The Reality Behind a Home Renovation
Ahhhhh… our sweet little cape cod. If you’ve ever watched any kind of HGTV show, then you know renovations are an inevitable hot mess. The reality behind a home reno is that you have to be constantly prepared for new ideas popping into your brain mid-swing of a sledgehammer. You will be mad you didn’t think of something before. You will cry when something you’ve worked so hard on comes to fruition. There really isn’t anything I’ve done yet that shows me my strengths and weaknesses like remolding our own personal house!
What Did It Look Like to Start:
Let me just start off by saying: We love our sweet little house! That doesn’t mean that the old gal doesn’t need a ton of TLC. Our house was built in the 1940’s, which means there is 80 years’ worth of junk to remodel and fix? That sounds like a lot to take on, but here is a list of reasons why we wanted the house in the first place!
- Great bones! There really is nothing like walking into an old home and knowing it’s just solid. Am I right?
- Original hardwood floors throughout! I’m not a fan of carpet because it’s always stained.
- NO POPCORN CEILINGS!
- More space than we had in our previous home! (We’re unleashing our OCD on this whole house and it feels gooood.)
- High equity potential! If you take a look at the photos below – a few cosmetic improvements to some areas would go such a long way! (Looking at you Fireplace!)
- Yard space and curb appeal. I used to drive by it all the time on my way home from work because we lived quite literally a street over. I think I always loved it so when it went up for sale.. you know the rest!
Fortunately, even with all that we knew we’d want to do with it, there was already work completed that made a big financial impact. The roof and all of the windows had been replaced recently. Those are two big-ticket items that can bust a renovation budget REAL FAST! The basement had been completely gutted, waterproofed, and the walls/ceilings were in. This means all it needed was flooring and paint. (This adds quite a bit of living space to the house!)
To see more of our home ‘pre-reno’ please visit the gallery.
the non-fancy stuff
A lot of times when people think about renovating, the glitz and glam behind the renovation is what they dream about. The paint, wallpaper, interior design, the freshly remodeled Pinterest-worthy bathrooms, and gorgeous eco-friendly wood floors throughout. The reality behind any home-reno is that your Pinterest dream house is possible.. in time. Unless you build a home from scratch, you quite literally just need to find your corner to fight from and start!
That 60-minute episode you watched of Flip or Flop just does not cover the amount of work going on. A lot of what you end up seeing are the finishing touches. For example: The two weeks you had to wait for electrical work to be done so that you could then hang drywall- which takes another few days? That means you probably weren’t doing much else at the time because you’re afraid to blow a socket somewhere. Things being done simultaneously is almost impossible sometimes because of the fumes from refinishing floors, or the tile is freshly laid there, etc. There are so many moving pieces and parts to a home reno that if not experienced, just scheduling contractors can become overwhelming.
Here’s a list of all the non-fancy stuff that had to be done:
- Insulating the entire second floor.
- Restoring original hardwood floors that were under two layers of laminate/linoleum. (The flooring wasn’t good quality, would’ve hurt our equity in the long run and looked terrible next to the other pristine floors! Not to mention, since we wanted to remodel the kitchen, we couldn’t leave the floors to another time.)
- Ripping out and re-designing the steepest and most dangerous stairs you’ve ever walked on in your life! (Literally a 60-degree angle!)
- 2nd Floor complete electrical re-wiring.
- Squaring up all of the old arches – Necessary because they were short for Ev (#dangerous) and too uneven for our OCD.
The Fancy ( Rewarding ) Stuff
The best parts of a home reno are the ones that bring the character back into the home, and make you feel at home! Here are our favorite projects so far:
- Kitchen Reno (The hardest / most rewarding DIY we’ve taken on!)
- Renovating the second bathroom. (I think it was originally designed for the tiniest people ever- which Evan and I are not!)
- Recessed lighting in all the rooms – think Oprah handing out gifts- but with a circular hand saw and my uncle the electrician.
- Painting everything….. Because all of it was one color… trim, walls, ceilings.. I mean why??
- Patching the hardwood floors. (Taken from original hardwood floors in the house where the master bathroom now is..}
- Garage Exterior Renovations
- Master SuiteRemodel ( Includes but was not limited to: re-designing a 3 room/hallway layout, closing up doors, and an entire master bathroom remodel.)
‘What is this MADNESS?!’ Moments
- When the pipes burst while taking out the master bathroom tub.
- Going through not 1 but 2 tile contractors until we found a good one!
- Doing dishes on our basement utility sink until we could get the kitchen in!
- Finding old counter-weights when we removed the window trim in some places (see picture of the long metal thing on a rope above lol..)
- Living without doors, yes that includes bathroom doors…. (not fun).
- Living in basically a 1 bedroom efficiency studio with our giant dog while we finish the kitchen, and master bedroom simultaneously.
- Avoiding the sharpest slivers of metal you’ve ever seen from the plaster in an old house. (It’s called steel tape and it will tear. you. up. See picture above.)
- Trying to figure out why we didn’t have power on the second floor?? – Hence the necessary 2nd-floor complete electrical re-wire.
- Realizing there is not 1 but 2 layers of laminate to take up before finding the original hardwood floors in the kitchen.
- Not having countertops – which means no kitchen sink – so the only things we can really cook efficiently are our fav veggie sammiches and soups in the Instapot.
- Forgetting that we installed a security system and having a ‘stranger’, AKA the security system, talk to you outside in the dark. (Actually horrifying in case you’re wondering.)
Projects We Still Want to Take On:
- Driveway (AKA – The Mudpit) Clean Up
- Interior Doors – March 2020!
- 2nd Floor Reno – March 2020!
- Exterior Door Replacements
- Figuring out the fence situation. Long story but we have 11 more feet on the side of our property than we originally thought! (That’s a lot in the city!)
- Garage/Man Cave Reno
- Basement bathroom (We have SUCH a fun idea for this bathroom!)
- Laundry Room Reno
- Basement Bar Area
- Porch Reno
- Fireplace Reno
- Dining Room Reno + Design
- Fencing – just all the fences you can imagine.
- Side patio – stamped concrete for outdoor entertainment/living space.
All of this to say: home renovations aren’t a walk in the park but they are incredibly fun and rewarding if you put your heart into them! If you’re wondering where we’ve been, you can find us at home drinking wine, basking in the glory of a functional electrical outlet, and planning our next DIY project. I’ll be posting updates on our current projects and our old ones on the blog as we go so check back soon!