hello lovely fixer upper {week 40}

June 04, 2016

40 weeks ago, we began dismantling a sad fixer upper.

40,000 DIY projects later, we have learned
more than we ever cared to know.

It is taking us so long, I think Lowes actually
borrowed the whole "sometimes all a house needs
is a little love" campaign from my posts
and mission to love this house back to life.
...and for the record, sometimes a house needs beaucoup cash and temporary insanity.

If you have a sense of humor and
40 hours to spare, scroll on, friends.

The simple plan?
Love one neglected cottage back to life
and stay married.

The reality?
Revival is expensive and triggers migraines.

The beauty of grace, sweet grace?
The interiors are happily beginning to breathe,
and we are more in love with each other.

This  is not the final reveal.
That is at least a month away,
but I snapped the photos below
15 minutes before that dreaded
cocktail party last week
(just for you and despite the fact
rooms are not yet styled/zhushed
to blogworthy standards.)

If you have been reading this blog
since I lived in the European country house,
you will notice I have thus far
bought ZERO new stuff for
this cottage and am striving to
use what I already own.

Brace yourself for the hemorrhage of update photos!

We filled in the open stringer staircase,
installed some planking, and added carpet.

We expanded the door opening between
the kitchen and dining, and I plastered the ceiling.

We added a new fireplace surround, put in a new
subfloor and hardwoods, and painted endlessly.

"Let's live like freaks with shrinkwrapped everything and chaos..." said no one ever.

mmmmmm. interior quietude looks good on you, quirky cottage.

Oh, how I miss my Bella Luna.
This carpet? Not so much.

Oy. All sorts of structural issues with the floors,
and I am married to a perfectionist.


What a difference expanding that doorway made.

The old kitchen may have looked okay,
but some of the drawers were not functional,
the cabinetry had laminated fronts, and at
20 years old, it was ready to be retired
to the basement workshop.

Very true to European cottage style!

For the kitchen design,
I gave us a larger peninsula and stole space
from the breakfast area to expand the work area.

I found the vintage doors at an antique store.

I totally recognize the chandelier is undersized,
but it is a sentimental piece as is the harvest table
beneath it which is way too big for the area, and
we are still debating how to deal (it is our family
kitchen table and sooooo many memories made here).

I still have to address the window seat to make it
more functional...for now, RAWR.

What a shame that water damage to beautiful
maple hardwoods meant they had to go.
We salvaged much of it to use for something special.

As I said, the harvest table is too big for the space,

Okay. The main bath. 
Don't get me started on an endless
string of disasters from its inner guts
(the leaking fixtures were located directly above our electrical
circuit box below...are you friggin kiddin me?)
to ventilation issues to...ohhhh, never mind.

It is coming along.

Let's head upstairs now.

It is a one and a half story, so upstairs are two bedrooms,
one of which became an office.

Here is the master in progress.

This painting with gold leaf is by me,
and yes, I believe in custom white linen
slipcovers for boxes of tissues...

My sweet marble lamb wears a rosary
(from the Vatican) blessed by the Pope.

That little pillow on the bed does look ridiculous.
Promise I'll get to the details eventually.

A sketch by Melissa James...we
celebrated Thanksgiving together years back,
and after dinner, I handed her a photo and a pencil.
A few minutes later, this. I knowwwwww.

Remember the outdated master bath?

The only thing worse than outdated and broken is...

Rubble and nothing.
Just a reminder, we LIVED in the house through this.

Remember the trio of Madonna cone bras?
The fact the light switches were located
outside of the room?
The critters in that attic crawl space under
the counter?
The monstrous woofers and tweeters in ceiling?

The above mess magically morphed into a sweet
little bench and a perch for one of my first abstracts.

Yes. We're fancy. We brushed our teeth here for months.

Why why why were we surprised every fixture
in this bath leaked for forever as well?
If a thing could leak in this house, it was leaking.

No more! We repaired and addressed it all.

We added a brand new furnace, central air, and a
state of the art (read: costly) water softening system.

And remember I told you we had a vintage
leaded glass window from Europe to use to
bring natural light into the spacious new shower?

Boom! It's pretty unique.

We decided to wing it as far as a glass door
versus a shower curtain versus nothing.
And a shower curtain is the winner!
(Look mom, no hard water stains to scrub off a glass door!)

More decor to do in the upstairs office, but it is functioning well.

Back downstairs,
my studio needs a ton of attention,
but I LOVE the southern exposure and the

And this week, we are tackling the downstairs
family room and guest room which our eldest
(a high school English teacher) is occupying
this summer before starting law school.

My husband continues to inspire me with his
grit, work ethic, and brilliance whether he is
swinging a hammer or winning in the courtroom.

* * * * *
Thank you for journeying with me.
You will all be invited to the reveal
if we survive this next chapter which
will involve a whole lotta weed
(probably limited to the landscape variety).

Please come join me
in this DIY adventure by
clicking here for all my fixer upper update posts!
(And thanks for subscribing here so you don't miss an episode.)

Peace to you right where you are.

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  1. Third times a charm..lets give this one more go (no coffee today can't you tell)!
    OK This is STUPENDOUS!! HGTV are you listening..think you need your own show....so impressed with what you have done. What a beautiful, calming home you are creating. I am so excited for you......our homes are our safe haven from this mad world, and I am so happy that you have such a beautiful nest to call home sweet home....BRAVO!

    1. oh tina, i just love you. i will whip this into better shape and send my audition tapes to Bravo and rest of the networks who may have room for a nutty downsizing emptynesters saying yes to slower living. xox

  2. I am obsessed with you house and the simple elegant way it is decorated. LOVELY!!!!


    1. thank you for these lovely words!

  3. To say you gave this home a whole new life and story is an understatement. Breathe! It does indeed, the serenity is so apparent and it is so YOU. Love it all and your personality and touches speak loud and clear, but in a very quiet voice of course. I am so happy for you and your hubby, it is a work of art. Love it so much!! xo Kathysue

    1. i hope it will become a work of art. that is a lovely thing to say. xox

  4. I could move right in. I. Love. It. All.
    Invite me over and I'll help you with the "weed".

    1. now you're talkin. love that idea. xox

  5. Michele, I am always in aew when I visit your blog! Your house looks fabulous. Coudos to you and your husband for loving this place back to life.

  6. Hi Michele, You and your husband are amazing!!!!! What an inspiration you are........this is a gorgeous renovation, every room simply beautiful and functional. Right down to the rosary blessed by the pope that hangs on the sweet lamb:) You have a very special cottage, it's just wonderful.

    1. he is amazing. so excited to be getting closer to the fun parts of decorating and adding life. your art in our home for example will bring a rich layer of elegance and healing. my lamb is more special than i can say and is now my reminder of bella luna. thank you for noticing, friend. xox

  7. Your inner peace shines through in all your posts. You inspire me! Can't wait to see more!

  8. Came over from Gwen Moss...You have a lovely home! So much love has gone into it and it shows. Bravo!!

    1. so happy to have you here! thanks. xox

  9. Michele, what a home to love, and the art work here and there is the icing on the cake.
    Loved the home tour and looking forward to many more.
    This cottage hom really lives big. And you and your husband are the bloggers Barbie and ken, beautiful couple, beautiful home.


    1. and i have the body by Mattel (lots of plastic!) to prove it, dore! thanks, friend. thinking of you and yours and pray that healing and peace arrive to your souls.

  10. Michele I'm finally getting back here after seeing this post when it came through my feed. The minute I saw your home tour I felt so excited for you because I'm one of those who remembers your journey from way back. The cancer. The other home. The big move. In some ways our paths have seemed simiiar and so it's been joyful to watch the transformation of your present cottage. It all looks amazing! And you guys have been such an energy boost for Moi--the slow-mo version of a DIYer. Congrats on all your progress, BTW--I shared your home tour in my latest blog post.

    1. such a beautiful surprise when i visited your blog. thank you, leslie. our paths are definitely parallel, and you have knocked me out with your projects and DIY swag. i get tired/bored/irritated with the endless list of projects and unfinished work so it does help to be joined on the adventure. thank you.

  11. Holy Cow Michele - I LOVE watching your progress and your taste in the details is awesome. Your color palette is so soothing and perfect - what a treat to follow the transformation and I applaud you and yours for the journey! LOVE it all!

    1. thanks, friend. i am ready for it to be done but wise enough to know it will never truly be finished. xox

  12. FABULOUS!!! I need a new house to restore this poor old one is done! I love how bright and open and yet still you paid attention to detail.. bravo my dear!!!

    1. merci, karolyn. take us along on the journey if you are crazy enough to live though a reno...i don't think we will do this again!

  13. It is beautiful. You have done a lot of hard work to renovate this house into your home. I much prefer a home that has sentimental pieces over designer. So I like that you have kept those cherished furnishings. I love your farmhouse table painted white. I have one too that we purchased when our first two children were toddlers. I will never ever part with it. There are drawings on the underneath side by each of my four children. I have also whitewashed ours. I was wondering if you have considered placing the farnhouse table where the round black table is? It is difficult to tell from the photos whether there is room. But if there is I can see it there. The bookshelf would have to be moved too. I can see the white table and chairs there with nothing else in the space. The white would flow nicely into your neutral slipcovered furniture in your living room. Then maybe the round table could be used in the kitchen nook. I do not know if it is a piece you would want to paint but I can see it white or grey. The table we have in our kitchen nook is round and is actually a black-brown too, but I have considering painting it white. I love dark wood accents so I am still on the fence about it. You have done a beautiful renovation. Everything is so lovely just the way it is. I hope you don't mind me sharing what I thought about the tables. I know it really has to do with how your home feels for you. Keep calm and carry on. Peace to you. Namaste xx Kerrie

    1. i love your suggestions and honor them. i'll keep tweaking and experimenting before the final reveal. it's a quirky home so in many ways i am let off the hook since it was someone else's design, and i'm simply trying to make our furnishings work in the rooms they were never meant to live in, ya know? since it is a downsize where we are subtracting, not adding/buying it is an ongoing challenge to our creativity and imaginations. xox

  14. I've had the best time following along on this journey with you, Michele. It is simply, beautiful. i just love the warm, inviting touches and the sense of calm in each space...it's fabulous, my friend!! So thrilled for you!!

    1. merci! thank you for following, and i hope you will stay tuned because there are some surprises yet to be blogged! xox

  15. Oh Michelle! You have done so much and it is so lovely. It must feel like heaven now that it is nearing completion. I wouldn't worry one little bit about that kitchen table! It looks perfect to me.


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pallet wall palo verde Paltrow Pam pam pierce Pamela Pamela Pierce Pamela Pierce Designs Pandeia panel panels Panic at the Disco pantone niagra pantry paola paparazzi paper paper dresses paper mache Pardee Pardue pared-down style parfumeur Paris paris apartment Paris apartment makeover Paris Christmas Paris dream apartment Paris finds Paris Flea Market Paris hotel Paris in Color Paris in Love Paris inspiration Paris kitchen paris life Paris museum Paris photography Paris Pinterest Paris print Paris real estate paris restaurant Paris Ritz paris secrets paris sketchbook Paris travel paris vendome Park Hyatt park hyatt paris vendome Part 2 part 3 party party idea pastels pastry pastry shop patchwork scarf patina Patina Farm Patina Style patisserie patrick dempsey Paul Bert Paul Newman Paul Sherrill Paulina Temmes Pavillon pavillon de la reine peace peace wreath peaceful peaceful home peaceful living peaceful rooms peacock pear pearl and leather bracelt pegasus pencil in hand Penguin Press Penny's Pastries penthouse penthouses pepparkakor recipe Per Benjamin perfect blue perfectly flawed perfume perimenopause Perricone MD concealer personal reflections personalized pet Peter Marino Peter Vitale petra dufkova Philippe Andrieu photo photo art photo book photo of couple smiling photographer photographer Jean-Baptiste Mondino photographer lemholt Photographer's Paradise photographers photographs photography photography book photography by hugh holland photography by petra bindel photojournalism photos photos of earth Phyllis Pia Ulin Pia Wallen piano picasso picture quotes pictures of cosmos Pierce Pierce Designs piet boon Piet Boon furniture pig Pilati pillow talk pillows pilow Pine Cone Hill Pink pink ballet slippers pink ginger pink pointe shoes pinterest pinterest closets Pinterest kitchens Pinworthy pixelimpress place de les vosges Place des Vosges Place Vendome Plain and Fancy Plain English plank doors plantation shutters plaster walls plush toys pods pointe shoes Pointed Leaf polar vortex polaroid Polly Wreford pom pom pom pom wreath pom pom wreath shabby chic Christmas pom poms pomegranate cotton candy pool Pop Pop Portraits pop-up pop-up museum popelini Portillos Portland Portland designers portraits Portugal villa posh positive Positively Chic potter potter craft pottery POTUS powder room powerHouse practical magic prairie prairie style prayer prayer for peace prayer for the world prayer of the heart preen preppy design prevention previve previvor primitive primitives Prince prints Privet and Holly progression Property Brothers Property Brothers Take New Orleans prophylactic prophylactic surgery Provence Provence inspired design Provocateur psychedelic Pucci Puella puff Puglia quartz quartz countertop quick crafts quiet quiet christmas quiet colors quiet corners of paris quiet interiors quirky new book quotes RA Rachael Hale Rachel rachel ashwell Rachel Ashwell bio rachel ashwell interview Rae Dunn Raf Ketelslagers rag dolls Rain to Rainbows ranch for sale Randolph Street Market random Raphael Vicenzi rave party real estate Real Housewives real life realist artist Reasonably priced food in Paris Rebecca Atwood reception recipe recipe with Dijon recipes reclaimed wood reconstruction recycled cabinet Red red boots red hair red heel revue refined reflections Reflections on Swedish Interiors refrigerator regency style reindeer hide reindeer leather bracelet Rejuvel relaxed religious remodel remodeling reno Renoir renovation renovation inspiration renovation project rens rental rentals restaurant restaurant design restaurant in Antwerp restoration hardware restoration hardware show house restoration project restored castle retreat retreat at cool spring reveal revenant rh Rheumatoid Arthritis RHOBH Rhode Island Rhonda RHONYC Ria ribbon shade DIY Ricardo Labougle Rich Brilliant Willing Richard Chai Richard Lester Richardson right bank Riginik Rimbaud ring ritchie Ritz Paris Riverwood Shutters rizzoli Rob Pattinson Robbi Behr robin's egg blue robot robotic vacuum robshaw Rockford Rockton Rodarte Rodin Romance romantic romantic decor romantic design romantic fashion romantic feminine rooms romantic home romantic homes romantic photography Romantic Prairie Style romantic recipes romantic rooms Romantic Style Ron Burgundy rooms rooms for living Rosa de L'Haie Rosaline Granet rosaries Roscoe Rosehill Roseline Granet rosemary roses rothman Round Top Roxanne Gay Royal Royal Design royal design stencils royal design studio royal stencils rub-on rubber stamps Rubik Rue ruffles Rummerfield runway rustic rustic castle rustic chic rustic chic decorating rustic decor rustic door rustic elegance rustic exterior door rustic modern rustic vanity Ryan McElhinney Ryland Peters Saguaro Blossom sainsburys sale Sally sami bracelets sami bracelts samuel chan san antonio San Francisco Sanctuary Sander Sandra Suy sandy beach Santa Monica house Santo Stefano Sara Blee sara orme sarah renee Sarah Richardson Sarah Richardson 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seventies Seward sewing sewn Sextantio sexy shabby shabby chic Shabby Chic artist shabby chic Christmas shabby chic couture shabby chic rooms Shabd Simon-Alexander shalini Shampure Shannon Bowers Shapiro Shawna Dillon shed sheep sheepskin Sheila Bridges Sherrill Sherry Hart Sheryl Crow's bracelets shibori shingle ship lap siding shiplap shipping container shipping containers shoe painting shoestring shoestring budget shop shop on the cheap shopping shopping etsy shopping in Paris shops shoptalk show showhouse Shuttefly by Design shutterfly Shutterfly by Design shutters inspiration silk silver Silvestrin Simen Johan simple Simple Home simple rooms simplicity sisters sixties skateboarding photos skaters sketches ski lodge skin skincare skincare products sky skyscraper Sleepy Jones slide slipcover slipcovers Slovakia slow living Small small business small space decorating ideas Smallwood Stewart Smith smoobage Smythe snaidero Snarkitecture SNL holiday gif snow snow images snowflakes social sculptor Socially Driven soft Soho loft Solis Betancourt something's gotta give sonny angels sonoran desert Sophie Griotto Sophie Tramier sophisticated Soprano quartz soulful soulful rooms sourdough bread south of France Southampton home southern california spa spa products space space cabin spaces Spain Spanish designer Spanish palaces spare spare rooms spell spiral staircase spiritual musings Splaltana splendid avenue Splendid Willow Splendid Willow Avenue Splendid Willow Swedish house spon spring Spring decor spring inspiration spring/summer SR sri lanka St. Genevieve St. Germain staffordshire dog stained glass windows staircase stamps Stanton statement wall stationery Stefano Pilati Steines stencil stencil art project stencil ideas stencil on a mirror stencil on canvas stenciled stenciled mirror stencils Stephenie Meyer sterling sterling necklaces Stevie Stevie Nicks Stewart sticker stikwood still life stillness Stina Persson Stockholm Stockholm apartment Stockholm illustrator Stockholm print stone stone alloy stone cottage Stoneleigh stones storybook stradella house street Strength to Love stripes Stuart studio Studio McGee Studio Piet Boon style stylemadehere stylemaker Kate Schelter styling stylish hotel stylish rooms stylish spaces stylist stylist Agaton stylist Ericson stylist Kate Schelter stylist Krishnaswamy stylist Nicolaisen stylist pia Bijkerk subscribe subtraction success succulents suddenly i'm fat sufi priestess Sufjan Stevens suite suite and lovely suite life summer Summer Thornton Summers in France sunburst mirror Sunday Suppers sundial Superior surfer surfer culture surfers surrealist paintings surrealist photography survivor susannah conway Susanne Konig suzanne rheinstein Suzzalo Svedka Swedart sweden swedish swedish antiques Swedish apartment Swedish artist swedish bible Swedish Christmas swedish decor Swedish design swedish finds Swedish gifts Swedish illustrator swedish interiors swedish leather bracelets swedish pancakes recipe Swedish rooms Swedish shops swedish style sweets swing swings inside swiss buttercream recipe Swoonworthy Sybil Sylvester sylist t-shirts table tablescape tablescapes Tabori tag sale finds Takada Tara Guerard Target Tartine tattered Tavis Coburn tea teal tearoom Tec Petaja teen bedroom Teenage Dream tell Ten Thousand Stories Ten Trinity Square tenderlovely tent Texan Texan designer Texas textile textile artist textiles thanksgiving The 100 Best Living Rooms the 3rd The Bald Mermaid The Beauty Within the burg The Color of Pomegranates The Enchanted Home The French Dog The French Home the holiday The Inspired Room The Intern The Jane Antwerp The Making of a Rag Doll the man who shot the sixties the Mart The New Yorker the orchids the Prairie The Principles of Uncertainty Theo Richardson Theurel and Thomas thick paper things we love Thomas Thomas Merton Thorn thornton Thornton and Bregazzi Thoroughbreds thread threadbare Three Graces thrifty finds through the french door tiara tidewater cypress Tie-dye tiffany tights Tim Burton timeless timeless and tranquil timeless design timeless design traditional decor Timeless Interiors timothy whealon tina tine k tins tiny cards tiny home tiny homes tiny house tiny houses tiny paris apartment Tiny Prints tips Tobias todd eberle together we eat Toko Ohmori Tom Brady mansion Tom Scheerer tom's tom's shoes Tomas De Bruyne Tommy Tommy Smythe tone on tone Top Knobs Torie Toulouse towel set towels tower town wallpaper townhouse traditional traditional decor Traditional Home magazine trailer tranquil tranquil art tranquil decor tranquil rooms tranquility travel photography treasures trees Tria Giovan Tribeca tricia foley Trinity College trip Troon North tropical tropical flowers true feelings truelsen trumatter tulle turbulent 60s Turin Turkey Turkish turnable turquoise tutu tv barn doors Twelve French Gardens Twiggy Twilight Tyler Shields typography typography panels Ulysses uncommon goods undecorated under microscope underbaked unfortunate blog posts universe Unlikely Friendships unusual unusual staircase unwanted facial hair upcycled sweaters urban urban camping urban chic camping urban farmgirl Urban Outfitters using vintage jewelry for art Utah Utah country home vacation vacation home Valentine's Day valeo valleys van Breems Van Duysen van Reesema Vanderbilt Vanderbilt Mansion Vanessa Bruno vegan baking velvet Velvet and Linen vendome Vendome Press venice veranda Verne vervoordt Viatera Viatera Minuet quartz Viatera quartz Viatera Soprano quarts Vicente Wolf Vicenzi video vignettes viktigt villa Villandry Kitchen Vincent Van Duysen Vincere vintage vintage ads vintage and handmade vintage bling vintage fashion vintage finds vintage grain sacks vintage jewelry vintage market vintage skateboarders vintage skye vintage style vintage treasures vinyl Violise Lunn Virginia cottage Virginia vacation rental visiting visiting paris Vissers Visvim vodka vogue volutes votre vu Waldorf waldorf astoria Waldorf Astoria Chicago Walk off the Earth wall wall finishes wallpaper walls Wallternatives Walton Street ward warehouse warm warm contemporary washi tape Washington D.C. Washington D.C. real estate watch watches Water Mill watercolor artist watercolors waterfront wearstler wedding wedding in France wedding in the country wedding location Wedding Paper Divas wedding photography weddings week 1 week 2 week 28 week 4 week 40 week 42 week 44 week 48 week 52 week 6 week 8 week one westbrook What to eat in Paris What We Do whatever you are wheat Wheaton Island where my art lives where Obamas moved Where to eat in Paris where to go where to rent an apartment where to see Chanel chandelier where to see the opera where to shop in paris where to stay where to stay in chicago Where to Stay in Paris Where We Met whimsical rooms white white bedroom white bedrooms white cabinets white decor White Decor inspiration white dining tables white dresses white furniture white inspiration white interior design white interiors white kitchen white kitchens white lights white linens white marble white oak paneling white painted brick white painted paneling white piano white rooms white rooms Scandinavian design white swing white table whites wild rice wildfox couture will cotton Will Torrent Wilmette Wim Pauwels window treatments Windsor Smith winner winning cookie Winston Wachter winter winter decor winter inspiration winter recipes winter skin wintry pub party wired wireless speaker for shower Wis Design Wisconsin Wisconsin travel Witmer wolf women won wonder wood wood walls wooden woods Woodson wool wool blankets wool crafts word art word art panels words worme woole wrap bracelet wreath wreath ideas wrinkle cream Wyoming Wythe Hotel xmas Yamamoto Masao yarn YBF YBF skincare yellow gown Yellowstone Club yoga yoga at home Yolanda Foster Yorkshire Your Best Face your daily jewels youTube YSL Yugoslavia yurt zero george Ziggy Stardust zinnia designs