Category Archives: Renovations

Renovation Blog: Finish Selections and What I have learned

Happy Thursday Sweet Friends!

I hope you all have enjoyed the Renovation series thus far. Today we are going to discuss an important aspect of the renovation to help maintain a timeless look: finish selections.

**Subway Tile: This is a super easy go-to for bathrooms and kitchens.  We usually use a medium tone grey grout.  It’s even available at Lowes or Home Depot.  If there is a little extra money in the budget, a hand mold subway is my all-time fav!



**Small Hexagonal Mesh Back Tiles: We like to use these for shower and bathroom floors.  Again, these little guys are very cost effective.



**White Marble for Countertops: Its been around forever and only gets better with age.



**Cross Handle Plumbing Fixtures



**Plumbing Fixture Finishes: This is a question we get quite often…We generally specify polished nickel or chrome for historical renovation projects.



These are just a few of our favorites finishes we typically use in renovation jobs. They are all so timeless!!

Switching gears a little, I wanted to share some the most important thing that I have learned from these projects.

For starters — and I mean this in many different ways — a house is just a house. My parents still live in the same house in Baton Rouge they bought when I was 4 years old and I have wonderful memories of “home”. I truly want our family to have similar memories and sentiment and I want my children to remember “home” the same way I do. I hope our next project will really be “it”. Time will tell, but I have learned I am not in control.

I get VERY attached to every house we renovate! (Barrett says I get waaaaaaay too attached.) So much goes in to the renovation process…thought and design, time and detail, sweat and frustration…along with a lot of reward!! So for me, it is very hard to let them go, especially when I was sure we had finally found our “forever house”… (this has happened a few times ;) )


797 Felder Avenue was featured in the March 2013 issue of Southern Living

While living at 797 Felder (what I thought was our “forever house”), I was taught a lot of things. This was the first time I had to learn a house is just a house. You can’t take it with you…it’s just a possession. Houses are just things; things God lets us enjoy, but ultimately belong to him. We renovated another house as an investment property while living in our “forever house.” When the housing market crashed along with the economy 5 years ago, this newly renovated house had just gone on the market. We prayed and prayed for God to bring us a buyer. My prayer went something like, “God, thank you for both of these houses you have so graciously given us. I really, really love this “forever house” we live in and we need you to sell the other one.”   Little reality check over here…I was quickly reminded everything we have, HE gave us. I learned (not very easily) how to have a thankful heart for all HE has given and to let HIM choose our path based on what HE sees best. So, long story short, we soon sold the “forever house” and moved into the investment house, which we also loved.  At the time, the love for the new house seemed to be less than the love for the “forever house”. Looking back on it now, I know the love was simply different, not less or more. As a result of HIS timing, the 18 months in the “investment house” became some of our happiest times as a family! :)

We will have a few more posts in the coming weeks to continue the renovation series, but we also have lots of fun things coming with client installs, events, and some exciting new development on our end :) Stay tuned and keep reading…




Happy Wednesday!!

I hope everyone enjoyed our first post in our new renovation series.  Here comes round two!

Some people call the renovation process “flipping houses”… I LOATHE the term.   To me, that label implies two things. First, it suggests that a quick return on your investment is the goal. Second, it insinuates a  “quick” process, which it is not.

The process of renovating a home has to make sense financially and emotionally for me… Notice I called it a HOME. We go into every project planning to live there, or at least believing we could if necessary…my heart is completely in it.

A lot of good thing comes from these renovations. Almost every home has been vacant and some even condemned. There is a sense of fulfillment in providing life to a structure that hasn’t seen it in ages. Uncovering history and trying to restore it while improving the neighborhood are some of the major positives in this process.

So, if you think you’re up for the challenge of renovating a house, here are a few quick do’s and don’ts I try to keep in mind.



**Restore those old windows, don’t replace them.

** Keep the old school built-in china cabinets, closets, and medicine cabinets (relocate them if necessary).
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At 1215 Felder, Rett’s nursery has the original built in’s and they work perfectly for his closet!!

**Reuse the original doors and hardware where possible.

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Our door to our bar in 1215 Felder and it’s pair is the door to the pantry.  These are old doors we found.

**Keep the old bath tubs and sinks…just get them restored. Locally, I adore Bath Innovations for restoring these old beauties.

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       This old bathtub was salvaged and placed into our master bathroom in 797 Felder..

I love the look of an old claw foot tub!!

**Keep finishes historic…(next post has some great examples of our favorites).

**Never ever enclose porches just to make more heated and cooled square footage, enjoy the porch for what it really is!!

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Our fourth house, 754 Thorn Place, had the most amazing porch where we spent countless nights enjoying!

Who doesn’t love a good porch?!

**Be creative with closet space. Old homes don’t have much to offer here so use a wonderful armoire for additional storage. Plus you get to take it with you to the next house!! :)

**Replace broken glass in old windows with the old school wavy glass. Your local glass company can provide it…you just have to ask.

**Research historic paint colors before you get color happy. (again suggestions to come!!)



**Don’t use a lot of color in hard finishes.

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In 704 Felder, we used white marble and refinished the hardwoods to keep a timeless look with minimal color in this kitchen!

**Steer clear of very trendy finishes…think timeless and historic

**No vinyl siding or hardy board. Sorry. They just weren’t used 100 years ago…

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This is the finished product of 1935 Graham Street!

Once we started renovation, we uncovered the original wood and look how beautiful is!! It just needed a few coats of paint!

**One of my biggest peeves… Do not cut a decrepit chimney off at the roof. Get a mason and fix it. It isn’t that expensive.

**Don’t put tile down over original hard wood. Wood is totally fine in a bathroom, kitchen or even a laundry room. It’s original for goodness sake.

**Don’t replace old cast iron tubs with fiberglass tub/shower units. Signature Hardware  makes wonderful curved shower rods to help these old school tubs adapt as showers.

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**Block glass is just wrong…in any instance

**Don’t use carpet to cover damaged original hardwoods, repair them! You can patch and refinish to match the originals!

IMG_1425The hardwoods in our kitchen on 797 Felder.

I hope you enjoyed my top “do’s and dont’s” for the nitty gritty renovation process!!

Up next are finish selections, so stay tuned…Also, feel free to send any questions our way.



Hello sweet followers,

Recently, I have had a TON of emails and messages about renovating houses and how the process works. In an effort to answer some questions, I thought I might shine a little light on how we got into this and what we have learned over the years. This will be the first of many posts in a “Renovation Series” we have coming!  Feel free to send over any questions you may have and I will do my best to answer them in these posts.

To get to the “how to”, you need to know the “how we got here” part first…so here goes nothing… :)

The whole process began with a vacant house across the street from us, when Barrett and I first moved to Graham Street in Old Cloverdale nearly 8 years ago. My crazy supportive, afraid of nothing, loving husband was determined to buy this little house and let me renovate it. My conservative nature and fear of failing wasn’t sure this was the best idea. What if we didn’t sell it or if I made a bad decision? What if something went wrong?  I had a lot of hesitations, but needless to say, a little encouragement and support goes a long way. Since our first renovation on Graham Street, we have purchased and renovated 8 houses in 8 years and have lived in all but one. Sounds pretty CRAZY, right?

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Our first renovation project, 1909 Graham Street, before renovation in 2006

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Our second renovation project, 1910 Graham Street before renovation

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Our third renovation project, 1935 Graham Street, as we purchased it. After starting construction, we found that the entire exterior was asbestos siding, but thankfully we found the original wood siding in great condition!! 

For those of you who don’t know me, I am a creative person. It is one of my few God given talents. I can not read a book front to back to save my life and please don’t make me read aloud.  I am super dyslexic and reading and writing just isn’t my thing. (It’s totally embarrassing, but I stumble over words reading children’s books to my babies and just have to laugh.)  I can draw a picture, renovate a house, draw renovation plans, select finishes or pull together fabrics all day…that’s just the way my little mind works. It’s what I do every day and what I truly love to do! Successful doctors open additional clinics, attorneys open multiple firms, successful restaurants become chains…my talent is design and renovating homes. It is something I enjoy and something we have been successful doing.

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Our fourth renovation project, 754 Thorn Place, before construction.

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Our fifth renovation project, 797 Felder Avenue before construction.  A lot of my heart (and sweat) are in this house! We brought lost our twins while living here and brought Cates home to this house, so it holds an extra special place in my heart! The renovation was featured in the March 2013 issue of Southern Living…quick link to it here.

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Our sixth renovation project, 3171 Old Farm Road before construction. This house will always be special to us because we brought our sweet baby boy, Rett, home from the hospital to this house. It is where we became a family of four! :)

I know people probably think we are so crazy to keep renovating houses and to keep moving, but CRAZY is a relative term?!?  Crazy to me is reading a book for pleasure or doing what doctors and nurses do on a daily basis.  Crazy to you might be living through (and sometimes in) a construction zone, multiple times or even moving a gazillion times!!

Renovations are a complete creative challenge! There are always unexpected, uncovered little surprises (good and bad) keeping me completely entertained and mentally challenged. I am ADDICTED to the challenge. This is why a good portion of the Ashley Gilbreath Interior Design business consists of renovation drawings!

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Our seventh renovation house, 704 Felder Avenue, before construction. This is the only renovation house that we have not actually lived in ourselves.


Our eighth and most recent renovation project, 1215 Felder Avenue, before construction. This house will also be dear to us because we renovated and moved in under 45 days… crazy I know?!?!

This post was just a little intro to our series and a little peek into how we fell in love with the whole process!

Stay tuned for tips and a little more insight next week! We will be sharing our Top 10 do’s and don’ts for the renovation process!