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
Before: Awesome, light-blocking kitchen layout, in foreground are the homicidal countertop tiles
After: Sunlight! It’s not overrated!
After: Friendly countertops that don’t stab friends!
Before: Closed-off dining area (which we used as a playroom) featuring white carpets. Perfect for a space where people eat!
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.
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.
After: We raised the ceilings in this space, and added a skylight.
After: We also added an office nook, to make the space more functional.
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.
- 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?