Wednesday Weekly Renovation Update: From Concept To Reality

I have lots of photos to show, some huge progress, and a lot of blurry boys in said photos since I had to set the camera up on a tripod with a slow shutter speed to get good exposure of the rooms. Let’s just pretend the boys are blurry because they were working so fast it was hard to catch.

Saturday morning started like most Saturday mornings around here—Winnie standing in my face whining for me to let her out, and then when I say “off”, Rosie jumps off the bed to run to the door and Winnie starts licking my face as if to say, “Human is awake! Human is awake! I have to pee. Oh I have to pee. Let me out. Let me out. Feed me. Human is awake! I love you human! Stick. Ball. Human!”

So like any other Saturday morning, I drag out of bed and let them outside, proceed to fill their bowls with kibble and fall back into bed, grasping for just a few more hours of sleep. Most mornings this is the start of the “get ready for work” routine, but on this Saturday morning I fall back into bed.

After listening to the jingle of their collars hitting their metal bowls, I hear the ominous clicking of nails on the floor and thumping of tails against the wall. With one big *womp* onto the bed, I am promptly jumped on by a dog who wishes to thank me for her morning breakfast by holding a ball in her mouth and pressing her forehead into mine lovingly while making snorting noises. The other dog jumps on the bed and proceeds to roll onto her back squirming. Sleep is not happening, but it’s too cute to stop. Finally everyone settles down, I go back to bed and what feels like 20 minutes later Andy rolls over and says, “ready to get going Beatrice?”

And so begins my day.

I ask him what we’re doing today and he tiredly mumbles “re-framing the stairs” as he drinks in his hot coffee and starts putting on his work gear, which is almost always some form of Carhartt overalls. I’m starting to get nervous about what the stairs will look like, but I trust his judgement to make them fit this house the best they can, it is after all a weird spot.

At this point I have to laugh at how serious and focused on things I get sometimes when Winnie jumps on the bed one more time and stares at me and drops the ball and smiles. Rosie smiles at me too. It looked a little something like this. Same faces, different scenario. I thank them and bury my face into them.

I hear one more time, “time to get up Beatrice!” and I know it’s time to officially start the day. Seriously this time.

I hear the banging of the hammer, the radio turned on and there’s no going back. My day has begun. There’s already debris at the bottom of the stairs.

By the time I’ve thrown my sweatshirt and jeans on to help pull nails, which is pretty much my official job of this renovation, part of the landing has already been removed. We’re making switchback stairs, so this whole section of the ceiling has to be taken down and re-framed.

The dogs run upstairs to say hello to Andy, but when Winnie realizes the top tread is missing she starts whining because she doesn’t know how to get back down the stairs. Rosie jumps right over it, but Winnie is a little uncertain about things. Andy does the only thing a good Dad would do, and picks her up and carries her back down the stairs with her acting like a big baby the entire time, and us laughing.

With the dog rescue complete, it was time for Andy to smash out those timbers.

Casey comes home from an unsuccessful first day of deer hunting for a break and Andy puts him right to work on helping take the beams down. His buddy Chris is at the house too and the dogs go nuts over him. We pretty much just all start making fun of each other and laughing.

While taking the posts down it causes cracks in the drywall, just this side of the addition. I hear “we might as well take it all down” and that was that. I’m taking a way to long video of the removal process and eventually Andy tells Casey, whom I’ve handed it off to, to stop the video. He’s trying to figure something out and having the video on him is distracting. I stop while he figures it out and start it back up again. I know he loves looking back on these things, so I make sure to document them in multiple ways.

I’m pretty relieved as the ugly thick wood “trim” (timbers) ,which had been up for the last five years, come down.Off came the boards to the wall to reveal…black paint. Black. Paint. I won’t even go there except to say it’s never seeing the light of day in this house again.

Taking this wall down has been my favorite part of the renovation to date. We were able to take out the grossly oversized massive humungous window as well as the original exterior door. To say I will miss them would be a blatant lie.

Before the door came out, they initially decided to take the drywall down between the two. When Andy was banging on the drywall though to take it out, without disturbing the electrical, an arch shot out of the front of the wall from the switch. I was in the room but I missed it, and Andy was on the opposite side of the wall. Casey and his friend yelled “WOAH WOAH” and explained what happened. We knew 100% the electrical wasn’t bad, so it only took a second to see what the issue was.

At some point in time, when the original boards were up (where the black meets the white) things could slip behind it. Apparently a penny fell behind it, wedged itself and as Andy banged on the wall behind the switch, it shifted the penny just enough to cause a connection. The odds were astronomical something like that would happen and it was crazy. This is why you need to be careful about exposed metals touching, especially something as conductive as copper. Poor old Abe suffered some serious flesh wounds.

I pried it out with a piece of wood (remember, metal and humans are both conductive), and they got back to taking the door off.

So close!

Bit by bit the wall slowly went from open concept to open reality. I was both excited and nervous. I remember how the house was, but I was seeing the house my children would remember and only know.  Sometimes the fact that only Andy and I really know what the “before” house looks like feels like a little secret for just the two of us, and I like it. It’s obviously something I’m sharing, and not a secret, but I like that the before house was our before kids house, and the new house will be the after kids house. No, I’m not pregnant, but when we do have kids, this is the house they will know.

Thar she blows! This angle is from the kitchen area. I really really love how open it is. Here are shots from a few more angles.

Between the two rooms being entirely torn apart, it was starting to look a little hairy in the house. I really loved it though.

The guy who built the original addition built things to last. The staircase landing was no different.  The photo below is Andy literally jumping on it and springing up and down like a trampoline. Then I got on it and tried. Then he did it again. He finally got it out, but wowza, that baby was in there.

Fast forward a little bit, and well into the evening, I grabbed a quick family picture while it was all still open. I swear Andy has a slight smirk on his face, but I was being a little “please please family photo please please please now please please now please.” So, you know, he obliged. Such a good guy and totally not because I furrowed my brow when he initially said he wanted to keep working.

Family photo over, Andy got back to framing up the landing. I’m not sure why the above photo looks like night, and the one below looks like day, because the family photo was taken just as the sun was setting. Weird.

Right before he framed up the new landing, the boys removed some of the old drywall from around the chimney. The people before us were apparently very patriotic. I laughed when I saw this simply because I had totally forgotten about it. When we moved in just over five years ago it was the main background behind an ugly hearth we took down. It had long been removed and put out of memory, so to see a bit of it again was a fun reminder of how far we’ve already come.

I was really looking forward to seeing the new stair layout. I have to admit they didn’t grow on me right away, but I’m also someone who new things need to grow on. Rarely will I proclaim I “love” something without time. Then again, it doesn’t take too much time. A few days later and I already love them and the new layout. It really opens everything up and will let so much more light in. With the new mid-way landing up for the switch back stairs, Andy hand cut (er, made, but with power tools) the douglas fir stringers.

Finally, the base to the treads went on, which right now are plywood but the plan is to use solid beech for the staircase. After a long long day of work, we cleaned up. I stood back and then ran up and down the stairs multiple times laughing. I can just picture our kids running up and down them someday.

One of the things we realized was how much space underneath of the stairs there is, and how in a house like this we really need to utilize every nook and cranny. I was trying to figure out if we should put drawers under there, or use it as a storage spot since we don’t have an attic. Then we thought about making the access from the left side, which will be in the lower bedroom. Then Andy came up with it – a dog kennel! It’s not set in stone, but we’re seriously debating doing a built in dog kennel large enough for both dogs. It will give them a nice place to get away, without us having a large crate out in the open and will be pretty cute built in. Down the line if we want to it would be super simple to change into a built in storage area. So far I’m loving the idea, but who knows where we’ll end.

For now, the open concept is finally an open reality. We still have a few more walls to take down but I think we’ll just finish what we started here first before moving on. You know, mostly at least. I just can’t believe Andy, with a little help from Casey, did all of that work in one day.

Who am I kidding, I’ve lived with him long enough to not be shocked by it. Even as I write this he’s working some more. A man building his family a home, is there anything more attractive? I think not.



7 thoughts on “Wednesday Weekly Renovation Update: From Concept To Reality

  1. Amazing! You all are so brave. What a transformation – even in this rough state. Thanks for sharing your homeward journey!

  2. Wow! I just discovered your blog today and I love it. Mr A. is a seriously hard worker – gotta love those! I’ve spent the last 2 hours reading a whole lot of past posts ( I certainly didn’t read them all; there’s so many) – a very entertaining 2 hours I should add, that I should’ve spent writing myself on my sadly neglected blog.

    I’m originally from Bristol, NH and we used to go to Maine every summer. Now I live 1200+ miles south (I like it) but I will always be a New England Yankee at heart. And I have 2 dogs that I adore as well. :o)

    I won’t comment often – I love to lurk – but I thought you’d like to know you’ve got a fan in Alabama and I’ll be reading.

    It’s nice to meet you.

  3. I love the built-in dog kennel idea! I always hated the look of dog crates out in the open. Such a style sucker. A built-in one would be like a dog house inside. Too cute!

    1. Thanks! I hope it works out and we do it. It would be a great compromise. They’ll always have a bed in our livingroom, but not having a big metal crate in there would be nice.


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