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(Not So) Small Victories

Let’s start by saying that we’ve officially been living in our home for just over one month – one month of no ceilings, still-out-of-boxes, and very much in limbo-living. While our contractors were able to lift our second floor / raise our first floor ceiling joists, we’ve been in a holding pattern until they can return and complete the drywall work and move around some electrical. At times this feels frustrating, but for the most part, we are so excited with what we know will be good things to come – and so, we’ve been keeping our spirits up and tackling the things that we can.

Our small victories, so to speak.

Looking back through the last month’s archives, we’ve noticed that we’ve been listing the big to-dos: raising the ceiling (check), opening the entry (check) and removing the very uneven room partitions (check, check, check!) – but with every item that gets crossed off, a whole new can of worms are opened. Sometimes this is thrilling (Yay, now we can start planning for our entryway flooring!) and sometimes it’s not (Doh! We can’t unpack much else until the [drywall] dust settles. Womp-womp.)

Oh, and have we mentioned yet that we need to install a new furnace for the second floor?

We knew going in that the first floor had a new furnace installed. This was good, of course. But we also knew that the second floor didn’t. No, wait, it didn’t have a furnace at all. It had these (very unsafe) space heaters:

There was one in the studio, and there was one in the kitchen-turned-master-bedroom. And because we removed the kitchen, there was still exposed plumbing and gas lines jutting into our already chaotic mess:

Just as we had with our quote for drywall, electrical and overall-house-straightening, we began gathering estimates from HVAC specialists for the second floor furnace, and in the end, we moved forward with Adi’s, a recommendation from our already secured head honcho contractor. But after realizing that we’d need a few more weeks to save the additional money for the furnace costs (and hoping to put it off as long as possible until the cold Chicago winter rolls around), we asked if we could break up the job by having them install a few more vents on the first floor (per their suggestion) – and hey! While you’re at it, could you cap off all of our plumbing, too? (And dispose of those very scary, very unsafe space heaters?)

And so, they did!

In a strange twist of fate, they even did so without any additional charge. (The home renovation gods must’ve been watching out for us, don’t you think?) Above, you’ll see that the gas line went right through that kitchen wall, and trickled down the back of the adjoining guest room’s closet. (We don’t ask why?, remember?) And below, you’ll see only an exposed chimney. No more space heater, no unsafe live wires. You can, however, see the heater’s dusty little footprint. (So long!)

Our bedroom – mess aside – has larger patches of drywall to repair, but those pipes? Gone! You’ll also remember that the kitchen-cabinetry-no-more will need drywall repair work, and ultimately, that wall will be lined with clean, organized closets. But again, this doesn’t make sense to pursue until all drywall work has been completed.

In other not-so-small-victories, the front half of our house got new windows! There are many, many windows in our home that need repair, but the two biggest culprits of never-ending frustration were the two largest windows, both of which face the street. (We wish we could’ve replaced them all – 20 of them! – but in the meantime, the remaining windows will get a good scrub, fresh screens and potentially new trim.) If you’ve ever wondered what window installation looks like, well, here:

The two windows got the royal treatment, and they were replaced with glass panes that can do everything just short of serving you breakfast in bed. Just as with everything else, we gathered a couple of quotes, but in the end, we went with Feldco. (Locals, you know the jingle, right?) We didn’t think we would be so excited about new windows, but you guys! We can see through them. No joke, this was an actual issue before.

It’s this in-between time that has us tackling these tasks that have to get done – winter prep, we’re on it! – but that’s not to say we’re not throwing in the occasional just-for-fun projects, too. Because eventually, it’s all got to get done. (Like my former boss used to say, How do you eat a whale? One bite a time.)

Home lovers, renovators and DIY-ers, what has you saying, 3 cheers for (not so) small victories! Come on; story time.

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  • louize8.27.13 - 6:15 AM

    I can so imagine the excitement of new windows… mine were due to be installed next week, I was so excited, and now I have just had to cancel because I discovered my neighbours were planning to submit a complaint against me if I install PVC instead of wood… tears were shed!
    The little steps make such a big change… one step at a time!ReplyCancel

  • Hannah K.8.27.13 - 7:27 AM

    We have been trying to get someone to come in and do the kitchen tiling since JANUARY. We are JUST NOW in the home stretch — tiling is down, finishing needs done. We’ve been without a kitchen since last Sunday. We will be cheering when it’s FINALLY done (hopefully today?!).

    The other small victory we’re looking forward to: finally getting rid of every last patch of maroon paint!ReplyCancel

  • Haha! I love the pictures near the top with “no” and “still no” :)

    We finally feel like the ball is rolling again on the exterior. We thought the circuit to one of our exterior lights was damaged and would need an electrician. Then we found a switch that we had never tried and the light popped on! Woot!! The studio is also making progress. We ran all of our data lines last night, which means we are literally on the verge of moving Aaron’s office in! YAY!!!ReplyCancel

  • Katie8.27.13 - 8:40 AM

    This is totally off-topic, but I’ve been wondering for awhile: where did you guys get those delicious-looking aqua/mint sheets on your bed? I’m absolutely in love with the color!ReplyCancel

  • Sarah @ 702 Park Project8.27.13 - 8:47 AM

    Wow! This is totally not a SMALL victory!! Awesome work! We had to replace our furnace and HVAC unit too after all the copper was stolen out of our existing units. It was a total pain. And I’m super impressed that yall are living through the construction…I don’t think we have the patience to do it! :)ReplyCancel

  • blair @ the fox and she8.27.13 - 10:20 AM

    Wow!! So awesome! I love that big window in your studio too. I’ve loved seeing the whole process, keep it up, it will so be worth it :)ReplyCancel

  • Cait8.27.13 - 10:24 AM

    Wow! I love the new windows!

    I totally understand not-so-small victories! And unexpected with-no-extra-charge additions to projects. We’ve been having plumbers help us out with plumbing in the “guest”/future-master bathroom, rearranging the laundry room, and crawling under the house to run piping to the outdoor shower and back porch sink. Thankfully they don’t hate me too much for being a bit scatterbrained with projects. Or at least they’ve been nice enough not to say it to my face. Also? I think drywall starts tomorrow!!ReplyCancel

  • Laura at Rather Square8.27.13 - 10:30 AM

    I think when you are talking a home renovation, small and large take on relative meaning. ;-) We’ve been doing a lot of “large” things since we moved in too (painting lots of walls, fixing asbestos and electrical issues, installing new carpeting) but next month we are hoping to catch up on a lot of “smaller” tasks like hemming and installing curtains, painting old bookends and bar stools, organizing the linen closet, etc.

    Your new windows are gorgeous! And I am quite familiar with the jingle. :)ReplyCancel

    • Kim8.27.13 - 10:50 AM

      Thanks, everyone!

      Louize, wow, such a bizarre thing to complain about! I hope those kinks get worked out…

      Hannah, BOO maroon paint!

      Heather, AWESOME! I can’t wait to see the meeting space come together.

      Katie, those sheets are from the Nate Berkus line at Target. The color is “Ocean Breeze”:

      Sarah, Scott often tells people that we’re camping. Good times, ha!ReplyCancel

      • Kim8.27.13 - 10:52 AM

        Oh, also, Blair – thank you! :)

        Cait, 3 CHEERS for drywall! We can’t wait for the day to see ours.

        And Laura, you’re absolutely right. It does take on relative meeting!ReplyCancel

  • Liz8.27.13 - 1:40 PM

    You guys are amazing for tackling so much at once. Your house is already coming along beautifully and I really appreciate the fact that you two are kind enough to share it with all of us!ReplyCancel

  • Kelly8.27.13 - 5:20 PM

    While our house is a baby compared to yours, we’ve still rejoiced at each new renovation: AC, heat pump, furnace; refrigerator that keeps food cool; dishwasher that cleans dishes; oven that heats and turns on; windows that don’t take 2 strong 20 somethings to open and close (and that actually close all the way); hot water tank that gives hot water, washer and dryer that clean our clothes; (can you tell I get excited when the appliance does what it’s supposed to do?). I’ve also been thrilled when simple things get accomplished like fresh paint on the walls (complete with Kilz because the original home owner smoked like a chimney)! I was thrilled when I had friends that were kind enough to come over and move furniture for me so I could rip up the carpeting that covered the hardwood floors. There’s still work to be done, but we’ve put a lot of time and money into our home. Now we can either sell it and run, or take deep breaths and realize the roof needs to be replaced (30+ year old roof….not a good thing with hurricane season coming)ReplyCancel

  • Kim8.27.13 - 5:32 PM

    Liz, oh my goodness – thank YOU for being our cheerleaders!

    Kelly, in 1 paragraph, you summed up our feelings from a whole post. Don’t you love it when things work the way they’re supposed to?!ReplyCancel

  • Julie L.8.27.13 - 7:11 PM

    I’m so excited for you. I just found your blog (hi!) and I love seeing local people renovate – I’m out in Aurora. I had to comment because I do, in fact, know the jingle AND had Feldco do our windows about two years ago. Best decision ever. The windows rock and we had no problems with the install.

    Your house reminds me of a three-flat my friends rented in Logan Square, complete with teeny under-the-stairs bedroom. I can’t wait to see what you do next :)ReplyCancel

  • Kim8.28.13 - 8:53 AM

    Julie, wow, an under the stairs bathroom?! Be still my heart.ReplyCancel

  • Kayla @ Home Coming blog8.28.13 - 1:57 PM

    My husband (a carpenter) and I are getting ready to jump into a big renovation project that we’re handling almost entirely ourselves. It’s terrifying, but we got our first step completed over the weekend – drafting the plan for our Master Bedroom & Bath! It feels SO great to have our plan together.ReplyCancel

  • Emma8.28.13 - 6:12 PM

    Wow! The new windows are lovely. Question – are you going to keep that brick chimney exposed? I kind of dig it.ReplyCancel

  • Julia @cuckoo4design8.28.13 - 8:38 PM

    Yay for the big window.ReplyCancel

  • Jill8.29.13 - 9:57 AM

    LOVE the new window! So pretty! Clean windows are pretty much heavenly. It’s funny how when we got our house back in ’06, I was SO IMPATIENT for things to be perfect. But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve calmed down a bit and am OK with getting another imperfect home (cause really there’s no such thing as a perfect one) that we’ll slowly but surely make pretty enough. ha!ReplyCancel

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