Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Boston Home Renovation: The Whole Shebang


After Brian graduated from dental school at UCLA, we prepared to make the cross-country move to Boston for him to complete an orthodontics residency at Harvard.  After spending the last four years in student housing and having a growing family (not to mention the pretty-close-to-a-mortgage-payment rent prices in Boston, a very handy husband, and a general contractor father-in-law,) we decided to go house hunting, and we bought this gem of a property with the intention of renovating it and selling at the completion of his residency.  To say this project required our blood, sweat, and tears is not a cliche at this point-- it is the honest to goodness truth.  But I've hardly been prouder and I'd do it all again in a heartbeat.  In three short years this little abode became the hub of our lives and engrained itself in our family's fabric.  When the time came to sell, I felt like we should be taking applications with a serious and thorough screening process, rather than mass-marketing and talking pricing strategies.  She will always hold a piece of my heart as a part of our story, and I am so proud to show off her amazing transformation!


HOUSE EXTERIOR

Before:

After:
New siding, new porch/railings, new fence, new front door and paint, new windows, widened and resurfaced driveway, sod and landscaping.  And did I mention completely DE-LEADED inside and out?!?  That was huge.

(And then there's always this "after," too.  After the blizzard hit! Oh, Boston.  I never thought I'd say this, but I miss this part, too.)


LIVING ROOM

Before:

After:
Goodbye flamingo pink!  New paint, new curtains and sheers, large mirror removed, new fireplace tile, and NO MORE RADIATORS!  Hooray for central heat and air!!  And deleaded.


DINING ROOM

Before:

After:
Chair rail and lower wainscoting, plus the other updates of windows, curtains, paint, deleading, and radiator removal.



KITCHEN

Before:
Not only out-dated, this kitchen was lacking an oven and refrigerator.  Hmmmmm. 

After:
Pretty much a total do-over!  We even moved the two entrances to the kitchen to create a better flow and allow for more counter space.  New cabinets, new granite counter tops, new stainless steel appliances (which we managed to not scratch in our 3 years there-- success!), new hardwood floor, new lights, new plumbing, new windows, new relaxed venetian blinds sewn by yours truly.  Deleaded.  Let's just say it's pretty started from scratch here. Previous and expanded post about the kitchen remodel can be found here.



MUDROOM

Before:

After:
New paint, new wainscoting, new hooks, new shelf, new floor, deleaded.


HALLWAY

Before:

After:
New paint, new lights, deleaded!


GIRLS' ROOM

Before:

After:
New paint, removed carpet and radiators, new windows and blinds, new light/ceiling fan, deleaded.  The bedrooms also all got awesome light switches that individually controlled the light/fade and the fan speed.  So handy!


MASTER BEDROOM

Before:


After:
New paint, removed carpet and radiators, new light/ceiling fan, new windows and blinds, removed radiator, deleaded



NURSERY

Before:


After:
New paint, new windows and blinds, new light/ceiling fan, deleaded


MAIN FLOOR BATHROOM

Before:

After:
Goodbye tile-crazy bathroom!  (Seriously, did the ceiling really need tile?)  Hello jacuzzi tub!  New tub, new floor and wall tile, new vanity (with double sinks!), new mirror, new lighting fixtures, new toilet, new window, new moisture/mold-resistant paint, deleaded.  Full previous post about the bathroom remodel can be found here.

Heading down to the lower level...

STAIRS

Before:

After:
Sanded and re-stained stairs, closed-in underneath to form a closet beneath the stairs (aka a room for Harry Potter =), new molding/baseboards, freshly-painted walls, banister, and rise


BASEMENT HALLWAY

Before:

After:
New floors, removed now-defunct radiator pipes from ceiling, new back door, new lights, new walls/drywall, removed wall behind stairs (that used to enclose the garage... see below for garage transformation!), new ceiling, new lighting, new paint, deleaded


BASEMENT ROOM

Before:
Since there was no refrigerator or oven in the upstairs kitchen (as confirmed with our neighbors who went inside the house before we owned it), we believe the previous owners used this downstairs space for the day-to-day kitchen needs.

After:
We kept the gas and plumbing lines available in case someone ever wanted to convert the basement into a separate apartment, but for now we enclosed the back wall with TONS of cabinet storage space (I miss you tool/food storage/sewing stuff/general junk-hiding space!) New floors, new walls, new lighting, new paint, new window and blinds, deleaded



OFFICE

Before:


After:
Sadly, I forgot to take a real "after" picture of the office, so I had to just grab this random picture taken in the room from our general picture stash.  It doesn't show off the real finished look, but it gives you a general idea.  New floors, new walls and ceiling, new paint, new lighting, new electrical box, new window and blinds, deleaded


SPARE BEDROOM

Before:
The creepy chair in the middle of the room earned this room its endearing nickname, The Interrogation Room.  All of Libby and Reeve's future boyfriends may report here first. =)

After:
 A guest/aunt Doodle room!  Added a closet, new floors, new walls and ceiling, added a ceiling fan, new paint, new door, new window and blinds, deleaded


BASEMENT BATHROOM

Before:

After:
New everything!  New tub, new floor and wall tile, new walls and ceiling, new paint, new vanity, new light fixture, new toilet.  Added bonus: since we are tall and often crouching to get our hair wet in standard showers, and as long as the walls are wide-open with renovation anyway, we went ahead and reworked the plumbing, re-welding the shower head much higher so we can actually take a normal shower here.  Hooray!



LAUNDRY ROOM

Before:


After:
Almost makes you want to do laundry, doesn't it? =)  Repurposed basement kitchen sink, refinished upstairs kitchen cabinets and added new handles to repurpose them as laundry room cabinets, new tile, pole hung for hangers, new windows and blinds, new walls and ceiling, new paint, deleaded


GARAGE

Before:
We don't even have any decent "before" pictures of the garage because it was such a non-descript room, it apparently didn't inspire us as part of the photographic history. Here's what we have, but suffice it to say it was a cold, gray room enclosed completely in cold, gray cement from floor to ceiling.


After:
Transformed into a beautiful media and playroom!  New french doors open to the back yard.  Tore down wall between the hallway and the garage to open an access route to the room (since the garage was previously only accessible through the outside door.)  New floors, new walls and ceiling, new paint, new lighting, new windows, new curtains sewn again by yours truly, deleaded




BACKYARD

Before:

After:
Added a swing set and patio furniture, landscaping, resurfaced asphalt, built a storage shed to match the house!



One thing we worked hard to preserve throughout the house...  our doorknobs!  Aren't these the most beautiful doorknobs you've ever seen?  They have equally cool keys that open them.  No, this isn't only a fancy knob for my grand front door knob.  These were the doorknobs for every single door of the upstairs living space.  I love New England homes!


When I think of our renovation, I admit my blood pressure starts to rise with the memories of moving cross-country into a vat of upheaval.  Every resource of time, money, and sanity (and often that of our friends and family, as well!) was put into reconstructing this home.

"Mealtimes" (if pop tarts and frozen dinners can even be called that) were spent huddled around a basement table, blowing away drywall dust and discussing the upcoming plumbing needs.

Clutter and chaos (yes, that's my stove on a dolly in the foreground, waiting to be hooked up for the next meal because it blocked the basement hallway otherwise,)

Dust, dust, and more dust (and then a little more) on every viable surface of the house.  With a crawling baby.

Putting my baby down for naps in makeshift beds from cardboard appliance boxes because the crib is not yet assembled, in a room being painted, in a room next to hammering and/or drilling, etc, etc

Most babies learn to pull themselves to a stand on couches and coffee tables.  Reeve got to learn with 5-gallon paint buckets and an air compressor.

Did I mention an utterly chaotic and potentially dangerous wonderland for a baby who crawls and sticks everything in her mouth???

Instead of date nights at the movies without the kids, we got late nights at Home Depot with the kids in tow.  Seriously, home renovation is not for the faint of heart.  When you walk into a beautifully updated home, please take a moment to realize 50 bazillion decisions went into that space, from the wall texture to the paint color to the counter material to the grout color to the tile design and outlay to the lighting design....  I'm not an interior designer, and I have immensely greater appreciation for the profession now.  Sure, a lot of the decisions are fun, but when you're trying to please everyone's taste, stay within budget, and make it all work together, it's a whole lot harder than it looks!


But then I think of the outcome, and my blood pressure rises for only one reason: how very much I love and miss this home!

Its floors felt the very first steps of my cutie, Reeve.

I prepared my first Thanksgiving meal in that fabulous kitchen, and we feasted on it together in the dining room.

We watched for winter's first snowfall through its windows

And baked up happiness-- our first egg-free chocolate chip cookies-- right here, too.

We hung our stockings by our very own chimney with care.

There were leaf piles in autumn

and hollowed-out snow piles in winter.

It was our launch pad to scholastic success for more than one family member, not the least of whom was dad, who completed his final phase of schooling here.  (More to come on that in an upcoming post... stay tuned!)

And a great place to crash when we needed a break.

We got into trouble and stood in your corners.

We made messes (some more than others!),


had fun,

and basically just grew up a little.

We even added a new family member here.

So I hope how you can understand how my heart ached when the big yellow van pulled up to move us away; to take us to new adventures and new homes with new memories.  It was a bittersweet moment, to say the least, to graduate from this house, this place, and this phase of our lives.  This wasn't a simple house "flip," and saying goodbye was tough.

No matter where we live, a part of me will always call this amazing gray house with a red front door and rich hardwood floors...

"HOME."