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Moving Forward On The Breakfast Room, Pantry, and More!

Y’all, I’m so excited. Remember last week how I mentioned that for now, I’m moving on to the hallway, and in the meantime, we would hire out some work in the breakfast room so that I could hopefully get some work done in there by the end of this year? Well, that plan has been expanded, and the time line has also been moved up.

Matt is still staunchly in the “no loan” camp, which is fine. I won’t push him on that issue, because on decisions that big, we both have to be in agreement. But at some point over those few days when we were discussing options, Matt had casually mentioned that we could go ahead and get the floor leveled in the breakfast room, and then probably have the room re-drywalled. I didn’t push him for time line or money amount details. I just decided to let him continue mulling over options in his head, and just be thankful for whatever he agreed to.

Well, this weekend, Matt came through with details, timeline, and money amounts he’s willing to put into it right now.

The details: Matt wants the breakfast room floor leveled, the entire room redrywalled, windows removed from the back of the room (where the pantry will be), and new windows at the front of the breakfast room. He also wants my office, his game room, and our bedroom redrywalled. And then as soon as the drywall is in all of those rooms, he wants new insulation in the attic.

The timeline: He wants it done ASAP, as in, he wants it started this week. I don’t think there’s any possible way I can be ready for work to start this week, but I’ll do my best. First, I need to get quotes for the work. That could take a while. And then who knows when they’ll actually be able to fit us into their schedule? They may not be able to start ASAP. But while we’re waiting, I’ll need to get all of those rooms cleared out so that they can get in there and work. All of those rooms have furniture that will need to be cleared out, but the breakfast room is the worst. It not only has furniture, but because we don’t use it, I’ve also been using it to store paint, tools, electrical supplies, etc. I mean, it’s packed full of all of that stuff. The first floor leveling company is scheduled to come Wednesday to give us an estimate, so I’ll be working between now and then to get it cleared out. I’m thinking about renting a PODS container while the work is being done.

The money: Matt said for immediate use, he would give me an extra $7,000 in addition to my regular monthly “allowance” of $1,200 for house projects. And I’m willing to put as much of my monthly “allowance” towards this as needed, including any that I have left over from this month, since the month is just about over. So that gives me right at $9,000 that I have immediately available, with an additional $4,800 that I’ll have between September and December, if needed. I think I can get quite a bit done from Matt’s list with the $9,000 that I have available right now.

So why the change of mind and sense of urgency on Matt’s part?

Well, there are a couple of reasons. First, he said, “You know when you talked about just getting things done and having a house that we can just enjoy? I really like that idea. I love the idea of being able to be in the breakfast room with you while you’re cooking meals.” 🙂

And then there’s this…


Yes, that’s a picture of our thermostat that I took yesterday at 6:10pm. We’re in Texas, and we’re getting into the hottest part of the year. Yesterday, the outdoor temp got up to 99 degrees with a heat index of 106 degrees. And we’re not even into the hottest month yet. In August, we consistently have 100+ degree weather (actual temp) with even higher heat index temps. And with our air conditioner set to 73 degrees, and the compressor running at 100 percent, the best our air conditioner can do on days like that is keep the indoor temp down to 78 degrees.

Why? Because we have no insulation in our attic.

Well, that’s not completely true. We have about two inches of decades-old insulation over the breakfast room, my office, Matt’s game room, and our bedroom. We have ZERO insulation over the kitchen, dining room, entryway, hallway, and hallway bathroom. And as I’m sure you know, the majority of your heating and cooling escapes through the roof. That’s why attic insulation is so very important. I believe our local building codes require a minimum of 13 inches of insulation, so we’re a tad bit lacking. 😀

The end goal here, in addition to having a usable breakfast room where Matt can hang out while I cook meals, is to also have a well-insulated attic so that our cool air (and heating in the winter) will stop being sucked right out through the roof. And I’ve told Matt over and over that it’s pointless to spend all of that time and energy blowing insulation into the attic if I’m just going to turn right around and tear down drywall from the ceiling and lose all of that new insulation. I’ve been pretty adamant that all of the drywall needs to be finished (at least on the ceilings) before I’ll spend time and energy on insulation.

So that’s where we are on this house journey right now. I do still hope to be working on the hallway while other people are working in other rooms, but I have a feeling that I just need to be completely flexible right now, and work where I’m needed the most. And it’s very rare that Matt has so much input on the process, so when he actually does have input, I like to try to take it very seriously.

Anyway, we’ll see where this all takes us by the end of the year. It should be interesting! But for now, I have drywall and floor leveling people to contact, estimates to get, windows to order, a storage container to rent, and rooms to clear out. I’m excited!



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  1. I feel your pain with the thermostat. I’m in Maryland, and we’ve consistently been in the 90s and 100s for the past week or so. My attic is fully insulated, but my walls are not and I have pretty crappy windows. I set mine at 74, and the house is staying at 80 degrees for the most part. I get my energy bill tomorrow and I have a feeling I’m gonna cry.

    Good luck with all your new projects! I understand the rut of staying in one room- I “finished” my kitchen and bathroom renovations over a year ago but just got around to caulking the trim and finishing the last details 🙂

      1. I do intend to look into that because I’ve lived there for 5 years and have never had it serviced- who knows when the people before me did it. But it does make me feel better that other people are having the same problem- it’s just so unusually hot (for our area, at least), it just can’t keep up!

        1. Our weatherman in Sarasota, Fl. said that the country has had 15 consecutive months of above average temps. 5-6 degrees above average. Your bill is probably about right but your a/c should be serviced twice a year so problems can be caught in time. I am frugal with the thermostat and my bill ran a couple hundred kilowatts more than this time last year. It has been unbearably nasty down here. Don’t cry, it will be over soon.

  2. That sounds like a really great plan. While doing drywall are you doing any drywall on the walls too? If so will you be adding insulation there too?

    1. Yes, all of the walls will be drywalled as well. I’m not sure about insulation, though, because that would require removing all of the shiplap from the walls to insulate, and I just don’t know that it will be feasible. I think that might have to wait until we work on the outside of the house, and insulate after the existing stone and siding is removed, and before the new house wrap and siding goes up.

      1. Yes, yes, I’ve read that before. Call you father-in-law to help you with the drywall and we’ll see what will happen :)))

        1. Ceiling fans in every room makes a HUGE difference. 77 feels cold. Our humidity is not what Texas is, but the dewpoint can get pretty high. Then I treat myself to 78 during the day.

      2. Have you thought about having blown-in insulation done behind the shiplap? That seems like it would be the easiest. They just drill a hole at the top of each section and blow the insulation down in.

  3. That is a really cool thermostat. Our new air conditioning has been a godsend in Arizona. We keep that house at 79 during the day and 77 at night. This is our hottest part of the year with a lot of humidity. The savings just from the more efficient AC was noticeable on the first bill, but we need to remove our fireplaces and insulate the old HVAC closet (and rebuild, where we have air leaks). I expect the air conditioning bills to drop even further. Another thing that you may not have in Texas (I lived in Dallas area for two years) are something we have on the west side of the house called rolling shutters. They look like the storm shutters that people have in Florida. Used a lot in Europe. They make a huge difference in the heat of those rooms. They fit over the windows on the outside and roll up out of sight when we don’t need them in the winter.

    1. Wow, I can’t imagine keeping the thermostat at 79 by choice!! 😀 We keep ours at 70 at night (I like a cool room when I sleep), and 73 during the day. I think our humidity is higher here, so that probably makes a difference, though.

      1. I live in Western Kentucky. As of now it’s very hot and humid. I like to keep my temps at a chilly 65, night and day. My husband has said “I can’t believe I’m paying to be this cold.” LOL! Believe me though, no one would like me when I’m hot…

      2. Love hearing about the temp you are living in. We’re in FULL summer here and the weather has been rubbish. It gets, if we’re lucky up to
        50/60. Now we are all sweating, but the sunshine has been very poor. Very jealous of you heat…..

        Kristi, do you think maybe the attempted break-in has frightened Matt abit and thats why hes changed his mind. Either way, I’m excited
        for the both of you and can’t wait to see your progress. Good Luck.

        Oh, bye the way, I live in Northern Ireland.

        All the best
        Pauline 🙂

        1. He was certainly frightened on that day, but I don’t think that fear has lingered. What I do think happened is that that whole experience kind of woke him up and made him want to be more proactive and more involved in turning this house into a comfortable and safe home for us.

    2. Deb….
      I just returned from Pheonix…..you are so right….you guys are sooooo hot over there.
      Wishing you some coolness and hoping you have a great couple months with great air conditioning!
      Idaho hugs,

      Kristie ……I am doing the HAPPY DANCE for you….you go girl!!!!!!!!
      We are all EXCITED for you as well!!!!!

  4. Yea! It’s going to be really fun watching what you do with the rooms when all the insulation, drywall, and levelling is finished! Good times ahead!! LOL

  5. I am baffled by the whole getting estimates process. I sure hope you will teach me!

    Sounds like a pretty great plan!

    1. I love our thermostt! It’s actually the thermostat that came with our new HVAC system, which is a Trane XV20i. I think the thermostat is specifically designed for that HVAC system, so I’m not sure if it’s something that you can purchase separately, or if it would even work with a different brand of HVAC system.

      1. Thanks, Kristi. We are building a house next year (with plenty of DYI) and are researching HAVC systems. Trane has always been a reliable name.
        Live over in Brenham, TX, by you so I feel your heat pain!

  6. So happy to hear this! You & Matt deserve it. Ain’t nobody got time or $$$$ to heat and cool the great Texas outdoors. Good luck with the estimates.

  7. So glad you are starting. I lived in Central Texas 38 years ago… and my clearest memory is leaving my son’s pacifier on the dashboard of the car when I ran into a drug store for something… Came out 5 minutes later & the pacifier was melted to the dashboard! We had a big red splotch right in the middle of the dash until we sold that car! Yeah – Texas heat is BRUTAL!!!!!

    Have fun!!!!!

  8. If I may make a suggestion the spray foam insulation in your attic will do wonders. We were in the same boat as you guys and we live in the Fort Worth area, my electric bill has been so much lower the past 6 months because of the insulation we had sprayed in Feb. This bill coming due is 218.00 less than the same time frame of last year. We looked at the blown in kind but it is so messy and my husband has severe allergies, I read about the level of dust it creates and we decided on the foam at at point it costs more but we have been very happy with it.

      1. It is sprayed on the underside of the roof. That is the absolute BEST insulation system. Do yourself a favor and research it. You will be so glad you did! I have a friend who built a new home 3 years ago and used the foam. It is unbelievable the difference it makes. We built my parents a new home 6 years and used the blown cellulose because foam wasn’t being used in our area that much yet. The foam is better. Now we are making plans to replace our old “blown (on top of the ceiling) junk with foam.

        1. We had to have repair work done in our basement and replaced the old insulation along the walls that had to be repaired with blown foam insulation. What a difference!! Our basement stays warm in the winter with minimal additional heating. We did that this summer when remodeling our two upstairs baths. Both have west facing walls and could be quite cold in the winter. Now when we walk upstairs there is almost no difference in temperature with the a.c. It is more expensive, but absolutely worth it. If I were building a new house I would go for it, knowing that my lower heating/a.c. bills would more than make up the cost in a very short time. It is not a do-it-yourself option though. Much too easy to overdo the spraying.

      2. On This Old House episodes its been sprayed on the attic ceiling between the trusses. I’ve seen it sprayed in the walls too but not seen it done on the attic floors just the pink stuff.

      3. We just finished adding an addition onto our home and also had the spray insulation applied (I live in West Texas half way between Lubbock and Abilene) and we love it also. There is a huge difference between the part of our home that is sprayed and the part that is not. It may cost a little more because you probably can’t do it yourself but you will probably find it worth it in the long run.
        I can just feel the excitement in your words and that makes me excited for you!! Yay, for moving on quickly!!!!

      4. It is sprayed on the underside of the roof all the way down into the eaves, and on the gable ends as well. My laundry/sewing room doesn’t have an ac vent and it stays pretty cool in there considering we are the 100’s everyday. Our house is 2 story and the attic space is very low and hard to get around in, and they did our house in one day. They say you should leave the house for one to two nights, we had ours done in Feb and the temps were mild and we left windows up and were able to stay in the house.

  9. We live in the Dallas area and summer has always been a problem. A couple of years ago we had solar panels put on the roof. It is one of the best things we have ever done. Rebates ended up paying about half the cost, and we now have a monthly electric bill of less than $5 a month. You might want to put that on your list of things to do. I love that thermostat by the way!

  10. I’m so happy for you! Getting to the point of drywall being in place makes it so much easier to get to the more interesting parts of the job. I can’t wait to see what you cook-up for the breakfast room. Congrats

  11. First of all get the attic insulated. Which ever way you choose, do it first. We have had stinking hot weather in the NE with high humidity. I am embarrassed to say I keep my upstairs set at 68 and downstairs at 70. We have a very well insulated home. As far as solar energy goes, you would be a great candidate. My son is a consultant for Solar City, I am sure they are in Texas, so he could refer you. There is no upfront cost to you. All you do is buy your electricity from them. Send me your info and Tim will connect you to an office in your area. You don’t have to go through with it, but it is well worth it to learn about solar energy and then the engineers design a system for your home, and tell you how much you will save. We are in the process and just awaiting the plans from the engineering department. Solar City is huge on both coasts and in the south and they are moving fast. The company is owned by some very famous wealthy man, who’s name I would totally mess up. It is something like Elan Musk, but that I am sure is not right. Anyway it all sounds good but please, get the attic done and cut your energy costs, that is more money in your pocket.

  12. Just throwing in this reminder…………..don’t forget about your asking your plumber for references for local quotes. Remember how well he came through for you on the window contractor!!!

  13. Hope you’re doing ok with your Bonus Dad’s death…

    Take care of you & don’t worry about us.

    We’ll still be here!

  14. Kristi,
    I just want you to know how much I admire you. I always look forward to your post. I became a little DIYer when I became ill and had to quit my teaching job. I could never do all you do lol. I always have to recruit my husband to help. He usually is not very willing. But he’s usually a pretty good sport after he grips about it lol. If I lived close I would volunteer to help you just to learn from you. I live in southern Ohio. Keep up the great work! You are an inspiration to us all.

  15. We live near Baton Rouge and have an older home that we remodeled 10 years ago. Replacing the old single pane windows and having insulation blown into the attic has made such a difference! I too would look at the foam insulation – it may cost a bit more but would pay for itself over time, I think. Sometimes the ‘behind the scenes’ part of remodeling is not necessarily pretty, but it sure makes an impact! So glad that Matt will be able to be in the breakfast room with you while you cook, that is so sweet. After a health scare last fall, my dh and I spend all the time we can with one another. Life is short and you just never know how much time you have together.

  16. Great news! It’s so sweet how Natt wants to be with you while you cook up a storm 💕💕💕.
    It’s totally worth it to spend the money while making wonderful memories

  17. Atta girl Kristi! Way to go Matt! Can’t wait to see what transpires. You both are an amazing couple. God bless you as you weather this hot weather…yes it was hot yesterday here in Dallas. Hot like 100 degrees with a heat index of 110. And yes we have August to weather yet. arrghh welcome to TX!
    Love that thermostat: what kind is it? My husband just replaced ours but it not as visual as yours. This is neat!

    1. It’s the thermostat that came with our new HVAC system, which is a Trane XV20i. I think the thermostat is specifically designed for that HVAC system, so I’m not sure if it’s something that you can purchase separately, or if it would even work with a different brand of HVAC system.

  18. That is awesome. Just think when that drywall and insulation are in the savings are going to be amazing.

  19. Kristi, I was so happy to hear from you again. Your new plan sounds like a winner, especially the insulation. I hope you get qualified help and get your job done, take a break from working so hard and enjoy your life with your husband. When you get all your projects done you can always do some of your beautiful artwork.

    Good luck, Rita

  20. That’s fantastic news, I am so happy for you both :):):)!!! Just wondering have you ever checked your local Votech or trade schools? They often times will work for cost and must meet the same codes as the pros. Just a thought.

  21. So happy to hear your fantastic good news about moving ASAP with all the dry walling etc. You won’t know yourself with all that work done and crossed off your renovation list. How awesome is Matt!!!!!! All this work is getting super exciting and look forward to following the progress.

  22. I’m so excited for you! This part of the process isn’t glamorous, but quality of life improvements make all the difference in the world. I watch This Old House occasionally, and I know that on the last project they did, the builder said he only used spray insulation nowadays. He sprayed it on the underside of the roof. They use it up north to staunch heat loss in winter, but it’s the same thing.
    Evidently it’s very efficient. 🙂

  23. How very exciting! I can’t wait to follow the process with you. Great things are ahead for you and Matt. Enjoy the process. 🙂

  24. So exited for you! It’s actually great to get drywall and insulation work done near each other timeline wise…less dusting durrin the process. You got a lot of sudgestions for insulation already If you are open to more. Look into the wool-type bats for a portion – very DIY friendly just slice with a bread knife. Sadly it is costly, it may be easier to limit it to tight spaces and where you may open up areas from below again.

  25. Kristi, I am so happy that you are going ahead with the breakfast room. I remember when you were doing the kitchen and trying to decide about the butler’s pantry, that I just couldn’t wait to see the miraculous transformation that would occur..So glad that Matt is giving his input..It makes my heart happy to think of Matt sitting there watching you cook dinner. I also have a picture in my mind of you both sitting at the table with your own laptops..You go girl.

    1. It’s actually the thermostat that came with our new HVAC system, which is a Trane XV20i. I think the thermostat is specifically designed for that HVAC system, so I’m not sure if it’s something that you can purchase separately, or if it would even work with a different brand of HVAC system.

  26. Kristi, Matt plan sounds great. I know he spends a lot of time in his office. Have you discussed the plan in there. Are you just doing the ceiling or more. Since your taking his furniture out of there maybe that should be room one to get back into, then maybe the bedroom. All of your rooms you done so far weren’t room that you didn’t activity lived in so that will be a new course of plan. You may need to temp move into the dining room or music room while the dry wall is being done. We’ve never seen your office or Matt’s office with furniture. I know his room is paneled. Are your going to drywall the walls or just paint them. I know your bedroom will eventually be a new master bath so is it just the ceiling with a new coat of paint ? Have you got a plan there ? So excited for you. The main house will be done when you decide when to get the building loan and you won’t have the main house hanging over your head. Hopefully you can find someone to work with you doing your DIY to save and them doing the labor intense part. Excited to see how this all works out.

  27. While you have it hot,we have it freezing cold. And trying to prepare our home for sale. The constant rain and strong winds is causing problems. We have had one room a new ceiling and cornice along with walls ready for paint. But it’s too cold and on top of this a leak has occurred in this room letting water in. So frustrated. But your plans are looking good! How lovely of Matt to help out with a solution. All the very best and yes ask your Mom to come and help clear out. Looking forward to following these projects.

  28. When installing attic insulation I encourage you to investigate adding attic fans. It runs automatically at a pre set temperature and lowered our cooling bills by 8 %.

  29. Hi Kristi,

    How wonderful that you are moving forward on the rest of the rooms. Your Matt is wonderful.

    Didn’t see that anyone mentioned adding a radiant barrier under your roof. Less money that spray foam, it could be installed prior to installing attic insulation and reduces heat by 30%. I installed this in my old Houston house, what a difference it made. Worth checking out. BTW, I learned about this product when take a DIY home remodeling class.


  30. We live in southern utah high countrywith 8 per cent humidity. We switched from a swamp cooler and baseboard heat to a heat pump/air conditioner three years ago and love it. We put it in the attic in the center of the house and it keeps things nice…..Hubs put in two vents in the master bedroom, and also in the hottest room, the office, in the house that has two outside walls and one wall shared with the garage. Both of these rooms are on the west side of the house and take a lot of heat from the stucco finish. But we love the heat pump/ac; we just a religious about changing out our air filter every two months. Forgot to do that and had a major fail to the tune of 500 dollars…so yeah….we are religious about those filters…haha.
    Gpod speed on your projects.

  31. My AC service guy has told me more than once that I’ll use less power and strain my unit less if I put it on one temp and leave it. Guess what? He was right! And it’s especially because of the humidity it has to pull out of the house if I go up and down. I sometimes change it by one degree, maybe two, but no more than that. And the more humidity in the house, the warmer it feels. I have a programmable thermostat, but don’t use it a lot, especially i the summer.

    Love you are getting to make a major push forward!

    I want to find out more about that foam insulation too.

  32. For over a year, I have researched DIY ottoman projects, and I’ve consistently gone back to your tutorial. I’ve noticed that your attention to the small details is impressive. I particularly like your explanations why doing one step will save time later, etc. I teach high school, so summers are my major project months and I’ve been inspired to make an ottoman. Looking at your tutorial makes me think I can do it 🙂 though I don’t have all the tools you do – YET.

    Great website. Keep up the amazing work!

  33. I thought I understood the floor leveling stuff, but I guess not. So, the first go-around, was just to level ONE room?!!? Gosh, that seems like it could get to be quite expensive, not to mention. . .if you level one room don’t you want all surrounding rooms level to it? I’m confused.