This family room was the first room in the house that you walked into. It was the entrance, and ultimately, the first impression that was made. The first thing that I wanted to do was open up the first floor. I also felt that second to the library, the kitchen was the best room in the house, and I wanted the eye to be drawn there.
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Remember these walls during the Before Tour Part 1?
Now when you walked in the front door you could see to the back of the house.
As you can see in this picture both the kitchen wall and the dividing wall were load bearing which required those yellow fabricated beams to be installed.
Once we opened up the layout the next step was determining how I wanted these rooms to flow from a design standpoint. I love the look of Venetian plaster and decided to try my hand at a faux plaster with Valspar’s Signature Venetian plaster finish. I was very new to the renovation world at this point, and instead of taking my time and making sure that a 2×2 ft area looked right first before moving on (yeah totally missed that memo), I did an entire wall with this stuff. And guess what. It looked horrible.
So. very. sad. It chipped right off of the wall. Determined that I must have done something wrong I followed the instructions to a tee and tried yet another entire wall this time in the hallway. I am persistent if nothing else!
And sad story again. More peeling and chipping.
Back I went to the hardware store, and the only thing we could come up with was that the faux latex based plaster was reacting to the oil based primer that we had covered the walls with first. Otherwise I think this could have worked out well! So the dilemma was to repaint the entire first floor with a latex primer and hope that the plaster would work, or pay for someone to come do a real decorative plaster. I opted for the latter. Voila. A decorative plaster that did not give me heart palpitations!
I love decorative plaster. We lived in this house for 2 years with toddlers and not once did we notice a chip in the wall. And truthfully, if there was one we would have just covered the area with a little paint anyway. I am glad we ended up going this route because the durability and old-world appearance made me love it even more, and I am planning to incorporate a Venetian plaster into our main living area when we build.
We had finalized the wall space from a design standpoint, but the next investment was a fireplace! I’m not sure why a fireplace epitomizes the warmth of hearth and home for me, but every house I have ever walked through the thought crosses my mind, where would I put a fireplace? The wall in the family room was begging for crackling logs and a mantel for Christmas stockings.
We had already converted the fuel source in this house from oil to gas, and knowing I would put a fireplace here, our HVAC contractor had placed a line that was ready to be hooked up. Next step was to find a ventless gas fireplace insert as this was not an exterior wall, and there would not be a good way to ventilate it otherwise. I ordered a ProCom Ventless Firebox and a set of Gas Fireplace Logs from Amazon. I love this adorable ProCom Arched Ventless Gas Fireplace Insert! Once I found the right deal for those pieces, I then bought an unfinished Fireplace Mantel Kit to build around the insert. Lastly I found two bookshelves with toy storage at the bottom, to integrate onto either side of the fireplace similar to this KidKraft Wall Storage Unit.
This DIY fireplace can be done anywhere in your house! If you don’t have gas find an electric insert and enjoy the glow! You can do it!
Just in time for Christmas!
Friends, this is DIY at it’s best because we made this happen at the time without a miter saw, a table saw, or a multi-tool – just determination, creativity, and a lot of caulk.
Our first Christmas tree as a family!
And our first big snow as a family (of 4 by this time)!
Back to the vintage Victorian family room renovation. Remember from the Before Tour Part 1 the original 1920s chandelier? Our wonderful friend, Miss Nancy, who could probably start her own DIY tv show, restored and wired the chandeliers in the family room and the parlor for us.
After we finished painting, the original wood flooring was sanded and re-stained, and then lastly, we finished with crown molding. I want to point out that Zach did the crown molding with a circular saw. Can you believe it? A circular saw. I had the thought so many times as I was caulking gaps in the trim and listening to Zach mutter about the angles of old houses that there has to be a better way to do this. Enter our fabulous Dewalt Miter Saw (2 years later though)! My favorite power tool. Well, one of them. Also, we did this whole house with a cheap starter power drill that died every couple of hours. The first time I used our new Dewalt Power Drill I almost cried for joy.
Determination. Creativity. And a lot of caulk. You can do it!