May 03, 2022

The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men

(Blue grey sample minus black glazing for mudroom tall cabinet, warm white cabinetry for the rest of mudroom and all of kitchen. Handmade ceramic sconces with antique brass fixtures for flanking stove and small metal circle Ilve stove sample)

I was going to say that I don't know where that 2 months went but I know exactly where it went. It went to planning, designing, sourcing, researching, choosing and ordering for the renovations. It went to sorting, packing, storing and moving our possessions- although the movers come Saturday for the big furniture. It went to the roller coaster and ups and downs that comprise life- the beautiful and the devastating hitting our circle of people and showing up where we can to do what we're able.

I am so close to being able to catch my breath again, to have time for yoga, tending to myself, making pretty things, reading, leisure time- all things in short supply since the beginning of the year. Things currently NOT in short supply: stress eating, eye twitches, general brain fog and forgetfulness, ocular migraines, irritation at people not doing their jobs, stiff hips, shoulder and neck tension.

(Kitchen cabinetry, stove sample, stove lighting, high gloss, irregular crackle Cafe subway by Walker Zanger, black sample representing Island lighting)

I’ve been getting a lot of questions about our renovations and why we’re moving. We will be moving out for about 6 months. We are renovating the kitchen, dining room, mudroom, main floor bathroom, master bedroom and bathroom. We will be refinishing the hardwoods upstairs and replacing the hardwood downstairs. We will be replacing trim throughout almost the entire house plus adding wainscoting and tongue and groove in areas and almost the entire house will be repainted. We are replacing the French doors in the dining room, the mudroom door and the kitchen windows. 

(Close up Walker Zanger Cafe tile in Milk)

Additionally we are doing built ins at the top of the stairs, replacing Emma’s shower and redoing our laundry area ourselves but those things may wait until after we move back in because my fella is doing almost all of the trim work, and all of the wall millwork. He’s gotten a good start for the last month or so but there is so much left to do. 

(Danby marble Imperial Select for kitchen and if there is enough leftover master and or main floor bathroom)

So you can see this is a pretty extensive project. We are working hard to stay true to the house and bring back the charm that has been stripped from it. We are moving some walls but not changing the footprint and we are not opening the space up. Some people might think it’s nuts to spend this kind of money and not increase square footage but for us this is about quality, function and beauty not square footage. Less but better is my motto.

(Master bathroom large charcoal tile for floor, warm white cabinetry, polished nickel fixtures, wood frame mirrors, antique brass sample for vanity lights and hardware, patchwork tile for shower floor and matte white large subway tile for shower walls)

And while a lot of you don't understand why we're doing this, let me explain what we've lived with since we moved in...the kitchen cabinets are few in number and homemade plywood cabinets that saw their best day 40 years ago (if ever) and aren't fit for holding more than the trash and recycling, the linoleum floors are patched, lost their protective coat well before our time and are IMPOSSIBLE to clean and they are linoleum, the kitchen counters are tile some of which is cracked, missing grout and is basically a science experiment that I wouldn't dream of setting utensil or food on. When preparing a meal, my work triangle is basically the kitchen, corner cabinets in the dining room and cabinets in the mudroom. Not even the slightest bit functional. The only decent things about the kitchen are the updates we did 10 years ago which you can see here. This was always meant to be a temporary solution. 

(Main floor bathroom: new shower curtain, bamboo hooks, oatmeal gloss subway tile for tub alcove and entry dresser that will be repurposed as a vanity but topped with marble)

And the bathrooms, well lets just say they aren't any better than the kitchen and haven't been touched at all. So obviously we are so excited to have clean, functioning, beautiful spaces that are a pleasure to spend time in. 

(Main floor bath with light fixtures that will flank existing mirror)

We've patiently (mostly) waited 11 years and sacrificed to get here so that we could do it exactly the way we want. Unfortunately with the constant rising of costs, we have had to shift some work to do later and are doing some things ourselves to balance the budget but also to make sure I can get the finishes I have been dreaming about for years in the areas that matter the most. 

So you see why it’s important to move out during this process ...with a hubby that works from home, two cats, an anxious dog and me who hates chaos and noise, there really wasn’t another choice although it's another cost that had to be figured in. 

 I'm really looking forward to documenting the process here so that we can look back on it in the years to come and because people say we won't even remember what the old kitchen looked or felt like. After 11 years I find that hard to believe but I look forward to that day!


  1. Looking forward to following the renovation. I'm sure it will be beautiful!

  2. Even though I know your house will be extra amazing and beautiful when it's done, you are much braver than I am! I almost have a panic attack just reading about all that you're going through...picking out all the new tiling and countertops and appliances and paint colors and lighting fixtures etc etc, not to mention, having to move out of your home! I get so paralyzed by indecision that I can barely make a decision on one room, let alone an entire house. We just hired a landscaper who will be starting soon to make some changes to our front yard, but we have SO much work to be done in the house, too. Our bathrooms and kitchen desperately need to be re-done. (And that's just a start. We also need a new furnace, roof, siding, and other small things done in the house...but we'd need to win the lottery to have it all done at once, lol.) Like you, I hate noise and chaos...and strangers in my home. But since we will only be having one room done at a time, I will have to stay here.

    I will be looking forward to seeing all the progress along the way!

  3. We've got a similar renovation project...down the road. I totally get it; the why do it, the challenge, the excitement. I'm looking forward to seeing the process and final result! Thanks so much for sharing. All the best!

  4. I love all of your choices. I think you are very smart to move out while all of that work is going on!

  5. I'm really excited for you! Our house was in much the same shape when we moved in 31 years ago. We rented for ten years, then were able to buy it. We've redone the kitchen (same footprint) with Ikea, redid the (one) bathroom (same tub, same footprint), redid the finished basement after a flood, painted every inch, pulled up carpets, done electrical, plumbing, windows, HVAC, gutters, roof, etc. but never did a big re-do like you are doing. I don't suppose we ever will, at this point. I'm really looking forward to seeing your transformation in the same space. You really don't ever see that online.

  6. Oh, it's all going to be so beautiful! I love your aesthetic. I'm intrigued by the patchwork tile. Where did you find it? We also live in a charming older home (little yellow cottage from 1924) that needs some updating, but not necessarily expanding, so we'll be embarking on a similar voyage at some point (though I'm hoping we can do it piecemeal rather than in one fell swoop!).

  7. Cindy HuxtableMay 04, 2022 6:29 PM

    I am so excited to see your progress. Love your choices so far!! It will be exactly as you want it. Nobody else can tell you what you should do with your home. Not expanding is perfect for this type of home. Cant wait for your next posts.

  8. It's going to be so worth it when you are finished & I'm excited to ride along for the journey :) We are in the *very beginning* stages of vetting design/build firms for a similar project, but that will also include an addition. Most are recommending moving out during the project, but I can't wrap my head around that. Any insight on how you went about finding a short term rental? Did you rent something furnished, or did you take your furniture that you moved out with you? We also have 2 younger kids (middle school aged) and a pup, so that plays into the rental search as well and is definitely keeping me up at night as we try to determine if this project is worth taking on!

  9. Jen, I am so very excited for you! I know it will be absolute perfection when it's done. Looking forward to riding along in this amazing journey with you! Love the sample peeks you've given us.

  10. I like your finishes so lovely! I can't wait to see the finished projects. I am with you: I like smaller, cozy homes, too.

  11. Jen, I've just realized we haven't heard from you in a while. I hope everything is going well with your renovation. Looking forward to your next blog. Blessings to you and your family. Sharon in Texas

    1. I was thinking the same. Hope all is well with Jen and her family.


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