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Reader Rehab: A Country House Makeover Courtesy of White Paint

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Reader Rehab: A Country House Makeover Courtesy of White Paint

April 5, 2017

Remodelista reader Kate McCann recently sent us an over-the-transom email: “I am a NYC-based still-life stylist who is working toward making a transition to interior design.” She included a few photos of her latest project, her own shingled house in northwest Connecticut that she shares with her partner, Kevin, and their dog, Willa Mae.

The interior had been updated 15 years ago, she told us, “in a nineties, Martha Stewart way: it was very traditional and packed with furnishings.” Using little more than cosmetics—white paint, new lighting, and a selection of cost-conscious fittings—she gave the rooms a new, invitingly low-key guise. Intrigued by the simplicity and effectiveness of her approach, we asked to see the whole house.

Photography by David Prince, unless otherwise noted, courtesy of Kate McCann, Grey Dove Design.

a former barn, the structure was converted into a \1,380 square foot dwell 17
Above: A former barn, the structure was converted into a 1,380-square-foot dwelling in the 1930s.
mccann gave the cozy living room a clean look by whitewashing all but the beams 18
Above: McCann gave the cozy living room a clean look by whitewashing all but the beams and floor, leaving the windows uncovered, and selecting modernist furniture in black-and-white.

The sofa is Room & Board’s Vela design (since discontinued); for dog-proofing she tops it with Flokati Throws, $39, that are all wool and machine-washable.

a bright, versatile off white, benjamin moore white oc \15\1, was used in  19
Above: A bright, versatile off-white, Benjamin Moore White OC-151, was used in various finishes throughout the house: matte on the walls; pearl on the doors, trim, wainscoting, and mantel; and flat on the ceiling.

After working in the creative departments of Martha By Mail and J.Crew, McCann freelanced as a stylist for 15 years. “Interior design has always been a passion,” she says. “I helped friends with their homes and gradually started working on projects with bigger scopes.” She went back to school to study interior design online at Rhodec International and has just launched her own firm, Grey Dove Design.

 the living room opens to the dining room. note the sconces 20
Above: The living room opens to the dining room. Note the sconces: “I wanted to replace them,” McCann tells us, “instead, for budget reasons, I just swapped out the fake wax drip candle sleeves with simple white sleeves ($1 each) and used black chandelier shades in place of white ($21 each) from Just Shades.”

McCann had a maximum remodel/refurbishing budget of $40,000 and kept a careful tally of costs:

  • Furniture: $14,852
  • Lighting: $2,970
  • Rugs: $2,714
  • Artwork: $2,030
  • Throw pillows: (15) $1,550
  • Bathroom accessories: $202

All told, she spent $28,894 on furnishings and $7,991 on labor (painting and electrical).

the andover dining table and companion benches are from room & board and co 21
Above: The Andover Dining Table and companion benches are from Room & Board and come in custom dimensions; to accommodate the space, McCann’s is 30 inches wide. The twisted sculpture is a walking stick from the local farmer’s market.

“I would have loved to purchase furniture from small workshops that make everything by hand, but my budget didn’t allow for this,” says McCann. “Room & Board, while a large company, often employs small businesses to manufacture their designs. For example, my dining table was made in Vermont by Lyndon Furniture, which uses lumber that’s responsibly harvested.”

last updated in the \1990s, the kitchen&#8\2\17;s vintage wood cabinets had 22
Above: Last updated in the 1990s, the kitchen’s vintage wood cabinets had been painted a yellowy-white. McCann refreshed the space with a brighter white (Benjamin Moore White OC-151), and replaced its track lighting with a large Alabax Light from Schoolhouse Electric that works well with the black hardware.

Her electrician also installed new recessed lights: “the trims were yellowed and looked old once we gave the house a fresh coat of paint,” says McCann. “Changing fixtures can transform a room.”

mccann preserved the butcher block counters and added a classic lab faucet 23
Above: McCann preserved the butcher block counters and added a classic lab faucet, Chicago Faucet’s High Arch Faucet with Lever Handles, $280 from Faucet Direct,

Thinking of giving your kitchen an economical overhaul? Read How To Paint Kitchen Cabinets: Tips from a Master Painter and Remodeling 101: Butcher Block Counters.

barware and stacked white dishes—cb\2&#8\2\17;s frank dinnerware, wh 24
Above: Barware and stacked white dishes—CB2’s Frank Dinnerware, which start at $2.95 for salad plates—are displayed in a glass-fronted cabinet.
the compact mudroom has a shaker peg rail fitted in a corner and a zi 25
Above: The compact mudroom has a Shaker peg rail fitted in a corner and a Zinc Boot Tray with Liner from Crate & Barrel. The hanging bells are for Willa, the dog: “She rings them when she wants to go out.”
across the room, more shoes and gear are kept in baskets and on a tray. the che 26
Above: Across the room, more shoes and gear are kept in baskets and on a tray. The Chevron Indoor-Outdoor Rug is made in Belgium and came from Ballard Designs.
a leather and raffia tassel wall hanging by etsy seller himoart of san diego de 27
Above: A leather and raffia Tassel Wall Hanging by Etsy seller Himoart of San Diego decorates a door. Photograph by Kate McCann.
the steep stairs have a new pieterdam wool runner from fibreworks tha 28
Above: The steep stairs have a new Pieterdam wool runner from Fibreworks that cost $894, including installation.
the upstairs rooms have peaked ceilings. the ceiling light is the star flu 29
Above: The upstairs rooms have peaked ceilings. The ceiling light is the Star Flush Mount in bronze, $370, from Circa Lighting.
the master bedroom is layered with subtle textures: garment dyed linen bedding  30
Above: The master bedroom is layered with subtle textures: Garment-Dyed Linen Bedding from Restoration Hardware, a sisal rug (bought by the previous owners but never used), and a sheepskin. McCann found the rattan chair years ago at an antiques store. The bedside light is RH’s 20th C. Torpedo Task Table Lamp.
 painted paneling in the home office retains its grain pattern. the steel  31
Above: Painted paneling in the home office retains its grain pattern. The steel Slim Desk is from Room & Board, $399, and the light is a Remodelista favorite, the Jielde Signal Desk Lamp, $450.
a built in bureau and cabinets, original \1930s detailing, in the guest ro 32
Above: A built-in bureau and cabinets, original 1930s detailing, in the guest room.
above branch art and a vintage eames wire chair, one of a pair that mccann 33
Above Branch art and a vintage Eames Wire Chair, one of a pair that McCann brought with her to the house.

“Going from the city to the country was a bit of a transition,” she says. “We now have a wheelbarrow and a Weedwacker, so we’re getting there.”

Join us as we explore more ways to remodel cost-consciously:

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