Category Archives: before & after

Before & After: The Stenciled Entryway
Throwback Thursday

Before & After: The Stenciled Entryway

We haven’t been making very fast progress at This American House, so I’m digging back into our photo archives and seeing how the city apartment has evolved over the years. First up is my favorite room in the apartment. Which, actually, isn’t a room at all. Even five years after stenciling it, the teeny tiny little entryway still is my favorite space.

Stenciling the Entryway

When we first moved into the apartment I painted everything in cool pastel colors. I don’t know, I guess I was feeling very mellow or something. The entryway got a few coats of pale pink that seemed like a good idea at the time. And then I quickly grew tired of it. So I did a complete 180 and went from pale pink to black and white.


Painting the entryway black was a giant leap of faith. I mean, there’s nothing like taking a space that’s 2 feet by 4 feet and painting it a really dark color. I had a what-have-I-done moment when I stepped back and looked at the black walls before me. Once the stencil started going on, however, I could immediately see that I was doing the right thing. Whereas the black walls made the small space feel dark and claustrophobic, the addition of the white pattern opened it all up and actually makes the space feel bigger.

The Stenciled EntrywayI was able to reuse the existing furniture and accessories in the space. I painted the table and coat rack bright red to allow them to stand out from the patterned walls. (These are the only things that I’ve tired of over the years. I’d like to replace those red accessories with white ones.) I even repurposed the canvas that hangs over the table and hides the electrical box. I applied white fabric over the canvas and then used black paint to apply the stencil, creating a negative effect of what’s on the walls.

Black and White Stenciled Entryway

This little entryway is the first thing that people see when they enter the apartment and it always gets a reaction. Whether it’s a friend dropping by to visit or a delivery driver bringing us food, their eyes usually widen as they look up and down the walls. “That’s really nice wallpaper,” they’ll usually say. “Oh, it’s a stencil actually,” I’ll proudly inform them. “Wow, that must have taken forever,” they’ll reply.

Yes, it did. It was a long, painstaking process that left my arms sore. And it was worth every minute.

Images: This American House

Before & After: A Summer’s Worth of Landscaping Progress

Before & After: A Summer's Worth of Landscaping Progress

On this day after Labor Day, the unofficial end of summer, it seems fitting to reflect on the progress we’ve made on the landscaping. We’re not even close to being finished and we’ll probably change it all again next year, but we feel like we’ve made some really good progress over our first summer at the house.

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Before(ish) & After: Reupholstered Chair Makeover

Before & After; Reupholstered Chair Project | This American House

On the left: a chair that has been re-painted to cover its 1980’s speckled faux wood finish. On the right: the same chair just before it left This American House with a freshly upholstered seat and cushion. Three cheers for DIY upholstery jobs!

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Before & After: Shades for the Dining Room

ugly curtains beforeWe’ve finally been able to take down these cheap sheer curtains from the dining room window. I may have done a little jig when that happened. I’ve never liked these curtains. In fact, I took them down and we lived with a bare window for a few months this winter. Then, during one of the arctic blasts that spread across the Midwest, I re-installed the curtains to gives us a little insulation. I can finally say good riddance to the curtains … and hello to our new streamlined shades!

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Before & After: Boring Brown Stair Risers Go Whiter, Brighter

stair risers before and after

By the time we finish renovating the Dream House, every single surface in it will have gotten a fresh coat of paint. Buoyed by the success of the freshly whitened wainscoting, I decided to tackle the stairs risers next. When we moved in, the risers were painted a dark, muddy brown. That brown may have worked when the walls in the stairway were painted a khaki color. Now that the walls are gray, however, the brown just wasn’t cutting it. Grab the roller and paint can – it’s time to lighted up the stairway!

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