Renovating the hallway

Once the hall bathroom and nursery were finished, we decided to start renovating our main hallway along the side of the house where the bedrooms are.  As an added excuse, we knew there had been some water damage in the wall that is shared with the atrium, so this would give us a chance to replace the (probably moldy on the inside) drywall and repair any wood studs that had rotted.  I guess this renovation technically started when we upgraded the lights to these (which we purchased from another Eichler owner at a garage sale:

original eichler lights

Andy did the demo (walls and tile floor) and then fixed some of the studs.  We added an electrical receptacle in the middle of the hallway and on the other side of the hallway wall in the atrium.  Andy also had a great idea to convert the hall closet into a pantry.  For a while, we had been using the left side of it as a pantry anyway, so we knew the concept worked well for us:


We were using the right side to hang jackets, so we had to give up that feature.  However, we have hooks by the atrium door where we keep any highly used jacket and keep the rest in our master closet (and we live in California, so a true “coat closet” isn’t a real necessity).

Andy is a HUGE fan of storage and was always annoyed that the closet doors didn’t go to the ceiling so there was a lot of wasted space (I don’t feel so strongly about the matter).  We purchased an Akurum system at Ikea in a Birch finish (which has since been replaced by the Sektion system) and installed it where the hall closet had been.  It worked pretty well to install 3 units side-by-side- I think it was within 2″ (a little narrower) than the original opening).  This was the most efficient use of space without having custom built-ins.  They’re super deep, but still left about 6″ of empty space behind them.  We plan to use that space to expand our master closet (when we get around to it).  We decided to go all-out with slide-out shelves in the left cabinet which serves as our pantry.  The center cabinet has mostly regular stationary (but adjustable) shelves and houses paper goods, fancy glassware, my mixer and alcohol (up high on a slide-out shelf… we moved it to there from the credenza in the dining room once Nadine started crawling- I’m guessing it will stay there forever), and the right side cabinet is empty except for some command hooks and houses cleaning supplies like the vacuum, broom and mop.  All of the upper cabinets just have shelves and store surplus goods from Costco and things we don’t use often (like the vacuum attachments and light bulbs).  We can really store a TON of stuff in here, and I love the pull-out drawers which make it easy to reach everything (the pull out “basket” type wire drawer doesn’t glide nearly as smoothly as the rest- but it’s a lot cheaper and I thought it would be good for onions and stuff, but we store those on our kitchen counter).  I should mention that this system was not cheap.  I think it was about $1700 total and was definitely the largest portion of the renovation cost in the hallway.  We probably could have built something ourselves for a lot less money, but it would have taken a LOT of time… and as it was, this whole project took over a year to complete!



As you can see, I’m not going to win any awards for a beautifully organized and labeled pantry, but it’s pretty easy to find every thing, we have lots of storage, and apparently no shortage of booze!  Plus everything below 3 feet has to be toddler friendly, which is an evolving standard as Nadine gets taller and smarter (she just figured out how to open the tupperware holding the rice.. and looking at this picture, I feel like the martini glasses will be within reach soon too.

After installing the pantry, Andy hung the new drywall.  Given that we had an infant at the time and we knew that taping and mudding drywall was very time-consuming and too loud to do during nap time, we smartly decided to hire this job out (we had the guest room done at the same time as well).  I think this was a good decision.  If I look closely, I can see some of the seams, which isn’t ideal-but with smooth walls, I know first hand that this is an insanely difficult task.  My sister is also having her walls dry-walled smooth and has a similar feeling… we agree that if you look closely at most smooth walls, you can see the seams.  I do think the hallway and guest room look better than the office which is the first and largest room that Andy and I dry-walled completely by ourselves.  I think I did a better job in the hall bath than the professional we paid (I can’t see any seams in there), but that room was much smaller and took a LOT of time for Andy and me to do.  I’m glad that I invested the time in cuddling with infant Nadine rather than sanding drywall (plus, it resulted in a shorter time over which the house was covered in dust).  In the future, I think we’ll have larger rooms professionally dry-walled, but we’ll probably use the guy my sister is using (he’s cheaper and his work seems slightly better).

I caulked the grooves in the ceiling (which is super tedious and uses a TON of my favorite caulk which we now buy by the case, but we think it looks good) and then Andy installed the crown molding.  Then I painted the ceiling flat white.  I painted the walls light gray (surprise) which was a custom color.  I was very slow in choosing a color because we want to use the same color in the dining room and living room as well, so I wanted it to be just right.  I started by getting some samples at Home Depot but they were all too dark, so I started mixing my own samples (basically adding white to the ones we had with different ratios).  When I created a color I was happy with, I took it to Home Depot to have them color match it with their computer, which produces a code that makes it reproducible in the future.  To be extra super sure I liked it, I had another test can made, took it home and painted a big swatch.  Then I finally committed to the color and painted the walls and the crown.

Then came the floors and baseboards, which are super easy/fun to do when you have a nail gun! We came home from work early one day and Andy cut the pieces outside with his chop saw while I nailed them in- we got the whole thing done in about an hour! Oh, and I learned that although these come pre-primed, it’s best to paint them first before installing (which goes very quickly when you have everything set up on saw horses in the garage), then install, then fill the holes with WHITE wood putty (SO much easier to paint over than wood-toned!), sand and caulk the wall seam, then just touch-up over the putty and caulk with another coat of paint.  That process was done over a series of many weeks, mostly during Nadine’s nap on the weekends.

Since the concrete floors are a bit slippery and the hallway is a prime stretch for an always-running toddler, we decided we needed some sort of rug in there.  We also hoped that adding some textile would dampen the noise (especially the noise that comes around 2am from Nadine’s room… still… ).  I first tried to find a “runner” rug on (where I got the area rug in Nadine’s room), but there were none that were long enough for our 30′ hallway.  I also looked in the local Target, Home Goods, TJ Maxx and on and and found nothing long enough.  Then I found the jackpot- !  They sell carpet squares that you can customize to any shape and size you want.  I found them when browsing pictures of this beautiful nursery/kids room.  They are also WASHABLE in the sink or dishwasher (which will probably be very useful since this area sees a lot toddler, husband and dog of traffic) and can be replaced if needed.  The down side is that they tend to look a bit industrial (coincidentally, my office was just re-carpeted with carpet squares, which makes me acutely aware of this fact).  I started by ordering a bunch of samples ($2 each including shipping).  I was still torn when I saw they were having a special where you could order 3 samples for free.  I got 3 more and Andy got 3 more… plus a few.  Somehow we ended up with a LOT of samples.  We kept them because Nadine likes to play with them and we plan to use them to carpet her future “fort” in the back yard.


We finally decided on Sew What in Chalk.  I really liked the texture of “Like Minded“, but the colors were a bit light and I worried they would get dirty quickly in such a high traffic area.

SewWhat SewWhatCloseUp

I was pretty sure for a while but was waiting around for them to have a sale.  We must have set off some sort of trigger, because someone at the Flor store in San Francisco emailed me and asked if he could help me decide by drawing some pictures for me!  I sent him the dimensions and the style we were leaning towards and he emailed me back some mock-up drawings the next day.  He suggested we go with a strip that was 1.5 tiles wide, but his drawings confirmed for us that configuration would look weird.  So we stuck with our initial plans to do a 1-tile wide strip down the center of the hallway.  Once their summer sale started (20% off) I ordered enough for the full length of the hallway plus 2 tiles.  I must not have looked closely at the size, because we were about 4″ short on each end of the hallway.  Rather than cut one of our spare tiles, we decide to just keep it that way, which I think looks great.


This is the current view from the bed in our master bedroom.  The thing I like the most is how clean the ceiling looks.  After years (including a pregnancy and maternity leave) of staring at a water-stained ceiling and heavily textured walls, I really appreciate how nice and smooth it looks now (plus I caulked the whole thing myself and am pretty proud of it!)  You can see here that we had to leave a little bit of the baseboards un-finished until we tackle the dining room floor and walls.

Overall, the hallway feels much lighter and more open now.  It’s actually an inch or so wider too because we removed 2 layers of (heavily textured) drywall and replaced them with one smooth layer.  We went from mirrored closet doors to the birch pantry doors, but I think that was a great decision.  The mirrors combined with all of the glass and the unusual layout of our house was confusing and made it feel like a circus fun-house.

After a month or so, the carpet is holding up very well, and has no signs of wear!  The FLOR tiles don’t slip at all and I think the dampen the noise a bit (or maybe I’m so exhausted that I can sleep through more noise?).  After about 1.5 years, the Ikea cabinets are also holding up really well.  We still have to re-hang some pictures, and will probably add some more art to the walls (maybe hang a quilt on the wall to further dampen more noise?).

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