I've mentioned in previous blog posts that renovating this house is "my other life's work." Of all the improvements I’ve made, this project has maybe had the most visual impact, because of the amount of square footage that was improved. This is a 1.5 story bungalow, and the entire second floor was renovated. I believe the space was originally an unfinished attic. A previous owner finished it into a living space, and did a lousy job with all of the finishes. I do like that it is a big open space. I’ve been using it as a master bedroom. I lived with the poor finishes long enough! I hired a pro to tear it all out, and redo it.
This is what the drywall used to look like. Weird trim pieces on the corners, and what appears to be caulk applied with the fingers.
There were several large cracks like this. This is not due to water damage. When the drywall was removed, there was no evidence of water damage anywhere. These cracks were due to bad installation.
Here’s what the drywall looks like now. Perfection!
The first floor of my house has some really nice carpentry around the windows and doors. The second floor had these basic frames, and more lumpy caulk.
All of the door and window frames were built to match the nice carpentry on the first floor. Furthermore, the framing next to the windows had no insulation, because the original windows needed space for the pulleys and weights that operated the windows. Those empty spaces were stuffed with insulation. The upstairs used to be colder than the downstairs. Now, the opposite is true.
When I bought the house, believe it or not, there was a big four-tube fluorescent light fixture on the ceiling. The kind you’d find in a garage or workshop. When I moved in, I replaced it with this inexpensive fan. It was much more appropriate for a bedroom, though it was the room’s only light source, and not very bright compared to the fluorescent fixture. It was also a bit frumpy. That’s what you get for $100 from a big box store.
Now that is a sexy fan! And it is not the only light source anymore. I added an array of discreet wafer lights. Now the light is well-distributed across the entire room, and the brightness level is just right.
This was the biggest eyesore. This janky railing around the stairs was big, and right in the middle of the room.
The new one is spectacular! A just like the window and door frames, it now matches the carpentry style in the rest of the house, befitting of a 1930s bungalow.
The room did have some closets, but they were unusable. The slope of the ceilings meant you could not stand upright in these closets. The finishes inside these closets were even worse than the rest of the room. The drywall was even sloppier, and wood-grained contact paper was used as flooring. I wish I was joking.
The new closets are fully and easily accessible. They are finished on the inside as nicely as the rest of the bedroom.
It would be a dream come true to impress Marie Kondo.
The empty floor space in this photo is where I used to store my clothes, on garment racks and freestanding shelves. It is so satisfying to have it all tucked away into proper closets. I have no intention to add more furniture to this space. I am enjoying the calm of emptiness. At most, I might put down a yoga mat and develop a daily yoga habit. The curtains are my DIY contribution to the project.
I mentioned earlier that the PMA Craft Show took place in the middle of the project. It’s one of those shows that can still make me nervous, on the same level as the Smithsonian Craft Show. The days leading up to the show were tough. I got food poisoning, and then my boiler blew its pressure release valve. I was stressing hard. The construction project was actually going very smoothly, but the noise and disruption meant I was not my usual self. I felt like the universe was telling me not to go to Philly. But one cannot drop out of the PMA Craft Show. It might be a once in a lifetime opportunity. I was lucky to get a plumber to come out and repair the boiler. Then I had to leave a freshly repaired boiler unattended for five days. Talk about stress! The show turned out to be amazing. I wish I could have enjoyed it more. Hopefully I will look back on it and remember the good parts, rather than my high blood pressure. This kind of stress makes you question whether homeownership is worth it. The good news is that I came home to a warm house and a boiler that was humming away quietly. A few days after that, the contractor handed me a completed project, and I fell in love with my house all over again. Homeownership is totally worth it. The long-term benefits far outweigh the occasional struggles. Last night, I slept in my new bedroom for the first time, like a log. I had been dreaming of improving this space for so long. It is surreal and delicious to wake up to this reality. Though I will say, I hope the period of time between now and the end of the year is as boring as possible.
MaxC Impressions was the main contractor for this project. As you can see, their work is incredible. Like I said, the project ran very smoothly, and the whole crew was very professional and easy to work with. I am thrilled with the final results. Big thanks also to EV Electric and TW Perry. And I need to thank Tom from WInegar Plumbing for fixing the boiler!