Our first renovation began the day we closed escrow on our first home. We remodeled the entire house for three months before moving in. Mike did a lot of the demo himself since I had to watch our baby.


Mike removed everything in the kitchen, including multiple layers of laminate flooring:

The construction debris filling up the garage:

The new kitchen electrical with GFCI outlets and under cabinet lighting:

The new electrical for the kitchen island:

The new maple cabinets installed:

Our sink is integrated into the Corian countertop so there are no seams (we love it!):


Stuff we did:

  • Removed all the old cabinets
  • Removed the laminate flooring
  • Stuff we hired professionals to do:

  • Installed new hardwood floors in the kitchen to match the existing ones in the living room
  • Removed the bulk head so we could install new 42″ cabinets
  • Added new cabinets and a new island
  • Added new countertops
  • Replaced lighting with recessed lights
  • Replaced the ceiling fan with a light fixture
  • Replaced all the appliances
  • Moved refrigerator location and added water line for ice maker
  • Moved dishwasher location
  • Upgraded all the electrical to GFCI
  • Added a built-in microwave above the cooktop and added a dedicated circuit
  • Replaced the door leading to the laundry room with a fire-rated one
  • Removed all the spindles and part of the pony walls between the kitchen and living room
  • The kitchen Before & After – these pictures are over 10 years old and taken right after we moved in so everything is still a mess:


    Stuff we did:

  • Removed the wall to wall carpet throughout
  • Removed the popcorn ceilings throughout
  • Primed and painted the whole house (with the help from friends)
  • Painted all the new interior doors
  • Added the new hardware on all the interior doors
  • Removed the glass, moulding, and paneling around the fireplace
  • Stuff we hired professionals to do:

  • Refinished all the hardwood floors
  • Replaced the hardwood floors in one bedroom (they were pet stained)
  • Replaced the A/C and heating system and added additional vents and air return
  • Replaced all the ductwork
  • Replaced all the interior doors with solid core colonial style ones
  • Replaced all the door casing and base moulding
  • Textured all the walls and ceilings
  • Various drywall fixes
  • Replaced the roof (previous owners paid for it)
  • Replaced all the electrical switches and added dimmers for all lights
  • Replaced the sconce lights with ceiling fans in all bedrooms and living room
  • Replaced the sconces in the hallway with ceiling lights
  • Added additional outlets and added switches for ceiling fan controls
  • Added lighting in the garage and the laundry room
  • Added attic insulation
  • The floors Before & After:

    Connected existing living room floors to the new kitchen floor:

    In one room we found a lot of pet urine stains (we think) and a previous owner had tried to hide them under a dark stain. We ended up replacing the floors completely in that room:

    After removing the floors:

    The only issue was when lacing the new floor with the old floor in the hallway, they had to add what looked like a door threshold. We decided to do the same threshold look for all the rooms so they all matched:

    We painted using mostly dark colors but later regretted it and have slowly been replacing them with lighter, more neutral colors:

    Our good baby let me work a couple of hours at a time:

    Friends also helped us paint:

    Testing green paint for our master bedroom:

    We painted the hallway a yellow color (June Day) that turned out mustard looking. We quickly repainted using the color Interactive Cream:

    Our A/C and heating units were about 40 years old so we decided to replace them with more efficient ones, including new ductwork since the previous owners smoked:

    Getting the new roof installed:

    Mike took down all the popcorn ceilings throughout the house. It was a tedious process. He had to work on one room at a time. He first covered the walls and floors with drop cloths and then sprayed the ceiling using a sprayer and let it soak in for a while. While wearing safety gear (coveralls, glasses, and heavy duty mask) he then scraped the ceiling:

    Mike also took down mirrors, moulding, and paneling around the fireplace:

    We had to fix random holes the electrician made:

    Newly textured walls:

    We had an electrician install ceiling fans in every room but then realized they were too low for Mike:

    So Mike had to uninstall them and install new ones:

    Our new light and fan switches for all the rooms. I love how it glows at night. All the lights have dimmer controls and the fans have speed controls:

    The living room Before & After:

    The laundry room only had a sconce for lighting so we added a ceiling light:

    The garage had no lights so we added a couple shop lights:

    Our son’s room Before & After:

    After we moved in, we did a few more changes right away. We replaced the water heater (it died within a month of moving in) and installed an attic fan. We also added crown moulding throughout the house ourselves.

    The bathroom

    Lastly, we finished our second bathroom remodel. It started as a cosmetic fix but one thing led to another. We couldn’t live with a pink toilet and pink sink. We also hated the laminate flooring. We did most of the work ourselves to keep costs down. It was a good learning experience albeit rushed. I tried to design a Tuscun look (it was 2005, after all). We added a new toilet and new flooring:

    We added a cabinet above the toilet too:

    The vanity had no storage so that had to go:

    We decided to install a new bathtub too since I’m pretty sure the tub used to be pink and they painted over it. It was gross looking inside. So that led to us adding new tile as well. We hired a plumber to upgrade the shower plumbing and install the bathtub. We didn’t want to tackle removing the glass block wall so that will come down in a future remodel:

    Mike and I tiled together at night while Peter slept. One of the nights, Mike accidentally sliced his knee open on a broken tile. He ended up getting stitches:

    Unfortunately, we made one major mistake. We used greenboard instead of cement board for the shower walls. At the time, all the home shows I was watching were using greenboard for shower walls. Even our drywall guy didn’t say anything when he installed it:

    The shower walls only had regular drywall before so at least we upgraded them slightly. We didn’t get a permit for the bathroom since we had so much other stuff going on. Of course, if we had we would’ve been told to use cement board instead. So now we’ll have to do another remodel at some point.




    DECEMBER 2005


    5 MONTHS




    Kitchen cabinets


    Kitchen Corian countertops


    New appliances: double wall ovens, microwave, cooktop & disposal


    Kitchen cabinets installed


    Kitchen appliances installed & plumbing hookup


    Kitchen cabinet handles x 29


    Kitchen faucet


    Old appliance removal fee


    *Electrician costs under Electrical




    Refinished existing floors


    Installed new kitchen floor


    Installed new bedroom floor


    Installed headers at 3 bedroom doors





    Vanity 48″


    Plumber installed new bathtub


    Bathtub (includes $80 delivery)


    Granite countertop and sidesplash for vanity




    Drywall installed around bathtub


    Vanity mirror cabinet 48″


    Plumber updated shower/bathtub plumbing


    Wall cabinet


    Tile almond 6″ x 6″ field x 250


    Plumber updated vanity plumbing


    Shower fixtures


    Bath exhaust fans x 2


    Misc tile (trowel, float, sponge, mortar, thinset, grout, sealer, spacers, soap dish)




    Plumber removed old cast iron tub


    Bathroom light fixture


    Tile floor 12″ x 12″ x 40


    Tile almond 6″ x 6″ bullnose x 50


    Misc toilet (kit, flange, seat, connector)


    Bathroom accessories (towel holders, toiler paper holder)


    Tile almond 2″ x 6″ bullnose x 50


    Misc (caulk, gloves, shims, sink plumbing)


    Cement board for floor & greenboard for walls


    Tile floor 6″ x 6″ x 30


    *Electrician costs under Electrical




    Electrician for Kitchen (added GFCI outlets, added recessed lights, added under cabinet lights, added switches/dimmer, added outlets to island, added dedicated circuits for appliances, upgraded electrical for kitchen table light)


    Electrician for Master Bathroom (added exhaust fan, added new switches/controls, added new outlet)


    Electrician for Second Bathroom (added exhaust fan, added new switches/controls)


    Electrical for Master Bedroom (added ceiling fan/light, added closet light, added new switches/controls)


    Electrician for Living Room (added ceiling fan/light, added new switches/controls, moved switches)


    Electrician for Hallway (added lights, added new switches/dimmer)


    Electrician for Office Room (added ceiling fan/light, added new switches/controls, moved switches)


    Electrician for Son’s Room (added ceiling fan/light, added new switches/controls)


    Electrician for Guest Room (added ceiling fan/light, added new switches/controls)


    Electrical for Garage & Laundry Room (added lights, added new switches)


    Electrician for Main Electrical Panel (upgraded to 150 amp)


    Ceiling fan/light (bedrooms and living room) x 5


    Electrical permits


    Flush lights (entry way, hallway, bedroom) x 4


    Garage shop lights x 4


    Wallplates (switches & outlets) x 40


    Kitchen table light fixture


    Laundry room light fixture


    Misc electrical (outlets, wire stripping tool, extension cord)





    New furnace


    New air conditioner


    New ductwork


    New water heater


    Attic blown-in insulation


    Attic fan


    Chimney cleaning


    A/C and furnace permit


    Vent register cover x 7


    Energy rebates (A/C and furnace)


    Insulation rebate





    Drywall fixes, installed doors, installed casing, installed base and shoe moulding


    Knockdown textured the entire house


    Crown moulding


    Interior doors (includes $80 delivery) x 8


    Casing, base, and shoe moulding


    Door handles x 10


    Miter saw





    Junk removal


    Paint 30 gallons (colors) & 5 gallons (swiss coffee/trim color)


    Misc paint (brushes, rollers, trays, drop cloths, tape, extension poles)


    Paint 12 gallons (primer) & 4 gallons (ceiling paint)


    Misc tools (flat bar, wrecking bar, hammer, level, tape measurer, drill set, wrench, knife)


    Safety (respirator masks, glasses, coveralls, gloves, knee pads)


    Smoke alarms x 6 and carbon monoxide detector x 2


    Popcorn ceiling removal stuff (drop cloths, spray, sprayer)


    Dremel tool and attachments


    Wet/dry vacuum


    Belt sander and two belts


    Misc (screws, nails)