BEACH HOUSE Part I - BIG renovation - LITTLE budget

I love working at this little house.  The hottest days are cooler here, and the days that feel a little cooler at my foothills home, are warmer here at the beach.  

Then there's the air, and the smell of the ocean, and the laid back lifestyle,
Bleudog Fotography

and this quirky little house we are turning into a home.  I posted a while ago about the renovation on this cute little beach house.  It belongs to my friend, Shawna, the photographer.  (Yes, she's the photographer I use for my projects - those beautiful photos that make my work look so good!)  She's divorced but still working on the settlement end of things... so currently poor as a church mouse.  (Of course he isn't...right?)  She's struggling to make ends meet and provide a home for her kids.  So - the budget, when we can find one - is tiny, tiny. We rely on volunteer labor and lots of good finds.  While we have made progress, its mostly been behind the scenes. There is a lot to do because, like most old coastal homes, there have been additions to it over the years.  The plumbing and electrical that were added in the past additions turned out to be sub-par and possibly dangerous, so those items needed to be taken care of - pronto!

Still, the house has its charms, and I'd be less than truthful if I didn't tell you I've completely fallen under the beach house spell.  Silly round windows, odd angled additions, mismatched flooring, it has tons of charm.

And fresh Pacific breezes.  I also haven't told you the most important part...  

We are doing this renovation as cheaply as possible, and as green-ly as possible.  We are reusing, recycling, reclaiming wherever possible - and we will be posting our progress and our DIY solutions to making this home fat on comfort and charm and skinny on budget.

Shawna has such a wonderful eye and her work is filled with beautiful light - (see her work here.)  It's so fun to work with her, because she doesn't blink when I suggest something completely out of the box - in fact most of her suggestions are in that neighborhood, too.  Can you say 'unconventional'?  We were destined to be friends.

And...if you haven't signed up to follow this blog yet, over there on the right side (top), do so now, as you won't want to miss a single installment of this renovation.

We've actually made quite a bit of progress, although, as I mentioned,  its not all stuff you can see... We started in the master bedroom - a long and narrow room, made narrower by the addition of a long closet along the inside wall of the room.

My client is a seeker of light - loves it - and her photography is all done in natural light so its kind of her signature as well - and this room was a dark cave.

The laundry was also located here in the master bedroom - (I did mention this house is quirky, right?) -

I think this was the result of not one, but two additions to the house, as the flooring stops and starts a couple of times and it just feels a little awkward.

from the too large bed - looking to the laundry spigots...
now that's a master suite to be envied!
So, we made a plan to remove the washer/dryer hookups and make that into the clothes closet for this room. The existing closet was the main cause of this room being narrow - and once it was removed we would gain much needed space for living.

But first there were a few obstacles to move...like vent pipes and drains that were hidden in the closet needed to be moved...

Shawna also wanted to add a french door and replace old non-working aluminum framed windows. (I think if she could, she would have french doors in every room.)  She started the search at salvage yards and Craigslist.

Because space was at a premium here, we also needed to replace her large, chunky 4 poster bed with a more streamlined bed.  She was very fond of that bed... but she was on board with whatever we needed to do to make the space work.  She also needed clothes storage and somewhere to put a flat screen.

And a floor.  She really needed a floor.  She was walking on a combination of old floor and sub-floor.

old narrow oak flooring and sub-flooring meet in the master bedroom

We needed better lighting in this room and we needed to figure a way for her to have privacy since all windows in this room are street side.    Here is our check list and progress:


Removed popcorn ceiling

The popcorn acoustic removal was easier than anticipated,
thanks to our volunteer crew!  It pays to have friends!
Finished basic electrical for this room.

Moved laundry out of bedroom
and thankfully, some of those friends have mad skills...
Created closet where laundry area was and
added closet doors
the louvered doors were a salvage yard find...

Removed existing closet
Shawna discovered you don't need mad skills for demolition....
Moved drain/vent pipe found in closet
(see picture above..)

Added french door
These amazing diamond pane doors were a salvage find.  
(I'm taking her with me when I shop flea markets from now on - 
this girl has the best luck finding wonderful things!)

Created a dresser for clothes storage
Basic kitchen drawers, made to fit this alcove, work just fine for clothes storage

The dresser top was created from the demo'd old fence around the property...

The leaf shaped pulls were a Home Goods find..

Installed new flooring
we went way out of the box here - we used simple pine planks for flooring -
(its a beach house, after all)
and a custom mix of stain was all it took to make it look fabulous

and yes, we will be telling you all about it, and DIY blow by blow, on a future post...

Obtained a smaller profile bed frame
Used. A Craigslist find...
A tight fit, but it works..
Found a desk
another Craigslist find...
it was green and gold when she brought it home

Shawna is currently in the process of transforming this desk with Annie Sloan 'Old White' chalk paint.

Found desk chair to go with desk...
A Home Goods find... it was perfect

Installed a privacy curtain
another Home Goods find...

Shawna feels quite cozy at night with the curtain drawn...

Privacy fence installed
you can see the completely inadequate existing fence next to the patio table

ahh... much better - and the yard is immediately larger, too.
Replace and move window  
Ceiling fan
Beadboard ceiling treatment
Recessed ceiling lighting
Bedside pendant lighting
Pocket door to bathroom
Comfy chair
Window treatments
Rugs and Accessories
Top coat treatment for floor - polylurethane

If you would like to help in this renovation - we are open!  If you have a salvage or recycle business, have reclaimed wood, old windows, gently used furniture or appliances or fixtures, or know of someone who does - please please let us know.  We are serious about making this a budget conscious, green minded project!  We need your help and are happy to feature your business as we go along!


Hi Claudine,
Your blog is super informative and you certainly know your stuff!!

I desperately need some advice and hoping you can help.  I recently painted my living/dining room Balboa Mist, and it turned out really cold with a very strong blue undertone showing through.

 I was hoping to update and modernize my home from the yellow paint that I had inherited from the previous owners.  I did some research and found that the blue undertones in the paint may have been brought out by the  Brazilian Cherry floor (which I also inherited).  The room is not very bright, but there is a window in the living room facing west, and a smaller window in the dining room facing east.

I have been religiously reading up on the greige craze, and would like to incorporate some of that into my home, but not sure if there is a warm and bright enough paint colour that would suit the room.

I have tried out test samples of revere pewter and it looks awful and really muddy with blue/green undertones.  I was thinking of maybe lightening it by 50%.

I am also wondering if Edgecomb gray or Pale Oak would be a good choice for the room.  Or should I just abandon greige altogether and go for the traditional beiges like Manchester Tan/Natural Linen?

I also just saw a really nice colour "Gray Mirage", what do you think of that?
Please help!!

Ahhh, the trial and error stages of paint selection.  I would certainly say that Edgecomb Gray is a lovely color, as is Pale Oak.  You may also try Sherwin Williams Accessible Beige and Amazing Gray.  The ticket, as you have been experiencing, is trying it out first.  The direction your home faces, the amount of greenery around it, the size and shape of the room - the existing colors in the room - all of these factor in to how paint colors will look.  I wish I could tell you that Manchester Tan, or Gray Mirage are going to look great and are fail proof - but that is just not the case with color.  So many factors contribute!  You just have to try them....   I can say that if you are continually getting blue or blue green undertones, that you probably have north light.   But I can also say that your neutral wall color will become background once your furnishings are in place and your accessories and fabrics are set. Sometimes we panic when we just really need a little time for things to settle.  But try some of these colors, and the SW Colors - I think if you go for more of a warm undertone you may find a color that works.   Accessible Beige is a good one to try.  Good luck!  




Here are 8 ways to make sure you get the right color.

I hear quite often from readers how the paint color everyone is crazy about on Pinterest, or a decorating blog, turns sickly green or pink when they try it in their home.  Why do those beautiful colors look so different?  Well, I have a little insight into how color reacts....

1.  The Paint's LRV.   LRV is light reflectance value.  Some paint colors absorb light.  Some reflect it.  Some will lighten a room because of the reflective properties.  You can find a paint's LRV on the back of most paint chips.  LRV is a guideline for predicting how light or dark a color will look/feel.   This can help you determine if a color will be what you need - if you have a darker space - choose a higher LRV.  If you have a too bright, washed out room - a lower LRV may help.

2.  Not all monitors are created equal.  It may look great on the computer screen, but that is not an accurate representation of the color.  Everyone's computer monitor, phone, ipad, etc. is configured differently.  You can start there, but never take a color at face value from a computer screen.  Not only do you have to factor in the monitor differences, but also the photograph itself - the time it was taken, the light it was taken in, the settings on the camera - you get the picture.... The picture is probably not an accurate depiction of the paint color.  Always. Always. Always... try a sample in your own space.

Blesser House
3.  Big expanse:  Wall color is a rather big plane of color.  Multiply that by 4 walls, and you have 4 large planes of color that will bounce off one another.  A tiny chip doesn't prepare you for the feeling of being submerged in that hue.  You may not see the undertones in that small chip, but you can't help but see it on a floor to ceiling format.

4.  Room Size:  It's a factor.  In a small room, especially, the wall color will intensify once it is covering all 4 walls.  If you are painting a small room - like a powder room or bath - consider going a shade lighter if you want to keep the color you see on the chip.  Lower ceilings will make walls appear darker than higher ceilings.  Larger rooms won't affect color as much as smaller, etc....

Kylie M. Interiors
5.  Available Light:  There is warm light and cool light and it comes in LED, hallogen, fluorescent and incandescent bulbs.  Incandescent and hallogen lighting have a warm aspect.  They warm up colors.  LED can be cool or warm, depending on which is chosen.  Fluorescents are generally cool, and colors will appear faded or muted - except for the more expensive full-spectrum fluorescents.

Color is affected by a lot of light and also by not enough light. All are factors in how you will see the color on your walls.  Make sure you have enough lighting.  (Most people don't). Make sure you have the right type of light - cool light looks cold and brings out the silvery, blue, green tones.  Warm light makes whites more creamy and grays less cold and intensifies yellows and reds. Ceiling lighting (downlights) are great for work surfaces and general lighting, but you should also have lamps to fill out the corners.  Remember that the shade on a table lamp can change the color and strength of the light bulb.

Home Bunch
6.  Natural Light:  As if there weren't enough factors confusing your color search, you have to also contend with natural light.  Color is affected by which direction your light comes from.  North light is cool and can wash color out turn it gray and bring out the blues.  Southern Exposure is the most intense, giving a very warm light all day.   East light gets first light of day which is brightest. West gets end of day muted light - colors will appear deeper and more dramatic.  Light also changes throughout the day as it moves from one side to the next, and affects wall color as it moves and changes so make sure you view your sample at different times of the day.

Here is a chart from Sherwin Williams that better explains natural light and how it affects your color palette:


of Light
Visible Temperature

of Light

of Light

of Light
NorthCoolBluishAll day
EastWarmYellowBefore noon
WestWarmOrange-RedAfter noon
SouthWarmOrange-yellowAll day

7.  Vegetation.  If you live in an area with a lot of green trees or shrubbery close to your house, you may find you have a green cast to your wall color, or that the colors are deeper and darker than in the store.

Home Bunch
8. Existing decor:  And yes, the current wall color may be throwing off your color choice because its affecting the sample you put on the wall.  The wood tones, or the fabric or the red brick wall or carpet color can all affect wall color, so make sure you look at the sample with a good border of white around the edge to keep the current color from affecting the new.

To sum things up, there are far too many factors to ever buy a paint color without first trying a sample.  And not just a small sample - a good sized sample on poster board that you can move around the room and observe in morning light to evening light and on into artificial light.  Pinterest boards may swear that a certain paint color is 'the perfect color', and that may well be the case in their home, and in their light. While these factors may help - selecting color is basically guesswork.  These factors we've discussed are a good place to start - but make sure you try before you buy.


Letter from a reader:

I came across your blog on Pinterest.  We are looking for a good neutral greige to go with pretty much everything.  Right now we have hunter green couches which I loathe.  In the near future I hope to get either some tan, brown or gray couches.

The rest of our furniture (coffee table end tables and entertainment stand) all resembles almost a driftwood type finish.  Browns grays and even some darker areas.  Other accents in the home are dark brown (almost a brushed bronze and black)

Trim and doors are all poplar stained wood.  Blinds are all wood as well.  Carpet is a beige tan brown bur-bur

Three decent sized windows in the living room with Cathedral ceilings.

Kitchen is very country, mostly wood as well. Custom hickory cabinets. We will soon be replacing the floor with a different wood that doesn't match the cabinets exactly (too much dark wood right now). Wanting to carry the same neutral greige color from the living room into the kitchen as well to give a uniform look as well as a pretty long hallway.  Please see attached pics. Can't wait to see what you come up with. I have been in search of a good neutral paint color for years!! Don't want something too look too green. Or too blue etc Thank you  Katrina B

Hi Katrina - 
My favorite tried and true neutral paint color is a beige with a gray undertone - which qualifies it as a greige.   It seems to pair well with nearly any wood tone and has enough warmth that it doesn't turn blue or green.   

Sherwin Williams ACCESSIBLE BEIGE.    It is light enough to feel cool and calm, yet has enough color to pop against whites. Give it a try!  
Sherwin Williams

If you want a little more gray in your life, Sherwin Williams AMAZING GRAY is also gorgeous, but has more gray and less beige.

Good luck!


TEXAS ROAD TRIP... Continued...

Last night, as I downloaded photos from my camera, I got to relive all the fun we had in this wonderful part of Texas.   

Spring is definitely the best time to come - although you may run into some weather - it is green, green, green and the temperature is mild.

The Round Top, Texas experience was a pleasant surprise.  I don't think the prices were exceptionally low, but many were willing to deal a little, and in talking to some of the vendors who travel to antique shows all over the nation, it is one of the biggest and best.  And why not?  Its Texas, after all!

I always thought that Brimfield, Massachusetts was the quintessential antique show.  However, according to McLaren antiques who also have a booth there every year, this is the big one....

However, it is a little two lane highway out in the middle of the country...
so the traffic backs up for miles.

It was also fun seeing what television has done for HGTV shows like Junk Gypsy (Round Top) and Fixer Upper (Waco).  They are now household names, and their shops are the reasons for road trips and outings.  Joanna Gaines went from a little shop in Waco to the huge Silo facility, a new furniture line and a new bed and breakfast (and I'm sure other things in the works), 

and the Junk Gypsy sisters have a big thriving retail shop, a bed and breakfast venue and designs that have been picked up by Pottery Barn.  

They (Junk Gypsies) also get to live in Round Top - 
all I can say is that in the Springtime - its pretty amazing here. 

 The fun part of a road trip is exploring - and when we did that in the Round Top area, we found the most amazing, beautiful  place...
We turned up a little street and saw this off to the right...

Turns out it is a compound of very old buildings dedicated to music.  
They have a summer festival each year and the Festival Hill Institute takes promising music students through an intensive 6 week course. 

This adorable docent (everyone is seriously friendly here) told us all about it and said that she was picking up students from Moscow that week.  

She encouraged us to explore...and so we did.

I think my second favorite place in Texas is McKinney.  One of the client's I came to see just purchased a home there and so after meeting with her, we explored old town McKinney (so totally cute!) and the shops there, and then went into the historical homes neighborhood adjacent to the old town.  

I love a town with history!  Not all of the homes were renovated, but the many that were had the touch of pride of ownership and love of history that makes this neighborhood so charming.

the gardens were pristine

the architectural details were lovely

the property and out buildings were impressive
definitely could live in this neighborhood...

We found time to visit the most beautiful Restoration Hardware store
(and probably the biggest - it being Texas and all)
I have ever seen....

feeling pretty good about the coral fans I framed after pricing this piece...

saw this crystal pendant at antiques week - not new though

cool faded botanical prints...

love this corbel table/shelf

We actually found a great little antiques shop in Waco - made a purchase or two -
and as is our habit now, explored the neighborhoods...
Joanna has plenty of property she can transform in this town....
I'd love to see her do this one...!

Meanwhile, waiting in line back at the Silos....
(The Hubs with my soul sister, Stephanie.)

So glad we got here early and weren't one of these folks

No sign of Joanna and Chip, but Mamma was behind the counter helping customers...

So, we bid goodbye to Texas - 

and we definitely need to plan our next road trip!


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