Home Renovation: Common Area “Before”

I wanted to take a step away from vintage rentals, weddings, and corporate events, to show another aspect of my life that’s near and dear to my heart. I’m completely untrained in the home renovation realm beyond having a slight (that’s a lie, major) obsession with real estate, HGTV, and a handful of interior designers from back home… I’m talking to you, Amber Interiors + Emily Henderson.

By no means am I an expert on this process. This is why I’ve brought on help from a local Austin designer, Claire Zinnecker. Electrical, plumbing, placement of lighting fixtures, and all of the details that aren’t pretty, but create functionality are outside of my realm. I couldn’t tell you which faucets or shower heads work well within a space. Sinks may as well be a foreign language, other than the fact that I don’t prefer stainless steel. Not only does she know how to create a space that’s comfortable and livable, but her style translates so perfectly with that of my own. I’ll be sharing plenty more on the process of working with a designer, with a strong focus on the aesthetics, furniture and color palette, since those translate the most to what we do here at Birch & Brass.

I fully stand behind the notion that you should hire experts for what they’re best at, when you’re unsure of how to do those things. While I grasp the concepts of selecting paint colors, upholstery, and furniture that’s scaled appropriately for a room, I knew that Claire would be able to create a completely cohesive space with careful attention to things I wouldn’t even think of, which is probably a hefty list of items.

A white and wooden hall way

A wooden entrance door

Even as a young girl, I was always fascinated with the process of building a home. I used to sneak onto home sites that were being built, admiring all of the wood framing that would soon take on a life of its own. My father and I would analyze the different layouts of each room, and I would pick out which bedroom would be mine if I lived there. I would even dissect the configuration of walls, hallways, and spaces to my own liking (although I highly valued a spare bedroom for my Barbie dolls instead of a boring old guest bedroom). I was less than 10 years old, but I could still envision what magic would take place within these homes once the sheetrock was placed, hardwoods were installed, and finishes were applied. Needless to say, I’m eager to get started on making this house a special, cozy home for me, my husband, and my two English bulldog children. Don’t worry, I’m sure they’ll make a slobbery appearance in the photos soon enough.

When house hunting, Fede trusted me to initially tour the homes alone, and I would then bring him back for a second trip only if I liked what I saw. Truth be told, in about six months of searching and touring nearly 40 homes, there were only two I even wanted him to walkthrough. Obviously, this was the winner. I was searching for a home that had great bones, but I didn’t want builder-grade finishes that I’d pay a premium for because it was a “move-in ready home,” that I would then rip apart to replace with something more “us.”

The finishes in this home? I certainly don’t prefer any of them (and that’s putting it very, very nicely). But, the floor plan is ideal: a one-story bungalow, three bedrooms, dedicated office space, two bathrooms, open-concept kitchen/living room area, fireplace (for all of those snowstorms we encounter here in Central Texas), and space for a pool. I grew up by the ocean, and being able to install a pool was the single-most important aspect in any home we toured. My realtor knew not to show us properties that couldn’t accommodate a pool, even if it checked every other box on our list. It sounded weird to many of my friends, except for those who also grew up spending the majority of their lives near a beach. I say, to each their own. It may not be Zuma in Malibu, but I sure as heck can pretend it is.

A white fireplace in the middle of a room

A white fireplace with brown and blue designs

Large corner windows

The natural light in the home is remarkable, because there are multiple windows in every single room. We’ve lived in apartments that we referred to as caves in the past, and I knew that we couldn’t endure darkness again – it truly impacted our moods so much. I’m a bright, airy home kind of person, and I wanted a space that would feel like we’re outdoors, even when we’re indoors. Even our shower has a huge window in it! Yet, the home is completely private thanks to its fully enclosed yards. Sorry neighbors, no peep shows for you.

As you can see, the home is very Southwestern inspired, but I’m more of a Scandinavian minimalist myself. I have big plans for this home, and you’ll soon be able to see how Claire takes my initial thought process, alters it for the better, and creates a seriously beautiful space as she always does. I came to her with a clear-cut vision for how I envisioned the space, AKA probably the most extensive Pinterest board ever created. But, those ideas aren’t all going to be practical or fit within our budget. I need her trained eye to point out design flaws such as where to place new lighting, what height of glass to use in the showers, or how to not over-spend in categories that simply aren’t important to us.

I hope you enjoy all of the 1980’s finishes, textured walls, odd angles, and fluorescent lighting.

light blue kitchen cabinets and an orange brick colored counter top

light blue kitchen cabinets

double white kitchen doors

a small white and bright kitchen area

I’ll be back soon with the bedrooms, bathrooms, and office! Get excited for ombre salmon colored walls in an upcoming post… fancy, I know.  xoxo, Britt

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