inspiration

Our home came in the mail! (Part II)

A long time ago, I posted Part I of this series, which chronicled the unusual history and charm of the Sears, Roebuck & Co. Kit Houses. In this post, I’ve compiled some photos from our house and from historical ads as a comparison. Sorry about the ridiculous delay. Life happened and I haven’t had the time to update here, but I still wanted to put the info out there in case it helped anyone.

Our house is a Sears Van Dorn, which was available only in the 1926, 1928, and 1933 catalog (and actually isn’t fully documented on the Sears Archives for some reason). It’s quite similar to the Van Jean and the Puritan— both Dutch Colonial Revival styles. Rosemary Thornton talks a bit about the Van Dorn here. And that’s pretty much all the info/original photos I’ve found. Anyone else out there living in a Van Dorn?

Here are some of the original features we’ve found in ours (as compared to the Arts & Crafts Society’s checklist):

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Stamped lumber- this is basically the only definitive way to tell you have a Sears kit home. Technically some kit homes may not have stamped lumber, either because the buyer chose to locally source materials or because the materials and blueprints were purchased before they were all stamped. Some might have handwritten numbers and some might have nothing. But a huge majority of them do, so it’s a pretty quick and easy way to confirm a suspicion. Each original piece of lumber in the house should be stamped, but the easiest way to check is in the basement (assuming it’s still unfinished). Ours are along the center beam, not around the edges of the basement, so finding them was a little tricky (we also have blown-in insulation so I feared they had been covered up) but I found a note in The Houses that Sears Built that suggested they could face the center of the house instead of the outer walls, and Rosemary was correct!

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Shipping label– As I was searching our basement with a flashlight for the stamped lumber, I noticed something kind of strange. The back/underside of our basement stairs are held together by wood that is clearly different from the rest of the house. I always thought it was just scrap wood from some old crate, but as my flashlight passed, I noticed text on the wood. I had remembered seeing some of these shipping labels on various sites, and even though ours is too far gone to actually read most of the words, I can just barely make out “S. R. & Co” and some of the other text and stylistic features that are clearly the same as other examples.

Catalog number– As you can see above, the catalog number for the Van Dorn is C1234. I have a note that it’s written in grease pencil in the basement but can’t seem to find my photo of it. Will update if I do :/

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Blocks of shoe molding– these interesting transitions were designed for unskilled carpenters so that every awkward corner and joint wouldn’t have to be perfect. Instead of many angular cuts, irregular joins all have this detail, which is common throughout Sears homes. Our stairway between the first and second floors uses these blocks, but the basement stairs have a much simpler molding that wouldn’t have required as unusual cuts.

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Doors and doorknobs– we have confirmed that one of the Sears hardware options for a house of this year (1928) would have been the Narcissus (below), which is consistent to both interior and exterior doors of the house. Our back patio doors are not original, so if I see another set of these at a salvage yard (fingers and toes crossed it will be a french door set!) I will swap them out and make them all match.

Some hinges and latches– I outlined in this post some of the trials of getting the original bathroom hardware back into shape (and here, some of the dining room). The notable thing about the bathroom fixtures was that, under all the paint and rust, the latches were nickel plated brass, which is noted on the original catalog page (above). We also have all the original ball tipped door hinges, although that isn’t really a defining characteristic of a Sears house– they were very common.

Attic windows– we actually haven’t been up here since we bought the house, but are planning on turning it into living space this spring/summer. One thing I did notice immediately was the original semi-circle mirrors on both sides, which is consistent with the original images in the catalog. We have one basement window and one stairway window that are original as well, but they are less distinctive. These windows don’t prove it is a Sears house, but comparing our house to the catalog sketch, they are a quick reference that helps us match it up.

We have a few other original touches, like the medicine cabinet, hardwood floors, and stairs, but they would be hard to identify vs. a non-kit home from the same era. An interesting note is that our floors do follow the same pattern as the catalog says they should– oak in the living and dining rooms and the entryway, maple in the kitchen and bathroom, and yellow pine everywhere else. When we first moved in I thought it was fascinating that every room, even the bathroom, had hardwoods– but they weren’t all the same. I assumed that they had been changed at some point in the home’s history. But looking back it seems that they are all totally original (except in our 1/2 bath downstairs which was made by combining a coat closet and space for an ice box in the kitchen– the floors in there are clearly different which makes sense since it was a combination of two different rooms)

Do you have a Sears house? Is anything fun still left in original condition? I’d love to see photos!

Cheers,

 v

As a disclaimer,  just because I truly care about the history of this house and want to see how it was originally built, in all its glory, does not make me a professional nor a preservationist. I want to maintain charm in my house but don’t necessarily feel like I need to stick 100% to period for things like furnishings and paint colors. This blog is primarily about our tales of renovating/decorating, and sometimes I don’t choose to go with what’s traditional. I will never take something original OUT of the house, but when it comes to bringing IN new things, sometimes I want to put my own stamp on it since, after all, it is my house. Just in case you stumbled here by Google search and are looking to see a full to-period restoration of a 1928 house, I’m sorry but I can’t promise that. I do mostly shop vintage but sometimes will choose a mid-century or victorian piece to mix in with the deco and dutch colonial stylings of the rest of the house.

Our home came in the mail! (Part I)

When I tell people that we live in a Sears kit home, I get mixed responses. About 75% of the time it’s a blank stare. A what? Another few will say they have heard of kit homes and know some basic info about them, but the real house geeks– the historians and preservationists and even a few contractors– are floored by this information. Once I mention it, a huge grin appears and they start rattling off facts about how these quality kit homes transformed the market, and what a joy it is to see or work on one in person. This brings a smile to my face as well… I could talk about the history of our house forever. But for the first two groups, here’s a 5 minute history lesson on Sears, Roebuck & Co kit houses.

The alternate purpose of this set of posts is for anyone searching for interior original features of kit homes. In my search, I’ve only been able to find three other houses of our model (the Van Dorn), and only two (kind of uninformative) interior photos. Many Sears homes have similar interior features, so maybe by adding ours to the directory I can help someone else who is hoping to restore theirs. I love seeing the interiors of other kit homes– how they’ve changed over the years and what has been kept original, so if you are in the same boat, I’d love to see your photos too!

Anyways, the history of Sears homes… as promised!

Between 1908 and 1940, Sears, Roebuck & Co. offered 447 (some say 370) different styles of mail order, pre-cut, build-it-yourself kit homes. They sent out regular catalogs and customers could arrange to have an entire house– everything from the plans and lumber to the paint and nails– delivered via rail to their town. Although detailed records were destroyed when the department finally closed, it’s estimated that about 75,000 “Modern Homes” were sold. They’re often compared to Ikea, in that they were to be assembled by the purchaser in small parts from a sheet of directions, but this comparison leaves out the ridiculously high-quality materials that were included with a Sears kit. For example, our 1928 Van Dorn still has the original floors, and not only do they still look brand new, but they actually look higher quality than the hardwood that is put in houses today. Rosemary Thornton explains in The Houses that Sears Built that the location of the company’s Illinois mill was well-positioned for top-of-the-line wood, and their choice to pre-cut allowed them to trim around imperfections and knots to get the most usable wood from each piece. A comparable hardwood floor today would be made from lower quality, newer growth trees. It’s pretty unbelievable for such a behemoth of a company to pay attention to the little details, but they did.

The idea behind the homes wasn’t to revolutionize the style of the quintessential American home. Most catalog styles were appropriate to period (the post-Victorian aesthetic was mainly simple bungalows and colonial revival) but tend to look very similar to architect-built houses, which makes actually identifying a kit house pretty difficult. The Arts & Crafts Society has a quick checklist to identifying Sears kit houses, in case you’re wondering if you’re in possession of one. One of the ideas behind the kit homes was just to sell simple blueprints for stylish homes that “a man of average abilities” could assemble in 90 days. This removed the need for pricey contractors, architects, or carpenters, and took the guesswork out of assembly, while guaranteeing a quality home. Perhaps even more valuable was the way that it enhanced the “American Dream”– not only could a new class of people own a home, but they could pour their own labor into it, making it truly one of a kind and special. Can you even imagine the modern-day liability of telling the “average” person he could build his own house? It definitely wasn’t the world we live in today.

The kind of surprising thing to keep in mind, in contrast to the idea that these were the Ikea of houses, they actually weren’t that inexpensive or basic. At the time, it was a small luxury (depending on the model) to have a house like this sent to you. Ornaments like moldings and millwork were standard in many plans and the materials were extremely high quality. The houses still saved customers many architect and skilled contractor fees, and helped lower income workers with easy payment plans (yes, Sears did pre-FHA private mortgages), allowing many people to buy houses that they wouldn’t been able to afford otherwise, but that didn’t make them slummy or cheap. I’ve traced back the origins of our house, and it was originally built by a large auto shop owner and commissioner of the nearby airport. Not a poor man, but not a millionaire either. Sears offered smaller, simpler cottages as well, but where they actually succeeded the most was bringing new, modern amenities to those outside of big cities. Around the turn of the century, that was water-tight roofs and solid (non-dirt) floors. Then, electricity and indoor plumbing (I love the ad below: Consider the advantages of plumbing in your home! Why, I don’t mind if I do). The Sears architects and designers would also alter any home at no charge, which allowed custom projects like additions, built-ins, and nicer finishes for wealthier clients. They also offered furnishing solutions from the Sears catalog (pretty genius marketing there, huh?)

Sears home parts were pre-cut near Chicago and shipped around the country via rail. So the most common places to find these homes are elsewhere in Illinois, around the midwest, or somewhere along a convenient rail line, usually in suburban or smaller urban neighborhoods that developed between the turn of the century and the 1930s (although many rail lines have been torn out since then, and some houses were shipped by other methods, so there are exceptions). Sometimes, in bustling company-driven towns, an employer would even buy dozens of kit homes and build an entire community for their workforce! I can’t say I’d mind that perk.

Sears homes could be outfitted with the newest technologies– indoor plumbing, central heat, and electricity. Of course, the earliest models weren’t, and later models could be ordered with or without (with a $23 outhouse being an optional add-on for rural customers). Luxury amenities like this were nice for homebuilders, but are just as nice now. Whereas a slightly older c.1900 Victorian would have been retrofitted with plumbing and electricity (and possibly done shoddily or resulting in a bizarre layout), the “Modern” kit homes still feel perfectly up-to-date with decent wiring and well-planned room flow. Our house still has the original 1928 wiring but we’ve been told by our inspector and a trusted electrician that it currently poses no danger and is still in good shape. [sidenote: a previous owner did update the main electrical box in the basement at some point, and some grounding wires have been put in, but the basic room-to-room wiring is original– cloth covered Greenfield, not knob-and-tube. But those details would depend on the era and who was building the house.] The houses were also built with a drywall product (Goodwall sheet plaster), which was easy to install and inexpensive. When we have contractors in our home, they try to convince me that the house was originally plaster and lathe, because of the age. The TV installer, in particular, assured me that he would need a complicated wiring and mounting rig for the wall-mount, and was shocked when he cut into 80 year old drywall. He tried to cover by claiming it must have been added on recently. Maybe I should send him a book 🙂

Houses ranged from ~$200-$8,000 and could even be customized or even totally reversed to suit the customer’s preference. So finding your house in an old catalog isn’t always as easy as finding the identical picture. Especially when 100 years of owners have put their own touches, extensions, renovations, and damages on top of it. In the next post I’ll talk about some of the original touches we’ve found helpful in identifying ours, but if you are looking for a more comprehensive guide, check out Houses By Mail.

 

I can get lost for hours looking at photos online. I can’t post them all here, but for your own searching pleasure, here are my favorite resources:

Daily Bungalow Flickr Page [most of the photos in this post came from here, but since Flickr is so bad about linking directly to an image, I had to grab them and upload them to my Pinterest]

SearsHomes.org 

Sears Archive

The Arts & Crafts Society

In the next post, I’ll compile and write about some photos of the original touches in our house. Do you have a Sears house? Is anything fun still left in original condition? I’d love to see photos!

Cheers,

❤ v

As a disclaimer,  just because I truly care about the history of this house and want to see how it was originally built, in all its glory, does not make me a professional nor a preservationist. I want to maintain charm in my house but don’t necessarily feel like I need to stick 100% to period for things like furnishings and paint colors. This blog is primarily about our tales of renovating/decorating, and sometimes I don’t choose to go with what’s traditional. I will never take something original OUT of the house, but when it comes to bringing IN new things, sometimes I want to put my own stamp on it since, after all, it is my house. Just in case you stumbled here by Google search and are looking to see a full to-period restoration of a 1928 house, I’m sorry but I can’t promise that. I do mostly shop vintage but sometimes will choose a mid-century piece to mix in with the deco and dutch colonial stylings of the rest of the house.

[insert backyard pun here]

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about landscaping. Which is weird coming from a person who previously would have called a sidewalk planter with a tree stump and a few rotting cabbages “nature.” But I guess being a homeowner and getting excited about seeing our front and back yards thaw and blossom has changed my perception.

We always talked about wanting a garden. Not anything we could totally live off, but maybe a few fresh veggies we could clip right before dinner. I always imagine wearing a white apron and channeling Martha while doing this, although I’m sure it would actually be sneaking around the house in my pajamas hoping the neighbors don’t see, and then turning around and seeing that the dog has eaten all the tomatoes. But it’s worth a try.

The tough thing about gardening is that you have to start thinking about it while there is still multiple feet of snow on the ground. Some seeds take 8-12 weeks before they’re ready to be transplanted outside, so the garden needs to be planned and supplies ordered in February. At least that’s what it seems… I wouldn’t take my gardening advice on anything at this point. IANAG. Anyways, our biggest concern was keeping our future seedlings away from the dog. She has been digging up the previous owners’ garden since she came home with us, so we knew we couldn’t just plant things in the backyard like normal people. Luckily we do have a south facing front yard that she can’t access, so we’re going to try and keep edible plants in window boxes and flowers in the ground around the front walkway. I’m sure we’ll get other peoples’ kids/dogs running through so I don’t know what will survive here, but it’s all we’ve got right now.

Eventually we might fence off a garden area of the backyard, but for now, we’re only working with the front. Since our front yard currently looks like this:

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…I had to reference a photo from when we first saw the house (October). I honestly don’t even remember it ever looking this green and lush.

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So here’s the current plan:


-trim down the front hedges

build and install two window boxes for the bottom front windows, and plant any edible sprouts

-extend pavers to make room for lounge furniture (and, uh, buy lounge furniture…)
-refinish shutters (they are in worse condition than they look)
-add a carport?

 

-plant wildflowers and maybe some tall grasses facing the street

-since the front yard is southfacing, this would be a place where we could work during the day and get maximum sunlight. We might eventually add a front fence, just for some added privacy. But that definitely won’t happen for at least a year or two. You know, once we already have a fully matured garden and Martha is begging to come over for dinner. Then we’ll talk about a retaining wall or a tasteful fence to keep the riffraff out.

We already have seedlings planted– a few types of flowers, mint, tomatoes, strawberries, chives, and lettuce. All from Johnny’s, as were all our seed-starting supplies. I’m hoping to have the window boxes complete by mid-May to replant them outside.

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Meanwhile, here’s what we’re thinking for the backyard. I already shared this post about inspiration for the back deck as part of the dining inspiration, but I think I’m starting to prepare to actually do some of it. As a reminder (mostly to myself, but also to you) here is what the yard used to look like before we bought it, and before it was covered in multiple feet of pure ice:

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-add a small fenced portion for future years’ gardens, probably about 2/3 of the depth of the garage (see above)-build a bonfire area, hopefully with a built-in pizza oven and seating

-add string lights to the deck– need to add height, similar to this tutorial

And to prove that we actually have made progress since that Dining Inspiration post, I don’t think we need to do that retractable awning. Sunlight isn’t really a problem, with all the large trees and north orientation. I think it would be more trouble than it’s worth. And we did receive a very nice patio heater from M’s mother, so I can mentally check that off our list (thanks Patty!). I also ordered some outdoor dining furniture and the string lights, so I’m not lying when I say it’s all coming together! Well, I might still be lying a little bit.

Cheers!

❤ v

Master Bedroom Inspiration Board

One of the reasons I initially dragged M to this open house was this closet. In older houses, closet space is like gold, and most of what’s out there looks more suited to a torture chamber than a nice home. Sure, we could add Elfa components like we did in Sutton, but the fact that these closets were already rehabbed meant that a previous owner had put some extra time and thought into their living arrangement, so I convinced him it was worth a look. (Previous owner’s belongings in photos below)

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Skip forward three months and we still love the master closet. The sliding barn door is so much more space efficient than having a door that swings out into the (small) room, and the combination of double rods and lots of drawers means we can actually share a closet without mangling each other’s belongings (when the door is closed, there are two more rows of tall drawers). The rest of the room kind of lays itself out. If you don’t want to block a window, you have to put the bed exactly where they did, and for us the dog crate fills the remainder of the room, where the previous owners kept a small dresser.

But the room still felt kind of un-homey, so here’s what I’m thinking for customizing and warming it up it a little:

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1. Paint it blue! This is basically my default for any bedroom. We had a red brick bedroom years ago and, while it was very nice for about a month, began to drive us crazy. It just wasn’t calming and made both of us feel anxious– something that you don’t really need in the bedroom. This ocean-y shade (Behr Provence Blue #HDC-AC-23) is a bit darker than our Sutton bedroom, but the idea is the same.

2. Add a tufted headboard! Actually, this one is kind of fake since we already have this headboard from Overstock. If you’re considering ordering it, beware– it really needs to be on a carpeted surface or else it won’t stay steady (lots of creaking and cracking in both rooms we’ve put it in). We also replaced the flimsy slats that the mattress sits on with a solid piece of plywood from Home Depot. (photo is of the similar Grid Tufted Headboard from West Elm)

3. Fun curtains! You can’t really tell in the photo above, but this room is the only one in the house to come with built in blinds. They’re the cheapy kind but still do the job. Kinda. Lots of light gets through which is normally ok, but I always like to have the option to darken a bedroom (other migraine sufferers will understand this plight), and I can’t resist adding a nice pattern to a simple room. These dotted chevron curtains are from West Elm.

4. A mirror! Normally, the place for this would be inside the closet door… but that doesn’t work in this space. This one from CB2 is ok, but I might keep my eye out for something vintage instead.

5. Reading lights! We have an outlet behind the bed, so I thought these Ikea sconces would be the perfect custom-looking additions. No need for any electrical work, but the bottoms of the cords will still be hidden by the bedside tables and the bed itself. With a super low-wattage bulb, M will be able to read in bed without me yelling at him. I hope.

6. Custom drawer pulls! As much as I love our custom full-wall closet, I hate the pulls. Between all three bedrooms, there are nearly three dozen massive ugly Ikea pulls and knobs. Since part of my goal is to bring this house back to it’s 1928 glory, brushed stainless modern pulls are not going to suffice. But pulls this large are fantastically expensive– the ones in the bedroom are 7″ and 16″ center to center, and most decent looking pulls that size are in the $50-200 range. That’s ~$2000-7000 to replace something most people won’t even notice. Yeah, no thanks. So this past weekend I tested spray painting one of the extra SNEJD pulls with black Krylon Duo, to try and give it a powder coated look. It’s actually pretty sweet. The black-on-white look is becoming a theme (this room is right next to the bathroom) and is an easy, nearly free, weekend project.

7. Artwork! As a (former) screenprinter, I love putting handmade work anywhere that I can. Especially epic handmade work from a studio in Brooklyn that embraces M’s love of New York’s Dutch past (oh hey, we live in a Dutch Colonial, isn’t that cute?). I first saw this Pop Chart Lab piece in Anna’s bathroom over at Door Sixteen, and snagged one of the last remaining ones on their Etsy page.

I’m liking this mood board thing and might do a few more for other rooms, but I promise we’re making actual progress and I’ll have updated photos soon. Yay!

❤ v

Kitchen Inspiration

Like the other rooms, the kitchen in the new house isn’t particularly gross or terrible. It’s a kitchen. It was done probably in the 90’s and the cabinets were painted white relatively recently (probably when the appliances were updated). It’s fine. I can cook a meal there. The light is good. Otherwise, it’s kind of a yawn.

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When I look in, all I can think are the obnoxious couples on House Hunters exclaiming “stainless steel appliances! granite counters! … love the white cabinets!”… while I sit on my TV at home grumbling that they are the problem.

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Every kitchen in America doesn’t need to be identical. There is no reason for stainless in here– it honestly looks kind of cheap and already outdated. It just screams “default choice!”… I actually dig the black dishwasher and wish the other appliances matched that. Also, the cabinets are 2” from reaching the ceiling which drives.me.nuts. As soon as I can get a carpenter in here (or just some 2x2s and a hand saw), these babies will extend to the ceiling. No reason at all for that terrible dust-catching gap.

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Meanwhile, the fridge wall is just kind of awkward. I guess they couldn’t find a matching upper cabinet, so somebody had the genius idea to mount this particleboard open shelf from Ikea. Once again– does not fit the house at all. Does not reach the ceiling. Does not allow for space above to actually be used for things. Can you tell this has been peeving me since we first walked in the house??

I’d really like to restore this back to a dutch colonial revival vibe, so here’s my plan/inspiration:

All pulls and knobs switched out. Cast iron or oil rubbed bronze bin pulls? Or something equally rustic. Leaded glass seems to be traditional for a house this age (we have some in the dining room), but I’m not sold yet.

Rip out that Ikea corner shelf and add some open shelving– perhaps with rustic wood and dark metal.

Add some beadboard. The bathrooms already have it, and I don’t feel like dealing with a tile backsplash (nor do I think it’s period appropriate).

Rip out the laminate-topped peninsula and find some rustic/recycled wood to make it a real usable island. Would also love to find a cabinet to fit under the kitchen side, for extra storage.

Paint the cabinets? White just bugs me. I honestly wish they were a wood tone. But since they’re already painted, maybe a light blue, gray, or black.

M likes the light fixtures, I think they look cheap. If I had my way, they would be brass and black enamel, like these:

In my dream world I’d love to also replace the sink (the enamel has worn off and it’s a bizarre bisque color that doesn’t match anything, plus it’s tiny), but that sounds like something I have to wait a while for.

I think that’s it! Wish me luck 🙂

❤ v

Dining Room Inspiration

The new house has three things I’ve never had before: a dining room, a backyard, and a garage. Growing up in New York City, people just didn’t have these things. You had a 4-seat compact table off your kitchen (if you were lucky) or a breakfast bar in the cramped kitchen space, or, if you’re like us, you eat on the couch in the living room. It makes for kind of an awkward thanksgiving dinner.

Our last rental had a pretty big kitchen, with plenty of room for a small dining table (it gets cramped if we actually try to seat 4 people, but usually it’s just us two). I use the table as a kitchen island as well, since I always find myself needing a little bit of extra counter space. One of the weirdest things about planning this new house is that it has both a dine-in breakfast bar and a totally separate dining room. Craziness!! (pic below of seller’s set-up)

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The idea of decorating a room like this is totally bizarre to me, but it’s a really fun space! Since you only ever spend an hour-ish a day in here, and the only function is to have a table and chairs, a lot of people are more creative than they would be in their bedroom or living room.

The one thing we’ve already had a disagreement on is the light fixture. I’m so fascinated by statement lights in the dining room– because it’s really the only place where you get to hang a light fixture at eye level. My brain associates that act with art, and therefore the fixture must be the statement of the room. Or something. Also I really just like urchins and dining rooms are the only place where you don’t end up with them stabbing you in the eye.

Before you say anything, yes, the pendant in the past owner’s space is nice. But it was not included in the sale… boo. So we actually do need to find a new fixture for in here. As far as seating, I hate to say, but I actually love IKEA’s Stockholm dining collection. And I’m thinking if we keep the table and chairs neutral, I can go a little crazier on colors and decorations. Right? Right?? Right.

Not only is there a 6-ish seat dining room (maybe 8 if needed), but there are french doors that open to… my first ever patio!

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I see us dining out there a lot or just sitting out with a latte, so in my grandest imagination, I’ve started considering indoor-outdoor dining spaces.

The patio isn’t in great condition. It’s on the north side of the house and there’s a big tree that keeps the area in the shade, which has made a lot of the posts rot out. So it’ll need a little TLC, but I don’t want to put too much money into it just in case we decide to add an extension. I also definitely want to paint the lattice so it doesn’t look fresh off the truck from home depot. (sorry for the glare, better photos coming soon!)

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I’d also love to add a retractable awning and a portable heater. Not to be used at the same time, of course. I’m thinking that little lip above the french doors would be a good spot to build in a Markilux awning, like this:

I never really thought about wanting an outdoor space while we were house hunting. It seemed kind of silly to buy a place for the yard in an area where it’s chilly most of the year. But I keep imagining different possibilities, and honestly it is nice enough most of the time to sit out with a cup of coffee and a chunky sweater.

Can you tell I’m getting excited?

❤ v

Bathroom Inspiration

So technically, the new house is in such good shape, I feel kind of bad calling any room a “problem”. But the bathroom must have been renovated in a rush sometime in the 90’s/00’s because… egh. The (non-original) bathtub has been surrounded by a linoleum bath fitter, the walls have maybe had some water damage and have been painted a super dark, glossy brown (which turns the large room into a cave), and the leaky, rotting pedestal sink just doesn’t do it for me. It’s the only full bathroom in the house, and there is no storage whatsoever other than the little linen closet on the left wall. The original medicine cabinet is a nice touch but doesn’t provide all the space we need, so we have to get creative.

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Aside from stylistically not being our taste (polished nickel fixtures, dark color, Home Depot lighting) it is also lacking function. The right towel bar sits awkwardly close to the toilet and the towel ring too close to the sink. The nook to the left of the shower is also a problem– I have a feeling the Ikea Expedit wasn’t the storage unit of choice in 1928, but it’s an awkwardly sized space so finding a better solution for it will be a challenge. The wainscotting is also in bad shape, as is all of the original hardware. Hopefully I can get it all back to original– or at least working— condition.

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Here’s what I’m thinking for our large kinda shabby bathroom with potential (all images link to source/pinterest):

Sand down the walls, paint a different color. Since the white wainscotting is definitely staying, maybe a clean, bright sky blue?

The trim in the whole house is staying bright white and any metal fixtures will be oil rubbed bronze or brass. To keep with that clean and modern, yet vintage and original look, I think the sconces in here need to be black and white porcelain.

And then a vintage nod with the overhead light. Either a colorful farmhouse pendant or a piece of recycled crystal?

The tub is kind of odd. Definitely need to remove the linoleum covering. If the tub itself is in good condition, we can just put in some new rock and tile around the area. I’d like to move the showerhead from the left side to the right so that we can take down that false wall and open up the space a little (no reason to have that wall there)… We could be an industrial window kind of thing? Is that insanely the wrong style? It’s definitely not cottagey but there’s something vintage/deco about it.


If the tub isn’t usable, I’d love to replace it with a pedestal tub and a separate glass shower. A clawfoot would be too ornamental/victorian for this house, but a super sleek pedestal would be amazing.

I want to keep as much of the vintage charm as possible, which includes buying new old fixtures to replace the Home Depot cheapo crap, and finding some new furniture to fit the space better than the previous owner’s Expedit.

That’s all I got for now. Updates and progress photos coming soon!!

Cheers!

❤ v