Thursday, October 31, 2013

Renovation: Progress Report

So yeah, I promised updates along this renovation road we've now been traveling for 3 months (so much for a 6-8 week project, ahem). Well, I would've LOVED to share progress--if any had been made. Seriously, demo still had a loooong way to go as we entered Week 7.

However, we are rolling now. I honestly don't know what's come over the crew the last 10 days, but holy smokes. It's really amazing how much they can accomplish when they, well, show up.

So here's a check-in with our initial project list & some photo updates to document (the photo layout isn't cooperating, bear with me):

  • Install hardwoods - in progress
  • Remove the peninsula- check
  • Demolish bulkhead- check
  • new cabinetry & countertops - check, check
  • new appliances - scheduled for delivery
  • new lighting - purchased, pending install
  • update wiring - check
  • install tiled wall with open shelving - tile, check; shelves pending
  • construct banquette eating area 
  • move gas line for stove - check

Secondary Bath:

  • Demo tile - check
  • Replace floors - check
  • Install new tub/toilet/vanity - triple check
  • Update all fixtures - check
  • Remove built-in cabinet - check
  • Swap position of toilet & sink to accommodate larger vanity - check

 Living & Dining:

  • Update built-in cabinet doors (in living & hall)
  • Remove brown shag carpet - check 
  • Install chandelier in dining - pending install
  • Install can lights in living - check
  • Install ceiling fan in living - pending install
  • Update fireplace surround & mantle - scheduled
  • Bump-out fireplace to accommodate TV mount & cables in-wall - check (big shout out to hubby's carpentry skills here!!)
  • Install hardwoods (also in foyer, kitchen, & halls) - underway
  • Replace moldings (not originally planned, but due to unexpected ceiling collapse & replacement, the old ones had to come down)


  • Replace existing radiant heat & boiler with efficient Central Heat (at least Central A/C is already in place!) - check
  • Convert to tankless hot water to make room for master closet expansion - check
  • Bring electrical up to code - check 
  • Install can lighting in main living areas, per code - check
Master Suite: 
  • Expand & renovate master bath - check
  • Close doorway from master to guest bedroom - check
  • Convert former mechanical room to walk-in closet - check, pending install of Elfa system
  • Remove brown shag carpeting - check
  • Install carpet

B's Room:

  • Remove shag carpeting - check
  • Install carpet
  • Install closet system in large closet
  • Convert small closet to reading/play nook

Guest Room:

  • Paint wood paneling
  • Close & patch secondary opening
  • Install closet system


  • Update laundry space - underway
  • Repair windows as needed - underway
  • Updated moldings throughout - underway
  • Sheetrock repair throughout - check, plus a surprise project: the plaster ceilings collapsed while the electrician was banging on the electrical panel, so we had to replace the majority of the ceilings. Of course, that requires some molding updates where the ceiling meets the walls.
  • Update paint & finishes throughout
  • Replace interior doors
  • Bury rear electrical lines to garage

Wow, seeing all those check marks feels good! I mean GOOOOOOOOD. I love crossing items off my to-do lists! A week ago this update would've looked very different. It's a good thing we're making such headway since we have to be out of our apartment in 10 days. Let the packing begin!!!

Once we move in, I promise real, non-phone pics of the finished product. Heck, I may even edit them. Considering that most visits were in the evening, we haven't had power until 2 days ago, & that I often was balancing B on my hip, you're lucky to have any photos at all. Just sayin'.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Taking a Moment to be Thankful

My wonderful husband just texted me a sweet reminder that even though this house renovation isn't quite the "fun" we always imagined, that even though we shed a lot of tears over the past few months, that even though this apartment life is driving us freakin' bonkers, that even though the limited playtime we get with Burke in the evenings is on contractor-grade bleh carpet, that even though we second-guessed the decision to sell our perfectly good former house, that even though we have to twist our contractor's arm every single day to actually show up to work, that even though my career took an untimely-but-so-much-better path, that even though the weather is turning cool & all my fall clothes are in storage, that even though we're paying double house expenses for an apartment we can't stand & a house we can't live in, ultimately, we are doing everything for the right reason.

In case we were doubting any of our decisions, one of the hoodlums from the old neighborhood was thoughtful enough to remind us last night. He decided to break into a home at 4am on our old street because he wanted the car parked out front. Ironically, that car did not belong to the person in that home, and fortunately, no one was harmed. But, it could've been our old house. It could've been Burke's room that the idiot stumbled into in the middle of the night.

And it wasn't. Praise God.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Renovation: Living Room Inspiration

With the renovation going so slowwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwly, I've had entirely too many nights to peruse Pinterest & Houzz. Of course it goes to reason that after spending endless hours pinning images, I find "the" inspiration pic I've been looking for while browsing the website of a home decor store that's less than two miles from my sofa. Stumbling upon it was like finding the Holy Grail. The skies parted, rainbows appeared, and a chorus of butterflies and angels echoed harmoniously. Okay, maybe not quite that dramatic.

And here she is:

originally from Stanton Home Furnishings
This room has a very similar layout as our living space, which is what proved so hard to find. The back door to the back porch creates a weird walkway that needs to be kept clear. The fireplace is centered on the opposite wall, but the room isn't all that wide, which makes furniture placement tricky. The room is about 15' wide (fireplace to opposite wall) and 21' deep from the windows to the built-ins/foyer entry.

For reference, here's what we're working with (apologies for the phone pics):

looking from foyer

looking from dining. foyer to the right

I know I want ample seating in this room. It's where we'll spend the majority of our time, and our previous den just felt cramped when we had anyone over to visit.

Using the furnishing we have, or that I've had my eye on for a while, here's my design "plan." Of course, once we get the furniture in place, there may be some shuffling. But at least there's a starting point. 

A sofa and a side chair just isn't enough seating for our family. I like the idea of a swivel on the far end of the room so we can play with B or swivel right around & be part of whatever's happening in the den. Jason says I tend to overpack a room with furniture. Is it too much? What do you think?

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Renovation: Kitchen Countertops

When we decided on a white kitchen, it was due, in part, to the beautiful images of carrara marble counter tops that gloss page after page of every home decor magazine. Though we had zero intention of ever putting high-maintenance, easy-to-stain, etch-prone marble in our workhorse kitchen.

I was thrilled to learn of the various quartz products that were new on the market that had similar aesthetic as marble, but without the porosity. Sounded too good to be true, and it was. That stuff does NOT look like marble. It's pretty, but it doesn't look like marble. Some of the recent attempts are closer. Caesarstone's London Grey was my favorite. But it was quoted to us at $70sf installed.

Caesarstone London Grey

My biggest fear was that I'd get a new countertop installed only for it to look like it was trying to be something it wasn't. I didn't want the fake or imitation look, and I wasn't convinced the quartz options would satisfy.

In search of white granite we went. We scoured slab yard after slab yard in search of something that would appeal to our style.

I found a few promising options, but either the lot had too much red or gold or tan veining or there wasn't enough for our project or it was sold by the time I got J's approval.

Thunder White granite

Aisle upon aisle of beautiful stone, and we'd find our way gravitating to the marble section. Jason would find something he liked and ask "is it marble?" Unfortunately, the answer was always "yes." It was deflating.

We tried to track down Super White quartzite, to no avail. Well, where we found it we couldn't afford it.
Super White quartzite

So, after talking with a few fabricators and other experts (not so much the sales people), we learned that honed marble can be beautiful & practical--perfections and all. Every single countertop in Italy is century-old carrara, and with age comes beauty. Yes, it will etch, but we're ok with that. The honed finish won't show the etching as badly as polished. There are also tons of sealers available. One even offers a replacement guarantee for 15 years--full countertop replacement if you spill red wine and it can't be removed. We were sold. Accept no imitations.

Now, tracking down honed carrara is difficult. The local supply of even polished was mediocre--more splotchy instead of the famed veining that carrara is known to have.

But, one fabricator came through for us. We drove up to see it, feel it, hug it, smell it, kiss it. SOLD.

You don't know how giddy I got when he was writing my name on the sold slip. I cannot wait to see it installed in our kitchen. (these phone pics don't do it justice)

Friday, October 4, 2013

Renovation: Kitchen Inspiration

I've always dreamed of renovating a kitchen. Making it my very own. No quirks unless I handpicked them. And now, well, it's kinda overwhelming.

We want the finished product to not only reflect our personality & style, but also be true to the time of the home and neighborhood.

A little vintage, a little modern, a little farmhouse, a little utilitarian, a little classic traditional, a little whimsy, with a lot of easy-going comfort.

images via my pinterest board

Expect lots of white subway tile, open shelving, casual comfort. White shaker cabinetry. Antique brass. Reclaimed wood. Carrara marble. Aged steel. Forged iron. A corner built-in eating nook. Wide plank hardwood flooring.

Let's do this.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Renovation: The Before

We bought a house! Woo hoo!!! There's light at the end of this way-too-small-apartment tunnel! Even if the light looks like a terribly dated 40's ranch with tweed curtains and brown shag carpet.

We are super thrilled to get into the new house. The large, wooded lot is just around the corner from one of the best elementary schools in town which is actually being demolished and rebuilt, set to open brand new in about 2 years. It's close to everything we love, and is much, much safer than the old digs. The first time we walked through the house, I got "that feeling." Random little things reminded me of the house where I grew up--the attic fan, the rusty glider on the porch, the antique bed that was included with the sale, the garage apartment, and much more. It just needs some TLC. A lot of TLC.

Here's our initial project list and the required "before" photos (sorry for the phone pics):

  • Install hardwoods
  • Remove the peninsula 
  • Demolish bulkhead
  • new cabinetry & countertops
  • new appliances
  • new lighting
  • update wiring
  • install tiled wall with open shelving
  • construct banquette eating area

Secondary Bath:
  • Replace floors
  • Install new tub/toilet/vanity
  • Update all fixtures
  • Remove built-in cabinet
  • Swap position of toilet & sink to accommodate larger vanity

 Living & Dining:
  • Update built-in cabinet doors (in living & hall)
  • Remove brown shag carpet
  • Install chandelier in dining
  • Install can lights in living
  • Install ceiling fan in living
  • Update fireplace surround & mantle
  • Bump-out fireplace to accomodate TV mount & cables in-wall
  • Install hardwoods (also in foyer, kitchen, & halls) 

  • Replace existing radiant heat & boiler with efficient Central Heat (at least Central A/C is already in place!)
  • Convert to tankless hot water to make room for master closet expansion
  • Bring electrical up to code
  • Install can lighting in main living areas, per code
Master Suite:
  • Expand & renovate master bath
  • Close doorway from master to guest bedroom
  • Convert former mechanical room to walk-in closet 
  • Remove brown shag carpeting. Install carpet.


B's Room:
  • Remove shag carpeting
  • Install carpet
  • Install closet system in large closet
  • Convert small closet to reading/play nook

Guest Room:
  • Paint wood paneling
  • Close & patch secondary opening
  • Install closet system

  • Update laundry space
  • Repair windows as needed
  • Updated moldings throughout
  • Sheetrock repair throughout
  • Update paint & finishes throughout
  • Replace interior doors

You may notice a lot of furniture in the house. We inherited it with the house and are still figuring out what we'll keep, sell, and donate. There is definitely a garage sale in our future!

Stay tuned for updates!!!