Before & After: Gray's Sporty and Historic Cottage

Before & After: Gray's Sporty and Historic Cottage

(Image credit: Lindsay Ribe)
(Image credit: Submitted by Gray)

Before — Click through to see The Big Reveal!

(Image credit: Submitted by Gray)

After — Scroll down to vote for this entry!

(Image credit: Submitted by Gray)
(Image credit: Submitted by Gray)

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Richmond, VA
U.S. Renter
My room makeover::
I am an architectural historian and when I saw the Tucker Cottage for rent, I begged my boyfriend Garrett to move in. The Cottage was built in 1798 and lives up to its name- the whole first floor is only 500 square feet! Garrett loved the idea of sitting on the same porch where people heard the news about Napoleon, or Lincoln, or Churchill, and being in a home where generations raised families. But that made the makeover so much more difficult. We couldn't change anything structural, and had to work with existing historic materials- like very finicky plaster walls. We wanted a finished, put-together look that respected the history but also showed our personalities. The whole process took about two weeks. We started working on the room in stages, trying to "live" in each one to see how it felt. We had the luxury of moving in slowly, so first we painted, then put one or two big pieces in, then added more. The biggest expenses were paint, plaster, and cleaning supplies- it was filthy!
My makeover advice::
Measure, measure, measure! We cried a little (then laughed!) when we couldn't get some of our furniture in the front door, much less up the tiny, twisting corner stair. It was critical to measure each piece of furniture and also everything we hung on the walls to make sure it would fit. The space had its own rules and we eventually just gave up and worked with it. Can't argue with something that's been there for 217 years.
What I love most about my new space::
I love that nearly everything in the space is something we found, made, or were given. The curtains were made out of lengths of cheap undyed muslin and gold safety pins, held up by hardware store dowel rods. Our music stand is an old dictionary cart we found discarded on the side of the road. Even the beautiful 1920's hall tree where we keep the sports equipment was given to us by a friend. It's a different sort of history, one that tells a story of our lives.
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