Our Arch and Why It Was The Wrong Move

Our Arch and Why It Was The Wrong Move - roomfortuesday.comWhen asking for blog topic suggestions, many of you wanted to know what was going on with our kitchen arch and why I had mentioned we’ll be removing it. Nothing gets past you! Haha! In all honesty, I didn’t realize so many people were curious or invested, and since we’ve decided to renovate my home office next (instead of the dining room), I didn’t want to leave you hanging on the arch dilemma that bridges our finished kitchen and unfinished dining room. Click through to read about our arch and why it was the WRONG move, in terms of design and architecture. I’m accepting full responsibility for this one…

Our Arch and Why It Was The Wrong Move - roomfortuesday.comEmmett and I were house hunting a few winters ago and our first showing of this house (the home we currently live in) went terribly. I actually had my heart set on another home we had put an offer on that wasn’t accepted. Our good friend and real estate agent, Mark, knows us well and thought we would love this home, scheduled a tour, and despite Emmett’s best arguments, I was totally against buying this house… or even looking at it a second time. Shocking, I know- because now I absolutely LOVE our home! I was in a funk, and I wanted to point out every single flaw, which is hilarious given we’re in the business of renovating and breathing new life into homes. Haha! It was pretty comical for me, of all people, to point out cosmetic issues that we’d be changing anyway. I’m definitely over here rolling my eyes at my past self.

Our Arch and Why It Was The Wrong Move - roomfortuesday.comAnyway, Emmett convinced me to give this place another look (praise be)! He promised we’d make it beautiful together, pointed out so many possibilities, and his main (cosmetic) selling point? That he would turn those 90’s chamfered openings and doorways into arches… it was music to my ears. SOLD.

Our Arch and Why It Was The Wrong Move - roomfortuesday.comWe moved in, renovated the first space… the guest bath, and shortly moved onto the kitchen next. It was a huge project! Knowing that Emmett and I had discussed swapping the dated doorways throughout our home to arches, I thought it made sense to incorporate a large arch between our kitchen and dining room. That would make the others we’d be installing in the future, feel cohesive. I designed it, we popped it into CAD, sent it to a local millwork company through Emmett’s work (they do custom cabinetry), and honestly spent a LOT of money getting that beautiful arch casing custom cut.

Our Arch and Why It Was The Wrong Move - roomfortuesday.comBefore the kitchen was even finished, I knew I messed up. After spending ~$1,500 on the arch millwork (custom curved door casing) and seeing Emmett super pleased with his beautiful installation, I tried to love it. I really did. I thought once we moved our things into the kitchen and I styled it, things would feel so much better. Spoiler alert- they didn’t. I fessed up to Emmett that it was a huge design mistake on my part (I’ll tell you why in a minute), and that someday- when it came time to renovate the dining room, we’d have to rip it out. At that point, we didn’t have time to correct it. We were under a deadline working with Lowe’s to complete the kitchen and I knew it would just add stress to our project and timeline.

Our Arch and Why It Was The Wrong Move - roomfortuesday.comEmmett being Emmett (who is the most laid back guy ever), was SO cool about it. I explained the situation to him, he totally agreed with me, and despite the fact that I just wasted a lot of our money and his time, he let me know it was ok and was probably for the best. So what went wrong? In a day and age where beautiful arches are gracing the internet and our social media feeds, why not keep the pretty arch that leads into our kitchen? It’s simple really… the architecture of our home.

Our Arch and Why It Was The Wrong Move - roomfortuesday.comAs someone who went to school and has an education in design, it’s something I should’ve noticed and steered clear of. These are the type of design and architectural mistakes that bother me because I am a designer. Well, even designers make mistakes every once in awhile or get distracted by a trend. That is what happened here. I’d like to think I’m a better designer after my arch mishap. After all, I learned a valuable lesson and I won’t make that mistake again…. as long as there was a lesson learned, I’m not going to be beat myself up. Let’s talk about why it doesn’t work…

Our Arch and Why It Was The Wrong Move - roomfortuesday.comTo put it simply, we live in a georgian colonial style home (I talk more about that in this post). It’s not historic… in fact, it’s the opposite. It’s a builder-grade home that was built in the 1990’s. I think that’s actually a big part of what threw me. The home isn’t a traditional colonial- it’s a colonial built in the 90’s with builder-grade architecture and finishes. There is nothing wrong with that, but the style is not indicative of what a “real” historic georgian colonial home would look like. The chamfered doorways almost looked like they are meant to be arches… well, the 90’s version of an arch. Instead of really analyzing our home and historic homes similar to it, I rolled with my dream of having lots of beautiful arched doorways because they already kind of resembled that.

Our Arch and Why It Was The Wrong Move - roomfortuesday.comWhen the arch in our kitchen was finally installed, I had the lightbulb moment far too late. Georgian colonial homes do not have arches, like you’d see in a tudor or cottage. Colonials are known for their symmetry, balance, hard edges, lines, square or rectangular, boxy shapes, and 90 degree corners. Oof. I majorly missed the mark with my arch vision. It felt wrong, it looked wrong, and I’m glad I noticed something was amiss before we moved further with our renovation plan- installing arched french doors in my office and swapping all of the chamfered doorways to arches, like Emmett had promised. All of the chamfered doorways in our home will eventually end up cased out as rectangular doorways. We have a lot to transition and we’ll do it room by room. Sure, it will look funny for awhile, but I know we’ll be happy in the end! I felt much better after coming to this realization and creating a renovation plan moving forward, once our kitchen was finished.

Our Arch and Why It Was The Wrong Move - roomfortuesday.comWhile $1,500 and many hours of labor on Emmett’s part seems like a big cost to pay for my design mistake, I’m confident we’re actually going to save money in the long run, because custom arched casing or millwork is expensive. Arches are very time consuming, if they’re cased out- the millwork is expensive, and they’re just a bigger investment than a standard square or rectangular doorway.

Our Arch and Why It Was The Wrong Move - roomfortuesday.comSo there you have it… our arch dilemma, my mistake, and our fantasy about having arches in a home where they really don’t belong. As a designer, should I have known better? Yep. As cheesy as it sounds, it wasn’t a total loss because I was able to gain a very clear vision for our home moving forward. I hope our experience can provide a valuable lesson- encouraging you to think twice before hopping on a trend and making quick architectural changes that may or may not be suited for the period or style of your home. I’m sure in the 90’s, those chamfered doorways seemed like a great idea and were a sought after feature, but here we are, planning to rip them out and replace them with something more appropriate for the style of our home. It’s a good lesson!

Our Arch and Why It Was The Wrong Move - roomfortuesday.comAnother blog post topic I got many requests for was analyzing architecture, determining the style of your home, and deciding what interior updates make sense that feel cohesive (based on that). I think that might be a good follow up post? If anyone is interested in that, please let me know! There are a few morals to this story: design and renovating mistakes happen (even to designers), home is an ever-changing place that is constantly evolving, nobody is immune to trends, and nothing is permanent (even the worst design mistakes). Sure, some design choices are more expensive to fix, but at the end of the day, do what feels best and makes you happy in your home. It’s not the end of the world. You can also take your time correcting it (I’ve already spent two years staring at the arch- it’s fine).

Our Arch and Why It Was The Wrong Move - roomfortuesday.comIf the kitchen images look familiar throughout this post, they are from the initial reveal a couple years ago. I’m still on the hunt for that vintage freestanding french island or cart, but in the meantime- our little cart (not pictured) has been so perfect. There’s a reason I don’t shoot the archway in our kitchen photos anymore- because it’s not an element I enjoy seeing… that’s why I had to dig out the archived images. Haha! Design questions? Thoughts? I’m all ears! Have you ever made a design decision in your home that is currently bothering you or you have regretted?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  1. Hmmm. I’ve got thoughts. I trust your instincts and dissatisfaction with your initial arch choice. I can see that it wouldn’t suit a traditional Georgian colonial. So many homes don’t seem to represent any distinct style of architecture though. They’re Georgian-esque or Cottage-lite. I see people adding ceiling beams, panel moulding and crown to simple tract homes and 70s split-levels. (To say nothing of the ubiquitous shiplap!) This doesn’t seem appropriate to the architecture…Unless you have a true historic home, where do you draw the line? Heck, even if you have a historic home! Are they really mistakes, or is it all a matter of taste? Questions, Sarah. Apparently, I’ve got questions.🤣💜

    1. That’s such an amazing point, Peggi! I think it’s a mix of personal preference and the style of your home. Homes that don’t have a strong or specific type of architecture probably allow for more options- as you can really work on defining whatever style you like best. Our previous home was like that- it was such basic box-looking house and we were able to customize it to our preference. I feel like with our current home, since it has a such strong and defined style (exterior), and I’d like to stick with and expand upon that. You know I believe you should love your home, so that’s where the matter of taste comes in! It’s all about balance :) Whew!! Such incredible questions and chatting topics. Hope you had an awesome Tuesday. xo

  2. These are the type of posts I love! We have so much to learn from you and I can’t wait to read more about architectural style. I recently moved into a home built in 1930 and would love to learn more!

    1. I’m still learning myself, but I LOVE talking about these things. I’m going to work on some more architectural posts that I think may be helpful :) What a treat to live in a 1930’s home!

  3. You could do a series of posts really, one on each style, colonial, Tudor, arts and crafts style bungalow, etc. that would be so awesome….really enjoy your posts

    1. SAME! This is my biggest modern design pet peeve: not every house CAN or SHOULD support boho or even worse, FARMHOUSE style. I’ve been trying very hard to stay true-ish to the style of our home. I’m not saying you can only have farmhouse style in a farm house, but undestanding the foundations of styles and the architechture that compliments it would be a huge plus. I would LOVE a series like this. Please cover cape-code bungalows built in the 1950’s… :)

      1. Haha! I know, Noreen. I definitely think there are certain types of home you should stay true to. I totally agree. It helps to have a good understanding of different aesthetics, architecture, and design throughout each period. I’ll work on some posts and do some continued research :) I would LOVE to own a cape cod home someday. Lucky!

    2. I love the idea of a series, Katie! :) So happy you enjoyed this one! xo

  4. Oh man, I FEEL this. I did a full kitchen remodel in the fall of 2019, and as I was installing the cabinets I just KNEW that something wasn’t right. It’s complicated, but I used a lazy susan base cabinet when I should have reconfigured a bit and used a blind corner. I forged ahead, as I was working against a Thanksgiving deadline (I finished the day before) and I’ve been living with it for over a year and it’s fine. IT’S FINE. But it’s not right. I still haven’t finished installing all of the cover panels and trim pieces, and I keep saying it’s because I’m tired but I think it’s really because it’s not right and I want it to be right. I’ll have to destroy my countertops (they are white concrete that was poured in place, so there’s no way they’re coming out without severe damage) so I’ll be out about $2k, but I will be happy? And my kitchen will be right? Is my happiness worth two thousand dollars???

    I recently told a coworker that “you can’t know how to do something right until you’ve already learned how to do it wrong” and the look he gave me was one of absolute horror. I was kind of joking, but also kind of not. Learn from your mistakes! :) And I would absolutely love a post on coordinating your updates to fit the style of your home – I see so many things online that I love but I know they won’t work for my house, I think getting a designer’s perspective on how to deal with this would be so helpful!

    1. I totally understand, Stacy! I’m sorry to hear about your kitchen corner. I know how annoying things like that can be- especially when renovating costs so much and takes a lot of time and energy. It can be frustrating. Your question is totally valid- what is your happiness at home worth? For me, I like to give it a bit… time has a way of making me less annoyed with the situation, and once I get the energy- I’ll try to pivot or plan to replace whatever isn’t working. Haha!! I had to laugh at your comment to your coworker. It really is kind of true. Lol! As long as we’re learning from our mistakes, we won’t make them again. Thanks for sharing :)

  5. I’d love more posts about this – especially with millwork. I have a multi-level built in 1960 that we’ve been doing a full gut renovation. We definitely are not restoring it to that time period – my design style is more eclectic and mixing modern pieces with antiques. We did board and batten in the bottom half of the bathroom because white drywall looks weird to me and painted the top half of the bathroom – I love how it turned out. I wanted to do some type of millwork in the bedrooms – similar to your guest bedroom but I’m worried the colonial style would clash with a house that has no other similar millwork or colonial details.

    1. I’ll work on some more architectural posts, and I have a few millwork posts lined up during my office renovation as well :) It’s great and exciting that you’re renovating and updating your 1960’s home. Historic homes or houses with really strong architectural features on the ones I’d stay true to, but we did the same thing you’re doing at our previous home (which was built in the late 50’s)- adding our preferred character and aesthetic. I think you just have to add millwork in a way that fits what you’ve already done and isn’t too over the top for your home.

  6. Oh, I actually love the arch! It really is pretty and I wonder if it kind of joins the kitchen to the dining room-it seems like it does. Maybe because it’s not a super dramatic arch and has a straighter part at the top? But I get what you’re saying. It’s never fun having to stare at something constantly in your home that drives you bananas. Ask me how I know. And I’m imagining Emmett may be happy his workload just got lighter in regards to the other doorways. 😀 please, please, please talk about interiors appropriate to their architecture and home style. I live in a full cape cod style home on a farm 🤦‍♀️ I love the house, but I’m paralyzed about which direction to go and the house needs a lot of updating. I imagine there are a lot of people who live in homes that are a hodgepodge of ideas and struggle making the appropriate decisions to make the home cohesive. Please, Sarah, teach us All. The. Things! 😆

    1. Thanks, Brittany! It would be so lovely in a different home. It’s definitely driving me nuts though. Haha! Emmett is already looking forward to casing simple, rectangular doorways, and I think we’re both happy with our plan. I’m going to work on some architectural and millwork posts for everyone :) xox

  7. Yes yes yes to the cohesive architecture analysis blog post! I have an ‘80s tudorish Detroit suburb home, nothing tudorish is inside but diamond mullions on the front and side windows. Stingy millwork anD a curved staircase (fully carpeted) with builder grade colonial spindles. Cathedral ceiling in large great room, completely contemporary layout. No cohesion! It would be a gift to your readers to have analysis/recommendations of possible updates. Thank you,!

    1. I can do that, Kari! So many of those features in your home sound gorgeous (diamond mullions and a curved staircase!). Sometimes it’s about figuring out how to work with what you have and designing around existing architectural elements. Even if you feel your home is lacking cohesion, it certainly doesn’t lack personality. That’s a good problem to have :) You just have to figure out what you want to keep, and what needs updated.

  8. I would love more posts about identifying architectural style and designing interiors that fit! I assume you’re familiar with Virginia Savage McAlester’s “Field Guide to American Houses,” but on the off chance that you’re not, you would love it. If you know of an equivalent (or at least similar) book for interiors, I would buy it in an instant.

    I’m currently trying to figure out what kind of moldings and details would be appropriate for a National Folk I-house built in 1880 — so chronologically a Victorian, but stylistically not so much! And sadly “farmhouse” (while an accurate description of its original purpose) has become so identified with the modern farmhouse style that my Google results are basically useless. Very sad.

    1. I’m going to work on more of these architectural posts :) Yes- The Field Guide to American Houses is one of my favorites! It was an old one I bought in design school that was super helpful. While I don’t have a similar format interior book in mind, I do share my favorite inspiring interior books in this post: https://roomfortuesday.com/my-favorite-interior-design-books/

  9. It must sting, but it’s so nice to hear that even designers like you make these mistakes! Because we as your readers are definitely making them and it’s good to remember that it is part of the process and to anticipate mistakes and some lost money in the path to a home you love.

    1. It’s true! We all make design mistakes (even designers). I know our house will eventually become the home we envision and of course there will be some bumps in the road along the way. As long as I learn from my design mistakes, I try not to feel bad about making one from time-to-time. Renovating always takes more time and money than we expect anyway, and in the end- you find somewhere else in your home to make up for it!

  10. Yes, please. I would enjoy a post about making architecturally relevant choices. Maybe this should be a series featuring different style homes. The wild fluctuations in trends evens out when you keep in mind the architecture. Before deciding to build we looked at so many homes that we would immediately have to pour tons of money into just fixing. Not because they were dated from age, but Arts and Crafts historic homes were painted and trimmed out to be beach cottages (we are 200 miles from the beach) and 90’s McMansion ship lapped into farmhouses (far, far from any agriculture).

    If you could highlight how to use accessories to give you the “feel” people are looking to incorporate without lasting, expensive remodels it could really be so enlightening for everyone. After 7 seven houses, I have settled into the mindset that we can love all the styles and be happy they exist, but they don’t have to all exist at the same time in the same house.

    Thanks for all the openness. I love looking at the ups and downs of design through your eyes.

    1. I really love the idea of a series, Paige! I feel like a general architecture post would be SO long and wouldn’t cover many of the options. It could be really fun to break each post down by style. I’m with you… I can love and appreciate all of the styles, but identifying a style or two and sticking with it is key. Great point! We all have ups and downs, so I figured I might as well share the good with the bad :) hah! xo

  11. I personally love the arch to your kitchen Sarah but you are the one who lives there and if you are unhappy with it then I totally get your exquisitely trained eye needs to fix it. Honestly, I live in a 70’s sidesplit with a ton of contractor errors and shortcuts 🙄 We bought the house knowing they were there and I told myself we will eventually fix them over time. I have no idea if we will be able to fix all of the problems with this house, we fixed a few big aesthetic blunders that were eyesores and maybe we will get to the rest one day. Your arched doorway is beautiful to me but I get your design mind just can’t live with it.
    It does makes sense to correct it once you tackle the dining room though. As William Morris once said “ Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful “
    On that note I’ve got my work cut out for me here with this house 😉 and I don’t have an Emmett 😬 Haha! Have a super awesome day!

    1. Thank you, Colleen! My eyes definitely are not loving it. Lol! Every home takes time… a lot of time, and that’s part of the beauty of creating a space we love :) I LOVE that Williams Morris quote you shared- I’m bookmarking that one. So true and something we should all remember. I’m sure Emmett would really enjoy a trip to Canada ;) haha! We’re itching to travel over here but are staying put for now. xox

  12. Yes, please write about this! We live in a 70s cape cod revival with two additions the owners put on much later and the windows they selected are not correct nor are they symmetrical and it drives me absolutely crazy! They even put in slider windows instead of double hung as if they live a restaurant with a drive through window. Anderson Windows has a great resource for helping people determine the appropriate doors and windows for the style of home including proportions.

    And is there anything worse than a flip that has the farmhouse look in a non farmhouse? Or a Mid century modern home with shaker cabinets? Or a 70s contemporary where all of the wood ceilings have been painted (yes, sometimes the wood is really bad so I get it). Can flippers please stop doing this?

    1. I will :) I had to laugh about your window situation because we have BEEN THERE. Haha! In our previous home, and we actually used Anderson for that home. So good to know about their guide. Why are there so many “farmhouse” flips on homes that are not farmhouses?! Ughhh. I’m with you. When house hunting we looked at so many “flips” and they were all poorly done. These homes deserve to be beautiful and keep their integrity. The design nerd in me really came out during our house hunting days. Lol!

  13. Thank you for talking about this and how to listen to the style of your home. I am a firm believer that if your home has a distinct architecture style, it is important not to fight that. I have been into a number of homes that feel almost uncomfortable because someone put traditional bathrooms and a kitchen into a very contemporary home. I think furniture can be a nice bridge between styles, though. Blending styles with how you furnished and style and home works so much better than fighting the architecture.

    1. You stated that so beautifully and simply, Jesseca! “If your home has a distinct architecture style, it’s important not to fight that.” I wholeheartedly agree! Furniture really is the bridge that allows us to inject our personal aesthetic into homes with strong architectural features. Your points are all spot on! Thanks for taking the time to share with us :)

  14. Thanks so much for sharing your mistakes with us. My home is a ranch built in 1981 and screams 1981 ranch, no thank you. We are currently renovating ourselves and I am having difficulties understanding my homes “style” since I’d prefer it to be anything but 1980’s ranch. I’ve purchased a few books but they all speak on the same categories: Georgian, Victorian, arts+crafts, etc. I’d love a follow up blog post to this and love hearing your thoughts!

    1. Ranch homes are so tricky, because I feel like a lot of them don’t have a distinct or strong style. Our previous home was a ranch and it kind of looked like a shoebox (just a basic rectangle with rectangular rooms inside). It wasn’t modern, it wasn’t traditional, it was just a blank canvas. Since it didn’t have any strong architectural features, I felt comfortable installing simplistic millwork and trying to define a neutral style (nothing too over the top). Newer builds (anything post 70’s) can be tricky because a lot of them lack those strong architectural bones. I actually feel like they can allow us to be more creative and get by with alternative options.

  15. Very interesting post Sarah! I appreciate your honesty, openness and thoughts. You have probably beat yourself up about it a lot. Make sure you give yourself some grace. Kudos to Emmett for being calm and understanding and always being on your side..;) ;) ! Mistakes are hard but the lessons we learn make them better.
    Here’s to hoping you have a successful day!

    1. Thank you, Danna! I can always count on you for words of wisdom :) I obviously was disappointed with myself for making a big mistake that cost Emmett a lot of time and put a sizable dent in our renovation budget, but the lesson has helped us hone in on what direction we want to take this home and for that- I’m thankful. Cheers to a successful and productive week- I hope you’re having a good one, too! xo

  16. I would love to see a post on how to incorporate (or figure out) what is architecturally appropriate for your home when it is not an established style (craftsman, Tudor, colony, etc)? I feel like it’s easy to figure out what will work for your home when you are working with a specific style, but so many of us just have builder grade tract house with mixed styles, or no true style.

    1. Most definitely, Kari! If your home doesn’t have strong or evident architectural features, you have more room to define that and more options to choose from. It definitely allows you the opportunity to choose an aesthetic or direction, whereas homes with an established style are hard to fight.

  17. Wow! So humbling, I’m sure, to call out your mishaps and make them right…when/if the time/budget allows. This is a valuable lesson that I will take from you as we make our new house our home. Thanks for sharing, Sarah!

    1. Thanks, Emily! Yes- learn from my mistakes. Haha :) Even designers get it wrong sometimes, and I definitely felt like the arch was wrong for our home. Here’s to moving forward and fixing it someday! xo

  18. Definitely interested in a follow-up posts about determining a home’s style/architecture, etc. This was helpful, and that post would be very helpful. However, please be sure to include just “regular” run-of-the-mill homes that many people might have. For example, your home is obviously a colonial style home even though built in the 90s, and I know lots of designers live in Spanish style homes, obvious tudors, etc…but lots of us out here just live in a regular neighborhood that was built in the mid-1990s haha…so, it’s…a 1990s home, not a particular kind of 1990s home like yours is, at least to my knowledge?? Mine is just a relatively large stucco 90s traditional home….no idea how else to define it. Hopefully you know what I mean here, but, either way, I’d love the follow-up post!

    1. I’ll work on some additional architecture posts, Abby! I’ll be sure to include all types of homes- even those without a strong architectural style and how to proceed when renovating those types of houses. We have a lot of those in our neighborhood and it has been fun to watch them get renovated.

  19. I would love to see a post on home style! We recently purchased and gutted a 1910 home that was originally owned by a local cotton mill for its workers. It’s surrounded by craftsman homes but doesn’t quite fit that bill. I’d love to keep true to its history but it’s been hard finding much more information on that style.

    1. I’ll work on it, Whitney! What a gem to own a 1910 home- that is so incredible :)

  20. Even though it doesn’t apply to me I’d love to see a series of posts about how to determine architectural style of interiors and then how to work with it. Our new house is a nondescript 1980s house so we don’t have to fight architecture much – just paint colors.

    Please just don’t show non-arched openings with a keystone – that’s the one thing that makes my eye twitch!

    1. I’m going to start a blog series, Cheryl! You definitely have the right idea with your 80s home. Since it doesn’t have a prevalent style, you’re able to really define what you think is best. Haha!! I had to laugh at your non arched openings with a keystone- we’re in agreement there. Doesn’t make a lot of sense. lol!

  21. 100% yes to the follow up post idea! I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about & trying to figure out how to add millwork inside our home while keeping it cohesive with the exterior & I think you would do a great job explaining! Thanks for all the educational posts you do!

    1. I’m definitely going to share some follow up posts, Erin :) I could talk about design and architecture all day. It’s fun to share and learn together!

  22. Let’s start by saying your home is beautiful no matter what you do with it! I love the way the arch turned out, but now that you’ve pointed it out I am in full agreement with you! Haha! I’m happy you noticed your mistake after the first arch, and not after three! I think it’s the right decision to stick with the architecture of the home for features like this. Individual style is always much better suited to decor, styling, colors and finishes, in my opinion. I can’t get behind most of the current trends because they don’t fit every home. They weren’t intended to. I can’t wait to see how it looks when your casing is done and how much happier you’ll be with the space.
    Heck yes to posts about sticking to the architecture of your home when renovating!! Lotus House is a 1996 Mediterranean style home. The story of me and Lotus house is quite similar to yours. We had a walk through and for me it was immediately off the list. For Jeff and mom, it was perfect. I hated every element of this house. The large cathedral ceilings that make it feel so open, also make for some really big blank walls, and (good) artwork is expensive. The kitchen isn’t remotely right-it’s large enough, but some elements don’t make sense. The downstairs hallway is short, filled with doors, and reminds me of Alice when she jumps into the rabbit hole. On top of all that, at the time the exterior wrought iron was a heinous, faded shade of 90’s turquoise. 🤢 I had my heart set on a newer built home, with more updated finishes, that we could simply paint and decorate. However we had a sit down to reveal our individual top three homes, and mom and Jeff picked Lotus house as their number one. 🤦🏼‍♀️🤦🏼‍♀️ I reluctantly agreed we should put in an offer, and here we are. What’s funny is that an *almost* design mistake on my part, is what led me to investigate homes like mine, and consequently, is the reason why I now love it!
    We have a bonus room downstairs that we knew would be mom’s room. What we didn’t realize is that there was no HVAC or closet. Somehow we overlooked that in our walk through. We fixed the HVAC and moved on to the closet. Mom wanted barn doors, and falling prey to the trend I was all for it. I called my FIL to come look at my drawings and inspiration so we could take measurements and have him build them. (He’s a woodworker too). He said he wouldn’t do it because it didn’t go with the house and would look ridiculous. In that moment I was crushed. The style we wanted didn’t resemble the type you see on the internet in any way. It made me mad, and I instantly started looking at information to find out what he meant. I truthfully had never seen or been inside any homes that remotely look like ours. After all my research, I know I was wrong, and I’m happy I didn’t move forward with that plan with someone else. However, I have even more questions about my home now. I can embrace all of the elements of our home that never made sense to me before, and it’s been freeing to look at our home with fresh eyes. That also means there is a ton of work to bring it to a place of glory. I’m completely stumped on millwork. They got the door casings and trim right. However the base trim needs to be replaced, and since our walls are so large they lend themselves to featuring some beautiful millwork. I can’t seem to find much information in regards to that. Most info points to true Spanish style homes or Tuscan style Mediterraneans, and my home is neither. It does err more on the Spanish side, but not enough to warrant diving completely into that architectural style for inspiration. I’ve found using the search term “transitional” works wonders for finding elements that fit with our home when selecting finishes, but beyond that there isn’t much more information to help me along.
    Such a great topic of discussion Sarah! Very definitely mistakes will be made in the renovation of a home, and I believe it’s not truly a mistake if you’ve learned something.

    1. Thank you, Lauren! I’m looking forward to the day where we can pull out the arch and square it off. Maybe someone local will want our expensive arched casing? Haha! It’s free for the taking, lol. You know exactly what I’m dealing with since you live in Lotus house with a strong sense of architecture. Isn’t it fun learning more about what your home could be based on similar style homes that came before it? I find SO much inspiration doing that, and I’m glad you did the same. I love, LOVE hearing your story about how you came to embrace your home and its potential- even though it wasn’t the popular thing on the internet at that given moment. Here’s to learning from our mistakes and figuring out our 90’s houses. Lol! xox

  23. You mentioned doing 90 degree corners but I thought I had noticed rounded corners when you were working the guest room ( I have the rounds and dislike them). Are your keeping yours or changing them to 90 degree? I think Emily Henderson said it was a v expensive line item on her mountain home

    1. Great question, Corie! We’re changing them as we renovate- it’s a pain. Luckily we don’t have too many.

  24. I would love your take on a ranch style home built in the late 1960’s (aka. My home haha). It’s very dated and I’ve always loved more
    Craftsman / Bungalow styles with a lot of character which our home clearly isn’t. How do you bring interest into a home that is somewhat simple overall without seeming like you’re trying to be an entirely different era that doesn’t “fit”?

    1. Yes, yes, yes to the 1960’s Ranch house ideas! It’s not quite mid-mod, but farmhouse or French country (2 of the kitchens in my neighborhood) just look wrong. Working up to a kitchen reno this year, and I need some inspiration!

      1. I agree I’d love to hear more about the 1960s/1970s ranches and split levels. It’s such a family friendly and affordable housing option. We have a 1970s split level. My design inspiration for any changes has been the 1960s “Dick Van Dyke” show vibe. A refined colonial aesthetic maybe? White oak wood floors with narrow floorboards and minimal grain. Minimal oak baseboards. No fancy trim or painted mill work. No arches, no trendy anything. White oak plain interior doors. Just simple & refined neutral and what the house would have been given if it had been built a little more upscale at the time. I think this neutral and timeless base of permanent upgrades can accommodate my mix of vintage modern decor. I’d love to hear more ideas from you Sarah.

    2. Great question, Elaina! We had the same situation in our previous home… it had zero character or architectural interest, so we tried to add it in a way that was neutral, not over the top, or too definitive. I think with homes that don’t have a distinct style, you’re able to inject more of your own personal aesthetic or preference. It’s the homes with strong architectural features, that you want to be sure not to fight.

  25. Hmmm this post puzzled me a bit- it sounds like you are following certain “rules” to architecture and interior style, but isn’t it about what you prefer? Why do there have to be rules? I would understand this post much more if you said “I don’t like the arch anymore, I wish I never put it in” versus what you’re saying which is that it doesn’t fit with what this house was when it was first built. Why does that matter?? Just my two cents, though. I love the arch, I love the kitchen, and I’m sure I’ll still love it even when it’s squared off. :-)

    1. Not at all, Laura! Sorry if it was misleading. I prefer the what bits fits our home and architecture, because as a designer- that’s what makes me happy… seeing a beautifully (and thoughtfully designed) space that feels balanced an accurate. It’s best not to fight with existing architecture if there is already a strong style present. I don’t prefer squared doorways or arched doorways- I think it’s more about context. It took installing one arch to realize this does not work with our home, for me to figure out what style I preferred, if that makes sense. It’s not that I don’t like it anymore… it’s that I came to the realization that this is not right for our home, which makes my design eye cringe. Haha! It matters to me because this is my profession and I’m passionate about design. I want things to feel accurate, balanced, and intentionally designed. Hope that helps to clarify! Thanks for your kind words about our kitchen :) It’s still my favorite room in our home! xo

  26. Yes would love to learn more about how to determine your house’s style and design from there! I stare at the rectangular opening btn our living and dining rooms all the time and wonder if it wouldn’t look amazing as an arch. Our house is mid-century (built in the early 60s), I guess, with no interesting architecture inside to speak of!

    1. I’m going to work on some related posts :) I feel like you could pull it off in your home, Tracy! xo

  27. I freaking love the arch!!! It adds so much character. One of the first things my eyes were drawn to when I looked at the pic. So custom, unique, and beautiful! Anything you do looks amazing and 💯 though!!!!

    1. Thank you, Sara! I truly appreciate your kind words. I’ve loved making this house our home and am excited to continue our renovation journey here :)

  28. I studied Architecture, Sarah, and would argue that since your home is not a historic home, you have every right to work to change the details that you don’t like in any form you see fit. If you don’t love the arch, that makes sense, but I wouldn’t apply rules of a true historic home to a 90’s builder home. There are plenty of historic Georgian home examples that have arch’s included in doorways with intricate woodwork and transoms included. The fact that you trimmed it our really speaks to the woodwork in Georgian Colonials more than if you had nixed that to save costs. If you’re going for a home design truly reflecting a Georgian Colonial I’m not sure the beam design in your sitting room reflects that style as much as a colonial cottage. I wouldn’t change it though because you love it and it looks beautiful. The painted coffered ceiling your first had planned was probably much more appropriate adding in all that heavy trim and painted details. All just saying, don’t be such a harsh critic of yourself as a designer when there’s flexibility in interpretation, and certainly details, based on the era of your home AND your personal style.

    1. I’ll just jump in to bolster Michelle’s note that there are lots of round arches in 18th-century colonial/Georgian architecture, and its assorted revivals in the 19th/20th centuries! The first thing that popped to mind is the arcade between the central hall and the Supreme Court room in Independence Hall in Philadelphia (hard to get more iconic than that, in terms of early American architecture!). I’m also thinking of the historic Lemon Hill, Mount Pleasant, and Powel houses in Philly as well–there are some great photos of Lemon Hill in particular from the Historic American Buildings Survey that are pretty easy to find if you’re curious for some visuals.

      All that said–of course you should make your house work for your tastes, and certainly the prospect of time/labor/materials savings on all the other cased openings is attractive enough in its own right. :)

      1. Thank you so much, Colin! Have a great weekend :)

  29. Architectural integrity aside, I love that you are doing what feels right for YOU!
    I meant to comment on that when you said you don’t like white interiors because they are too easy to design. It was a brave thing to say since they are so ubiquitous. And I love white interiors and the simple formula of white/wood/black-accent, I do! But in my own home. I feel like it is so important to notice a trend and give it some thought before applying it in your own space.
    Same with arches. Such a beautiful, classic element, now being incorporated everywhere, whether they fit or not. As you are predicting, we are going to see a ton of moody, saturated colors (which you do so well!) being applied just because they are trendy.
    I love coming to your space because you seem to be able to select just the right pieces/colors/accents that a true to you. And although my aesthetic is a little different, I love learning about your design process so I can apply it in my own home. You do you, Sarah, because you do it so well!

  30. Yes, I would love a post or series about style of home and keeping renovations consistent!

    Thanks for all of your content!

  31. Mary @ The Handcrafted Haven says:

    Yesssss, I’d love more posts about determining the architecture of your home and what you should/shouldn’t put in your home. I struggle with this! Out last home was a 1970’s bilevel and I made some interior design decisions based on that. I wasn’t happy with those decisions. Now I live in a house built in 2016. I’m not sure if it has a set style to it or is just builder grade-ish (I think the latter mostly?). Regardless, I still try to not go too crazy (like make everything super modern, which wouldn’t make sense with my house’s style) but I do give myself more room for my personal style than I did in our last house 😊 Long story short – I’d love more posts about this! Thanks!

  32. Loved this post! I am struggling with a very similar issue in our 1947 garrison colonial home. All the doorways are square but we have two larger openings with rounded corners that have always stuck out (but seem to be original).
    I’d love to see a post that talks about interior doors! None of ours match, and I’m struggling with what panel design to go with (4 or 6), when we replace them.

  33. Very interesting post! I’d love to see more posts about sticking to (or straying from) from the original style of your home. We recently bought a 1925 mediterranean in California and it’s been difficult to decide how to decorate! There are so many wonderful time-period specific details but some of the interior has been redone over time with builder grade flooring/cabinets/etc. I wish I had a time machine and could see all of the original details of the house.

    1. I’m definitely working on some of those posts :) It’s so tricky to figure out what best fits our home and personal aesthetic. I also wish I had time machine to go back and analyze all of the cool historic houses!

  34. This was such an interesting post! Thank you for sharing. My background is in economics, so I am very removed from the design world :) Shiplap, millwork, moulding, beadboard are so in right now.. I’m wondering if maybe you could do a post where you talk about which style of houses each of those elements would fit in the *best* from an architectural/design point of view (or other trending design choices). Of course, I know that at the end of the day, personal style matters a lot but that would be a super informative post!

  35. Sarah Howard says:

    Great article! Thanks for you honesty! I LOVE the cabinet color! What color is it?