Request help with new home

melody-sApril 15, 2012

I am buying a new home that has a wonderful location, but the house itself isn't quite to my liking. I like vintage / cottage / shabby chic decor, and I need some budget friendly ideas for what to do about a rock fireplace and wood bay windows. I am thinking about painting the ceiling beams white and whitewashing the ceiling boards. I have about a month between closing and move in and I have more time than money right now.


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People will tell you not to touch the stone, but it is possible, if you want to lighten it, to give it a whitewash treatment that preserves the variety and naturalness of stone while lightening it considerably.
The link below is one way to do it, if you were interested in taking that approach.

We vastly improved the look of an interior brick fireplace and chimney breast by sponging on and rubbing back a thinned-down solution of the cream latex wall paint that we used in the rest of the room. It worked fine because the brick was unsealed, and absorbed the solution just enough, so that it retained its natural surface variety and lost the heavy dark brickness of the whole business...

If your stone is sealed, or synthetic, consult an expert before taking a run at such a project.

Here is a link that might be useful: Whitewashing stone

    Bookmark   April 15, 2012 at 12:44PM
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Your room kind of reminds me of Kate Winslet's cottage in The Holiday. I agree it would look nice to paint or whitewash the ceiling and paint out and if possible, remove that paneling around the window. I might leave the beams for last and see if I liked them as is after I did the other things. You could also whitewash the stone to give it a softer look like the stone in Kate's cottage. I think with just a little tweaking you'll get the look you're after.

Here is a link that might be useful: cottage in The Holiday

    Bookmark   April 15, 2012 at 12:57PM
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You can definitely lighten it up by painting the beams white and whitewashing the stone and ceiling. Just those changes will make a pretty dramatic difference.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2012 at 1:16PM
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If you can't remove the paneling around the bay window, can you paint it the same shade as the walls? Agree with others that paint will have a huge impact in your room.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2012 at 1:32PM
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Painting any of that will decidedly negatively impact the value of the house. Those are very nice architectural details and it would be much better to adapt your style somewhat to the house than adapt the house wholesale to your style. That way you still would be able to maintain good resale value and not destroy the bones of the home. Look at homes combining a modern casual aesthetic with MCM style or Tudor style to see how you can live in a home with strong architectural details and still manage to have it be your own place. White walls, white linen drapes, and painted furniture is a natural fit to dark stone and wood beams.

At least live in the space for 6 months before you make any changes that can not be easily reversed. You may come to appreciate the wonderful bones of the home as is.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2012 at 1:38PM
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The first thing I would do is rip out the carpet - I hate wall to wall. I would paint the window paneling white and the ceiling white. Then make a decision on the beams. The fireplace looks fine and will look better when you paint the walls with a color that complements the fireplace. I would plan & budget to enlarge those windows later on.

This room has a mishmash of things going on, so I don't think anything you do will make it worse or reduce the value of the house. Life is too short to decorate for some phantom buyer 10 or 20 years down the road!

    Bookmark   April 15, 2012 at 1:56PM
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I would agree with GreenDesign if the architecture of the house was more coherent or authentic, but I think that most of those features you dislike have been chosen without a great deal of design sensitivity. So I think you should do whatever you like to make it yours, and to be happy in it.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2012 at 2:11PM
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I like the idea of white washing the rocks. Those are great pictures from The Holiday movie.

Eventually I do want to put in hardwood floors, but that may not be in the budget right now. Two of the bedrooms have horrible rust colored carpet which doesn't match the rest. If I have hardwood put in that room they may be able to use the carpet in the bedrooms. Something for me to think about...

Where in some cases there is merit to the idea of leaving things alone for a while, this is my forever home. I will do what suits me rather than planning around what some future buyer might like.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2012 at 2:13PM
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Annie Deighnaugh

I would keep the stone in the fireplace as stone but faux finish it to look paint the stones as individual stones but soften the colors up.

In the pic the mantle looks fake and the corbels are awful. You may want to remove or remove and replace with something more in keeping with the style of the a real wood beam on wooden supports.

I like the dark beams in the ceiling and would paint the ceiling ivory so they would stand out. The window just looks small and isn't helped by those blinds. I would treat the exterior of the bay as a single window and I'd paint the wood to match the walls.

I don't think you are going to harm the value at all as it currently not very attractive and it looks dated. The complete mix of wood tones in the room is disturbing to the eye and makes the room look smaller. By lightening and unifying I think you'll be adding value to the home.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2012 at 4:25PM
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I love Annie's choice of inspiration for your bay window.

To keep from spending a zillion dollars raising the window height, you might paint all that wood white to match your walls, add a seat cushion and drapery at the sides that starts at the ceiling, as in the photo, and then install mirrors in the three panels above the bay to give the illusion that the space is open. I think that would solve the cramped look of the window.

I think if you are keeping the beams, you should lighten them, but not paint them white. White emphasizes every shadow, and I think it would make them more obtrusive rather than less. Then in your long-term plan, you might replace those rather skinny two-by-twelves (that's what I'd guess they are) with ones that are fatter, but don't intrude as far into the room. That will depend on the existing construction, of course.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2012 at 5:21PM
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I wanted to revisit this thread and say thanks. The painters just finished up the whole house and it is much improved. The walls and ceiling are now painted in SW Cottage Cream, there is a sage green accent wall between the living and dining rooms, and bright white trim. The paneling around the bay window is the same color as the walls. The painter did not feel comfortable doing anything with the fireplace, but it looks much better now that everything else is painted. The texture and imperfections in the ceiling boards adds a lot of character, but the ceiling beams no longer seem dark and obtrusive.

As it turns out the fireplace mantle cannot come off, and I will be adding a mantle scarf to soften it. The blinds are off and I plan on decorating the window similarly to the picture from Annie.

Sorry I don't have any updated pictures, but it is a very good start and I will be taking pics soon and again as I move in and decorate.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2012 at 11:14AM
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Glad you are happy with the changes. Looking forward to updated pix as you continue to make this your forever, charming home. Good luck!

    Bookmark   June 12, 2012 at 5:39AM
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