As excited as we are about our Tree House, I think it’s safe to say that our friends and family are equally so! Not only do they want to know when they can see it in person (if you’re willing to wield a sledgehammer, how about now?), they also want to know what our plans are for the long haul. Will we be doing much of the demo ourselves (they ask while looking at my growing belly)? Does it need demo? Do Jack and CC enjoy it? (Boy, do they.)
Scott and I joke that we wanted to scoop up this getaway home before our baby was born so that we wouldn’t chicken out or come up with excuses why we couldn’t after she’s born. You know we love a good project, but we’re also doing our best to be reasonable with our timelines and expectations. Things have been slow moving since we closed in early August, but as it turns out, finding a good general contractor in the Lakeside area has been an overwhelming challenge! I mean, wow. We initially thought we’d hire a GC to be our eyes and ears for a big first sweep, but after several unanswered calls, a frustrating cancelation and, finally, a quote that made our eyes bug out, we’ve decided to take a step back. For now, we’ll break the work into sizable chunks and play GC ourselves. While this means we won’t be able to take on the ambitious goals we originally had, we’ve realized that this will give us a bit more time to noodle on our design plans without rushing in. We do plan on sharing a longer post with our experience on working with contractors (it’s a question we receive on the daily!), but for now, our new slow approach is surely for the better.
Ultimately, we’ve split our to do list into two parts: This year versus next year. Next year will be the time to really, truly dig in – garden projects, tiling decisions, room layouts and window treatments and paint colors – whereas this year we’re focusing on getting us to a very basic starting point. Here’s what’s first on the list!
1| Install an HVAC System
The home was dubbed as a ‘3 season’ property in the listing, because there was no furnace. Although there is baseboard heating throughout, it’s not very powerful, and it wouldn’t do us much good on a cold, wintery evening (in which I envision us with mugs of hot chocolate, soft blankets and a stack of movies in the Netflix queue). We quickly learned that a gas line was never hooked up to the home, but the good news is that the main line ran down the street, making it fairly simple to run that to us. It was surprisingly affordable to do so – about $200 plus a few fees – and it should be completed any day now.
After a lot of phone calls and a handful of interviews, we finally landed an HVAC contractor we feel great about, and we came up with a game plan that includes exposed loft-style ducts. To be honest, I wasn’t thrilled about this at first, but after a lot of inspiration photo soul searching, I’ve come to terms with it. Scott, on the other hand, is thrilled! None of the ductwork will be seen in the living room (salvaging the integrity of the ceiling was our biggest concern!), but it took a lot of brainstorming with the pros to come up with the plan. During the install, we’re also tacking on an air conditioner and smart thermostat, and we’re replacing the electric water heater with a tankless. All of this is where our money will be going initially, and we want to rip it off like a bandage!
2| Repair the Electrical Gremlins
I can’t help but laugh every time Scott calls our electrical issues ‘gremlins,’ but man, do we have gremlins! The breaker panel needs help, there are outlets that don’t seem to work, switches that turn nothing on or off, uncapped junction boxes and a ceiling fan that’s dangerously close to the ladder. Luckily, finding a qualified electrician has been a teeny bit easier than finding a GC.
3| Demo the Mudroom
The mudroom currently houses a huge water heater in one of those closets, and the idea of spending money heating all that water when this isn’t our permanent residence doesn’t sound like a good time. This loops back into our decision for a tankless, above, which we think will get installed in the bathroom closet.
That means that this room will no longer need a large utility closet, giving us the opportunity to rearrange everything to make room for a proper entryway – one with a long, low storage bench, one skinny broom closet, a stacked washer and dryer, hooks for coats and cabinets up high. We are so excited about this! We’re going to take out all the closets and cabinets you see here, giving ourselves a beautiful blank slate – and a bit of a mess until we get working on the design plan.
4| Find Out What’s Under the Linoleum
While we’re at it, we’re going to peel back a layer of that old linoleum to see what lies beneath. The linoleum (or vinyl?) was installed within the last couple of decades, no doubt, and it runs from the mudroom into the kitchen. What we find underneath will help us determine if it’s something we can salvage and use, or it may have us choosing pretty tile instead.
5| Close Up the Bedroom Closet
We shared this in our video walkthrough, but the sad closet in the second bedroom isn’t doing much besides hogging precious bathroom space. Let me explain; the bedroom closet shares a wall with the bathroom, and to make room for that closet, there’s an awkward bump out in the bathroom. As a result, the bath only has enough space for a single vanity, and it makes for an extremely narrow entry into the room, too. At this point, we may just drywall over the closet in the bedroom so we can whip that room into shape, and we’ll demo the bathroom obstacle when we gut that room completely. To give the bedroom storage, we’ll add either a tallboy dresser or bureau.
6| Refinish the Hardwood Floors
This might be our most ambitious goal for this year, so we’re saying this tentatively – but it’s high on the wish list! While we absolutely love the hardwood floors in the living space, guest bedroom and loft, it has seen better days. There are areas that are almost a deep red and others that have faded in the sun, and the guest room seems to be a different finish completely!
If we’re going to refinish them, we’d love to lighten the floors overall, which we think will also give the whole house a brighter, airier feel. To prep for this, we’ll need to rip up the faux brick surround by the corner potbelly stove (which won’t be staying), and we’re crossing all our fingers that the hardwood continues underneath!
Right now, we’re still debating whether to DIY the refinishing versus hiring a pro, although Sarah gives us hope that we can do this ourselves! Even still, we’re in the process of gathering a couple of quotes to compare the cost of professional labor versus our time + rental materials.
7| Make the Beds
This is so simple, right? When we purchased our Tree House, the beds and appliances were worked into the contract so that we’d have a starting point. Right now, we’re in the midst of an amusing game of The Bed Shuffle, as this gorgeous thing is sitting in our garage, waiting to go into the master bedroom. The current white bed and mattress will either be sold or donated, and we’ve already given the second bedroom’s full size frame and mattress to our brother (for our little nephew’s big boy room).
The adorable vintage beds in the loft aren’t going anywhere – we are way, way too excited about those gems! – but all the mattresses are getting upgraded to our favorite bed-in-box brand, Leesa. We’re excited to be partnering with Leesa once again for the Tree House, as we want this home to be every bit as comfortable, cozy and enticing as our own. And my goodness, do we love our Leesa! With the amount of time we’ll be running up to the house with friends and family who will be pitching in to help (especially during my last trimester before baby girl arrives!), it’s important for us to create a relaxing retreat at the end of the day. Decor and paint will follow in due time. Psst: If you’ve been curious about giving Leesa a try, you can always take $100 off on us when you use the promo code YBH100 at checkout. Here’s our take on the Leesa after sleeping on ours for the past year.
We’re caught in a bit of waiting game until the HVAC is installed, but we’re marking dates in the calendar for our next trip up, adding to the to-do list (every day – ha!) and keeping our eyes open at flea markets, estate sales and the thrift. We’re looking forward to sharing the progress with you, and we’re toying with the idea of more laid-back vlogs to share the behind the scenes. Is that something you’d be interested in? Please let us know what you think!