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The Tale of "The Peasant Hovel Turned Princess Dream Home Castle"

The Royal Couple’s Main Floor Reno from Peasant Hovel to Princess Castle

Patience, my children, for this tale is as long and limitless as True Love.

There once was a handsome Prince who married his Princess and wanted nothing more than to please her, as he loved her beyond the moon and stars, and even his childhood hockey card collection.

His fancy downtown condo was simply not enough for this fair-haired maiden, and so he ventured out with his treasured Princess to find the perfect first castle.

At last, they came upon the Village of Roncesvalles, which was in sad need of a new ruling Prince & Princess,, as the last royal couple moved to a new faraway land too difficult to pronounce and somewhere in New Jersey.

The Princess, a true royal (as her mother-in-law, the Queen, discovered prior to the couple’s marriage, with twenty mattresses and a single pea – remember that story? – had impeccable taste. Very French taste, in fact, with a cutting edge sensibility, as did her fine Prince.

Their new castle had been previously renovated rather poorly by ignorant Peasants, without taste or regard for the lovely bones or details of this sacred space. In fact, these lowly rogues created havoc behind the castle walls, causing electrical & plumbing issues, which would have forced renowned knight, Sir Mike Holmes into a royal coronary. As well, the Peasant’s design crimes, resulted in butt-ugly features, and I’m talking Boor-butt, the worst kind.

BEFORE: A front hall disaster with someone else’s bad renovation ideas. Authentic stair railings yanked out for trash, unnecessary new walls, an ugly door and meaningless glass block impose themselves creating this dark welcoming!
BEFORE: An enclosed living/dining area feels ultra claustrophobic even with the ill-placed glass block accents. Original period details have been brutally stripped away and bad contractor special track lights and two strangely placed pot lights are the only light sources.
BEFORE: A lovely shade of contractor beige did nothing to feature the interesting lines in this lovely extension. A dated fireplace mantle, cheap shelves, no storage, and – drum roll please – a clothesline track lighting system.
BEFORE: The door to the bathroom opened awkwardly, cutting into the already small space. A shower monopolized the entire room, looking absolutely huge in comparison to the toilet and pedestal sink. And then here was the yellow sponging wall treatment…

As they feared, the Prince and Princess felt devoured by the Ugly Monster who resided throughout the main floor space. The royal couple did what they were compelled to do, and summoned forth their Design Fairy Godmother, Andrea. She listened intently to their design woes and their design dreams.

“Ahhh! Yes!” said the Design Fairy Godmother with a twinkle in her eyes.

This peasant’s fiasco met with its reckoning, as she slew the Ugly Monster! And with a wave of her trusty wand, the merry men and women of artistic labor appeared and did the Magic One’s bidding.

With a new Interior Design, walls came down, ugly glass block was removed from the living room entrance, partition walls went up and custom stairs were installed to match those original to the castle. New electrical and plumbing, a lovely lighting design plan implemented with gorgeous new fixtures, cool custom ceiling medallion in the living/dining room. Added fixed architectural details, hall closet organization rebuild, demo-reconfigured-reno of main floor bathroom with cool custom accents and antique icebox vanity.

DURING: The client wanted an unusual vanity. Well, I found this antique icebox! My carpenter cut the top of it down, re-trimmed it, gut the original aluminium inside and finished it with two shelves. We then stained it to match the door and faux-wood tile feature shower wall. Voilà!
AFTER: Reconfigured with contemporary elements meeting funky antiques. Looking spacious with a soaker tub, shower, toilet and new icebox vanity. We kept this glass block window as it brought in lots of light. A feature wall in the shower looks like wood plank. The gray floor/tub skirt tile looks like aluminium.
AFTER: Custom shelves made to mirror the square sink and other square elements. Antique lighting creates an expressive mood, while a sliding door on an exterior track gives tons of interior bathroom space. Functional and beautiful!
AFTER: Gorgeous faucets and handles look amazing against the small white subway tile, which also accents our wood plank tile feature wall.

The old family room mantle was replaced with a custom birch contemporary fireplace mantle – complete with limestone insert and black slate floor. Custom shelves built to display the Princess’s collection of antique memorabilia, unique new furniture and decorative pieces added – with an industrial chic meets steampunk flavor. All rooms custom decorated in the Royal’s personal style, including the redesign (silver gilding and beautiful upholstery), of their precious antique dining room chairs, plus a new color design in five shades of sexy gray!

All technical problems found practical (and magical) solutions in the hands or, uh, wand of the Magic One. Phew! This would tire out any other Design Fairy Godmother, but not Andrea and her abundant supply of interior design magic!

The Prince and Princess were overjoyed, and the Village of Roncevalles had their new rulers. As well, the townsfolk were elated as their real estate values increased due to the royal couple’s new castle renovation. All rejoiced with wine and song!

AFTER: The entrance now open, welcoming and very cool!
AFTER: High drama when using four shades of gray for this sexy main floor space! An open concept space, with surprise added period and architectural details. Stair railings and post were replaced to match the original. New ceiling medallions were designed using ornamental tin and mouldings to create a contemporary feel for this period detail. They were the perfect backdrop for our European lighting. A strategic mirror brings light and life into the space.
AFTER: An industrial chic side cabinet, originally a machine cabinet, is beautifully placed. The antique dining room chairs became art when silver leafed and reupholstered with a geometric design jacquard. A bubble light hangs in the living room throwing the most unusual and lovely light shadows.
AFTER: High contrast gray tones create the illusion of a larger space and accentuates the bones of the structure. A new fireplace mantle is designed, with new insert and silver details grounded by the new black stone floor.
AFTER: A new shelf and coat hook is designed to showcase a collection of unusual antiques. New kitchen lighting that you can’t hang your laundry on!

What was once a peasant’s nightmare hovel, was now transformed into a Princess’s Dream Castle! And the royal couple lived happily ever after, later giving birth to a little prince. But that is another Designer’s Tale…


PHOTOGRAPHY by Claire Louise Foster


  • Get yourself a great Design Fairy Godmother with her best merry men & women!

  • When doing multiple types of renovation in your home, as in our royal couple’s main floor, seek out those professionals who are expert in very specialized areas. Remember, not all contractors do everything well! In the Prince and Princess’s case, one contractor was used for the bathroom as he was the best in the land, and another was used for the rest of the main floor renovation, as he was a gifted in its specific needs for structural issues, bracing, rebuilding, expert carpentry and possessed his father's (the Duke) wicked sense of humor. Ah… Such fun!

  • It’s all in the Prep & Planning! Have an engineer take a look at the walls before they come down! If needed, have him/her (along with your architect, if you are using one, and your Design Fairy Godmother), prepare drawings for your contractor. Make sure your contractor is present, if possible, in your meeting with the Engineer, as he/she will be better prepared by asking additional questions, and be made aware of any unique circumstances or particular materials or special orders to coordinate.

  • Each floor of your castle must flow in design and color, as should one room to the next including your transition walls and hallways . In the case of this main floor design, there was a color story prepared, along with a very specific design focus and style.

  • Look through magazines, books, art and even movies for what inspires you and the style you wish to live in. Start a design file for ideas and feeling.

  • Connect with things you possess that are meaningful and incorporate them into your design. Your design homework will help your design professional to realize your wishes. No one knows better how you wish to live than you!

  • Don’t be afraid to insist on your dream, as the authentic Design Fairy Godmother (and the merry men & women) will listen, keeping her/his ego elsewhere and offer their professional guidance. With their magic wand in hand, they will manifest your vision into your Dream Castle!


© Andrea Carini for Your Sacred Space Interiors. 
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