I am taking a break today. I am sitting in one of the newly purchased library chairs we got for a steal at West Elm, relaxing near the fireplace while two men install carpeting in the basement. It’s the first real bit of respite I have had in about a month. Steve and I have been going at breakneck speed since December, renovating one house and cleaning out another while somehow managing to squeeze in the holidays, the boys’ ski lessons, and the actual and inescapable burdens of life as grown ass adults (like paying bills and buying groceries). Some days I pause briefly to remind myself to breathe and I wonder how I ever got old enough to be here. Seems like just yesterday I was worrying if my student loan check would arrive in time to pay my undergrad tuition without incurring a late fee. Life was so much simpler when my worldly possessions fit into a four-door sedan. I’m not saying I’d like to be living back in my minuscule dorm room with a midterm paper due in American Lit, but it might be fun to visit there for a few hours. Mental vacations are the only trips I can afford this year.
Anyhoo, since I last posted a renovation update here 53 days ago, a lot has changed in this old house. Many friends have been clamoring for updates, and today seems like as good a day as any to share. Where shall I start? Let’s start in the kitchen.
I know many people choose their house based on the kitchen. It’s safe to say we bought this house in spite of the kitchen. It is an odd duck. Because of an ill-placed window and a superfluous door, the kitchen lacks in counter space and cupboards and has a less than ideal layout. That said, any attempt to redo the layout into something more ideally functional would have resulted in changes to the exterior brick. We had no desire to mess with the structure of the house and, moreover, doing so would have blown our renovation budget. So we decided to keep the original layout, but update the flooring (goodbye, linoleum), countertops, and appliances. We tore out a small wall to add some peninsula cabinets and additional counterspace. The New Carrara Quartz is being cut and should be installed sometime in the next few weeks. The tile floor is in and is a huge improvement. We have wood floors in the kitchen of our current home and decided fairly early on that tile would be a better choice for us here. Between two boys, a dog, and constant traffic into the house from the garage and through the kitchen, tile will look better for much longer. And it cost a bunch less. Score!
In late December and early January we pulled out all the carpet, baseboards, and old doors on the main floor to have the original hardwoods stripped, patched, sanded, and coated with a water-based finish. The result is way better than we had hoped. The red oak has a lighter, fresher appearance without the heavy, oil-based finishing product. The fireplace insert arrived a few weeks ago to finish off the showpiece in our living room. The fireplace wall is exactly what we wanted. It makes the room seem taller, brighter, and more modern. We started adding a furniture this month too, purchasing a couple upholstered chairs, an accent table, and a bar cart, and ordering a loveseat and upholstered ottoman to complement the modern velvet sofa we will move over from our current house. It’s the first living room furniture we’ve bought since 1996. We were due for an update. And it’s no coincidence that the first furniture purchase is a bar cart and the first items we moved over were bar glasses and a significant share of spirits. It’s always 5 o’clock in a mid-century brick ranch!
In between the bigger renovations, I have painted nearly the entire main floor, including ceilings. I figure that by the time we move in, I will have painted approximately 3,000 square feet. I am SO done with painting. On the plus side, my painting skills are currently Level Expert. So I am ready to move on and tile again, which is perfect because our small, dated master bath is our next major undertaking. I am ecstatic to report that the main floor bath is nearly complete. You may remember our hideous main bath. All terra cotta-colored, square tile and sixties panache. Fairly certain the only thing that had been updated in that room in fifty years was the sink faucet and maybe the sink itself. I imagine it was once also orange hued like the walls. Well…it’s all gone.
We still need to put in the baseboards and hook up the shower plumbing, but we ended up with a much cleaner, updated room that we did ourselves. We’re feeling pretty impressed with our do-it-yourself skills. On a personal note, we determined that undertaking subway tile on several full walls as our first tiling project might have been a bit overzealous. It took us forever and a day, and the workmanship is far from world class, but it is a huge improvement over the previous look.
And now we’re approaching the final stretch of renovations. We are waiting on our solid, prehung doors, need to redo the aforementioned master closet (er, I mean bath), and will soon be putting in simple, five-inch baseboards. It’s all coming together nicely timing-wise because we will be listing our current home earlier than expected, sometime in the next month if the real estate market continues to pick up. I hope to be living here while the other place is listed because I don’t want to deal with the hassle of continual clean up for showings. I’ll have a longer commute, but less house to clean and that is always a plus. We have been quite fortunate with how this whole process has gone for us so far. My fingers are crossed that we will remain on budget and on time. I have grand plans to spend all summer sitting on our back patio doing absolutely nothing. I believe I will have earned it. Moscow Mule, anyone?