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In the Beginning There Was Chaos

A lot of strange and ugly that needed to go.

in the beginning there was chaos

When the hubs and I first looked at our home-until-we-die (I hope), we loved the upstairs (for the most part) but were not thrilled about the downstairs. We decided if we had to, we could probably live with it since we mostly live upstairs, but we weren’t thrilled for our family having to be down there. We might have stumbled along with just okay but for the August Effect (August hates me). The bathroom down there flooded—and since all the carpet was connected, the insurance company was going to pay to replace most of the flooring. 

We talked it over and decided the time was now. We didn’t want to repair something, only to tear it apart again!

ugly bar

Prepare to be turned into a bathroom!

As you can see from the pictures, it had wood paneling, an ugly bar area, and a very strange layout. The lone, sort of legal (no one could egress that window!) bedroom had two openings to the mechanical area which made it noisy if the AC or heat was on. And the mechanical closet itself was oddly large and yet difficult at the same time. And, if that wasn’t bad enough, to get to the only bathroom down there, you had to go through that “legal bedroom.”

The only other “bedroom” had an open doorway to a seriously—and strangely—huge laundry room.

strangely large laundry room

Do you notice you can’t see the washer or dryer in this laundry room? That’s because it is around the corner! I wasn’t lying about it being strangely large!

Our renovation was also complicated by what was going on upstairs. There was a patio area that stretched the length of the back of the house (which was why the “bedroom” wasn’t legal—no way to put an egress window in there) and in the front, there was the garage and another wide-ish courtyard.

cold start to renovation

It was as cold as it looked!

The challenge for us was to add another legal bedroom and to also add a bathroom that could be accessed without going through anyone’s bedroom. 

We ended up hiring an architect (Jeff Morrison – who grew up in the same town I did) to sort out this complicated puzzle. 

Our adventure in renovation began in early December of 2018, paused for the holidays and resumed in January of 2019 (in below zero weather!). You will note that it is now June. I kept thinking I’d write this post the end of Feb, then the end of March, April, May…and yes, now it is June. I have to remind myself we renovated half of our house and we had to untwist a lot of things along the way. 

view from the stairs

This is the view from the base of the stairs. Yeah.

I will add that we had an amazing contractor and he had a great team and they got it (mostly) done (don’t ask!).  

Check on Thursday to see the “reveal” (as much as I can reveal in photos)! And notice I’m only slightly mentioning Maestra Rising, which is releasing on June 18th and available for preorder in print and digital now! haha

tearing down the ugly

And the destruction phase begins!

Perilously yours,


cover art

Click the cover to preorder!

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