Preparing Our Space [part 1]

I've hesitated posting pictures of my in-laws upper flat because there is still so much work to do. But I guess it won't hurt to show the "before" pictures and add "during" shots as we go.

My in-laws live in a charming duplex built in 1926. Lots of character, lots of hardwood, and lots of history. Fortunately for us, also lots of space....meaning an empty flat upstairs. This means when we move into their duplex we will have our own entrance, own kitchen, bathroom, 2 bedrooms, and hopefully some privacy, too.

Before we take this plunge, we have to prepare the vacant upstairs. Right now Nate's brother Jon [who goes to school up in Minnesota] uses the upper for his bedroom when he visits, and as storage for a lot of his favorite Goodwill finds. Think tons of used furniture, guitars, artwork, speakers, etc. It's kind of chaotic up there right now but we are working on it. Over Thanksgiving the boys took 2 huge carloads full of stuff back to Goodwill [I wanted no part in this task, as I would probably push them to get rid of EVERYTHING]. They also cleared out some room in their attic so that we can store things in the house, without renting a storage unit. I think we will be able to use all of our own furniture to make the place feel more like ours.

Aren't my in-laws the best?

1. So let's begin in the kitchen: the room that needs the most work before we move in.

BEFORE: gigantic built in cabinet that ate up any potential for counter space.

DURING: they decided to tear out the cabinets and this counter will also go, so that we can add our own. Yay for modernizing the kitchen! Boo for 80 years of dirt on the walls.
BEFORE: The sink has a hideous yellow counter top with a chipped tile backsplash. And Nate is tearing out the flimsy little cabinets underneath. That wooden door is some sort of 1920s spice rack. Odd placement, if you ask me. The little curtain is hiding a weird shelf that we will not be using.
DURING: Goodbye walls! They'll be doing some major dry walling soon. We are considering placing the fridge on this wall, along with a new sink and some counter space, too.

Close up view of the awful yellow counters. Don't worry, the floor is a nice yellow linoleum, too. They'll be going "bye bye" as well. They tried to get down to the original hardwood but it's not working, so we'll probably just do big fat tile. For a wall color, I'm thinking of a terracotta orange/brown color to pull out the warm tones in the wood without looking too outdated.
The cabinets before demolition. Remember, we'll be getting new cabinets and counters very soon. The curtain is hiding a fairly large window that I plan on using to it's fullest potential. Let there be light! I don't want to put our kitchen table in front of the window, either.
Here is our kitchen right now, in our current apartment. We are so spoiled with granite counter tops, marble floors, and gigantic cabinets. Oh well!

2. The family room, or TV room. This is where we'll spend a majority of our time so it's very important to me. LOTS of ideas for this room:

The door on the right leads out to our little rooftop porch. The door on the left comes up from the lower level and is our separate entrance. I want to put a couch in this little TV nook.

And look at the awesome rounded ceiling! I want to figure out a way to accentuate this feature with paint colors. It's just too cool:

The family room also has this spectacularly large window. I can't decide what to do for a window treatment. But there will be no caddy-corner furniture in my family room:) I have to fit 2 of our couches and one of my in-laws in here....and of course, our TV. Ideas, ideas, ideas...
Here is our current family room. Love my bright blue paint with chocolate brown curtains. But I don't think this bold color will look right with darker wood. And we absolutely cannot paint their wood, I think they'd disown us:) But I need to incorporate these couches and I could probably get new pillows if I do a new color scheme all together:
3. Dining room: we will put our dining room table [well, the one that my in-laws so generously gave us...i'm so lucky!] in here, along with a desk. But I want to keep it pretty open in here:

This is the view looking into the dining room from our family room. Notice the built in china cabinet again....and Jon's hideous Goodwill lamp. Say "bye bye" lamp! Love this arched entryway.

From the opposite side of the room.
And look at the cool detailing on these dining room walls. What is that called? It's like little bits of crown molding and I think they need to stand out better. I'm thinking of a brighter white paint for the molding with a darker wall color. Maybe a burgandy?
4. Our bedroom, which was Nate's room in high school [hence the odd posters]. Interesting floor plan with a little cut out nook by the window. I'd put our bed there, but in the summertime they use a window AC unit there. Yep, no central air....not that we really need it in Milwaukee. I don't have pictures of the second bedroom, but it will be a study/place for Jon to stay when he comes home.
And here is our bedroom right now. I love our new comforter set from Crate and Barrel. I also really like this caramel brown we chose for our apartment. Maybe this will work in the house, too?
And here is my little collage above our bed: Our vows printed up and prettified, a wedding shadow box full of my paper products, and sconces. I want a "real bed" with a headboard BADLY but I'm trying to hold out until we settle into a house.
5. The bathroom. Not the biggest but the shower head is SUPER high compared to our apartment. Which means us tall folk won't need to crouch over in the shower to get our heads wet. This shower curtain matches the wood nicely, but I like my current one SO much.

Here it is! I still don't know how I convinced Nate to buy this girlie thing. I just don't think the black and white look will work with dark wood.
Whew. So what do you think? It's going to be hard sticking to earthy tones but I think that will work best with so much wood. And I know Lois, my mother in law, isn't a huge fan of my "brighter the better" style. So we need to figure out a happy medium to keep everyone happy.

Any suggestions for these rooms? Stay tuned for plenty more updated pictures as we go!


  1. Jules, I like the before pictures. I agree that with all the wood, earthy might be better. But who knows how everything will work out? I have faith in you that whatever you will decide, it will look great, because it always does. I would try to make whatever you can work so you don't have to go spending even more money buying new things (especially when the "old" stuff is new). Can't wait to see the updated pics as more progress happens.

  2. I didn't see all of these great details to the walls and ceilings when we visited Tony and Lois earlier. I love your ideas about highlighting the crown molding and arch way! This will be fun.

  3. What a cute place Julia!! Wow, it has so much potential - I LOVE the character. I can't wait to see what you do to it. You need to stalk some bios on the Nest D&R board - the girls over there have some beautiful houses you could really draw some inspiration from. I look forward to more pics!

  4. Looks like you have a fun project ahead of you! Your apt. now is so cute! Do you happen to know the brand and color name of the caramel brown color in your bedroom? Thanks!

  5. Thanks ladies. Kayla~it's Behr's "Toffee Crunch"...mmmmm. I love how it turned out. And Kristal~you'll have to keep your eyes peeled on D&R for me. It seems like all those homes are so new and bright, none with darker wood finishes. Let me know if you find any inspiration for me!

  6. Awww, wow! I can't wait to see it all done! That space has such character and with your taste, it will look amazing! I can't wait to see the "after" pics!

  7. I actually think the bright colors you love would look great with the dark wood. I was even thinking a similar blue for the living room that you have in your apt now with a really really pale blue on the ceiling (so it looks almost white but contrasts with the crown molding just enough to make it pop). A seafoam would also look really great against the wood trim. Just some ideas. Picking out colors is fun, it's the actual painting that I try to avoid.


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