As you know, when we bought our condo, the downstairs resembled a bowling alley — super high shine floors with faux bookshelf walls (built in for fire code reasons) and a LOT of books, piled high and deep. The owner of our place was quite an eccentric NYC couple, one with an Oscar (or was it an Emmy? It was on the piano as I walked in) and a teacher at the prestigious all-girls school, Brearley’s (Tina Fey’s daughter goes there). They had a son who had the downstairs, and it was the COOLEST downstairs for a teenager son… but it wasn’t going to work for us with a toddler daughter, a den, and guest bedroom needs.
Check out the home tour before photos here:
When we finally moved in, it was amazing to find how much furniture they managed to fit downstairs!
KKH FACT: Contrary to what you may think, a room with no furniture in it looks smaller than a room with furniture with it. HUH? It’s true. Studies show that when you can’t understand the scale of the room and how to use it, your eyes only see the walls.
Our first step was to carve out the downstairs space and maximize the square footage. In addition, there was hardly any lighting downstairs at all.
The floor was sanded back THREE times! First, we had to sand all the shine off, and then we put everything on hold when A+E Studios decided to roll in and shoot the renovation as part of their Inspired Series, which was so much fun! I got to work with an extremely talented group of people. Here is some of the behind-the-scenes footage:
Our second sanding was an additional attempt to further remove brown that was so deep I’m surprised that there was still any wood left on the floors! Finally, our third sanding was due to our whitewashing attempt was a complete disaster… we watched RIGHT BEFORE OUR EYES as the water-based polyurethane coagulate reacted with the oil-based whitewashing paint. This was, thankfully, only a hand sanding. Any more and we would have been staring at a subfloor, and that would be not so elegant.
TIP: It would have been cheaper to lay new and already whitewashed floorboards down than to re-sand, whitewash, and hand buff our floors. Lessons learned…
Embracing the central pillar (that cannot be removed as it holds up the ENTIRE BUILDING) and the symmetry that it created, we had custom chevron barn doors made to complete the aesthetic. Me likey…
Peek inside! Do you see what’s in my daughters room and the guest room? Yes, we used wall paper a lot in our home renovations. All of them can be found here. And what do you think about our lovely Garden Globe Chandelier. HAD to have it for our office space…more on that and Maya’s room in the next post!