Here’s How Long My Past Remodels Have Taken…
I wish I could remember whose reel it was that I saw on Instagram the other day where she showed how long each room in her house took to remodel, because I’ve been thinking about that ever since. I was so fascinated to see how one room took just a couple of months, while another room took almost a year, while another room (her master bathroom remodel) was in its third year, and it still wasn’t finished.
When you purchase a fixer upper, that’s just how it goes. Obviously, some rooms are a lot less involved (living rooms, bedrooms, etc.), while others are a whole lot more involved and way more expensive (bathrooms and kitchens).
So that made me curious. How long did it take me to do each room in our house, from start to finish? Here’s what I found…
Kitchen Remodel — 7 months
Our kitchen was almost a complete DIY remodel. When we moved into our house in October 2013, the kitchen looked like this…
It’s so strange looking back at that. The doorway on the left leads to what is now the breakfast room (temporarily being used as a sitting room/TV room). The wall with the cabinets is where there is now a cased opening going into the living room. And just on the other side of the wall on the right is the music room.
It was about March 2014 when I started tearing things up — removing cabinets, removing the old flooring, rearranging things to see how I wanted the kitchen remodel arranged, etc. So in March 2014, the kitchen had gone from bad to worse, and looked like this…
So March 2014 is what I consider the beginning of this kitchen remodel. It ended up being a complete down-to-the-studs tear out.
The wall in the picture below is the wall opposite the one shown in the two pictures above. This is the wall where the “wall of cabinets” is today, with the music room on the left, and the breakfast room and pantry on the right.
With the exception of hiring a pro to move the plumbing and gas lines, this was a DIY project from beginning to end. (I wasn’t the only DIYer involved. I did have some family help with some of the big projects, like pouring the concrete countertops.)
I worked pretty steadily on this remodel, and put in some very long days on a regular basis. (That was back when 12-hour work days were not unusual for me. Those days are long gone.)
And it was in October 2014 that the room was finally finished, and I had my green and gold kitchen.
The kitchen looks quite a bit different today because I repainted it in 2017, and cut into the wall to add a cased opening into the living room.
But those were just minor changes along the way. The actual kitchen remodel took seven months.
Hallway Bathroom — 6 months
When we moved into our house, this is what the hallway bathroom looked like…
We lived with that bathroom for a little over a year, and then in January 2015, I started tearing things out.
This was also a down-to-the-studs tear out, and this was also the first room I ever tore down to the floor joists, which means that the dirt below our house was completely visible. Talk about feeling very nervous! I just knew I had bitten off more than I could chew, but I was determined to do it myself, and tried to take it one small step at a time so that I wouldn’t get overwhelmed.
Other than hiring a plumber to rearrange and update the plumbing, the rest of this room was a DIY project. (I don’t do plumbing or anything else that requires me to crawl under the house. That’s where I absolutely draw the line. The idea of snakes, black widows, brown recluse spiders, in addition to my claustrophobia, which has only gotten worse as I’ve gotten older, makes going under the house a NO. It’s just…NO. Never. I’ll never go under under our house.)
That was another room that I worked on very steadily, putting in some very long days, until it was finished in July 2015.
The hallway bathroom got a little makeover in 2019 to add some warm colors to it. As I began to discover my love for warm colors in addition to my beloved teals and greens, I wanted to add those to this room.
But that makeover just included a few cosmetic changes. The actual remodel of this room in 2015 took six months.
Living Room — 6 Years
Determining how long the living room remodel took is a little bit more challenging to figure. I started putting some decorative touches in the living room as soon as I could right after we moved into the house, but I did so in the beginning knowing that those were “lipstick on a pig” types of projects.
The room started out looking like this…
I put quite a bit of work into it to get the room looking like this…
And yet, I knew that all of that was just temporary. The polystyrene ceiling tiles were still there, the ceiling light wasn’t centered, the drywall was old and cracked, the windows didn’t match and needed to be replaced.
(That picture still baffles me. Who the heck was I decorating for? 😀 That room doesn’t look anything like “me.”)
So while I did all of that to make the room look presentable, I really count the start of the remodel for this room to be when we (my father-in-law and I) started tearing out the old drywall in April 2015…
Getting rid of the polystyrene ceiling tiles and the old drywall, insulating the walls, and installing the new drywall really felt like the official start of this remodel. That’s when I was still working on the bathroom remodel, but I wanted to take advantage of his visit and have him help me with this big project that I was too afraid to do by myself.
And then it was October of 2015 when we finally got new windows to replace the old, mismatched, drafty windows.
But as far as actually getting the room to the point where I’d call it finished? Well, that took until May 2021.
This room gave me so many headaches, and I had such a hard time getting my footing in this room. I tried so many ideas that just fell flat, including one wayward attempt at turning the room into a dining room.
But finally, I found my way, and I had a living room that was actually finished in a way that I loved after 7.5 years of living in this house. That means that from the beginning of this room’s remodel until I had the room finished in a way that I really loved took six years. Wow!
The music room and entryway had similar timelines, although the entryway came together a full two-and-a-half years before the music room and the living room. But the drywall in those areas was torn out and new drywall installed at the same time, and then it took me a while to figure out what I was doing in both of those areas.
Entryway — 3.5 years
We don’t actually have an entryway. We just have a front door that leads into a big room, but I’ve done my best to try to separate that big room into a living room and an entryway by the placement of the furniture. And because I think of these as two separate areas, I’ve decorated them as such (but also in a way that they coordinate with each other).
This room looked like this when we bought the house, with the “entryway” being the area with the door and the wall to the right of the door.
Just like the living room, I did some “lipstick on a pig” makeover attempts in the beginning that I knew were going to be temporary. So I consider the beginning of this remodel to be April 2015 (the same as the living room and music room), which is when the old drywall came down and the new went up.
And just like the living room, this area took me several attempts to find just what I liked. When I finished this area in October 2018, this is what it looked like…
It has gone through some minor changes between then and now. The credenza got a bit of a makeover. Some of the bird prints were removed and replaced with mirrors. I added some throw pillows.
But that 2018 date is when I consider this are to have finally been finished, which means that this area took 3.5 years to finish.
Music Room — 6 years
Our music room was actually intended to be a dining room by the builder of the house. But since Matt uses a wheelchair to get around, having this room filled with a dining table and chairs wouldn’t be practical. I needed this room to be open through the middle so that he can get through this area easily.
I used this room to experiment with a few ideas, like various wall treatments. But just like the living room and entryway, I consider the beginning of this remodel to be April 2015 when the old drywall and polystyrene ceiling tiles came down, and the new drywall went up.
This room was a little different from the living room and entryway. While I really put effort into decorating those areas (and failed several times before succeeding), that didn’t happen quite to that extent in the music room.
I mean, I did throw out lots of ideas, and I even painted the walls black at one point.
But after the new drywall went up, it wasn’t really a matter of me trying out a hundred ideas and failing repeatedly (which was definitely the story of the living room and the entryway). It was more that this became the forgotten room. I was busy with other things, so this room was neglected for long stretches of time.
But I finally did get it finished in May 2021, just a week or two after I finished the living room, which puts this room at the six-year mark as well.
Breakfast Room — 10 months
The breakfast room and pantry remodels were started around July 2016. That’s when I got the room (back then, it was just one long room) cleared out and came up with a plan to get the floor in that room leveled with the kitchen floor. The room looked like this at that point.
So by that time, I had already removed the green carpet, some of the thin plywood that covered all of the walls, and some of the plywood that covered the ceiling.
That floor was covered in asbestos tiles, so rather than pull them up, I decided to have them encapsulated with a coat of concrete (this one room does not have a pier and beam foundation), which would also bring the floor up to the point it needed to be so that it would be level with the kitchen floor once the hardwood floor was installed.
That concrete was poured in August 2016, and this remodel was officially underway. The breakfast room was finished in May 2017, which means that this room was in progress for 10 months. And it was during that time that I also repainted the kitchen cabinets.
That room looks quite a bit different now since we’re using it as a temporary sitting room (after Matt’s occupational therapist told him he needed to spend more time out of the bed, and I had to quickly find a place to put a recliner for him), but we’ll get our breakfast room back when we get the addition built. For now, this room has changed in looks and in function.
Walk-In Pantry — 2.5 years
As I stated above, the walk-in pantry and breakfast room used to be one long room. This is what the back portion of that room looked like when I was ready to get started on the remodel.
But while these two areas were started at the same time, I didn’t get the pantry finished until January 2019. Since this room was tucked behind closed doors, it was pretty easy to put it out of my mind and focus on other things.
So while the breakfast room remodel took me 10 months to finish, the pantry ended up taking me 2.5 years to finish.
Guest Bedroom — 14 months
When we bought our house, the guest bedroom looked like this…
And soon after we bought the house, I removed the carpet and refinished the floor. Then when we had the new siding put on the house, we had them close up that doorway on the left.
But none of that was really an effort to remodel this room. I consider the start of the guest bedroom remodel to be November 2019.
That’s when our contractor tore out and moved the wall in the hallway, tore out the old drywall in this room and installed new, closed up the door to the closet in this room, opened up both closets to the home gym, removed the window on the right side, and had the stonemasons close up the hole on the exterior, etc.
By the time the contractor finished up his part, the room looked like this…
I finally finished the guest bedroom in January 2021, so it took 14 months. But those 14 months did encompass a worldwide pandemic that shut everything down for a while. So I don’t really know how long this room would have taken otherwise.
It’s interesting to look back and see these timelines. For me, it’s interesting to see that the rooms that should have been a breeze (living room, entryway, music room) were the rooms that took me the longest. And the rooms that involved way more work (kitchen and hallway bathroom) were the ones that took the shortest amount of time.
Maybe that’s because I did those first, and I was way more excited and more motivated. I don’t really know the reasons.
But the bottom line is that we all have to go at our own pace. Another DIYer’s pace really isn’t relevant to our own lives when we factor in everything else that we all have to handle in our personal lives. A DIY journey is just that — it’s a journey — and we all have our own very unique experiences.
And I can also tell you that looking back at these timelines (six years for a living room!?) makes me feel a whole lot less insecure about the year-and-a-half that our huge master bathroom has taken me so far. That bathroom took WAY more work, and has taken far less time, than the living room or music room. So I’m feeling pretty okay about my master bathroom timeline right now. 🙂
Addicted 2 Decorating is where I share my DIY and decorating journey as I remodel and decorate the 1948 fixer upper that my husband, Matt, and I bought in 2013. Matt has M.S. and is unable to do physical work, so I do the majority of the work on the house by myself. You can learn more about me here.
I’ve seen all these pictures before, yet I am still amazed every single time I see a before & after. Your skills are enviable.
Some people are all about a speedy timeline. I’m all about the end result. You’ve done a fantastic job.
Your home is so “HAPPY”. Great job. It just makes me smile.
But Kristi you re-did a few things. Like the pony walls. You have been steadily working on this house since you bought it. I’m afraid my motivation would have deserted me at some point. I just love those doors in the music room and the tiles and fridge in the pantry.
She also worked on the outside and the workshop all at the same timelines.
Wow!! Incredible work and vision. Your home is beautiful.
Kristi, I am happy to say I have been reading your blog faithfully since your condo days. Thanks so much for adding up how long it has taken to remodel your house. My husband, Darryl, and I have been working on ours since April this year and have 2 bathrooms left. We haven’t done all the structural work you have, but it has still been taxing on us and the kids at times. Your blog has served as inspiration for us so often. Many times when we have wondered how to do something, I remember that you have already done it and I look up your old blog post. We are getting ready to do that again when we paint our bathtub. Thanks for being so transparent! Wishing you and Matt a happy Thanksgiving!
I bought my house in December ’99 and my ex and I took possession at the end of March 2000. It was very much like yours in the sense that it was a real fixer upper. We didn’t move in until the beginning of July because we gutted the existing structure, tore off an addition that was sitting on 12″ x 12″ railway ties – yes, you read that right – had a foundation poured and built a two story addition. We got the main structural work out of the way at the beginning but that still left plenty to do.
When we moved in the kitchen was literally in the process of being installed by my ex’s brother and although drywall was up and primed in all the rooms there was no trim. Doors still needed to be hung and a host of other things were still in progress.
22 years later the master/principal bedroom still doesn’t have baseboard and window trim – even though I’ve painted that room 3 times now and installed a pocket door. LOL. It’s the only room that doesn’t have completed trim. Most of the other rooms have had multiple cosmetic iterations and some of them took a long time to finish to the point where cosmetic changes were all that was necessary. I lived without a tiled floor in the main bathroom for 10 years.
One of the biggest issues I found was the change from being a renter to an owner. When I was a renter cosmetic changes were all that was possible – it took me no time to choose a direction and then get it done. Once I became an owner the world of reno and alteration became possible – and so did the range of changes available. It takes me longer now to decide on directions and implement changes now because there are just so many darned possibilities.
I’ve come to the conclusion that it takes as long as it takes and nothing is EVER done in the time you think it will or should take. In your case you are doing the bulk of the work and one person can only do so much so fast and still have a life.
Your home is an amazing accomplishment and testament to your skill and vision.
Thank you, thank you! I closed on my house the day my husband passed and my brain hasn’t been in decision making mode yet. I’ve struggled with where to store the toothpaste 🙄. Long story short I appreciate how long things can take and am excited for the time when my brain lets me create again. Very appreciative of you, here in Virginia ❤️
Kristi, It’s a labor of love. You have personalized your home true to you, it’s beautiful! You didn’t mention the converted garage area at all. I know you haven’t finished it but that area is fabulous!
Kristi, I want to start redoing my basement. Where do you start first? Floor plan then . . . . Walls? floors? ceilings? Any tips?
Things that have been working for us as we renovate:
Start with a floorplan, including any updated electrical, plumbing, insulation, and openings. Do you need to add more outlets, exterior faucets, move a window or door? Do you need to upgrade an electrical panel, or add a sub panel? Will you do a heated floor section anywhere? All the things behind the drywall are what makes the room functional. Planning is what makes a project go smoothly.
What is most pressing? Do you need a functional bathroom first? Laundry? Decide on priorities for areas, and then priorities within each area.
Then make an extensive, complete list of all materials for each component of the project.
Then use all that information to decide if your budget will accommodate what you want to do. Include costs for removal of demolition materials and any deliveries.
I prefer to get as many supplies as possible for each portion in advance of demolition. I can make changes if things aren’t available, I don’t have to wait in a construction zone for weeks because of material shortages. I like to submit an online order for as much of it as I can for pickup or delivery in one go, to make good use of my time and money. There are usually additional discounts available through online coupons too.
It is unlikely that anyone will ever ask you how long anything took. Anyone who sees what you have accomplished will look at the result in amazement. Enjoy every moment of the process because whatever task you are doing is also a learning lesson for yourself and anyone who follows you.
You might not see your example as a catalyst for action for others, but it is. Even though it may not be applied to house projects it is an inspiration for many to try doing things they never imagined they would consider.
Good work, Kristi, with much more to come.
Hard to believe I have been around since I found you via the bed bench (when you were still in the condo) and have witnessed all of this beauty unfold, yet I have still not finished ONE of my renos. Sigh. Maybe one day.
Every time I see your living room, I fall in love with those perfect pink drapes all over again. They’re such a confident choice, & they absolutely make the room. The entire color story in the room is dreamy. I’m so glad Matt didn’t veto the pink! You’re doing a beautiful job, Kristi.
I think I began to follow you around the time you put the faux fireplace in.
I’ve often thought you should cut yourself some slack. You’re taking on quite a lot in my opinion. And doing it beautifully. And I wouldn’t crawl under a house for any amount of money!😉
This is so helpful to read about–when we live in such a fast-paced world, its comforting to know not everything is done quickly, or even “right” the first time. We are going on 1.5 years for our master bath. We started ripping it out 3 years ago, but had to pause for a more pressing remodel of our kids’ bathroom which had a terrible leak. And…life. Life happens, and I don’t want to make my remodels my priority when time with family can be so fleeting. I have watched you complete all these transformations in your home. Isn’t it interesting to see how styles change? I remember the dark blue living room you had done, and did you paint your couch? I thought it looked so cozy! And sometimes it takes a while to figure out what you like, and what really works for you (or me). And I LOVED your green kitchen, but when you painted it teal, it was even more perfect. Now looking back, the green seems too much. Funny how that is. Its fun to be able to enjoy the process of a home’s growth and development over the years into the true reflection of oneself.