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A Two Flat Update: Down to the Studs + Reader Input!

Renovating a vintage Chicago Home // via Yellow Brick Home
our current view from the entryway!

Our Logan Square Two Flat is looking like a skeleton of a house in the best possible way! Demolition is 100% complete, and we’ve moved on to finalizing decisions now that we can really see what’s inside every single wall. We recently walked through with the framers and have tweaked a few details to optimize the space, including the tons of thoughtful feedback from all of you regarding our plans and the final layout. Thank you! It’s always incredibly helpful to have additional sets of eyes on a project to give us ideas and ensure we’re not missing anything. Let’s start upstairs in Unit 2 and work downward, shall we?

Unit 2 | The Archway

Our original plans called for the archway to extend nearly the entire width of the wall between the kitchen and living room. After seeing the space with the walls opened up and receiving your archway feedback, we agreed with you that it made a lot of sense to shift the arch opening to the right, similar to that dashed line in the image below:

Renovating a vintage Chicago Home // via Yellow Brick Home

This minor adjustment will allow for a small return wall on the front side of the room to create more of a ‘hallway’ between the bedrooms and common spaces. It will also provide a slightly more private entrance to the bathroom and allow for more living room furniture placement options. We think this change makes a ton of sense, and we have you to thank for that!

Unit 2 | The Laundry Room Conundrum

When we shared the layout and plans for unit 2, we were excited to receive even more great feedback. One of the questions we received most was whether it made sense to move the laundry nook and coat closet to the opposite side of the living room, closer to the front door. This would give us a big, blank wall to add a window, which would have been pretty nice. We really liked your ideas, and we saw where you were going with it, since it would also allow the closet to be positioned at the entrance of the unit to capture coats, shoes and other closet-y stuff. But during our walkthrough with the framing team, we took more detailed measurements and realized it would’t be possible. Because of the angled windows in the living room (pictured below), we didn’t have quite enough depth to accommodate a laundry closet near the entrance to the unit. We’ll stick with the original plan, but have also figured out a few ways to maximize storage in the laundry nook. We think it’s still going to work out great!

Renovating a vintage Chicago Home // via Yellow Brick Home

And although we won’t be able to add another window, the amount of natural light in this unit is still great! There are ample windows at the front and rear of the space and it’s starting to feel lighter and brighter already. You can see it, right!?

Renovating a vintage Chicago Home // via Yellow Brick Home

Unit 2 | Odds n’ Ends

The bathroom will maintain the same footprint, but it will benefit from a layout that makes much more sense. We expected some rot in the subfloor from an old water leak, so that will be addressed before moving forward with any additional work.

Renovating a vintage Chicago Home // via Yellow Brick Home

For fun, here’s the same view from the day we closed on our Two Flat:

Renovating a vintage Chicago Home // via Yellow Brick Home

At the front of the house, we were incredibly excited to confirm that the drop ceiling in the bedroom on the right lower than necessary! Once it came down, we gained almost 16″ of ceiling height and the two bedrooms are near mirror images of each other once more!

Renovating a vintage Chicago Home // via Yellow Brick Home

During demolition, parts of the chimney were exposed down to the raw brick. Much like the chimney in our second floor home office space, we love the look, so we plan to finish chipping away at the plaster and leave the chimney exposed as a nod to the history of the home. Perfect imperfections will help this home shine!

Renovating a vintage Chicago Home // via Yellow Brick Home

Units 1 + 2 | Hardwood Floors

After some initial exploring, we were cautiously hoping to find original hardwood floors throughout the home. We knew that the likelihood of finding salvageable hardwood in every space was low, but we were pleasantly surprised to find it in many of the common spaces! In unit 2, we’ve uncovered serviceable hardwood in the kitchen and living room. And in unit 1, we hope to salvage the hardwood in the kitchen and potentially the main living/dining space. All said and done, we’ll still need to source new flooring for about half of the square footage on the currently finished levels.

Renovating a vintage Chicago Home // via Yellow Brick Home

Oh, what was that about the basement flooring, you ask? Let me tell you!

Unit 1 | Polished Concrete Floors at Ground Level

We made an interesting discovery in the basement, which will eventually be the lower level of Unit 1. When the flooring from the former ‘apartment’ was removed, we discovered that the concrete needs a bit of repair work. The concrete level is also 2″ higher at the rear of the house than at the front of the house. So, we had an idea!

Renovating a vintage Chicago Home // via Yellow Brick Home

We’ll can kill two birds with one stone and repair what needs fixing, while also pouring additional concrete to level the space. But the real magic will come when we polish and seal the concrete floors on the ground level! Initially we thought we would tile everything (similar to our garden apartment), but this will allow us to maximize ceiling height, while also providing a durable finish that will last for years. Assuming we make this unit an Airbnb, we’ll warm it up with all. the. rugs. to keep things cozy!

Unit 1 | Odds n’ Ends

Our favorite dining room built-in is looking a bit lonely at this point! It’s just waiting for its day in the sun when we’ll likely strip it down to bare wood to determine its​​​​​​​ condition under all that paint. For now, it’ll continue overseeing the other projects at hand.

Renovating a vintage Chicago Home // via Yellow Brick Home

Back in the kitchen, we finally bid farewell to the pantry! The weird, tacked-on box has officially been sliced off the back of the house, and in its place, there’s a door to nowhere – for safety, of course! Eventually, a new window will shift to where that door is, and the back door will also shift to the left.

Renovating a vintage Chicago Home // via Yellow Brick Home

And hey, check out the front living room in Unit 1! Natural light is now reaching much farther into this space and the adjoining dining room because…

Renovating a vintage Chicago Home // via Yellow Brick Home

Exterior | See Ya, Overgrown Bush!

… The tree is gone! That weirdly overgrown yew/shrub/tree thing in the dead center of the front yard is out of here! The amount of light that was being blocked from entering the front of the house was simply astounding. A local crew with great online reviews came out for an estimate and returned a few days later to cut down the tree and grind the stump. The newly found natural light is transformative and we’re now staring with a blank slate to rework the landscaping out front. I realize that the before + after below somehow looks worse (the gloomy day didn’t help), but this is progress, friends!

Renovating a vintage Chicago Home // via Yellow Brick Home

We’re very much at the point of ‘gotta break a few eggs to make an omelette’ yadda, yadda, yadda right now, but we couldn’t be more excited for the progress. So. Much. Progress! It turns out we’ve kind of missed the smell of dusty old houses in the process of being completely torn apart. We have more to share very soon and things with the framers are really starting to take shape.

Stay tuned!

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  • lak9.12.19 - 8:37 AM

    Thank you so much for this update, I am really enjoying watching this process take place and I can’t wait to see what you guys do with this!ReplyCancel

  • Casey9.12.19 - 9:17 AM

    so excited about this! Love following along! Are you planning to keep the wood panelling in the basement? I think it could be really beautiful painted! xxReplyCancel

    • Kim9.12.19 - 9:25 AM

      We’re not, because the ENTIRE basement is being reconfigured. It would have been extremely time consuming to piece together the old paneling with new, and while we’re not opposed to time consuming preservation (helllooooooo trim moldings, haha!), we didn’t feel it was necessary for the paneling.ReplyCancel

  • Lori9.12.19 - 10:16 AM

    Its gonna be great!! Thanks for the updateReplyCancel

  • korie9.12.19 - 10:32 AM

    We have polished concrete floors and LOVE them. The look is great, and they are so durable. However, they are very hard on our feet and knees, even moreso than tile. We added cushioned underlayments, hallway runners, and anti-fatigue mats in the kitchen. I love that we could mix and match the rugs and change them (relatively) inexpensively as needed.ReplyCancel

    • Scott9.12.19 - 1:18 PM

      We plan to do the same. It’s great to hear that you love them!ReplyCancel

    • Dawn9.13.19 - 10:28 AM

      We also kept the finished basement concrete floor (after removing really bad tile) in our former house — it coincided nicely as a cost-saving measure during a whole house renovation with how much we loved the look.  We added embedded/in-floor heating to the one bathroom down there before skim-coating that one space with newer concrete so we could polish.  It was so wonderful we always planned to do the same in the rest of the basement to combat the coldness of the floor but never got around to it before finding our next fixer-upper and moved on.  Since you need to build up 2″ to make the concrete floors level to each other you might want to consider in-floor heating before that pouring.  I can only imagine how much this would be amazing during Chicago’s long, super-cold winters!  It felt so nice and also really helped with heating costs.  We’re planning to do this in our current fixer-upper not-yet-tackled basement.  During researching, I read a great tip to embed and wire two sensors but only activate and use one.  If that sensor ever fails you have a back-up already wired and just have to hook your control to the new one.  This prevents having to break up the flooring to install a new one or try to repair the old.  Sorry this comment got really long!ReplyCancel

      • Michelle9.13.19 - 11:34 AM

        In-floor heating sounds like a dream!ReplyCancel

      • Ann9.13.19 - 11:37 AM

        I hate concrete floors myself (my middle-aged bones can’t handle standing on them – that’s not a comment on this here renovation blog’s choices – tile would be just as bad for me, and I know anything not terrible durable in say, a flood, isn’t a good choice of flooring for a basement, which is why I’ll probably never try to have a basement living area I’d spend much time in) – but I really like your suggestion to hook up two sensors when installing in-floor heating – this tip would come in handy no matter what type of flooring you were putting on top of it, even flooring with some give to it, like I need to be comfortable.  So I will file that tip away in my head for if I ever install in-floor heating (I have thought about it, if I were to ever renovate the place I am living in now.)ReplyCancel

      • Lori9.16.19 - 5:35 PM

        I was just coming here to say this! I stayed in an Air BnB with heated concrete floors, and it was amaaaaaaazing!!! I could almost forget it was concrete because it felt so warm & cozy! Plus dry forced air makes my allergies crazy in the winter, so that was a bonus.ReplyCancel

  • jenn aka the picky girl9.12.19 - 10:35 AM

    Loving this! I hadn’t realized how much I missed seeing you guys demo stuff until the 2 flat!ReplyCancel

  • Mk9.12.19 - 3:51 PM

    Do you plan on living in one of the flats? Wondering how you can airbnb otherwise? Love seeing the progress and will keep coming back to this post to check! Keep up the great work!!ReplyCancel

  • Ann9.12.19 - 6:26 PM

    I’m glad you liked my living room archway change suggestion!ReplyCancel

  • Michelle9.13.19 - 11:42 AM

    Shaping up to be a wonderful space! It’s clear how much pride you take in your home and neighborhood. If you are still on the fence about AirBnBing vs long-term rental, can I share some food for thought?ny.curbed.com/2018/1/30/16950424/airbnb-gentrification-nyc-median-rent-studyReplyCancel

  • Sydney9.13.19 - 8:11 PM

    In Unit 2, can you add a transom window from the laundry to the living space to keep more light coming in? We have a few of them in our house and I’m constantly amazed at how that keeps the house feeling airy!ReplyCancel

  • Kate9.15.19 - 3:44 PM

    When you guys are ready to strip that adorable built-in, you should check out speedheater. My husband and I have been restoring our 1895 windows this summer and it’s been so. much. easier than chemical stripper. ReplyCancel

  • at home with Ashley9.16.19 - 8:27 AM

    I really love watching the progress with the Two Flat! It’s so great how you’re showing all the details and the little charms that you’re going to preserve. I hope you’re having fun and aren’t going crazy with demo work!ReplyCancel

    • Kim9.16.19 - 8:58 AM

      Thanks, Ashley! We’re leaving demo to our construction team and enjoying the decision making while we can. 😂ReplyCancel

  • Christina DellaMorte9.16.19 - 9:59 AM

    I have concrete floors (in a garden apartment) and I like them a lot! We have in-floor heating as our only heating source and it works wonderfully. Even if you use another source of heat I HIGHLY suggest in-floor heating as well. Thanks for bringing us along!ReplyCancel

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