board and batten type wall treatments on Pinterest and finally got Mr. G interested in attempting to do it. He roped our painter friend into helping him one afternoon and I came home to this:
Unfortunately, it came too high up on the wall which overwhelmed me and it didn’t line up with anything else in the space that was horizontal which I knew would bug my slight obsessive compulsion. He begrudingly took out the mini saw thingie and cut along the spot I wanted taking off several inches of board. Then our painter friend had to come back and mud, sand and paint some more. He was really happy about that.
Finally, with vertical planks in place, it was time to caulk, sand, prime and paint it all white with cashmere paint. I let our painter friend do this even though I love to paint because he’s even more obsessive compulsive than me when it comes to this stuff and it was all wood and the first thing people would now see when they came in so it only made sense that he do it.
Next came the stripping of old varnish and stain off the stair treads, landing and entryway floor, which had seem quite alot of water/steam damage from the radiator (and missing door weather stripping). This past August, during one of the hottest weeks of the summer, our poor painter friend cocooned himself in our wicked muggy house to sand. And sand. And sand some more. Then he cut his foot on the triangle scraping tool and bled all over the place. So he had to sand some more.
It took longer than expected and there’s still some work to be done (the main banisters need to be sanded and stained and the two steps going into the kitchen need to be completed).
Almost there….but not quite
It’s been a welcomed relief to all of us, with the girls having a designated place to hang backpack and coats (we added 3 lower hooks for their backpacks and my bag) which makes the mornings for Mr. G run much smoother getting them off to school.
The best part of it all was being able to welcome our family and friends in this Christmas Eve, with a cozy entrance, and even a place to hang coats. Welcome!
- Antique mirror – another freebie from our friend (belonged to his great uncle from Boston area)
- Umbrella bucket – Dairy bucket from an Attleboro farm purchased this November on our way back from our 15th anniversary weekend in Newport, RI Aardvark Antiques
- Umbrellas were freebies from a friend – Now defunct Verig airlines, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (pink and tropical with wooden handles – the girls love them)
- Picture frames – 2 were freebies from my sister, other from Marshall’s for $7. “You are my home” printed offline, photo of our house in its former glory, and summer picture taken of our toes in the sand along the water’s edge. If I can’t be home, then I want to be at the beach. My Other Happy Place
- “Take me up!” basket on stairs from Target – a great place to gather stuff from the 1st floor that needs to be taken upstairs (now, if everyone would just empty it every day…)
- Double coat hooks purchased from Amazon: Amerock H55445ORB Medium Coat and Hat Hook – Oil-Rubbed Bronze
- Gold lamp from Target a year ago (similar ones here: Target )
- Chevron rug from Ocean State Job about a year ago for $30
- Old sled – antique store in Warren; Canadian skates (from a yard sale box my mom set aside – thanks, Mom!), milk jugs from another antique store in Johnston, RI, The Hope Chest which apparently is now closed 😦 bummer
- “Merry” sign, skis and my gray felt tote are all from the dollar section of Target (I HEART the dollar section of Target)