Finishing Touch(es)

Writer Jennifer Strange documents her studs-to shingles remodel in Jacksonville: The final installment

Have you ever heard it said that home decor is like jewelry? It's like adding the perfect scarf and shoes to a great dress. Or your best watch and cuff links to a suit.

That's what my husband, Terry Moore, and I have been doing in these final stages of restoring our 1920 Cape Cod cottage in Jacksonville.

We've been through the hard slogs: the financing, the cleanup/haul-away of all the garbage that once filled the neglected house and yard, demolishing every wall in the 1,180-square-foot home (and most of the ceilings, too), the remodel designs, the permitting, finding our subcontractors, managing the six-month restoration "…

Finally, it's time to dress the house up and have a nice dinner!

When the time came for accessorizing, every room was spic and span. The honey-colored, freshly restored Douglas fir floors shone underfoot. The walls had just been painted in a palette of neutrals and blues. The custom, Mission-inspired baseboards, trim and casings sparkled in semigloss white. Brand-new cabinets stood proudly. And repurposed, single-panel doors all boasted a refreshing coat of paint.

Wow, had this place changed!

Because we wanted to retain the home's historical integrity (the lady who sewed all the curtains for The Jacksonville Inn once had her sewing room upstairs, and the property is rife with the "backyard" mines that proliferated in Jacksonville during the Great Depression), we decided to invest in oil-rubbed bronze light fixtures and hardware.

This wasn't an easy decision — so many houses look great with stainless or polished nickel accents. Yet the rustic patina of oil-rubbed bronze (sometimes referred to as "vintage" or "Venetian" bronze) seemed to enhance the era of the house, its new colors and textures and our existing furniture.

For the two bedrooms and hallway, we chose semiflush ceiling fixtures with ribbed, glass globes. At the entry we went period and installed a dainty, old-fashioned fixture with welded roses — it reminds me so much of my grandmother's house in South Dakota.

With a nod to modern, the living room is lit with recessed cans and table lamps. Because our dining room is, shall we say, petite, there wasn't enough ceiling height to accommodate a chandelier that a dear friend had given us; instead, we chose an unusual, three-bulb track light that fits the space to a T.

We returned the gifted chandelier and used part of the money to buy three contemporary sconces for the main bath — their graceful vertical shape and clouded, beige lamps are elegant and understated. The only place we installed polished nickel was in the powder room, where marble floor tiles, blue walls and white fixtures are a natural match for the cooler hardware and candle-shaped, stainless-steel sconce.

All the home's faucets are from Delta; the style is called "Leland." Who knew choosing faucets could be such a challenge? As our plumber said, it was a lot easier for a hemmer-and-hawer like me before the industry saturated the market with literally thousands of designs. In any case, we splurged on a design that plays with the home's historical lines and new, transitional tone. We kept to the theme with coordinating towel bars and toilet-paper holders.

For drawer pulls and knobs, we evened out the faucet expense by purchasing in bulk from a big-box store. Simple and traditional, the dark bronze makes our white and honey-hued kitchen pop. We used the same affordable approach for door hinges and closet-door pulls. The drawer handles were another story: We wanted a knob on the new front door and handles on all interior doors, with locks on the bathrooms.

I'd be dishonest if I didn't confess we had a "moment" as a couple regarding the handles. I had my mind set on a very plain version in keeping with the home's straight lines. When Terry went to the store to pick them up, his romantic side took hold and we ended up with a scroll pattern. (Actually, it's really nice to have both of our tastes displayed and, although he often argues it, Terry did have a big say in the home's design: He insisted on the skylights in the kitchen and bathroom, which totally open up the whole house; he also designed a linen closet, a bedroom closet and our fabulous shower.)

Although we are still in the process of wrapping up a few outstanding interior projects — the custom, crown molding over the kitchen cabinets needs to be painted, doors for the linen closet need to be fabricated and somebody needs to make friends with a caulking gun and fill in the spaces between floor and baseboards in the bathroom — all in all, our sweet, little home looks pretty darn nice. Nice enough, in fact, to be the setting for another wonderful dinner overlooking the year-round creek out back "… and reminding us of our next project: the unruly yard!


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