RENOVATION: South Street Kitchen (Before)

South Street Design Rendering

As some of you may have seen on the Content + Company Instagram feed, we've been working with our clients on the #southstreetkitchenreno for the past 3 months, but believe it or not, this project has been a year in the making.

Let's back up to early 2017, when Mark and Marie contacted John to build them a custom dining room table.

During our very first meeting, with the then engaged-to-be-married couple, Mark and Marie showed us around their beautiful, c. 1910 home. Full of charm and character, the previous owners had only made minor upgrades to the house. That night, seated at a humble folding table, Mark and Marie shared with us their plans for upgrading the house, with hopes of entertaining friends and family. Mark was ready to cook and we were ready to help!

Even in full wedding planning mode, Mark and Marie were eager to discuss their priority, post-nuptial project - the Kitchen.

And now, exactly 1-year from that very first meeting, we are wrapping up a full kitchen renovation for this awesome, now, husband and wife.


The bones of this space were not too bad. Six, double-hung windows allow a ton of natural light into the room, and an addition put on by the previous owners (including the breakfast nook and mudroom), made the overall kitchen about 350 square feet. Plenty of room for improvement!


Curiously, during the construction of the breakfast nook addition, the previous contractor choose to add this dividing wall, likely as structural support, instead of adding a ceiling beam.

Though the addition may have been structurally sounds, the new wall presented mostly design "cons". It cut the space, visually, in-half, forced the refrigerator to open into the kitchen/dining room entry door and blocked all of that wonderful natural light. There was also a tremendous amount of unused space between the breakfast nook and the fridge wall.

Early on, we knew the wall had to go. Luckily, the removal of the wall created a great opportunity for us to add an exposed beam, not only for ascetics, but also for function.


During our first design meeting and throughout the initial design process, Marie shared a Pinterest board chock full of images that would continue to inspire this project. 

Stylistically the couple both wanted a functional, fresh, bright and airy space but individually Mark leans more industrial while Marie craves warmth through natural wood. Marie also liked the idea of playing with a "pop-of-color" which I can't wait to share with you in the reveal.

Here are the design renderings I originally presented to Mark and Marie:


The South Street project was, give or take, a full renovation. Here are a few of the construction milestones that helped shape this new, amazing space:

  • Removal of 4 layers of linoleum

  • Exposing the brick chimney for architectural interest 

  • Removing the half wall

  • Adding the expansion beam

  • Re-configuring the walls to accommodate additional cabinets and a center facing refrigerator

  • Ceramic, wood grain tile flooring throughout

  • Ceiling beams wrapped in rough-sawn oak

  • Custom range hood

  •  All new, white cabinets

  • Apron-front farm sink

  •  Recessed lighting throughout

That's it for now! You didn't think I was going to spill all the renovation beans, did you? Stay tuned for our big reveal of the South Street Kitchen, coming VERY soon!

OH, and if there are any progress projects you'd like to hear more about in a separate post, please comment below!

ONE ROOM CHALLENGE (Week One): Annex Guest Room Makeover

Twice a year, in October and April, Linda from Calling It Home and House Beautiful hosts a One Room Challenge. Over the course of 6 weeks, 20 select designers and bloggers tackle renovating or redecorating a specific room, and share their progress with weekly blog posts. 

When the April 2017 list of selected designers was announces, I was so inspired by how many of the participants are blogs and designers I admire. I knew I wanted to participate too!

The One Room Challenge encourages Guest Participants, so I'm joining the fun, sharing the magic of an Annex Guest Room makeover we have yet to tackle.

What's even more exciting, is this is a linked event, which means that all the Guest Participants will share a common link and you'll be able to easily surf through a ton of room transformations. You'll find that link at the bottom of this post!

Warning: The following "before" images are scary!

I often share this 'before' image with people who don't know the state in which we acquired Content.

I suppose this Annex Guest Room image was taken during the bank's repossession of the property prior to foreclosure.

Luckily, when we closed on Content in October 2014, the trash and junk had been cleaned out.

But, it always amazes me that just 5 short months after this picture was take, two knuckle heads (John + I) showed up bright-eyed and bushy tailed, and jumped feet first into the biggest renovation project of our lives.

Even though we've done a lot since 2014 (i.e. the blood, sweat and tears chronicled throughout this blog), nowadays the Annex Guest Room has mostly been used as storage.

Here's John and my Dad, likely discussing how I'm a closet hoarder of second-hand furniture. 

Over the coldest winter months, I did spend a few days replacing all of the window weight mechanics so all the windows now properly function.

Overall, the Annex Guest Room has awesome bones, just like the rest of the house. This space features a brick fireplace (which needs a mantel), exposed beam ceiling and four original, double pane windows.

The original wide, hardwood pine floors are still in this room. And the space has beautiful ceiling and baseboard molding too!

The overall goal of this makeover is to clean up the walls and ceilings with fresh paint, and create a "disappearing" guest room. Huh?

Stay with me... We refer to this as the Annex because it attaches to Guest Suite #1 and the Great Room. We think this would be the perfect space to provide friends and family, traveling together, with additional accommodations.

But we want to reserve the ability to remove the beds should the space be needed for a special event, in conjunction with the Great Room.

So far, I have a vintage camp theme in mind. I think this will lend itself well to the "disappearing" beds, as well as to a lounge setting.

I have a bunch of ideas floating around, and can't wait to see this fun, quirky makeover come to life.

Be sure to follow along with our progress and comment below with your thoughts!


You can connect to all the One Room Challenge Guest Participant week 1 updates here! #oneroomchallenge

RENOVATION REVEAL: Content Master Bathroom

Taking a look back, and realize I never gave you a full look at the before and after of our Master Bathroom. So, here is the entire run down including all the before and after shots, which I know you all enjoy so much!

And, UPDATE: You can now see this before + after featured on Apartment Therapy!

For basic necessity, the master bathroom was the first space that needed to be tackled FAST in order for us to move into Content. 


Our main priorities in the master bath were to:

  • open the room up

  • bring back some historic, architectural interest

  • and add interest and a modern touch with a bold accent.

First, we removed the existing Jacuzzi tub that was taking up nearly half the floor space.

With a ton more square footage to work with, we created a full walk-in shower:

With such a large space, we decided to construct a wall to separate and enclose the toilet. Not only did this add privacy, but allowed us to add necessary storage as a built-in.

Privacy wall for toilet & added storage

Privacy wall for toilet

To bring back the historic, and architectural detail that this old home deserves, we added an cast iron, claw foot tub that I found on Craigslist and refinished in a matte black. I kept the feet original because I loved the nostalgia the old paint colors invoke. 

John wanted to create interest and detail in the master bath, and did so by joining the double windows with a decorative trim which acts as a picture frame for the claw foot as well.

Then, we chose a deep, dramatic blue paint color for the walls to highlight the freshly painted trim, exposed ceiling beams and original, oak hardwood floors.

Ready for the glamour, after shots? Enjoy!


Now you can get this look through our Shop Our Home page here.


WALL PAINT: Van Deusen by Benjamin Moore

TRIM PAINT: Advanced White by Benjamin Moore

CLAW FOOT TUB: Vintage from Craigslist

VANITY: John's custom design made from walnut. Content Woodworking


SCONES: French, vintage, Ebay

RUG: World Market which is currently unavailable but a similar is here.



WALL SHELF: John's custom design made from walnut. Content Woodworking


CHAIR: Vintage

TOWELS: Crate and Barrel (teal)

Master Bedroom Renovation (Phase 1)

In an effort to sustain our home renovating energy and enthusiasm, (and not go instantly insane) we have been focusing on projects within Content that will immediately benefit John and I. For instance, completing the master bedroom and en suite bathroom. Like every floor plan we've encountered within this house, thus far, the layout of the master bedroom is challenging.

It's weird though, sometimes I forget just how absurd of a property Content. really is. So often, John and I are busy micro managing projects, making sure we're making forward progress, that the big picture of the house gets lost. It's only when a new visitor or contractor stops by that we're reminded just how different Content. actually is. Our favorite question, "What is this place?"

The real BIG picture!

During a recent visit with our friends Veronica & Shawn, we pointed out that one of the two fireplaces (yes, two in the same room) located on opposing ends of the master bedroom would soon be concealed in the new walk-in closet and only used as an architectural detail. Veronica's reaction was priceless, "Two fireplaces in the same room? Now you're just showing off." Not on purpose of course, but yes, this house has charming quirks and a zillion stories to tell and we're having a blast figuring them all out.

Likely, Content's rooms were once half the size, and each of the bedroom fireplaces were originally in separate rooms. These small rooms are rumored to once have been used by ladies-of-the-night and gentleman callers (more to come on that in later posts). The house is also rumored to have been a horse stable, but either way, I guess a fireplace and a small private room work for both enterprises.

But now, as the newest owners, we are left puzzled and dumbfounded by how to layout the simplest of room elements, like our bed. And because the house was vacant for over 2 years, we can't even copy the prior owners attempts.

Take a look at the original layout of the master bedroom and some of the odd elements we have to quickly address:
  • Two fireplaces
  • Railroad style layout connecting kitchen, master and bathroom
  • One full wall of windows
  • Two exterior (courtyard) access doors
  • Window in closet

Before: Master Bedroom
This is the MLS listing photo of the bedroom before we even owned the house.

See, I'm not exaggerating! The layout is perplexing to say the least, and not in a fun "oh lets stretch our design creativity" kinda way....

Architect, what's that? We just hand draw our plans.
You should see what we submitted to the town for our permits. Ha!

The result of all this master planning (i.e. doodles on a cocktail napkin) was the construction of a mid-room partition that will serve as our headboard and the main wall of our closet. This new addition will nicely position our bed within the room, facing the fireplace. Ohh, how romantical!? 

Before: Master Bedroom
Old closet is out exposing two exterior courtyard doors. The door on the left will be covered up.

Partition wall (view facing bathroom)

Partition wall (view facing kitchen)

As I've said before, we are extremely fortunate to be surrounded by talented tradesman that willingly volunteer their time and energy to help us with Content. And in the case of the master bedroom and bathroom, John's father Dave was our saving grace.

Dave traveled from John's home town in Bristol, Connecticut for the weekend to help run all the rough electrical and install recess lighting. Thanks Dave, we couldn't have done it without you!

John, and his father Dave.

That's Phase 1 of the Master. More to come soon!


We knew the second we saw Content. that we had to buy it.  The day we went house shopping, with our realtor Jennifer, was the hottest, most humid day of the summer. And I admit, by the end of the grueling day, we were probably dehydrated and delirious, but nevertheless Content. was a beautiful, quenching spring in a desert of highly priced, badly renovated homes.

But even with all that initial rose colored glory fogging my reality, its was hard to picture some of the rooms in any other light than the way I'd first met them. Specifically, I fell in love with Content. and quickly developed a strong, deep seeded hatred for the kitchen.

Based on an design article I read explaining how the color red brings out aggression and hostile emotions, I blame this hatred fully on the red, painted fireplace sitting smack dab in the middle of the room.

Why would someone paint beautiful, century old brick fire engine red? What was that odd, triangle stainless steel corner piece, and why on earth did it require power? Why couldn't you have installed the hardwood first and then installed the cabinets?

There were so many unanswered kitchen mysteries adding to my loathing and the only answer I could find was to jumped right in, and demo the whole damn thing. But even with all that red hatred coursing through me, I started to get sentimental. It's interesting to imagine what the prior tenants, who I assume put lots of thought and money in to its original construction, would have thought of us swinging sledge hammers without abandon, mocking their color choices and hacksawing the crap out of their once enjoyed kitchen. Did their kids learn to crawl on these floors? How many wonderful Thanksgiving dinners were prepared here?

I felt bad, but nevertheless, the old, dirty country cabinets were removed, along with the oddly shaped stainless steel corner piece that we still can't identify and we turn a page in our own book.

Ironically, as you'll see in these pictures, the fireplace is still there, and it's still very red. Apparently removing paint from brick requires taking a leave of absence from your job,dedicating a solid month to the project and a prescription for Valium. Ever heard of soy gel, yeah, me neither.

Before demo (see the weird stainless corner triangle with power)

After demo (fireplace, still red)