Monday, November 16, 2009

Birth of a Home

This past weekend, while trying to edit down some of the 20,000 photos on my hard drive (which make my computer zip along at glacial speed), I stumbled across some photos of our house as it looked when we purchased it in 2008, and was slightly startled to see the extent of the transformation that's taken place.

In the predictable fashion of all home renovations, ours inched forward in fits, starts and the occasional halt and although it continued to slowly metamorphosize before our eyes, it wasn't until I compared the "before" and "after" shots that I really was able to see the change in character our house has undergone.
(Kitchen, before)

(Kitchen, after)

It's not so much about the design or the wallpaper or the furnishings we chose, but how the sum of our decisions seem to have brought the house to life.
(Dining room, mid-renovation)

It feels like a living, breathing organism now. It has a definite personality and I like who it's become.
(Dining room, after)

When we moved in, although in tip-top condition, it was suffering from a prolonged case of insecurity. It had wonderful bone structure, but it hadn't dressed up or worn a speck of makeup in years.
(Upstairs hall, before)


(Upstairs hall, after)

There's no reversing the aging process (and who wants to anyway?), but I knew that given a good makeover...
(Front hall, before)

(Front hall, after)

...this Monterey Colonial Revival could become a confident, sexy English Auntie Mame.
(Living room, before, with a startled Piero)

(Living room, after)

I swear it's made a difference to the soul of the house. It's a happy place now. Like an eccentric maiden aunt, it's staunch, dependable and prone to occasional flights of fancy. Best of all, after a year of reparations, we've established a reservoir of mutual trust with each other: in return for our pledge to treat it with love and respect, it has become the protectorate of our hopes and dreams.

49 comments:

Lily said...

Your house is Vita Sackville West meets Vivienne Westwood- magical!

LPC said...

The color. Oh the color.

vicki archer said...

Fantastic...your wallpapers are wonderful and your home is beautiful. I am sure it is even more lovely in person. xv

Cathi said...

Fabulous...your house definitely has quite the big smile on it's gorgeous face now!

pve design said...

Bravo. You remind me of a set designer.
Your after is a hard act to follow. Bravo, Encore!
pve

The Curious Intellect said...

While I've always found your home's interior delightful, the extreme variance between before and after is staggering. Great work; you're an inspiration! You must tell me where you purchased the Union Jack pillow. It's a must have.

AlwaysMe said...

I LOVE it! Thank you for sharing the before and after photos. I have always loved your kitchen; just the right amount of coziness and sophistication. Each time I look at it I try to determine what type of countertops you have. Care to help?

Thomas at My Porch said...

Aside from your fabulous taste, the thing I like most is that you didn't feel the need to rip out walls and do major structural work. So many great older houses have been ruined by the relentess quest for a "great room".

ArchitectDesign™ said...

The work you have put into the home really come to live in the startling side by sides! you're right -it was 'fine' before as a house but you have made it a home.

Mlle Paradis said...

Charming! You definitely have a gift!

Mrs. Blandings said...

It's an incredible transformation. She has certainly shed her insecurity. I've always admired it as it is such a personal home.

Miss Cavendish said...

I just love your wallpaper and color choices. As an aside: I'm a professor, so I come by the wall of books naturally ;-) And I echo an earlier commenter: the hues of your Union Jack pillow are perfect . . .

Lisa Borgnes Giramonti said...

Everyone: Thank you for your lovely comments. I get so many requests to show more photos of my house and I thought "before" and "afters" would be an interesting way to do it.

The Curious Intellect: The Union Jack pillow is called "VW Flag" and was designed by Vivienne Westwood for The Rug Company.

http://www.therugcompany.info/cushions/vivienne-westwood/vw-flag-cushion.htm

AlwaysMe: Our kitchen countertops are honed granite, but NOT polished (very important distinction!). They look v. similar to soapstone but are a bit more durable.

COCOCOZY said...

These before and after photos of your home are amazing. I would love to post these. Can I?

Coco
Cococozy
http://www.cococozy.com

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

Lovely, both the photos and the sentiment.
And my dear, you should do an ad for that wallpaper. Sublime. And how it makes the lines of the hallways pop.

Kitty said...

your home is off the chain. unbelievably beautiful! thanks for sharing - i love your dining room most of all! xo kitty

Lisa Borgnes Giramonti said...

Coco: Yes, of course. And I'd be grateful if you could link back to my post... xx

Scott Fazzini said...

After too many attempts to respond to this post I resign to simply saying that your home is beautiful. As the Countess Olenska once said, "it's the only place in America where I can imagine being perfectly happy". You've created a world so textured, through pictures and prose, that even a young guy sitting quietly in his studio with gin in hand feels comfortably at home. You are a dazzling tastemaker.

Style Redux 2 said...

Wow-absolutely stunning!

Victoria said...

I LOVE your house. Was the before living furniture yours or what was in the house before you owned it?

Your kitchen countertops are fabulous. I did a renovation on a weekend house in upstate New York and couldn't decide what to do with the countertops. Two hundred-year-old black walnut trees had to be taken down in the front yard. To make lemons out of lemonade, the wood was kiln dried and stickered and made into my kitchen countertops. I love them; they always make me happy.

Congratulations on creating such a wonderful space.

Linda/"Mom" said...

Dear Lisa~

Before I comment, may I say I just read your Oct 2 blog on "Perfection", & printed it out to frame & hang in my pantry (which holds dishware, glassware, all the "pretties" for entertaining, etc, but no FOOD!!)????~~~ I've been "fighting" that perfection "STUFF" for as long as I can remember, & everything you wrote is SOOO TRUE!!!! For allll these years my darling husband has been after me (now "laughingly", because I'm too old to change 100%... but I DO try!) to: "LEARN WHEN GOOD IS GOOD ENOUGH", and remember that "PERFECTION IS THE ENEMY OF GOOD ENOUGH"... (This all from a very successful man, no less!)... I NOW honestly realize that when I DO NOT try for perfection, EVERYBODY'S HAPPIER and they DO have a better time!!!

Wanted to also tell you I ADORE what you've done with your home... I just A*D*O*R*E it!!! (Then again, undoubtedly EVERYONE admires your great taste, talent & style!)~~~~ it's STUNNING annnnnd comfy... two things difficult to marry up successfully, which you have done.

Sincerest thanks for sharing it with us!

Blessings,
Linda in AZ*

Rocio said...

Beautiful, inviting, cozy, interesting, bohemian meets old class, but above all, a HOME. It breathes out an invitation for a cup of coffee, for a night making penne arrabiata whilst listening to Astrud Gilberto. I wonder why your home conjures up images of food - must be the Mediterranean in me, everything good in life is food related!!
Come and do up my home anytime!!!

Lisa Borgnes Giramonti said...

Victoria: The "before" shots were taken when we bought the house, so it was the previous owner's furniture. And oh MY, those kitchen counter tops sound insane!! Je suis tres impressed with your ingenuity.

Linda: Wow. I am soo touched.. What an honor you have given me. Thank you. I'm so glad my post stirred a chord in you -- it's quite liberating to realize that, the words of your wise husband, "good enough is good enough", but it's a tough one if like you and me, you just want things to be beautiful for the ones you love. But understanding how much more COMFORTABLE people usually are when they're not surrounded by icy perfection is an eye opener! Soulful can also be also the enemy of perfection, I think.

Rocio: Astrid Gilberto is CONSTANTLY playing when my husband is cooking, and penne arabbiata is a staple. I so agree, food is the stuff of a good life! And PS, the next time I go to Spain, I'm splitting a bottle of Cava with you! xx

Angie Muresan said...

Thank you Lisa! And I will state again that the transformations from the before to the after are of Hans Christian Andersen proportions. You have done an amazing job!

Miss Nightingale said...

Oh, your home is just perfect! I adore the wallpaper in the hallway, and the use of scarlet red - fabulous!

I am saving this post as it's so inspirational - this is just what I have in mind for our house and the style of decoration!

Of course first, me and the be-ringleted fiance must find a house. Details, details. ;p

jane said...

You have a fantastic house. I love your entryway wallpaper. Could you please post what it is?
Thanks.

Ruth said...

Wow, if it looks WOW in the photos I can only imagine the feelings it stirs seeing it in person. You have a beautiful HOME.

Ladybird World Mother said...

I am so impressed. SO IMPRESSED! Every time I saw a picture of the new room I smiled!! Gorgeous. Be happy in it. How lucky you are.

Purple Flowers said...

The soul of your home is now smiling! It's beautiful.Many happy occasions in it!

Jason said...

Gosh.
So beautiful.

That front hall. That wallpaper. Good lord. Bravo.

Natalie Thiele said...

You have done a spectacular job on your home. That wallpaper in your hallways is unbelievably fabulous!

Hermione said...

Wow, great job!!

Anonymous said...

It is interesting how the bones stayed mostly the same and the stunning effect is from decor! The hall looks so airy and cavernous post renovation with the half door and appropriately sized furniture (and wooly beast). It would be so interesting to see you work and size up a room. I wonder how many iterations you go through or if you get a quick sense of what to do.

Cat Sitter in the City said...

Love seeing the before and after photos. What a truly remarkable transformation of a house into a home!

prashant said...

your wallpapers are wonderful and your home is beautiful.


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Louise said...

You breathed life into the home - I love your unique style and daring to be different! The warmth of your characer is shown in both your home and glog!

Mary Sheehan Winn said...

Soulful updating. It's a beautiful house!

empress of The Eye said...

What a fabulous post! I could look at these all day long.

Joslyn said...

wow, wow, wow...anytime i encounter someone on the fence about wallpaper, i'm pointing them to this post.

incredible.

Anonymous said...

Would love to know the name/brand of the wallpaper you used in the foyer/staircase

Anonymous said...

Everyone on Apartment Therapy claimed they like the first entry table and mirror but I LOVE this one better! I'm all for big mirrors :)

Lisa Borgnes Giramonti said...

Anonymous 1: The wallpaper is "Flowering Quince" from Clarence House.

Anonymous 2: The previous owner's console and mirror were nice, but they took them with them! And my antique triple mirror reflects so much light in the foyer. It's also practical for touch-ups when the doorbell rings (the side panels function like a makeup mirror.) Sure, my console could be a tiny bit bigger, but as a place holder until I find the perfect one, it more than serves its purpose (and lets me store all of my treasured World Of Interiors magazines underneath!)

thisgirlandthatguy said...

I have to say what everybody else said - WOW. I have a very similar living room as you it appears...we have to create two spaces because the fireplace is in the middle. Where did you get the white bench/daybed? I'm in the market for one too. Thank you!!

Lisa Borgnes Giramonti said...

thisgirlandthatguy: I purchased it at a store called J. Green here in Los Angeles. They moved, but check Google and perhaps you can find them. Good luck! xx

me melodia said...

perfection.

P. M. Doolan said...

I just love what you have done in the house. The wallpaper looks beautiful and I love the bookcases. Who reads all the poetry? I noticed that your house seems to be called The Kenmare Arms. Is that after Kenmare in County Kerry Ireland?

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doug @ tracery said...

discovered you via Houzz and I have to say that your wallpapered foyer is one of the best things I've seen in some time. bravo!

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