A Beautiful Bathroom Transformation

Sometimes stuff just finds its way into a room. Any never makes its way out. Such was the case with this client’s bathroom. There was a little of this and a little of that, a scalloped edge sink, and a bottle or two (or three or four) too many.

 

 

And that just wouldn’t do. My client wanted it to feel fresh, spa-like, and perhaps, like if you listened really closely, you could hear the tub whisper, “Relax. Stay awhile.”

 

 

 

So there was work to be done.

 

 

 

 

 

Bathroom Before

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wait for it. I’m trying to build suspense here….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bathroom Before 2

 

 

 

 

 

Okay, now you can look.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bathroom After 2

 

 

 

We replaced the baseboard with a more substantial (taller) and squared-edge (for clean lines) variety, and added beefy, Craftsman style, trim to the new door. A deeper tub was installed to replace the existing one. And the sparkling new window was flanked with 6″ x 12″ porcelain tile that had the most beautiful wavy stone pattern and subtle texture.

 

 

 

 

The sconces, faucet, shower head, tub spout, soap dispenser, and even the toilet handle were finished in champagne bronze for a soft golden look that wasn’t as brassy as polished brass. A rectangular sink added a touch of modern to the space, but the ruffled shower curtain grounded the room in femininity.

 

 

 

 

 

Bathroom After 3

 

 

 

 

With all the great changes, the one that tickles me the most is the face pot. I found it in my client’s office, tucked away at the back of a shelf. Said client was out of town so I took the liberty to fill the pot with potting soil and a fern. You may note, in a later photo, the fern has been changed to a succulent and this, dear readers, is the downside of maiden hair ferns: while beautiful, they’re finicky things, prone to expiration.

 

 

 

 

 

Bathroom After Other View

 

 

 

Above is a behind-the-scenes peek of the design before the light switches went on, before dark, hardwood planks were installed in the hallway, and–apparently, before the painter came back to touch up every spot I marked with a piece of blue painter’s tape. If you look closely you can spot the kitchen–pre-remodel–reflected in the mirror.

 

 

 

 

 

Bathroom Bird Picture

 

 

 

 

 

Here is a closeup of this cute picture (the pelican is embroidered on fabric) that now hangs over the toilet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vanity close up

 

 

 

 

 

 

My client sourced this vanity online and we all know things can look different on a screen, but I’m happy to report the vanity was even more good looking in real life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Face pot

 

 

 

 

And here the pretty (and cross eyed?) maiden is with her new succulent headdress. Love her!

 

 

 

 

Sources

Paint: Benjamin Moore color Mayonnaise, in eggshell, for walls and ceiling

Benjamin Moore color Simply White, in satin, for baseboard, door, and door casing

Vanity: Fairmont Rustic Chic

Counter top and backsplash: Crema Marfil marble, custom

Shower curtain: Marshall’s

Toilet and sink: Kohler

Shower head, tub spout, faucet and toilet handle: Delta Lahara in Champagne Bronze

Floor tile: El Pietra Millerighe in Caramel cut to 6″ x 12″ for shower walls and left in original 12″ x 24″ size for the floor. Grout color: Alabaster.

 

 

 

PS, The other day, one of my clients mentioned that his tile guy suggested we install his 3″ x 6″ white subway kitchen tile in a grid pattern instead of the typical offset stagger. I wanted to “see” it myself before I decided if I was on board so I traced a few tiles, in both patterns, directly onto the wall to compare the Normal (staggered) version to the Who-Does-That? (grid pattern) version.  Well, guess what? For this space, I actually preferred the (Who-Does-That?) grid pattern!

 

Grid pattern tile

 

 

 

 

 

 

It ended up looking like this which I found much more interesting for this small, somewhat plain space than regular ol’ staggered. We used a grey grout to add a contrast and up the oomph, but the exact color name escapes me at the moment and I can’t find it in my notes.

 

 

 

 

 

Grid tile kitchen in progress

 

 

 

The house is adobe style complete with stained pylons protruding out just below the roof line, but the inside is devoid of beams and has fantastically soaring ceilings so the plan for the inside is rustic modern with a nod to Spanish/Western. (It’s a man’s house; need I say more?) The exposed concrete floors will be polished and sealed with a matte finish. The windows will receive white, roller shades (motorized so his stunning views can be viewed within in seconds) and, in the kitchen, I’m contemplating using these stools…

 

 

 

Restoration Hardware Spring StoolRestoration Hardware New Industrial Coil Stool

 

 

with this table.

 

Angelo Home Brookdale Zinc and Wood Dining TableAngelo Home Brookdale Zinc And Wood Gathering Table from Overstock.com

 

 

 

And this piece of art.

 

 

 

 

 

West Elm StaredownStaredown from West Elm

 

 

 

 

 

 

This design project involves the entire house so I’ll keep you posted as we get closer to the Before and Afters!

 

 

 

 

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From shabby to chic: an exterior Before and After!

This is a post about a house that had seen better days. A house that was very in need of some TLC. A house where the latex paint on the exterior walls was shedding like an Irish Setter in summer. One where the shutters were missing rails like jack o’ lanterns missing teeth. And the yard? It had more uncovered dirt than Us magazine.

 

 

But see for yourself.

 

 

 

Side of house before

 

 

 

Uh huh.

 

 

 

 

Exterior Before

 

 

Lucky for this house, my clients recognized under all that mess, there was a cute, sweet home. That just needed a chance. And an interior {and exterior} designer.

 

 

 

It’s hard to tell from this picture (see above) but that is a frosted jalousie window to the left of the teal-colored front door. One of the first design decisions was to replace it with a horizontal window. Not only would the shape solve a design dilemma–(there is a bathroom on the other side of that window that needed privacy; with a higher-hung, horizontal window, we could get away with clear glass and let more light in without the threat of someone seeing someone else tinkle)–but I was able to find a wood-clad window that would blend with the era of the home and the rest of its existing windows–for $50 from Habitat for Humanity. Sold!

 

 

 

 

The plan for the rest of the exterior went a little something like this…

 

 

 

Front of house before2

 

 

 

But let’s revisit that window for a moment.

 

 

 

Old window

 

 

See the uninstalled window lurking in the left hand corner looking all inconspicuous? It took the place of the installed (frosted jalousie, shuttered) window.

 

 

 

In other words, this…

 

 

 

 

Window standing

 

 

 

 

became…

 

 

 

this!

 

 

 

Window after

 

 

 

 

 

Ah, what a difference trim and fresh paint make.

 

 

 

 

The front turned out like this….

 

 

 

 

Front view

 

 

 

Here’s another view, if you happened to be gazing left….

 

 

 

Front side after

 

 

 

Ready for your closeup, front door?

 

 

 

Front Door after 2

 

The hanging exterior light was a $20 rummage sale find (courtesy of me, the junk sale junkie).

 

 

 

And that sad side area…

 

 

 

 

Side of house before

 

 

 

 

turned into this pretty side area!

 

 

 

Side of house after

 

 

 

The painter’s helper had a moment of genius when he suggested we move the existing fence forward. We all agreed it would make the side yard better tie into the backyard and add more privacy to the front. A salvaged gate was resurrected with a sand, stain and finish and now contrasts nicely against the fence (which is painted the same soft, creamy color as the house’s siding).

 

 

 

Side view after

 

 

 

The clients just happened to have this amazing doorknob lying around in their garage.

 

 

 

 

Door knob detail

 

Now when was the last time you saw back plates as cool as that, I ask?

 

 

 

 

The front yard got a quick clean-up.

 

 

 

 

Witness: the Before (gulp)….

 

 

 

 

 

Front yard before

 

 

 

And the After….

 

 

 

Front yard after

 

 

Note:  This mulch just happens to be on sale at Home Depot for $10 for 3 bags (each bag covers 2 cubic feet). Since the only changes from the Before to the After in the front yard were the stucco wall was power-washed and mulch was added, it just goes to show how transformative mulch can be–making that a temping sale indeed!

 

Paint details:

Door: Benjamin Moore, Black Beauty (satin)

Shutters: Same as door

Posts, beams, trim, door and window casing: Benjamin Moore, Simply White (satin)

Siding: Benjamin Moore, Muslin (eggshell)

 

 

 

What about you? Is your house thirsty for a paint job? Is your yard ready to gobble up some mulch? If you would like to see more Before and Afters, please visit my interior design website http://www.kishagiannidesigns.com

 

 

Happy weekend!

 

 

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Holy Craigslist: We bought a Sub-Zero fridge!

As an interior designer, I had to polish up (pun intended) on my knowledge of high-end kitchen appliances. Sure these might be items I would only dream of owning, that I may never operate–outside a display in a fancy showroom–but for the sake of my clients, I had to learn what was what.

 

 

 

The more I educated myself, the more I began to want these appliance–for myself! My “Drool List” went something like this:

 

 

 

The Miele Built-In Espresso Maker (with its trademarked Conical Grinding System, Frother and Integrated Milk Tank)…

 

 

 

Miele espresso makerRetailing at (gulp) $3,299.00 Not deterred? You can find one here.

 

 

 

La Cornue’s stove and range top–which, to me, always looked a lot like upscale luggage (literally and figuratively?).

 

La Cornue RangePrices vary.  Think $8,600-$35,000 range. It’s one of those, “If you have to ask….” products. But if you have to see, you can, here.

 

 

 

And the Sub-Zero refrigerator.

 

 

 

Sub-zero fridgeWhile we’re at it, I wouldn’t mind their wine cooler, either.

 

 

And last weekend…(drum roll, please)…JB found one on Craigslist for $100!

 

 

Yes, a hundred dollars! Sure, it’s used–but lovingly so. And since we haven’t started our kitchen remodel yet this is going to be a sort of refrigerator test run. This way we can see if the size and style and energy usage works for us–so we’ll know if we want to spring for a new one when it really matters!

 

 

Here is our old fridge inherited from the previous owners…

 

Old fridge door closedThe two magnets were ours, but the scratches, dents and random blobs of cream-colored paint were not.

 

 

 

 

old fridge closeup

See? I wasn’t kidding about the cream paint marks–on a white fridge! I can only wonder about the why and the how.

 

 

 

 

And here is our new (to us) Sub-Zero in all its stainless steel glory!

 

 

 

SUB-ZERO front

 

 

I think it’s so pretty and it slid into the opening of our existing cabinets with a 1/16 of an inch to spare, kinda like the Refrigerator Gods were smiling down on us. It’s already worlds better–and quieter–than our archaic one that incessantly moaned, groaned, and hummed.  (The Sub-Zero makes more of a steady white noise somewhere between waves crashing and being on an airplane, but quieter.) I’ll keep you posted about how it affects our electric bill!

 

 

 

 

 

Moving truckIt took this truck (thank you JT!), the help of a super friend (thank you, Michael!) and some swear words (sorry, neighbors!) before the new fridge entered our home.

 

 

 

In a moment of “The more contrasting metals the better!” JB gave the old hardware a vinegar soak to remove years of caked-on grease and then used Brasso to polish the heck out of it. Admittedly, it’s a bit on the clashy side, (I like to see it as our kitchen just went Bohemian Chic), but I do like the soft shade of brass, more like a brushed finish, than super brassy and shiny.  In the past, I have had clients boil their shiny brass hardware in water and vinegar to age it, but now what’s old…is a tiny bit out and the sparkly stuff is en vogue again. Funny how that happens.

 

Brass hardware polishedNew warm tone. And a lot less grime. 🙂

 

 

 

 

Besides good looks and a subtle sound, I’m not just judging this fridge by its cover. It’s what’s inside that counts and that is a heck of a lot of room. It’s huge! I feel like I can fit the contents of three refrigerators in here. We transferred all our food from the former fridge (see below) –that was stuffed to the max–and in the new fridge, it’s nothing.

 

 

Old fridge door openIck. Uck. Oh, the suffering every time my hand brushed across the exposed screw on the upper deck. Skin was lost I tell you. And the clutter. Oh boy.

 

 

 

And now…It looks like a (non-cooking) bachelor lives here.

 

 

 

SUB-ZERO inside

 

 

We even have room for our three varieties of butter!

 

 

 

Butter trio in fridge

 

 

Yes, we’re butter gluttons. Since we went gluten-free, we have been delving deeper into the world of dairy products. Have you tried the Ferrarini Italian butter (the one on the left) from Costco? It’s not cheap, but the flavor justifies the cost. We find ourselves eating small slices atop (rice) crackers as though it were cheese. It’s that good. And we’re that bad.

 

 

Inside the fridge

 

 

I’m so excited to have a stainless steel fridge with a bottom drawer freezer so I can run experiments like:

 

 

1) What does all that stooping do to your back? Will it become natural to squat and open the drawer instead of leaning over? (Ah ha! Who needs to go to the gym when you open your freezer drawer enough…unless, of course, you’re opening it to reach for vanilla ice cream, eh hem!, on a nightly basis?)

 

 

2) Well, this one I can confirm. Magnets don’t stick to the door. One of my clients was recently a bit dismayed when she found this out for herself, but we both agreed it’s a blessing because it forces people to keep their fridge free and clear of magnets, kind of like what we designers and stagers will do to your fridge anyway if we’re trying to make the house look its best. Now cluttering with magnets and take-out menus and kid’s art isn’t even an option which is not such a bad thing.

 

 

 3) Will  more food fit into  a bottom-drawer freezer than a side-door freezer? Confirmed, yes!

 

 

 

What about you, have you had a Sub-Zero for years and are wondering what took me so long to join the club? (The $100 price tag secured my membership.)  Do you have a fridge you think is even better? The couple we bought the Sub-Zero from are investing in a Miele Smart fridge and a La Cornue stove and vent hood. Sigh. Although, I’m not entirely envious of their Smart appliance. From the hacking stories we’ve heard, they might not be such a smart idea. For now, we’re going analog with our new pretty beast.

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What goes down, must not stay there: Our new mailbox!

When we first moved in, I remember remarking, “It’s so quiet here. We fall asleep to the sound of crickets, and wake up to the chirp of birds.” It was idyllic. It was tranquil. It was short lived.

 

 

 

Torn up street

Okay, that’s not really our street, (Did the age of the cars give it away?), but the scene was similar.

 

 

Apparently the water main on our street had something terribly wrong with it. A malady that required digging and hauling and street-patching to make it right again. And so, two months ago a construction crew arrived complete with tractors, digging machines (forgive me, I’m sure there’s a more technical term) and a port-a-potty. They set up shop and every weekday morning they drowned out the sound of the birds. For two whole months!

 

 

 

BirdsImage via David Kanigan

 

 

Which was bad enough. Then one day, we came home to find this.

 

 

 

Mailbox knocked down

Our mailbox, down for the count.

 

 

And I couldn’t have been happier!

 

I’m a firm believer that good design should start at–or extend to–the mailbox so we’d already agreed to replace ours. But the laid best plans…can be put off. Fortuitously, now we were forced to make that good design happen–sooner than later!

 

 

 

Buck mailboxes

No, not like this, but these made me laugh. Image via Odd Stuff Magazine

 

 

 

First, we needed a design plan. For inspiration, I started studying mailboxes as I drove around town. Most of them fell into two categories: dull or unattractive. I was disappointed to note that even some very nice houses didn’t extend their great design to the mailboxes.

 

 

 

Ugly mailboxes

 

 

 

So I Googled “creative mailboxes”. And found this….

 

 

Microwave mailbox

Points for creativity and wacky irreverence, but a demerit for “Neighbors Would Hate It!”

 

 

 

We wanted something more sophisticated. One of my favorite mailboxes is this one in Montecito.

 

 

 

 Cyclist mailboxIt gives you an indication that the house just might be awesome, too. Which it is. Image via flickr.

 

 

 

 

Book house

This is the house that matches that mailbox. Neat, right? Image via Ed Hat 

 

 

 

So we racked our brains to come up with something cool we could repurpose. And came up with zilch. Then I took Lilo for a walk in our neighborhood and my jaw dropped.

 

 

 

 

Cool mailbox front

Uh huh.

 

 

 

It was the best I had seen! But we couldn’t just copy it exactly; that would be a design no-no. But we could use it for inspiration.

 

 

 

Cool Mailbox side viewThat’s a surfboard skeg for the flag. Oh so clever!

 

 

 

Side note: When I gathered up the nerve to measure the mailbox (for reference) who was standing next to it, putting out the trash, but its owner. When I admitted I was coveting his mailbox, he couldn’t have been nicer and gave our planned mailbox-homage his blessing.

 

 

We started with–where else do all good projects start?–a trip to Home Depot….

 

 

 

Lilo on Home Depot Cart

 Poor guy walked the plank and jumped on the hard concrete right after this shot was taken.  (Bad mommy.)

 

 

 

 

Selected our numbers…(spoiler alert: we went with the large, nickel finished ones at top).

 

 

 

Address numerals

 

 

 

We plotted the width of the planks and used nails to determine the spacing between them…..

 

 

 

Plotting the planks

 

 

 

We framed and secured the box…. Well, JB did. I said supportive things like,  “That looks really good!”

 

 

Mailbox frame

 

 

 

 

Next we plotted the spacing of the address numerals using the templates they came with.

 

 

Plotting mailbox numbers

 

 

 

 

Once we had the templates in place, we found it was easier to drill right through them rather than tapping a mark, removing the paper, then drilling–as the instructions suggested.

 

 

 

Drilling holes

Ignoring instructions.  Almost there….

 

 

And here it is…front left.

 

 

 

Mailbox front

 

 

 

And front right.

 

 

 

Mailbox side

We used a metal ruler as our flag as a nod to all things engineering and JB.

 

 

 

Both sides…a total delight! Sorry, I couldn’t help myself; it rhymed.

 

 

I purchased the Kangaroo Paw plant but the rest were cuttings from larger plants in our backyard. That’s the great thing about succulents, you can just snip, plant, cross-your-fingers-while-you-water-them, and they’ll reroot.

 

I’m looking forward to when they’re full-sized (especially the agave) and fill in the surrounding area so it doesn’t look so “new construction-ish”. And as the redwood ages, it will mellow out to a more subtle, silvery patina. But for now, it’s working for us and sets the tone for the rest of the house which we have finally decided (finally!) will be a little modern meets a little rustic.

 

 

What about you, have you driven around studying mailboxes too? Or am I the only one with mailboxes on the brain?

 

 

 

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Sneak peek: My client’s guest bedroom

Here’s a peek at my client’s guest bedroom.

 

We started here…

 

 

Guest Bedroom Before

(I used to have that same lamp back in college–from Staples).

 

 

 

Printed grass cloth guest bedroom

 

 

And ended here.

 

 

What a difference!

 

 

 

My client added the peace pillow she found on a trip to Cambria and I love how it relaxes the formality of the chandelier and pleated drapes.  The bedding calls to mind a giant pin-tucked marshmallow (if there ever were such a thing) and makes the room so cozy. I am crazy for the printed grasscloth wallpaper (from Thibaut’s Andros Collection/Cream on Beige.)

 

 

Printed grasscloth wallpaper

 Here’s a closeup of the printed grasscloth. The motif was kind of falling gingko leaves meets bare trees.

 

 

 

We had the acoustic “popcorn” ceiling smoothed, replaced the window, painted the ceiling and walls, added a chandelier, crown molding and a more stately baseboard, door, and window trim. Oatmeal-toned Berber wool carpet was installed along with a wrought iron rod and custom curtains, new bedroom and closet doors and these beauties…

 

 

 

Baldwin doorknob

Ah, the Baldwin egg knobs.

 

 

 

I cannot state enough what a difference good hardware makes. These slightly distressed Baldwin egg knobs feel so solid and cool-to-the-touch in your palm. You can just feel the good craftsmanship. (Baldwin hand-forges their knobs from a billet of solid brass; you can read more about the process here). I know it might sound odd to say a doorknob feels exciting, but they really do.

 

 

 

Chandelier

This chandelier may be beautiful but was oh-so-tedious to assemble!

 

 

 

There are more rooms to go, but this is the first finished one.  I’ll keep you posted (pun intended) on more to come!

 

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The Writing on the Wall: Our new chalkboard wall!

The wall in our living room used to look like this.

 

Living Room Wall Before

 

 

 

It needed a little somethin’ somethin’. At first I thought that might be grasscloth. But my budget told me otherwise. It said, “Keep looking. You can find something for less money.”

 

As the painter’s tape in the photo might lead you to (correctly) guess, paint won this contest. But first, there were other contenders.

 

Like a photo mural wall!

 

 

McConnels3

 

I saw this wall graphic at McConnel’s Ice Cream on State St. and thought, “Bingo! I’ll use a black and white photo, have a company blow it up to the size of our wall, and we’ll stick it up with wallpaper adhesive.”

 

 

JB likes jazz so I toyed with the idea of an old, grainy photo from a jazz club. Like this, but less French. Romantic, oui?

 

French Cafe KissImage via French Culture

 

The concept that a photo could give the illusion our wall actually receded in space, and thus make our living room appear even larger, was intriguing. But when I considered that photos with persons might also give the (somewhat creepy) impression that strangers were hanging out with us in our living room, I nixed the plan of having people in the photos.

 

And switched to nature themes. Like a road leading to nowhere.

 

Road to Nowhere 2

This is actually a wallpaper which you can find here. But it felt a bit desolate.

 

 

I do like this birch tree wallpaper, but it is already everywhere….

 

CNwoodpaper

 

 

So I considered a natural version of it, like this.

 

 

Birch treesVia Fine Art America

 

Alas, it felt too wintery to feel right in spring and summer. Darn.

 

Nothing seemed quite right. I was like the Goldilocks of wallpapers. And I was still stymied by not knowing if I used a photo I took myself, who could blow it up to 10′ 3″ wide x 8′ tall we needed for our wall without blowing our budget at the same time.

 

REIThis is the photo mural behind the counter at our local REI.  It’s fabulous and fabulously large, but a wee bit dramatic for everyday living room viewing.

 

 

In the end, chalkboard paint was the winner. Yes it has been done. And then done some more, but the scribbles and art we’ll draw on it will be our own. Also, while we’re still in the remodeling phase and making up our minds about permanent choices, something that is less of an investment, easily changed–but fun, nonetheless–felt right.

 

 

Here it is in all its graffiti glory: our new chalkboard wall…

 

Chalkboard Wall After

 

I like that now we can write humongous To Do or Reminder lists.

 

 

Here’s the very first thing we wrote on the wall after a late night viewing of the, oft underrated, film Karate Kid.

 

Chalkboard Miyagi2 copy

 

My assessment of having a chalkboard wall?  Not only is it entertaining, but it feels like having a rotating art installation in your own living room. And at only $20 for the two coats we needed for our wall, the price came in at “Heck yeah!”

 

Note: I don’t think we’ll do this, but it did occur to me that we could add crown molding on all sides and paint the molding a metallic gold, thus making the wall read like a gigantic gilded picture frame with a chalkboard center.

 

 

Gilded Molding

Like a minimalist’s version of this. If you’re game, you can buy the molding here.

 

 

But, for now, I think we’re treating this wall as a “Let’s see how long we like this” element, so adding molding wouldn’t be so wise. Without the addition of gold molding, we can rest easy knowing the day we decide we need say a white wall on which to adhere a black and white photo of a rambling road, we can change the wall–with the stroke of a brush!

 

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Starting at the front door!

When I arrive at a client’s house for the first time, I take a big breath to stifle my nerves and then I don my hyper-observant, leave-no-less-than-ideal-items-unnoticed lenses. (They just happen to look like the same prescription glasses I was wearing when I pulled up, so no one is the wiser.)

 

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Via Claffisica
From the property line, forward, I try to take it all in. Even if some items are not in the budget to be improved upon, I’m madly redesigning the mailbox, replacing the asphalt driveway with cut stone, and—quite often—mentally repainting the front door. Here’s why.
You are Home TDC
Via Thrifty Decor Chic
The 90s, (and their siblings, the 80s), called and they want their wood doors back. Even here in stylish Santa Barbara where the townhouses are tony, there are far too many Golden Oak stained front doors–plain or with a leaded glass oval in the center or demilune at top, paired with–what else?–brass  hardware. (Yeah, I know. Brass is back, but more on that later.) And they could look so much better. So easily. With a bit of black-ish paint.
Oak front doorYeah doors, we’re talking about you.
I try to go back in time to a florescent-lit Home Depot aisle in 1992, and wonder if the thought was, “Real wood is natural and beautiful. Why cover it with paint?” And that totally makes sense—if the answer wasn’t, “Because real wood makes a much better tabletop, floor, or rustic plank wall feature than it does a door—especially one paired with leaded glass.” (Caveat: Spanish doors are the exception and look best with stained wood in almost every case I can think of.)
Black door with demilune
Via The Decorologist
Side note: Funny how these days people pay big money for things to look chippy, rusted and beyond “gently used” when in eras past poor people were saddled with them because they couldn’t afford to replace them. Back then, a smooth stained and finished front door with a leaded glass window and a brass handle so shiny it resembled gold would make you look like you had arrived. Now it just makes you look like you’ve arrived at a dated front door.
One King's Lane Dresser
This dresser used to say you couldn’t afford another one. Now it say you can afford $2,999.00 at One King’s Lane.
Three, two, one…and we’re back on topic.  So when we arrived at the Open House for the house that is now our home and I saw the front door was goldeny oaky with a leaded demilune at top, my first thought was, “Bleck.” My second thought was, “I know how to make it better!”
Front Door BeforeOur door, before.
It was the very first home project we tackled.  Because, don’t we all know good design begins at the front door? (And sometimes at the base of the driveway which is why I say we also need a new mailbox.)
JB was kind enough to remove the door and prep it for me by covering the glass and hinges with painter’s tape.
Front Door duringPrepping the beast.
And so the transformation began.
Up until recently, if I were espousing my fondness for door transformation with a swift coat (or two) of paint, in the next breath I’d add, “Choose black.”
Thank goodness the day before I painted our door, a design mentor of mine suggested, “Add a drop of white to make it a very dark charcoal. It’s softer than black and will make your door stand out from all the other black doors out there.”
Front door almostAlmost there…

And was she right? A resounding, “Yes!”  Black doors have become kind of A Thing and that wee bit of white (around 1/3 cup white per gallon of black) made for a softer, and less ubiquitous color.

Front Door BeforeOne more time. Our door before.

Front Door After
And after!*
 
*Try to ignore the the weird “spilled makeup” esque colorant the former owners used to stain the walkway. We’re still brainstorming what to do about that.
Funny story: our door turned out to be plastic, not wood. But the same designer friend had just turned me onto PPG True Finish  paint which apparently she has used to paint on Formica counters with good results. Now I haven’t, so I’m not recommending it until I’ve tried it myself. Just sayin’ this stuff offered great coverage for a plastic door when I was a bit concerned about how paint would adhere to plastic. So far, no problems!
Benjamin Moore black door
Via Benjamin Moore
I crossed my fingers that it was okay to skip sanding and just start painting. (It was.) After JB had done the hard part of removing the door and using painter’s tape to tape off the edges of the window, it was only fair that I dealt with the stinky part (that paint just smelled extra toxic than most, but also dried incredibly quickly, which was perhaps part of the toxic trade-off) and messy part of painting.
Charlton House black doorRichard Smith

Two, fast-drying coats later and that door was ready for re-installation. But we still needed a peephole.

I recently asked my carpenter what height he recommends for peepholes. His answer? “5′ from the bottom of the door, or eye level.”  Well JB is 6’2″ and I’m 5’7″ so whose “eye level” are we talking about? After a bit of a debate, we decided  5′ 3″ was a fair compromise but not before I said, “What about when we have kids? How will they see out?” This was the logical resolution:  if our kids aren’t tall enough to see out the peephole, they aren’t old enough to be left home alone to answer the door. Not to mention step stools have been invented.  So 5′ 3″ it was.

Black door lion head knockerOoh la la. Now we just need to add one of these!
We could tell our door was brand new which made me chuckle that the previous owners might have had this conversation: “You know what we need to sell this house? New wall-to-wall flesh toned carpet to match the newly flesh tone painted walls and a new plastic front door. With a demilune window!” However, I must say they were of-the-moment to pick oil rubbed bronze door hardware.
Problem is, ORB hardware fades to the background and all but disappears on our nearly black door. Now that old bronze stuff I’ve been convincing clients to update over the years, is not only of THIS VERY moment—perhaps even a tad in the future—but it looks AMAZING against black. Kinda like how a jeweler shows off his silver and gold against a black velvet backdrop. Even though ORB  gets a bit lost on the near black we chose, we’re going to keep it because 1) it matches the finish on the address numerals and the outdoor light fixture hanging on the adjacent wall and 2) we plan to have ORB knobs in the rest of the house and there’s something to be said for consistency.
Black front door with arch
Via Shelterness
If you happen to have a leaded window in your door, painting the door black or dark grey is a great way to make the blackish/grey color of the leading tie in like they were made for each other.
Now I love our door’s leaded glass which I hated before. It adds much needed light into the entry and is an interesting feature of the door. I’m actually glad it’s there.
Have you transformed a door with black/dark grey paint? I’d be happy to hear about it!
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