Renovation Log: Day….Are we still counting?

Renovation progress is a funny thing: one great thing happens that clearly has made a visible difference and demonstrates your hard work, but then another two weeks goes by and nothing to show for it – or at least nothing that noticeable.  I promise I’ve been working from sun up to sun down, you just can’t see it, but my finger tips can feel it!  So what have I been doing?  Juggling.  Juggling two little boys, one big black dog, one full time work schedule (the Hubs’), an occasional tradesman’s schedule, the holidays, too many DIY projects to count and oh, pregnancy.  Our little guy is quickly approaching and already trying out for the World Cup.  My internal organs have given him a yellow card multiple times.  This nine month pregnant belly has become a legitimate obstacle and of course, my and the baby’s health is paramount which has made me step away from the miter and table saws, harsh chemicals and anything super strenuous.  It has been one of the most frustrating parts of the renovation – not being able to do things I full know that I am capable of doing, but can’t do because of the pregnancy.  Having to ask for help and hire people to do things I can and enjoy doing myself is EXTREMELY difficult.  However, both Hubs and I want a healthy baby more than a pretty house.  So who do I make this check out to and please note the line in our contract that notes final payment will not be received until your work passes my OCD standards – sorry, not sorry. 

I’ll admit that this whole process has taken it’s toll emotionally as well.  Feeling so violently torn between spending time with the boys and Hubs, resting up to grow a baby, drilling for the Reserves and wanting DESPERATELY to finish the house has left me feeling threadbare to say the least.  I’ve snapped at Hubs far too many times, have told the boys “we can’t read another story tonight because Mommy has work to do” more than my Mom guilt can handle and have missed out stopping to smell the roses in general.  The excitement of the baby and knowing that I have a team of loved ones that supports our craziness keeps me going, as well as checking off one item at a time on the to-do list.  I get to check an item off once I publish this blog post! Yay, me!

Many people have been asking how the house is coming along and there is so much I do want to share, so let’s consider this post a ‘first floor room-by-room check in’  (in technicolor!):



So dark…


…so open and inviting!

Such a HUGE change!  You should see it in the morning when the light comes in and makes the marble island sparkle.  Actually, you probably will once I start taking finished photos.  To recap what we have done:

  • Revised nearly the entire layout
  • Moved the laundry closet and half bath (sat behind the wall where the oven used to be) to other places in the house
  • Opened up wall to the dining room
  • Put in a center island.
  • Added a window and door
  • Raised the ceiling
  • Laid new floors
  • Installed all new appliances and cabinets (BY OURSELVES!)
  • Added a range hood and cover

I am so in love with our kitchen!  All the late nights staring into Pinterest’s eyes – I mean, screen – and dreaming of color/texture combinations have come to a reality!  Or almost have.  A few big tickets items left to be done:

  • Tile back splash
  • Finish range hood cover
  • Trim out exterior door and pantry door – as well as hang pantry door
  • Install two additional upper cabinets
  • Finish crown molding
  • Fix hardwood/tile transition in dining room
  • Organize all the fun stuff under the island
  • Paint windows and touch up paint
  • Cook the most amazing meal ever.

Living Room:


So blocked off…


So bright and open!

The living room is now a place I like to hang out.  I had so much fun finding vintage pieces to make the built-ins with and actually having over head lights makes all the difference.  Can we talk about those windows too?!  So here’s what we’ve done:

  • Removed the brick wall that surrounded the fireplace
  • Added two casement windows
  • New floors
  • Removed the pony wall (even though it still feels like a animal stable at times with crazy boys running around) and other wall that divided the space
  • Installed antique cabinets to flank fireplace
  • Rebuilt hearth
  • Crown and window trim
  • Installed recessed lighting

I feel that with all of the light and built-ins, the room now has character and says, “Come over and have a seat, kick up your feet and I’ll have the ottoman bring you a cup of coffee.”  Before I can do that though, here is what’s left to do:

  • Install salvaged mantle piece and tile surround
  • Paint cabinets and mantle piece
  • Paint trim and exterior door
  • Figure out furniture situation
  • Make a pot of coffee because as much as I’d like my ottoman to be from The Beauty and the Beast this renovation has taught me fairy tales exist only in Disney movies.



As a formal front living room it was so antiquated and boring…


It’s…it’s an office!  Just use your imagination!

The formal living room did not work for us – really, what modern family does it work for?  I love how the office is coming along, it’s dark and moody, intellectual and – in my cinematic designer’s brain – full of inspiration!  To get it that way we did the following:

  • Created a new entry for pocket doors that will add privacy and a noise barrier (from stable animals mentioned earlier)
  • Installed two new windows
  • Installed custom built-ins
  • Recessed lighting
  • New floors
  • New dark, deep-thought-inducing paint

Before we can off load our books onto the shelves and no longer use the excuse of “not being able to write a blog post because I don’t have a quiet place to write,” we must finish the following:

  • Finish second coat of paint
  • Paint windows
  • Install shelving
  • Push massive piano into place
  • Install library lights over bookshelves
  • Find two amazing club chairs that will really class up the place

Dining Room:


It actually doesn’t look too bad, just mismatched and dated. Oh whimsy curtains.


Coming along…

Not nearly as inviting as before, but hey! The piano is no longer in there and I actually have the light reinstalled – minus one light bulb.  We actually hosted Thanksgiving here this year with some dear friends from elementary school and our neighbors.  Thankfully hosting them propelled Operation CLEAN OUT THE DINING ROOM into full motion.  For nearly a year, this room collected furniture, tools, materials and dust – LOTS of dust.  Hubs did most of the moving and bending over to pick things up – at 36 weeks pregnant my useful skills were motivation and supervision.  To get it to this point we had:

  • Installed new floors, but you already knew that because you read THIS POST.
  • Smoothed the ceiling, and again you knew that because of THIS POST
  • Opened up the wall to the kitchen
  • Installed a new window
  • Crown and ceiling molding

Now to get it to the point of being able to host ‘talk of the town’ dinner parties in, we need to:

  • Paint
  • Finish ceiling molding
  • Find missing light bulb – or really a new chandelier
  • Refinish 1960s furniture
  • Add all of the beautiful accessories that I’ve collected and can use as conversation starters for said dinner parties.

Half Bath:


The way too big coat closet!


Ohhhhh shiny new half bath appropriately positioned in the middle of the first level.

I hated the fact that my half bath was through my kitchen and next to the laundry closet – seriously, WHO came up with that layout?!  As we did the remodel, I moved the half bath to the previous huge coat closet off of the foyer – it was just the right size and made SO much more sense.  It didn’t take as much work as I thought it would to get it there either:

  • Move plumbing (and dig a massive hole through the concrete in the basement)
  • Re-positioned door to the hallway rather than off of the foyer
  • Installed ‘magical forest’ wallpaper, thanks Hubs for the appropriate name
  • Installed beautiful marble mosaic floors
  • Installed sink and toilet

It works, it doesn’t leak and it’s SO beautiful, but the best part is that my family and guests do not have to walk through the kitchen to get to it, nor leave behind yucky smells too close to a kitchen!  YAY!!!  My domestic heart is over-joyed!  The few things that are left are simply:

  • Hang mirror
  • Hang shelf for much needed – and often appreciated – candle
  • Find some super awesome artwork that doesn’t compete too much with wallpaper and floor – challenge accepted.

THERE YOU HAVE IT.  Consider yourself fully up to speed with the progress of the first floor remodel.  Next up will be an update of the second floor progress.  Please leave some comments, at 39 weeks pregnant and nearly a year into this remodel I could use some motivation for the final push – no pregnancy pun intended.





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