Wednesday, January 11, 2017

getting ready

Happy New Year (it's still not too late to still say that, is it?) from cold, dreary Illinois. I apologize in advance for the dark photos, but this is what the natural light in the house is like right now. 

Monkey and Clementine love to hang out in their cat tree in the living room, watching the birds and squirrels (if you look closely, you can see the gray squirrel on top of the fence) out the window. But, in just five days, their cat tree will be relinquished to the basement, as workers will be here next Tuesday to start renovations.

Totally clearing out rooms takes more time than you think - even if you think a room doesn't have that much stuff. You learn you really have more "stuff" than you think you do! When you have to remove every knick knack, plants, artwork, mirrors, books, and every piece of furniture...well, let's just say I'm glad I not only have a helper, but that we have a basement where we can move all this stuff to in the meantime.

You can see that we still have to remove the curtains and blinds, cat tree, chair, rug and coffee table. The couch and buffet will stay in the living room and the workers will cover and seal these two pieces.

One of the things we're having done is having a mantle built and installed. After almost 27 years of waiting, I'm excited about finally having a completed fireplace.

This photo shows how the fireplace wall is on an angle. I'm considering getting rid of this buffet ~ it takes up so much room in our small living room. It used to belong to my parents and my mom doesn't want it back. The thing is, a lot of my serving and glass baking dishes are in this buffet, along with wine glasses. The drawers on top hold extra dish towels and cloth napkins, as well as paperwork and mailing supplies. I could relocate the dish towels and paperwork, and perhaps get rid of some of the wine glasses, but I have no idea where I'd put all the serving dishes and baking dishes. Most of the wine glasses are Waterford crystal from our wedding registry back in 1984 and we never use them - I think I could sell them at my favorite antique consignment shop. I'm entertaining the idea of clearing out a lower cabinet in the kitchen where we store all the extra food containers (mostly glass). Then, perhaps I'd have room for the baking dishes. 

Another idea is to keep the buffet and have my mom chalk paint it (she's in the business of doing this now) so the living room doesn't look so dark. I haven't passed this idea past Mom yet, so Mom - if you're reading this - surprise! ;-)

The biggest project - and most dramatic, I think - will be having an 8' pass-thru cut out in the living room wall. (The other side is the kitchen.) This is the main supporting wall, so it can't be totally removed. Well, technically it could if we chose to have a support beam put in the ceiling, but that's a ton of work and expense. And this little house and neighborhood we live in isn't worth that kind of major renovation as far as resale value.

Here's the kitchen side of the wall. Can't you just picture the pass-thru and how much light will flow between these two rooms?

The workers will also be tearing the wainscoting off the walls and then painting the entire kitchen a neutral cream color. Good riddance to robin's egg blue! The kitchen has been painted this color the entire 27 years we've lived here. Needless to say, I'm way past this color.

The color I chose to have the kitchen painted is Behr Eggshell Cream. It'll flow nicely with the living room and hallway, and having neutral walls in the kitchen also means I can decorate with whatever colors I wish. With having blue walls, I was limited in color choices with table linens, dishes, chair pads, and decor.

We'll also have that lovely 1980's range hood and the two small cabinets above it removed, and a microwave installed above the range. The microwave on the counter will be donated. We're thinking of purchasing a toaster oven and putting it in the microwave's place.

Lastly, the brown faux wood trim around the kitchen doorway that leads to the basement will be removed and white molding installed. Sorry for the horrendous photo. I had to turn on the ceiling fan lights and it cast shadows all over the wall.

There's still a lot more that needs to be done in the kitchen - recessed lighting, new kitchen window, new counter tops, backsplash, maybe some upper cabinets removed and open shelving put in its place, and cabinets refaced - but all that will have to wait until more money is saved up. Not to mention, there's a lot of other (more important) work to be done in the house. Ah, the joys of home ownership!


  1. Wow! You have some big things going on there. What's the old saying- Good things come to those that wait? Your kitchen is going to seem twice the size with that wall out of there. We did the same thing in one of the houses we redid and it made a world of difference.
    Hope your kitties are traumatized by all the noise and confusion. It is hard on pets sometimes.
    I can't wait to see it...and can't wait to hear what Mom thinks about painting that piece. xo Diana

  2. Wow! That's definitely gonna be some transformation. But first, you gotta get through all the mess. Hope you and the kitties fare well through the renovation. How long is it expected to take? I definitely would keep the buffet. Looks like a sturdy piece that serves you well. Paint does wonders for old furniture.

  3. Very exciting changes happening at your house. I was thinking how pretty your blue and white kitchen is as that is my favorite color combo. However, I can see your point that it is time to go and I think the neutral color you have chosen along with taking down the wall will make your home feel so much more open. How fun it will also be to get the mantle you have been wanting. Just think, one more place to decorate :). I hope you will be taking us along through the transformations. I also hope that things run smoothly and efficiently as I know how disruptive these projects can be to daily living.

  4. It is going to be wonderful when done! The light between the two rooms will brighten it up so much. I love the buffet and would think about keeping it but painting it! Hugs!!

  5. How exciting, Melanie! I know it's a lot of work, packing everything up. It doesn't matter if it's for a move a thousand miles away, or just to take stuff to the basement -- it's work just the same. Can't wait to see the results!

  6. Hi Mel!
    You have chosen a few really good things to change up your lovely home....
    I am too chicken to do any renos! Can't stand the mess!
    That buffet would look great as a tv stand...and in the chalk paint!
    Good luck!
    Linda :o)

  7. It's good to have these pictures to look back on. I look forward to seeing the finished project. Have they given you a time frame for completion? You will love the new look and have fun redecorating.

    Happy January ~ FlowerLady

  8. I live in a one bedroom apt in Reno NV. I also have the exact same fireplace setup, same tile surround, same angled wall. I am really looking forward to seeing what you do with it.

    Your pic of the range and cupboards on both sides also matches my kitchen. But since I rent, there is no way to change the kitchen, but I am considering adding a mantle to my fireplace too.

  9. So, are you doing a complete opening floor to ceiling from kitchen to living room? So you'll have to find a new home for the sofa? Is that the plan? Or just a 'pass through' above the sofa to let light through?

    Can't wait to see all the updates, and no doubt you'll be delighted when it's finished and you can get your house back in order!!

  10. Wow!!! It sounds like a lot of work, but it is going to be wonderful. I love home improvements, whether they are at my house or yours. The before and afters are always so rejuvenating. Have fun!
    Connie :)

  11. Melanie, I think your mahogany buffet will stand out less, if you want the fireplace to be the focal point, if you do paint it a lighter color. I like buffets because I like having a picture over them or a mirror which adds space. And then there is the fun of displaying on the top. Can chalk paint be painted over at a later date in case you want to change it 5-10 years from now? I'm impressed on what a good housekeeper you are to have kitchen walls look that good after years have gone by. I'm hard on my walls and I could't make it for seven years. Your cabinets are classic, nothing on them yells out their era. That is a good style right on trend being simple, classic, and ageless.

  12. Good luck with the renovations! Sounds very exciting. Can't wait to see the "after" pictures....

  13. Can't wait to see the results this year. You are lucky to have a basement for temporary storage. Hope the kitties survive the improvements!

  14. How exciting!! I know that the before and during totally stinks, but you are going to love the after!! Can't wait to see! xoxo

  15. You have some great projects going on, Melanie! I always hate the mess, too, but it is going to be wonderful!

  16. Wow there's alot going on / will be exciting to see when it is completed! :)

  17. Oh, how exciting for you, Melanie! I can't wait to see your new fireplace mantel and your open floor plan! I would have your mom paint your buffet and if you still feel it takes up too much space, it would be ready for her to sell. Do you have any shelving in your basement to hold serving dishes, etc.? I keep my griddle, crock pot, roasters, and other big pieces I don't use on a daily basis on a wire storage shelf in our basement.

    As far as selling smaller things, have you discovered Facebook Buy and Sell? Our daughters sell things that way and get way more cash than bringing them to a consignment shop or selling them in a garage sale. I just signed up and have a few smaller furniture items I'm going to sell. I'll let you know how it all works out!

    I hope everything goes without a hitch!

  18. The renovations sound wonderful. You are just going to love it all so much when it is done. Now is the hard part!

  19. This is a huge project, but I'm sure you'll be delighted once it's done. Can't wait to see it!

  20. Your doing a lot and it really sound like the changes will make a great impact. The fireplace/mantel will have more of a presence and opening the wall will connect the rooms together with additional light too. I'm glad you have someone you trust...we thought we did do...But not so much! Good luck and it is a pain when you home is underconstruction.

  21. I hope that it all goes really well for you and that you really enjoy the results! It will be a big change, but a great one I am sure. Enjoy choosing your new colours and décor!

  22. Oh how fun! I love home remodeling. Can't wait to see the end result.


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