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This Old House

January 7, 2010
There comes a time in every home’s life when changes must be made.  Things grow old. Families grow bigger. Young homeowners grow up, and realize that what they thought looked good ten years ago really…doesn’t. Our house was ready for some serious change.

This white metal jug is one of my favorite finds--discovered it in a little Amish store in Tennessee. I'm sure it's totally Amish.


A few years ago, I grew frustrated with my home. I grew frustrated with old carpets—a frustration that increased when we adopted a Chihuahua puppy. I learned very quickly that as lovable as they are (and they are very, very lovable) small dogs have even smaller bladders and even smaller brains, and they are not easy to potty train. Ancient brown carpet looks a lot like dirt to an infant Chihuahua.

I grew frustrated with my countertops, which were equally ancient laminate and beginning to show signs of age in cracked edges and a fading seal around the sink, which was not a practical, durable stainless steel, but some sort of ceramic. Battered, love bruised ceramic.

I grew frustrated with my ancient braided throw rugs, which bore the marks of Boo the Cat’s claws (so named after one of my favorite literary characters), as well as long, vertical slashes from moving furniture a bit too carelessly throughout the years.

I was frustrated with the UGLY light fixtures in our bathroom (I mean, my husband is in wholesale electrical supplies, for sweet pete’s sake) that have been there since 1900 and froze to death. Can I get a pretty light fixture. Anyone? And maybe a mirror that doesn’t look like it belongs in a school or a prison?

I grew frustrated with my walls, which were littered with the marks of traffic and a bored Lawson and Autumn. Adorned with scuff marks, pencil, and tape etchings, they needed some attention.

And thus I started painting, because my house has a lot of walls, and as my husband has a pretty firm “I don’t paint” policy dating back from our dating days,  I knew I was pretty much on my own. I also started leafing through home-improvement and decorating magazines,  tearing out pictures of stuff I liked and sticking them in a notebook–my “wish” book. A few years, a lot of paint cans, several hundred visits to my chiropractor, and (I confess) the blessed help of a high school student later, I am done. DUN. Well, except for some shades on a couple of windows, and Autumn’s new bedroom furniture, which isn’t arriving until January 18th—so I’m not taking pictures of her room until then.

I’m honestly not sure what possessed me to negotiate for carpet and countertop installation during the month of December—probably the simple fact that I always have a breakfast on Christmas morning, and my level of frustration had risen to the point that I was bound and determined to see this home improvement stuff through the end. It’s made for a rough last couple of months. In fact, if you’re ever thinking about renovating during the month of December, I can pretty much tell you what you can expect—

  • late nights
  • no television. Thank God for Tivo.
  • No Facebook.
  • no blog-time, to the point where you start getting concerned emails and phone calls. “Are you okay? Have you fallen off the earth?”
  • miserable mornings waiting desperately for a large, loaded Mickey D’s sweet tea
  • lots of “please excuse my kid for being tardy. For some reason all the clocks are different times….” notes
  • No social life, although your friends will tell you they still love you, and will still be there when you get out of prison finish renovating
  • Huge piles of laundry to dig through for clean underwear, towels, and jeans.
  • Lots of take-out .
  • Getting a Christmas tree up and sort of decorated, but that’s about it. And feeling GOOD about that.
  • Crossing out the “Merry Christmas” on your Christmas cards and switching it to “Happy New Years!”

And finally…

  • Absolutely LOVING your house when you’re done, and knowing that every sacrifice made was worth it.

Enjoy my photo journey—Carrie, this is completely for you, you photo hog. You wanted pictures and you got ‘em.

Den updates: paint (RL suede), rug, tv stand and end tables, odds and ends.

The Charlie Brown tree--I decorate it seasonally. Right now it's snowmen and winter stuff.

Kitchen updates: removed border, paint (RL suede) new wall stuff (some pictured), new curtains, replaced counters, area rug...

I'm a canister gal--these came from World Market and Wally World.

This is our built-in corner hutch. I re-did the contents, selling my old, never used fancy china that I saw no use for (because I'm just not a fancy person) and instead putting in all these great old pieces of crockery and baskets that were sitting around taking up space. Now they can take up space inside the hutch.

Lawson's bedroom--updates: paint (NO SUEDE!), new carpet, art on walls.

We love superheroes.

The bed is one I salvaged from the side of the road, paid $50 for, and fixed up. It's been great. Linens: PBK and Target.

Living room--updates--new carpet, paint a few years ago (RL suede)

This is a big room. To take up some wall space, I framed a couple of scrapbook pages I did of 8x10 photos of my kids.

I have a thing for black and white photos and quilts. The one in front was made by my gma. The one behind is an antique. I made one, once, but it's butt ugly and now gone.

Master b-room updates--paint (RL suede), new carpet, wall stuff, odds and ends.

Took me freaking months to find a quilt I liked. It was on the top shelf at BB& Beyond. I probably walked by it a hundred times.

This is probably the only "studio" picture in my entire home. We don't do them. Can't stand 'em. Yech.

More quilts. Told you I had a thing.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. January 7, 2010 12:56 pm

    I LOVE your pictures!!

    House-changing is definitely a PROCESS.

  2. January 7, 2010 1:07 pm

    Wow, Lori… what a beautiful home! You can come visit me in about 15 years once most of the kids have left and I can get around to decorating the way I’d like to.

    Nice work!

  3. January 7, 2010 5:01 pm

    Your house is stunning! Beautiful! Thank you for the awesome tour! Can’t wait to see Autumn’s room when it’s done!
    Thank you for sharing your life with us!

  4. Lori permalink*
    January 7, 2010 7:14 pm

    Thanks, Jessica (if only you knew how many pictures of random things I have stored on my computer and portable drive…)–and YES, it is. Fun at times, a pain in the butt most of the rest of the time, and a lesson in patience all the time.

  5. Lori permalink*
    January 7, 2010 7:17 pm

    Thanks, Gerb. I caught just a little glimpse into yours with a pic of your youngest and I think yours is pretty cool, too–I love those little peeks, you know? And I CANNOT WAIT for Autumn’s furniture to arrive. Her room is going to be so sweet–browns, creams, pinks, and this great little captain’s bed that I’m pretty sure she can’t destroy. 🙂

  6. Lori permalink*
    January 7, 2010 7:21 pm

    Thanks, Cee! I was aiming more for comfy than stunning, but hey, I’ll take it! 😉 I’ll be sure to take the pics of Autumn’s room as soon as her furniture gets here–I’ll be so glad to trade her beat-up starter set for her “I’m almost a teenager and sort of deserving of grown-up stuff” furniture.

  7. January 9, 2010 12:17 pm

    It’s good to get another ‘glimpse’ into your life…I saw some of your property on your Mentos video and this is another nice little snippet.

    I am interested to know what the house looked like before the renovations were done…like the ‘before’ and ‘after’ pictures in a diet ad, it makes the end result all the more stunning.

  8. Lori permalink*
    January 9, 2010 7:41 pm

    I like glimpses, too. 😉 That was actually my in-law’s driveway on the Mentos video, but it’s all connected, which is nice. We can walk through the fields/woods to get from one house to another. When my in-laws decided to build their big ole beautiful monstrosity of a house, it was right around time for us to be buying a home, so they were kind enough to give us first dibs on the piece of property they were selling. It was great for us to be able to keep Duane’s childhood home in the family, and also to not have to split up any of the acreage. Everything around us is kind of turning into subdivision overnight, it seems, so it’s great to have some wide-open spaces for the kids to roam.

    As for “before” pictures…I thought about taking them, I really did. And then I thought, I really just don’t want to remember this. And most of it was cosmetic, with the exception of the counters. It’s the difference in looking at a Barbie pink room vs a brown and cream room, or in Lawson’s case–shades of blue. When we start some “heavy duty” renovation, like the bathroom (which will involve ripping out floors and cabinets) and the basement (which will involve adding sheetrock and all sorts of other lovely things) I probably will take pictures. Those will be stunners, I can promise you.

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