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Demolition Kicks Off at Tree House! (+ A Mini Vlog)

I was starting to get worried that our Tree House to do list was absolutely nuts. But what’s even crazier is that we’ve since added to it – if only because our first demolition weekend was such a huge success! Not only did we crush everything on our list of ‘hope to do,’ but we accidentally added ‘kitchen deconstruction,’ too. The same day that the HVAC system was given the thumbs up, we loaded up the pups and headed to our tiny fixer upper for what we thought would be a long and time consuming – and cold and rainy! – weekend of dust and debris. What actually happened was that we found ourselves getting ready for an early evening out on Saturday, and we spent Sunday morning over a lazy brunch and a walk along Lake Michigan.

Hands down, we owe so much of our success to our friends Daniel and Meghan. They met us at Tree House on Saturday morning, and without any hesitation at all, they picked up sledge hammers and pry bars and were swinging ten minutes later. Between the four of us (although let’s be honest, it was mostly the three of them while I played project manager and ran errands), we demolished the mudroom and kitchen, and we removed the faux brick fireplace surround and removed every last bit of trim throughout the first floor (minus the bath). We put together a mini vlog, if you’d like to see!

For those of you looking for more details, you know I’m happy to dive right in. Let’s start with the mudroom, which I promise you, no one was happier than me to see this room disappear! Maybe it’s growing up in the Midwest, but I love a good mudroom so much. And this room – this room! – is screaming with potential. It will be the first room you see when you walk into the house, and we imagine a bench for seating, hooks, a tiny broom closet and a stacked washer and dryer. We’re hoping to pack a lot of function into this space, but now that the old water heater is gone (it used to be in that empty space on the far left, below), we have the room to do so!

While Scott and Daniel made easy work of the mudroom, Meghan and I got to work on the faux fireplace surround. Although the little potbelly stove is adorable, we’re on a mission to find it a better home. We have plans for a gas fireplace in another corner of the living room, and instead, this much larger corner will be better suited as a place to create a family-sized banquette.

The tiles came off relatively easy, although an old chimney leak had caused the drywall to become soft and soggy in a few areas. Because we’re already planning on having a fair amount of drywall repair to tackle, it wasn’t a big deal; if anything, we’re happy to uncover these problem areas so we can make them right. But the best news is that underneath the brick platform, the hardwood floors continued seamlessly!

Meanwhile, the mudroom wrapped up, Meghan and I started on trim removal, and the boys were ready to take apart the entire kitchen. This was simultaneously very exciting and very, very nerve wracking, because you might notice this job wasn’t actually on our Tree House to do list!


The evening before, Scott and I decided to innocently remove the kitchen peninsula. Our intention was to see if there was any other flooring beneath it, or at the very least, we could peel back the layers we found. We shared our findings on Instagram Stories, so if you caught those, you know that we completely freaked out when we discovered the same hardwood flooring from the living room! Better yet, we found a loose corner in the mudroom and found even more original hardwood! It had been painted at some point in time, but it’s there. We ended up meeting with a floor refinishing contractor during the weekend, and all our fingers are crossed that the floors will be salvageable. (Insert all the salsa dancing, crying and screaming emojis here!)

Although tearing out the kitchen wasn’t completely necessary to refinish the floors (the refinishers could technically work right up to the base of the cabinets), we didn’t want to risk seeing a line on the floor should anything change in the floor plan, cabinet depth, etc. So just like that, the kitchen was added to our demolition list.

Scott and Daniel had the entire room taken apart in under an hour, and although we weren’t planning on a kitchen renovation so soon, now that we’ve had a moment to let this sink in, we’re really excited to knock it out! We’re also grateful that we uncovered all the moldy drywall beneath the cabinets, as we’ll be able to correct all these issues from the beginning.

Alright, let’s take a look at the satisfying before and after progress photos!

Kitchen Before

Kitchen Progress

The living room doesn’t look drastically different, but we’re relieved to remove all the baseboards so that we can start planning for new. While the baseboards were fine – they were just simple builder grade boards – we figured that if we’re going to refinish the floors, we might as well do the baseboards soon after. #thesnowballeffect

Living Room Before

Living Room Progress

And you know now how I feel about the mudroom! There are still supports in place for a partial chimney, which will be removed sooner than later by a pro. We’ve also hired out some electrical and plumbing reconfiguring, and of course, bad drywall will be replaced with new.

Mudroom Before

Mudroom Progress

View from Front Door Before

View from Front Door Progress

We didn’t think we’d be so giddy to kiss the kitchen goodbye, but now that it’s gone, well, our heads are spinning with ideas! White cabinets or colorful? Perhaps soft gray or sage or navy or black or emerald? We do know we’ll be eliminating most of the uppers to allow for this smaller kitchen to breathe.

View Into Kitchen Before

View Into Kitchen Progress

As for where all of our demo debris went? We rented a dumpster! We actually found this post from DIY Playbook to be very helpful, and they couldn’t have posted it at a better time. Up until then, we were under the illusion that we could fill contractor bags and haul everything away ourselves. Ha! Since we had it on hand, we also cleaned out a small shed in the backyard and tossed old mattresses that we’ll be replacing with Leesas (our very favorite!).

We’ll be back at Tree House to take measurements and start selecting paint colors and trim, and soon, all of our floors are being refinished! We’re looking forward to clearing out the piles that are accumulating in our own Chicago garage (bed frames, lamps, odds and ends), and if all goes well, we’ll be able to make the beds in a few short weeks – #7 on the ol’ to do!

PS… You can view our mini vlog on YouTube right here, and it was filmed and edited by us, Kim + Scott. It’d sure make our day if you subscribed to our YouTube channel!

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  • Esther11.16.17 - 7:20 AM

    Wow. So much lighter already! Can’t wait to see the ‘afters’. ?ReplyCancel

    • Kim11.16.17 - 8:14 AM

      We joked that Tree House lost at least 1000 lbs in one day!ReplyCancel

  • Emily11.16.17 - 8:11 AM

    OMG your babies (ok, I guess I should say pups now that there is a baby coming) behind the pocket door watching melted my heart! Very exciting!ReplyCancel

    • Kim11.16.17 - 8:13 AM

      They are still very much our babies, haha, always wanting to help with everything.ReplyCancel

  • jenn aka the picky girl11.16.17 - 9:18 AM

    This is so fun! So eager to see the progress. I’m amazed at you guys. We started a half bath project about a month ago, and between moving my parents out of our house into a travel trailer and my in laws visiting from Germany, we have made very little progress. Maybe I’ll rip up some tile this evening…ReplyCancel

  • Mara11.16.17 - 9:25 AM

    Kim, your baby belly brings tears of joy! You’re so cute. Love what you guys are doing so far. I vote a pretty sage or olive for the cabinets!ReplyCancel

    • Kim11.16.17 - 9:48 AM

      Thanks, Mara! So sweet. We’re kind of leaning that way, but keep going back and forth! In the meantime, we’ve been gathering inspiration images…ReplyCancel

      • Kerri11.16.17 - 1:39 PM

        I just painted some cabinetry “Rosemary” by Sherwin Williams and it is a beautiful green. :)ReplyCancel

  • Liz11.16.17 - 9:27 AM

    As this is your little getaway, I vote you do something fun in the kitchen! It’s going to be cute pretty much no matter what.ReplyCancel

  • Nicole11.16.17 - 9:39 AM

    Colorful cabinets! Weekend houses are a chance to do something fun!ReplyCancel

  • Brittany11.16.17 - 11:17 AM

    Your little get away is so cute and the progress is really exciting! Just an idea; You could go for a really open floor plan by ripping out the walls framing the mud room! Just make a small closet for the stacked washer & dryer. It would totally open up the living/kitchen/dining space.ReplyCancel

    • Kim11.16.17 - 11:24 AM

      So interesting! That could be a really cool concept, but with Michigan winters and the summer beaches, we just LOVE a mudroom. I see how your idea could work, but we’re definitely excited about the possibility of a built-in banquette for the dining room.ReplyCancel

  • Val11.16.17 - 7:11 PM

    I love the vlog post and this is so exciting to watch it all come down in preparation for new ideas! I can’t wait to watch it all unfold. ?ReplyCancel

  • the lady11.17.17 - 8:23 AM

    Very excited to see where the cabin design takes you! (and us!!) :) One thing I have learned from my parents having second homes–there are always critter problems! Between mice and skunk and the random armadillo, it’s always something. They have done a lot of work to seal off the underside of the cabins and little garage they have to make sure nothing gets under there or worse, gets under there and dies :/ just a thought as you plan! have funReplyCancel

    • Kim11.17.17 - 8:36 AM

      Such a great tip! We do have a few areas we know we need to address. It’s definitely something we hope to get to soon!ReplyCancel

  • Janet11.17.17 - 10:59 AM

    Loved watching along on instagram! Do you have any plans for the outside? I remember from the original tour that it was a bit of an awkward curb appeal because of the addition, but it sounds like you are staying with the front-door actually being a side-door configuration?ReplyCancel

    • Kim11.17.17 - 11:05 AM

      Yup, it’s going to stay a side-door-front-door. The inside flow makes so much sense, we don’t want to mess with that! BUT we’ll definitely be making changes to the outside – the deck, the landscaping, etc. Hopefully this summer?ReplyCancel

      • Janet11.17.17 - 11:17 AM

        Can’t wait to see it! I find it’s hard to create an inviting street view if you can’t see the entrance, so I’m excited to see your ideas!ReplyCancel

  • Is that vinyl flooring covering up some of that hardwood? If so, how are you planning on removing it?ReplyCancel

    • Kim11.19.17 - 6:17 PM

      From bottom to top: It’s hardwood flooring, then a thin plywood subfloor, then vinyl. Our floor refinishers are going to remove it for us – but it can be done with prybars and patience. The plywood subfloor was nailed down, so all those nails need to be pried up!ReplyCancel

  • Vanessa11.18.17 - 2:57 PM

    Oh, I love this stage! Can I vote for sage too?ReplyCancel

    • Kim11.19.17 - 6:16 PM

      Haha, time will tell! So many possibilities. :)ReplyCancel

  • Paige Flamm11.18.17 - 4:24 PM

    It’s so exciting to see all of this fun progress!


  • marie11.19.17 - 8:48 PM

    How did you keep the demo areas safe for puppy feet? I’m always concerned that our puppers will step on something sharp (so far that has only happened to the humans around here!). The space looks great! can’t wait to see what happens.ReplyCancel

    • Kim11.20.17 - 8:26 AM

      During the more intense parts of demo, we set up the dogs with beds and blankets in one of the bedrooms. After we were able to sweep everything up, they could come out. :)ReplyCancel

  • Ashley - The Gold Hive11.19.17 - 10:07 PM

    I could watch you gut those rooms all day long. Why isn’t that the premise of an HGTV show??!ReplyCancel

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We’re Kim + Scott, Chicago based content creators behind the Home + Lifestyle brand Yellow Brick Home.

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