We’ve been enjoying a stretch of amazing weather in Chicago, allowing us to take full advantage of our (even more) recently revamped back patio. As we sit outside – roasting marshmallows, brunching with neighbors or taking a break from the garden renovation – we’ll talk about how drastically different this yard looks from just one year ago. We’ll say, Do…
  • Rachel - June 8, 2017 - 7:30 AM

    How do you deal with your tenants inregard to back patio access… – we own a two family in Boston and live in one of the units as well And I’m FINding it difficult to navigate because I want to be nice to them but also don’t want them to try and take over our yard which I hope we can make half as nice as your back area.ReplyCancel

    • Kim - June 8, 2017 - 8:06 AM

      We’re still trying to figure that out ourselves, honestly. I think we’ll just ask them to let us know when/if they want to use it, and assuming they’re respectful, it shouldn’t be an issue. Those waters can get murky though, and we’re getting opinions from friends, too!ReplyCancel

  • Paige - June 8, 2017 - 7:36 AM

    The space turned out amazing! You guys did an awesome job!


  • Katy DeBardelaben - June 8, 2017 - 7:43 AM

    It’s perfection! So beautiful and well done. But my question is: where DO the dogs goootty? Just on the tiny sliver beside the house still?ReplyCancel

  • Katy DeBardelaben - June 8, 2017 - 7:44 AM

    Oops, hitpost before proofreading. That should read: where do the dogs go potty? :)ReplyCancel

    • Kim - June 8, 2017 - 8:07 AM

      We left the entire area underneath the stairs as gravel, so they go there. :) It’s bigger than it looks. Also, we still take them on long walks!ReplyCancel

  • Meg - June 8, 2017 - 8:49 AM

    Oh how I LOVE your setup in the back yard. I wish I could turn back time and make similar decisions with my Chicago lot. Unfortunately, the money for the large-ish deck is already spent and the pooch will never give up “her” lawn now. Seriously impressed with your vision and execution.ReplyCancel

  • Caroline - June 8, 2017 - 9:49 AM

    Im a little hesitant to ask but where you let your dogs use the bathroom?! I LOVE the patio but I am wondering how you do it with the pups!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - June 8, 2017 - 9:53 AM

      There’s an entire gravel area under the stairs, and they’re free to go as they please. We have a little doggy bag station on one of the supports of our staircase, where we can pick up any messes and toss them in a little trash can nearby!ReplyCancel

  • Ashley Wilson - June 8, 2017 - 1:34 PM

    It looks so cozy! Question- when you had your fireplace powder coated, did they come to you or did you have to transport your fireplace?
    What a pretty backyard. We only have a small deck so I’m a little jealous of how perfectly sized your backyard is!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - June 8, 2017 - 2:09 PM

      We went to them, which is a little out of the way (about a 45 min drive from home for us), but not bad and definitely worth it!ReplyCancel

  • Julie - June 8, 2017 - 3:05 PM

    So… Where do your dogs do their business now? On the gravel under the stairs? As someone living in California I see awesome benefits to a no-grass yard, but I also have a doggy who likes running and relieving himself on his schedule. Thanks!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - June 9, 2017 - 9:48 AM

      I should have been more clear in the post! Yup, the gravel area under the stairs is pretty spacious, and they go under there. We have this doggy bag dispenser that we hid behind one of the porch supports and a small trash can to pick up and toss their business.ReplyCancel

  • Nina - June 8, 2017 - 8:18 PM

    You two do exceptional work! Well done Kim & Scott. I cannot believe the transformation. Also, I love seeing the pups happily lounging around.
    1. Did you cover your outdoor furniture over the winter or store it? (If you covered it do you recommend your covers?) 2. Do you have anything protecting your deck from your grill? 3. What is that circular stone thing under the deck? (on the right side while facing the house)ReplyCancel

    • Kim - June 9, 2017 - 9:46 AM

      Thanks, Nina!

      1. We did cover things over the winter! We had a custom made cover for our freshly powder coated fireplace, and we used the recommended Crate & Barrel covers for the chairs/umbrella. We got a table cover on Amazon that’s fine (not the best), but it does the job.

      2. For deck protection, we don’t have anything – yet! Down the road, we really want to add some sort of awning over the french sliders for protection from weather (when we’re getting in and out of the house) and the grill. That, fingers crossed, might happen next year?

      3. That weird stone thing is an antiquated access to the sewer line under our home. It’s actually been pretty useful (although unsightly!), as we’ve had it reamed before to rid the pipes of old tree roots, which has been a huge help in rainstorms! We can’t stand that it sits up so high, but it’s one of those old house things that we’re just sort of dealing with. ;)ReplyCancel

  • Gayle Parrish - June 8, 2017 - 8:42 PM

    For more spring color in your planter beds, plant bulbs. I love species tulips (tough, pretty, and no big floppy foliage that takes forever to die off. Im also fond of miniature daffodils, but my absolute favorite bulb is Allium Schubertii. The seed heads are amazing and they last for months. You can even spray paint them. I like to buy from Brent and Becky’s Bulbs (no affiliate, just a happy customer.)ReplyCancel

    • Kim - June 9, 2017 - 9:42 AM

      Spray paint?! I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around that! Thanks for the tips, Gayle!ReplyCancel

  • Lori - June 9, 2017 - 9:35 AM

    I second Gayle’s comment! I was just up in WI and alliums were blooming everywhere, and they’re fantastic and add such an air of drama.

    I love how your backyard turned out,and I remain so jealous of your fireplace. I’ve been watching Craigslist for one for over a year, but no dice.ReplyCancel

  • Molly - June 10, 2017 - 7:53 AM

    Hey Kim! Where do your dogs use the restroom?(kidding) I do have a more serious and slightly unrelated question though: how do you handle/hide unsightly but quite necessary things around the home such as smoke detectors?ReplyCancel

    • Kim - June 12, 2017 - 10:48 AM

      Ha! Thanks for making us laugh!

      We tuck smoke detectors into corners, or where there might be a room division. Like in our studio, there’s a detector on one side of our exposed brick, and in our living/dining, there’s one juuust on the other side of the support beam that divides the two rooms!ReplyCancel

  • Ann - June 12, 2017 - 8:34 AM

    I’m interested in how your outdoor rug holds up- not in terms of durability so much as showing dirt, pollen, and other general nature mess. Any tips for picking on that will look good without a lot of maintenance?ReplyCancel

    • Kim - June 12, 2017 - 10:47 AM

      Because it’s such a neutral color, we haven’t had any issues with dirt or other elements ‘showing.’ That said, I have honesty to goodness taken my cordless vacuum cleaner outside and just vacuumed it! It’s VERY low maintenance, and rain washes most debris away.ReplyCancel

  • Tami - June 16, 2017 - 7:17 AM

    Loooove the transformation. If you don’t mind me asking… where did you get the candle holders seen on your patio dining table?ReplyCancel

  • Diana Lopes - June 19, 2017 - 5:25 PM

    What an amazing job you guys did there! I’m amazed, it’s looking beautiful!ReplyCancel


This post is in collaboration with National Gypsum PURPLE XP®. #askforpurple 4 years ago (this week!) we closed on our house. We talk about those remember when?s often – from the moment we cut down the ‘For Sale’ sign on our front gate, to christening the new-to-us home with a good champagne smashing, to the first swing of our…
  • Ashley Wilson - June 6, 2017 - 8:46 AM

    You are so smart to add on the extra exterior door so you have access to the breaker! I bet this is going to make your life so much easier! I’m excited to see what you do with this kitchen.ReplyCancel

    • Kim - June 6, 2017 - 9:56 AM

      It’s going to be a game changer! No more bothering the tenants when we need to do something so simple in our own home.ReplyCancel

  • Daria Perrone - June 6, 2017 - 9:42 AM

    Who knew I could nerd out to drywall! It looks amazing so far! Can’t wait to see the finished product.ReplyCancel

    • Kim - June 6, 2017 - 9:56 AM

      Thanks, Daria! We nerded out pretty hard. :pReplyCancel

  • ryan - June 6, 2017 - 4:24 PM

    I imagine the sound barrier drywall would also be helpful on the ceiling (if you were replacing that) in a basement unit to cut down on noise between both units.

    I saw some of the purple drywall on this current season of This Old House (they’re in Detroit) and it didn’t seem weird because I’d already seen Daniel’s post about it :).

    I’m excited to see more about this new kitchen layout and how you build out the pantry / furnace closet.ReplyCancel

    • Kim - June 6, 2017 - 4:37 PM

      Thanks, Ryan! There’s so much to dive into re: the kitchen. And wouldn’t you know, Daniel helped me with the layout. ;)ReplyCancel

  • Katie - June 7, 2017 - 8:41 AM

    Curious: are you drywalling over the larger window in the kitchen? The new layout looks great – can’t wait to see it finished!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - June 7, 2017 - 9:19 AM

      Nice catch – yes, one window had to go, but as soon as we landed on the final configuration, we’ve never been more excited about a plan. Looking forward to sharing more!ReplyCancel


The garden apartment has been full steam ahead since we last shared the flooring update! Our favorite general contractor has been working down there as part of a four person team, and they’ve been so very patient as we’ve added updates and changed our minds (more than once). As with any renovation project, there have been…
  • Kate - June 1, 2017 - 7:29 AM

    Hey! Love everything about this garden apartment plan! Would you ever think about a post regarding how to pick items/finishes for an apartment?? Knowing that they may get a lot of wear and tear because it’s a rental and tenants may not always treat things in the nicest way?

    Would love to hear your opinion! It would be really helpful!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - June 1, 2017 - 8:55 AM

      Thanks for the suggestion! We think that’s a great idea to share once everything’s in place. I’ve added it to the list.ReplyCancel

  • Dana - June 1, 2017 - 8:36 AM

    Hey, THANKS for posting the clearance pulls from Rejeuvanation! I went straight to the site and ordered all the hardware for our kitchen reno, which the hubs is working on downstairs as I type. You saved us hundreds! :-)ReplyCancel

    • Dana - June 1, 2017 - 8:39 AM

      OH, and your windowsill/window framing tutorial has also been a linchpin of our kitchen reno–so DOUBLE THANKS! Two newly framed, gorgeous kitchen windows, looking much more like their 1920’s selves!ReplyCancel

      • Kim - June 1, 2017 - 8:54 AM

        Haha, you’re welcome! Love this.ReplyCancel

    • Kim - June 1, 2017 - 8:53 AM

      So happy to hear! It’s a screaming deal! We couldn’t believe it ourselves when we saw it, and it made our decision super easy. Rejuvenation kills it with hardware.ReplyCancel

  • Elizabeth - June 1, 2017 - 1:07 PM

    As a Chicago renter, I’m really curious about the paint. Most landlords have allowed me to paint the space myself, as long as I’m willing to paint it back to white when I move out (in many cases, “Navajo White” was specifically requested, no joke). If you are choosing beautiful paint colors for the space, will there be a no-painting rule in your lease?ReplyCancel

    • Kim - June 1, 2017 - 1:15 PM

      Ahh, Navajo White! That was the color on every surface – walls, trim, doors – in our condo! If our tenant wants to paint, it would be the same rule to paint it back. When we were renting, that was the rule for us as well. Our hope as we make decisions is to find someone who will love this place as much as we see the potential in it. We’re always open to discussion though!ReplyCancel

      • Elizabeth - June 13, 2017 - 9:51 AM

        What is it with Navajo White???? ;)ReplyCancel

  • Kate - June 1, 2017 - 8:54 PM

    Just used Sea Salt on my bathroom walls and it is sooooo pretty. Might have to use it in the other two in my house. Agreeable Gray is also on my list of colors to use somewhere if possible!ReplyCancel

    • Cindy - June 1, 2017 - 10:28 PM

      I second the shout out to Sea Salt. It’s very subtle but a great greenish-blue. We have it in our office and I have yet to find something it doesn’t match. Highly recommend.ReplyCancel

    • Kim - June 2, 2017 - 8:30 AM

      Ohh good to know! Thank you!ReplyCancel

  • Molly - June 4, 2017 - 1:50 AM

    Hello! I’m sure you’re situation isn’t exactly the same as everyone’s in terms of renovations, but I had a general question. Are there any renovations that, in your opinion, are just too big or risky to do without a contractor? I always love to hear your input!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - June 4, 2017 - 5:30 PM

      For us, we never cut holes on the outside of our house (new windows, doors, etc), and we prefer to hire out electrical and larger plumbing jobs. While the pros are there, if drywall needs repaired, we love how fast and efficient they are! You’re right, it’ll differ for everyone, but we would rather gather quotes on larger jobs before we jump in and realize we’re in over our heads.ReplyCancel

  • Ashley Wilson - June 4, 2017 - 9:14 AM

    I love the idea of sea salt in the laundry room- super safe, but still a little fun. Of course you can’t go totally neutral in a laundry room #ostrichwallpaper ;)ReplyCancel

  • Elaine - June 4, 2017 - 12:37 PM

    Love all the grays and whites, can’t wait to see it finished. Good Luck!ReplyCancel


This post is in collaboration with Lowe’s.  Our tenants moved out of the garden apartment around late April, and immediately, we dove in, gathering quotes and meeting with contractors. We needed to come up with a (somewhat loose) schedule in order to plan for what we hoped to be a 2-3 month renovation, and we quickly…
  • TIFFANY DIIORIO - May 26, 2017 - 7:04 AM

    you say “garden” so I am assuming basement ie slab. and I think the apt is in Chi?
    Are you concerned with physical warmth in the winter? did you consider under floor heating? thermosoft, nuheat, etc…
    I would love to hear your thoughts on this as I am starting a project similar to yours.

    love the tile by the way!


    • Kim - May 26, 2017 - 10:00 AM

      You’re right – we’re in Chicago on a slab. We did consider heating! We dove into all that in the first few paragraphs, but after speaking with the former tenants that lived with tile for the last 3.5 years, they weren’t fazed by the tile in the winter whatsoever. Instead, they said they actually appreciated how cool the floors stayed in the summer!ReplyCancel

  • Chantel - May 26, 2017 - 7:21 AM

    Looks beautiful!! question- will tile floors in the basement make the floors super cold in the winter??ReplyCancel

    • Kim - May 26, 2017 - 10:02 AM

      It will definitely be cool, but we spoke with our former tenants, and it didn’t bother them one bit (they were always wearing slippers or had on socks in the winter anyway). Rather, they appreciated how cool it kept the apartment in the summer. We dive into that quite a bit more in those first few paragraphs! :)ReplyCancel

  • Rachel - May 26, 2017 - 8:53 AM

    Wow! That is some good-looking tile!! I can’t wait to see what comes next :)ReplyCancel

  • Ann - May 26, 2017 - 9:42 AM

    I cannot believe we didn’t make it down there last weekend!!!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - May 26, 2017 - 10:03 AM

      How did we forget?! I think someone was too excited to watch The Big Chill. ;)ReplyCancel

  • Sammy - May 26, 2017 - 10:53 AM

    so so excited to see the progress on this! that floor is amazing!!

    in the next renovation (ha!), I said I wanted the wood look tile flooring. I hope there’s a pocket door somewhere down there :)ReplyCancel

    • Kim - May 26, 2017 - 10:57 AM

      So funny, how’d you know?! There will be one pocket door – details to come!ReplyCancel

  • Kyla @HouseOfHipsters - May 26, 2017 - 11:42 AM

    This looks absolutely amazing! I’m singing Outkast, So Fresh and So Clean =) You chose the perfect color. And thanks for the shoutout!!!ReplyCancel

  • Monica - May 26, 2017 - 5:10 PM

    Hi this looks so lovely! I was wondering if you had any issues with sound traveling or if you did anything to minimize the upstairs noises. We have a daylight basement that we rent out and it’s just perfect except the sound issue…ReplyCancel

    • Kim - May 26, 2017 - 6:23 PM

      Maybe we’re so used to apartment living in the city, but some noise is 100% to be expected. I can hear the dogs running around upstairs when we’re in the living room, and I’m sure the same could be said for living in our garden apartment. We do try to be as mindful as possible, though.ReplyCancel

  • Bobbie - May 26, 2017 - 7:32 PM

    The floors look great. Have you considered sanded caulk for the edges? I despise quarter round and either pull the baseboards and reinstall or use sanded caulk. So much cleaner IMO. Anyway still a great transformation, quarter round or no.ReplyCancel

    • Kim - May 26, 2017 - 8:44 PM

      We’d love to do that, but every so often, there’s a good 1/4″ gap. While we don’t prefer the look of quarter round, in this old house, it has hidden so many sins! Ultimately, it will create a nice finished edge for some of those larger gaps. Thank you for the suggestion!ReplyCancel

      • Laurel - May 30, 2017 - 1:31 PM

        I’m relatively new to DIY, and wondering if there is a reason you wouldn’t want to remove trim before tiling to get closer to the wall and avoid using quarter round? We have a kitchen reno coming up in the next couple years, and I had assumed we’d do that, but not if it isn’t the best move!ReplyCancel

        • Kim - May 31, 2017 - 8:43 AM

          Hi Laurel! More or less, it was a cost saving measure. Installing all new baseboards would have easily been an additional $1k (even choosing the least expensive option), and a LOT more work. Do I wish we just ripped it all up and installed new? Yes and no. Yes, because you’re right – we would have avoided quarter round. No, because we still have SO much work ahead of us, and that detail didn’t feel worth the effort. We’re doing our best to splurge and save where we can!ReplyCancel

          • Kim - May 31, 2017 - 8:44 AM

            I should update to add – if it was just ONE space, absolutely we would have removed and reinstalled the baseboards! For your kitchen, assuming it’s not 850 sq. ft. ;), I’d choose to remove and reinstall.

          • Laurel - May 31, 2017 - 9:37 PM

            Ha! I wish our kitchen was 850 sf! But alas, far from it… but that will mean it will be much more affordable to pull out the trim! Perhaps we can re-install the same trim? That would be a nice cost savings. Thanks!

          • Kim - June 1, 2017 - 8:55 AM

            If you remove the trim carefully, it’s possible! It’s worth a shot. Good luck!

  • Kaylan - May 26, 2017 - 9:59 PM

    Me thinks your tenants lie ;) we’ve live in a basement/garden suite with tile floors and it is downright cold in the winter. However, it’s nothing a nice area rug and good slippers can’t solve. I do appreciate the cool floor in the summer and I love that I don’t have to worry about damaging the flooring. I would make the same choice you did. It looks lovely!ReplyCancel

  • Ashley - May 28, 2017 - 8:28 AM

    Your new tile looks so nice! I would have never thought about how hard tenants could be on LVT- that was smart of you. We have laminate wood floors and love them! I’m so excited to see what you do next here!ReplyCancel

  • Dwyn - May 28, 2017 - 7:51 PM

    I’m currently looking into wood-look tiles for my ground floor. I don’t quite understand the distinction you make between porcelain and ceramic tiles??? Can you explain, or point to an article that does?

    I have big dogs (think 160-180 lbs) and the good old shuffle-feet routine have can wreck havoc on floors.

    Personally I think the flooring look great and as far as temperature… Cold in the winter I can live with, good slippers and socks, dog beds, a rug or two, it’s taken care of. Cool in the summer is heaven to feet and to overheated dogs alike!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - May 30, 2017 - 9:19 AM

      In a nutshell, porcelain is going to be much more durable than ceramic (and this usually comes with a slighter higher price point, too)! You can learn more about that here: http://www.floorfacts.com/ceramic-porcelain-tile.aspReplyCancel

      • Dwyn - June 15, 2017 - 5:47 PM

        Thanks Kim! I’m going to look at it with a more critical eye now. Paramount for me is something that will last, I don’t want to be re-doing the fundamentals like flooring again in 10 years’ time!ReplyCancel

  • Meg - May 30, 2017 - 8:43 PM

    Can you talk a little about why you chose 6 x 24 tiles over 6 x 36? We are in the process of narrowing down our tile choices and have been leaning towards longer tiles in an effort to reduce how busy tiles look in comparison to actual wood. Is there an advantage to shorter tiles?

    Basement is really looking good!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - May 31, 2017 - 8:40 AM

      Hi Meg! I explained a little bit in the post, but basically, our contractor told us to choose tiles no longer than 30.” This is because our floors were REALLY unlevel, and although they did a miracle job leveling the subfloor as much as possible, the shorter the tile, the less chance for the tiles to crack, as opposed to a longer length. We also would have preferred the look of a longer tile, but now that it’s installed, we’re so happy with our choice!ReplyCancel

  • Mandolin - May 31, 2017 - 4:56 PM

    The wood tile looks amazing. I love the grout color you guys chose. It definitely doesn’t scream “TILE!” when you first see it because the grout blends in well.

    I also just wanted to add that I mostly rent places with wood floors (because I hate carpet due to my asthma and allergies). Almost every single place I have rented has a clause in the lease with stipulations about having felt pads on furniture and/or rugs covering 75% of the flooring. Usually the landlords will includes packs of the felt pads for us to use so it has never felt like an imposition. I just slap them on the legs as we move furniture in. I assume any decent tenant would understand why you would want that and I don’t think it would make you guys come across as super strict or anything!
    Good luck on the rest of your renovation!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - June 1, 2017 - 8:56 AM

      We’ve never heard of that, but we can’t thank you enough for the suggestion! We might have to try that. ‘Welcome home, here’s some felt pads!’ :DReplyCancel

  • Christina - June 5, 2017 - 8:51 AM

    I LOVE the tile you chose *insert heart-eyes emoji here*! Just one question – why did you opt to keep the baseboards IN when they started tiling? Wouldn’t you want to get as close to the wall as possible (and also to avoid the quarter-round)? Love to know your thoughts!! :)ReplyCancel

    • Kim - June 5, 2017 - 11:46 AM

      It was completely a cost saving measure. To have to re-do the basements throughout 850+ sq. ft. of space would have been at least $1k, so although IDEALLY we could have done it, we’re happy that we could salvage what we could and save a little bit of money here!ReplyCancel

  • Gretchen - June 16, 2017 - 1:36 PM

    This looks wonderful! Cool tile in the summer is going to be such a great thing under foot for your future renters.

    I am wondering how much variation there is in the wood pattern on the tiles/how frequently it repeats?ReplyCancel

    • Kim - June 16, 2017 - 1:46 PM

      That’s a good question, and one that we considered when choosing all of our options. I’m happy to report that there’s a WIDE variation, that it’s difficult to even find the repeats! I’d have to really search for them to find them. That’s not always the case (especially with cheaper ceramic tile), so it’s great to keep that in mind when shopping around.ReplyCancel


Three summers ago, we stained our bare wood deck, painted the railings and built a new (safer) staircase. It made all the difference in the world, although we always sort of wished that the opaque stain color we chose, Gray Birch, was a little less blue. It was the softest, prettiest gray, and while we loved…
  • Chel - May 24, 2017 - 3:18 PM

    The porch looks great! Quick question about the IKEA pillows, do you find them comfortable to lean against? I had considered then for my living room and was concerned they would be to scratchy.ReplyCancel

    • Kim - May 24, 2017 - 3:28 PM

      They’re super cute, but definitely scratchy. Since we use them as a back rest (rather than a pillow you’d lean on), it’s fine!ReplyCancel

  • Paige - May 24, 2017 - 8:52 PM

    Our deck is totally going to need to be repainted by next summer! I’m not looking forward to the project, but know it will be so pretty when it’s done!


    • Kim - May 25, 2017 - 7:40 AM

      It’s a huge project, but changes EVERYTHING! Good luck when your time comes!ReplyCancel

  • Ashley - May 27, 2017 - 9:50 AM

    I love that you stained your deck floor. I so wish we had done that. We have outdoor carpet. It’s fine, but its already looking a little lumpy after a year. That is SO smart that you used the never wet spray. I used non outdoor fabric, so I’ll have to give it a try!ReplyCancel

  • Lara Herzer - June 9, 2017 - 12:57 PM

    Beware Sherwin Williams stain! We used this on our 1000 sq ft Chicago deck a couple of years ago, big mistake! It only lasted a season. Come to find out it was ranked last in Consumer Reports, but one of the most expensive.

    Last year we went with their top pick, which was an opaque Behr product. So far so good!ReplyCancel