As I share my ideas and photos of seasonal decor, it is good to remember that we decorate where we live. The themes can be modified to fit any space. Different rooms with various architectural details (fireplace mantels, windows, ceiling heights) and each person’s particular style (modern, traditional, lavish, minimalist) dictate how to modify the theme. As I blog about these themes, some photos will reveal our home has undergone changes. With each change, the impact of the specific decor theme can change as well. As you look through my seasonal decor ideas, you will see these changes in the photos. It is an opportunity to not only think about seasonal decor and various themes, but also about what physical changes you might make to a room. Color, scale, architectural detail, furniture placement, etc. are all things to play with both in the seasonal decor and in the attributes of your home.
Following is the journey of change to our Tudor House.
Our primary search criteria for a new house were Master on the main level, a large private yard, and existing space or ability to add on to bring our company home. After a more than two year search, we found those qualities and more in this house – a nearly acre lot, an incredible view of the valley (from the Sunset Hills to the Coastal Range) and two mountain tops (St. Helens and Adams), and no HOA. Ironically, it was only a few blocks from our current house. However, there were many negatives as well – deferred maintenance including roof, poorly designed and not maintained landscaping, dated or wrong finishes in woodwork, flooring, granite, lighting, and hardware. I will never forget my daughter’s saying at her first viewing, “how can you possibly like or buy this house”. We were able to look past the visible and see the potential. We purchased the home in 2015 for the positives, hoping we could, over time, correct the negatives.
The architectural style is Tudor Revival, however we call it “watered down American Tudor”. It was a 3850sf traditional construction home built in 1992 and in no way a historical property. I thought of a classic European Tudor home or mansion, and envisioned that the owner’s would have an eclectic collection of items from around Europe, and even the world. This perspective helped me know that our existing eclectic furnishings and decor (at the time, living in a Mediterranean influenced architecture) would work with a Tudor style house. While the structure had some nice detail and the floor plan worked for the most part, many of the existing finish choices did not consider the Tudor architectural style. Our goal with every decision was to make changes to our taste, but always “do right by the house”. The first changes we made were quick, easy, and fairly affordable. We immediately replaced the lighting fixtures. What existed was modern nickel fixtures – inexpensive looking and totally wrong for a traditional home. We replaced them with Kathy Ireland Ramas de Luces Bronze with crystals chandeliers, pendants, and sconces. We also replaced the stained glass panels from the bar upper cabinet doors with simple bubble glass. (It just looked busy with all the other busy details in the kitchen.) The next change was to remove the high shine gold hardware on the main level and replace it with bronze hardware. Then we removed the wallpaper and painted the Master bedroom and bathroom. Next, we tore out the plain and ugly back side yard (main entertainment area) and re-landscaped, adding a fence on the property line. In general, a lot of landscape work was done ongoing around the property.
We made a list of what we wanted to update with an order of priority. We are not architects or interior designers, but we know our needs and what we like. I read and looked at a lot of design pictures to understand the Tudor period and applicable materials. For example, cherry wood floors are beautiful, but not the right material for Tudor. However, they were in good condition and covered nearly the entire first floor, so the decision was made to live with them.
The worst room was the Master Bathroom (we called it’s style 1970’s Motel 6) and the closet was way too small. To merely update the room would be expensive, without correcting the layout or space issues. We decided the best thing to do was to work on a two-story addition to provide for the business needs (lower level office space and main level LOTR Theater) and also allow us to add a new Master closet (“Her”), allocating more space for a total bathroom gut and “His” closet.
We were able to find matching brick to match the addition to the original house. The new exterior colors were Miller Paint main body Metro Grey and trim dark grey Zen Retreat. The addition and den interior walls and ceilings were painted Metro Grey.
We also updated the guest bathroom countertop and backsplash (originally turquoise ceramic tile) with honed Mont Blanc marble and painted the varnished oak cabinetry black, adding crystal hardware. The brass faucets were replaced with bronze. Walls were painted Metro Grey.
We replaced the dining room fireplace pink granite surround (yes, pink) with 12×24 Carrera marble tile as used in the Master bathroom.
In the kitchen, we replaced the oven, dishwasher, and microwave with Jennair appliances, using the old ones for the addition kitchenette. We wired for a second oven to be installed in the future.
We changed all of the exterior light fixtures using Troy Lighting Forged Iron Greystone seeded glass wall sconces, including the driveway posts and lanterns.
Extensive landscaping was done for the addition including a paver path down to the lower level, tiered retaining walls, fountain installation, new sod at front, side, and back, French drains along the pathway and the property line, and additions to the sprinkler system.
We started the addition and the listed remodels/updates in 2018 with completion in 2019. Here are some before and after photos:
The large clumps of day Lillies (above) were removed and spread as a border to the circular drive center planter (below). Additional plants were added and the border stones replaced. A black iron gate was added to the right side of the garage to fence in the back side yard:
Not showing in picture above – a row of dead arborvitae and gravel to the retaining wall. In addition to the fence for privacy from the neighboring house, we finished the retaining wall. We removed stair access to the deck from below. All of these changes provided better security and safety for little ones and pets in the backyard and on the deck:
Initially, we only removed the wall paper and painted in the Master bedroom and bathroom:
To accommodate the addition and new closet, we moved the bedroom windows from what was the front of the house to the back and brought the bay wall into the room 14″:
“Her” closet is hidden behind a Bookshelf secret door. The California Closet features tilted shoe shelves, gold shoe rails, gold valet rod, drop down pole arms, retractable drawer ironing board, and base trim. The closet drawer pulls are Restoration Hardware Camdon crystal hardware. The grey linen Cambridge boxes are from the Container Store:
We wanted a traditional, luxurious, and timeless look in the bathroom. To achieve that, we mixed metal finishes – Manzoni bronze cabinet hardware, Newport Brass plumbing fixtures in Satin Bronze, Crystorama crystal chandelier lighting in Aged Brass. We wanted the custom vanity cabinets to have a furniture feel, so they are stained and glazed similar to the bedroom furniture. The rich warm color keeps the room from feeling sterile or modern. The towers add additional and useful storage, while hiding electrical outlets. The long vanity sink cabinet was designed to be removable to allow for wheel chair access in future, if necessary. The walls are Metro grey with white in the closets. The slab countertops are Infinity quartzite (also known as Lamberti Bianco), the heated floor field tile is Vestal White Arabesque Mosaic surrounded by Carrera marble 12×24 tiles. The shower walls are beveled subway tiles. We opted for Starphire glass for the curbless floor to ceiling frameless shower to eliminate the green cast:
“His” closet is accessed through the barn door and features a tilt laundry door, shoe shelves, drawers (not pictured washer/dryer and additional suit/pant hanging space:
Not shown, the toilet has privacy behind the shower wall:
The lower level of the addition, used for office space, is a 2 bedroom in-law suite with full bath, kitchenette and additional storage area. The grey cabinets and granite countertop are the same as the Theater Foyer:
For more on the addition of the main level see LOTR Theater.
We also updated the laundry room during the addition build by replacing the green formica countertops with the extra Blueflower leathered slab granite from the addition Kitchenette/Theater Foyer. The walls and ceiling were painted Metro grey. Anaglypta border was used to cover the original green and burgundy fox hunt wallpaper border. Although removed, it left a lot of bumpy glue and paper residue. Covering it with Anaglypta was quicker and easier than sanding, and added a Tudor era detail to the space. A new Kraus undermount SS sink and Moen faucet replaced the original fixtures:
Soon after, we replaced the laundry room vinyl floor with Bedrosian Simply Modern 12×24 Black tile to match the addition hallway and Theater Foyer. Since we added the laundry to the Master bath closet, we left the hook ups here, but removed the washer/dryer. The Anaglypta was painted Metro grey to match the walls. The cabinets, doors and trim were painted white. We also removed the toilet and door to use the space as a wine closet:
The next major project was to work on the kitchen. We removed the upper backsplash (yes, there were two visually competing backsplashes) and trimmed the low hanging detail under the spice drawers of the upper cabinets. We had custom pullout shelves and doors made to fill in the desk area opening (next to the oven wall). We used black paint to correct the high gloss varnish on the kitchen oak cabinetry. Painting also removed the visual conflict between the oak cabinets and the cherry floor. New Restoration Hardware Vintage knobs and pulls in bronze with glass. Along with the cabinets, black paint was applied to the great room fireplace mantel and trim. We decided not to paint the double French doors into the dining room at this time. The walls and ceiling were painted white in the great room, kitchen and dining rooms. The Dining room fireplace wall was painted Zen Retreat. What an incredible improvement from just painting! Future plans were to replace the countertop granite and remaining backsplash.
The results of the last phase gave us the confidence to later move forward with painting the Dining room fireplace mantel and surround. It is hard to know where to stop when painting trim work. We decided not to do any doors except those with the glass transoms. We painted with black the double French doors into the kitchen, the casement wrap into the foyer, the casement wrap into the living room, the stair rail, and the double doors into the den. The color changes really make my seasonal decor pop! In the living room, Zen Retreat was used below the chair rail and the upper walls and ceiling were painted white. Again, what a difference paint can make! We also replaced the stair, hall, and Star Wars room carpet with Mohawk Urban Grandeur Smoke Screen to match the Master bedroom. We opted for the thickest pad available and the Hollywood installation – the carpet wraps tightly around the front edge and is then stapled under the stair nose. The end result is more tailored, professional-looking, and elegant.
The French doors to the dining room are now black and integrate beautifully with the cabinets. The stained glass detail is more pronounced:
The black fireplace surround and mantel now weight the room and softens the contrast with the wall color. Everything on the wall now feels connected instead of disjointed and busy:
The next project was to replace the kitchen island granite with infinity quartzite. Quartzite is the hardest natural stone and perfect for a kitchen application. The color and veining of Infinity nicely replicates Carrera marble, which would be the typical stone of the Tudor period. It made sense to replace the cooktop & downdraft, add a second dishwasher (at the bar area), and second oven at the same time, finishing the Jennair appliances update. Knowing we would have a remnant from the slab, we decided to update one of the upstairs bathrooms. We pulled the drop-in fiberglass tub/shower and replaced it with a custom tile shower. We used similar floor and shower wall materials as in the Master bathroom. We also purchased new light fixtures, faucets, and under mount sink. We added a door to make it ensuite to the nearby bedroom. All the woodwork was painted white and the walls Metro Grey.
To finish the Kitchen, the next project was replacing the remaining countertops. To keep the island quartzite the star, we opted for honed leathered Absolute Black Granite with honed Carrera marble 4×12 subway tile backsplash with pencil border. We chose a single bowl Elkay 16G SS 30x16x10 sink and Newport Brass SS faucets (same collection as used in the Master bathroom). The window trim at the sink was painted black to better integrate it to the cabinets and countertop. This also allowed filling in a gap at the trim and countertop created by changing from 2cm granite to 3cm quartzite. At the same time, we updated the other upstairs bathroom (Jack & Jill Star Wars bathroom) using the honed leathered absolute granite to replace the tile countertop. The vinyl flooring was replaced with a porcelain hexagon penny tile that looks like Carrera marble. The material keeps it looking traditional, but the shape adds a little modern touch. New under mount sinks and faucets finish out the room.
first upstairs bathroom update:
second upstairs bathroom update:
We next added new carpet to the two upstairs bedrooms. The first room connects to the renovated ensuite bathroom above.
The second bedroom connects to the Star Wars bathroom (Jack and Jill set up with bathroom between two bedrooms). We wanted this room to be a modern guest room with a subtle nod to coordinate with the ensuite Dark Side bathroom. The main colors of white and gray feel fresh and current. The black and touch of red move the eye around the room. The bed wall was painted Zen Retreat and the other walls, ceiling, and trim were painted white. The black Cayman headboard and platform bed give a solid backdrop to the Eastern Accent Percival pillows. The wall lamps continue the modern look and the white lampshades pop against the dark gray wall. Below are small black metal side tables. The canvas artwork from a distance looks like snowy mountains. However, a closer look reveals Star Wars ships and vehicles. Simple floral arrangements of white and black leaves fill the large white spaces and add drama in the window box and from black and red floor vases.
For more on the connecting Star Wars Themed Bedroom see here.
The final project in the house was to replace the front door. It was installed in November 2021. We went from a single stained wood door with two side lights (see above pictures) to a double arched iron door from Big Horn Iron Doors and installed by Anderson Door & Window Mechanics. The arch balances with the arched Dining room window, visible from the Foyer. It was customized by adding the large clavos (nail head detail), arching the lower design box, a larger handle, and adding a twist to a few bars. These changes helped it coordinate with the exterior Troy lighting as well as the Theater Foyer and door details. The glass doors are Flemish glass and coordinate nicely with the stained glass transoms nearby. An unexpected bonus is more light coming into the foyer. The change brought cohesiveness with the other black details and stained glass transoms in the den and dining room, while adding much more design interest inside and out.
It took 6.5 years from date of purchase to complete everything described, but honestly, that is actually faster than we expected. (The only original finishes remaining are the main level cherry wood floor and carpet upstairs in two bedrooms and the bonus room. The only deferred maintenance left is resurfacing the asphalt driveway.) We remembered our goal with every change to “do right by the house.” We took our time between projects for planning and cash flow. We felt the addition brought balance to the exterior and the dark paint on the garage doors made them less visually obtrusive. The result is a centered front door, where the focus should be. Repeating finishes from the addition into the laundry room gave connection to opposite ends of the house and made the addition seem like it had always been there instead of an afterthought. Repeating the paint, flooring and countertop elements throughout brought a cohesiveness to the interior. The finishes feel traditional for the Tudor style and at the same time, not dated. The spaces are now upscale, calming, and neutral without losing interest (using grey as a neutral color is a fairly modern approach, but we found it works in a traditional setting as well). We are happy we made all the changes and are enjoying the home immensely.
Thank You to the following for your help in making our ideas a reality:
Terrill Allen, Allen & None Designs
BK Marek Construction for the addition and Master Bedroom remodel
Cudahy Lumber/Abbey Floor & Carpet for all project phases
Mitzy Kondo, Umpqua Bank
David Kimmer, Mortgage Advisor, Finance of America Mortgage