Our Biggest Reno "Debates"
Last Fall we bought a 1910 American Foursquare--and we feel in love. The home has a ton of character and charm but it was in need of a full cosmetic update. After moving in, we ripped up all the carpet, we removed all the wallpaper on the first floor and we started talking about next steps to transform this house into the home of our dreams.
Todd and I are both strong-willed, opinionated people. So it’s no big surprise that we often disagree about design choices. But, it’s the back and forth, the endless debates and ultimately our ability to come to a decision that works for both of us, that's the secret sauce for a great design process. Getting to the final decision can really take some effort and some time.
As we’ve worked through different decisions, here’s a short list of things Todd told me he didn’t like during our renovation process:
- Brass and copper
- The color green
- Circle shapes (don't worry I'm getting a round rug in there!)
Next week we will install our kitchen. In a few more weeks, the main living spaces on the first level will be pretty much complete. To get to this point, we had to discuss and debate and rethink a ton of choices. That led to some pretty intense debates.
Here’s our list of our biggest design “debates.”
The copper hood
In what I affectionately call the Brady Bunch kitchen, there was a copper hood. In my mind, it could have been a sweet addition to our new kitchen BUT there was just one problem--Todd HATED it. It was a non-negotiable. This is OUR dream home and it’s really important that the space authentically reflects us both. I guess.
Happily, the hood ended up back in the hands of the previous owner’s granddaughter. She has plans to reuse it somewhere in the future.
At first, we talked about blowing all the walls out in white. But I was worried that some of the architectural details would fall flat without some depth and definition. Once everything was primed it was pretty affirming that an all-white look wasn’t what I wanted. I was pretty set on a bright, golden beige but Todd associates beige with old ladies. I actually don’t see the problem here, BUT our design process is all about compromise + meeting in the middle. He wanted cool grays in the space.
This debate was maybe the most long lasting, as we struggle to find our perfect hue. We searched and searched, covering our walls in samples. We fought for favorite options. We refused to discuss paint for days on end. We asked for help + suggestions. Picked up more samples. Argued. It went on and on. Then we landed on a beautiful greige--campfire ash by Behr.
Picking our final color wasn’t a lightbulb moment. We continued to question and look at the color in different areas, under different amounts of light. It was a slow commitment + one we are happy we made.
Blinds vs. shades
I really wanted to punctuate our space with dark accents. I love the texture of rattan shades but not into it. Since he was willing to go with a darker option on the shade color, I was happy to go with a more traditional blinds.
Removing the wall
This was HUGE for me. When we toured the house, Todd came home and started talking about an open concept. Then after we closed on the house he started obsessively talking about an open concept.
I was in no way sold on the idea of opening up the walls. For one it sounded extremely expensive. We had a structural engineer come out. We tried to get bids on the work but everyone was booked way out. The more we talked about it, Todd started describing how we could remove the chimney ourselves. And I said, “No ****ing way.” End of story.
But he was persistent. He started doing research. The more we talked about the layout, the more I could see the benefit of opening the wall up. It would let in the natural light we get from the big bay windows flow into the other side of the house. It would make cooking and being together easier. But I kept trying to push for more of a partial opening, assuming we couldn’t remove the chimney ourselves. My biggest fear was that the chimney would fall over on the roof and that the rest of our reno budget would go to fixing our roof or some other problem we created. I WAS NERVOUS.
In the end we did much of the work ourselves. We removed the chimney brick by brick from the roof through 3 levels of the home. We demolished the kitchen and ripped the walls down to the studs. Then we had a team of professionals come in and install the massive beam that holds our house up.
Ultimately, this was a great choice for the final layout of our home and it didn’t break the bank (just our backs!).
Island size + shrinking down the HVAC duct
The configuration of the kitchen was built totally around us removing the wall or not. Once we decided to open up the space, we had to carefully think through the flow while the walls were still in place.
We wanted a large island but how large would work without feeling too large? Plus the floor space around the island had to be large enough to allow for good flow of traffic. We mapped out different cabinet configurations on the floor with blue tape. I was adamant that we either had to go smaller on the island or do something about the oversized HVAC duct that pushed into the walkway where a larger island would end up. Todd thought we could make it work without shrinking the duct. Ultimately, I wasn’t willing to let this one go.
It wasn’t the most fun to spend money on making an HVAC duct smaller but it was necessary to get what we wanted in the space.
There were many many smaller “discussions” throughout the process. But these were the biggest issues we talked about the most. There’s no doubt that our home would be different if we made all the design choices solo, but I don’t imagine it would be as good. It's the debate + the careful consideration of the different choices that makes a good design process great.