I'm Heather - lifestyle photographer & homeschooling mama. We choose simple and slow. Freedom and fresh air. And I like to make things beautiful.

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Stairway & Hallway Remodel | Reading Nook

Stairway & Hallway Remodel | Reading Nook

JD and I (but mostly JD if we're being honest here) have a philosophy about our money: save first, spend later. (P.s. it took me most of our marriage to get on this bandwagon and as a reformed over-spender, it is wonderful.) As we budget for big projects, we save money for three different goals. Goal 1 is whatever I want, Goal 2 is the project of JD's choosing (electrical overhaul as of right now). And Goal 3 is our together goal - Italy. We're saving for a trip next summer. (Eeek!)

Now, a kitchen floor is an awfully big goal, so I decided before I committed that much money to one project, I wanted to take care of lots of smaller projects around the house first that would make a bigger impact. So, I've been wrapping up painting projects - the living room, the stairway, and the hallway.

Upstairs was another sea of khaki and dingy, dinged-up cream trim - not working for me. For close to 12 hours, I painted all the trim and banister and bathroom door a bright, clean white and then had Jennifer come paint the walls in Benjamin Moore Coventry Gray. This particular gray is a true gray on the cooler side, but not elusive like so  many others claiming to be gray when in reality they are blue, or worse, purple.

stairway before

hallway before

hallway after

Did you just sigh a little? My eyes certainly did.

I relocated a frame to the upstairs and we put in a new ceiling fan. We used to have an old brown/wicker/brass fan from the 70's and it feels so lovely to have a more modern nickel one. Thank you to our handyman, Kyle Acre, for installing it for us - quite a project with this old house! It required a few trips into the attic.

Also, my dad swapped out two light switches. One was manila and the other bronze and black. Feels nice to make it all white and consistent.

Took down the 3 closet doors and replaced them with curtain panels from Target. These are the white/gold ones (more cream/yellow if you ask me) and are just like the other ones we did in the kid's rooms. I wanted something clean but pretty with a small pop of color (since everything else was neutral) and the embroidery on the bottom of these suits our tastes perfectly. They are hanging on a tension rod we installed (also from Target).

Lyn took the panels up 3 inches so they would fit just right. Thanks, sister!

Got inspired by Pinterest again and had to make a little something for the kids :)

Side note on painting: always paint trim first. I made an absolute mess and got white paint all over the walls, but it didn't matter since you cut in and over it with the wall paint. Saves the hassle of taping! (I hate wasting time. Nap times are precious commodities in this house and I don't spend them on just anything.)

Whilst this little renovation was taking place, the idea struck me to turn our hallway closet into a reading nook! We have plenty of storage in the house so it wasn't difficult to move JD's out of season clothes, linens, and other random things to more appropriate spaces. 

The doors came down and I painted some more. I felt like I was always painting something that week whenever I could grab an hour while Milo was napping.

I enlisted the help of my dad who helped me take down the vertical shelves and cut them to fit our new purpose - no money spent!

Next I filled holes and painted. 

Adding that strip of white to the fronts of everything really helped to unify the look.

My stash of giant coffee table books are hiding up on the very top shelf in rainbow order with the kid's books easier to access on the lower shelf.

Next was the tension rod and curtain panels.


I still need to fill holes, paint the seat white, and get a new cushion for on top, but it's coming together! Below is our linen storage and Lyn managed to turn my body pillow into two smaller pillows and made new covers for them with some old curtains she made for the nursery when Alice was a baby. Again, no money spent! I found an outdoor seat cushion at Target the other day for $25 so once I accrue some Goal 1 money again I'm going to get it.

JD installed shelf brackets for each since they are literally supporting probably 200 pounds worth of books. No accidents in the making here!

I love that I can close it when I want to shut it all away. Books are fun, but the riot of colors on all the spines start to make my eyes hurt after a while - and my OCD starts thinking I should reorganize them by color. I also appreciate that the panels are so much lighter and softer and roomier than the doors.

I anticipate spending many hours here...and I'm sure the littles will, too :) Sometimes JD is already asleep when I join him and turning on a light seems too inconsiderate. What a perfect solution! And I'm pretty sure that my teenage-self would have taken up residence in that tiny cave - a getaway from the world I knew and a gateway into a new one my books offered. Reading has always been so dear to me and I'm excited to foster that same attitude in my littles.

We've already been enjoying our reading time snuggled up together in our cozy new spot. It's crazy to think that just a few weeks ago our new snuggle space was merely storage space. What a happy turn of events!

Here's to making things new! And making things you.

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