2019 Project Report Card and a HUGE Progress report!

January 6, 2020

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Befores, afters, mood boards, plans, failures, wins. We’ve done a lot of projects, and they’re all here. 

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Every year in January we post our renovation plans for the year, and looking back at 2019’s list (you can read the whole post here) it’s clear how unanticipated 2019 ended up being. On our list from January of this year was:

For our previous home:
Add wall treatment to the stairwell
Add exterior lighting

For our cabin:
Finish the kitchen
Update tile, vanities and fixtures of all 4 bathrooms
Paint the downstairs
Finish the Lake Room
Build a crow’s nest in the loft
Complete the laundry space

It was three and a half weeks after posting this list that the cabin burned down. We had rooms full of new finishes and fixtures, lighting and gallons of untouched paint, and furniture pieces still in boxes. Everything waiting to be put in place so we could make real what we saw in our minds when we first stepped foot in that cabin in late September of 2017. In those three and a half weeks we did manage to completely finish the bathroom in the loft, just a couple days before the fire. So I feel confident that we could have finished this entire list and had another amazing Christmas up there this year.

After the fire, everything got turned on its head. (We have an update coming for you on the state of everything involving the cabin. It’s been quite a lot behind the scenes and I think some closure is in sight). But needless to say, this entire list got thrown out the window, even the last remaining items in our own home, as we decided what our next step would be.

In our period of limbo we did take on a complete redo of our friends’ kitchen. This project honestly was a life saver for us, as it snapped us out of our fears and anxieties and made us realize that our future could be anything we wanted it to be. We decided to embrace the changes and double down, leaving our comfort zone behind and moving to a new city.

But in true CLJ fashion, we wasted no time and posted another list of projects we wanted to complete in 2019, this time for our new home. And while some things in the list haven’t finished, other parts of the list expanded and we’re so happy with how far we’ve come. So we’ll review each and give ourselves a grade.


The Living Room: B+
Plans: new paint, new wall of windows to replace the old, beams, move the fireplace, new lighting and flooring as a bonus
We’re so close! The windows are in (and amazing), we did paint but will need to paint again, new lighting went in this week. The fireplace was taken out but is still in progress, and no beams yet. But this space is on the verge of completion and we know it’s going to be the heart of this home.

The Dining Room: B+
Plans: replace sliding doors; tear up tile and add in-floor heating; lay new tile; remove stone columns; add new lighting, moulding, windows; build a large table for 20 people.
Our expectations for this project were thrown completely out the demo’d space where windows used to be. The second they opened up the first wall it was clear this addition had been done under the radar. So the entire space was ripped out completely and built as if it had never been there to begin with.
This is another one we’re really close on. Should be done sometime in January along with the rest of this first phase, but things remaining are flooring and finishes. We aren’t being hard on ourselves because this room ended up being a lot bigger of a deal than we could have anticipated. Plus we added a balcony above, which gives bonus points. But also, we just bought two tables instead of building one so I’m not sure if that’s extra credit or a deduction – given our workload, we’re going to say extra credit.

The Music Room: A+
plan: add a ceiling and create a bonus room above, add walls and create new arched doorways.
Checked it all off, except make the “bonus room” a new closet for the Master bedroom. Which is definitely worth some extra credit in our minds.

(above: the former double story dining space turned music room and below: we turned the new upstairs space into our master closet.)

Master Bedroom Phase 1: A-
plan: add furniture, window treatments, lighting, nightstands, dresser; remove mantle and pendants in front of fireplace, paint and minimize the tray ceiling.
No window treatments, but we do have new lighting. No bed frame, but we do have nightstands and a dresser. The mantle, tray ceiling and pendants were removed and our room feels SO much larger. The new, 8′ tall doors really add to the height. We tacked this space onto the other major renovations and it’s currently still under a bit of construction. But as soon as the paint goes on the wall, furnishings will come together really quick – culminating with our bed arrival in February! Can’t wait.

Entry Phase 1: A
plan: add new tile, lighting, paint, and furniture
We did ALL of that, except the tile. But we completely skipped phase 1 as a tile swap and moved right into new hardwood floors. So even though the plan shifted, all together this is a win. Check out a lot more photos here!

Windows: B
plan: replace all the windows
We’re giving ourselves a B on this because we obviously didn’t replace all the windows. BUT we did that purposefully because we plan to change the exterior of our home, as well as the location and size of several of the windows. So given the change in plans, it was the right call.

Paint: C
plan: hire someone to paint the walls and trim
We actually did accomplish this one. We had a painter go through all the main spaces in the house and give them a fresh coat of paint, as well as the trim and baseboards. So why the low grade? Because we probably should have just waited. All of the baseboards, except in the girls’ bedrooms, have been removed and will be replaced. A lot of the walls have been torn down. So now we’re just going to have to redo all of that.
But I’m also not going to fail us, because I think having it all painted helped me feel a connection with this house quicker than I otherwise would have. It’s been a rocky start in some ways with this home, to be honest, but doing little things has helped us all hang on and feel a little more comfortable. And we can’t wait to do even more of those “little things” in 2020. This is going to be our year, I can feel it.


I know a lot of people start the year with a word, and I’ve never done that, but looking back on 2019, I’d use the word PIVOT to describe last year. It was a challenging year in a lot of ways, but we’re so grateful for where all that pivoting landed us. We’re already working on 2020’s project list for you and it’s going to be a very exciting year! Can’t wait to share more.

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What do you think?

  1. Bethany says:

    I can’t believe how much bigger your living room and dining room look now without the original bulky stone fireplace on your new window wall and the stone pillars in the dining room. It all looks amazing! So good to hear your moving forward and in good spirits after such a heartbreaking start of 2019. Can’t wait to see more!

  2. Matt says:

    Wow—seeing the progress come together over the course of the year is impressive! Taking on a huge project like this can’t be easy, but I absolutely can’t wait to see the finished product. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Chelsea Jo Calo says:

    What an awesome post! Your vision is inspiring and I love that you bring us along for the ride!

    Would you ever consider sharing dimensions of the main rooms you’ve shown here; eg. dining room, living room, master bedroom/closet, music room? It’s sometimes hard to tell with in photos and I think it could give a helpful perspective.

  4. Brenda says:

    I am unexpectedly blown away by the music room! The living and dining room are exceptional and will of course be the heart of the house, but now I can really see your vision for the music room. Looking back at the before pictures, it really was sort of wasted space. All of the archways are magical and keeping the arch open to the left of the fireplace was such a good call!

  5. Linda Grubbs says:

    Well done Julia! I’ve been waiting for this post since watching you and Chris on “CLJ Live” :) last night….great post for sure. I really enjoyed the recap and what’s to come…exciting stuff! Wishing you and your family all that is good!! Happy 2020!

  6. Liz says:

    This house is going to be A+++ when it is finished.

    Will you choose a different paint color for the ceiling or use the same color as the walls?

  7. JG says:

    What is a crow’s nest?? It’s a term I’ve never heard. Unless you were planning on building a literal crow’s nest in the loft??

    • Julia says:

      A crow’s nest is kind of like a loft space above a door. It’s not generally a full level but a small nook of a loft–we thought it would be fun for the girls.

  8. Lindsey says:

    You have the gift of vision!! I do not have that gift to see what things could become. I am just watching in awe of it all. It looks amazing so far!!

  9. Donna says:

    I love watching it all come together and seeing the joy in your smiles! Home reno is exhausting work, but with a good attitude, lots of patience and a trustworthy staff doing such a great job, there is no better feeling to making a house your home. Wishing you many happy memories! Keep up the great work! You inspire me to do more in my own home! Happy 2020!

  10. Pam says:

    What about Greta’s bedroom and bath? Loved them both!

    • Julia says:

      I was, for some reason, focusing solely on the projects we lined up, but you’re totally right–we should have included those! Extra credit for sure!

  11. Lisi says:

    Congratulations on all that you have accomplished this year! What a rollercoaster!
    You forgot to mention another major highlight of this year, your KITCHEN;);)

  12. Al says:

    Loving this renovation! Are you going to remove the fireplace step in the master?

    • Julia says:

      The hearth? No, we’re keeping it. I love a hearth. :)

    • EP says:

      I was wondering this too. I know you have plans for working with the existing stone on the master fireplace, but the fireplace always looks off to me because of how huge it is. The scale just seems way too large for the wall it’s on, and the size draws attention to the fact that it’s not centered on the wall. I’m curious if this is less noticeable in person?

      Overall I love the changes you’ve made and I think you deserve all high marks!

      • Julia says:

        Thanks so much! So the fireplace IS in fact centered on the wall. Perhaps the angle of the photo makes it look otherwise. I have this plan in my head for what I imagine the fireplace CAN look like and I want to try to work with what we have before tearing it all down–although I’m not opposed if I try it and it looks horrible. But I actually really like the charm of the real stone (it’s not a facade) and I think it will look nice when we’re done with it–if it turns out how it looks in my head. Haha.

      • EP says:

        My mind is blown that it is centered on the wall! Thanks for the reply. I can’t wait to see you work your magic.

  13. Amanda says:

    You said you moved 30 minutes away– are you in Idaho Falls now? My husband and I live in IF and love to do home projects. Thank you for the inspiration!

  14. Melkorka says:

    That music room view with all three arches is stunning. Really amazing what you have been able to accomplish creatively so far!!

  15. Jill says:

    I would have selected the word “RESILIENCE” for your 2019! Bending but not breaking at all the changes!

    ps Your kitchen refresh was a brain-blowing thing for me and my favorite home focused content of 2019. It showed what clarity of vision and hard work could do to transform a space!

  16. Kim says:

    PIVOT – I sense a new T-shirt!!!!
    And congratulations on getting so much accomplished – this home is looking fantastic and really moving the needle on the “CLJ style”.

  17. Savannah says:

    Hi Julia, I am always so impressed by your work and am so excited to follow along for 2020! Are you going to use Alabaster on the walls again when you repaint? We are having painters come in who insist on Sherwin Williams. we are deciding between Alabaster and Greek Villa for our main areas. Would love your thoughts on living with Alabaster knowing of course all spaces are different

  18. Natalie says:

    Here’s to a happy new year and a fresh start. Looks great! Would love to see a floor plan of the house before and after!

  19. Molly says:

    You’ve done so much! I cannot believe how different the house looks/feels already and it’s not even painted/decorated yet! This house is going to be just completely stunning!

  20. Mara says:

    I’m from an area where we don’t have textured walls, but I know that your region is known to have them. Now that you have fresh, smooth drywall hung, will you add texture or keep them smooth?

    • Julia says:

      Our walls are what’s called a santa fe texture–mostly smooth, with a little bit of texture every once in awhile. I’ve actually grown to like them. We are doing a softer form of it–even more smooth!–in most of the new rooms so that they still blend with the existing walls. And then rooms that are completely separate, that we’re adding trim to, like our bedroom and the dining room, will be smooth. We hope the differences will be undetectable and blend nicely.

  21. Liz says:

    I ‘second’ that it’s going to be a good year for you guys. Lots of progress so far! Looking forward to seeing where everything is in 6 months. Ill be here cheering you on.

  22. Katy says:

    I love this post! You guys had such a rough 2019 and 2020 is totally going to be your year. I’m so excited to follow along. A few things:
    1.) I LOVE the 8′ doors with you 9′ ceilings (they’re 9′ right?). I’ve been wrestling with 7′ or 8′ doors for our new home we’re building that will have 9′ ceilings and seeing yours sealed the deal for me. They look so good. And I know being in the room, using the doors, 8′ just feels so substantial and high end. Beautiful choice.
    2.) What’s that ceiling treatment above your breakfast nook, surrounding the pendant light? Just wondering if that was a temporary roughing up of the texture in preparation for smoothing out the ceilings or if that was an aesthetic decision by the previous homeowners. Just curious about it since I never noticed it before.

    • Julia says:

      The ceiling treatment is a very fancy plaster texture. Hahaha, when we do the kitchen area, I think I want to plank or beadboard the whole thing. Either way–it was there, but its time is temporary. Haha

  23. Jen says:

    It has been an emotional roller-coaster for all of us following along on your journey the past year. The changes you’ve made to your new home, which will come together by the end of the month leave you at an amazing starting point for the rest of the year. Can’t wait to see how your home continues to evolve!

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We believe we should all love where we live.

We’re a couple of homebodies, working to uncover the home our home wants to be. And we’re so happy to have you here. 

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