A Promise Fulfilled

Posted on Posted in projects


Alas, an opportunity to tell you about our big kitchen renovation, actually a bit more than just the kitchen. It incorporated several other rooms, namely the dining room, relocating our shared office and half of the central hallway (traditional colonial house). I’ve held steadfast not blogging until the  renovation was totally complete. Just this last fall some remaining electrical work was finished, nearly two years after general completion was heralded. Our good friend Bil (married us and has a rather brilliant life philosophy of helping people without asking or accepting compensation, would love to talk about this sometime), arranged and hung art, much of which had been in storage for over 10 years. I was somewhat dismayed by the cost of the renovation, yes I know this is par for the course, but 40% seems excessive. Then again some major items were not accounted for in the initial estimate, like not being able to salvage any of the existing wood flooring, opting to replace more windows and adding much needed closets (for coats and bicycles). Really enjoyed the interaction with the contractors, talking shop and about other projects they were working on, their work was, I want to say exceptional, but will say it was very good workmanship, did not see a lot short cuts taken. For instance, taking the time to use dowels for installing the trim, I dare say I would not have done (but will do so in the future), this dowelling will ensure that joints do not open up. The general contractor stopped checking in person about halfway thru the renovation, fortunately he had a competent and responsive supervisor. This can not be said for some of the sub-contractors, drywall and flooring finishers, both of which crews were boisterous and infectious, having little regard for the us the inhabits. We had employees working in the house at the time, making a tenuous situation even more so. Drywall installers managed to cover two outlets and a return, and several fastening issues, of which I addressed myself, and then there is the smoking. So when the sub-contractor came to mud an tape walls, I elected to send him home, I could see by his chosen materials that this would be inadequate, nor up to my standards, which far exceed traditional mud and taping. How unfortunate, I can pontificate on and on about the disagreeable aspects of this renovation, but in fairness, the good far exceeds the bad, bare with me a bit more. The floor finisher, boasted on several occasions that his work work truly exceptional, that I would be more than pleased with the finish. This was not to be, even Anne could see the poor workmanship, pooling of poly and dust encapsulated in poly as a result of not tacking (removing all remnants of dust) properly in between coats of poly. The new basement stair risers and treads finish was a disaster, blotchy staining – GC did offer to have flooring guy to return and correct, but I’m afraid I was so put off by the floor finish that I dismissed this idea altogether, will get around to doing it myself. There is more to say, will continue next week. Shall we have a look as some before and after photos.



Before: Very old cabinetry that was coming undone, contact paper backsplash and vinyl flooring, again coming undone. Lived with this for over ten years.



Before: A piece of furniture inherited from previous owner serving as an impromptu island. We had to replace the range and refrigerator immediately upon moving in 10 years ago, probably would have been wise to update during renovation, as their longevity is suspect.


After: Demolition, here you can see old stairway to basement and back door. Stairway was re-configured and back door eliminated, allowing us to re-claim some much needed space in the kitchen.


After: Re-building begins, this framing technique is rather clever, essentially re-framing in the existing framing. Allows one to even/true any unleveled ceiling/floors and provides an opportunity to insulate, although you do loose a little square footage.



After: A proper backsplash, an additional window. The other two windows are the only original windows in the house that have been replaced, necessary here as one window needed to be shortened in height. We just had to incorporate Anne’s now famous lid display, she has used this brilliant means of storing pot lids ever since first apartment.



After: A much nicer larger island. The countertops are soapstone and oak butcher block, both are very forgiving and durable. Plus a dishwasher, although I find myself washing dishes by hand, and any number of pots, but I guess has it purpose.



Before: Old dining room, repleat with wallpaper on ceiling and walls. The original double hung widows had been replaced long ago with these casement windows of which really compromised the exterior ascetics of the house.



Before: The flooring was in really poor condition, several large badly patched areas and old affixed tile. The faux fireplace is just that.



After: Unfortunately in this renovation we could not salvage much of anything. New double hung windows, not only very efficient, weather wise, but look the part as well, matching original windows quite nicely. Here you a glimpse of new sitting/living off the dining room (more about this next week). New oak flooring. All lighting is led based.



After: Some newly hung art, had dining chairs (purchased from local restore store) and sofa (gift from one of Anne’s former students) re-upholstered. The square table top is from Ikea and sits eight, the pin legs are from a local Ohio metal fabricator. Broyhill Brasilia credenza is vintage, required several coats of danish oil to restore it’s beauty, not a fan initially, but have come to really love this style.

Hope you enjoyed this post, would like to continue next week, as I have gone on a bit long here.

32 thoughts on “A Promise Fulfilled

  1. Wow, particularly love the new dining room! Looks so light-filled and welcoming. The connection to the new sitting area is lovely.

  2. My mom chose “Brasillia” for her dining room & bedroom suites – back when it was new. Loved seeing some again. Enjoy you renewed home!

  3. Wow, it all looks beautiful and I LOVE the tile in the kitchen! My husband and I had a house built three years ago, so I feel your pain with sub-contractors. We love our home overall, but there are things that should have been done better. Anyway, your space is just lovely!

  4. I love reading renovation sagas – and they are always sagas. Please continue! I am envious of your spacious and tastefully elegant kitchen (and bathroom, too).

  5. We bought a classic house from hell in 1990. The seller lied about a number of things, enough so that our situation was written up in the Wall Street Journal. Our kitchen overall took only four months, but the house was never really done. Some places are like that. Now we live in a comparitively “young” home built in 1963, and I am still amazed how everything works from day to day. But it still needs a new kitchen…I would take yours. I love it, especially the counters, and the pale blue subway tile: I may steal that look!

    I love your story about Italy, I totally get how that could happen!

  6. Well done, indeed! A lot of work and so very much worth doing to make your home just as you want it to be. I’m very smitten with your kitchen backsplash.

  7. Wonderful renovation – thank you for showing us, and telling us all about it. Look forward to the rest!

  8. I really enjoyed your post about the renovation and the photos as well. Thanks for sharing this more personal side of your life.

  9. I find it hard to remember what it was like having knit night in the kitchen prior to the renovation. Although we could be sitting in a field in no mans land and still have fun. I do remember what you and Anne went through the during the renovation. The outcome was so worth it. When you enjoy cooking and entertaining you spend the majority of your time there. I love the finish look and the openness. Looking forward to the rest of the story.

  10. You will always find things in a reno which are just not up to par, hopefully you get your personal punch list done without too much trouble!

  11. Thanks for showing us. I have been wanting to see the results for 2 years. We need to redo our kitchen so it is nice to get ideas from others as to what functions best. Good contractors are hard to find, although we have managed to find one that we are happy with (he has done 2 projects for us already).

  12. You know you have a strong relationship when you can survive a reno! Congratulations, it all looks beautiful and functional…the art on the wall is magnifique!

  13. Wonderful to read about the remodel, David! It is a beautiful kitchen and dining room space, and is surely worth all the frustrations you endured to get the job done. (Funny how these things always take longer (and more money!), than what we anticipated. But once the work is complete, we wish we had done it years earlier, because it’s so perfect and we are enjoying it so much!).

    Thanks again for writing about, and sharing before and after photos, of the work done. It all looks perfect!

  14. Your renovation may have been hell to live through but the end result looks fantastic! A much more efficient use of space. We have also experienced similar issues with contractors that have done work for us. Personally, I have always believed in taking pride in my work and doing the best that I can do, no matter what job or task I am completing. It is a shame this practice doesn’t seem to be the norm anymore, especially when people are being PAID to do the work.

    I look forward to reading your follow up post!

  15. Wow, David!! The result is definitely worth the pain and inconvenience of renovating. And such fun to read.

  16. I enjoyed your post, especially the photos. Everything looks elegant and so comfortable, think it fits what I’ve seen of your house. We also did a kitchen renovation, 3 years ago, though our house was built in 1980. We had much better luck with our contractor, a woman! so nice, and the subcontractor’s , with the exception of the plumber, were all excellent. We were without a kitchen for 2 and a half months, good thing it was summer, so I don’t plan on doing another kitchen any time soon. The inconvenience was well worth it in the end. We did tile our entire house which added time to the project. Thanks for sharing your project.

  17. Thanks for showing all the before and after pictures…I’ve been so interested in seeing how everything turned out…like so many readers upthread, we’re currently in remodeling/rebuilding mode (6 months over schedule so far) so I can certainly relate to your tales of woe. Good that there were happy parts of the project though and the results are so lovely!

  18. It has been so interesting to follow your house renovation. I don’t know where you find the time to do so much. Not so long ago you did the bathroom too if I recall correctly. The remodelling looks fantastic and I love all the artwork on show.

  19. David,
    Lovely post, and one that we’ve been waiting for!! Love everything about the renovation! Looking forward to reading next week.

  20. What an incredible transformation! I don’t know if I’d have the patience to go through such a renovation, but the results are amazing. Hopefully you will live in love there for a long time to come!

  21. Wow what wonderful changes you created. Life always comes with a couple of knuckleheads glad you were able to rise above it and get what you wanted. What a much nicer place to cook and share a meal with each other and friends. Your hard work and patience really paid off.

  22. Beautiful! I love the big island! I enjoy reading about kitchen redos-both the good and bad. Thank you’

  23. A wonderful narrative! Please continue as long as you have the inclination. Having remodeled myself, there is no detail or aspect of the drama that doesn’t fascinate me. Plus, your results are beautiful!

  24. Thank you for sharing this. I knew that you and Anne would bring practical beauty to the end result! Alas, I understand your contractor woes. My father is a mostly retired contractor and he gets the calls to fix the things the other guys did. Looking forward to the next installment.

  25. Wow, David! This truly is beautiful and exactly reflects the style that you and Anne exude in my mind. I have lived through several renovations in my house and agree that the good outweighs the bad (although I could still strangle the electrician who put the light switches on the opposite walls in two rooms!) I really look forward to reading more of your posts; keep ’em coming!

  26. Love it. What a dramatic difference. Love the back spash tile and the art on the wall and all of the details. Love the open floor plan.
    Thanks for the tour:)

Comments are closed.