Interiorssneak peeks

Updates Around Our House Part 2: Upstairs

by Grace Bonney

Earlier this week I shared an update on all that we’ve been working on downstairs at our new (but very old) home. We’ve only been here for four months, but we really wanted to push to finish a few projects right away. The biggest of those projects was repairing and re-drywalling our upstairs hallway and ceiling because they were covered in rotting wallpaper and portions were exposed, leaving insulation, wires and other nasty bits out in the open. So once we had that project out of the way, we let paint do the heavy lifting of finishing the second floor and we plan on taking our time to do the rest. No matter how long it takes us to get the upstairs “finished,” Julia and I both feel so happy and grateful to have room to welcome our friends and family. Click through to see what we’ve done so far… xo, grace

At the top of the stairs: I wish I had a before pic, but we weren't able to get a shot before this hallway was opened up. We hired a local contractor to open this hallway from what was once a small 3.25-foot opening to what is now about a 7-foot opening. It made a HUGE difference and really brightened things up. We painted all the hallway doors black (BM Onyx) and the walls are BM French Canvas with BM White Dove. The rug is my favorite antique Iranian runner from Nightwood in Brooklyn. We plan on covering this section of the hallway, and the section behind, with Julia's parents' collection of antique egg prints.
To the left of the top of the stairs (previous pic) is our bedroom. When we moved in the floors had been painted yellow many times over the years. We decided to let paint do most of the work here, too.
We painted the walls BM French Canvas, the trim BM White Dove and the floor a standard porch paint white. We painted our "headboard" wall BM Onyx and the big purchase for this room was the pink and white striped rug from Dash & Albert. Julia made our faux-bedframe by combining three pieces of pine from Lowes with L-brackets to hide the mattress. The bench is from Julia's family's Passover table and the artwork is an old papercut I found at Hammertown in Rhinebeck. (The tiny bed on the floor is Hope's.)
This is our only closet in the bedroom and it looks like it was added on, but never finished. So Julia tackled this project all on her own.
Julia painted the walls and floors white, added three shelves on the left side and a hanging bar for clothes. I ordered a small sisal rug on Amazon and cut it to fit in place, since the floors were never properly finished in the closet. Now, with all of Julia's button-ups it looks like a tiny Steven Alan dressing room - I sort of love it.
This is the upstairs bathroom, which was added on/renovated when the kitchen was done, probably around 15 years ago. The floors are amazing, the tub is a dream and frankly, not much needs to be done to this room. We only made a few small changes.
We painted (same colors/trim as hallway and bedroom) and I added a small rug (I think this room needs a bigger one, for sure) from Genevieve Gorder's collection and my favorite antique mirror I found at Kill Devil Hills in Greenpoint a few years back. One of my favorite Paula Greif pottery pieces is holding a fern. I love to keep ferns in the bathroom because they do well in the extra humidity from baths and showers. Eventually we're going to hang the mirror and get new sconces, but it all works fine for now, so we're leaving it as-is.
The tiny nook next to the sink held a small, freestanding bookshelf that had seen better days. So we replaced it with shelves that Julia built from leftover wood we had. We plan on adding fronts to cover the supports, but for now they're functional and fine. We picked up a few striped baskets at Target to hold our toiletries and a bigger basket from Ikea for extra towels under the shelves.
This is the standing shower we use and it's kind of hidden behind the door. We added a plus-sign shower curtain from Target and called it a day. The hooks were from Brooklyn, we bought them at an antiques shop a while back. (The sconce in the hallway is from Schoolhouse Electric.)
At the top of the stairs (first photo) directly to the right is the previous owner's daughters' room. We thought about it and decided it would be nice to turn into Julia's home office because it gets so much light and will give her plenty of space to lay out pages for the cookbooks she's working on.
We painted the floor white (it was yellow before, like our bedroom) and put down my old Madeline Weinrib rug we used to use in the living room in Brooklyn. Jack from Vernacular Design helped us turn Julia's old filing cabinets into a 16-foot long desk with a piece of plywood added to the top. Julia made the sculpture on the wall from old packing tubes!
Our home used to be a guest house, so there are several rooms on the second floor that probably would have been subdivided into even smaller spaces before. The drywall in all of these rooms looks like it was done in the last 10-15 years, so I have a feeling the previous owner opened what was probably 5-6 guest rooms and turned them into 3. This is the first on the right, before.
We painted pretty much everything upstairs the same two colors: BM French Canvas (walls) and BM White Dove (trim). We bought inexpensive beds with built-in storage at IKEA (note: the HARDEST BEDS TO ASSEMBLE EVER, AVOID THEM!) because this room doesn't have a closet. We're still waiting and saving up to finish these rooms, but at least they're all painted and cleaned up now.
This is the second guest room on the right, before. The drywall had recently been redone (I think because of a leak, we can tell that might be an issue with the back two rooms) but hadn't been painted yet.
We painted this room the same as the others and Julia and I made quick DIY padded headboards using fabric I ordered from Etsy. We got basic plywood cut to size and then attached foam and batting and staple-gunned the whole thing together. We used IKEA curtains and a plain dowel to make a quick closet curtain.
Between the back two bedrooms is this small hallway and staircase that leads to the attic. When we moved in, this entire section of the house was covered in rotting wallpaper and the ceiling was ripped open and exposed because of a squirrel problem.
We hired a contractor right after we moved in to remove all the damaged walls and ceiling portions and re-drywall them. It was the most expensive project but was well worth it. Those exposed ceiling parts and old insulation falling out (filled with mouse droppings, yuck) were really gross and weren't safe to keep for long. These walls were painted BM French Canvas, too.
We painted all the doors in the house BM Onyx and lucked out because most of the doors already had antique doorknobs still in them. They don't fit properly (they're each about 2 inches too long for the doors), but they look nice for now.
This is the last bedroom, on the far back left side of the house. It's been our problem room because we know we have a carpenter ant and possibly wasp issue brewing somewhere in here. We found dead insects (and mold, ugh) in here and the pest company can't deal with them fully until spring when they'll come out of hibernation. Not looking forward to that...
We added the same IKEA bed to this room, made a DIY headboard using mudcloth I bought on Etsy and used the same IKEA curtains to cover the closet (none of the closets had doors). We had five friends come stay with us a few weeks ago and have just gotten around to finishing up the laundry, but I always drag my feet with these duvet covers.
Julia used leftover wood to make a tiny hanging side table/box for this room, since you can't fit much behind that door and still open it. I had the small white branch lamp from a few years ago and it fits perfectly in that tiny corner space.

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  • Wowza – you’ve got bedrooms for days! Quite different from living in Brooklyn ;) It’s so great to see all of the work you two are putting into the house and it’s amazing what a few small changes (like paint – especially on the floor) can truly change the whole feel of the room. Much love to you both on this awesome project :)

  • Love this! I want to make the faux bedframe for my queen boxspring–I really feel that the bed is at the perfect height this way, on the floor. So it’s just 3-sided, with 2 L-brackets at the foot end? Is it tacked to the head of the bed or wall in any way?

    Congratulations on the ongoing progress!

  • Love the black wall in the bedroom! Where are the roman shades from? I’ve been looking for some. IKEA used to have great roman shades, but no longer…

  • Grace! I left a comment when you first bought this beautiful house about your realtor for Ulster County. I’d actually really, really love to chat with you offline (somehow?) if possible about commuting life, Upstate food writing work (I know that’s Julia’s wheelhouse) and transitioning. I’ll explain more but… I’m at sara.b.franklin@gmail.com if you have a moment and want to drop a line!
    All best, and looking forward

    • hi sara!

      sadly julia and i are both on book deadlines right now and don’t have a ton of time for consulting at this moment, but i can tell you that this move was the best decision we’ve made so far.

      we don’t commute daily, but once a week or every other week we drive or take the trailways bus into the city for meetings or to see friends. it’s an easy 2 hour ride right into port authority.

      grace :)

  • Grace–the house looks fantastic. You really have a great start to an amazing place. My question–what sheen of onyx are you using on your doors? I am worried that something too shiny will highlight all of the imperfections in mine, but hesitate to use flat. They look so good in your photographs!

    • hi joy!

      we used semi-gloss. i don’t mind highlighting imperfections (our house is full of weird angles, dings and holes) so i would have gone for glossy (but they didn’t have it at Home Depot). but semi is great :)


  • Love everything, beautiful and serine. The furnishings Julia built are especially wonderful. Enjoy it! However…
    Where’s the wallpaper? Not even the closet interior?

  • I love the way it looks so fresh and simple . I am very very jealous of Julia’s enormous desk and may just pinch that idea. !! At the moment it’s a total disaster area on my house for the last 7 (! ) months ( we have had a bird mite infestation that still hasn’t gone completely even though we had 3 fumigations – and tecently we had two huge leaks and the house is full of de/ humidifiers plus diataceous earth against the mites so it looks more like a squat than a house ) so I enjoy your house instead if my own immensely right now look forward to being able to create and draw and craft which is it an option right now . I love the cushions you made with the fabrics and the headboards .

  • You two must be working at breakneck speed to create this beautiful home. So warm and wonderful!
    Wishing you much happiness in the years to come and with the memories you’ll create.

  • I love the black doors. It’s something I’ve thought about for my own house. I would first need to tackle (or not) painting all the real tongue and groove wood paneling in the house. Do you have an opinion on painting real wood paneling? Anyone? I’m for painting it because we don’t have any over head lighting (old house problems!). My boyfriend thinks it would be blasphemous. Anyway, the house is coming along and I love seeing the updates!

    • hi mollie

      i think it’s your house, so you should do what makes you happy. if painting it feels right, go for it :)

      back in the 1800s, painted floors were the rage, so the idea of painting over wood wasn’t always unpopular. i think if the wood is super high quality, leave it. but if it’s not, feel free to paint.


  • Hi Grace! So lovely! Where did you get the stripped bedding in the master bedroom? Do you have a favorite resource for quality, affordable bedding? Thanks for your daily inspiration!

  • Oh the clawfoot tub is so beautiful! And look at the size of those rooms, so beautiful! This is the motivation I need to do the much needed updates in my tiny house. Thanks for sharing.

  • I can’t believe how much you have accomplished in such a short amount of time! It looks fantastic. I would love advice (maybe a future post?) on looking for things like fabric on Etsy. I know there are beautiful options there, but I get overwhelmed by the vast selection. Your choices are wonderful.

  • I am loving following your progress on the house! Can you give the etsy source for that dotted fabric for the headboard?

    Also, I noticed that your flat weave rugs seem to be shifting and bunching in a lot of the photos, does that drive you crazy? Is there a good solution to it? I’m having the same issue with a flat weave in my bedroom.

    • martina

      YES. they are annoying. i’ve found it takes about a month for them to be totally flat after the bunching of shipping. so i let them do their thing and then re-straighten them. these are all only about 3 weeks old, so they’re do for a smoothing out :)


  • As a note I have the daybed version of that bed. It was difficult for me (a skilled Ikea person) only because I had limited space and was by myself (the back panel is like a full foot longer than I am tall), but I’d say the size of those drawers make up for any difficulty of assembly. Totally loving the black doors!! If my doors were painted I’d definitely do something like that.

  • hi Grace!

    Beautiful renovation you’ve done so far. Do you mind sharing the Etsy shop where you bought the fabric for those awesome DIY headboards?


  • Love, love it!
    I am fairly new to design sponge, my favourite posts are these. I am really enjoying seeing a real home renovation. You have managed to do so much in these few months. Inspirational. Thanks so much for sharing.
    Jen (undertaking a much slower renovation in Manchester, UK!)

  • We have a nice Captain’s Bed with drawers underneath that we LOVE (especially living in Brooklyn and having little storage space). It is a bit more pricey than the Ikea models but it’s a sturdy plywood that you can get in different finishes. Plus, they deliver and assemble it for you. Just in case you’re ever looking for another that you won’t have to put together! http://www.gothiccabinetcraft.com/queen-captains-bed-with-6-drawers-on-metal-tracks-in-birch/

  • Agree about the IKEA Brimnes beds being horrific to assemble! We got one, and it took us three full days, plus help from a handyman to get it together. Then one of the storage drawers broke. Avoid avoid avoid!

  • I would never have thought to paint the doors black, but I really like them! And congrats on getting so much done so fast, we bought an old house around the same time and ours is still a total construction zone. I am super impressed by (and jealous of) all your progress!

  • I think you did a wonderful job updating and modernizing while maintaining the original feel.

    I get a strong feeling of lived-in, comfortable and relaxing, which is exactly what I’d want from a vacation place.

  • What kind of top coat/sealer are you using for the painted floors? And are you using just regular paint (semi gloss)?

    I love these transformation posts. Your house is charming.

  • I was just about to comment and ask for the fabric sources but knew I should check the comments first. Thanks for sharing the sources! I love those prints you found, especially the dots. Looking forward to a post about fabric shopping on etsy too! That’ll be a good one. Loved seeing more photos of your home. You are both doing such a great job.

  • Great job, so far! Your carpenter ant problem? Eliminate branches that are touching the house, they migrate from nests in the trees to the house. And you might be able to avoid pesticides etc… to rid yourself of them pretty easily. :)

  • That is EXACTLY how I want to build my office desk! I wasn’t sure if the filing cabinets would be the correct height though; so I’m glad to see they do in fact work! Thanks for sharing.

  • Wow, you guys have gotten so much done in such a short time period! I know how long even “simple” home projects like painting take. It still feels homey even though everything is in a really simple transitional place. Even though the bathroom changes were small, it made a huge impact on the feel of the room! Very inspirational!

  • The updates of your home are probably my new favorite thing about the blog. They are so incredibly inspiring. I love how you’re showing us all the nitty gritty, all the growing pains, all the beautiful results. It helps me to remember my home is a work in progress and it’s okay to have rooms in a state of flux. It can get hard to keep that in mind when I’m addicted to blogs showing off “perfect” homes. :)

    MORE MORE MORE of your house!!

  • What a lovely and magical house! It shows through even without it being “done”. :) Also, I hope your skunk friends aren’t causing any more problems… <:)

  • I love your home ! You must be very hard workers to finish it all so quick. These updates are my favourite on your blog right now. Will there be posts about the garden and surroundings too?

  • Hi Grace! love love love the posts from upstate – some of my favorites that you guys put out (love all posts of course!) Thank you for showing us into your home! It’s beautiful!

    My question is – we saw Julia’s office but what about yours? Congrats on the move! :)

    • hi katy!

      i don’t actually like working in an office. i work on the kitchen counter, dining table and on the couch. i know, terrible for posture, but it’s how i work best :)


  • thank you so much for sharing– I love seeing the progress. very inspiring and authentic. I hope someday I find my own new old home and my julia or grace :o) best of luck with the rest of the reno. It must feel so nice to have a forever home in a beautiful place. (ps so sad to hear the warning about that ikea bedframe! was going to buy it)

  • so happy for you two, what a lovely home. The things you’ve done have made it great! Thank you for always sharing, it feels like i’ve been there!

  • @Martina and @grace I work in the rug industry and recommend using rug pads, especially for flatweaves. Rug pads help to prevent shifting, ripples and your rugs from bowing. A good quality rug pad will have a rough side that clings to your rug and a rubber side that “sticks” to your floor. Just order one that is 2″ smaller than your rug, place your rug on top than smooth out the rug to remove the ripples. From then on out you should be fine!

  • I don’t often navigate straight from a post to a purchase but that shower curtain is exactly what I’ve been looking for. Thanks for sharing (hate shopping at box stores but some things are really hard to source anywhere else)!

  • Your new home is beautiful! I have enjoyed each update. I’m so impressed by how much of the work you and Julia have done on your own — very inspiring. I also just got around to reading your post on negativity/commenting and want to thank you for it. Your goodness always shines through. Thank you, Grace!

  • Hi Grace,
    Your house looks wonderful. I’ve just purchased a house in Kerhonksen and am looking for a good contractor to do work similar to the work you’ve done already. Did you work with an architect? Or is there a contractor you could recommend? Congratulations on the lovely, lovely home.

    • Hi Barbara

      Congrats! Welcome to the neighborhood :)

      Our contractor is moving to Florida, so sadly I don’t have a new replacement yet. I’ll let you know when I do :(


  • Grace, your home is so so stunning! I love the community (or support group) around owning an old house. I am just curious–what space was given up to more than double the hallway width?

    • thanks kj!

      there was a beam there, so the wall was extended to hide that (i think). we hired a contractor to move the beam to the edge of the wall (so it’s still structurally sound and holds the weight it needs to) and then opened it up as far as we could from there.


  • Such a lovely home! I’m turning a bedroom into a home office in my own upstate NY home, so I really appreciate seeing Julia’s office.

    How does she handle the light streaming through the windows?
    I don’t see shades or blinds. It’s something I’m trying to figure out.

    I love facing the window but with a southern exposure and light streaming in most of the day, I’m trying to decide whether it’s worth it, if I have to cover the view somewhat.

    Any advise?

  • I so love your choice of paint color for all the doors and walls. AND all of your linens and headboard fabrics. I watched your “make your own headboard” awhile back and have been thinking about it, now that I see what Julia did for the bottom of your bed, think I’ll start there and graduate up. ;) what a great idea. p.s. must be SO fun to have space for your friends to stay after living in Brooklyn for so long!

  • Oh your home is coming along sooooooo nicely. I love the classic aesthetic you’re bringing in, with those lovely fabric touches to create surprises as you round each corner, or open each door.

    What a process. I have some things in my home from Nightwood, and they too are some of my favorites. I had a dear old chair I carried home on my head (!!) a million years ago that Nadia dyed and reupholstered. Also with a natural rubber cushion to sit on (total happy dance). Julia’s office is fantastic, btw…

    I can’t wait to see what is next! (the garden, once it gets warm, finally??)

  • I just looked at this post again and the comments. Source for shelf design in bathroom?? IKEA or designed by Julia? Thanks

  • I really love the plywood-filing cabinet desk in Julia’s office! Do you think it’s possible to DIY one?

  • Hi Grace! I’m not sure if you’re still checking comments on this post…I hope so cause I’d love to get your input on the BM paint you used. What was the finish? (matte, eggshell, etc.) I feel that’s a basic 101 paint question, but I’m a paint newbie and would love to hear from the DS queen. :)

    • hi robyn!

      we used eggshell on the walls and semi-gloss on the trim :)

      if we had kids i would have used semi-gloss, because it’s easier to clean. but it’s just us and we don’t touch the walls much so eggshell (which is hard to clean and impossible to patch re-paint) is fine for our needs.


  • Hi Grace! Thanks for sharing! I realize this is an old post, but was curious where your bedroom window treatments are from, the white roman shades. I love them and am looking for something similar.


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