7.15.2009

The Townhouse That Tortured Me For a Year: The Downstairs

It's finally finished (we won't talk about closet doors) and we're all moved in! It was great to be able to be involved in a little bit of design in addition to decorating. I wish I had taken "before" pictures because the transformation was astounding. It went from a place I once walked away from in disgust to a beautiful space we're happy to call home.

Before this it had ugly old carpet, beige walls and pink-ish (yes, pink) trim.

The over sized crown was a must for me, as it created a perfect finish. The light wood floors were chosen to balance the deeper cherry wood of the bookcases. Budget dictated the plantation blinds instead of shutters, but the upstairs carpet made of recycled plastics was a surprise bonus!

I engaged in a stand off with Marty, the Martha Stewart of contractors, about the dining room but won the battle of the solid chocolate walls - though I'm not entirely sure he didn't lower the chair rail I requested as a payback for that and my veto of coloured grout om the subway tiles in the kitchen. (I know the tray ceiling was his own personal victory, as we never discussed it. )

My original design was for these shelves to be stainless steel, but implementing it proved to be a major headache, so I just had Marty build wooden ones. Bob and I did not speak for a week because of these shelves, but in the end it's one of his favourite elements. I did install pre-made stainless shelves along the back wall of the kitchen and all of the new hardware is brushed stainless.


I got my subway tiles with white grout despite Marty's plea to do coloured. I also picked a much darker black granite for the counter tops, but for some reason Marty arbitrarily installed brown. No problem, I can compromise - especially when there are bigger battles to be won. Also, in a world obsessed with stainless steel appliances I opted for all white because: 1. It's easier to clean, 2. There's already enough steel in my kitchen and 3. I'm a trend-bucker by nature.

I hadn't even begun to think seriously about light fixtures when I stumbled upon two of these on clearance for less than $10 each. I had to dig to find the second one, but it was worth it!


This was a quick re-framing of some of my favourite photography efforts for the first floor stairwell. The goal is for LD to do some larger ones for the second floor.

Most people say the kitchen is the heart of the home, but for us it's the bookshelves. They are ever-present in every room of our home, but the main library is in the living room. Those bookcases have been through about 10 moves with me and I'm pretty sure that every mover I've ever used has hated me and my books after moving them.

I asked my friend, John, who is a master craftsman, to build me this CD shelf to be installed in place of the railing in the stairwell. It was one of the rare occasions where I actually measured to very specific requirements. John, however, disregarded my measurements and made it almost two feet longer because he thought I needed the extra CD space. I did need the space, but unfortunately the stair railing isn't eight feet long. It was so beautiful that I didn't care and installed it on the wall over the desk instead.


Over all I think the end result of a home inspired by, and designed around, a Pottery Barn silk drape bought on clearance turned out pretty damned good! I'll post pics of the upstairs as soon as I can, but we're still working out some closet issues.

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Having limitations on your lifestyle is NOT the same as being poor.