Just thought I’d share a little about two sort of major updates that have happened in my home this past month. We’ve lived in our home for a little less than two years (see my empty house tour here) and Trey and I are both feeling like it’s going to be our home for a long, long time (although I guess you never really know the future, but that’s what we’re planning for now). Obviously no house is perfect, although we definitely love this one a lot. But for most of the time we’ve lived here I’ve really wanted to find ways to make the space feel brighter. The house has plenty of windows (although I wouldn’t mind more and even three skylights in the main living area.
But there are a number of factors that make the space surprisingly dark. First, we have quite a few large, mature trees in our backyard and even a few in the front. We had one removed last year (it was dead and very close to our garage, so one good ice storm could have knocked it into our house), but don’t plan to remove anymore unless they become unhealthy. But the main two factors are we had very dark brown wood laminate floors throughout the house, and second, in the main living areas we have wood ceilings that aren’t really super dark, but make the space much darker than if we had traditional white textured ceilings or something.
I thought about the floors forever. Basically, I felt a lot of guilt around getting rid of (and buying new) floors since ours were in good shape and likely pretty new. But they were the exact opposite color I’d want if I had chosen them. And then the wood ceilings were a real struggle. The ceilings were really something that caught the eye of both Trey and I when we first saw the house. But after living with the ceilings awhile, I guess I started to feel that the rustic, yellow look just wasn’t something I really liked all the time. I think it’s kind of like when you see a friend wear a really interesting cut dress, but then you try it on and it’s just not right for you. That’s how I felt about the ceilings; they are cool, just maybe not something I really wanted. But changing them would be a much bigger commitment than buying a new dress.
So Trey and I talked about these things for a long time, basically the last few years. And we finally decided that if we felt this was the house we plan to stay in for a long time, then we might as well really make it our own (on a timeline we can afford, so not everything at once).
First, let’s talk about the ceiling. I got a quote from a contractor we love to work with and after realizing how (mostly) simple the process was going to be, I decided that I would just stain the ceilings myself. I still don’t know if the wood on our ceilings was ever sealed. I’ve had multiple people look at it with me, including a few professionals. It seemed like it wasn’t sealed, just raw wood. However, I guess none of us believe it since that seemed kind of lazy. Still, it did look good, so I can see why the last homeowner left them that way. So I decided to just test a few pieces and get my process down on staining it. I wanted it to look kind of whitewashed, so you’d still see all the wood grain, but the overall tone/look would be softer and whiter. My friend Mara sent me a link to this house and immediately realized that’s pretty much what I was envisioning.
Our ceilings are 12 feet high at the tallest point, so I have to work on a (rented) scaffolding as I stain. I am doing the whole thing by hand, with stain sponges and rags, because I have more control that way and it’s hard enough to get it looking even when you’re sort of working upside down. Plus, I’m pretty afraid of heights. I just try not to look down when I’m doing the higher parts. I’ve been using Minwax water-based wood stain. They have a clear tint base you can add colors to and I added a white shade called Marshmallow (it’s a cooler white). I’m currently halfway done and probably will just need to rent the scaffolding for another week to finish it up soon. I’m overall really happy with it in person, but I think in photos the effect is much less noticeable. Sort of an optical illusion in that way, I guess.
Here you can see a side-by-side comparison, as I’m only half done so far. I think once I’m totally done it will be hard to even tell a big difference, but as you can see, it’s there! And it makes the space feel a little brighter and less warm/yellow-y.
We had the floors redone by our contractor and his team. The flooring I choose is this in San Marco Oak and I am REALLY happy with it. I actually can’t believe it took me so long to do it because I am seriously over-the-moon happy with the floors. They make the house feel SO different. And in case you are curious, we donated our old floors to our Habitat for Humanity ReStore, as a really large portion of them were in great shape and uncut. So they could easily be useful for other homes or a few rooms, at least.
So that’s a little update on our house. If you follow me on IG (@emmaredvelvet), you may have seen lots of peeks of the house while it was in progress. And I’m hoping to finish the ceilings this coming week, so maybe I’ll post a few more from my perch on the scaffolding or something. Thanks for letting me share! xo. Emma
Credits // Author and Photography: Emma Chapman. Photos edited with the A Beautiful Mess actions.