Our Home Renovation Story

Over the past year, my husband and I have been through a lot!  Between getting married, to expecting our first baby, to moving from the city to the suburbs, things have been pretty crazy and exciting!  One of the biggest undertakings that we've had was not only the decision to move, but our decision to take on a home renovation.  So, when I had the opportunity be interviewed by Suburbs 101 about our renovation and move to Westchester, I jumped at the chance! 

In the pictures below, you can see a series of before and after shots.  I'm really regretting the fact that I did not take more "before" pictures of every room just to show how BAD things really were!  But, I think these pictures at least give you a general idea! 

As my interview with Suburbs 101 mentions, our home hadn't been touched since it was built in the 1950's...well, with the exception the addition of ENTIRELY too much wallpaper!  

My husband and I spent our weekends for over 10 months commuting back and forth from our NYC apartment to work on the house.  Oh, did I also mention we were planning a wedding?!  Yeah, don't do that....

Anyways, we decided to take on this renovation as an almost entirely DIY project with the help of my father-in-law.  We did all of the demo, construction, and decorating, with the exception of a few things you need experts for like the electric and plumbing.  Demo is not as fun as those home renovation shows make it look.  You have to understand that they hit a few walls for the camera and then there is a crew of 30 something people hiding ready to demo things within a day or two.  When it is just you, it takes A LOT longer and it is super labor intensive! 

Making decisions about the design also brought a lot of frustrating and sometimes arguments!  We didn't hire a designer so we had to do everything from picking paint colors, to cabinetry, countertops, and fixtures.  Now I will admit I loved this part more than anything, but I also had a VERY specific vision in mind and many times I was met with a lot resistance about what was or wasn't going to look right...in the end, I won (most of the time) and if I do say so myself, all of the design decision made were good ones!  

One of my biggest non-negotiables was the kitchen design.  I love to cook and entertain so I knew I wanted a kitchen devoted to that, especially after being stuck with apartment size closet kitchens for the past 5+ years!  The design was inspired by a lot of Pinterest boards and research for styles I liked after visiting various showrooms around Manhattan.  We like to think of it as a "transitional" style which mixes some modern and traditional elements together.  The Carrera countertops pair beautifully with the modern brass hardware and are tied together with the mixed metal effects of the appliances and the farmhouse style sink.  The kitchen is by far the most used room in our home and it has been so amazing to have it as an entertaining space.  

The floor color was also a big decision.  Can you believe we kept the original hardwood??! It's so amazing what sanding and staining can do for old floors!  The floors were entirely too dark, almost black, and just made the house look dated and dismal.  My husband and I kept looking at stains and couldn't find anything we loved.  We knew we wanted something with some versatility and unexpected style running throughout the house.  Our ideal house would be a beach house with really light, beautiful distressed floors.  But, that style doesn't really work very well in a house in the middle of the suburbs of Westchester, NY!  So, with that element in mind, we started to mix stains to see what effect we could get.  Finally, after some trial and error, we came up with this beautiful, customized stain for the floors and we couldn't be happier with them!  They are one of the most complimented pieces of our home! 

Now, one thing about home ownership is that you are always going to have projects to do and things to update.  We are so happy with how the renovation turned out but we are continuously doing things to make everything that much better and to update things as we've settled into living here.  For example, the next job I want to tackle is my dining room area.  We bought this GORGEOUS glass dining table, but I have older antique chairs that we recovered, but still aren't doing it for me.  The dark wood makes the space look dated so I have a few tricks up my sleeve on how to update that specific area, so stay tuned for that !

Overall, renovating was a very long and at many times, stressful process.  But, doing it ourselves and seeing the entire process come together in the end is still one of the most rewarding things to this day.  My husband and I take a lot of pride in our home and I think this is what makes us continue to improve things throughout it (almost every weekend).  We want it to be a place where we can be comfortable and that reflects both of our very different personalities.  It doesn't always work at first, but in the end, we really make a great DIY team and enjoy doing things ourselves, even if it does take more time and effort.

Thanks for checking out this post and don't forget to read my full Suburbs 101 DIY Home Renovation Interview!  If you have any questions on anything renovation related, please reach out!! 

XoXo - Jamie