Home Remodeling / Restoration (Part I)

Did I mention I love designing? A few years ago I was thrown into the biggest designing project  I’d ever taken on: remodeling / restoring our home after a fire. A lot of our things were ruined. But we did get to totally remodel the main level.  This part I was excited about.

First, though, let me back up to the beginning of this story. It was Thanksgiving and we were spending the holiday in town (normally we travel to visit family, since none of us live in the same place, but not this time). We went out to dinner with a couple of our in-town family-less friends. At the end of the evening, they dropped us off at our house. We were talking in the driveway and noticed something smelled like burning tires. A few jokes were made, we said goodnight, and opened the front door. Confusion. That’s what I remember. A wall of smoke hit us in the face. You couldn’t see into the house, it was so thick. Then panic set in when it hit me my dogs were inside. Our friends were thinking more quickly than I was and dialed 911. I got down on my hands and knees and called the dogs. One came right away. Relief. They were hiding in the basement, thankfully, and were fine. The other dog was much more timid and was frozen at the bottom of the stairs (you could see him from just inside the front door as some of the smoke dissipated), so my husband went down and grabbed him quickly and got him out. The fire department showed up within 5 minutes and everything was under control pretty quickly. We had gotten home just in time. The dryer apparently had randomly caught on fire (it wasn’t running). None of the home structure had actually caught on fire yet. The smoke damage, however, was bad. So bad that the entire main floor would have to be gutted down to the studs.

Main Level Gutted

Main Level Gutted

We would be living in a hotel for the next 5 months. People always remark about what a pain living in a hotel must have been, but it really wasn’t that bad. Our room was pretty much like a studio apartment, with a kitchen and small living area. We didn’t have kids yet, so it wasn’t too big of a deal. The real pain was the almost daily phone calls we had to make to the insurance adjustors, contractors, and cleaning services to try to keep things rolling as smoothly as possible.

Anyway, back to the fun part. Now I would get to redesign a lot of our home! I was most excited about re-doing the kitchen. I had been wanting to update the standard oak cabinets, so that was one of the first changes we made. Standard kitchen cabinets often have a space in between the ceiling and the top of the cabinets. I hate it. You can’t really use it to store much of anything or it looks cluttered. So you are left with two other options. Putting nothing up there, or putting a few decor items. Either way, it gets dusty, and who wants to climb up there and dust on a regular basis? Not me. Nope, our new cabinets would go all the way to the ceiling. More usable storage, and no dusting!

Smoke Damaged Oak Cabinets

Smoke Damaged Oak Cabinets. See the microwave? It got so hot in the house everything plastic melted!

Before the fire, I was thinking of painting the cabinets white. I love how fresh and bright a kitchen looks with white cabinets. The contractors handed me a few paint swatch books to look through for picking out all our colors. Who knew there were so many different shades of white??? After doing extensive reading on selecting white paint for cabinets (apparently you don’t want to go with the whitest white or it will look too stark), I settled on a color.

Greek Villa swatch

SW 7551 Greek Villa

Greek Villa. I love some of the names they come up with for paint colors. Greek Villa makes me think of a Mediterranean beach house. Ahhhh.

I was nervous that the swatch looked a little dark since I wanted white cabinets, but trusted what I was reading, so I went with it. It’s funny how a color can look so “not white” on a swatch, but totally different on the cabinets. They definitely look white.

Custom cabinets

Kitchen remodel in progress. See how the cabinets go all the way to the ceiling? We have 10′ ceilings, and I was amazed at how much bigger the taller cabinets made the room feel.

White Kitchen Cabinets

White Kitchen Cabinets











We chose knobs and pulls in an antique pewter finish.








For the backsplash, I chose a glossy gray subway tile, and the appliances were all upgraded to stainless steel.

SW 6372 Inviting Ivory

SW 6372 Inviting Ivory

The paint color I chose for the walls reminds me of french vanilla ice cream (SW 6372 Inviting Ivory). We also changed out the popcorn ceilings for smooth ones. Yay!

The breakfast nook at the back of the kitchen opens out onto the deck. Prior to the fire, it was outfitted with sliding glass doors. We decided to change these out for French doors, which insulate much better than sliding doors, are harder to break into, and have a much more traditional look.

Breakfast Nook

Breakfast Nook with French Doors.

Once the kitchen design choices were made, it was time to move on to the master suite. Updating and upgrading the master bath was one of the bigger challenges. That will be my next post. Stay tuned for part II of our home remodel and restoration.

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  1. Pingback: Home Remodeling / Restoration (Part II) | Ten Twenty Invites Blog

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