Last fall, I wrote about how I was remodeling our family’s one-bedroom condo to better accommodate my three-person family. Well, six months later, I am here to report back with our-post remodel home tour… it’s six months later because the 6-8 week remodel turned into four months of my family drifting around and couch surfing. We just moved back in the last week of February. Do you guys want to see how it turned out?
Oh wait, first I should say that while I know remodels are prone to drama, ours was a doozy. The whole thing climaxed in November when a structural engineer who’d told our designers six months prior that we could remove a wall, claimed he’d never approved it. Apparently there’d been a huge miscommunication, and the result was the engineer storming out of an emergency 10-person meeting.
Thankfully our contractors went way WAY above and beyond (shout-out to our contractors/now-friends-for-life Model/Remodel. WE LOVE YOU GUYS) and we were able to get the situation resolved… at the cost of our budget increasing by almost a third and doubling our construction time. For four months, my family and I lived out of suitcases, drifting between house-sitting, couch surfing, and mooching off extended family. And then I had emergency surgery and was in the hospital. And yes, it was a challenging winter.
NEEDLESS TO SAY, every day that I’m A) able to sleep in my own bed B) not in the hospital now feels like an amazing gift, so hooray for perspective and gratitude.
Wait, so what was this remodel doing?
The summary of the remodel is that we ripped out a wall and flipped our living/sleeping spaces. Our stairwell became a mezzanine dining area. Our bedroom and closet became a living room. Our dining room became our son’s room, and our living room became our bedroom. Let’s do the photographic tour. Mad props to longtime Offbeat Bride vendor, Josh from JayLee Photography who took time away from shooting punk shows and punk weddings to come take pictures of my condo.
Entry & stairwell
Our house is townhome style, so you enter on the first floor, and then immediately come up the stairs. We used to have this very bland beige carpet, and after housesitting at a friend’s house with dramatic blue stair carpeting, we decided to go dramatic and blue, too.
The stair landing has this HUUUUUGE window that used to just light the stairwell. Since we ripped out the wall and made the stairwell part of our living space, this window is now part of the heart of our home… and immediately became a place for my son’s seashell collection.
We have proven ourselves to be TERRIBLE at picking paint colors, so we asked our old dear friend Sarah from SLK Design Studio to just tell us what to do. (Those of you who’ve read the Offbeat Bride book: this is Upper Location Manager Sarah!) Sarah is an interior designer in Los Angeles who works with very fancy people, and that bitch knows her colors. She suggested Farrow & Ball colors, which we then reproduced at Home Depot.
Part of Sarah’s recommendation was that this blue wall become a Salon Wall which is a fancy way of saying “put all your weird mismatched art on one wall where you can see how discordant your taste is!”
I’m not sure if I’m happy with how it turned out — we’ll see if it stays.
Dining & Living
Ok, so here’s our new dining area built out over what used to be the top of our stairs. Here’s how this area used to look, although it’s hard to capture because… uh, there was a wall there.
In fact, this photo is maybe a more accurate before shot… where our table is now used to be the top of stairs and a wall and my desk. It’s weird, right?
PS: My mother-in-law made that table and it is amazing.
Ok, now we’re looking at our living room, which used to be our bedroom. You can also see how… with all the art on the salon wall, our other walls are essentially bare. We lived pretty light before and purged like crazy before the remodel, but living out of suitcases for four months made the entire family realize just how little we needed to get by, so we purged even more when we moved back in. Our house is sparse right now, and I kinda like it.
Our media machine is that same touchscreen HP computer mounted on the wall that I wrote about three years ago. The big excitement here is that as part of the remodel, I had our contractors install the power outlet right behind where the computer is mounted, so there is no cord hanging down! FUCK YES. I love how this remodel is huge (walls moving! ceilings rebuilt! stairs rotated!) and yet it’s a fucking outlet placement that gives me a boner.
Sassafras may be 12 now, but she adapted quickly to the new digs. She especially loves the carpet in our bedroom.
Speaking of… Oh look! That is our bedroom door! Shall we go in? (Yes, this is me inviting you into my bedroom. I hope you wore your nice panties…)
The bookshelf that my phenomenal woodworking mother-in-law made us for our living room is now our headboard. And yes, this means that my son is going to have a tragic story some day where he’s like “I am an orphan because my parents were buried by books in the Great Quake of ’22”
And yes, that is a white noise machine 16″ from my pillow. The only challenge with our post-remodel situation is that our bed is now directly above our very sweet, very kind neighbor’s television, which is on almost 24 hours a day. I’m a super light sleeper, so I do my best to take responsibility for my own sound-sensitivities.
HEY WAIT A MINUTE WHERE ARE THE CLOSET DOORS. Miraculously, my mother-in-law offered to make us shoji doors. This is beyond exciting, but will take some time, so for now our bed stares into my closet. On the right there is the special area designed for my desk… but now I don’t work from home any more so it feels sorta unneeded. Although I mean I DO need a place to put my ponies.
There’s Dre’s closet, which is also waiting for its door. His mom is making a barn door-style shoji. We had to get creative with his closet, due to structural engineering issues. It goes far back to the right, but the door couldn’t be any wider than that.
The structural issues also meant we have this weird shelf built into the entry way of our bedroom, which I have commandeered as my Fancy Shoe Closet.
This is the whole reason this remodel needed to happen. My son loved his former walk-in-closet/bedroom, but 5 years old is probably a good time to stop sleeping in your parent’s closet. Not only does a young man eventually want a little more space, but a young man’s parents eventually want a little more privacy.
His room is still very small, but the loft bed helps make the most of the space.
When I told Sarah (our friend who helped us with our paint colors) about Tavi’s decision, she said “That is a bold choice,” and recommended the flattest, mattest black we could find.
The same structural engineering issues that resulted in an odd closet in the master bedroom and my weird shoe shelves also meant that instead of my son having a big wide closet, he ended up with a narrow closet, and built-in deep toy shelves. It’s slightly weird, but works really well, actually.
What about the rest of our house?
Our remodel did not touch our hallway, kitchen, or bathroom so those are completely unchanged. Well, other than some paint on the wall in the bathroom to test the new color we’ll be painting it eventually when we can think about painting again.
…of course we still haven’t finished painting the bathroom or kitchen. Maybe next weekend…
One of the things I love about this remodel is that you can now see from end to end of our home. From the bathroom, you can look out down the hall all the way through the living room to the north wall. My son likes to run sprints from one end of the house to the other (sorry, neighbors), and there’s just much more of a sense of space.
Our home is still relatively small (we have about 850 square feet of usable space, not counting the stairs), but this remodel worked some sweet magic on making the most of the space we’ve got. Our goal was to shift our space so that our family of three (plus dog) could comfortably fit here… theoretically forever. In fact, during the worst, most challenging parts of our remodel, I may have shouted “I AM GOING TO DIE IN THAT HOME, ONE WAY OR ANOTHER.”
Hopefully it won’t be by getting buried in my own books during an earthquake, but whatever: as long as I’m sleeping in my own bed, and not in the hospital, it’s a happy day.