limestone renovation: vestibule makeover!

One year ago this week, about it I submitted my offer to buy a Brooklyn limestone. It’s hard to forget how nervous and excited I was – from the moment I walked in the door at the open house, pharmacy I just knew this was it. Instant love. That’s not to say I didn’t feel like fainting after submitting the offer. Oh no. I did.

For me, old houses are super romantic and inviting. I think it’s their architecture that really does it for me – the welcoming stoop, the gracious high parlor ceilings – and certainly the vestibule that offers warmth and escape from this un-springlike cold snap we’ve been having in NYC! Seriously – how is there a chance of snow tonight?! So to make the house a little more cozy and inviting, I’ve been planning and pinning and spending time giving our little vestibule a makeover!

Initially I thought this would be a small project. Maybe a weekend at most? Riiight. I am slowly learning there is no such thing as “small projects” in the land of old houses. But I’ve been trying to take my time and do it right. Though the before shots don’t look too shabby, trust me – a broken doorknob, crumbling caulk, goops of hastily-applied primer, and ancient paint drips all over the tile mosaic were just a few of the fun surprises.

Check it out in its ‘primer white’ glory:
vestibule - beforevestibule - before
vestibule - before

My favorite part of the vestibule? This 1890’s nine-point light fixture. My least favorite: the nasty crumbling caulk.

vestibule - beforevestibule - before
vestibule - before

After scraping all the old caulk away, I tried my best to recaulk the vestibule and stocked up on wet dishrags and towels to clean up the mess I made being OCD. Of course I learned this awesome trick about using painter’s tape to get a perfect caulk line right after I was done. Perfect timing. Thanks, universe. While I was waiting for my work to dry and kicking myself for not reading that tutorial sooner, I did get to spend some quality time with a putty knife scraping paint drips off the porcelain tiles.

A couple of days later, it was finally time to paint. My plan was to keep it simple – crisp white molding, soft grey walls, warm natural wood colors for the rug and bench — and maybe a shot of color on the interior door?


nikon - front door paint test-0403

And here’s where that “small project” estimate gets especially funny. All in all, I spent EIGHT HOURS applying two coats of semi-gloss white trim paint over a weekend. EIGHT. There is a chance I might be the world’s slowest painter. But there’s also a ton of molding to obsess over. iphone - island brights-1013Fortunately, the grey walls were practically an afterthought, once I’d recovered from all the detail painting. So let’s call it 10 total hours of JUST PAINTING. In a room that barely measures 6′ x 3′. And I still have touch-ups to do. And the ceiling. (Lazy!)

So once I was done with the main painting, in went the $10 HESSUM rug and $40 MOLGER bench from IKEA. And then I walked by those paint swatches for the interior door for two weeks, admiring them every time I picked up all the junk mail that collects on my vestibule floor.

My gut instinct was to go with a fuschia color for the interior door. A glossy fuschia or plum door. The more I thought about it, the more awesome it sounded. So I bought a quart of high gloss water-based enamel from Benjamin Moore in Ralph Lauren’s Island Brights collection in “Magenta Jewel” and started painting while Zach wasn’t home. Ta daaaaa!

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nikon - magenta jewel door 2-0449

nikon - magenta jewel door-0448

After one coat, I started to doubt the wisdom of my choice. I still love the color, but it wasn’t screaming “Welcome to Our Cheerful Home!” like I hoped. More like “Hello Kitty Exploded Here.” Then Zach got home and managed to pry the paintbrush from my hand once he recovered from the shock.

I went back to the paint store the next day for my second choice – a rich glossy “Toucan Black” from Benjamin Moore that we’ve used elsewhere in the house. And then I painted my way into a much calmer and more welcoming vestibule that definitely says welcome home! There’s still plenty left to do – find a coat rack and umbrella stand, buy new hardware for the interior door, touch up the molding and ceiling – but it’s feeling so much more like my home. And not Hello Kitty’s.

nikon - black door-0453nikon - boots at the door-0411
nikon - black door 2-0455

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