A few months ago, Grumpy Rumblings suggested I write an “after” post, describing how our kitchen/living room/dining room remodel turned out. I love reading “before” and “after” stories. However, going through a remodel in real life was a lot different than Pinterest or HGTV would imply. The actual experience subtracted some things from our lives. Things like many, many dollar bills and the amount of square footage we could live in for a time, as we stayed in our home during construction to save money. On the other hand, remodels also add elements to your life: chaos, disruption, a lot of dust, and arguments about what kind of doorbell to install. In short, the process itself kinda sucked.

The remodel wasn’t a mere beautification project; we had some pretty big problems. “Before”, we had no hot water in our kitchen sink, all of our plumbing needed to be replaced, our wiring was crappy, our early 1960s appliances didn’t work (the oven would not close, only two of the burners would heat up and provided uneven cooking power at best), our countertops stabbed a friend of ours in the chest and drew blood, and my son tripped over one of our useless brick hearths and received a scar on his forehead like Harry Potter. Less importantly, the whole living area was ugly. Major features included white stained carpets, dirty-looking linoleum, a dark maze-like layout, and really low ceilings.

Want to see “before” and “after” photos?


Before: Old sink, showcasing the most water pressure we could get

Old sink

Before: Awesome, light-blocking kitchen layout, in foreground are the homicidal countertop tiles

old layout

After: Sunlight! It’s not overrated!


After: Friendly countertops that don’t stab friends!

Kitchen corner


Before: Closed-off dining area (which we used as a playroom) featuring white carpets. Perfect for a space where people eat!

dining room carpet

After: We opened up the dining room to the kitchen and made it an eat-in area. The downside is we don’t have a formal, traditional dining area, but we prefer this.

Kitchen:dining room


Before: We didn’t have a family room before, because we used this space as our dining area. Also this space was host to one of two ugly and dangerous brick hearths.

old family room

After: We raised the ceilings in this space, and added a skylight.

Family room

After: We also added an office nook, to make the space more functional.


Living Room

After: No before shot, unfortunately. Admittedly, this room was not terrible, but it did have another deathly hearth and a weird sunken floor. We raised the floor so it was even with the rest of the downstairs.

Living Room

Additional thoughts:

  • What I am most happy about is that we maximized every square inch of space we had. We use every bit of the downstairs now, whether doing homework, working, watching TV, cooking, or just lounging around. I love that we didn’t increase the size of the house at all, but it feels like we did.
  • I believe most older furniture was better made, plus I like recycling old things that have personal value. So, much of our furniture is “old”: the club chairs were my in-laws and the dining chairs were inherited from my husband’s grandmother.
  • We worked with a designer to help pick paint colors, fixtures, furniture and some architectural elements which was a great move. Shout-out: I think Loribeth originally suggested this, thanks! This was worth every penny.
  • Plumbing and wiring is expensive. No real way around it.
  • Buying all your appliances together can save lots, but shop around. Get as many bids as possible. Do your research – on everything.
  • We used a contractor who was a lot less expensive than others we got bids from, but in return we heavily project managed the remodel. That is one way to cut costs if you are up to it.
  • Choose a contractor who knows the codes. Ours was an expert, so we had no delays because of inspections and every plan passed the local planning board quickly.
  • We kept our “design aesthetic” (such a pretentious term!) to mid-century modern, which is true to the home’s actual architecture. This aesthetic is modern, which my husband likes, but also bright and upbeat, which I like.
  • We used Pinterest a lot. Here is the board we used, if you are curious what inspired us. We got many ideas from Remodelista.
  • Here are other posts about the project:

Have you done a remodel? If so, what did you learn? 





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10 responses to “After

  1. nonsequiturchica

    Looks great! We just finished a huge remodel of almost every room in our house (well, there are three little things left to do but we are at least living in our house again). I was not a fan of having to move out for four months and of the amount that we had to spend but I love our two new bathrooms, the new kitchen, our new basement, etc and it will be a much better use of space for us.

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  3. Your remodel is AMAZING! We remodeled the kitchen in our old house, but nothing as extensive as the work you had done. The house we just bought has been remodeled, but we need to decorate it (mid-century modern as well, built in 1966). How did you pick a designer? I keep thinking about doing that, and then I think, well, I could probably get away with working with a store’s free service and just buy a bunch of stuff from them since they have the aesthetic I like. We just bought a new dining set that I’m excited about, but I don’t know what to do with the 2 living room spaces.

    • Great question about the designer. We actually contacted someone whose work we loved and admired (it was featured in Remodelista, and local press), then heard her budget requirements and nearly died. She actually recommended our designer, and once I saw her portfolio, she was actually a better fit than the expensive person. I LOVE her style and work. So, maybe reach out to someone whose work you like on Pinterest or Houzz, or in local media, and see what they has to say? If you can’t afford them, maybe they have recommendations.

  4. I read your shoutout above & thought, “I did??” but then I read the old posts you referenced, & I guess I did, lol. Anyway, everything looks FABULOUS! I hear you on how the process sucks, but it sounds like you are enjoying the results — yay!!

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