Thursday, May 16, 2013

Ode to Banister Abbey

Banister Abbey.  This damn house.

We fell in love with our house at an Open House exactly one year ago.  It lacked a banister and several other important house parts at the time.  We've gotten a lot done but it's far from finished.

Now that I think about it, it's still missing a banister and several other important house parts.  Well damn.

Let's quickly re-focus on how far we've come instead of how far we have to go or else I'm going to hit the bottle at 9 a.m.

Our most recent success concerns the pocket doors leading into the parlor. Our trusty team found, pieced together, refinished and reassembled the many, many pieces of the doors over the past year.  Several pieces were rescued from the garage where they were found stacked in crappy condition.

The refinished and ready-to-install pieces have been on the parlor floor for six months as other projects took precedence and we lost all our contractors.  Contractor Smiley eventually arrived to save the day.  There were piles of Christmas tree needles under the boards when he moved them. 

Anyway, doors.

Doorway before -- at the Open House

Doors now

Let's do that again that was nice.

Doors Before --

Doors Now --

There are very few finished spaces in our home but there are several mostly-finished spaces.  One is the family room.

The family room before, at the Open House --

I cannot put into words the smell of this carpet.  
But I will try -- "wet peeing dog goat"

The family room now --

painting those stripes nearly did me in

Again.  Before --

After --

See that glow to the right, coming from the (previously creepy) closet?

It's a kid reading nook now --

Nice work, Supermodel Neighbor

and there's toy storage in the other closet --

It was a fine idea but toys still end up all over the floor constantly

On to the dining room.
The dining room got a lot worse before it got better.

Dining room before, at Open House --

Dining room during --

We taught the kids a game called "Swiffer Chase and Fight." 
(Coco played in her princess dress, of course)

after all the chaos, here's the dining room today--

still missing baseboards.  we're working on it.

 stenciling that back wall nearly did me in

As for other spaces, we're finally enclosing our laundry area --


This corner on the second floor has not been empty since we moved in.  It has always collected moving boxes or construction equipment or house pieces of some kind.  And yet here it is now --

just trust me, it's a big deal

We are currently taking bids for an exterior project we're hoping to complete this summer.  Thinking about it got me nostalgic for all we've been through with the exterior already.  Here are some incomprehensible photos to illustrate my thoughts --

All that trouble was to turn this...

the questionable front entry when we moved in

...into this

(and also to prevent the front of the house from crumbling into the ground because it was apparently built on mesh and sand.)

Alex and I often wonder: if we'd known then what we know now, would we still have bought it?  Some days the answer is a screaming "NONONONONO" while ripping out fistfuls of hair but the vast majority of days the answer is "hell yeah love this damn thing."  

You are a ridiculous house, Banister Abbey, but you're part of the family now and we will carry on restoring you to incredibleness.

Forever our money pit,


  1. It's looking lovely! Those pocket doors are phenomenally pretty! I'm thinking the game "Swiffer chase" is a great way to get the kids involved - they won't even know they're cleaning. :)

    1. You're right, Linda, they had no idea they were being helpful. Parental trickery at its finest.

  2. love those doors and all the wall colour choices...very very nice and good.

    that dining room light is amazing.

    I now have laundry equipment envy.

    1. Woman, if you start having laundry equipment envy, you're in dire need a of weekend getaway!

      Run Debs! Save yourself!

    2. Thanks, Deb. You can come do laundry anytime.

  3. It's coming a long very nicely, I'm a bit jealous! We bought our very first house house around the same time you got Bannister Abbey and luckily, we haven't had to do a thing besides paint (the previous owners were boring, everything was neutral beige and brown...I *had* to add some colour). Our house is a tiny cottage (1200 square feet) and only has one bathroom, so sometimes I wonder what the hell we were thinking, because we have 2 girls and 1 of them is a teenager. At times I wish we'd gotten one of the bigger houses we looked at, then I remember that NONE of them had the charm that this little cottage has, and I'm pretty sure I would have gone nuts by now trying to keep a bigger house clean because this one is enough work for me (my family are a bunch of slobs)!

    1. rb, a woman of my own heart, agreed it's all about the charm! Embrace a time when houses were built with personality. They're not always the easiest, though.... no, no, not at all.

      My house is rarely technically "clean." I am pleased if I achieve "straightened up."

      Making a teenager share a bathroom with her family is good character-building for all, I think.

  4. Love the house porn! The doors are magnificent! The Moulin Rouge poster you have in your family room I used to have! Now, it's in my brother's living room!:)

    Love the reading nook for the kids! What a great idea!:) And the dining room is a beauty:)

    1. I love that Moulin Rouge poster. The one on the other wall is from Willi's Wine Bar in the 1st arr. Virginia Mom got it for me before I moved back home. You been to the place?

      Got a bit of a Paris theme going on with the posters, not surprisingly.

  5. Stenciling? Painting stripes? Seriously?!

    1. Oh yes. I am very serious when it comes to home decoration. It's not to be taken lightly, Duchesse, this is a serious matter.

  6. I am in complete awe. There are no gaps in my awe. How did you look at what was there and see what could be? And then how did you actually dooooo it? I'm exhausted just looking at the pics. It's a truly beautiful house MJ, warm and inviting just like the family that lives in it :)

    1. Thanks, Bec, for appreciating my efforts over here. The way I develop a vision for a room is to sit at the edge of it and stare into it for a long, long time. It makes me look crazy but sooner or later the ideas start coming. I just build it up little by little, take out pieces that don't work and put them elsewhere.

      And generally, wall colors come last. I like to take the cue for the walls from the stuff I want to put in the room, not the other way around.

      I love interior design, always have, always will. If you want to fly me down to Australia I'll be happy to do your whole house for free. But it will warrant me sitting on a stool and staring at it for months first -- cool?

      Bye, Bec!

    2. That's an awesome method. Hell yeah, come on down. We can sit together staring for months, and every time someone catches us we'll say "Shh. The magic is happening."

      Do you know what this weekend is? EUROVISION, BABY!

  7. The before and after blogs are among my favs. The Abbey is stunning so far and will be wonderful home for the kids to grow up in. I really did think you were just being sarcastically humorous when talking about how the wall handiwork almost did you in but now I think you really did do that work so Kudos!!!!!! Kathy in Iowa

    1. Hi Kathy. They are my faves, too. I've been neglecting the Banister Abbey shots because, frankly, it's been exhausting and overwhelming. I now see a bit of light at the end of the tunnel, at least for the interior, so I'm feeling a bit more relaxed about the whole thing. Now it's fun to go back and revisit where we started because it truly feels far away.

      I am hands-on all the time. So much so, I'm often in the contractor's way. I like him to get in and do the big stuff I don't know how to do (my sheetrocking skills are abysmal) and then GET OUT so I can do my thing.

      I'm at my happiest when I have a paint brush in my hand and an idea in my head (even if some of the ideas almost do me in)

      Thanks for stopping by, Kathy, and best to you!

  8. amazing to see how far you've come, fun to see the before and afters! nice it all!

  9. Wow. Amazing. I would never have the patience. Congrats.

  10. Bannister Abbey is sure lucky you found her. You've done a fabulous job. I love that house.

  11. Love the before and after shots. You really get to see how far you've come. Kudos to you and your paint bruch! I often thought I'd like to do something with paint, but I know my limits.
    Great job you guys!!