Contributing editor to Today’s Woman and Today’s Transitions Lucy Pritchett shares how she completely renovated her house in 2011.
It was at that stage of life. Time to make living environments simpler and more suited to lifestyles. Many of my friends had already chosen to move to apartments or condominiums.
I already owned a home in one of Louisville’s established neighborhoods with friendly neighbors. We know each other’s names. We watch out for each other, but don’t intrude. My street is close to downtown, just off the very vibrant Frankfort Avenue, and best of all within walking distance of coffee houses, restaurants, shops, and a bookstore.
Here’s what I did: I made my house, which I had lived in for seven years, exactly how I wanted it. Because I had spent many hours poring over House Beautiful, Elle Décor, and Traditional Home, not to mention practically every interior design book in the main library’s collection, I had a pretty good idea what I wanted. I also got suggestions from friends, designers, and the contractors that worked on the house.
I wanted shiny, light, and sleek.
Out came a wall, opening up the first two rooms in my shotgun house. I banished the wall-to-wall-carpet. Gone is the nasty, shallow bathtub that I never used. Out the door flew the linoleum flooring in the bath and kitchen.
My most brilliant idea: I took out the funky side/back door that is typical of this style house and put in a long window. More light.
In came rich, dark wood flooring in every room, including the kitchen. The bath now has a walk-in, tiled shower with glass doors. The floor is tile. Because there was no natural light in the bathroom, I had two glass-block windows installed.
The flames in the contemporary fireplace lick gray river stones instead of ugly, fake gas logs. Very Zen. After painting so many blobs of color samples on my walls that the inside of my house looked like a giraffe, I decided to go with semi-gloss Sherwin-Williams Alabaster throughout with high-gloss trim of the same white. The kitchen cabinets are painted black – top and bottom.
Because I wanted to change from a look of mixed mess to contemporary, I got rid of many, many things, including furniture. Once I had my vision in mind, it was easy to see what I wanted to save and what had to go.
I undecorated. I kept just what I loved, whether old or new. The antique china cabinet (circa 1870) that was my great-grandmother’s looks stunning holding my white and black formal china (circa 1970). I kept my grandmother’s Eastlake burled-walnut bed even though it creaks like crazy when I pile into it at night.
I updated lighting fixtures and lamps, got rid of ridiculous ornamentals that had no meaning, and had a woman come and help me hang art and style my bookcases. The bookshelves are now in my living room and not hidden away in the cramped and cluttered office space I had before. I love having my books in the same room with me.
My best decision, though, was the towel warmer. Ever since a trip to England many years ago when I was introduced to the luxurious idea, I have lusted after one. You cannot imagine the joy this one item brings me. The grandness of reaching out of the shower and wrapping myself in the warmth of my bath towel is absolutely my favorite part of the day. Sorry Charlie Brown, but for me, happiness is a warm towel.