Exterior Makeover. Part I.

Beechwood is getting all fancy on the outside these days.

She looked pretty from afar, but Beechwood was all reddish-brown on the trim and yellowish on the stucco… Peeling and rotting and all sorts of no good.

We hired my Dad and his buddy Larry to do the job, knowing that we would be helping out. They often do paint jobs on the weekends… It was unfortunate that Christian had to fly to Japan for work on Saturday and not be around for the bulk of the weekend. But, we got quite a bit done nonetheless.

We choose a dark bronze for the trim and a neutral light grey for the stucco, which are much more traditional colors, and the work began.

The tallest peak of the house required a 40 foot ladder. My Dad is up there in the trees…

A majority of the work proved to be restoration oriented. Lots of scraping, patching, and caulking. When you’re 84 years old, you need all the help you can get.

All of the front lower windows had wood storms attached that needed painstakingly painted as well.

The front of the house is almost finished at this point and looks amazing. We just need to paint the front door a bright, fun color and it will be all good.

All fresh…

and pretty.


It seems so much lovlier now that the cedar shake is stained and the bathroom windows are painted.

Part II tomorrow…

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Onto the Basement…

It’s been just about a year since we moved in. The upstairs is complete for the most part and since Christian can’t be without a project, the basement remodel begins. The basement here is a strange place… Lots of built-in cabinets in weird sizes and shapes in random locations.

The ultimate plan is to create a laundry room, furnace room, and a bigger room that can serve as a family room of sorts since we don’t have one upstairs. Walls will go up, tile will go down, but first demolition.

Christian begins demolition in the basement.

Which has caused our back porch to become a junk storage room again.

Old wood and other junk from the built-ins in the back room. It's all going out to the garbage tonight. I'm sure the garbage men love us.

More updates to follow…

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The Rest of the Upstairs

We’ve named our two guest rooms in terms of their genetic appeal: the “girl’s room” and the “boy’s room.” The boys room has a sort of 1970’s masculine style and the girls room is decidedly more beachy-floral.

Girl’s Room

Girl's Room Before - More Yellow.

Girl's Room After.

The vintage black chair was left behind, some estate sale artwork, and some of Nicole's photography. And Mr. Fat.

Boy’s Room

Boy's room before with ugly wallpaper and random shelves.

Boy's room after. The striped duvet is from Crate & Barrel.

We needed a dresser for the boy’s room and he best places to pick up real mid-century furniture are craigslist, estate sales and thrift stores. This Kroehler low-bay came from the salvation army with matching mirror for about $25.

The dresser before.

The dresser after Christian did an amazing job refinishing it. The crazy cool black puma is from an estate sale, the lamp on the dresser is vintage from Craisglist, and framed artwork was drawn by the previous owner and left behind.

Just some fun garage sale items to make it look super "Mad Men." The magazine "Motor Boating" is from 1945 and super cool inside.

The rhino head is from Anthropologie via Craislist.

The orange chair was Christian's Great-Grandfather's.

The Bathroom.

Peach tile, wallpaper, and lots of yellow in the hallway.

The peach tile is still there, but the wallpaper and the yellow are gone. And Mr. Fat. Again.

Striped curtains from Crate & Barrel on the windows on the landing.

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Brown and Gray

Ceiling fans are not our favorite things, but since Beechwood doesn’t have central air, they are absolutely necessary.  What isn’t necessary is keeping the old, faux oak ones that were hanging in every bedroom. Garbage pickers love them though and they were gone within minutes of the trash being put out.

Master Bedroom Before

Anyway, when decorating our house we’re usually pretty strategic– we tend to start with some sort of building block like a paint color or piece of furniture and branch out from there. We work off that idea when adding things to a room so that what we pick up has some sort of reason for being.

In the case of our bedroom though, we just sort of rushed to finish it without much thought. What we ended up with was a Big Beige Bedroom. Walls: builder beige, Pillows: brown, Rug: brown, Duvet: 2 colors of brown. Now, although we’ve got a lot of neutrals in the house,  we’ve tried to temper them with color. Not so in the bedroom, we picked our color off the Behr tri-fold neutral palate idiot guide.  At least the cats found it soothing.

Master Bedroom After (Round One)

All sorts of browns...

After 3 months of builder beige Christian had a sort of mini-tantrum and decided to paint the entire room a quite controversial “blah” gray. At least we added the much needed pops of color now though.

Master Bedroom After (Round Two)

Gray with pops of color! The peacock duvet is a splurge from Dwell Studio, vintage lamp is from Etsy, and the big canvas was painted by Christian.

Another vintage clock. This one works, but is so loud Nicole can't sleep, so it is not wound. The bust is from Fred's Unique Furniture.

Small glass vintage table is from a garage sale and the water buffalo and bottom book are from an antique store up north. The top one is an old French Bernard Moitessier book about sailing around Cape Horn purchased off the street in Paris.

Master Bedroom Details: Mr. Dandy, the monocle wearing cat is from Etsy, Eamesesque chair via Craiglist and Mr. Gibbs (as we like to call him) from the Salvation Army, and some random artwork with a retro swag lamp and giant vintage globe.

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Wallpaper on the door.

Unfortunately, we had wallpaper in both bathrooms, one bedroom, the office, and in our entryway. The worst part though, was that we had it on a few doors too. Not sure it was ever cool to wallpaper a door…

Anyway, here’s our office. It’s a tiny room off the back of the living room and one of the wallpapered rooms.

The office before... With yellow / green textured wallpaper & carpet and yellow curtains

The wall paper did not want to come off the walls without taking chunks of the wall with it. Christian spent hours skim coating and sanding the walls to get them back into reasonable shape.

All the wallpaper is gone and the carpet has been removed. Painting starts and boy was that crazy with eleven windows and two french doors.

All gussied up withe asparagus colored paint and white trim. The two black and white stand-outs on the right are photographs of Detroit. The top one is by Nicole and the bottom by Christian. On the left, the numbers piece and the ink drawing of the Book Tower are from the Ferndale DIY Fair. The Dia Day Los Muertos art is by our photographer friend.

The ceiling was painted a metallic copper to make the not so hot ceiling tiles look better. The light fixture is custom made from birch. And we are Mac vs. PC... sort of funny!

And now, onto the downstairs bathroom. One of the rooms with a wallpapered door… Our “airplane bathroom” is the size of a 737 lavatory, it’s baby tiny. We actually used it as-is for a while, flushing 8 gallons down the drain with every toilet usage and splashing warm and cold water from hand to hand in the dual faucet sink. Our contractor thought the toilet was “beautiful” and told us he knew a guy that could refinish the sink.

We gave him the toilet. We tossed the sink. And then painted the walls jet black.

Yuck. Everything is soooo dirty and floor is rotten.

The wallpaper has been steamed off and luckily didn't take too much of the walls.

A new corner sink and toilet were installed, black and white retro tiles put down on the walls and floor, and the walls painted black.

We found two long mirrors for the wall above the sink, put up Christian's photo of the "Enjoy Detroit" sign in a vintage frame and repurposed the back hall light fixture with an Edison style bulb. A funny little arrow pointing down at the toilet completed the look. Love.

We were lucky enough to have our bathroom make-over featured on Apartment Therapy.

And finally, the dining room. For whatever reason, we never took any before photos of it. It’s very purple now though.

The wall color is Plum Shade by Behr. We found the crystal chandelier in a little resale shop in Royal Oak for a steal. The table is West Elm via Craigslist and the small table in the background was Nicole's grandparents.

17325 is our house number on display using our wedding table numbers. The antique heart chair belong to Christian's grandmother.

Stained glass ship detail.

Tray on display is a DIY project made from circles cut from all our wedding cards and paper items.

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Our kitchen was totally gross. Really.

Our kitchen was gross. It really wasn’t usable. We knew it was a big project, so we got started the day we closed.

While we were ripping it apart we found old newspapers in the walls documenting the previous remodels in 1955 and 1973. Our assumption is that the white upper cabinets, the built-ins and the totally cool but impractical Thermador oven and warming tray were installed in the 50’s and the awful blue cabinets, Formica counters and linoleum floor (installed over original hardwood) and crazy vinyl wallpaper were done in the 70’s.

Christian and his friend Roy, who is quite adept a breaking things, demo’d most of the room in half a Saturday. Nothing was kept except the windows. The original hardwood floors were in such bad shape we had to rip them out and replace them.  Our floor guy Jesse was enlisted to install new oak and matched it to the rest of the house just perfectly.

Our contractor Fred did the rest of the work and the end result made cooking in the basement for 2.5 months with a microwave worth it.

Kitchen before

Kitchen before, with a crazy small vintage oven

Demo begins

Demo begins

Everything goes

We discovered that the kitchen may have been two tiny rooms at one time. Notice all the stuff piled in the dining room.

Everything is out. The original hardwood floor had so many nails in it, we had to replace it.

Walls, floor and ceiling are finished. The maple shaker style cabinets we chose start to be installed.

It's finally finished... Stainless appliances and range hood along with black granite and a neutral colored backsplash complete it.

Kitchen after

We framed an old piece of the wallpaper and have it on the counter in homage to the old kitchen.

We wanted to have a range hood and we did not want to have a bulky microwave on the counter, so our contractor installed an outlet in our pantry cabinet and we tucked a little microwave in there.

Kitchen after

Cookbooks on the counter and our recipe box from one of our wedding showers.

Pascal Normand's retro artwork.

Porcelain pig sponge holder... A gift from Christian to Nicole.

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Happy Anniversary

In honor of our one year anniversary of buying Beechwood, we’ve decided to post a bunch of photos.  After lots of late nights and too many gallons of paint, this is where we’re at. Warning: the before shots are frightening and may not be suitable for owners of new construction.  More posts to come.

Entryway Before

Entryway After

Photos are from Christian's Great-Grandmother's farm in NH, refinished wood floors, and the original entryway mosaic tile.

Family shield on the window in the hall closet and the lion on the front door.

Canvas collage made with a photo of Nicole's Grandparents, Christian's photo from St. Curvy, and a sunburst mirror.

Display in the foyer complete with a little buddha purchased in San Francisco, rocks from the beach in Nice, France from our honeymoon, and our wedding photo.

Mean old Doris loved her yellow:

Living Room Before

Living Room Before

Living Room under construction.

Living Room After

Living Room After

End table vignette, complete with a ship on canvas picked up at the Royal Oak Antique & Garage Sale, a lamp frankensteined together by Christian, and a little Seth Thomas clock from an estate sale.

Morgan sofa in linen from Macy's, Allegra Hicks for West Elm flower pillow, and a mid-century modern couple and their cat.

Seth Thomas clock picked up at Fred's Unique Furniture and two clocks on the mantle. One is from Vogue Vintage, the other from an estate sale. None of them work, but we like them anyway.

Another old photograph from Christian's Great-Grandmother's farm hangs above the mantle.

Our wedding place cards framed on an end table.

Books picked up at an estate sale... The bird is from Target.

A cool piece of art from the DIY Fair in Ferndale.

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