We were thrilled to find our first house in Berwyn, Illinois, 10 miles from downtown Chicago and on the commuter train line. After looking for an entire year (thanks to our patient realtor Chris) we found a gem – a Chicago Bungalow with all of its original woodwork and character. We were only the third owners of this 100-year-old home. It needed a lot of work: repair on the stucco exterior, electrical rewiring, insulation, window restoration, storms and screens, a new chimney, a roof, as well as cosmetic work throughout. Over the seven years we lived there, we attacked all of those updates as well as remodeling the bathroom, updating the kitchen, adding a fence and designing gardens around the entire property.
(Please excuse the not-so-good quality of the photos)
The house was painted white with wedgewood blue trim. I really wanted to embrace the natural, neutral colors that were popular in the Arts and Crafts movement. Painting windows a dark color on a light colored house always gives it a real punch. For the trim I chose an earthy khaki color. We replaced the house numbers with ceramic tiles from Rejuvenation Hardware.
The porch swing belonged to my grandparents. I remember my grandpa taking it off of its frame in the yard and putting in the garage when it rained. I would always ask him why he didn’t just leave it out in the rain and he would say that you need to take care of things if you want them to last. I staked a claim on that swing long ago.
As soon as I saw this 150-year-old house in Charleston Illinois I knew that we could make it our own. It was dirty, dark and unloved but had so much potential to be a happy and bright family home. You can read more about what brought us to Charleston in my interview with Design Mom.
The house was white with decorative green shutters for at least 100 years. After living here for 2 years I decided that we needed to go dark. I love the monochromatic Colonial homes in New England, especially Massachusetts homes like The House of Seven Gables and The Orchard House that were built in the late 1600s.
In 1864 our house was originally built in the Carpenter Gothic style. Then in 1920 the second owners added a Georgian Colonial Revival style by changing the facade. The gingerbread trim and the porch were removed and a portico with columns was added. The bay windows in the front of the house were replaced with french doors.
I found the combination of styles confusing and think that the monochromatic, dark paint job solidified the look. We chose Sherwin Williams color Dark Knight for the exterior with Nervy Hue for a pop of color on the door.
It was a sad day when this clock broke. It was just an office clock from Target, but I loved the fake wood and the minimal font. Oh well. Months ago our kittens somehow knocked it off the wall and it couldn’t be repaired. Steve wanted to chuck it, but I wanted to save it (imagine that!).
I figured that some day, I would have something round that I would want to frame.
In our old house we made a great little mudroom. Last week I showed you the before and after of the bookcase I used for shoe storage. Well, across from the shoe shelf there was room for another storage piece. This time I went rummaging in my basement and found this old chest.
It was from my grandparents’ bedroom. When my mom and I were cleaning their house out I was working in their bedroom and right inside the door there was a pile of laundry. There was always a pile of laundry there. I never really thought about it because I knew it was clean, folded laundry. I guess I assumed that the pile was sitting on a table, but it wasn’t. It was set on top of a chest and the chest was covered with a small blanket. Total mystery piece. My mom had never noticed it before either so we have no idea where it came from. I am not a fan of its style, which I call “pirate-ship chic,” but I guess it’s really “Early American,” I decided I would put it into my storage space with all of the rest of the furniture and “treasures” I found. Finally it came in handy.
Sanding, primer, red glossy paint did the trick, just like with the bookcase. I had some Marimekko fabric leftover from working on a girls’ 1980s bedroom for the John Cusack movie “High Fidelity” (I save everything cute!). I added some poly fiber fill from old pillows and stretched the fabric over the top and the back piece. Now it’s a colorful and comfy place to sit, perfect for a mudroom.
Hold on to those old, good quality pieces and repurpose them!
Our former house had a small breezeway/entrance that was created when the back porch was removed to allow for a rear deck. I knew right away that it was the perfect size for a mini-mudroom. The previous owner had covered the walls with sheets of “wood” bead board. Some paint cheered it right up!
I was excited to use some cool vintage hooks I had, but needed some shoe storage. A quick trip to my mom’s basement brought me to a very dirty old book shelf that had been used to store paint. It wasn’t pretty – yet!
All it needed was a sanding, a coat of primer and a few coats of glossy red. I really love what a little paint will do to brighten up your world.