What projects are happening before we move in to our new house?

May 17, 2021

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A week ago, we were flying to Raleigh to close on our new house, set up security, and meet with a slew of contractors before flying back home to Idaho on Thursday. It was a whirlwind week but by Friday, we already got photos from our contractor–the Brazilian cherry floors were already all removed on the main level (and donated) and carpet was out upstairs! I couldn’t believe how fast and efficient they were! I shared my astonishment on Instagram which lead to a bunch of questions about what exactly we ARE tackling before we move in, so I figured that deserved a whole blog post.

When we were house hunting, we were specifically looking for a house that didn’t need a gut reno. We didn’t want to live with contractors for another 2 years. However, we definitely wanted something that needed updating and was really livable but we could work on at our own pace. This house definitely ticked all those boxes! It’s beautiful! AND there’s room for improvement. To avoid living in a construction zone long term, we decided to hire contractors to do a few things before we move in at the end of June:

  1. Replace all the flooring with stain in place white oak. The house had Brazilian Cherry (really really red) floors on the main floor and carpet everywhere upstairs. We talked about refinishing the cherry floors downstairs and carry thing them upstairs, but we were told the cherry floors will ALWAYS go red…it might take a year but they’ll go red. And! We didn’t want to spend $$$$ putting in a new floor upstairs that we didn’t love. It made the most sense. We may have to fly back one more time to approve a stain color for the floors before we officially move there, but this time around I think we’re going for a good mid-tone historical wood tone. I’ll definitely keep you posted!
  2. Remove Tray Ceilings. There are two tray ceilings in our new home–one in the primary bedroom and one in the dining room. The ceilings are 10′, but they drop to almost 8′ around the edges and I just can’t get on board with tray ceilings! (We removed two in our current home, as well!). Fortunately, they are purely decorative with no duct work running through them. It’s a messy job, though so we’re excited to have it done before moving in!
  3. Add/Remove a few walls. There are currently two way to enter the primary bedroom on the main floor.  One through the hall (normal), and one through a den off the main entrance (less normal). We decided to close off the entrance from the den. Also while we were visiting last week, we made the decision to make the breakfast nook (which was only 4″ less wide than the dining room) into the formal dining room by adding a cased opening and closing off a large opening to a back hallway. We’ll also be adding the former formal dining space into the kitchen square footage with a casual seating area, too. I understand this is probably a little difficult to visualize through words, so I’m working on a full post with lots of plans and inspiration photos! We were nearly SET to do our kitchen here so we’ll be using a lot of the ideas for our new house right away!
  4. The last thing is the main staircase right when you walk in. It, too, is donned with cherry treads and railing so we’re giving it a facelift to match with the rest of the floors. This is the only thing that is not scheduled to be done by the time we get there. (We’ll use the back staircase until it’s complete)

I know there are always those curiosities, “Will you be adding _______” or “Will you be changing _______” and the answer is probably! maybe?! But the truth is you’ll just have to wait and seeeeeee. This is a renovation story unrolling in real time. I’m not even letting myself design the whole house in my head yet because I do want us to live there and allow inspiration to strike over time. But, I think it’s safe to say–the kitchen will be first!


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What do you think?

  1. Pamela says:

    FYI The contractors and builders in the Craolinas are wonderful…until hunting season starts. my family hails from there and we have many friends and relatives there so just know things can slow to a snail’s pace during the hunting season and plan accordingly.

  2. Meghan McDonald says:

    Do the former owners know what you do for a living? I wonder if they’re following along!

  3. Lindsay says:

    Provincial Provincial Provincial !

  4. patricia says:

    Another fun roller coaster ride!

  5. Mudrick says:

    Excited to follow along and hope the new city results in better health for Julia! Do you envision wanting to replace the windows in the rooms where you are removing the tray ceilings since you’ll be creating more empty wall space between the top of the windows and the new ceiling height?

  6. Eileen says:

    I watch your tour video .. i would take your older daughter closet and expand it into a another bathroom. You would appreciate the extra bathroom on that floor. When your youngest kids are older. It will be busy floor. Then you don’t have kids running to other bathroom.

  7. Maya says:

    So happy for you, guys! Looking forward to following your reno via stories and this blog. You are by far, my favorite IG account!

  8. Rachel B says:

    I just love your new place! It’s going to be so lovely! And that sight line from the front to the back yard! 👌🏻
    So not kitchen related… 😅 but I saw that little fish pond on your patio behind where your formal dining room will be. Do you think you’ll keep it? It’d be a fun little area for the girls to ride scooters around. Or is that going to become a pool? I think I saw someone mention a pool somewhere haha

  9. Chelsea says:

    If you have the time, I’d love to learn more about how you know who to reach out to for a project. Architect vs contractor vs designer etc. I always get paralyzed at this point fearing I’ll spend more money than necessary.

    • Julia says:

      I’m playing designer in this case and our contractor brings in an architect when needed!

      • Victoria says:

        HOW on earth do you find a contractor so quickly, with availability, let alone one you trust to do work when you aren’t there? Do you pay extra to move to the front of the line?

      • Julia says:

        We started looking for a contractor as we were looking for a house! This crew was recommended to us and they are a great fit. We are paying them their normal fees.

  10. Joellyn says:

    I think you are so smart to open that wall into the dining area. It will make it feel so much brighter I think. I moved from a kitchen that had a ton of natural light and not many upper cabinets to one with very little natural light and a bunch of uppers. I can’t believe how stifling it is. I have no doubt that the kitchen will be the stunning heart of this home when you are done with it! Can’t wait to follow along!

  11. Meghan Dobben says:

    Why not Stuga floors? Not traditional enough?

    • Julia says:

      We wanted a stain in place option just because that is what is expected in our area. We’ll likely use Stuga for the guest house though!

  12. Ronda Rowe says:

    I completely agree with nixing the red floors! I am surprised to hear that you are planning to put in “flooring with stain in place white oak” — why not prefinished flooring like you did in your current house? I ask because we have traditional oak flooring in our house and the very worst part of renovating this house (which we’ve done in 3 different phases) is having to get the floors sanded and finished in place. 3 times we’ve done it! The sawdust goes everywhere and the finish takes a few weeks to really cure. I’ve been so envious of wood flooring that is ready to go the minute you put it in place. Do you feel like the new house needs something more traditional? Our house was built in 1949 and the oak flooring is original so we just matched what was here when we did our renovations.

  13. Leanna says:

    So excited to follow along with this new house! So glad you’ve ripped up the cherry flooring. Will you be doing the flooring the same as in your Idaho home? That stain is beautiful! Congrats on the new house!

  14. Jennifer says:

    Is it weird that it already looks way better with the plywood subfloor exposed? Removing the red floors changed everything!

    I trust you but I must admit I am nervous about this kitchen wall removal. Will be anxiously watching your updates!

  15. Christian says:

    I’m curious to know how you feel about the chair rail throughout the house. The way it sits atop its flat base and how it terminates when it meets other casing feels very strange to me. Almost like that artificial suburban character? Just like the hollow core wood-grain doors in my own home LOL.

    Also, the white oak is the only natural choice for this home! It’s going to look amazing.

  16. Amy Merrill says:

    Cannot wait to see what you do to this beautiful home!!! Will you be doing a darker trim again like accessible beige or will you be going back to white? Plans to paint the fireplace? :)

  17. I love all that you are doing before moving in. How are you coping with opening up the kitchen wall without having lived there? My question is will you be planning the whole space now or once you get moved in, including cabinet placement, etc? I am sending you strength to get through remodeling a kitchen before knowing how it flows.

    • Julia says:

      This is something we would NEVER usually do before living in a house. We are only moving forward because we (thankfully) have another kitchen in the guest house. We are starting space planning now and will start the kitchen once we move in. We knew that if we didn’t open up the wall fully, we’d at least want to center the opening in the dining space to the kitchen and either way, that required patching floors so we’re just going for it! I think it will really help the flow.

      • Julie S says:

        Ahhh that makes way more sense! I too was thinking you were planning and starting the cabinets etc of the kitchen before moving in.

  18. Katie says:

    Beautiful home! I’ve heard that in the Raleigh area, HOAs are incredibly strict and really limit how much can be changed/amended/updated on the outside of a home. Is this true with your new HOA?

    • Julia says:

      Yes we do have an HOA! But there are lots of homes in our neighborhood with painted brick and pools and different styles! We actually don’t have a ton of plans for the exterior (besides adding a pool down the road), but it is an approval process!

  19. Julie says:

    The cherry floors are gorgeous, but the red is just so loud and clashes with a lot of things as it almost always takes over a room in boldness. White oak will be incredible in this home. I can’t wait to see it. When you interview contractors do you tell them you have a public following in home design?

  20. Julie M. says:

    So exciting! I’m praying for you all with your big move. Have a wonderful week!

    Julie M.

  21. Michelle says:

    Woo! I’ve gotten behind on all the blogs I follow because of work and am finally getting a chance to catch up so this was the first I’d seen that you were moving to Raleigh. We live in Fuquay Varina (just outside of Raleigh) and I grew up in North Raleigh. LOVE this area and I hope you guys do too!

    Definitely bring the girls to Marbles Kids Museum in downtown Raleigh and check out the Museum of Life & Science in Durham (lots to do outside so go on a day the weather is good and the kids are dressed to get a little dirty on the most epic natural outdoor play area) Both are AWESOME and you’ll totally want memberships to both after one visit :)

  22. Julie S says:

    Love it! Can’t wait! I’ve been watching on stories so I know what’s going on with the floor plan changes, but I was thinking it would be really helpful for the blog post if you marked up the photos with notes so it’s easier to tie your descriptions with the images- i.e. for your bedroom you’d circle the doorway in the den/office photo and note “strange entrance to bedroom near the front door – drywalling this up”

  23. So exciting to get the kitchen out of the way so early so you can just ENJOY IT!!! This home reminds me a lot of my current home (although much larger), already beautiful and just needs some love and style- I can’t wait to see what you do and how your style will evolve!

  24. EP says:

    Will you be losing the kitchen table altogether with this change in order to get a larger kitchen?

    • Julia says:

      Not really, but kind of? Right now there’s a dining room and “breakfast nook” that are essentially the same size separated by a kitchen. It feels weird. So by extending the kitchen, we’re actually able to extend the breakfast nook to be a more formal dining room and just have one eating area.

      • Jill says:

        In the post, you said the kitchen will have a casual eating area in addition to the new dining area. Will that casual area not be a traditional table? Island seating? Something else?

      • Julia says:

        It will have a casual sitting area, eating at the island and then the dining room.

  25. JL says:

    It just makes sense to have these changes done prior to moving in. Outside of the renovations you already have planned, the primary closet and bathroom are the only areas that stand out to me as absolutely needing a reno in the main house. Over time, I can’t wait to see your design choices in lighting, ceiling applications (paneling or beams?), fireplaces (will you add any additional ones in other rooms, e.g. your primary bedroom?) and paint colors. Right now, I’m most excited about the kitchen!

    One question I did have (and yes, I realize you may not wish to answer at this point!)- you mentioned that you eventually plan to add a new laundry upstairs; if so, would you turn the current laundry into a mudroom? I didn’t see a mudroom in the house video, but then there were a few doors that we didn’t see behind.

  26. Michelle Hefner says:

    Can’t wait to see everything in your new house!

  27. Chelsey L. says:

    You have some really beautiful bones to work with here! So excited to see what’s to come. Congratulations!

  28. Lee Ann says:

    Hello! I can’t wait to see what fixture you put in that dining room/ breakfast area … especially as we have the EXACT same fixture now, and I want to change it, but I can’t decide what would look best. I’m looking forward to seeing your inspiration!!

  29. Heidi says:

    So beautiful! Cannot even wait to see the process! Will you be painting the walls at all?

  30. Ali says:

    Love all these remodel plans !! It all sounds so so lovely !! Excited for you and your family ! This home will be even more classic after these changes! You have such a great design eye! Can’t wait to to hear more on the blog about the floors and kitchen!!

  31. Ali says:

    Your kitchen designs are some of my very favorites! Love that the new home’s kitchen will be remodeled first! Such a smart idea to install the new flooring and removing the tray ceilings in the first phase!! This is going to make a huge visual difference and more in line with the architecture of the home !! So impressed you decided to tackle so these dusty messy remodel projects right away! Love that we get to watch your design process on the blog! Crossing my fingers everything goes smoothly and quickly with the remodeling updates! It’s going to be so gorgeous!!

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