Renovating Our Civil War-Era Home: Part 2


So, here is what “we” (Brance) have been up to on the new house. It took us months and months to  decide on a floor plan that we were both excited about, during that first year we owned it.  I really think the hard work is paying off, as we are still excited about the layout. BUT, the real test will be once we’ve actually lived in our house.

In the beginning I kind of got a tad-bit obsessive about the layout and design, as in not keeping up with the house and forgetting to shower obsessive… to spend my time pouring through a million online-pictures and sketching up all my ideas. BUT, thankfully, during that phase, I read something by a homeowner who was on the other side of a big home renovation project. I think it was a blog post, if I remember correctly (I wish I could direct you to it!). Basically, the poor girl bemoaned all the hours she wasted looking for the perfect light fixture, paint color, cabinet style, toilet etc. In the end, she said those things weren’t that important and she would have approached the project completely differently now. It was a good reminder for me to get some perspective and balance, which I did right away, AND to give my poor husband a break :). Really, the process has been much more pleasant and healthy since! Brance and I randomly read somewhere that a higher percentage of people than norm end up divorced during home renovation projects. Crazy, right!?

Okay, now I will share what “we’ve” accomplished so far…

Being in the city, I feel incredibly fortunate to own a detached single family, which is rare!  Our house is 3 smallish levels, each around 500 square feet, with bonus space in an attic.

Level 1

The first level, which walks out to our backyard, is an open kitchen and dining space. We have also included a small full bath, large storage/utility closet, and a coat closet (all which feel like a luxury in the city!). Although, it probably looks far from done (and probably a little messy :), we are incredibly close. All we have left before it really starts looking like a home (besides cabinets), is electrical and “drywall” (we plan to hang blue board and have it plastered).IMG_7540This is the backside of the house that leads to the yard. There are three smaller windows, (better seen below) that will have cabinets and sink underneath.IMG_7538This is a picture of the kitchen taken from the dining area. There will be cabinets in an L shape in the far right corner. We have yet to decide if we will do upper cabinets or shelves on the wall without windows. Any thoughts or suggestions on that? The door to the right leads out to an alleyway between our yard and the street (back and front of the house). On the left side of the kitchen are a coat closet, pantry, and cubby for the refrigerator.Dining AreaThis is a picture of the dining room (and front of the house) taken from the kitchen. To the right side of the dining area is the bathroom and storage/utility closet.

Level 2

On the second level of the house we have put a living room and Brance’s study. We will have a wash closet and hanging closet as well. The street entrance to the house is on that level. We are excited to keep the beautiful original mahogany staircase in the entryway!Living RoomOur living room overlooks the back of the house.IMG_7482I took this picture from the back of the living room. There is a see-through fireplace in-between this room and Brance’s study. We plan on putting cabinets/bookshelves around the fireplace. As you can see, the living room opens right into the entry hall (there will be no door).IMG_7484Here was Brance’s totally genius way of putting in a closet for a stackable washer and dryer AND a pull-out closet for hanging wet clothes (on the left over the stairwell leading to level one). I am so in love! With the hanging closet AND Brance :).StudyHere is Brance’s study from the entryway. We plan on putting “sliding” french doors. I know Brance is looking forward to creating a cozy little study, complete with floor-to-ceiling bookcases, a desk, and a comfy reading chair.Study 2Study 3And here are two more pictures.

Level 3

Our bedrooms and a shared bath will make up the third level of the house. There is also a linen closet in the hallway and the stairs leading to the attic. Our room will have two 7 ft. long closets (I can’t wait!) and the girls’ room will have one 7 ft. closet and a smaller bonus closet under the attic stair.

StairsHallwayThere is the stairwell leading up to the third level and the little hallway, facing our bedroom. Look how steep those stairs are, on the left, up to the “4th level” (aka the attic)!IMG_7511 IMG_7513 IMG_7514These are pictures of our “master” bedroom. Ahhh, I am so looking forward to this space!!!BedroomIMG_7505The girls are equally excited about decorating their new bedroom!Hallway/BathroomIMG_7503And the bathroom. We ended up going with an enameled steel tub and I am happy with the window above the tub rather than in the tub, as it originally was.IMG_7500I love that Brance arched the opening for the linen closet! I want to warm the space up with an oiled wooden door, mahogany or walnut, perhaps.

The Attic

IMG_7522Attic 2And finally, the attic space we haven’t decided for certain how we will use yet  (thinking maybe play or school or home office space). If you have any ideas, we’d love to hear them!

Phew, that was a lot! I look forward to posting more pictures as things unfold with our renovation. As I mention earlier, we are getting so close to finally having walls! And as Brance has told me, it will really start looking like a house then. I can’t wait :).

Have you ever undertaken a home renovation project? What kind of advice do you have to offer? We would love to hear!

11 thoughts on “Renovating Our Civil War-Era Home: Part 2

  1. This is the coolest major project I’ve seen in awhile (one of the cool things about it is that I’m not the one doing it)! But I do love renovations, especially historical restorations — you *must* get an era-appropriate field desk to go with the CW house.

  2. Thank you Emi, Brance and I enjoy historic things, so we are having fun with this! Both of us love the idea of a field desk from that era :). We already are looking far and wide for an antique iron drafting table to use as a “floating” kitchen island. I should keep an eye out for a desk as well!

  3. Your kitchen island idea is fantastic! Why aren’t we best friends already?? There is really great variety in Atlanta for CW antiques — in large part because of the film industry and the need for period furniture (but a lot of times they end up being reproductions and not genuine antiques). Is this a type of drafting table you’re looking for?

  4. Oh, that’s great to know about Civil War antiques in Atlanta! It has just been the last 3 or so years that I have gotten into antiques and thrifting. I am having a lot of fun, but I have a lot to learn yet :).

    I feel like we have made finding an antique drafting table more complicated! I have my heart set on one with a cast-iron base. They have them at Restoration Hardware, but they are kind of expensive, and I really prefer finding an antique one.

  5. I follow a lot of home blogs. Shelves in the kitchen above cabinets are very popular and I think if you do them right, they look really nice. Only problem is, you can’t hide behind doors!! Not that my cabinets are messy. Also, I always wondered about dust and cooking splatter. Some of my cabinets, especially the tops, are super greasy and gross over a period of time. It just feels like you’d have to keep them super clean. So excited to see the progress!!

  6. Thank you Dawn! I was wondering the same thing about “hiding behind doors”. Everything has to look “show-worthy”. Sippy cups and tacky mugs/glasses (that I can’t get rid of because there would be major tears from little people), don’t really fit that description. Besides, all the other odds and ends that usually make their way into upper cabinets near stoves like salt, spices, cornstarch, baking soda etc. If we go the open shelf route, all of that would be taking up valuable space in our very limited lower cabinets. I am glad you mention grease! I had thought about dust gathering on items on open shelves, but not about an oily film. Yuck. Good point!

    Here is my problem… My dream kitchen would be an all white kitchen, with lower and upper cabinets. Only, my more reasonable self says that, with children, in no time at all, it would become more like a nightmare kitchen. That’s what happened with my “dream”white couch, which is now white AND many other colors. So, my sensible self says, okay, natural walnut is pretty. The problem with that is our kitchen is small (in square footage and from floor to ceiling), the ceiling will be dark (we are leaving the exposed beams) and I was afraid adding dark lower AND upper cabinets might make our kitchen feel like a dungeon. That’s when I began to think open shelves could be the answer to our riddle. That natural walnut lowers, light counters, and white shelves might make the space seem brighter.

    But the points you bring up make me hesitant to go with shelves! Especially thinking about an oily film on all our dishes :(.

  7. Emi, the kitchen above is where we got the idea to use a cast-iron drafting table as an island. Although, a wooden one, like the one on eBay, may be a good option if I can’t find one like this. It may even be a better option because it would be more mobile! Thanks for sharing!

  8. Your idea is better! I take back my eBay link.
    I do have an opinion about that corner shelf. I once lived in a house (my parents built) that had shelving like that, and it was a pain to get anything in the far corner or up high. You pretty much need a footstool every time to reach that far wall. But a triangular corner shelf would ease the reach some, and the symmetry would look nicer (with the middle of the shelving unit aligned with the corner in the counter).

  9. Haha! I really might go that route if I don’t have luck finding the other. An oak drafting table would be beautiful too!

    Thanks for sharing your experience with shelves in the kitchen 🙂

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