This past month my computer was in the repair shop so now I'm finally sitting down for some much-needed blogging therapy!
For starters I've been wanting to re-cap our home remodeling experience from this past summer. This was a huge undertaking for our family! Not only did we go without a kitchen for most of the summer, but it took a lot of time, energy, and hard labor to get this done (blood, sweat, and tears! Oh lots of tears!) . The hard parts of planning, buying materials, executing the project, construction, and labor was all my husband but I did all the painting and the kids helped with hauling debris out to the dumpster. Looking back it was somewhat of a nightmarish experience, yet I'm so grateful we got this done!
It was a couple years ago my husband and I decided we wanted to make our upstairs living space bigger by removing the wall separating the living room from the front bedroom and turning that bedroom into a dining room. Our vision was to have a dining room that was open and accessible from both the kitchen and living room allowing for more flow and move-ability between each room, while also creating a larger space for our family to come together for meals.
Our remodeling plans included:
1. Knocking down the wall between the living room and front bedroom.
2. Removing the closet and the wall space adjacent to the kitchen from that bedroom.
3. Removing some wall space separating the kitchen from the hallway to allow the kitchen to flow into the front bedroom (now dining room).
4. Ripping out the carpet from the front bedroom and hallway.
5. Removing all the old, ugly, white kitchen cabinets and replacing them with brand new cabinets.
6. Replacing the linoleum flooring and carpet with new, wood flooring that will flow from the kitchen to the hallway and dining room.
7. Replacing the upstairs bathroom linoleum with the same wood flooring.
8. Installing a dishwasher among-st the new cabinets.
9. Painting the dining room, kitchen, and hallway.
At first I was hesitant to start these plans because I don't always welcome change right away. I need time to mull things over and make sure I am ready to accept the differences it will make in my life and in my home. For instance I loved my squash-yellow wall so much that I knew I would be sad to see it go. It was the first wall in our house that I painted back in 2014 when we bought the home. I remember feeling so happy and excited that we finally had our very own home where I could paint the walls ANY color I wanted! I was SO proud of my squashy wall.
Yet, of course, I realized that the overall rewards of having brand new cabinets, new flooring, and more living space out-won the emotional nostalgia for my squash-yellow wall.
Goodbye my squash-yellow wall.
My second reason for being hesitant about remodeling our home is that I like to keep things simple. If something is working for me then I don't see any need to spend the time, energy, money, and not to mention all the stress to change it. Despite the kitchen being really old, ugly, cramped, and full of old lady flair- the kitchen was working for us. We could cook meals, wash dishes, and sit at a table to eat.
Isn't this enough?
I mean, there's people all over the world who don't have money to buy their next meal, let alone a kitchen table to sit at, so why did I need a brand new kitchen and dining room?
At the time, remodeling our home seemed self-serving and superfluous. I felt like we could expend ourselves, our time, and our money, in much more meaningful ways than making our house different.
Yet, as the plans began to unfold, I started to feel differently about it.
I learned along the way that remodeling a home is deeply rewarding in so many ways.
After all, a home is a sacred space especially when you are raising small children.
The time and energy you put into making it better is time and energy you are spending to create a beautiful place where love and growth and learning happens. It not only becomes more functional but also becomes a meaningful place to build memories and relationships.
The tireless work my husband put into remodeling our home represents his willingness to sacrifice for our family. I look around at the incredible work he did and feel so grateful for his love and commitment to me and our children.
The planning and organizing we did as couple made us stronger, however hard and frustrating it was at the time. I had never remodeled a home in my life and found that the process of picking out cabinets and designing a kitchen plan was like learning Greek to me. I kinda hated it but am grateful for the experience.
Our boys got to help a lot with the cleaning and removing of debris. We rented one of those huge dumpsters that sat in the front of our home for several weeks. Our boys had fun hauling out old carpet, wood, plaster, and nails, and tossing them into the giant trash pit.
I believe they learned strong work ethic and what it takes to get a job done, from A to Z.
I learned to have patience for good things to come. I admit it was REALLY hard to not have a kitchen most of the summer, although it was like camping in a lot of ways, too. We used a lot of paper plates and utilized the backyard for eating and cooking. On this particular evening I plugged the waffle maker into the backyard socket and we had waffles for dinner.
I also developed a pretty good system for getting the dishes done without a kitchen sink.
I put an 18 gallon bucket in the backyard where we tossed our dirty dishes throughout the day. Then at about twilight each evening I would dump all the dishes out on to the grass and hose them down with the blasting option on the hose adapter. Next I'd sit in a lawn chair with my back hunched over and scrub each dish with dish soap and a sponge, then toss it into another pile full of soapy dishes.
The boys would take turns hosing the dishes clean and stacking them on a dish drainer. The dishes would dry overnight and we'd put them away sometime the next day.
I did this every night for weeks, blasting reggae music every evening while I worked, while the kids ran and played around the yard.
Here's some photos I took that show the progression of our remodel:
In this photo it shows where Micah knocked out part of the wall separating the hallway from the kitchen.Below is a photo of the yellow-squash wall completely removed, allowing the living room and future dining room to be connected.
Here is Micah is plastering the arch separating the dining room and living room. Instead of removing the entire wall structure, we decided to leave an arch between the dining room and living room, to help define the two rooms.
Here's a shot of me painting the new dining room! We picked out a dark, apple-green from Jones Paint & Glass that we really love!
Painting is a lot of hard work, but for some reason I really enjoy doing it. I love watching the transformation unfold from something less desirable into something beautiful. I like bright, bold colors that bring out feelings of happiness and excitement for living.
Zadok kept busy collecting all of my discarded painter's tape and turning them into temporary shoes for himself.
Now to gut the kitchen. I was happy to see those old white cabinets go bye bye. Turns out that underneath them all was a lovely collection old mice droppings. Blech!Getting ready to paint the kitchen. I found a 5 gallons of a beautiful sage-green in the ooops! section of Jones Paint & Glass. It was the perfect color and perfect amount for the kitchen. I painted for hours one night while listening to "This American Life" podcasts on NPR.
I don't have a lot more photos of the progress, so I'll just jump to the finish!
Here's our completed kitchen looking east:Here's the view looking west. So much more counter space!
Here's the view from the dining room into the living room. I'm happy to say that all 6 of us can now sit at the dining room table together at one time!
I painted the wall in the living room turquoise as a finishing touch to our new look. It really brightened up the room and also matches the west side of the arch separating the two rooms.
I also painted the back of our front door with chalkboard paint. I love that the kids can color on it whenever they want to and there's new artwork to enjoy almost daily! Odin drew this lovely rooster below.
I've been making decorations out of drift wood from the local river and glass beads. Ya'll must know by now how much I love my rainbows!
Speaking of rainbows, I hang a lot of my kid's artwork around the house. Here Odin drew this owl and Jonah drew this penguin below, on separate days and in separate classes at school. I think it's funny that they both drew large birds surrounded by color.
Here's another one of my dangly driftwood creations. This particular driftwood is from Cobble Beach in Oregon.
And this marks the end of my Home remodel in review. When I think of our home remodel I am filled with gratitude. --Gratitude for my husband for working so hard, gratitude to have the means to make it happen, gratitude for having a beautiful place to call home, gratitude for our first-ever dishwasher(Life-changing!) and gratitude that I can learn so much from life's meaningful experiences.
Owning a home has taught me so much and will continue to teach me more, I'm sure.