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I’m not sure whether this qualifies as an early Christmas present to ourselves or a late Labor Day/Halloween/Thanksgiving present, but . . . our master bathroom is finally (finally!) finished and usable.

The most recent delay (of about six weeks) was entirely of our own doing.  We had agreed early on to do all the painting ourselves to save some money. Well, because it’s a bathroom and because it’s all cabinetry requiring oil based paint, it took a really, reeaaaalllly lllloooonnnnggg time. (Thank you, Mark, for all your after-hours work.)

But I am thrilled with the finished product and, as I was enjoying my first soak in the tub last night, I knew that it was definitely worth the wait:

Party in the shower, anyone?

The view from our bedroom (boys in the bathtub not part of my original intended design!)

Cabinetry and the view through to the bedroom

The vanity, still lacking hardware (but yay for double sinks!)

The boys got a trial run in the deep-soaking tub with jets tonight but their raucous splashing has earned them a three-month ban.  Awesome, more for me. Oops, that’s not very Christmas-y of me, is it?  Oh well, it was supposed to be a Labor Day present . . . .

So, it’s taken a little longer than we expected (doesn’t it always?), but our renovation projects are finally coming to a close.

To refresh your memory (it has taken a while), here are some Before pictures and here, some During.

We moved into our new bedroom the weekend before last and are loving it. We have this enormous bay window with the most incredible view. This is the scene that greeted me each morning last week:

I have yet to order blinds, which is becoming more and more of  a problem every day as the trees continue to shed their leaves.  I should probably be doing that right now (there’s always so much I should be doing instead of blogging!), but those few days of glorious color inspired my autumn decorating theme:

Duvet cover coming soon

Love birds (thank you, Etsy)

The closet is done as well and what a joy it is to no longer have to rummage through the storage boxes under my bed to find clothes. Here are some pre-moving in pictures:

And my, how quickly we’ve filled this thing up:

I can’t quite believe I’m posting pictures of my closet for
all the world to see. I feel a little Kim Kardashian.

The glass for the shower was just installed today and now Mark and I have to tackle painting the bathroom. We’ve been doing all the painting ourselves to save a few bucks, which has been a huge job because of all the trim and cabinetry.  But every day, we’re a tiny bit closer.

And this evening, when Braedan walked into the bathroom to see the completed shower for the first time, he exclaimed, “Wow! This is like that dream house we saw on TV.”

Indeed.  And in so many ways.

Back to the house renovations.  I’ve gotta be honest about that “before” picture I posted last week of the exterior of our house: it really never looked that bad. It was quite lovely in fact. In that photo, the shutters had already been removed, leaving behind dusty shadows around the windows, all the porch furniture and flowers and door wreath were missing, and, to top it off, it was gray and overcast outside.  Sort of like the personal makeover pics that show women with no make-up, greasy hair and a scowl on their faces.  If that’s the standard we use, then I’m a makeover candidate every single morning (scowl included — I’m not much for mornings).

But anyway, that photo was definitely for exaggerated effect.  Progress is moving along in other areas as well. Here are some photos of the rear of the house (compare to these from a few weeks ago):

Boy, our neighbors must be pleased

And the side:

The porch is almost done (one more week) but the guys have spent most of their time and energy working on the inside lately.  The dry wallers came over the weekend so now the rooms are actually taking shape.

The bathroom:

Corner window over bathtub

Site of future shower


As yet uncluttered!

And the brand new and super fabulous bay window in our bedroom:

More soon, I hope!

Our house has been invaded. Third floor to basement, inside and out, from 8 am to 7 pm every day of the week.

It all started with the porch project. This was one of those big plans we had when we first bought the house (exactly two years ago) but put on hold until we sold the other house (exactly three months ago). We happen to live on a lot and a half, which gives us an extra large side yard, most of which we’ve decided to turn into a huge Victorian-style porch that comes off our kitchen, without losing any of the play space in the backyard. We laid the foundation last fall and then began in earnest this spring. It’s almost finished and spectacularly gorgeous and I promise we’ll invite you all over for a drink one of these fabulous summer evenings.

We’ve also long planned to paint the exterior of the house this summer, which starts on Monday. And Mark and I are actively re-landscaping the front, shoveling an awful lot of dirt on these fabulous summer evenings (instead of enjoying a cool drink with friends on that lovely porch).

There were a few windows that had yet to be replaced, so that’s been happening this week, with a crew of five guys, who are very pleasant but reek of cigarette smoke, traipsing in and out all day long, upstairs, downstairs, in between. Which is just great when Braedan starts randomly opening doors as I’m changing my clothes and — lo and behold — there just happens to be a strange man on a ladder outside the window. Great.

I’m sure our neighbors love us!

And since the invasion was already underway, we decided to do it all at once (and get it over with) and tackle our master suite renovation. Demolition started last week and we are now sequestered to the front half of the upstairs, having lost access to our bathroom, three closets and two small bedrooms.

Our someday master bedroom

Our someday master bathroom

And the someday master closet …
It really will be lovely, I swear.

Now I’m not complaining or anything (am I?) because I know I am extremely lucky to be able to do all this and we are very very excited for the end product, which will basically be our dream house. But it is a little hard to feel so invaded (especially when I’ve been caring for sick kids). The guy who is doing our indoor renovation is also the guy who is building our porch and happens to be a friend of ours. The second day of demo, as I balked at the temporary walls he was constructing to contain the dust and debris, he kindly said, “Listen, this is your house. You have to tell me if something isn’t okay and if you want it done another way.”

“Well, sure,” I replied, “except that there’s no other way to do this. What should I tell you?  Finish tomorrow and get on outta here?”

No, can’t do that. Instead we’re the ones who’re gonna get on outta here.

More from the road ….

Long awaited photos of the kitchen, with a few of the “before” ones so you can fully appreciate the transformation.

My "new" kitchen, circa 1965

The “view” towards the backyard

A slight improvement, yes?

 Another lovely view
This next picture is really and truly the “after” of the above spot:

This is looking towards the front of the house and the small door to the traditional dining room,

that we’ve instead opened up and turned into the family room, giving us the best of  modern home design within a hundred-year-old house.

That’s it for now. Nothing else is ready to be photographed yet!

(And sorry for the ridiculous formatting — I imported pictures from a bunch of different locations and WordPress won’t let me correct it.  Can’t dwell on that for too long, now can I?)

And now, after many months of patient waiting, I present to you . . . my mudroom:

Like I said, the name “mudroom” just doesn’t do this place justice.

Control room, maybe? Situation room?  Super room? Mud mansion??

The view to the back yard

I guess they like it.

I know you’d all be jealous of me, except for that pesky little issue of having a child with a sneaky cancer for the second time. At least, I’ll be organized . . . .

I know our current situation would not work for everyone. In fact, I’m sure the very thought of trying to sell one house, renovating another and awaiting a potential cancer recurrence probably seems like a total nightmare to many of you. But I have to say, this is just what we need right now. This works for us.  The new house is such a bright spot, such a positive distraction. Witnessing the daily transformation from ordinary time-warped house into dream home is enormously satisfying.

Yesterday our countertops were installed and I was gushing to my mother about how much I love them, when she interrupted to say how glad she is that I have this house to occupy my mind and my time. She said this because she knows me. She knows that I function best with the most on my plate. Not that this process has been without its meltdowns, of course, but overall it is so helpful to have something else, something good, on which to focus our emotional and physical energy.

And our countertops, by the way, are fabulous.  I love love love them. We went with a very green granite, never ones to shy away from color.  We had originally tried to find a cream or tan or gray, something much more ordinary, thinking that we would have to live with this color for many many years and we shouldn’t make a big statement. But big statements are what I do and besides, what’s the point of sinking a bunch of money into granite if it’s only ordinary? This one is definitely not ordinary. It’s like jewelry, like a piece of art sitting atop my cabinets.  Enough words, check it out:

My island -- and this doesn't even do it justice

The little strip near the stove -- again not nearly as good as the real thing

The storage warehouse that will one day be our dining room

The exterior of the mudroom -- and this was a week ago; it looks even better now

So we juggle, visits to Santa squeezed between trips to Home Depot, decisions about surgeries offset by decisions about wall colors.  It works for us. And any of the myriad things that might go wrong when renovating a house suddenly seem less important. So, the doors are delayed . . . who cares?  The mudroom roof was leaking? We’ve had worse.  Our perspective is in just the right place. While the house provides a fun and exciting distraction, we know what really matters.

What really matters can be found upstairs in their beds.

I think it’s sort of funny how much you all appreciated seeing my “human side” in that last post!  I certainly have never meant to paint a picture of us as gliding right through this crisis (or these crises) without rearing our own sometimes ugly heads. We have handled it all very well, I’ll give us credit for that, but there is no perfection in this household.

Speaking of this household, or at least this house, I should also make clear that we have no regrets about our decision to move. We absolutely love our new house and are super excited to live there (whenever that may be!). Now selling one house and renovating another is definitely time-consuming but it actually hasn’t been all that stressful. I like projects (and this house will provide me with projects for a long long time), so have enjoyed immersing myself in this one. And as anyone who knows me well can attest, if I weren’t busy doing this, I’d be busy doing something else! 

Not to mention, one of the main reasons we bought this particular house is for the enormous and partially wooded backyard in which my boys can climb, dig, hide, run, play, leap and explore. I have every intention of them doing that for many years to come.  Both of them.

I told you he doesn't like to sit still!

I told you he doesn't like to sit still!

Lots of loose ends. First, the current house: Not much movement here.  We’ve had really good turnouts at all our Open Houses and have received lots of positive feedback but no offers. It’s frustrating but we keep reminding ourselves that it only takes one person or one family to make this happen. So we’ll just keep plugging away and hope that that person walks through our door sooner or later (well, sooner rather than later would be nice!).

And the new house: I love it, love it, love it. But this is no small project. Demolition started on Monday and we’re now in the process of framing out the new kitchen.  Tomorrow the GC and I will lay out the entire room, using all the cabinets we bought at the Kraftmaid warehouse and figuring out exactly what else we need to complete it. Then Mark and I will head back to Youngstown on another cabinet-hunting adventure this Saturday. Anything we can’t find on this trip, we’ll order that very day from Home Depot. Work will be done in two months at best, but you know how that goes. I’d love to be in before Christmas. A week ago I was saying Thanksgiving but I’m trying to be realistic here.

I promised to entertain you with before and after pictures but you’ll have to be quite patient for that. So here are some before and during pictures:

My "new" kitchen, circa 1965

My "new" kitchen, circa 1965


The window stays . . . and that's about it!

The window stays . . . and that's about it!


Another lovely view
Another lovely view
Recognize this?

Recognize this?

What's for dinner, Mom?

What's for dinner, Mom?

And now for the other loose ends: Austin is doing slightly better at school although my departure is still pretty ugly. I was the Parent Helper on Monday for his birthday so that was obviously fine. Yesterday, he screamed like mad and I left feeling totally awful yet again. Today he cried but with a little less fervor (just a little). He still participates in the activities, does his art project and eats his snack and all that, but he’s not interacting much (or at all) with the other kids. I know it will get better but it’s still hard to leave him each day when he’s so miserable.
Braedan, on the other hand, absolutely loves school.  Aside from waking up in the morning, he has no complaints. There are about six different kids he now refers to as his “new best friends” and he adores his teacher. And I have to admit that even with my high expectations for this school, I am floored by how much he is learning. Every single day, he has some new skill or tidbit of knowledge (yesterday he was talking about the cypress tress in Van Gogh’s Starry Night) and it is such an exciting thing to see — actual growth and learning occuring before my very eyes. When I leave his room at night, I can hear him clapping out the syllables in words while he lies in his bed and talks to himself. He’ll be reading in no time and I can’t wait.

I see many of you have taken a virtual tour of our house.  Looks pretty nice, doesn’t it? I must say, those wide-angle lenses are remarkable because there are some rooms I barely recognize!  No movement yet but hopefully this weekend’s Open House will be productive. Of course, it’s supposed to be the hottest day we’ve had yet this summer!  Mark wants to put out a bucket of ice cold water bottles for everyone who comes through. Not a bad idea . . .

A lot of you have asked about the new house and our timeline for moving. If anything were set in stone, I’d have already let you know! But we do take possession on September 17 and then work will begin the following Monday. We had originally planned to redo the entire kitchen and mudroom plus a major renovation on the second floor to create a master suite (new bath and walk-in closets) out of two smaller rooms and an existing bath in desperate need of updating. Oh, plus refinish the hardwood floors and paint most of the rooms. But when we got the estimates in from our various contractors, they were all well over what we’d hoped to spend. Well, no they were about exactly what we hoped to spend but included the labor only leaving nothing for those little expenses like cabinets and countertops and appliances. Imagine that — my vision outpaced my budget!

So, we’ve decided to scale back quite a bit and do this in stages, with stage 1 being the kitchen/ mudroom/laundry plus basics like flooring and painting. The master suite will take place sometime next summer. I’ve had to go through a bit of a mourning period since I’d already gotten very attached to the walk-in closet and sanctuary-like bathroom that existed only in my mind. We’ll still have our own bathroom though, which is a big plus.

As I’ve learned from my new obsession with all things HGTV, renovations never seem to stay on schedule but we are hoping to be moved in before Thanksgiving. I have a feeling that the next few months of this blog will be dominated by this project (as will the next few months of our lives). I will try to keep you entertained with many before and after photos!

April 2020


April 2020