Below: Bridget (3) and Evie (1) in their new room, May 2016.
Below: Bridget (4…and a half as that half is supremely important to a 4 1/2 year old) and Evie (2) in their new room, April 2017.
To be very honest tonight, my heart is a bit tired. April was a vastly challenging month, both physically and emotionally. To focus on just one of the many issues at hand, we have battled one illness after another for the past, well it feels like the whole year, and April felt like one massive constant nasty cold/upper respiratory illness that reached its full zenith Saturday, Bridget’s ballet recital day. This illness, went above and beyond and ended her special recital day with vomit, thank goodness after her recital and at home on the couch. Needless to say, we were beyond happy to turn the calendar page to May today and say goodbye to April. That being said, April gave me a gift, the gift of reassessing what I can and cannot do. And what I can do, and what I want to do, is focus on our precious young family and our once in a lifetime home restoration. We are raising two precious daughters, 2 and 4 years old. Two little wonders whom I want to focus as much positive and loving energy upon as possible. We are also in the midst of a massive home renovation project, one in which our hands and minds are actively involved everyday and every night with every aspect of the home. I am beyond lucky to have Bunker by my side for both of these tremendously important and grand ventures, raising our two daughters and bringing life back into our old home. We do not want to be half involved with either endeavor, and we do not just want to brace ourselves, grit our teeth, and and get through either process. We want to truly cherish and appreciate the steps, big and small, happy and sad, exhilarating and frustrating, memorable and fleeting; we want to be fully present in as many moments as possible. It is hard to find a comfortable balance between these two parts of our lives, let alone fit all of the other commitments and obligations and wants and desires involved in everyday life. It is hard to know if the decisions we make are the right ones, whether they be parenting choices or the tile choices, but goodness, they are our decisions and we have made them together, and I feel deeply that our joint commitment makes our home a stronger one, both the people within it and the walls around it.
So, after April, I can officially say this is all I can do and all I want to do at this point in my life. After finally sitting still for a moment, really listening to my own heart, and stating my honest feelings out loud, I feel a deep sense of calm and balance, something I haven’t felt in at least a year. I feel like we (especially myself) are very rarely deeply honest with ourselves, but it is at those moments when we are faced with profound challenges and we are fully worn out that we finally listen to our hearts and realign our lives back to what makes us whole, happy, and healthy.
Below: End of the day piano playing and singing. This Reader’s Digest piano book, published in 1969, belonged to my Nene (my mom’s mom Evelyn, Evie’s namesake), and it contains the most preciously nostalgic selection of songs, including “Puff the Magic Dragon”. I cannot get through this song without my heart aching for my own childhood, and my tears falling for my own little babies who will not be babies much longer. Childhood is magical and fleeting, a preciously enchanted time in life, and I am honored to watch my babies charmingly frolic through their own autumn mist.
Okay, thanks for listening to my heart, now let’s focus on our lovely home!
The original upstairs is undergoing only a few structural changes, but quite a bit of restoration and infrastructure improvements. Lots of electrical wiring and plumbing issues, large dips in the floors previously “leveled” by adding a putty like filler underneath the carpeting, drywall applied directly over plaster walls, windows hidden behind drywall, and an overall awkward use of space in the previous master bedroom area. Let’s take a look back and see what was in place when we purchased the home, and what we have done up to this halfway point to make this a safer and more appropriate home for our family.
Former Master Bedroom/Future Playroom:
Before: Below is a picture from May 2016 featuring the former master bedroom and the future playroom. One hundred years ago, this room was a sleeping porch located off the original master bedroom. About 40 years ago this sleeping porch was converted into the master bedroom. During this transition, three windows were covered with drywall and the ceiling was vaulted. Moving the master bedroom into the sleeping porch enabled the construction of an attached master bathroom and dressing hallway (essentially a wide hallway lined with shallow closets) in the former master bedroom space. As practical as these changes were 40 years ago, the flow of this “master” area is rather awkward and needed to be reworked for our family, especially because of our own kitchen/den/master addition.
Currently: Yesterday, April 30th, 2017. Looking out and using 100 year old playroom windows.
Currently: Below again from yesterday. Ceiling is in the process of being dropped back to its original level. Here you can really see the new HVAC system in the attic space above.
Former Master Hallway/Future Playroom Hallway:
Currently: Below is the view from the former master bedroom/new playroom back towards the main hallway and the girls’ bedroom beyond. This hallway was once much wider and housed the shallow master closets on the right and the master bathroom on the left. Now, the area on the right will house a storage closet and a bathroom accessible from both the playroom hallway and the guest bedroom on the other side of this wall. The area behind the left wall will be the bathroom and closet attached to the girls’ bedroom.
Currently: Here is the added bathroom that sits between the playroom hallway and the guest bedroom as seen from the playroom hallway.
Former Master Bathroom/Futrure Girls’ Closet:
Before: One hundred years ago, the space in the picture below was the master bedroom. 40 years ago it became the master bathroom and closet space. You can see some of the shallow closets reflected in the mirrors. The shower and tub and toilet are hidden around the corner (behind the mirrors). This space will become the girls’ closet.
Before: Evie checking out the master closet space. Peek-a-boo mama!
Before: Below you can see the hallway bathroom. If you walked up the staircase and turned to your right you would walk directly into this bathroom. The master area was behind the left wall and the front bedroom (girls’ future room) behind the right wall. This space will become the girls’ attached bathroom.
Currently: April 30, 2017. Old hallway bathroom (pictured above) becoming the girls’ attached bathroom. There will no longer be a door to enter the bathroom from the hallway, so when we walk up the stairs and turn to the right there will be a wall where the studs behind Bunker are now standing. The doorway to the right is the girls’ bedroom and the doorway to the left leads into the old master/new playroom hallway. We had to pull up a large area of the wooden floors in the hallway due to a putty like filler that was placed under the carpet to hide a significant dip. This dip has now been correctly repaired by adding reinforcement to the original beams and joists. Sad to lose the original flooring in this area due to a less than appropriate short term solution.
Bridget and Evie’s Bedroom:
Before: Bridget and Evie’s future room upon purchase in May 2016. Here Evie is entering the room via the door off the hallway. The small door and oddly jutted out space on the left is a closet with a large elevated box inside which affords the headroom needed below for the front staircase.
Before: View of the room from where Evie was standing in the above picture (the view from the hallway door entrance). Here you can really see the depth of the closet.
Before: The girls’ room as we look from the entry door towards the beautiful windows overlooking the front yard and the kumquat trees on the side of the house.
Currently: Drywall over plaster walls. We cannot figure out why this was done other than to cover up damaged plaster walls rather than properly repair the walls. Anyways, this is a close up of the newly opened doorway from the girls’ bedroom into their attached bathroom and closet.
Currently: Girls’ room dance party yesterday!
Currently: Closet is removed. We will build a reading nook/bed over this staircase head space rectangular area. The kumquat trees are cheerfully blooming again.
Currently: The original door to the left leads to the hallway, the new opening to the right (with Bunker and the girls) leads into the newly attached bathroom and closet beyond. This new bathroom and closet area used to be the hall bathroom and master bathroom combined.
Currently: Girls’ shared bathroom and closet. Not a perfectly practical use of space due to all of the windows (including one that was previously covered), but it will be a charmingly unique space for our two delightful little girls.
Currently: This area, formerly the master bathroom, will be the girls’ closet. Indeed, lots of windows for a closet, but there is plenty of wall space around the other side for hanging items and a dresser. I imagine this space will see lots of sister dress up time, make believe, heartfelt talks, make up and hair help, and of course, wardrobe consult sessions.
Back Bedroom/Future Laundry Room:
Before: Below is a back bedroom that will become our future laundry room/craft room/creative space. The attic door entrance is just to the left of the edge of this picture, and the fallen in chimney is hidden behind the bookshelves to the right. I am taking this picture from the hallway door entrance. Picture from May 2016. Officially a year ago!
Currently: Below is a picture of this same room from yesterday, April 30, 2017. Here you can see into the new master closet addition through the old window opening (we are planning a useful pass through from the master closet into the laundry room so we can just drop our dirty laundry directly into the laundry room). You can also see the vast repairs needed in the corner of the room due to the previously fallen in chimney. This damaged corner will be repaired and, at some point, we will no longer be able to see into the master bedroom!
Currently: Here is the same room with our backs to the fallen in chimney and old window that now looks into the master closet. Here you can see the entrance from the hallway on the far left, the small closet tucked underneath the attic staircase (perfect vacuum cleaner and broom storage), and then on the far right you can see the doorway that leads to the attic stairs.
Currently: Below is still the laundry room with those gorgeous big windows! What a happy place to fold laundry, sew hems, paint, chat, and create crafts and memories.
Currently: The two pictures below are broader views of the upstairs hallway. These were taken from the back of the house looking forward towards the girls’ room (to the right) and new playroom (to the left). In this picture below you can see the doorway into the guest bedroom to the left.
Currently: In this picture below you can see the hallway again. The doorway into the laundry room is the closest door to the right. The next gap is the staircase to downstairs, and then the next door is the girls’ room.
Before: Below, May 2016. If you turn to your left at the top of the stairs you walk directly into this charming hallway linen storage cabinet. We have put these pieces in storage to perhaps recreate the linen storage in the future laundry room. To the right of this built in cabinet is one of the back bedrooms (future guest bedroom), and to the left is the other back bedroom and attic staircase (future laundry room).
Currently: Below, old linen cabinet is gone and this is now the entry into our master suite addition.
Former and Future Guest Bedroom:
Before: Back guest bedroom that will remain a guest bedroom.
Currently: Below you can see this same bedroom but with the temporary addition of the original cast iron tub. This tub will be refinished and find its permanent home in the girls bathroom. You can see the windows into our new master suite out the far left window.
Currently: The picture below was taken with my back to the windows. It shows the guest bathroom (which will also open into playroom hallway) entry on the left and the new closet doorway on the right.
Love and hugs,
Suzie, Bunker, Bridget, and Evie (below in big sister’s ballet costume from last year)