Common Area is FINISHED!

Just outside of Lucy’s room there are two nooks on either side of the doorway.  After some deliberation in the initial brainstorming process, we decided that this was a good place to put our washer and dryer to create a small laundry area.  This 2nd floor location won out because we wanted the washer and dryer to be as accessible as possible. We can now do laundry while being around the rest of the family, while Lucy takes a bath, first thing in the morning, or right before bed.  Because of this convenience, the laundry gets done much faster!

The location of the laundry has been convenient, but we haven’t done anything to the space since the day we moved in.  (Except we normally have the dryer vent connected!)


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The Loft is Complete!

We moved quickly to finish the loft project so that it could be used for guests over the Thanksgiving holiday.  The actual construction projects were wrapped up a couple weeks ago, but we still had to do all the finish work.  This included sanding, caulking, priming, painting, and installing carpet.  In addition, since the loft is connected to a much larger space, we really wanted to finally finish off the whole combined area.  Not an easy job considering the size of the space and the height of the ceilings.

Before the big reveal, here is a quick look back at the progress from the very beginning:

The loft space is located above the master bedroom and is the highest point in the house.  It is an area that most people would have probably just discarded as attic or storage space, but Amy and I were determined to make this an additional living space.

Yes, we want to use this space

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Book shelves and a ladder for the loft

Amy and I have been moving right along on progress in the loft because we have been motivated by a rapidly approaching deadline called Thanksgiving.  The most recent project consisted of building two bookshelves at the open end of the loft.  The bookshelves will give us much needed storage for books (duh), board games, and Legos!  So many Legos.

As a reminder, here is what that end of the loft looked like in the beginning…


Actually, that’s a little better than it was in the beginning because that picture was after I cleaned out all the debris.

Here is what it looked like after all the renovation work…


This is the opposite end of the loft space from the bed and bookshelf I built in our last post.

Originally we thought we would construct a railing, but we couldn’t really picture it in a way that didn’t look strange or out of place.  We eventually decided that constructing bookcases on either side of a centered opening would be a better option.  It would act as a railing, but also help create a space that seemed removed, secluded, and special.

We thought for a long time about how tall and deep to build these.  We wanted them to be tall enough to add safety, but not too tall to completely enclose the space.  We also wanted the space between them to be comfortable to pass through, but narrow enough to keep the opening safe.  And we wanted room for shelving on the loft side and the open area side.

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Renovation of the loft space begins!

It’s Fall, which means it’s my busiest season as a band director.  For the past three years we have come to a screeching halt on renovation progress during this time, because I am at school late every day and I’m barely home at all on many Thursdays, Fridays, or Saturdays.   I have managed to chip away at rehabbing the old storm windows, but other than that it has been pretty stagnant around here. In other news, we continue to have trouble finding someone to help us with necessary structural repairs to the porch, so it looks like we will have to push that back to Spring.  In the meantime we have many goals to accomplish this winter on the interior of the house!

Sometimes you need an incentive to get something done fast – like oncoming cold weather or a neighborhood home tour.  Thanksgiving, which is rapidly approaching, is just the motivation we need to complete a space of our house that has remained untouched for more than a year and a half.  The loft, as we call it, is really just empty space above the master bedroom that is open to the upstairs commons area.


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The loft begins to take shape

Week 37 – Joe

One of the most enjoyable aspects of this renovation has been getting to create spaces that will be unique, interesting, or different.  We have chosen to live in old houses with character because Amy and I are wired to crave aesthetically interesting and personalized spaces.  I think everyone enjoys finding a secret space, an unexpected nook, or unusual features frequently found in old houses.  The 2nd floor of our new house (and even an area of the 1st floor) provided us with an almost blank slate with which to try to create something personalized and unique.  For instance, our upstairs bathroom will have a built-in window bench, our staircase will have a hidden play space underneath, all the 2nd floor rooms will have interesting ceiling angles and unexpected nooks, and our 1st floor bathroom closet will have four stairs to nowhere that will serve as a reminder of what once was there but also provide us with a unique way to reach higher shelves.

Another unique area we are excited about is the top of the new stairs.  The area we are calling a “loft” is located above the master bedroom and looks out over the 2nd floor common area.  This is a bonus space that we wanted to utilize in a creative way.

An old picture, but this gives you the general idea of the view from the landing of the stairs

An old picture, but this gives you the general idea of the view from the landing of the stairs

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Treasure in the attic!

Week 36 – Joe

The “loft” area is located above the master bedroom.  It overlooks the common area of the 2nd floor and would normally just be considered attic space.  It has been an area much discussed, but up until now, not touched. Amy and I determined a long time ago that we would like to use this as a bonus play space, accessed by a ladder that will be built onto a wall in the upstairs common area.  We will also add a window to the back of this area for added light. We have visions of slumber parties, a secluded reading space, pulley systems to raise and lower toys, or…  worst case scenario, just extra storage space.  The peak is tall enough to just barely stand straight up, but this area would mostly be just a playing-on-the-floor type of space.

The loft space

The loft space

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New Upstairs Windows are IN!

Week 35 – Joe

We have reached another exciting milestone!  The new windows have been framed out and installed in Aiden’s room, Lucy’s room, and the upstairs bathroom.  They are aluminum clad wooden windows.  For those of you who might not know (I didn’t), that means that the exterior is aluminum and will never need to be repainted or maintained.  The interior is wood and can be painted to match our interior trim color.

Everyone likes “before and after” pictures, so here goes…

Lucy's room, the day we first saw the house

Lucy’s room, the day we first saw the house

And now…

Lucy's bright bedroom

Lucy’s bright bedroom

You can tell from the first photo that there used to be three windows in this room, but they were boarded up and replaced with the fan.  We kept the same idea, but enlarged the windows to adhere to the fire code for bedrooms.

Here is Aiden’s bedroom on our first day touring the house…

Aiden's room

Aiden’s room

And now…

Aiden's new window

Aiden’s new window

Our bathroom…

Our first view of the future upstairs bathroom

Our first view of the future upstairs bathroom

After new windows, a tub, plumbing, and framing…

Upstairs bathroom

Upstairs bathroom

There was a window up near the roof in the central area of the upstairs that had been removed and covered with siding many years ago…

Inside view of the old window

Inside view of the old window

Now there is light!

New window in an original window location

New window in an original window location

Here are some photos of the exterior:


The day we bought the house

Before new windows

Now the front looks like this…

The new front

The new front

Here is another view that shows the upper gable window and a peak of Aiden’s window on the side of the house.

new windows are installed

new windows are installed

Our original color choice for the window sashes was red, then we changed our mind about 10 times as we reconsidered the color of the house and trim.  As you can see, we settled back to our original choice.  Sometime in the future we will disclose our colors for the rest of the house.  I have been busy, as always, working on windows.  Obviously all of the old windows are being painted to match these new ones.

Our carpenter is working for us the next couple weeks.  That means more exciting updates coming soon!

Finally, something new – walls!

Week 16 – Joe

We have been working hard this month completing demo and making tough decisions on the floor plan.  We have been putting in long hours at the house, but it is still slow going because one of us always has to watch the kids.  I can’t imagine how much easier this would be if Amy and I could both work on the house at the same time.  Anyway, all the windows in the kitchen are glazed and waiting until it’s okay to paint, all the walls that need to be removed are gone, and the floor plan is pretty much finalized (as much as it ever really will be).  Here is a glimpse of the latest plan for the first floor…


Still changes to come for the kitchen

Still changes to come for the kitchen

The small change (which really has a big impact) not reflected in his floor plan is that we are creating another doorway to the kitchen.  Originally we were going to seal the old doorway to the basement (indicated by the dark line behind the refrigerator) and putting it on the other side of the old staircase.  When I was done with the demolition to create the new door opening to the basement (just outside the bathroom) we noticed how GREAT it was to have another opening in the kitchen.   We are essentially creating a hallway that turns our circular floor plan into a figure eight. Having two entrances to the kitchen makes it feel more connected to the rest of the house.  This means we can avoid routing ALL traffic to and from the kitchen through the dining room.  In addition it means more direct routes to the stairs to the 2nd floor, the bathroom, and the front rooms. And it just FEELS good!

20140703-DSC_0256We will obviously end up leveling that floor and then putting a door to the basement on the right hand side of that intersection.   The only downside to this new development is that we have to reconfigure our kitchen arrangement.  What you see in the floor plan above will no longer work.  Here is the view from the kitchen looking to the front of the house (the doorway will eventually be completely open because the stairs will be gone.


That opening is right where our refrigerator was going to go.


Here is the 2nd floor…


The BIG progress this week was the framing.  On the first floor the only new room we are creating is the bathroom (it was displaced by the kitchen expansion).  The square in the framing on the right is for a medicine cabinet that we salvaged from the original bathroom.  The wooden door you see inside the bathroom is the current door to the stairs, but it will eventually be a linen closet for the bathroom.  The new staircase will eventually be in the space adjacent to the bathroom.

New bathroom and new entrance to kitchen

New bathroom and new entrance to kitchen

Upstairs, there was a lot of progress and immediate gratification.  I have to say that this was the most enjoyable part of the renovation thus far.  My wife and I both have creative professions and I enjoyed getting to stand there with the framer and our architect to make decisions about exactly where the walls will go.  I reminded me a lot of the creative/logistical conversations that I experience in my job.

Here is the new wall for the master bedroom.  It is exactly the same, but moved in about 16 inches to accommodate the staircase.


The bathroom turned out to be pretty big (7×9) and we were able to get the layout we wanted.  The tub and toilet will be on the left and the pedestal sink and storage will be on the right.  The window will eventually be bigger.


The new staircase will come up between the master bedroom and bathroom.

Eventual staircase

Eventual staircase

Aiden’s room is turning out great.  He will have exposed brick, areas with 12′ ceilings (at one spot), and dramatic ceiling angles.

20140703-DSC_0234He will also have a great bed nook…



Here is the view from the master bedroom looking towards Lucy’s room.  Aiden’s room is on the right and the bathroom is on the left.  To the left of the Lucy’s doorway will be the washer and dryer (yay for not having to hike down to the basement!) and to the right of the doorway will be a little extra play space.  This commons area at the center of the 2nd floor has a 15′ ceiling.  We will eventually add a window to the center of that gable.


You can probably tell where we will add the window

We will add flooring and create a loft area above the master bedroom.  There will be a ladder just to the left of the doorway.   This loft will look out over the commons area.

The loft above the master bedroom

The loft above the master bedroom

Now comes the big push to have plumbing, electrical, and hvac installed before the end of the summer!


Follow our story and read the next post: Window rehab- part 2

Read the previous post: More demo, more treasure