Thursday, August 29, 2013

How I transformed my house

Contributing editor to Today's Woman and Today's Transitions Lucy Pritchett shares how she completely renovated her house in 2011.

The doorway leading into the room with the fireplace was not there before the reconstruction. There was a solid wall. Where the right-hand bookcase is now was the entrance to the long hallway that led to the back of the house. This front room now gets added light from the window by the fireplace and two more in the hallway. I love having my books with me, and the funky rug makes my feet happy. I could have made these two rooms one big one, but I like corners to make me feel cozy. 

It was at that stage of life. Time to make living environments simpler and more suited to lifestyles. Many of my friends had already chosen to move to apartments or condominiums.

Was that move in my future? I looked. I considered. I decided: No.

I already owned a home in one of Louisville’s established neighborhoods with friendly neighbors. We know each other’s names. We watch out for each other, but don’t intrude. My street is close to downtown, just off the very vibrant Frankfort Avenue, and best of all within walking distance of coffee houses, restaurants, shops, and a bookstore.

Before the remodel, this was a tiny, darkish room I used as an office. I added the fireplace with river stones instead of fake logs and designed storage on either side of it. There is a narrow coat closet behind the paneled doors on the right, and the left doors hide my printer and shredder – no wires.

Here’s what I did: I made my house, which I had lived in for seven years, exactly how I wanted it. Because I had spent many hours poring over House Beautiful, Elle Décor, and Traditional Home, not to mention practically every interior design book in the main library’s collection, I had a pretty good idea what I wanted. I also got suggestions from friends, designers, and the contractors that worked on the house.

I wanted shiny, light, and sleek.

Out came a wall, opening up the first two rooms in my shotgun house. I banished the wall-to-wall-carpet. Gone is the nasty, shallow bathtub that I never used. Out the door flew the linoleum flooring in the bath and kitchen.

My most brilliant idea: I took out the funky side/back door that is typical of this style house and put in a long window. More light.

One of my keepers: my great-grandmother's china cabinet, circa 1870. I picked up the chairs at a flea market for $7 each and had them painted and recovered. The dark wood floors run throughout the house, including the kitchen, which is just to the left of this area.

In came rich, dark wood flooring in every room, including the kitchen. The bath now has a walk-in, tiled shower with glass doors. The floor is tile. Because there was no natural light in the bathroom, I had two glass-block windows installed.

The flames in the contemporary fireplace lick gray river stones instead of ugly, fake gas logs. Very Zen. After painting so many blobs of color samples on my walls that the inside of my house looked like a giraffe, I decided to go with semi-gloss Sherwin-Williams Alabaster throughout with high-gloss trim of the same white. The kitchen cabinets are painted black – top and bottom.

Because I wanted to change from a look of mixed mess to contemporary, I got rid of many, many things, including furniture. Once I had my vision in mind, it was easy to see what I wanted to save and what had to go.

I undecorated. I kept just what I loved, whether old or new. The antique china cabinet (circa 1870) that was my great-grandmother’s looks stunning holding my white and black formal china (circa 1970). I kept my grandmother’s Eastlake burled-walnut 
bed even though it creaks like crazy when I pile into 
it at night.

I updated lighting fixtures and lamps, got rid of ridiculous ornamentals that had no meaning, and had a woman come and help me hang art and style my bookcases. The bookshelves are now in my living room and not hidden away in the cramped and cluttered office space I had before. I love having my books in the same room with me.

Ah, my spa. I couldn't wait to get rid of the goofy tub with its annoying shower curtain. The glass-block windows I added for natural light have a wavy look, and the blue diamonds in the floor are tiles from the blue border in the shower. The towel warmer on the left stays on all the time and provides me with much happiness.

My best decision, though, was the towel warmer. Ever since a trip to England many years ago when I was introduced to the luxurious idea, I have lusted after one. You cannot imagine the joy this one item brings me. The grandness of reaching out of the shower and wrapping myself in the warmth of my bath towel is absolutely my favorite part of the day. Sorry Charlie Brown, but for me, happiness is a warm towel.


  1. FANTASTIC vision! Am not surprised that the-very-creative Lucy was able to accomplish such a beautiful transition. Quite inspiring. May favorites: lots of lighting, simplicity, pragmatism. si

  2. Oh Lucy, j'adore la sensation que je reçois d'être maintenant dans votre belle maison. Je suis tellement heureuse pour vous être entourés de toutes vos choses préférées qui vous apportent la paix et la joie ! Toujours, La Balise

  3. Hi Lucy, I really like your house; everything is just so perfect, walls of hall, bathroom and especially the dark shaded floors. I admire you to accomplish this transaction by yourself.

  4. Hi! I stumbled upon this article from pinterest. I'm moving to Louisville and considering buying a shotgun house, but want to be able to open up the floor plan. I love what you did and would love to know more to get a better idea of what kind of task I'll be undertaking. Also, the storage cabinets flanking your fireplace look very similar to the Ikea PAX wardrobe system with HEMNES doors. Is that what you used?


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