With just under 2 weeks to go to Christmas, my home is finally coming out of the state of chaos and disorganization that it has been in since we decided to start a seemingly simple renovation of our front and main entrance – three and half weeks ago.
Brandon always laughs at me when I say things like “we’ll just knock this wall down, patch and paint…” Sigh. He laughs with reason because when I say it, I sincerely believe that whatever it is I want to do, it will be simple and fast. After living with the contents of my front entrance (which is A LOT at this time of the year) sprawled all over the house for the last few weeks, I’ll admit that maybe it wasn’t quite as simple, nor as fast as I thought it would be. HOWEVER, I’m also really happy with how it has come together… now that it’s done (!)
So, we went from a tiny little entrance that was 4′ x 3′ of floor room plus a built in closet to this wide open space… that slowly became both beautiful and functional. And now that the coats and hats, snowpants, boots, bags, etc… are no longer finding a place to “be” in my bedroom, livingroom and kitchen (!) and our Christmas tree is up and sparkling in the livingroom, I feel like I can breathe a little, do some christmas baking and finish up the other little things I want to get done this month.
But first… let me show you what we’ve done…
Step 1: The Walls
We enlisted the help of friend and carpenter Andrew to do the basic/structural aspect of the job. He demolished/built/plastered/sanded the walls and laid new plywood for the tiles.
Living in an almost 40 year old home, there are always surprises. Andrew discovered that the wall in our living room had been stuckoed (is that even a word?) and then plastered over and then painted… needless to say, this detail made the joints a little more complicated to do!
Step 2: The Floor
We were very happy to discover that we had enough tiles left over from our kitchen reno (4 years ago, when we first moved into the house) to tile the front entrance. My friend J (who I must add has a little baby, just 3 weeks older than Violet) came over to help me lay the tile. (The things mom’s do for fun, huh?!) J has quite a bit of experience renovating and taught me a few tricks. Like when to wear a garbage bag bib!
After tiling the basement bath/shower a couple of years ago, I thought the 7 x 6 floor surface would be a piece of cake and that J and I would be admiring our handywork with a yummy coffee in hand within a couple of hours. A few trips to the hardware store and a 3/4 finished job later we had to call it quits for the day. On one hand because we had to pick up our big girls from school and on the other hand because we had tiled ourselved into a jam at the front door! J returned a couple of days later and we finished the job much quicker than we started it. Live and learn, right?!
Step 3: Paint and Trim
We chose a neutral beige a few shades lighter than what we have on the adjacent living room and hall walls. For a couple of days I was a painting “machine” between the ceiling, the walls and the mouldings!
Step 4: Set it up
I had a really difficult time deciding the details of the “design” – more specifically – the lights and the colour of the furniture that we would set up in the space.
For the lights, which I was not too keen on spending a lot of money on, I browsed the hardware stores, the internet, a couple decorating stores… looking at glitzy lights, linen shades, basic pendant lights… and then, still confused about what I really wanted for the space, I listened to the very wise words of a friend of mine who mentionned that after worrying so much about her own lights, she realized that she never ever looks “up”. Maybe if I had a bigger home, with high ceilings and I would get some super cool light fixture from my entrance… but I don’t so… we decided to go super simple. I let the hall light that was already in place and I actually bought a new light for Vioelt’s room and recycled her simple fixture to the entrance. Done.
For the furniture, I must have gone back and forth in my mind hundreds of times before I finally made the trip to IKEA to pick up my expedit bookcases and hemnes shoe storage “thingy”. At first I was going to go with white because almost every image I found for the expedit bookcase used as a bench featured it in white. But then my mother-in-law (who has a really good eye for decorating) seemed surprised that I would go with the white that sent me for a spin. I have to laugh at myself a little (or a lot) because even once I thought I had decided on the white (and by this I mean that I had 2 bookcases on a cart and was walking towards the cash), I turned around, put them back and picked up the dark brown ones instead. Why not be one of the few to post different pictures of the expedit bookcase being used as a bench?
Oh and did I mention that I was at Ikea with Violet in her stroller… alone. A few people looked at me funny as I struggled with the stroller and cart to get to the cash, but only one very nice lady offered to help me 😛
Step 5: Time to build the furniture and set things up!
In the last few days we’ve really put the entrance together.
Build Hemnes Shoe dresser – Check.
Build 2 expedit bookcases – Check. Figure out how to mount 1 bookcase SAFELY on the wall (metal L brackets screwed into studs and piece of wood underneath for added support) – Check. Add legs to one bookcase – Check. Cut foam and sew cushion cover – Check. Check.
Map out placement of hooks (staggered high and low hooks to allow for 2 per person, still considering adding some hooks on the opposite wall for guests…).
Despite a few decisions left to be made… like whether to add more hooks or not… we’re pretty much DONE.
And every time I walk in the house I really do feel happy about the work we’ve done and I really do feel “Welcome Home!”.
Now it’s time to get ready for Christmas!!!