<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=996690293685739&ev=PageView&noscript=1" />

The Living Room Makeover: An Unexpected Journey

Well, that escalated quickly.
The smallest actions often have the most profound effects. The fact that I sit here now, typing these words for your ocular consumption on this ever-growing blog, is proof of that statement. When we bought this house, Handan and I didn’t set out to create a blog. We weren’t even thinking of becoming DiYers. This path we travel revealed itself to us back in November of 2013, our first month in this house we now call Home.
When we toured this house, Handan and I both knew right away that it was the one for us. We loved it. When we moved in, we started to notice the flaws and the things we didn’t like so much. Among the things we didn’t like so much (*cough* hated *cough*) was the “brass ‘n’ glass” look of the master bath.
Handan and I went to Home Depot and picked out a replacement faucet. My job was to install it the next day while she was at work. How hard could it be, right? Right?
The next day became the current day, and I set to my task with a whistle and a will. I had a peek under the counter. Uh huh. That thing goes to that other thing. That one there is attached to this. Yup. Okay, time to start decoupling! And then came the yanking and unscrewing and twisting and pulling and swearing and kicking and pounding and screaming and generally not having a very good time. I thought this was supposed to be easy! What the heck!
I can’t remember how long I wrestled the dang thing, but I did remove the old faucet at last. I unboxed the new faucet and gaped in horror as my stupidity glared back at me. The faucet I removed had a central stem and two handles for hot and cold water. The new faucet had only the stem, with the hot/cold on/off handle built into it. Now, I’m no mathematician, but by my calculations, that would have left me with two big holes in the sink. Crud.
I stepped back and considered my problem: I was bested by a small faucet.
I weighed my options: quit in shame and disgust or take this thing to the next level. I chose the next level.
I dropped my tools and made a beeline for the garage. Home Depot was about to make another sale. That sink was old, and its time was up. I burst into the superstore and ran towards the bathrooms. I mean, I ran towards the place where they sell bathrooms. I mean, bathroom fixtures. Gah! Why do you have to be so literal? I scanned the wall of porcelain until I found one that suited my needs: it was white and it only had one hole. Perfect. I threw a fistful of dollars at the cashier and ran home with my prize. Wow, Handan would be so thrilled with the change and so proud of my initiative! I could hardly wait to get that beautiful sink into its new home!
Cardboard flew as I unboxed the sink. Taking one more look at her sleek lines, I turned back to the old sink and started to pry it upwards. Once I had a good grip on the edges I lifted it up and out. I placed it on the floor then picked the new sink from its box and brought it over to the vanity.
My pretty new sink was oval, but the hole in the vanity was hexagonal! Defeat was unacceptable. I thrust the sink into the opening, a round peg in a square hole, an orange in Appleville. The sink fit, but the corners of the hexagonal hole extended past the oval edges of the sink like little triangular middle fingers, each one flipping off my dignity. I ripped the new sink from the hole and tossed it aside, eyes blazing, lungs tearing at the air. That hole! That d@mned hexagonal hole! My mind shrank and retreated, and something more primal took over. I grasped the counter top and heaved with all my frustration. If the sink won’t fit, you must not quit!
The countertop didn’t budge.
I grabbed a screwdriver and went hunting for fasteners. Once I found and removed the screws, I heaved again and pulled that horrid countertop from its perch. Waves of satisfaction washed over me. And then the terror took hold. Holy crap, what had I done? Handan was going to kill me! This wasn’t in the budget – none of it! Not even the sink! As I considered my fate, I ripped off the backsplashes. Well, I couldn’t leave the job half done, could I??
As I said, this all happened in the days before the blog, so there was no reason for me to take photos of this debacle process. But I thought that if I sent Handan a photo while she was at work, it might soften the blow and get her prepared for what she’d find when she came home from work that night. I sent the pic and hoped for the best.
It didn’t help. She was seriously PO'd.
When she got home, I endured her wrath until she regained her wits. Then she looked at the situation with a new eye.
“Well…let’s get rid of this vanity and get new one. It’s all good, my Babes. Don’t worry. Come on, let’s go to Home Depot. We’ll also paint the walls while we’re at it.”
And with that sentence, Handan launched us headlong into two months of painting every interior wall in the house. Along the way, we changed a couple more sinks and faucets and started to teach ourselves all about our house and what it took to fix it ourselves. We became DiYers.
So Thanksgiving morning, when I removed a corner shelf in the living room that I had built three years ago, it was no surprise when Handan said, “Babes, instead of touching up these screw holes with the red paint, I think I’ll paint the walls with something new.” I knew that the walls were just the beginning. This was the butterfly effect again.
Later that Thanksgiving morning, as I tried to relax in my recliner and tune out the world, Handan’s voice cut through my holiday calm.
“Hey, Babes?”
Those two words meant trouble. It’s never, “Hey, Babes? Let’s go on a vacation!” or “Hey, Babes? Here’s a beer. Relax!” Nope. “Hey, Babes?” is always followed by “Could you…,” “Can you…,” “Would you…,” or “Will you….” On Thanksgiving morning it was, “Hey, Babes? Can you build the scaffolding, so I can start painting, and you can change the ceiling fans?”
The scaffolding. 12 feet of towering steel, 404 pounds of rolling reach distributed among 4 boxes that had been sitting in the garage since we bought it over a year ago. I thought the day would never come. I thought it would sit in the garage until it faded into the surrounding mess. I was wrong.
The ceiling fans were mounted 18 feet above the floor. They were plain white - functional, if not beautiful. Two years ago, Handan bought replacement fans, but we had no way of getting up there to change them. Until now.
So if you've read all the way to this point, I applaud you. For those for whom it was TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read), welcome back. Let's have a look at how things were.
This first pic is how the house looked when we bought it (minus the furniture - that belonged to the previous owners).
*Affiliate links used in this post*
Difficulty: Medium
  • the living room makeover an unexpected journey
Here's how it looked for our first Christmas in 2013.
  • the living room makeover an unexpected journey
  • the living room makeover an unexpected journey
It suited us for a while. But when we started blogging (and taking all those nice pictures), we noticed that the red walls clashed with everything we tried to stage in front of them. They’re like that jerk at work who argues with everyone. We needed a change. I just didn’t think that change would come on Thanksgiving morning.
So I did what I do best in situations like these: I pouted. I really didn’t want to carry those boxes inside and build that monstrosity. Not yet, at least. I mean, I did want to, in theory. Just not that day. That’s reasonable, right?
Of course, that meant that within five minutes, I was out in the garage, grumbling and kicking things out of the way and then yelling for Handan’s help. With the aid of a dolly, we managed to get those 4 boxes inside the house, despite the protestations of my palpitating heart. When we opened the boxes, my spirits lifted. There weren’t too many pieces! Building would be pretty easy. We got to it. In a matter of minutes (okay maybe tens of minutes), we had the scaffolding up and running.
While most of America was busy staring at birds roasting in their ovens, Handan was climbing the scaffolding. When the nation sat down at its feasting table to cram turkey down its neck, Handan was busy painting.
  • the living room makeover an unexpected journey
The paint we chose for most of the project was a soft, neutral gray. It would cover everything except the big fireplace wall.
We were thinking of keeping that wall the same color. But the Sunday after Thanksgiving, as we stood in the kitchen sipping martinis with my parents, inspiration struck, and this makeover really got legs.
With martinis in hand, my parents and I watched as Handan applied a test patch of paint on the wall next to the fireplace.
Handan and I had talked about keeping it the same color (“Cayenne” from the Martha Stewart palette). Handan had also suggested we paint it to the blue/gray of the dining room (Martha Stewart’s “Shale”). I wasn’t keen on bringing a blue into the living room, as we have so many blues in the house already. I wanted the living room to remain warmish, but without the cayenne. Handan had hated that color since 2014, but she had to live with it, as I was not ready to repaint the 18-foot walls after only one year. In fact, I was not ready to paint them at all! She promised me in 2013 that not only would those colors stay on the walls for years and years to come, but should we ever decide to change them, we would hire professional painters. Handan promises me a lot of things, and I trust her completely. She has never let me down. However, I’ve learned when I should take certain promises with a grain of salt – like anytime she promises that she won’t change her mind about something to do with the house, or that I won’t have to do some sort of grueling manual labor ever again. To her credit, she sells it well, and I usually end up doing the thing I never thought I’d do again and doing it with a smile on my face.
Women. Nature’s perfect little manipulators.
But this year, I was with her in the “No Cayenne Zone.” So the red was out, but what would take its place? Without my knowing, Handan had a color in mind, but she didn’t tell me.
That Sunday night, as we awaited my parents arrival, I stood in the kitchen eyeballing the wall while Handan stood outside on a ladder, hanging lighted garlands on the portico. Then it hit me. It was so obvious! I’d been looking at the color every day for three years on our bedroom walls: “Zinc” by, yep, Martha Stewart. I must admit, that woman made a mean interior color palette. She limited herself to only a couple hundred colors, unlike, say, Benjamin Moore, whose color palette book could crush a rhinoceros. I ran to the front door and threw it open to convey my creative genius.
“BABES!” I yelled into the frosty evening.
“AHHHHHH!” She nearly toppled off the ladder. “You jerk! You scared me half to death!”
“Yeah, yeah, sorry. I know what color we’ll paint the fireplace wall! The dark grey that’s in our bedroom!” I was pleased with my brilliance. Such a leap of imagination was rare and must be seized upon and cherished.
“Oh, good!” She said. “I’ve been thinking the same thing for a couple of days, but I wasn’t sure if you’d agree with me, so I didn’t say anything.”
“But, I….” But I thought of it!
Ah, well, it didn’t matter! What mattered was, we had found a color for that wall.
But as Handan applied that test patch, it became clear that the color would swallow the fireplace. The beautiful gray stone was lost next to the gray wall. But dammit, I loved that gray! I slurped some gin, and inspiration struck again.
“Hey, Babes?” I said. “What if you dry-brushed the fireplace with old white?”
The fireplace is the focal point of the house. It and the kitchen were the two biggest selling points. We loved it. Could we really just slap some paint on it? My mother wasn’t buying it.
To test the idea, Handan taped some cling film over a section of stone and tried to paint the film. The results were inconclusive. We’d have to take a leap of faith. My parents were nervous. They thought we’d ruin everything. I knew it would work.
Handan got a chip brush and went to work.
  • the living room makeover an unexpected journey
We couldn’t believe our eyes! The fireplace leaped from the gray wall. My father suggested we keep the grout its original dark gray, and that made the stones pop even more. The room was now thematically tied together: two light gray walls bounding a dark gray accent wall, and the accent wall surrounding a whitish gray fireplace.
Let me rewind now. Before we got to this point, I had already replaced the ceiling fans. I dismantled and removed the old ones. For the first fan, this involved unscrewing everything in sight in an attempt to get the damn thing detached from the wires coming through the downstem. After dismantling it down to the motor, the thing still hung there, mocking me. The wires coming through the downstem disappeared inside the motor housing, only to re-emerge as multiple wires of all different colors on the underside. Thoughts of salvaging the fans flew out the window as I grabbed my utility knife and started hacking through the tangled mess of wires. At last, I cut the right wires, and the heavy motor fell onto the back of my hand, scraping away some flesh as it fell onto the floor of the scaffolding. Phew! If it didn’t take a divot from my hand and alter it’s course, it would have crashed down to the wooden floor 13 feet below! I’d have to be more careful on the second fan.
Once the old fans were removed, I started to install the new ones. There was some wire cutting and splicing involved. It wasn’t a hard job in theory, but trying to contort my body up on the scaffolding to reach all the places that needed reaching was difficult for a man of my carriage. I should probably start practicing yoga, but I don’t think that yoga mats come in extra large.
  • the living room makeover an unexpected journey
I removed the pine shelf that ran the length of the wall. It was warped and yellowing, and it was constantly covered in dust since it was impossible to reach when cleaning. I scraped and sanded and filled with spackle.
  • the living room makeover an unexpected journey
With the wall smooth and clean, it was time for Handan to carry on with her painting. (Yes, her painting. She didn’t technically lie when she said that I’d never have to paint the walls again. Still, when she’s working, I can’t really relax, so it may as well have been me up there, too!)
  • the living room makeover an unexpected journey
When she finished that wall, we were done with Phase 1. We cleaned up the mess, and Handan decorated for Christmas. We'll be back with Phase 2 in the new year, when we'll build a new entertainment center and make a few more changes as well. Stay tuned for that. In the meanwhile, here are some of the "after" shots. Head over to the blog for much more!
  • the living room makeover an unexpected journey
  • the living room makeover an unexpected journey
  • the living room makeover an unexpected journey
  • the living room makeover an unexpected journey
  • the living room makeover an unexpected journey
  • the living room makeover an unexpected journey

To see more: http://thenavagepatch.com/living-room-makeover-part-1/

Ask the creator about this project

Inspired? Will you try this project? Let the author know!