So, a lot of you have asked how things went with the house after the tornado/storm took off the roof from our house. I'm happy to say that, although it took a really long time, some frustrating things have turned out really well. In fact, if I'm looking at things from the bright side, I was at least able to fix or replace things about the house that I didn't love but couldn't really afford to do anything about; like the fact that we had orange wood floors. Who picks an orange stain for a wood floor?
When we decided to move to Texas from Brooklyn it was a really hard choice but it was helped along by the fact that we were able to actually afford to buy a house and the payments would be less than our rent on our 800 square foot apartment.
When we moved here I had a dream house list, a wish list, and a list of reality. Ha! First off, I would have loved to live in one of the older San Antonio neighborhoods where Mark's university is located. It is full of Victorians and beautiful 100 year old homes but that was either well out of our price range or needed more work than we knew we would be able to do ourselves or pay for someone else to do. It's still my dream and maybe someday it will happen but for now I'm good with where we are at!
Next on my list, if it was possible, was a house with an open living plan and lots of northern facing windows in the family room. I'm sure our realtor thought that this request was a bizarre requirement but what can I say? I'm a photographer and I knew that most of the family photographs and activities would happen in the family room and I wanted it to have great light. As it turns out, I found just that! Even though our house isn't tons of square footage it has a really open feeling because the family room is 25 feet high!
So what does a photographer do with 25 feet worth of space? Why, add photographs of course! I knew I wanted them to be black and white so I decided to decorate the room with that in mind.
The first photograph is of our entryway. You can see that all the floors are newly replaced from all the water damage (thank you, insurance). We picked a dark hand-scraped wood to replace the red/orange flooring originally there. If you look at the railing you can see the old orange wood. I need to refinish it myself to match but it will be a while before that happens.
The second photograph on the right is the view when you walk into the family room. Originally, the fireplace wall looked really funny. It was just this tiny little stone surround in this big open room and it didn't fit in at all so we added all the moulding to the fireplace wall and painted it white ourselves to make it more of a focal point in the room. And by we I mean I drew a picture of what I wanted, and Mark and my brother-in-law Mike did all of the work I really love how it turned out.
The third image is an overall shot so you can see the scale of everything. We had to buy all new furniture when we moved in two years ago after the moving truck was in an accident. We've just slowly picked pieces up here and there from various places. I didn't want it to look like it all came together in a set. Some of it is from the pottery barn outlet, which I visit often when they have clearance sales, and most of it is from Round Top and other flea markets and antique/junk shops. I like that it has a masculine feel since it's all boys in this house but me, but it is still light and airy. Plus most of the pieces are industrial antiques so they are perfect for rowdy boys as they are all ready warn down and pretty much indestructible.
The next image is my favorite part of the room and it's a gallery wall. I love visiting grand old houses in England and the fact that they all have portrait galleries of paintings of their ancestors. I wanted to create a modern example of that so I searched a lot of places for old frames. Broken? Super, Shiny gold? Why not! Dirty velvet mattes? Come to mama. If they were cheap and ornate I bought them. And then I brought them home and cleaned them (it was gross trust me), replaired them and spray painted them all glossy black. That big print of our family in Brooklyn? That was a painting of some cougars from Kirklands that was on clearance for really cheap. It was a horrible print of a horrible painting so I just sprayed right over it and mounted our photograph right on top! The last few frames were from the outlets. The British double decker bus sign is a real antique. Mark lived in Birmingham and I think you all know my love for everything British so I had to get it. Now bus rolls are a little overdone but I still love it because it has meaning to us. Throw in a few vintage cameras and letter S's both collected over a lot of years from random trips and there you have it! There are still a few empty frames...and no it's not to be artistic. They are waiting for the baby and new baby photographs so he can be on the wall too! I have to really give arrangement credit to my Mom she drew out a grid and cut little mini versions of the frames so that she and I could lay them all out. And I have to thank Mark and my Dad for renting a fire ladder so that they could reach high enough to hang them all.
The image is another shot so you can see where that wall fits in. It also shows my biggest mistake. I bought the two velvet chairs because they were super cheap and we needed chairs there. I liked that they were wing back chairs and uh did I mention they were super cheap. Here is what I learned from that...yes, I pretty much search for things on sale until I can get what I want for a bargain price or I will make it myself. But I have a firm rule that you should never buy something just because it's cheap or seems like a great deal. I always regret it. Always. It's better to wait and find something else or wait until you can save a little more money to get something you really want. These chairs may have been dirt cheap but they are cream velvet and can't be cleaned well...and they are SO uncomfortable no one will sit in them unless they have too. Live and learn. And now I have one more reason to follow my own rules.
The last photograph on the right is a great shot of the windows and the curtains. How do you find window treatments for double windows? What do you do? And how do you find affordable curtains that are 25 feet high? Thankfully my brilliant and very talented Mom came to visit and we decided to treat the windows in each row like one window. We made four black and white panels out of black sports fabric and canvas twill. Cheap, and I think they look amazing and really add height to the room. I cannot take credit for these at all. My Mom made them and lined all the stripes so that they would all be the same across the room. She had to make them on the kitchen island and they draped all the way onto the kitchen table and into the family room. It was a huge task and I can't thank her enough for all her help. I love them!
So, that is it! A family room that took two years, but I love how it turned out. Moving Truck accidents, Tornados, and homemade projects in all!