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Is Exposed Brick Too Trendy? And Other Serious Questions

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Sarah Buys a House has been a chronicle of Sarah DeGiorgis' journey along the road to becoming a property owner in West Philadelphia. Now that she owns the home, it will chronicle the renovation.


By Sarah DeGiorgis
This week I’ve been considering interior decorating. “Decorating” seems like too strong a word, though: mostly just paint colors and general atmosphere. There are so many choices, I really don’t know where to start, so I decided to narrow it down by what I don’t want. The main thing I don’t want my house to be is trendy. I don’t want to look at it in 10 years and say, “Ugh, I can’t believe I thought that looked good back then.” Now I realize that feeling can’t be avoided entirely—I thought I was making a wise fashion choice when I chose to wear white Dickies painters pants every day in seventh grade—but I’d like to make everything as classic and true to the house’s style as I can.

So what’s the house’s style? Well, it was built in either 1920 or 1925. The early 1920s was a good period for design—Art Deco and Art Nouveau leading into Arts and Crafts are all styles I adore. But I don’t have the money nor the wherewithal to make it into some kind museum to that era. So I’m going to try to keep as many original details as possible and restore what I can. Floors are at the top of my list, but I’ll have to rip up the layers and layers of linoleum to see if the original floor is salvageable.

Paint colors are tricky. I’m generally leaning towards a lot of light colors—for paint and also kitchen cabinets. When I was younger I envisioned my dream house with lots of dark wood and deep colors—like hunter green and maroon—and dark, shiny wood floors covered with Turkish rugs. But now I’m afraid to go too dark since it’s a rowhouse I only have windows on one side. Oh, and they’re about 5 feet from my neighbor’s brick wall, so, yeah: I need all the light I can get.

I’m starting with white on the first floor since it’s easy and will at least make everything look bright and clean. It’s a primer and paint in one, so worst case scenario at least I’ve primed the walls, right? I haven’t started anything on the second floor yet, but up there I’d like to paint all the rooms different colors. When I was a kid I had a friend whose parents ran a bed and breakfast and each room was a different color—the blue room, the yellow room, the pink room. The blue room had blue sheets, blue curtains, a blue rug, blue towels ... you get the idea. I don’t want to go that far but I do like the idea of painting each room differently, and it's also a way to find out how what I like before committing to my living room, where guests can walk in and gasp, “Wow, it’s ... green!”

I have a little more leeway with dark colors upstairs because there are lots of skylights and the windows facing my neighbor’s house get more light than those on the first floor.

The kitchen is my other point of concern. I remember thinking that granite countertops looked awesome in about 2007; now I can’t stand them. Since I don’t have too much counter space, I’m going to try to get a small piece of more expensive stone—something light, please—or at least something that looks like stone. I’m also going mostly white with the kitchen cabinets and walls, again for the clean, bright look. The back wall is brick so I’d like to expose that. But exposed brick is everywhere nowadays (at least on home design blogs people keep sending me) so is it too trendy? In this case I'll risk it and avoid the home style blogs like the plague. Plain bricks seem pretty classic to me.