Last month, November 13th, we laid out all the projects we had lined up to complete before Christmas in this post. At the time, we were making plans to move out for two weeks and group a lot of these tasks together to really expedite things. I didn’t realize how much time had passed since I wrote that list. And here we are, a week before Christmas, the end of our third week living in a hotel and I thought I owed you an update on the progress of things.
• Lay Heated Flooring System in Dining Room
When we rebuilt the dining area, we added HVAC, but because the floors will be tile, we also decided we’d like to heat the floors. We are using a system from Warmly Yours and it’s here and ready. We are told this will be installed and thinset applied before Christmas (we’re told tomorrow actually!) so it can cure and then the tile can be laid.
• Lay Tile in Dining Room
The tile is here, but won’t go in until after Christmas, sadly. I’m really looking forward to this one. (See our dining plans here.)
• Epoxy the new Balcony
Check! The balcony is epoxied! Though there is still some flashing to be added to make it more water-tight around the edges.
• Add Railings to the Balcony
This hasn’t happened and I don’t foresee it happening before Spring. We met with someone about the railings and I’m not sure we were the best fit to work together. He had ideas about how it should look and we found ourselves compromising a lot to make his job “easier”. We ended the conversation basically saying we had a lot to think about. And the more we thought about it, the more we feel like we can take our time here and make sure we get something we really want and like. Our bedroom doors will be bolted shut until that happens!
• Add Spiral Staircase from Balcony to yard
Nope. and I foresee this happening at the same time as the exterior railing in a few months.
• Install new windows and doors in Living Room, Dining Room, Bedroom, Closet and Breakfast Nook
Check! And perhaps the most exciting thing that has happened in the last couple weeks. I have a full post coming about these (we’re waiting on some trim) but it has really changed the whole vibe of the house. We went with the Pella Architect Series Wood Windows in black (on the interior and exterior).
• Add double-sided gas fireplace in between Living Room and Dining Room and build out the fireplaces
I won’t lie, this fireplace has taken a lot of energy from a lot of parties. There are so many codes that have forced it to be rebuilt THREE times so far. Between making sure the firebox has enough support to making sure there are now TWO exhausts instead of one and then making sure they are small enough to fit through the ceiling–whew! I’m so grateful for our contractors who work through all of these rules and make sure that our design is safe and up to code. This fireplace is going to be plastered and won’t be done or operable by Christmas, but just seeing through it to the dining room has been such a big wow moment–we’ll take it and hang our stockings on the frame proudly.
• Add built-ins to living room
The original plan was to have one arched opening in the living room, leading to the dining room and one arched built in on the other side of the fireplace. On the day they were framing in the built-in side we saw it opened for the first time and we made the decision to leave it open! It flowed so well and we’re so excited about it!
• New electrical in dining room, living room, music room, hallway and master closet.
I try to share a lot about how awesome our contractor and sub-contractors are because they deserve a lot of praise. But I also want to set proper expectations that that won’t always be the case. We had to replace our first electrician because he no-showed multiple days in a row putting our entire team two weeks behind. It was a hard decision because we actually liked him, and it meant having to have an extensive walk-through with a new electrician pointing out where we wanted every outlet and switch and can light, but we could no longer trust the first one and it was affecting every aspect of the renovation. Fortunately, the new one brought in was a POWER house and completed nearly ALL the electrical in 3 days (for reference it had been 3 weeks with our first electrician and the dining room wasn’t even finished yet).
• Add sheetrock to dining room, Master bedroom, closet, music room, hallway and living room.
I was really worried this wasn’t going to happen. Obviously sheetrock can’t go up before insulation, and insulation had to wait for electrical, but we were so so behind with electrical. Fortunately, yesterday we had two guys show up and they rallied!!! I am not sure if everything will be mudded and taped by Christmas but walls are nice and really allow us to see all the new spaces more clearly. Plus having an insulated home again will be so, so nice.
• New siding on exterior addition
I haven’t even HEARD anything about this. Our exterior in the back is tarped right now and I think the focus is on the interior and we’re happy with that.
• Order and Install lighting
I’ve ordered some lights but not all and I am kind of okay with that in some areas. I feel like lighting is a really integral part of the design of a room and I just don’t have the brain capacity to design every room we need lights for right now. I kind of get why people put in cheap temporary lights sometimes!
• Trim out Dining Room
This hasn’t happened yet (duh, drywall is still going up) but we have talked extensively about what kind of trim we want in here and it is still like this big, scary thing for me. Like, wait, I have to decide this right now?! We’ll be doing box trim in the dining room and I think it will be just enough to make it feel really special.
• Add beams to Living Room ceiling (and possibly dining room)
If you’ve been following along on stories, the beam placement for the living room was giving me grief until we decided to move the lighting (fortunately this was before the electrician came and it was in the bid to update the living room electrical anyway). We haven’t installed or seen any beams yet, but knowing there will be three: centered on the fireplace, and between each arched doorway– it feels so right. We also decided to do several small white beams in the dining room (I think 5-7!) and I can’t wait!
• Paint Master Bedroom and move back in to our room!
We’ve been sleeping in Faye’s room since the day after Halloween and she’s been in the spare bed in Greta’s room while they work on our bedroom. Of course it would be amazing to be in our bedroom by Christmas. I don’t think it will be painted, but it officially has insulation and drywall and I think we’ll be in!
• Lay new wood floors in entire house.
We hired separate contractors, our good friends The Snell Brothers (they did our master bathroom in our last house and some of the work on the cabin) to lay the floors throughout the house and they have been burning the midnight oil making sure we have floors by Christmas.
• Lay new carpet in the girls’ rooms.
Yes! Made such a huge difference. This was one of the must-dos while we were living in a hotel. Check out photos here.
• Extend stone fireplace to ceiling in Master Bedroom.
Our bedroom went under MAJOR construction during all of this with the addition of balcony doors, a master closet and the removal of the tray ceiling. I expected our room to feel better once the tray ceiling was gone, but I can’t express how much more open it feels! We gained well over a foot around the perimeter of our room making the whole height 9′. Extending the stone hasn’t happened yet, but our contractor assured us it’s a “couple hour job” and will likely happen at the same time as the fireplace, since it’s the same stone mason working on both.
• New Railings on stairs inside.
This is happening currently! You can read the whole thought process and a lot of inspiration images here. But because this wasn’t in our original budget and that’s something we’re very mindful of, this week, we decided to shift gears and update what we currently have. We found this inspiration picture (below- from here) and knew we could achieve something similar. The thing is, I don’t mind our railing and actually really like our newel posts. The things I didn’t like were the color of the wood (the creamy glazed finish) and the ornate birdcage metal balusters. I think this is such an important exercise when improving anything in your house. (It’s the reason we’re keeping the stone fireplace in our bedroom–I realized it wasn’t the stone I didn’t like, fun update on that in the new year!)
If you don’t like something, try to break down specifically what you DON’T like about it (and maybe what you do, too) and see if you can work with it! We’ve decided to paint the railing and newel posts a lacquer black and replace the balusters with tapered wood ones painted in the same black. I think it will look totally updated but still really classic and save us thousands of dollars!
• Organize Garage.
As soon as all of our garage organization pieces arrived, so did everything else. So currently the garage is too full to even organize it. So this won’t happen before Christmas, but Chris really wants to spend time on this over our break once the flooring materials are cleared out. (Clearly we know how to take a vacation from work. Haha)
• DECORATE FOR CHRISTMAS!
We aren’t going all out this year, but if we do make it back into our home, having a tree up (I ordered a 12′ one from Balsam Hill!) and stockings hung would make it feel really magical for our girls so that’s our goal.
As you can see, we haven’t checked off very much of this list. And yet, looking at pictures from a month ago, we’ve come so far! We feel the progress, we see the progress but it’s not reflecting very well in this list.
Will we be home for Christmas? This is the question we keep asking ourselves. Our thoughts are kind of all over the place right now. We feel like we can be back in our house before Christmas. The major construction things (floors, insulation, walls! haha) should all be done by then but it’s still unclear of the state things will be in next week. We know it will be some time before the house is finished, and we’re no strangers to living through renovation, but Chris and I sat down yesterday and discussed what we feel like we’d need/want to move back in.
We decided that if the house is warm and safe and we can clear some of the dust from the air, we’ll move back in. That’s our criteria. Our goal was Saturday, but we just got word that our hotel is booked solid after Friday so we won’t be able to extend our stay anymore. Eeeeek. We have some family we can stay with for a couple nights if need be–We’ll keep you posted!
Just wanted to say thank you for all of your support and encouragement. It’s such a wonderful quality in a person and we feel that from all of you. Thank you. Thank you.