Inspiration from 1895

We recently went on a vacation to Boston and Cape Cod, and I fell head over heels for the charming architecture in Cape Cod. Oh my word, so many hydrangeas! But that was just the beginning of the appeal. I'm going to write up a few blog posts this week about the many beautiful things we saw on our trip and how they have inspired me to think differently about our house.

First we took a day trip from Boston to Newport, Rhode Island, to explore and admire some of the extravagant mansions that have made that town famous over the years. My favorite was The Breakers, summer home to Cornelius Vanderbilt, II and his family. It has more than 70 rooms and it was just a summer home. Can you even imagine?

How's this for an entrance? It's perhaps the biggest gate I've ever seen in my life.

I'll be honest: I pretty much hated the interior of the house, at least in terms of style. It's completely over the top and certainly not my cup of tea. If you're wondering what I mean, check out these images of the interior on the mansion's Pinterest page. (They don't allow us to take photos inside.) It was built during The Gilded Age, when more was more. It was just too much!

However, the home had some major redeeming qualities. For example, how's this for a backyard?

What kind of extravagant parties must have been hosted on this amazing terrace?

It's fun to imagine the who's who of American royalty standing here on the balcony with a glass a wine, admiring the view.

Who parked their motor coach under this elaborate porte-cochere? I'm in love with that ceiling detail.

My favorites parts of the house, by far, were the kitchen and butler's pantry. It's a little ironic because I'm sure the Vanderbilts turned their nose up at those rooms because they were part of the servants' domain, but I was blown away by how gorgeous they were.

This kitchen was built in 1895, but it's remarkable to think about how many pieces of this kitchen are very much in style today: the two-tone cabinets, the copper accents, the subway tile, the cabinet hardware, the open shelving. How many people would kill for that amazing island in their home right now, 120 years later?

via Wikipedia

The butler's pantry is another amazing "wow" moment with two stories of floor-to-ceiling cabinets filled with china and everyday dishes. The craftsmanship is beautiful. The huge farm tables in the middle would be at home in any Pottery Barn catalog.

via Pinterest

I think it's so neat to think about the history of this kitchen and butler's pantry. As an avid Downtown Abbey fan, I immediately pictured the servants working away on a fancy Christmas dinner in this kitchen, with Mr. Carson polishing silver in the butler's pantry.

It just blew my mind that everything in these parts of this house are still so coveted today. I guess it's the true definition of classic. Ah, to have a two-story butler's pantry...

What are your favorite parts?

In my next post I'll share some of my favorites from Martha's Vineyard, which was just as dreamy as I expected.
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Moving, Traveling, Adjusting and Whatnot

Life has just been very full lately, which has led me to become a major slacker when it comes to blogging. Whoops.

First of all, my mom sold her house at the end of June. Hooray! But of course the buyers wanted to move in right away, so that set in motion a big family effort to help her get moved in with us.

We all know moving is a hugely stressful activity, but it's worse when it's 100 degrees outside and you have to get it all packed and moved and cleaned very quickly! My brother flew out to help, and the four of us - plus some amazing helpers from my mom's church - loaded a giant UHaul to the brim and drove it three hours to our house. I logged 22,000 thousand steps! Let's just say we all deserved the big Mountain Dew slurpees we drank at the end of the day.

The good news is, my mom's house is officially sold and she is settled in with us now. We gave her two of our guest rooms, and she is using one as her living room and one as her bedroom. It's the best we can do for a "mom cave" without knocking down walls or expanding our house. It's not totally ideal, but it's working pretty well so far. In between one of those rooms is our guest bathroom which she has always loved (well, ever since we renovated it), so it's working out pretty nicely. Her rooms are on the other side of the house from ours, so it's almost like she has her own wing of the house.

But let me back up a little bit. Before she ever moved in, we did some work to spruce up those two guest rooms. Neither room had received much attention since we moved in, so we decided to give both of them fresh coats of paint, new crown moulding, upgraded ceiling fans and recessing lighting. We even scraped off the old popcorn ceiling that was left in one of the closets and it's amazing how fresh and clean it looks now. Definitely worth it!

The first guest room went from a blah beige color to a bright, clean white - Pure White by Sherwin Williams. That's our go-to white paint for this house, since we have used it for practically everything else including baseboards, doors, kitchen cabinet, built-ins in the den, master closet, etc. Why fix something that's not broken, right? This room gets nice light, and I thought it would be really great to give her a blank canvas that she could decorate for herself. (She LOVES to decorate, probably more than I do. Imagine that!)

This photo, taken after I gave the room a mini-makeover, shows the previous wall color:

Here's a progress shot, complete with new paint, recessed lights and crown moulding.

Since she was moving in, we needed to clear out those rooms. The only thing we kept was the mattress and box spring for the queen bed; everything else was sold through a buy/sell/trade Facebook page for our local community. (We've decided we like that better than Craigslist.) Basically everything you see in those above photos is gone. Goodbye, map dresser. I'll miss you!

Even though my mom is only living with us temporarily while she settles in this area and finds her own place, I still wanted to purge all of our old stuff instead of just putting it in storage. I figure that gives me an excuse to decorate these rooms anew when she moves out, which will be much more fun than moving my old stuff back in. I love shopping for new treasures, and you must get rid of the old to make room for the new!

Our other guest room was this deep blue/green color, and I'm pretty happy it's gone! Granted, it was better than the pink and green we inherited, but the room was too small and dark.

 We painted it Revere Pewter by Benjamin Moore, which is a color we have used throughout our entire house. It's a big improvement and definitely gives her the flexibility to decorate this room with any color scheme she wants. I snapped this photo with my phone after we painted it to show my mom how much brighter it was:

I don't have final photos yet because my mom made me promise to let her finish unpacking before I took "after" photos, but I did snap this shot of her cozy living area when she was somewhat situated. She still needs to do the finishing touches, she says. I'll be sure to share on the blog!

One of the other cool things that happened when my mom moved in is that we decided to incorporate some of her favorite furniture pieces into our formal living room. The part of our living room that used to look like this...

... now looks like this:

I love it! The cabinet, woven chair, upholstered chair and lamp all belong to my mom. I think my living room got a major upgrade when she moved in. The chest of drawers was moved into her living room, and the blue chairs were sold (single tear*). Scott always hated them and was so thrilled to see them go. I was happy that we found someone who liked mid century furniture and had big plans to reupholster them, like I always said I would do. At least they found a good home!


In other news, our workout room is still a work-in-progress (kind of like my body, which is why the elliptical looks so dusty and unused- ha!). We did take some time to hang up our sports memories, though. We each get a wall to relive our glory years. Now we can chug away on the elliptical and remember our college athlete days. Oh, to be 21 and working out three hours a day again! 

If you follow me on Instagram you might remember that Grantham sign. Our friends found it for us at the flea market! Isn't that cool? (Grantham is our last name, if you didn't know.)


I think this blog post is a little long, so it's probably time to wrap it up. That's what happens when I miss a month of blogging - I have way too much to say all at once. I'm planning to get back to blogging more regularly now that life is starting to settle back down a little bit. Phew.

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DIY Garage Floor Upgrade

The husband has been wanting to paint his garage floor for a long time. I've always resisted this idea because, really, who cares about the garage floor?

Whenever I said that my husband would reply, "Who cares about curtains? Who cares about throw pillows? Who cares about coffee table books?"

Hmm... Fair enough!

Anyway, he finally got around to painting the garage floor a couple weeks ago and I must say, it looks fantastic. It really sets off the freshly painted walls and makes the space look very custom, which is what he wanted. The garage is his happy place and he takes such good care of it, so he really deserves this fancy floor. I'm glad he finally talked me into it!

Here's the garage floor before the paint, just for reference:

I originally questioned whether we would get the return on our investment for this project, but I definitely think the money was well-spent. I know my husband was swayed by garages when we were house hunting, and I have no doubt that others value that space as well when they are making buying decisions. You never know, our garage might be the cherry on top for someone when we decide to sell this place!

In case you're wondering what's happening in that photo above, my husband thought, "Why stop at painting the floor? Why not add cedar baseboards and crown moulding, too?" Sometimes it blows my mind how much he loves working on his garage. Man cave, indeed.

Also, how cool is that orange hose thingamabob in the photo above? It connects his nail gun to the air compressor so he can work all over the garage without dragging the compressor around. It's a pretty handy little tool.

Here are a couple more photos of the new floor in action...

How We Did It

It's a pretty simple process, but unfortunately I don't have photos because he did this project while I was at work.

Let's start with the supplies. We used the most affordable floor paint we could find, Seal Krete Epoxy Seal Concrete Garage and Floor Paint. It didn't have the best reviews, but we knew we were going to go over it with a high-quality protective clear coat (Rustoleum Epoxy Shield Premium Clear Coating Floor Coating Kit, which has great reviews) at the end, so we were OK with using lower-quality paint underneath. Our paint vendor had a limited selection of colors, so we chose the darkest blue they offered. We bought two gallons of floor paint and one floor coating kit, which was enough for  one coat of the blue color and one protective clear coat.

Now, the next step is my favorite part. If you want your garage to look really fancy, you simply must use this product I call "man glitter." (Picture me following the husband around our local hardware store, singing about his beautiful "man glitter." Let's just say he was annoyed, which made it all the more enjoyable for me!)

When painting the floor, you have to do small sections at a time, and then stop to sprinkle the wet floor with the Valspar Color Flakes. It takes a little bit more time than just painting, but I think it's well worth the extra effort. We only needed one bottle for our entire garage floor.

The paint has to be left alone for 24 hours to make sure it sets before the clear coat, and then the clear coat needs 72 hours to seal. You can see the sandy texture in the photo above, which prevents slipping when the floor is wet from the rain. That's the anti-skid additive that comes with the Rustoleum premium floor coating kit.

Before clear coat:

After clear coat:

Our total cost for materials was about $200 for this project, which isn't too bad. I'll be sure to follow up every so often to let you know how the paint is holding up, since right now I can't really comment on the durability.

So what do you think, is it money well spent? Would you paint your garage floor?

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