Wednesday, July 13, 2016

How to Survive a House Renovation

In May 2016, we finally started the renovation of our first floor. This project was in the works since January of 2015 when we thought we needed an addition. After getting a quote on an addition and basic redesign but not getting a lot of answers to our questions about WHEN we were on the schedule for the project to begin, we finally hired a designer who took over project management. Our designer coordinated meeting contractors and kitchen designers and closet carpenters and more. We made our choices and started packing up the first floor.

The day before renovation started, we hosted our 9 year old's birthday party with 20 kids. It was actually easy, because there was no furniture for them to ruin.

Living Room

Fireplace room

Intersection of rooms

Dining Room

Kitchen. We still had a week of packing lunches!



View of intersection from living room

We made it through the last week of school and first week of renovation pretty easily. The kids were excited to see floors disappear and walls and the fireplace come out.




Before work even started, we moved our kitchen and living room upstairs. These bookcases became our shelves and drawers. Plastic bins stored our non-perishable food, water bottles, larger utensils and cleaning supplies. We washed dishes in a bathroom sink. I made instant coffee from a hot water kettle. We moved our microwave, rice cooker and toaster oven into the office and used the grill whenever possible.




So while we've enjoyed more meals out as a family, we also have a streamlined system for eating more foods fresh (thanks CSA) but we have served with what I like to call our pop-up kitchen. A little mobile table, some staples in an easy to move storage bin, and useful appliances jammed onto the wide window ledge in my office. It's a lot easier to reheat my coffee now.




After we got back from vacation, things were really real. I mean, they were real before, but we realized the old rooms were really gone and even more was going to disappear. This was the "out with the old stage."

Sunken floor of fireplace room raised

Small opening between living and fireplace rooms gone

Old kitchen stripped down

Old dining room stripped down


Several people asked if we thought it would have been easier doing it during school. I think no. Doing this during summer meant we didn't have to pack lunches, make breakfast in a rush, or help kids do homework or school projects when most of our school supplies are packed away in the basement. We are still having music practice upstairs, but we're not on a strict timetable for anything except summer camps and those don't start as early as school. And the kids can play outside most of the day. The one really hard day was when we had no water, a friend visiting, and a tooth got punched out. 


The work has gone along at a good pace. The "out with the old" transitioned quickly into "in with the new." One day we had a wooden door, the next a real sliding door. 

New dining room with wood door

New dining room with new door!


View of new rooms from old fireplace/new dining room

View from living room into butler pantry


New man door. I use it, though I am a woman.
One of the hardest parts for me to stand was the plastering of our old rough ceilings to smooth. The plaster just smelled yucky. A wet mushy mud odor lingered for a few days, but now it's gone. And the plasterers were really good at their job.

Plasterer at work

Going up and down the stairs this day was pretty tough.  
Scaffolding on the stairs

Just look at these ceilings!

We haven't had any major disasters since the project started. Well, except for the story about the toilet next to the refrigerator. Ask me about that one sometime.

Old homework room/temporary storage


And we will need to extend the deck so guests enjoying cocktails in our new kitchen don't have to walk the plank.


Outside of new door

But new features are starting to go in now. We have floors.

New floors, view from living room

And the cabinets are going in, too.

Butler pantry

Cabinets ready to go into new kitchen

We have new doors for the basement and bathroom. 

Basement door

There's still lots to do, like paint and backsplash, appliances and lighting, hardware and sinks and faucets and more. Those things are all picked out and just waiting to be installed. And of course we have a lot of items we need to get rid off, like lights and blinds and bifold doors, that are in good condition. We'll take some to Construction Junction and donate some. We want to avoid putting anything in a landfill if we can help it.

It's been a good purge though. And of course when the project is wrapping up we'll have to unpack everything, but that feels more exciting to me than packing it all up. As we unpack I'm betting we'll find more things to jettison. But I can't wait to use our new special spice rack drawer. I didn't even know such a thing existed. And our new drawer microwave, which I didn't want, then when I saw it, I did. And the hood for the oven. It's going to be so nice to be able to turn that on if when I burn food.