Our Biggest Renovation Yet!

I am so giddy with excitement to finally be letting you in on our plans for the next two years. Starting next July we’ll be taking on a major remodel that includes all three bedrooms and two of our bathrooms. Half of our main floor will be torn up while we live in the basement rec room. Our master plan for the house is to remodel all of it but the bathrooms were the best place to start because they were holding this house back. With our main bathroom having goldenrod fixtures and a faux black marble sea shell shaped and our master bathroom having avocado fixtures with gold accents they are a constant reminder that this house was built in the 70’s. And with each bathroom only being 45 sf we wanted to expand them.

Main Bathroom:
4-30-08 120 copy

Master Bathroom:
4-30-08 114

Looking at the layout of our house the most logical way to expand the main bathroom was to remove the wall between the two bathrooms and double the size of the main bathroom. Then the master bathroom will be moved to what is currently part of our bedroom. This will nearly triple the size of our master bath and allow us to have two sinks and a separate shower and tub. Our master bedroom is very large but taking out that much space would leave the room feel pretty small. To gain some sf back we’ll move the wall between the living room and master bedroom 6 ft to the south which will also expand our walk-in closet to a nice size.

(Click for larger version.)

(Click for larger version.)

The only problem is that we have a fireplace on the angled wall. The fireplace is in a poor location because it is right where the main walkway is around our stair railing so you can’t have anything more than one chair in front of it or you’d be blocking traffic. Add to that that last year we found out that the fireplace is inoperable due to a 2×4 in the chimney and we’ve made the decision to remove both the basement and first floor fireplaces and chimneys. The basement fireplace is operable but is huge, ugly, in a poor location (it angles toward the stairwell wall), and we’re not sure we could save it so it is going as well. Otherwise we’d lose a lot of space for the existing chimney to stay which will be in the middle of our closet. Plus, it will free up a lot of space in the basement for unique storage solution I have planned. Everyone thinks we’re crazy to remove two fireplaces because it will decrease our home’s value but my defense is (1) an inoperable fireplace which is in the main living area isn’t adding much if any value, (2) the dated look and awkward placement of the basement fireplace is not what today’s homeowners are looking for, and (3) the new bathrooms and master closet will add more value to the house than the fireplaces ever would.

First Floor Fireplace:
4-30-08 133

Basement Fireplace:
4-30-08 262

**Fireplace Rant**
I have to admit though that I’ve never been a fan of fireplaces. I like that they add a nice focal point to a room but they are so inefficient and drafty it makes my HVAC engineer head spin! You have a huge hole in your house that just dumps your heated air outside people! You wouldn’t leave your front door ajar all winter. Even if you have a damper in your chimney unless it makes a complete seal you’re still letting hot air out. Then you look at how much it costs to run a gas fireplace (about $1/hr) and you’re getting hardly any Btus of heat for your money. Wood fireplaces have cheaper fuel if not free but they take longer to get a fire started and once you have it started you need to be there for a long enough time to enjoy and watch the fire burn out which is not nearly as easy as flipping a switch on and off. Plus they are dirtier and you have to split and store wood. My thoughts were only confirmed when Flannel Man and I moved into our previous apartment that had a gas fireplace. In the year we lived there we never turned it on once. We were meaning around the holidays but that is when our schedules are the busiest so it never happened. I know a lot of other people who are the same way; when they bought their houses the fireplace was a plus and they planned to use it all winter but when it actually comes down to it they don’t use it for more than 4 days a year. If that’s the case they should just stick one of those balloon chimney blockers up there for the majority of the year and just treat the fireplace as decoration.
**Rant Over**


Since we are moving so many walls we also need to move, add, and remove some windows. One of the windows in the living room will need to be removed since it is where we are moving the wall to. Similarly one of the master bedroom windows is where our new master bathroom wall will be so it will need to be removed and instead we’ll have two smaller windows on either side of our bed. Another window will be added to future master bathroom to bring in more light and balance out the space. We’re going to keep the existing 6’x3.5’ window opening on the north wall but we’ll replace the window so it matches the rest. It’s always been a dream of mine to have a bathroom with natural light!

Which brings us to the floor. We want to rip out the stained off white carpet and replace it with hardwood floors. But where do we draw the line to have it start and stop? Originally, we were thinking of just doing the master bedroom since that would be the extent of our remodel. But seeing that we wanted the same floor in the hallway and two bedrooms we decided to include them into the project as well. Plus that makes the hardwood “stopping” line a much smoother transition where the entry peal-and-stick (which will be tile in the future) meets the hallway. We’re also going to be sound-proofing all three bedrooms and installing new trim and interior doors.

We’re looking to do everything ourselves besides major electrical and piping. Our timeline is pretty flexible since we can use the baby blue bathroom in the basement (yes we had every 70’s color in our house!). We’re looking to do demo, windows, the main bathroom, and the floors in the first year. Then we’ll finish up the master bath and closet in the second year.


8 Responses to “Our Biggest Renovation Yet!”

  1. 1 kitliz @ diydiva January 13, 2011 at 6:37 pm

    Ohhh this is going to be fun. I was going to ask if you had a bathroom in the basement.

    I think you’re really going to love it when your done. I noticed you mentioned home buyers… are you thinking of selling some day, or just keeping it in mind?

  2. 2 Mel January 13, 2011 at 7:14 pm

    Outstanding changes! I agree completly about a fireplace, although we have a wood stove. Our electric bill for a month while we’re burning is $88 and we’re total electric. Could your house BE more 70ish? (and I’m from the 70’s) I always said, keep your appliances, and fixtures white, they never go out of style. I’m looking forward to seeing your progress.


  3. 3 Robin January 13, 2011 at 7:17 pm

    Yup the basement bath will be used more than ever this year. Until recently the toilet wasn’t working and the shower is yet to be fixed so we need to get on that.

    No not planning on selling unless something terrible happens and we are forced to. We always keep it in the back of our heads though. I mean if we were selling it do you think we’d building a walk-in gun safe?! LOL…”and around this corner is the um high security wine cellar for all your expensive bottles.”

    Yeah Mel it’s very 70’s. Luckily, the bathrooms and the basement carpet are the only things that are crazy colors. The flooring and kitchen appliances have all be replaced.

  4. 4 jen January 13, 2011 at 7:18 pm

    Whoa! What a huge (but awesome) project! I’m so impressed that you guys are going to tackle it all on your own!

  5. 5 Mike January 14, 2011 at 9:17 pm

    The new floor plan looks great! And I’m with you on the fireplace rant. You forgot to mention the biggest drawback to a wood burning fireplace is that it creates negative pressure and sucks cold winter air in through every crack and shoots your warm air out the chimney! But they’re pretty 🙂

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This is the story of two twenty something newlyweds who are learning to adjust to life in their first house, a 1973 fixer-upper.
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