Our House

Be Sure To Remember The Middle

If you’re DIYing your way through a years-long remodel like I am, it’s easy to forget the journey and only focus on the end products. The problem with that is that it becomes easy to forget all the work you’ve done, and to get down on yourself for not getting enough done. That’s easy for me to do since I’ve been working on our house for six years so far, and there’s still so much that I haven’t done.

I was starting to feel a bit like that these past few days, and then last night I came across a picture that stopped me in my tracks. Y’all, I couldn’t remember my house actually looking like that until I saw the picture. And then all of the work I had done came flooding back to me. I have done so much work on this house, at times with help, and at other times by myself, and I am so proud of what I’ve accomplished so far.

For example, I remembered the “before” pictures of my kitchen. Those images are burned into my brain.

Are these asbestos vinyl tiles?

But these pictures that lie somewhere between the “before” and the “after” had been lost in my memory. I had forgotten that my kitchen ever looked like this…

Can you even tell what or where that is? On the other side of that wall to the left is what is now the breakfast room. And on the other side of that wall to the right is the living room. Here’s what it looked like after that wall was replaced with a cased opening.

kitchen remodel progress as of 5-23-14 - 2

This is an older picture (as you can tell from the gray living room fireplace and the lack of a bed in the breakfast room 😀 ) but this is the same view after the kitchen remodel, and after I created a cased opening between the kitchen and living room.

(If you’re new here and wondering about the bed comment, Matt and I are currently using the breakfast room as a bedroom until the remodel on the bedrooms and hallway is to a point where we can move into one of those bedrooms. And then we’ll stay in the guest bedroom until we do our big addition and finally have our new master bedroom.)

And the other side started like this, which of course, I do remember…

But then at some point after we moved in, it looked like this. I’m pretty sure I’ve blocked these memories from my mind. 😀

kitchen before remodel - 2013

And pretty much all by myself (I did have some help with drywall, electrical, and pouring the concrete countertops, but I think that’s it), I turned that into this…

teal kitchen - refrigerator and range wall from back of kitchen

It’s just so easy to forget all of these middle parts. It’s easy to look at my kitchen and think to myself, “All I did was install and paint some cabinets, and install some wall tile. Why did it take so long?” But the pictures of the process show that I did a heck of a lot more than that. First, I had to remove all of the existing kitchen, including taking down and moving out all of the existing cabinets. Then the old drywall came down, and the old flooring was ripped up. That made some subfloor repairs necessary. Then all new wiring and drywall went in. I installed new flooring. And only then could I install the cabinets. And because I’m me, I wasn’t satisfied with the plain cabinets, so I prettied them up with custom feet and trim. And on, and on, and on.

Remembering the middle makes me wonder how I got the whole remodel done in only seven months working mostly by myself! 😀 Remembering the middle gives a whole different perspective.

And what about our living room? It was just a box filled with outdated carpet, dreary walls, and old windows. And let’s not forget that window unit A/C! Of course, I remember these “before” pictures…

Living room before remodel

But that was just the beginning. I had completely forgotten about this part of the journey until just recently…

That was during a visit from my father-in-law, when we took down the old drywall, took down all of the shiplap, insulated the walls, put the shiplap back up, and then drywalled the room. It was during this phase that I decided to put a cased opening in the wall between the kitchen and the living room.

new cased opening in load bearing wall from dining room to kitchen

And while the living room still not completely finished, I’d say that it has come quite a long way!

living room with pink draperies

And then there’s the hallway bathroom. Of course I remember when it looked like this. And I also remember my ridiculous plan to basically work with what was in there with a “lipstick on a pig” approach to making the room look better.

But every time I come across pictures of the process, I’m shocked. I can remember it when I see pictures, but it’s hard to imagine that I just jumped right in with both feet and did this…

hallway bathroom remodel - original tile floor and subfloor being removed

I mean, I didn’t even have a plan when I started. I was simply driven by a “it’s time for this stuff to go” mindset, and I jumped right in. I had only ever done one previous down-to-the-studs remodel, and that was the kitchen in this house. But somehow I made it through this one also.

colorful small bathroom makeover - 10

Obviously, this barely scratches the surface. One day, I’d like to put together some books or videos showing the entire process of each room from beginning to end. I have blog posts that I can look through, of course. And I have an archive page for each room in the top menu of the blog (for example, you can see the kitchen archives here), but I think it would be nice to have all of the pictures for each room in one place rather than spread out among many blog posts. I’ll have to give that some thought.

Anyway, I’m telling you, if you’re DIYing your way through a years-long remodel and you’re not taking pictures along the way (in addition to plenty of before pictures), then you’re doing yourself a huge disservice!! Don’t leave the picture-taking just to bloggers. Document your beginning as well as your journey to the final product. You’ll feel so good about your work when you take a look back! It’s so easy to forget the details of all of those in-between stages, but it’s during those in-between stages where you can clearly see all of those thousands of steps and individual projects it took to get from the “before” to the “after.”

And speaking of the process, I’ve begun working on the guest bedroom closets and window seat wall! If you want to follow the behind-the-scenes journey, I’ll be documenting the progress in my Instagram stories, so be sure you’re following me on Instagram if you want to follow along!

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  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    January 17, 2020 at 10:35 am

    You blow me away.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    January 17, 2020 at 10:40 am

    This is why those who have followed you for a while don’t freak out when you change direction or redo something or don’t finish a ginormous list. This is your life. You are living in this home while you turn it into a masterpiece. It is already SO beautiful…a LOT OF IT…..I am sure it is frustrating not jumping to the end…but then where would we all be!? What would we have to look forward to!? I am excited about the bedrooms and sunroom and bathrooms coming….REALLY excited…I felt like I wanted forever for that pantry…but look how long you’ve been finished with that beautiful pantry! Just keep doing you….and yes, look back and see how far you have come!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    January 17, 2020 at 11:05 am

    You are my favorite blogger and I’m always amazed at what you have done so far. True. There is more to do but what you’ve done is amazing, inspiring and should motivate you to continue on in your journey. Can’t wait to see what 2020 brings…

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    January 17, 2020 at 11:28 am

    Oh, Kristi! I’ve been following you a long time and I remember some of these pictures. But you almost lost me along the way at the striped floor saga before you really found your ‘Kristi mojo’ LOL You have had quite a journey! For me, I wish we had pictures of the time we ripped down the outer wall to the bathroom and exposed the toilet to the street for a couple of days, but am very grateful that now my biggest dilemma is paint color and style of curtains! Yes, to remembering the middle! Carry on!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    January 17, 2020 at 11:34 am

    I have followed you for years, and am constantly awed at your projects and achievements. I love all of your end projects and the styles and colors you have chosen. You know you will always be working, for when you have it all completed, styles/colors will change. But, you will be through with all the heavy construction, and can just enjoy the restyling as you go. Thanks for sharing with us.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    January 17, 2020 at 11:35 am

    Yesterday I was looking at your picture of the recently painted bookcases and the pretty pictures above the piano and I thought that the piano would look really good painted yellow. Then later I read the archives of the music room and discovered that you had wanted to paint it yellow at one time. Before I started following your blog. Funny.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Betsy Nickel
    January 17, 2020 at 12:05 pm

    You are so right! It is so important to celebrate your accomplishments and to remember them, especially when enthusiasm wanes and there is still stuff to do. Some years ago I started a scrapbook of house adventures and for each year I tried to take pictures and write down what we had done, and then what we planned for the coming year. Nothing is on the scale that you are accomplishing, certainly not at your speed. But it is the most fun on New Years eve to go over the book and remember what we did. And to look at what we did 10 years ago….

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    January 17, 2020 at 12:13 pm

    Many, many thanks for sharing your journey. Your blog is one of the highlights of my week.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Carla from Kansas
    January 17, 2020 at 12:18 pm

    And Kristi don’t forget the redos! Of rooms and furniture….that takes a lot of time and effort. I mean your floors alone. You have done a TON of stuff in the amount of time. You should be proud. You learned how to wire your house for goodness sake!

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      Marianne in Mo.
      January 17, 2020 at 5:45 pm

      Yes! So many redos! I recall when you had just finished tiling the wall in the kitchen and then decided you wanted a doorway there! Oh my. I had just recently started following you then, and almost screamed out loud NO! But you were right, and every time you change your mind you end up being right. And you are so right about taking lots of pictures, before, during and afters! We’ve always done this, even before blogs existed, since building our first home. And have sometimes had to resort back to them to find problems. Our foundation had developed a crack when the house was about seven years old. It wasn’t large, just a crack, we thought. But we had finished the basement off and couldn’t figure out if it was through the wall. We consulted the pictures to figure out the easiest way to access the spot, instead of having to tear out an entire wall of drywall. It was all the way through, and after consulting an engineer, we had a buttress installed on the outside and repairs were made inside. We lived there 27 years, and used old photos for so many things! When we moved, we passed some on to the new owners, who were amazed at the pre-construction shots as well as the ongoing building of the house.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    January 17, 2020 at 12:50 pm

    I started following you when you remodeled your kitchen. I always sat in amazement of your talent. You go way beyond any other DIY’er. Your talent Is something like no other. Matt must be so proud of you. (oh how most of us could only dream of a pantry like yours). My dream is also for a full sized laundry room with all the bonuses. Keep doing what your doing. Your vision is happening as we cheer you on.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    January 17, 2020 at 12:55 pm

    My husband and I are 4 years into a house remodel, and you pretty much took all the words out of my mouth. Sometimes (ok, often), I moan and complain about how much there’s still left to do… we are sleeping in an unfinished basement right now, while we try to finish it around us… and it’s really easy to forget how much we’ve already done — moved a staircase, blocked off an outside door, done a down to the studs kitchen remodel, pulled down walls, hung a beam, turned out hallway into a pantry and linen closet, dug up our foundation to fix the weeping tile, built a treehouse for the kids, and a vegetable garden, and so much more. Every time I look at photos of the in-between stages, I’m stunned by all we’ve done too.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    January 17, 2020 at 12:59 pm

    Kristi- You are amazing. You have inspired me to tackle stuff I would have never tackled. You should be very proud of your accomplishments.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    January 17, 2020 at 1:03 pm

    WOW, just WOW!! You have made tremendous progress over the years. I can’t wait to see the finished house one day.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Gilmer Gal
    January 17, 2020 at 1:21 pm

    I have to say – most people would take a look at that mess and run screaming from the county! But you have vision, which is hard for most people. I see the after photos and remember how many times you decided to change things around. I held my breath. NOW what??? Then saw an even more beautiful take on every space you decided wasn’t ‘you.’ There are more photos you don’t show, such as the exterior of the house. What a change! Then there’s the pantry that everyone wants. Drool… And I don’t know of one person who watches this blog that doesn’t want your studio and little restroom. Now we are anxiously awaiting the bedrooms. Congratulations on all the work that you have done so far.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    January 17, 2020 at 1:36 pm

    This post really hits home right now. Just got my basement refinished and we hired out for framing, drywall and electrical. I made sure to take in between pictures not just of the project but the mess, even when it seemed like not much was happening. Before pictures don’t tell the whole story and any time I wonder why a project took forever I remind myself.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    January 17, 2020 at 2:02 pm

    I have followed you from the condo to the house. You have inspired me make my house so much more of a home. Thank you. Wondering about your father inlaw. He used to visit regularly. Is he well?

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Kathy from Tennessee
    January 17, 2020 at 2:03 pm

    Kristy, I’ve been reading your blog for a long time and you are my favorite. I check yours first daily. You inspired me and my husband, both 54 years old and buying our first house together in July of this year. A 1978 fixer-upper. We have worked non-stop since closing on it in July. We don’t take enough before pics because it is bad…LOL! But this weekend, I’m going to take detail pics of where we are right now. We still have the kitchen and baths to do, but we have come so far on the living room and bedrooms. Inspired by you, we replaced all the window and door trim I’ll have to send you some pics. My husband is so talented in wood working, but we both work full-time jobs and it’s hard to get things done just on weekends. But we are soooo enjoying the journey. Thanks for all your inspiration, detailed blog posts, DIYs and just plain ole “you can do it” encouragement. You are a delight!!!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    January 17, 2020 at 2:29 pm

    You. Are. Amazing!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    January 17, 2020 at 6:01 pm

    It is a testament to your out-of-this-world design talent that you could have bought your house in the first place. Many people would have run away from it. You are turning it into something amazing. And, by the way, the reveal of the finished pantry brought tears to my eyes. How beautiful it is!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Brenda Pawloski
    January 17, 2020 at 8:28 pm

    That was really fun! I’ve been around since the condo so lots of memories there. You forgot to mention all the pretty things you’ve made but later undone because, pretty as they were, they didn’t quite work. That is so courageous and you have always been right. Off the top of my head I remember the striped kitchen floor (you can see it in one photo up there) and the pony walls.

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      January 18, 2020 at 7:41 am

      yes, I keep thinking of the pony walls all the time, as they were one of my favourite features – along with the pretty wall mural with birds and flowers! But you are right, Brenda, though those items were stunning in themselves, they didn’t work for Kristi for some reasons, so she courageously moved on and now those spaces are what she likes them to be. Fabulous! (I’m following Kristi from the condo days, too, and am still amazed on a regular basis by her :))

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    January 17, 2020 at 9:33 pm

    Absolutely incredible. We have been updating our house for the past 2 years and today I received my new upholstered bed and was savoring my new master bedroom and bath and all of the hard work and sacrifices (blow up mattress) we made to get to the end. Kudos to you. I am not sure where you get all of your energy and it seems like your days include more than 24 hours. You are an inspiration to so many!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Holly C
    January 20, 2020 at 3:58 pm

    I remember every single one of these projects from the very beginning. One I still think about is the kitchen’s dark green/gold phase when you fell in love with Cameron Diaz’s kitchen lol.

    The whole process has been an inspirational journey. I absolutely love addicted2decorating.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    February 3, 2020 at 10:30 am

    You are so talented! I love reading your blog to see what you do next. I think when you finish this house, you will be able to compile your blog posts into a book. Love your vision!