Come On In.

It would be really cruel of us to get into the second week of July and withhold photos of the new home, and since I’ve finally had a moment to edit down my way, way too many photos into an amount that makes sense (we hope), let’s do this! It was really interesting to see our friends’ reactions on Christening NightWhat’s that smell? Oh, my god. Wait, what? – but we loved their honesty as much as we loved their affirmation of our ability. Now, lets just hope they’re right. (Because honestly, we’re sweating. A little.)

The thing about the house is this: It’s a blank slate. Truly. It couldn’t be more of a blank slate. It’s a two-flat building over 120 years old (we know!), and unfortunately, it’s been chopped up and gutted so many times over the century, that little character remains. It was a gorgeous, bright day when I ran around the house with my camera, and while the amount of natural light in the home is one of its best features, it made the photos below appear a bit more, um, magical than they are. (Well, we think the home is magical, but certainly not yet.)

We will say this: photos can be deceiving.

The uneven floors, the sagging ceiling, too-low steps, the smells and cracked bathroom tiles – this is what greets you. Original window casings are almost non-existent, baseboards are covered in inches of thick paint and room partitions have been blasted open without proper support. The most recent renovation was done as inexpensively as possible, with many areas remaining untouched and others somewhat questionable. It’s sad, yes, but to us, we think that the house has been waiting (and patiently, at that!). Waiting for someone to come and put that character back in.

On the flip side (thankfully, there’s always a flip side!), the floors themselves are nice and updated, the wall colors aren’t terribly offensive and although the kitchen finishes aren’t our first choice, they’ll do the job until we can afford an upgrade. There’s a front porch, a yard for Jack – and a garage! In other words, it’s not all bad; no, we see a winner.

THE ENTRY. Because the home is currently set up with a main floor unit and a second floor unit, this is what you see when you walk in the front door. Enter to that door on the right, and you’ll walk into what will be our main living area. Ultimately, we’re working towards taking down that door frame and opening this whole area up – and of course, tearing up the maroon carpet is on the list, too.

THE LIVING ROOM. You might think your eyes are playing tricks on you. Is that ceiling really sagging? Yes, yes it is. We’re calling this: The First Thing To Fix. (You may have seen, we’ve already started!) When the partition (there, the khaki piece of wall in the middle) was opened up, the joists weren’t properly supported, causing the whole ceiling on this level to dip. On the left is a door that leads to a small under-the-stairs bedroom, but in order to open the entry (to keep things from feeling closed off), that whole wall may get a rearrangement.

THE UNDER-THE-STAIRS-NOOK. Above, you can see how small that room actually is (it’s shorter than the width of the orange wall!), and below, you can see it couldn’t fit more than a bed. There is, however that small closet that we’d like to close off and open from the back – providing us with coat storage to the entryway. Since this room will need to be reconfigured as part of the whole foyer-like project, we can see this becoming a sweet reading nook. (But the verdict is still out; thoughts?)

THE DINING ROOM. Further into the living room (beyond the sagging partition), is a dining room! Having a dining room has been on our wishlist for a while, and finally, well, ta-da! The only bizarre thing going on here (aside from that fracking dip in the ceiling) is rough drywall. There’s a scratchy, pocked texture on the walls that will  sigh – need to be sanded. (Easy enough, right?)

THE GUEST ROOM. You can see in the first dining room photo that there’s another room to the left; this will be our guest room. It’s still small, but it’s much longer.

THE FIRST BATHROOM. What you don’t see? A lot of grime. There’s a bizarre-o step up to get into the bathroom, mostly because the tile was installed 1/2″ higher than the floor. But! There’s a window to the right, giving it bright light. And it goes without saying that this entire room will need an overhaul – eventually.

THE KITCHEN. At the very end of this floor is the kitchen, which leads out to the back deck. (You can see the kitchen opening beyond the orange wall in the dining room photo.) We were left without a stove or a fridge, and while we’d love to purchase something nice for the long haul, we may need to settle for fine-for-now. The kitchen was updated decently enough, but man, you see the potential too, right? Since a renovation of this room may be a while from now, we don’t have any visions of grandeur – yet.

THE BLUE KITCHEN NOOK. Off the kitchen is a mini bonus room, and the reality of working on the sagging ceiling means that it may end up as storage as we sift and sort through moving boxes. Eventually, though? We could open that wall and really create a dream kitchen – or have a mega pantry. (We’re going with dream kitchen.)

THE LANDING. If you walk up the steps in the entry, you’ll come into the second unit – the studio! But before I get ahead of myself (my stomach does flips just thinking about a new studio!), we’ll likely open up the doorway that you walk through (which would be behind me in this photo) to create a larger second floor landing.

THE STUDIO STORAGE. Above, that door on the right opens to an itty bitty, teeny tiny bedroom. Almost all the windows on the second floor were sealed with plastic (still from the winter, we suppose?), but this little room will be perfect for all of my studio stuff. You know, shipping boxes, blank canvases, painting supplies – all of those things that have been spilling into the hallway of our small home for the last several months. We see rows of beautiful shelving and organization. Oh, the organization this room will see!

THE STUDIO. When you really get into the second floor (through the arched doorway that will most definitely stay), you’ll come into the studio! My head is spinning with ideas (Scott’s head, too, believe it or not), and the light on this floor is just out-of-this-world ridiculous.

And just so we’re clear, yes, that doorway looks as though it’s melting towards the center; yes, the walls go up at the baseboards as they reach the outer edges of the room. Yes, the entire floor dips straight down the middle. This all ties in with The First Thing To Fix.

THE BONUS ROOM. Above, that entire partition wall will likely need to be removed – which, again, ties in with The First Thing To Fix. But we’ll still look at this half of the second floor as a bonus room; maybe we’ll have a little seating area here? We’ll need a larger couch for the first floor, so we’re thinking our current sofa could sit up here. I see a few more cozy chairs and a large coffee table (or ottoman) – and plants. This floor screams for plants!

The second floor doesn’t currently have central heat, but instead, we have space heaters. They’ll need to be disconnected at some point (maybe during the whole sagging floor/ceiling bonanza), and before the next Chicago winter, we’ll need to install a furnace.

THE (OTHER) GUEST ROOM. Just like the first floor, there’s a bedroom off to the left of the bonus room (downstairs, it was off of the dining room), but this room might be in the worst shape of all. The old carpet is holding in an odor that’ll knock your socks off, the wall under the window is crumbling (water damage, most likely), and every door and window casing needs to be replaced. We think there’s sub floor under the carpet (boo), but we’ll still pull it up right away to help, uh, clear the air.

THE SECOND BATHROOM. The second floor bathroom has a tub, but just like the one on the first floor, this will also need to be completely renovated, top to bottom. Cracked tile is being held together by duct tape and although the whole room needs the cleaning of a lifetime, there’s another bathroom window! And just like the kitchen and other bathroom, it may be a while before we can afford to touch this – but we do have the romantic idea to outfit this room with a claw foot tub.

THE MASTER BEDROOM. So, if there’s a kitchen on the first floor, and the second floor looks a lot like the first, what do you think is on the second floor? Our master bedroom, of course! (What, you can’t see it?) There’s another nook off this room, too, and we’re hoping to make it into a laundry room. (If there’s one dream list item I’ve been craving, it’s a laundry room. A whole, glorious room!)

If you’ve been keeping track, you’ll know that in the end (a long, long time from now) there will be 3 total bedrooms (with a teeny, tiny 4th bedroom acting as studio storage), 1 kitchen, 1 living room, 1 dining room, 1 large studio (be still my heart), 2 bathrooms, and 5 very excited family members. There’s also a two-car garage (Scott is still reeling from the excitement!) and a small back yard with an old back deck that – way, way down the road – we’d like to tear down and build new. In addition, a finished basement unit hides below, but we’re working towards proper zoning as we restructure the house from a two-flat-plus-garden into a single-family-plus-garden. But, baby steps, people.

We’ve been hard at work these last several days, and we just know this house is a diamond in the rough. For those things the home lacks, it more than makes up for with space! And light! And room to grow. It won’t be a fast transition, but we plan on moving forward with intentional, thoughtful decisions. What the home lacks in original character will be nursed back in; we can’t wait to play and experiment, and we love that you’re here, alongside us.

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  • Katie7.8.13 - 7:34 AM

    It’s so sunny! I think it will be just as beautiful and happy as your previous home. I can’t wait for the journey. Congratulations to the five of you, and best of luck!

    -Katie at AdventuringAtHomeReplyCancel

  • Alison7.8.13 - 7:42 AM

    I just love this! I can’t wait to see what you do! So….are you sleeping in a kitchen for the time being?ReplyCancel

  • Carrie @DreamGreenDIY7.8.13 - 7:50 AM

    Oh, how LOVELY!!! Thanks for the warm welcome and I can’t wait to see how you transform this house =) Congrats again!ReplyCancel

  • Wow, this place how so much potential… the light alone is amazing! It does look like you have a lot of work on your plate but just think how awesome it’s going to be when finished and done how you dream it up. Congrats again!ReplyCancel

  • Gloria7.8.13 - 8:20 AM

    I’m so excited for your house purchase too! I’m not quite sure I understand the layout quite yet, but let’s chalk that up to Monday morning and not enough coffee yet. I’m about to close on a house with every room painted a pale shade of purple; walls, closets, ceilings, laundry room, the whole shebang. Wish me luck! As I’ll be doing the same for you!ReplyCancel

  • So much natural light and potential there! You’ve got a lot of work to do, but it is going to be fabulous! I’m sure your heads are filled with ideas right now. Thanks so much for taking us along with you!ReplyCancel

  • Hannah K.7.8.13 - 8:38 AM

    WOW oh WOW. This looks amazing. I know you guys are going to do SUCH great things with this space. I’m so excited to share the journey with you (virtually!).ReplyCancel

  • I am SO excited for you and equally thankful that “smell-o-vision” is not a thing ;) I think “blank slate” is the best way to describe this space. There’s so much potential! I absolutely love the light in the studio space.

    I can’t believe the ceiling is sagging so much. That seems like such a huge project to tackle. I hope it’s going well for you.ReplyCancel

    • Kim7.8.13 - 9:26 AM

      Thank you, guys!

      Alison, we’re still in the condo for now, so no kitchen sleeping just yet!

      Gloria, good luck and congrats on the new house!

      Heather, the photos don’t even do the ceiling justice. It is LOW, and the second floor is SAG Central. We’ve ripped it open, and we’re taking on some quotes, so fingers crossed it won’t be the end of the world…ReplyCancel

  • Katharine7.8.13 - 9:24 AM

    Congratulations on the house! Some of the issues you’re facing sound similar to the problems with the unit K and I live in… it was built in 1912. (The cracked tiles, the sagging floors, the layers upon layers of paint!). We often envision buying the place and fixing it up– I look forward to seeing your journey and learning from you guys! :)ReplyCancel

  • Emily @ Our Waldo Bungie7.8.13 - 9:26 AM

    Wow! Seriously, I cannot WAIT to see what you do with this space! It is so spacious and I know with some TLC from you and Scott, it will be the belle of Logan Square! :)ReplyCancel

  • Marti @ Project Palermo7.8.13 - 9:42 AM

    Yessss. Can’t wait to see what you do with the space. I’d also really appreciate a detailed post sometime down the road about any Chicago zoning/permit issues you encounter throughout this process.ReplyCancel

  • Kim7.8.13 - 9:49 AM

    Marti, oh man, we really hope it doesn’t cause any issues, but we’d love to share the details once we understand them better ourselves. So far, we’ve met with our alderman, and he pointed us in the right direction. This week, we’ll be working towards that more!ReplyCancel

  • Jennie7.8.13 - 9:50 AM

    The light is amazing! So much potential and I am SO excited to see what you do with it!ReplyCancel

  • kaylan7.8.13 - 10:24 AM

    the light! i love it!

    and i’m so glad you’re rehabbing this house instead of doing a tear down and rebuild. it always makes me a little sad when i see gorgeous old houses that just need a little love being completely demolished.

    does it have a basement suite as well? the exterior entrance in the first photo makes it appear so.ReplyCancel

  • Kim7.8.13 - 10:31 AM

    Hi Kaylan! It does have a basement suite, but we’re working on the proper zoning since we’re taking the home from a legal 2 flat plus basement to a single family plus basement.ReplyCancel

  • Jill7.8.13 - 10:35 AM

    Looking better already, you guys!ReplyCancel

  • Cait @ Hernando House7.8.13 - 10:41 AM

    I can’t totally see why you fell in love with the house- total blank slate! Super jealous of the new studio! Hope leveling the floor/ceiling is going well!ReplyCancel

  • Jodi7.8.13 - 10:41 AM

    omg, the light!!! so awesome!

    can hardly wait to follow along on your progress.ReplyCancel

  • Cait @ Hernando House7.8.13 - 10:42 AM

    I mean can totally, sorry!ReplyCancel

  • Kim7.8.13 - 10:55 AM

    Cait, we knew what you meant ;)ReplyCancel

  • Two Pitties in the City7.8.13 - 11:14 AM

    So, so exciting to finally see the reveal! I love all the light, and I can’t believe how much space you will have. Super excited to see how it all comes together.ReplyCancel

  • Amy7.8.13 - 11:28 AM

    I am so excited to see what goodness you will bring to this place. That is one lucky diamond in the rough. And I am supremely jealous of all your natural light.ReplyCancel

  • dervla7.8.13 - 11:41 AM

    i can’t get over that light too, wooowwww! The floors are gorgeous … hope the ceiling fixing goes smoothly.ReplyCancel

  • Emma7.8.13 - 12:23 PM

    Smashing house! So happy for you all. Sorry to ask, but for clarification, your new house originally had THREE apartments (basement, floor 1, and floor 2)? And you’re trying to convert it into a single family home or a single family home plus a basement (garden?) apartment? Either way – congratulations! Looking forward to reading all about the sweat equity that’s about be poured into this lovely home. Good luck!ReplyCancel

  • Kim7.8.13 - 12:30 PM

    Hi Emma, great question – let me try my best to answer. Yes, there were technically 3 apartments (basement, floor 1, floor 2), BUT the basement unit is dubbed an “in-law suite,” therefore, it was not zoned as a unit that could be rented out. The zoning allows this building as a two-flat, meaning that there are 2 rentable units. Because we’ll be converting the first and second floor to a duplex-up, we’ll technically still have 2 units with our home – OUR home and the basement unit. However, this still requires some administrative adjustments through the city, which we’re working on. In the future, we could potentially rent the basement (garden) unit, which is pretty nice – nicer than the rest of the home currently, actually!

    Phew! Hope that makes sense!ReplyCancel

  • Ashley7.8.13 - 12:45 PM

    I love all the light you get! (that’s hard to find in Chicago!) Excited to see all of the updates!ReplyCancel

  • Brad7.8.13 - 2:06 PM

    Yay! Really excited to follow along as you work on the new place!ReplyCancel

  • aussiebeachgirl7.8.13 - 8:38 PM

    Hi Kim. Never underestimate the value of a walk-in pantry! Your kitchen right now is quite sizable, so I wouldn’t be sacrificing that nook for more of the same. As your family’s needs grow, and the cost of living escalates, bulk buying of stock items makes perfect sense – and this is where having a pantry is invaluable. Too often today, particularly in older builds, these sought-after spaces are being sacrificed in order to open up spaces into open-plan living. I’ve seen homes totally regutted in the UK and here in Australia, but interestingly, there is a growing trend towards preserving and not ripping out the heart of a home. Work with what you have, and turn it into an enviable piece of real estate. From the look of it, it has wonderful potential, and I wish you and yours the happiest of times in your new abode. Cheers, heather xReplyCancel

  • Ada (new york)7.8.13 - 8:51 PM

    Looks like u r ready to have a blast decorating (bringing more tender loving care into the home)!! wohoooo! Have fun, looking fwd to seeing it developed with love.ReplyCancel

  • Caitlyn7.9.13 - 6:46 AM

    I had the same thought as Aussiebeachgirl, I’d keep the kitchen nook as a pantry.Also, I think I’d make the master bedroom nook into a mater bath. It is connected to the other bathroom so it shouldn’t be too expensive. It wo uld up resale value (if you plan to sell) and if your family gets bigger another bathroom would be nice.ReplyCancel

  • Julia @cuckoo4design7.9.13 - 8:07 AM

    Amazing! What a great place and I’m so happy for you!ReplyCancel

  • Kim7.9.13 - 8:53 AM

    Aussiebeachgirl and Caitlyn, both great suggestions! Aussie, the kitchen renovation will likely happen further down the road, but we’re open to ideas, and yours makes a lot of sense!

    Caitlyn, the nook upstairs, I should have said, is MUCH smaller than the blue room off of the downstairs kitchen. There’s also no other place in the home for a laundry hook up, so we’re not completely sure that would work. We’re still in the “getting estimates” phase, so we’ll keep noodling on the idea further.

    Thank you both for your input!ReplyCancel

  • Sarge in Charge7.9.13 - 9:39 AM

    Oh man, I am genuinely SO excited to see what you guys will do with the place. But now that I have a taste of what is to come I need more! Let’s get some mood boards up in here! (pretty please?)ReplyCancel

  • Kim7.9.13 - 9:45 AM

    Sarge, thank you! Man oh man, we are so far from mood boards right now… but we are day dreaming pretty hard ;) We’re gathering up some photos of our work over the last week, and we can’t wait to share those snippets SOON.ReplyCancel

  • Emma7.9.13 - 9:47 AM

    Thanks for explaining that Kim! Sorry for the confusion, I’ve never heard of the term “garden” unit. Must be a regional term. It’s totally cool that you have an “income suite” (love that show!). Good luck with all of the paperwork. Even if you decide not to rent the garden unit out, it’s good to have options.ReplyCancel

  • Kiira7.9.13 - 9:48 AM

    You’re so lucky to get so much natural light! And I love that arch! Can’t wait to see what you do with the place and how you fill up ALL OF THAT SPACE. So…many…rooms!
    Any thoughts on drafting and sharing a floor plan? The different orange walls (and the mirror/door?) were throwing me off downstairs.
    And, um, if you want more things to organize, my basement would like to hire you :)
    Thanks for sharing!ReplyCancel

  • Kim7.9.13 - 10:00 AM

    Emma, you’re right – options are always a good thing!

    Kiira, yes, we do need to share a floor plan! I’ll need to whip something up and share so it makes more sense.ReplyCancel

  • Kim7.9.13 - 11:02 AM

    Wow. So light and bright! Cannot wait to see what you guys do with this. :) (And so wish I had your vision. I’d be so overwhelmed.)ReplyCancel

  • Kim7.9.13 - 11:16 AM

    Kim, don’t be fooled – we’re overwhelmed, too! But baby steps make all the difference.ReplyCancel

  • BeKind7.9.13 - 1:17 PM

    Congrats Guys!!! I feel like a stalker, I’ve been waiting for these pics what seems like forever. LOL. It’s going to be a beautiful home renovated with a lot heart, soul and love. (Not to mention sweat). The possibilities are just endless. Good luck! Looking forward to more pics. :)ReplyCancel

  • Kelly7.9.13 - 2:16 PM

    Yay been waiting for these!! Looks like the perfect place for you guys and can’t wait to see the progression :) Love all the light you get in there!!ReplyCancel

    • Kim7.9.13 - 4:34 PM

      Kelly, there’s plenty of room for your whole family to visit! We will bribe you with treats and girl talk.

      BeKind, hilarious! And thank you so much.ReplyCancel

  • Jennifer Twarek7.9.13 - 9:34 PM

    Congratulations Kim & Scott on your new adventure. I can’t wait to see all the amazing things you are going to your House Project.

    Love Aunt JenniferReplyCancel

  • misie7.10.13 - 8:07 AM

    oh my goodness Kim – it’s so charming! i love it. you guys are gonna rock that place – those floors are lovely and the front porch is darling. congrats!!!ReplyCancel


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