The end is coming into hazy view on the horizon . . . of phase one, anyway. Phase one of at least three (but probably more like thirty-seven) phases of the fixer-upping of Gramblewood. Our contractor says he’ll be done with the kitchen and the upstairs in about two weeks. I need to finish all the painting upstairs. And we need some furniture. I’m hoping that once school is done for the year at the end of this week, I can really focus on that stuff. And THEN, we can move upstairs, and unpack all the boxes in the garage that we packed up last June (unless I “accidentally” set them all on fire to avoid that), and we can start cooking IN our HOUSE. Crazy. But true.

I’m thinking we’ll be up there in a month. Or by the end of June anyway. We shall see.

I knew going into this that a big issue a lot of people have with remodeling a house is decision-fatigue. How it feels so exciting to be choosing things at the beginning of the process, but that by the end you’re just throwing darts at an old Ballard Designs catalog that came in the mail to the previous owner because you have no more cares to give.

Maybe I’ll get there, we have a long way to go. But so far, I’m still having fun with it. And in a lot of ways, I feel like I’m only now rounding into mid-season form. I’m getting better at this. I’m actually feeling grateful that I wasn’t more organized about my design choices before we moved in, because now that we’ve had some time to live in the house, I’m definitely making different choices.

Some modernizing is going to be necessary in a house built in 1920 that still had a few push button light switches around, but the longer I’m in the house, the more I appreciate the craftsmanship that went into all this old stuff, despite its current shabbiness. I had to watch Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries and Gran Hotel again on Netflix. For important historical research. And now maybe Poirot? If I’m method designing, I need to stay in character.

I’ve been able to find light fixtures and doors and doorknobs at local architectural salvage places and on eBay, to go along with the quirkier Etsy/Ikea/Anthropologie stuff I had chosen before we moved in.

All these lights were made before 1920. The flush mounts are really different from the recessed can-lights we’ve had in every house ever. But I really love how they look. (Don’t mind the smoke alarm + shower cap.)

It took over a week for them to repair and sand down all the wood floors upstairs, and I kind of loved it. The whole house was filled with a fresh pine scent, thrumming with white noise, and vibrating like a magic fingers coin-operated bed. Frankie, who almost never naps anymore, was powerless against sleep. It was awesome.

Then we had to choose a finish.

We have two different kinds of wood upstairs: oak on the stairs and in the boys’ and girls’ rooms, and douglas fir in the master bedroom and office. My Instagram peeps will, I’m sure, be excited to learn that we went with “purse” (upper right) on the douglas fir in the grownup suite.

and “snail” (bottom right) for the kid areas, figuring that it would show less dust, on the off chance that the kids don’t dust that often.

The floor in the boys’ closet and bathroom currently looks like this:

which I love, but I have much, much grander plans for it. So far, those plans have involved me and a bunch of linoleum and a hooked razor blade and a hairdryer and a couple old WWI Marine Corps recruiting posters and much gnashing of teeth and cursing of said linoleum (but never the Marine Corps) and the eventual offloading of the project into the hands of a professional. So we’ll see how it turns out. Hopefully in the next few days.

In the kitchen, the cabinets are all in, and the counter tops are in, and the new old doors are in, and the windows have been replaced. We had about twenty layers of paint stripped off of the amazing solid-wood doors in there. I can’t believe anyone ever painted them!

My only contribution to the kitchen so far was turning this:

Into this:

with some awesome period reproduction wallpaper from Michael Uhlenkott.

That’s the back of the glass cabinets (that don’t yet have the glass in them, or shelves), the wallpaper is also on the inside of the solid cabinet doors, and might end up inside some drawers, too.

The glass in there will be the original wavy glass from the butler’s pantry, and we’re also going to reuse all the hardware that was in the kitchen when we moved in, as is. It seems to be from a few different eras, but I like the idea of some part of the old kitchen living on in the new one.

The kitchen is almost all white. White cabinets, white counter tops, it’s going to have a white subway tile backsplash. But the floor . . . the floor is NOT white.

Many of my five hundred and forty-three and counting remodel-related
decisions have been shared (and voted upon) on Instagram. Including what the pattern of the linoleum floor tiles was going to be.

We went with . . .  radio (bottom). For me it has a symmetry that the regular pattern on the right doesn’t
have. That one ends up feeling slant-y to me. The random pattern on the
right was my original vision for the floor, but I ended up preferring a
more traditional feel in pattern, with such a very nontraditional color
palette.

I love this floor. I understand if you don’t. We can still be friends. But it makes me smile. And the kids think it’s awesome. I think it’s evocative of the traditional 1920s black and white checkerboard kitchen floor, but with an unexpected twist.

Appliances and plumbing and shelves and knobs all happen this week. Yay!

I can’t wait to see how it all turns out.