6 Months of Interior Planning
As it turns out, not having the finances readily available for updating our house is giving me a lot of time to think and re-think about the direction we want to go with the design. Instead of being discouraged about the timeline (read: yearsss) it's going to take for us to conquer it all, I'm going with the waves of inspiration that will come to me until then and enjoying the time that I have to lean into each one of them. We were really fortunate to purchase our house at a considerably low price - with a rehab loan to update the exterior of the house. Completing that update was important as it was compromising the walls with rain water leaking in and damaging the drywall, and more importantly, the wood behind it. Now that that is out of the way (whew, even just one project was enough for me for a while), we can take the rest of the projects one by one. And when I say "projects," I'm talking:
Windows and Doors
ALSO: washing machine, refrigerator, air conditioning as needed (which will most likely all be soon).
But also, not yikes, because this house, with all of its 27-year old quirks is a gift. It is hard-earned money, but a privilege every day.
So in thinking about the design of my very first home, (and forever home, if I'm being honest) I was originally drawing all of my inspiration from classic Brooklyn brownstones, Chicago graystones, and row houses. All very old-city stuff. And quite honestly, I dreamed/hoped/prayed that we would purchase an old city house that would be a little too big for us, need a little too much work, but would keep us warm with original woodwork and creaky radiators. The house would be our lifelong project, and it would be a small way that we could contribute to the restoration of the city of Chicago.
Classic to Updated 90's Traditional
Wellllll the one house on the market that was built in the 1990's, opposed to the 1890's, is the one that God saw fit to bless us with. Michael saw all of the positives of it right off the bat. I did not. The first time I cried to my mom about house hunting was when I called her and told her how much I did NOT want this house. It was a bidding war, then a canceled contract, then a new contract with months of negotiations that brought us here - to a 3-story single family home that was built one year after I was born.
I knew that I needed to let go of a lot of my original vision for the interior design of this house. I did not want to try to make it something that it isn't (because there was about 72 hours that I was envisioning adding wood trim to all of the windows). This house wasn't what I had hoped for, but I didn't want to disrespect it, and ruin it, by just adding an excess of trim and finishes in the name of character. At this point, I claimed a "traditional" style trajectory: lighter, red-toned woods in the name of warmth, classic silhouettes and inlay shapes for any kind of wood (mantel, stair rail, cabinet doors), and no shyness when it came to fabric choices. Patterned, colorful, warm, and varied. Plans to paint, starting with the kitchen and den.
90's Traditional to Modern Warm
After living here for almost 6 months now, I love our white walls. I really, really do. And while I don't love the materials in our kitchen, I'm also a big fan of our white(ish) formica counter tops and white(ish) vinyl tile. Same for the cream faux marble bathroom sinks! Our family is going to do a lot of growing here. Each of us personally, the boys in size, and most likely the number of people living here. The 1) durability of modern materials and 2) neutrality of the colors gives my mind space to envision all of the evolutions and adjustments that our family will go through here.
My main condition of this new-found modern trajectory is WARMTH. Warmth will be the priority in selecting colors, which may be a challenge as so much of modern schemes have a gray undertone. Our new couch may prove to be the best example of this, and perhaps be our northern star when considering colors, shapes, and textures. I also can't separate the interior from the exterior of the house when it comes to design. With our required red brick + tan siding exterior, I will be sticking with a warm deep brown as our neutral base - instead of gray. Again, I prefer the warmth of brown anyways!
Process Over Progress
Once again, all of this can and probably will change! And that's why I am so inclined to write it down here. Each of these sources of inspiration is part of the journey of what this house will be and what our lives will be living in it. Each stepping stone, even the ones that are not a final resting place, matter.