Updated: Apr 23
Challenges are part of every design project. When tackling a remodel like this one, there is a hurdle at every turn. We initially thought we could turn this baby around in a month, and have it ready for friends to occupy while they built. Plus, summer in Montana is precious - it is so short- so we have held to a "no extra projects during July and August" rule since the kids were born. We love where we live and we want to PLAY! We finally finished the interior at the end of November, and are still plugging away at the exterior, so obviously that worked out the way we expected...
Sometimes though, the challenges in a renovation aren't just about how to fix something. Sometimes, the challenge is to stay on budget and to work within the perimeters of what the project allows. More often that not, these types of projects require creative problem-solving and thrift. They say necessity is the mother of invention and this project definitely proved that to be true. While we had initially hoped to spend about $15k on the repairs, we felt like we added a lot of value (thank you good ol' sweat equity) to this property beyond the $30k we ended up spending.
Design challenge: The flooring must stay and with much of the budgeting going to insulation, wiring and plumbing - we need an inexpensive way to update the main room.
One of my immediate goals in the homestead house was just to lighten up the wall colors and give them a fresh, clean coat of paint. The previous homeowners had recently updated the floors throughout the home. While we pulled out the flooring in the bedrooms to get down to that old, original wood floor, we didn't want to tackle all of that in the living and dining area. Plus, we didn't really know what we might find under the many, many layers of flooring. So, I really had to work with the existing flooring. Because the wall color was a brown, it really picked up the busy, repeated pattern in the floor color - and I wasn't really excited about the way the floor looked. I prefer warm, natural brown wood floors rather than the yellow tones. I also prefer subtle, neutral choices with contrast and bold choices as accents.
To be honest, the flooring choice was too loud for me. I disliked it. But, it had to stay. So I looked for a lighter paint with gray undertones. I ended up choosing Sherwin Williams Pearly White and it is amazing how it toned the floor down.
To add depth and to help take the focus off the floor, I added a bold, dark wall covering on the short end wall in the dining room. This Magnolia Home York Wallcovering in black pulls your eye up from the floor. The whimsical animal print is playful and fits the setting of this little cottage.
We didn't replace the windows in this room. Unfortunately they don't quite capture the massive mountain peaks just outside because they were centered on the wall (I get people were shorter back in the day, but this 5'3" gal still has to sit to see the peaks in here). To add height, Casey added a thicker, prettier casing to the windows. He also added a simple 1"x 4" crown to the top, as well as a thicker base trim to update the space. I painted it all a crisp white - just un-tinted Sherwin Williams semi-gloss base white. We also had my cousin mud and texture right over the 60s wood paneling. This is a temporary fix for this room, but it worked (because he is a drywall magician!). Where there was existing drywall, he was able to sand and re-texture to even out the look. It isn't perfect, but now those imperfections seem sort of charming rather than just an eye sore.
By layering a beautiful Loloi rug we added drama which breaks up the length of the busy floor. Plus, it is cozy underfoot.
Another necessary update was the fireplace. The propane insert works fine and helps take the mountain chill off in the mornings. It was painted a pretty drab shade of brown which I swapped for Sherwin Williams Worldly Grey, the same color as the painted wood floors in the bedrooms and kitchen. Repeating colors helps to keep the look cohesive. We removed the ill-fitting mantel, and Casey built a new one with thick, rough-cut lumber we bought from RBM. I stained the wood a warmer tone. Then, instead of the mid-century mirror above it, we opted to add height and break up the long wall by installing an accent of shiplap. Since the older part of the home has so much character going on (logs, shiplap, beadboard, battenboard), the main room needed something too. This little touch of shiplap works really helps to create a focal point in the awkward space and covers up gaps in the paneling until we can give this portion of the house a serious renovation.
Most of the room remains simple, but now the fire place is the centerpiece. I had found this sweet old mountain goat mount at an estate sale. His ears are pretty tattered; he cost me $15. We've named him William - he certainly approves of updates to this space.
I found this amazing primitive cabinet at the Shops at Station 8. It works perfectly as a base for the TV. The heat pump/air conditioning unit was also a design challenge, but it doesn't draw as much attention now that the walls are lighter. I'm on the hunt for a cozy chair for this corner of the living room. It is the perfect bird-watching spot with views of huge Ponderosa Pines and a large waterfowl area fill the big windows.
Now that things seem to be returning to normal, I am hopeful I'll find a few, final accent pieces while I'm out shopping vintage markets and garage sales. In addition to a sweet arm chair, I'm looking for a pretty landscape for above the couch. I did end up finding a small, tufted sectional online at Home Depot. The room is 15 feet wide and over 30 feet long, so the best solution for the space was a sectional couch in a neutral linen.
In addition the flooring in the main living area, we kept some flooring in the back of the house.
In the small back entryway the original paint colors were pulled from the colorful laminate tile floor - we removed this floor out of the kitchen and replaced it with wood, but decided to keep it in this back area. By going with a neutral wall color, and adding bead board wainscot and trim for character, the floor settled down and plays nice in the space. We added a primitive hutch I scored for $50 at a garage sale as a makeshift pantry.
The same floor goes into the powder room which got a makeover too. I can't seem to find a before picture of this space, but it is a quirky little room and had no heat (hello freezing pipes) or light, save the lighted vintage medicine cabinet. Details on the dry-sink vanity with the enamel bowl sink are in this post.
Many times budget restraints and logistics seem to limit the scope of what you can do within a space, but sometimes just simplifying the paint colors and adding a bit of fun with wallcoverings you can really make a huge difference in the end result without spending a ton of money.