Before and After: the Living and Dining Room

Slowly I have been painting and making changes to our new house, and I’ve talked about it without sharing as many photos as I’d like.  Not many rooms are finished yet, in fact at least some details remain to be done in every one, but the living/dining areas are complete enough to show off the general transformation of drastically different paint colours and such.  Here are a few After shots:

living room after toward lounging area and desk living room after after dining area

And Before:

living room before 1 living room before 3 living dining room before living room before 2

dining area before fireplace beforecolumn in living dining before living room corner before

Before painting the walls I spent a lot of time on fixing small details that end up having a big impact.  Unfortunately I did not remember to document it very well.  First thing, I took down the “column” dividing the dining area from the living room.  Swapping out the almond coloured plastic switch and outlet covers is something quick and easy, but I also have begun to change the switches to Decora style in white/black too.  (Annoyingly I haven’t finished doing this, because it is a pain to run up and down the stairs testing which circuit things are on or I don’t want to accidentally turn off my computer, the washing machine or some other appliance at that time.)  For now I simply rolled paint over the outlets (without the cover) to make them look a bit better until I get around to replacing them.

Instead of plastic we like these brushed nickel cover-plates.  Home Depot used to have nice ones but no longer have the finish I want.  Luckily Amazon has them, and I can get every configuration I could possibly need.  They even have dimmer knobs!  Another really cool thing that I found browsing in the electrical aisle were things to make in-wall coaxial cable connectors and phone jacks work with Decora style cover-plates.  I used to prefer the old style of outlets, but I am beginning to see the ease of having Decora throughout a house so that any single gang cover-plate works on any outlet, switch, or more.  That said, I would love the really old fashioned push button switches if I could have them.  In fact, I just found this cover-plate that could be used by our entry door!  This may just have to be added to my long term to-do/to-buy list!  The door handle and lock are the same kind of dark bronze, so it would look nice.

I also switched out the wall sconce in favour of a less traditional style in brushed nickel and frosted glass.  It was actually one of the cheapest options, but I liked the shape better than any of the others I saw anyway.  Win, win!  It reminds me of a candle holder from some long past time although it is technically a fairly modern style fixture.

A more important detail to take care of before painting was to caulk and patch every last crack, hole, and crevasse.  Doing this is key to improving the look of a room, but admittedly I didn’t know about caulking until pretty recently.  The difference made by filling in all the gaps along the crown moulding is really impressive.  I should have taken some photos focusing on this before starting, but I totally forgot.  It is not very easy to spot in the Before shots, but you can find some examples, and I hope that the After photos show a more solid and finished looking home.

Some in progress shots:

painting living room entry area painting dining area (and OMG mess)

I am sooooooooooo glad that the moving mess is mostly over.  Just looking at that second photo makes me anxious!

The previous owners painted the fireplace brick wall white and told me it had been a multicolour sort of brick.  To freshen it up, and for continuity, I repainted using the same mushroom-y, warm, off-white, “coconut ice” colour which will be carried throughout on most of the trim in the house.  Between the brick and drywall there were gaps ranging from barely there to well over a centimetre, I caulked it all, and it looks much better now.  I also took down the mahogany mantle.  I felt badly about it, because the previous owner had a nice story about her father bringing it from the airport and installing it, but it was such a traditional style that didn’t seem right to me, added a wood finish that was hard to decorate around, closed in the room somehow, and was a “stuff” magnet to my husband (what a great place to set down all of my things!)  😉  It is being stored though; just in case.

fireplace after fireplace after removing mantle, changing light, and painting

I am not quite finished painting in here.  The built-in shelving area must be touched-up before I can install the last bit of hardware, and the shelves should probably be painted.  I suppose I’ll go with “coconut ice,” but I haven’t decided if that will stick out terribly.  I’m still pondering the options.  Meanwhile all of the windows have only been primed and await their coat of “coconut ice.”

In the dining area, living room, and the hallway I didn’t want to call attention to the baseboard trim or have pale doors to the coat closet and cellar.  Thus I chose a grey even darker than the walls for them.  At first I intended to use a glossy formula in the same colour as the walls, and I probably should have stuck to that, but at the last minute I chose the only shade offered that was darker.  I did that in the store without even knowing for sure how well it would work, and although it looks as intended it probably would have been a bit nicer with just the glossy version of the walls.  I do like how the baseboard heaters no longer pop out, but one day I may re-coat all of it.