Our Home: Living Room Transformation

Thank you all for the wonderful comments and questions on my last post featuring our kitchen remodel! You all seem to be loving the accent tile wall, banquette, and dutch door just as much as I do! Today’s blog post features the changes we made to our living room, which is now open to the kitchen with the previous kitchen walls removed.

Just to give you a frame of reference, here is the architectural plan we submitted for permits and executed.  I didn’t mention much about the permit process in my last post but much to my surprise it wasn’t as painful as expected.  The only pain point was waiting on architectural updates and engineering. The architectural updates were delayed 2 weeks because our architect went on vacation in the middle of the process.

Our home is in the Country Club neighborhood which falls into Santa Clara County property. Because of this our contractor Evan from ELS Home Builders had to go to the County instead of to the Los Altos City offices.  I’ve heard through friends and clients that working with the city can be a long process so we really lucked out. It only took one day to get our permits approved since we weren’t adding on square feet to the house.  Evan was at the County office for the entire day and really advocated for. That helped us get the permit we needed to get started.  In addition to having the project approved, Evan also negotiated for our outdoor laundry room and pergola to stay despite them not being within zoning setback requirements. This was huge since we intended to redo that space and keep the laundry outside to maximize our interior space.  Remember, we are only working with 937 square feet on the inside of our home…

I wrote a blog post about the process of how we got started with the planning process and demo process back in September.  If you’d like a refresh click here.  The house is oriented on the lot like a double-wide trailer (it’s actually about the same size too) so the front door faces the neighbor’s house and our driveway, not the street.  I was originally worried it would feel like a fish bowl with the large picture window but now that we live here I love how it is laid out.  The window lets in a ton of light. Plus, with the front door not at the front of the house, I feel there is a nice sense of privacy and it’s super quiet inside.

This is what the living room looked like when we bought the house.  It has new carpet and a fresh coat of paint but everything else was original.  We were originally going to simply remove the carpet and paint the fireplace but then the project took a turn into a full gut remodel.

There were hardwood floors under the carpet but they were pretty much toast due to the large termite infestation we were dealing with.  After pricing out the option to save them vs. put in brand new floors throughout we opted to save the money and put in brand new engineered hardwoods throughout.  Since we were starting fresh I wanted to change the look dramatically from the original oak floors to a wide planked floor.  We chose the Du Bois 7.5 Juliette flooring and I love it! Very easy to maintain and great for Harper.

I mentioned in the kitchen post that we put brand new windows in the entire house. I was sad to see the original windows go because of their charm but we were grandfathered into their size and location so the new windows still have a bit of charm.  We also replaced all of the trim and doors. The front door is a shaker style to match the cabinets.  All of the doors came from Jesse at Advanced Door Products. I did a split finish on the exterior doors, the inside hardware is polished nickel by Emtek and the exterior is flat black by Emtek.

This was a tricky space to plan seating in because of the front door, windows, and the fireplace.  I had several drawings going and went back and forth for a month or so deciding between doing a sofa with a chaise or just a sofa and two chairs.  I finally had my friend’s mom, Margy, come over to help me problem solve the space.  She and I went back and forth on ideas and the next morning we met and both blurted out “sectional” at the same time.  It never occurred to me that a sectional would fit in the space or be functional but it really works!

The key was to find a sectional on a smaller scale, with lower arms, and a neutral color.  I had my eye on one from Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams that I spotted on a fall trip to Ann Arbor but one night while watching HGTV I was reminded of a company called Bassett Furniture.  They have an HGTV Design Studio and after looking them up online I found a store in San Jose, just 20 minutes away.  I scheduled an appointment with a designer (I worked with Padraig and I think I lucked out, he was totally great) and after 4 hours we customized the entire living room and the master bedroom.  It was nice to have an opportunity to start fresh and get furniture from a single source because of timing and knowing that the scale would all work together.

I was able to choose all of the fabric, styles, legs, arms, etc. and they were having a huge sale so it was a total win! Bassett Furniture is made in North Carolina so the lead time for custom pieces was 3-4 weeks, perfect for our timeline.

I know that down the road I’lll swap out the rug for something with more color and I’m still on the lookout for the perfect side table but for now it works.  The sectional is their Corinna style in rustic grey, the swivel glider is in woven plaid charcoal, the accent pillows are in woven stripe pewter. I was able to order extra fabric to match for my banquette cushions and pillows as well. If you are wondering where all of the living room and family room furniture from our Altos Oaks rental ended up it mostly went to my friend Kelly in Modesto, my brother in North Carolina, and my sister in Michigan.  I loved all of it but it just wouldn’t work in this tiny space so it was time to pass it on.

What a sad and boring wall before…

And after it looks so much brighter and functional! From this angle you can see the full perspective of how this space connects to the kitchen. The pantry is the cabinet that is on the right behind the plaid chair.  I had Robert our cabinet maker do an inset cabinet so we could gain 6 inches on each side.  He finished the edge to help it feel like furniture, love!

You are probably noticing the coat closet on the left.  It looks and functions totally different, a total upgrade! Robert also built this for us as an inset cabinet which means to save the lost space from the door jams on each side.  Because the living room and entry way are essentially the same thing, we wanted the coat closet to feel like a piece of furniture when the front door is closed.

Robert was really the genius behind this, he is a total listener and very creative so we were a good team.  To maximize space we did two shoe drawers, one for me and one for Chris. The middle section is for jackets and the top is for backpacks and hats.  The efficiency of this space is 110%, I love it!

How clever are these shoe drawers! I hope you steal this idea from me, you’ll thank me later!

My grandmother’s hutch is the star of the show in this space.  It was the only piece of furniture that HAD to find a home at this house and it looks perfect right in the entry way.  It holds all of our dishes and entertaining items.  I have Juliska berry and thread dishes and they are so neutral and pretty and the hutch has just enough space to hold all of them.

On top of the hutch is an antique clock that formerly belonged to my great-grandmother.  She and I share a birthday, February 19th, so it was given to me.  I keep her wound and ticking!

The fireplace was just plain sad when we started…

It’s a wood-burning fireplace but with all of our spare the air days and efficient new heating and cooling system (yes, we splurged on AC) we didn’t opt to get it tuned up to burn firewood.  We plan to put a gas log insert in down the road.

Until then, it can still enjoy it’s facelift.  The surround is carrara marble, herringbone laid with slabs on the floor.  The herringbone is from the same lot as the tile accent wall in the kitchen.  Robert, our cabinet maker built mantle for us out of our flooring.

It’s easier to see the herringbone marble in this next photo.  My friend David Tam, a sound and tech expert that I met through a client helped hang the TV and pick out the TV.  Because the TV is often viewed from the side he suggested an LG OLED and it’s great.  I can see it if I’m sitting at the banquette in the kitchen or if I’m laying on the sectional.

These little dip dyed stools have been on my wish list for years.  They are always featured on blogs and on DIY segments so when I had a purpose for them I ordered them.  I went for the originals from Serena and Lily and I love them! They are perfect for a little seat or table, we move them around all of the time.

You may have also noticed the framed drawing of our house.  This is what the exterior looks like (landscaping coming soon) so for our new home and change of address announcements I asked my friend Erin from Molly & Gordon to sketch the house with Harper on the front porch of course.  She is so talented! If you recall this year’s Kuzak’s Closet “Brady bunch” postcard she was the creator as well!

So cute! I created a PDF of the file and uploaded it to Framebridge for framing.  I was able to select the matting, the frame, and the glass and the price was totally reasonable.

Well, that’s our living room! Many of the beautiful photos were taken by my friend Kate from JetKat Photo and I’m so glad I made the time to have her come for a shoot to capture all of the hard work and decisions we put into this place.

Next week I’ll be back with before and afters from our bathroom so stay tuned!

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