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What a difference a week makes! I feel like we’ve been saying that a lot – at the very least, we’ve been throwing those words around this house like crazy – but man, do we mean it. The biggest difference in where we left off? Drywall! We have honest to goodness walls back in our life!

When we first started talking about this three room renovation, I really don’t think Scott and I imagined that it would turn into a full blown, down to the studs makeover. But our drywall was in pretty rough shape, and if you’re going to take down half a wall, you might as well take down the whole thing, right? Less patching, less mudding. (Not that we’re patching, thank goodness. I’d put mudding and sanding drywall right up there with my love of installing baseboards; no love, none.)

THE BATHROOM. We were sort of bummed when we found out we couldn’t recess the entire plumbing wall completely, due to a stack that couldn’t be pushed back. Seeing it drywalled though? That changed everything. It really feels like that small bump out – second photo, below – was made for our vanity! And it turns out we got a teeny bit more than 11″ of width to the right of the tub for extra storage. We had been crossing our fingers for 9″, so we’ll take it!

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THE BEDROOM. The closet makes so much more sense now! The drywall frames out a 25″ depth, and we’ll be squeezing an IKEA PAX inside that cubby. The pile of flat packed boxes are waiting to be ripped open, but where do we start? The closet? The bathroom tiles? A warm, cozy bed? We want to do it all, and we want to do it all at once. So. Excited. (And if I’m being honest, completely overwhelmed, too.)

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THE LAUNDRY ROOM. Maybe it’s because this room is the smallest, or maybe it’s because we actually have a pretty clear vision (and ostriches!), but we can’t talk about the laundry room without getting those overly excited head rushes. Woosh! Such a cute little space.

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Everything still needs to be sanded and primed, which will be promptly followed by pulling out paint swatches. In other news, the furnace venting and water heater issue has been resolved, and we want to thank you all for your input! It was such an unexpected curve ball, and we put a lot of trust in our HVAC contractor who has done all heating and plumbing work in our home since the day we moved in. After receiving your feedback, we delved into deeper discussion with him and opted out of tankless. On the furnace side of things, they re-routed everything properly, corrected existing issues along the way, and this week, the chimney can finally come out!

  • Angela - December 21, 2015 - 7:21 AM

    Ohhhh can you explain more why you opted out of tankless?ReplyCancel

    • Kim - December 21, 2015 - 8:16 AM

      Hi Angela! Initially, we were wooed by the MASSIVE space savings and idea of “instant” hot water – but the more digging we did, we realized that ‘tankless’ doesn’t automatically mean ‘instant.’ (To be honest, we were blindsided by this whole thing, so our research didn’t go too deep!) Going from 3 huge space hogs to 2 small tankless models (with one of the tankless being larger for our 2 floors) seemed like the obvious choice. But after discussing some concerns with our guy, he said that for hot water to make it from the basement to our second floor could take a while, which in the end, is a big waste of water. No good!

      We went with the more traditional tanks, a 40 gal for the garden apartment and a 50 gal for us. They’re smaller than the old beasts, much more energy efficient than what we had, and we did eliminate at least one water heater! We’re pretty happy – and it was a cost savings, too.

      This AT article (and as you can imagine, the comments!) is some food for thought:

      • Ashley - December 24, 2015 - 8:27 AM

        Thanks for bringing up the tankless information. I had no idea that it could take so long for the water to heat up. Our water heater is on it’s last leg (we were recommended to replace it years ago, but haven’t made it a priority since it works good enough). My husband and I were planning on replacing it this year with a tankless. Thanks for the info- we will definitely do some more research to make sure it is a good fit for our home :)ReplyCancel

  • Sheila - December 21, 2015 - 10:52 AM

    Thanks for that AT link, some of those comments are very informative! And I think you’re ready to take “Demo” out of the header for this series of posts – looks like you are moving right along on this project!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - December 21, 2015 - 11:10 AM

      Thanks, Sheila! We’ve stayed (mostly) on schedule, but once our guys are done, it’s ALL US. We are equal parts terrified and excited!ReplyCancel

  • Sam - December 21, 2015 - 1:28 PM

    Loving following along with your Reno!!! Thank you for all the gratuitous photos and descriptions, don’t stop!!!ReplyCancel

  • Katie @ Red House west - December 21, 2015 - 5:11 PM

    It’s looking amazing! Have you decided whether you’ll texture the drywall? If so, what are you going to use? (sorry if I missed this info. in a previous post)ReplyCancel

    • Kim - December 21, 2015 - 5:18 PM

      Thanks! And nope, no texture. That’s not super common in our area. :)ReplyCancel

  • Dakwerken - December 23, 2015 - 1:01 AM

    Amazing! renovation on full swing, will surely come out to be a very good project for your contractor and a new look for your home, Kim :)ReplyCancel


As our house continues to feel more and more like home each year – and not just a construction site where we happen to sleep! – I’ve gradually convinced Kim that decorating for the holidays makes sense. Don’t get me wrong, m’lady loves Christmas like nobody’s business – it’s just that the past two winters have seen their share of construction dust and distractions that have kept us from celebrating our home in its full holiday glory.

This year we vowed to change that.


Although the upstairs is still mostly off limits, our exterior and first floor projects are largely complete, giving us safe zones and keeping us happy (and sane). With a simple design plan in mind, we headed off to Ace Hardware armed with measurements of our entire front porch and visions of a tidy and classic Christmas display for the first time in over a decade.

We agreed on these warm white LED lights for energy efficiency, and we outfitted the whole operation with a dusk-sensing timer so there would be no need to remember to plug and unplug the lights each night. We also picked up extra long extension cords and removable command hooks, and on our way home, we stopped at our favorite nursery (hey, Tony!) and grabbed a big roll of fresh garland.

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We’re really happy with how things turned out, and the whole install only took about 2 hours on an oddly warm Sunday afternoon. As an added bonus, we also picked up a large storage bin where everything will live neatly until next season!

Do you decorate your home’s exterior? Please tell me you live on one of those magical streets that you can spot from miles away? If not, we’d like to help! Together with the Ace crew, we’re giving away a $100 Ace Hardware gift card to one lucky reader for your own holiday decorating (or house fixing up-ing or anything else you wish!). The giveaway runs through Monday, December 21st until 5pm CST; simply enter using the Rafflecopter widget below. The winner will be announced within this post by Monday evening. Good luck and happy entering!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


We’re excited to be collaborating with Ace Hardware as a part of their Ace Blogger Panel! Ace has provided us with compensation and the materials necessary to complete this project (hey, thanks, Ace!), and all opinions are our own. See all the blogger projects on the Ace Pinterest page.

  • karen - December 17, 2015 - 6:49 AM

    I always put candles in the windows, a wreath on the door with a spotlight. Simple, but pretty! Your decorations look great! I love the real garland. . .ReplyCancel

  • Patti - December 17, 2015 - 7:17 AM

    Simple and effective. Your two hour commitment paid off!ReplyCancel

  • Elise - December 17, 2015 - 7:26 AM

    Can’t wait to get a house to decorate the outside! I love your decorations — very festive, yet simplet.ReplyCancel

  • Kristin - December 17, 2015 - 7:36 AM

    We just put up garland on our new house. Even knee deep in our renovation it makes such a difference in the house feeling like a home.ReplyCancel

  • Nate - December 17, 2015 - 7:36 AM

    My wife does it big in the house. I do minimal outside.ReplyCancel

  • Justynn - December 17, 2015 - 7:49 AM

    I love clean and classic. Nice job!ReplyCancel

  • Emily - December 17, 2015 - 8:00 AM

    We always wrap lights around our porch post, and then run them along the edge of the roof across the front of the house. I’d like to get those spiral lit trees that people set out on their lawn…. one of these years!ReplyCancel

  • Alexis - December 17, 2015 - 8:06 AM

    Looks awesome!ReplyCancel

  • Kate - December 17, 2015 - 8:11 AM

    Looks beautiful! We deck out the inside but the outside of our house is definitely lacking.ReplyCancel

  • Mami2jcn - December 17, 2015 - 8:11 AM

    We have an Ace Hardware store near our new home that I’ve been wanting to check out!ReplyCancel

  • Laura C - December 17, 2015 - 8:24 AM

    Looks great!ReplyCancel

  • Christy G. - December 17, 2015 - 8:27 AM

    I’m still deciding if I want to decorate for Christmas…I would love some fresh garland though.ReplyCancel

  • Jennifer Thompson - December 17, 2015 - 8:35 AM

    Looks great!ReplyCancel

  • Lauren - December 17, 2015 - 8:45 AM

    Decorating outside is one thing we haven’t done before! I love the simplicity of your outdoor lights and garland!ReplyCancel

  • allison - December 17, 2015 - 8:52 AM

    Looks awesome guys!! I love Christmas time for all the lights! We keep ours simple with large bulbs lining the ridge and gables of our house!

    • Kim - December 17, 2015 - 9:21 AM

      I bet that’s so pretty!ReplyCancel

  • Amy - December 17, 2015 - 8:52 AM

    We just bought our first house and loved decorating a real home for Christmas-with a porch and an outdoor plug and space for a big tree! But it needs some work-this would be amazing to help us!ReplyCancel

  • Kelsey - December 17, 2015 - 8:58 AM

    Looks awesome! The classic/simplistic look is beautiful!ReplyCancel

  • Houa Utech - December 17, 2015 - 9:00 AM

    Tis’ the season for updates! I loved seeing the update that you made to your media console. My upcomjng project will be to update my kitchen cabinets using Amy Howard chalk paint though Ace. I was hopeful after reading your post because I didn’t want to do an antique finish but instead wanted a more modern look while using chalk paint! So, thanks for the motivating post!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - December 17, 2015 - 9:16 AM

      The Amy Howard paints will be perfect for that! It still might be good to do a layer of clear wax to give the cabinets a bit of extra protection though. The paint alone is super flat, so it’s more susceptible to scuffs, etc. Have fun!ReplyCancel

  • Bec - December 17, 2015 - 9:03 AM

    Evergreens are my favorite Christmas decoration :)ReplyCancel

  • Jenny Doyle - December 17, 2015 - 9:10 AM

    So classic!ReplyCancel

  • Cathy D. - December 17, 2015 - 9:11 AM

    Looks fabulous! We moved into our house over a year ago and haven’t done much more than hanging a DIY wreath on our front door. :PReplyCancel

  • Melanie G - December 17, 2015 - 9:20 AM

    I line the inside of all the front windows with a double row of white lights – even though they’re on the inside you can see our house from blocks away. Bonus is the lights then also light up the inside. There’s also greenery on the door. I’d love to do more but like you, we’re new-ish to the house and always working on something. Merry Christmas :)ReplyCancel

    • Kim - December 17, 2015 - 9:23 AM

      Aw, love that. We considered doing that as well – maybe next year! :)ReplyCancel

  • Allison - December 17, 2015 - 9:28 AM

    Ooooh, I wasnt planning on doing any exterior decorating this year (so much hassle!), but this is really shaking that decision! Looks so simple and beautiful!ReplyCancel

  • Steph M. - December 17, 2015 - 9:38 AM

    I love it! Christmas season is my favorite. My birthday as well as my dad’s and brother’s are all in December so its like one big party. My dad is also a huge Christmas fan and would go over the top with decorations, mostly interior. He’s now passing them on to me, but we have to wait until we own our home. I can’t wait!ReplyCancel

  • Elle - December 17, 2015 - 9:38 AM

    I have a ton of errands to do and not that much time to do them!ReplyCancel

  • Kelly - December 17, 2015 - 9:42 AM

    We are living in a construction zone right now as we remove a wall in our kitchen and take the popcorn off our ceiling. Its really hard to be in the holiday spirit when we dont really have a house it feels like. We did decorate outside with lights on our railing and the deck as well as some christmas pots with lights, pinecones, tree toppers and dried flowers. Cant wait to be able to decorate the inside of our house next year!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - December 17, 2015 - 9:47 AM

      I feel you, Kelly! We were in that boat the first year. I don’t think we put up our tree until the week of Christmas – I just felt so defeated by the mess everywhere. Just think, soon enough, your house will be just as you imagined it to be, and it will all be worth it!ReplyCancel

  • Bethany Wellman - December 17, 2015 - 9:45 AM

    Love the garland!

    Today’s thought: Just discovered The Comedy Wildlife Awards is a thing, and my day has been made :)

    • Kim - December 17, 2015 - 9:50 AM

      OMG thank you! That hippo looks like our Chunk!ReplyCancel

  • Alex - December 17, 2015 - 9:49 AM

    I really want to find some good faux garland this year (maybe on sale after the holidays) to hang around our front door like you guys did. It looks great!ReplyCancel

  • Rebecca - December 17, 2015 - 9:58 AM

    Looks great! The mild Chicago weather has been great for getting the outdoor decorations up! Happy holidays!ReplyCancel

  • Chessie - December 17, 2015 - 10:15 AM

    Ace is my favorite place – I’m on a first-name basis with everyone who works there so it makes me happy to hear everyone else loves their ace!ReplyCancel

  • Alyssa S - December 17, 2015 - 10:30 AM

    Love the fresh garland idea! I’m allergic to Christmas trees, but I can have them outside!ReplyCancel

  • Trilby C. - December 17, 2015 - 10:33 AM

    Ace is our favorite place!!! We stocked up on some more Christmas lights during their Black Friday sale last month – but we can always use more!!! Thanks for a great giveaway!ReplyCancel

  • Cair - December 17, 2015 - 10:36 AM

    Your house looks so inviting!

    Buying a storage container for seasonal items WHEN you buy the item? Life changing.ReplyCancel

  • Nathan - December 17, 2015 - 10:39 AM

    We need some help with the storage. We have the decorations down, but need the storage solutions to help store them!ReplyCancel

  • Ariella - December 17, 2015 - 10:45 AM

    Looks great against the blue you chose for your front door. We found some giant ornaments at Costco and strung them up along the windows with monofilament. They look great!ReplyCancel

  • Sharon Flasche - December 17, 2015 - 10:47 AM

    Love your porch. I think this is something I can do. Goodbye I’m on my way to Ace Hardware.ReplyCancel

  • Elizabeth - December 17, 2015 - 11:12 AM

    I love the simple pretty decorations!ReplyCancel

  • Rosie - December 17, 2015 - 11:21 AM

    your holiday decoration and the bright paint really do add a sparkle to the house! Nice!ReplyCancel

  • Mary G - December 17, 2015 - 11:31 AM

    Love the subtle yet super festive garland. So pretty around your front door. That blue is just perfect!

    Happy Holidays!!ReplyCancel

  • Abby - December 17, 2015 - 11:32 AM

    Love the decos! They look great.ReplyCancel

  • Renee L - December 17, 2015 - 12:27 PM

    I love the garland around the door! White lights are my fave!ReplyCancel

  • Crystal - December 17, 2015 - 12:32 PM

    I wish I had a house to decorate. As it is, I have at tiny (1 foot) fake tree with built in lights that sits beside my front door up on a stool, and a framed picture of a Great Dane with antlers silhouette that sits next to the tree. And that is about it.ReplyCancel

  • emily @ go haus go - December 17, 2015 - 12:33 PM

    Looks beautiful! There’s nothing better than fresh garland. I bet it feels so good to see your home at night. It’s coming together so well!ReplyCancel

  • Anna Kristina - December 17, 2015 - 12:46 PM

    Love it! We just moved to our first home… I’m dreaming of exterior decorations next year (something along the lines of what you’ve done!), but this year we were thrilled to have our first full-sized real tree ever, thanks to the new place!ReplyCancel

  • Anna - December 17, 2015 - 12:53 PM

    I love the warm glow of the lights!ReplyCancel

  • Cassie - December 17, 2015 - 12:56 PM

    I also convinced my fiancé that this was going to be the year we did holiday decorations (first time in 8 years)! I carried a Christmas tree 10 blocks and also went to ace for some lights and a Christmas tree stand. They’re always so nice and helpful, I’m always inventing reasons I need to stop in! Your home looks even more beautiful than usual! Happy holidays!ReplyCancel

  • Molly W - December 17, 2015 - 2:29 PM

    I love how you incorporated the garland! I would love to hear what method you used to put everything up. Hubby used a staple gun last year, and while it was very secure, I wasn’t happy with the condition it left our trim in. Luckily the holes aren’t something you notice unless you’re looking for it. There must be a better way!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - December 17, 2015 - 2:39 PM

      Thanks, Molly! We used removable command strips for almost everything, except we had to put 2 small nail holes at the top of the garland to support the weight. Once we take the garland down, we’ll have to fill those holes with caulk.ReplyCancel

  • Jen N. - December 17, 2015 - 2:44 PM

    Wishing I had done something similar this year.ReplyCancel

  • Alexis - December 17, 2015 - 2:56 PM

    Apartment living doesn’t really allow me to decorate outside, but you can see my tree and some decorations from our windows. Its nice since my neighborhood is a mix of apartments and homes everyone decorates.ReplyCancel

  • Allison - December 17, 2015 - 3:14 PM

    We’ve also not gotten around to doing much outside decorating this year. It’s out second Christmas in the house but he haven’t made near the progress on renovating as you guys. It looks amazing!ReplyCancel

  • Amy - December 17, 2015 - 3:48 PM

    I’m jealous of your garland! I don’t know why but all I can find is flat pine needle garland… it’s not fluffy like yours. But it smells incredible, and I suppose that’s all that really matters! Happy Holidays!ReplyCancel

  • Laura - December 17, 2015 - 4:09 PM

    Looks great! Love the fresh garland.ReplyCancel

  • Kate - December 17, 2015 - 4:22 PM

    Love classic Christmas decorations. Our tree (which just got put up today) is white lights, red and silver star wire garland, red bows and red, silver and gold metallic plain ornaments. I could stare at it foreverReplyCancel

  • Tiffany - December 17, 2015 - 5:28 PM

    So festive! Compliments the gorgeous blue door!!ReplyCancel

  • Gill - December 17, 2015 - 6:00 PM

    Love the garland and white lights with your blue door!ReplyCancel

  • Rachel - December 17, 2015 - 7:05 PM

    Love your garland and white lights. And jack attack of course! 😄ReplyCancel

  • Katie - December 17, 2015 - 10:42 PM

    Hope your fresh garland smells as good as it looks!ReplyCancel

  • Haley - December 18, 2015 - 6:07 AM

    Love the garland and lights! We don’t have the time or money this year to decorate but I love looking at your festiveness!ReplyCancel

  • Hailey - December 18, 2015 - 7:21 AM

    We had to buy a 50 foot extension cord for the wedding and I was sure we’d never use it again but HUZZAH, we use it to light up the iron fence along the front of our yard with x-mas lights :)ReplyCancel

    • Kim - December 18, 2015 - 8:54 AM

      Nice! One of these days, I’ll see your house!ReplyCancel

  • Jordan - December 18, 2015 - 12:19 PM

    Looks amazing! The doorway just looks so beautiful and festive. The dog seems to be a bit confused by the decoration, though, lol!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - December 18, 2015 - 2:08 PM

      He always looks that way, haha!ReplyCancel

  • Anna J - December 18, 2015 - 4:24 PM

    I love the way the greenery compliments your blue door!!ReplyCancel

  • Bridget P. - December 18, 2015 - 4:58 PM

    Looks great!ReplyCancel

  • Melissa - December 18, 2015 - 11:43 PM

    Looks so festive!!!ReplyCancel

  • Andrea - December 19, 2015 - 12:57 AM

    found you all through Manhattan Nest, and am enjoying the blog. Thanks!ReplyCancel

  • Tricia - December 19, 2015 - 7:17 AM

    I love looking at other’s Christmas decorations, but have never gotten further than a wreath on my own house.ReplyCancel

  • Rebecca - December 19, 2015 - 11:17 AM

    Very nice. The garland is perfect for the house.ReplyCancel

  • Danielle - December 19, 2015 - 11:31 AM

    I like how simple and classic this looks.ReplyCancel

  • Mandi L. - December 19, 2015 - 11:07 PM

    The garland and lights are the perfect compliment to your front door color. I’m moving into a house soon and think I might paint my door a similar color!ReplyCancel

  • Marie - December 20, 2015 - 5:38 PM

    Looks good to me! And it’s far more than I did, which was none – I’ll just stick to decorating indoors :)ReplyCancel

  • Ananda - December 21, 2015 - 7:57 AM

    Looks very festive! I’ve never decorated the outside of our house, so I’m always impressed when people do.ReplyCancel

  • Melissa B. - December 21, 2015 - 10:37 AM

    Love the fresh garland, it’s beautiful! Our neighborhood is one worth taking a walk through during the holiday season – beautiful old houses all decorated. Our house however… we haven’t done anything, looks pretty sad! Usually I make a wreath out of trimmings from our christmas tree and hang it on the front door. We’ll see what I can get to!ReplyCancel

  • Michelle - December 21, 2015 - 10:44 AM

    Looks beautiful! My husband and I just bought our first house in 2014, so we’re still learning the best way to tackle outdoor lights. This would be really useful!ReplyCancel

  • Sheree - December 21, 2015 - 11:38 AM

    I need to upgrade my lights! LED have really come such a long way over the years.ReplyCancel

  • Molly - December 21, 2015 - 3:00 PM

    My house is in need of outdoor decor as well! We stuck a ribbon on the door but that’s about it…ReplyCancel

  • Trista - December 21, 2015 - 4:46 PM

    My husband and I are buying a new house. This would be super helpful.ReplyCancel


We’ve had both good and bad experiences with contractors in this home, and as a result, we have a tendency to be overly cautious with anyone we hire. We make copies of every check we give, we write out the most detailed contracts and we go over line items no less than 5 times a day with anyone we work with. Although no one has ever taken our money and run (thank goodness), we were a little – no, a lot! – scarred by the guys that left our kitchen unfinished and stopped taking our calls.

All this to say, we’ve been careful with our progress reports, as we didn’t want to boast our love for our current contractor team before we saw them in action, but you guys, we are so, so impressed. This marks the beginning of week 3, but by the end of last week, most of the messy behind-the-walls work had been completed! They’ve been overly communicative (the key to my obsessive heart), they’re incredibly efficient, and every morning, the GC gives me an update with a quick walkthrough. Most importantly, Jack loves them, as evidenced by his disappearing acts every afternoon – that is, until I find him chewing on a discarded 2×4 scrap amongst the dust.

So, let’s dive in with a progress report! Here’s a 360 bedroom view to kick things off:

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THE BEDROOM. We have windows! We have a framed out closet! We have a light switch by the door, and all the outlets have been put in their proper place! The windows are almost 9′ wide x 5′ high, which as you can imagine, lets in All the Light. Can’t you just see a sweet bitty Maddie on the windowsill eating her kitty grass? (And you better believe we’ll be putting blackout liners on any curtains or shades. We have a few ideas in mind already!)

THE LAUNDRY ROOM. We mapped out this space, making sure that the washer and dryer hook ups were in the right place. An outlet was added that’ll sit above counter height, and plumbing has been run for the sink. Plus, it’s all prepped for a pocket door! Laundry room, you are going to be so cute with your ostrich paper.

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The original plan was to have a singular light centered in the room, but at the last minute, we decided to add recessed lighting, too. The fixture we have planned for this room has a dome shade, and although the space is small, we thought an extra hit of task lighting would go far if we’re swapping wash loads in the evening. The additional cost was nothing more than the materials, so it really was an easy decision.


THE BATHROOM. This room, you guys. This room! We have gained more floor space than we originally thought we would, since we pushed back the wall as far as it would go. To this point, all electrical and plumbing has been run, and do you spot those horizontal 2x4s along the back ‘wall’? Those are little niches for soap and shampoo, which for some reason, feel very, very fancy to us. We’ve never had a soap niche! Scott and I like to say soap niche in our most posh accents, which I can never do right, but it always, always makes us laugh.

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To the right of the tub, the team framed out a perfect spot for all those extra things people stash in bathrooms, and it’s exactly the height of this IKEA cabinet. We’ll need to hack the width, but we did gain almost 10″, which like the floor plan, is more than we thought we’d get.


It’s not just our soap niches that upped the fancy factor in this room; our lighting got an upgrade as well! You can see below where the old fixture was (and by fixture, I mean one tiny light bulb hanging from the ceiling), and we’ve since added a junction box for a pretty overhead light, a vent-slash-nightlight and recessed lighting above the shower.


And finally, a chimney update! The bedroom chimney has been the biggest surprise, but after a one hour meeting with our favorite HVAC guy, we figured out a way to re-route the furnace venting internally. Unfortunately, it also became clear that we’ll need to replace the water heaters. While we thought the water heaters had a bit more life in them, we were surprised that they were way, way past due for a replacement, and so we’re going to bite the bullet and upgrade to tankless heaters – one for us, and one for our tenants in the garden unit. That definitely stung, but in the end, the tankless water heaters will be (much!) more efficient, and we’ll gain space where those old tanks hogged an entire utility room. Silver linings, we suppose.

Next up, drywall!

PS: For anyone in the Chicagoland area, we would be thrilled to pass along the name of our general contractor. Just shoot us an email using the contact form in the menu bar!

  • Sajida - December 15, 2015 - 7:18 AM

    Wow! Looks fantastic so far. Im glad you found a GC that you like.
    Question: Will there be dead space behind and above the 10″ cabinet,or are you doing the same from the other side?ReplyCancel

    • Kim - December 15, 2015 - 8:21 AM

      Finding a GC in Chicago that we like has been no different than finding a needle in a haystack. He’s a real gem!

      It will be dead space above, but the cabinet space is 70″ tall, so anything much taller, and it would never be reachable by 5′ me! We considered the same on the opposite side (in the laundry room), but it’s SO close to the window in there, that any trim would hinder the practicality.ReplyCancel

  • Laura (LK Art) - December 15, 2015 - 8:40 AM

    What progress! I’m glad you found a good contractor and I’m especially loving the windows. And the bathroom niches. And the closet and the pocket door. So pretty much everything.ReplyCancel

  • Loryn - December 15, 2015 - 9:20 AM

    Looking really good! Those new bedroom windows are fantastic. Does that outside stair go up to the attic?ReplyCancel

    • Kim - December 15, 2015 - 9:29 AM

      Yup, it does! Next summer’s plan – fingers crossed – is to tear that whole back deck down, add attic access from the inside and build out a nice deck off of the first floor kitchen.ReplyCancel

  • Sarah - December 15, 2015 - 9:48 AM

    Will you be spray-foaming the exterior walls? I have an upcoming bath reno in my old home and am curious what others do about insulation. :)

    Oh, and what kind of water-proofing system did you choose?

    Thanks and am loving the progress.ReplyCancel

    • Kim - December 15, 2015 - 10:01 AM

      No spray foam, just good ol’ insulation rolls! I’m not sure what you mean by water-proofing system? Durock cement board is going up on the walls in the bathroom as I type this, which is moisture resistant!ReplyCancel

    • Pie - December 15, 2015 - 2:06 PM

      I am just finishing a bathroom reno now with my contractor hubby so I thought I’d chime in. He swears by Schluter waterproof membrane behind the tiles of the shower and Schluter Ditra under the floor tile. This prevents tiles from cracking and if any ever do, then it is waterproofed and prevents mold! They have a ton of pre-fab stuff for the bathroom too. (Sorry I totally sound like a spokesperson now, but check out their website, their products are awesome.)

      Just did a quick search to try and find a comparison between the cement board and waterproof membrane, and I think the first paragraph here sums it up:


      P.S. Spray foam on exterior walls are SO worth it!ReplyCancel

  • Elizabeth - December 15, 2015 - 10:27 AM

    Would you (or have you) consider doing a detailed post about hiring and working with a contractor? I think that would be so helpful–I’m hoping to buy a fixer-upper myself, and while I plan to do some of the work myself, I know I’ll need to hire some of it out.ReplyCancel

    • Kim - December 15, 2015 - 10:41 AM

      Thanks for the suggestion! Once we wrap up this renovation, I think that could be helpful. I’ll start putting some ideas together.ReplyCancel

  • Liz M - December 15, 2015 - 11:40 AM

    We just built a brand new house and we want to get rid of our tankless! I don’t want to scare you but I don’t think there is any real savings there. We have calculated it out and really we are saving energy – but we spend way more money and waste water. It takes so much longer for the water to get warm – so we spend a lot of time wasting water with the tap on waiting for it to get warm! You house has a smaller footprint than ours so it may not be as big of an issue but the farther you are from the unit – the long it takes to get warm water.

    Also- if you like your water HOT then it takes even longer. We set ours at 120 degrees and that is the recommended. You can set it lower and it won’t take a long to heat up – but still much longer than a tank.

    The cost per month for us is really where you really see the difference. We pay almost $50 per month for our tankless and it was only $13 per month for the tank!

    Just saying, do some research on that one maybe. We have found that its not all its cracked up to be!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - December 15, 2015 - 3:37 PM

      Can we just say, ‘we love you guys’?

      Thank you so, so much for chiming in on your thoughts on tankless heaters (to Liz and everyone else, below!). We had some concerns as well, and although we felt pretty confident with our decision, we decided to talk with our contractor/installer again. We told him our thoughts – taking too long to get warm, how will it fare with water traveling from the basement to the second floor bath?, etc – and I think we might be moving in another direction for our water heaters!

      Our first decision had to be made quick to keep the demolition moving along, and in hindsight, perhaps we didn’t give it enough thought! #realtalk Thanks again for feedback that prompted us to give our initial thoughts a second look!ReplyCancel

      • Jaime - December 16, 2015 - 12:08 AM

        So glad some one brought up the “dark side” of the tankless water heaters. We have one and the amount of time it takes to get our water hot wastes an INSANE amount of water, and our master bath is literally 3 feet directly above the heater!!! We fill our mop bucket for almost every shower or bath and use it to water the plants. I should point out that we live in San Diego CA (can you say major drought!!) and in the winter it takes even longer. I can’t imagine how long it would take where you live!! To be fair, ours is an older model and my mom (our landlord) didn’t do any research when she decided on tankless and didn’t install a recirculator. My brother, on the other hand, lives in a much newer place and his was plumbed with a recirculator. So whenever they want to shower, or start the dishwasher or clothes washer they hit a button that recirculates all the cold water out of the hot line thru the heater and shuts off when it reaches temp. It seems to work great for them. So that might be something to think about putting in while you have the walls open and if you had your heart set on tankless. It’s too late for us so we might look into going back to a tank when the tankless poops out. On the plus side, if you have a tank and there is an emergency (we have earthquakes in CA) you have all that stored water on site as long as tank is still intact. Sorry for the novel!ReplyCancel

      • Uncle Brain - December 16, 2015 - 3:04 AM

        I’ve toyed with this on the electric and gas versions. Ultimately I decided the initial cost that it wasn’t worth it but only after after waiting too long.

        I ended up in a pinch as ours broke on December 23rd a few years ago and I had to just go get anything I could find and install it myself as no plumber was available. I got a traditional “high efficiency” unit for a few hundred dollars and called it good.

        However, had I known we’d be in this house for a long time I would have went with this, I think:

        Over the course of it’s 12 year warrenty the rated energy savings would pay for it twice compared to our “high efficiency” unit.

        I’ve since learned that the biggest reason for a tankless is space savingsReplyCancel

        • Jaime - December 16, 2015 - 7:16 AM

          I see a few folks bring up the cost savings of going tankless vs tank, that the upfront cost is more than made up for over the life of the heater due to it being efficient. Is savings only in reference to its efficiency in heating the water? We rent so I have never had to do the research. I only know from our experience is that what we might be saving energy-wise we are more than losing in wasting water. Not to mention, we are in a drought here in CA and water is a precious resource and even if the money/cost ended up breaking even (savings from energy efficiency vs money lost on water wasted) it doesn’t negate the fact that we are wasting a tremendous amount of water just to take a warm shower or wash our face in the sink. Sorry to be such a nag, I just wanted to make sure that folks understand that while they might be energy efficient, depending on your model and set up (recirculator) they can be huge water wasters.ReplyCancel

          • Kim - December 16, 2015 - 9:56 AM

            You’re definitely not being a nag! This feedback is appreciated.ReplyCancel

  • BSM - December 15, 2015 - 12:00 PM

    Would you mind giving a little more insight into the cost of switching your water heater? We have an old tank that is going to need to be replaced soon, so we’re contemplating going tankless.ReplyCancel

    • Kim - December 16, 2015 - 9:57 AM

      I think this will vary on region, depending on the cost of the work, which needs to be considered as well. An energy efficient water heater (of most kinds – tankless, power vent, etc) will run around $1,000, plus the cost of install. Definitely gather a few quotes if you’re feeling on the fence on any contractors.ReplyCancel

  • Sheila - December 15, 2015 - 1:09 PM

    I’d also be interested in more detail on your decision to switch to tankless. I had to replace my water heater not long ago was interested in tankless but the plumber I used said he had stopped installing the tankless units because his customers were almost all dissatisfied with them.ReplyCancel

  • Heather - December 15, 2015 - 2:10 PM

    I’m glad things are zipping right along. I was very interested in your chimney update. Yay for taking it out… but I’m equal parts horrified and excited that you’re going to tankless water heaters. One of those is on our list to consider whenever we get to updating the upstairs, particularly the master bath. But those are spendy… so ouch! As you said, silver linings and all that ;)ReplyCancel

  • Melissa @ HOUSEography - December 15, 2015 - 3:11 PM

    Looks GREAT! So much progress! We love our tankless hot water heaters. One is 9 years old and the other 6 years old (ironically the same ages as my kids!) and we have only had to do minor service work to both. Our gas bill is TINY in the summer and I think it’s largely due to those water heaters. We have Rinnai but I think there are a lot of good brands out there now. I’m sure you’ll research the sh!t out of it!!!ReplyCancel

  • Amanda @ Our Humble Abode - December 15, 2015 - 3:39 PM

    It’s going to be so great! The new, wider windows make all the difference. So glad you’re getting functional spaces instead of a kitchen turned bedroom. 😜

    We have had tankless water heaters for years now and absolutely love them. Although the price sucks compared to standard ones, it is so nice having endless hot water.ReplyCancel

  • CPeter - December 15, 2015 - 4:57 PM

    Just stopping by to comment about water heaters…. We switched to a gas Rinnai tankless two years ago and absolutely love it. The ultra hot water is almost instant and never ending. It is very inexpensive to operate month to month. We can run both showers, a dishwasher, and the washing machine with no problems. I will add that my husband was very conscientious about where and how it was installed, as well as how the pipes were laid out, in order to avoid problems like having a lot of extra cooled water in the pipes. If you have a plumber with experience you should do fine. I did not want to spend the money initially but I am now totally convinvced; it is well worth the cost for our household. 😀

    The link to the ikea cabinet doesn’t work for me. Which is it?ReplyCancel

  • emily @ go haus go - December 17, 2015 - 1:33 PM

    Ahh you’re doing ostrich paper! I can assure you: you will love it. It’s one of the top 3 things I miss about my old house. I’ll find a spot for it somewhere sooner or later.

    Did you do big ostriches or small?ReplyCancel

    • Kim - December 18, 2015 - 9:20 AM

      Yay! We cannot wait to get it up. We chose the small ostrich on bone. We loved the all gold ostriches too, but we love how the pencil-esque drawing stands out against the paper more!ReplyCancel