Renovation: The Den

Updated: May 3

Welcome back to my home renovation blog series! This week we're looking at the den, which is right beside the new kitchen. To see our other projects in this house, start here.


The den in this house was originally very brown. Dark hardwood floors and chocolate brown wall paint, along with distressed, teal doors made it feel small and closed off. I actually liked the paint color a lot, but I really wanted to open and lighten up the space.


Here are some "before" photos. The door to the right goes out to the garage. The door that opens to light blue cabinets went to the laundry room. The small, white doors to the left opened to the kitchen.

This wall separated the kitchen, laundry, and den. The kids loved the little doors between the kitchen and den. They wanted to keep them to play restaurant!

Tearing out those baseboard heating units and finding new ways to heat the space was a bit of a challenge. The house has a boiler system. Our HVAC guy helped us figure it out though, and we decided to add vents under the kitchen cabinets. Now, we needed to decide what to do with this fireplace and ceiling.

The ceiling was covered with small, square tiles. The original beveled-wood floors were discolored in areas, so we had them refinished to match the rest of the wood floors in the house.


*While I like the way this beveled edge looks on the floor, I wouldn't choose it because it's very difficult to keep clean. Dirt falls in the cracks and is a hassle to get out. It's also different from the wood floors in the rest of the house, making this space unique.

We repainted these doors, which had been distressed for a farmhouse look, replaced the light fixtures, and tore out the main wall.

That really brightened up the space because so much sunlight comes in through the big windows in the kitchen.

We decided it was worth it to put new drywall on the ceiling. We had to take down the ceiling lights at this point, so with the dark brown floor and walls, it was pretty hard to see in there. Some old work lights really helped, but they also raised the temperature in the room by around 10 degrees!

After we painted the ceilings, we installed the new light fixtures and new crown molding to match what's in the rest of the house.

My husband and I had a bit of a disagreement over what to do with the fireplace. He doesn't think brick should ever be painted, but I knew whitewashing it would make it a great focal point and add the finishing touch we needed. I eventually won him over because it's an investment property and most potential buyers in today's market will agree with me. I just had to figure out how to do it...


So, from my perspective, this is the highlight of the den! The whitewashed fireplace! It was not as difficult or scary as we expected. We just had to wash it really well first, then figure out our technique. Thankfully, the mantle was in excellent shape, so we left it as it was. This picture also shows the floor that was refinished.

This is the (almost) finished look! We repainted the crown molding and matched the trim to the rest of the woodwork.

This huge, brown couch isn't my favorite, but it works for now. (I LOVED it when I picked it out ten years ago, but it has not worn well.) The kids like to eat granola bars and drink juice on it, so a big, fluffy, washable blanket keeps it clean. Sort of. And having a big, old couch definitely helps me relax and not stress over spills. To me, that's worth sacrificing perfect design. (For now, anyway.)


We put our old kitchen table at the back of the room to use as an arts and crafts table. (It also expands to provide extra seating for social gatherings.) Next to the door is Chester's crate. Again - lots of rugs are down because we're waiting for the finishing touches on the hardwood floors. Hopefully that will come soon!

The new TV is mounted and the new decorations make it so cozy. The white framed art on the wall is from art projects our children have done. The pictures can be easily changed out, so we can update them any time we want. The painting above the table is by Dr. Stotzer, the brother of the man who originally built this house. We've also put high-powered air-filters (beside the chair) throughout the house to help with our allergies to dust and all the new-construction materials, which we discovered were making us chronically sick with cold-like symptoms. Opening the windows regularly and running these air filters has helped us clear up the stubborn coughing and congestion.


We also just ordered custom shades for the French doors to help filter sunlight during the times when the sun shines in so brightly that it's hard to see.


Lastly, here is the view of the renovated kitchen from the den. We carried the paint and trim colors through from the kitchen into the den. I freshened up the couch with the washable, fluffy, gray blanket (from www.paws.com) and some pillow covers.


The rug under the bar stools is from ruggable.com. I like that it can pull the cover off and throw it in the wash. The only thing I don't love is that the corners tend to pop up when small children are bee-bopping over it all day. Otherwise, it helps to protect that seam in the floor and keep things clean. ish. And as a mother of little ones, I'll call that a win.


To help our family stay organized, I put a calendar and notes system on the side of the refrigerator cabinet. That's where we keep things like the school lunch menu, invitations, and our family calendar.


We also ordered plantation shutters for the kitchen. During the afternoon, the sun can shine in so brightly that it's almost impossible to be in the kitchen! We hope to have them installed soon.

Thanks for checking out my project! If you like it, please consider sharing it with others you think will like it. Also, take a second to click that little red heart in the bottom, right corner. Thanks for reading!


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General Contractor: Graber Custom Renovations, Steve Graber

Hardwood Floor Refinishing: Harms Hardwood, Eric Parker

Painting: me, Caylin Benson, Jeri Lynn Boger, and Mark Peterson

Paint colors: Benjamin Moore Silver Shadow and Elephant Tusk, plus a basic white on the fireplace and ceiling

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