This Little Miggy Stayed Home: Grown-Up Renovations

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Grown-Up Renovations

We've been lucky to live in some great old houses over the years. Our 96 year old victorian in Cincinnati 1.0 and our fantastic Mid-Centruy Modern in San Antonio that we lucked out on renting for 3 years (I still miss that house). For me, enjoying my home--the design and the overall look + feel--is a big deal. I think a lot of people feel that way, but of course personal tastes vary greatly. My brother and I always laugh about what opposites we are in this department--when it comes to homes he likes newnewnew! And for me, the older the better. In fact when they lived in California he was once lamenting to me that he was sick of everything in the house breaking all the time and that it was always needing repairs. "Well it is 20 years old," he said matter of factly. I laughed and said I had never lived in a house that new.

The thing that I haven't loved about living in all these old homes are the old, nasty bathrooms. This includes our current house. It's not just that the bathrooms are outdated (though definitely that!) but we're talking broken tiles, lowered ceilings(?), no ventilation, mold coming through the grout, and poor lighting.

So for the first time as grown-up adults we are finally looking into doing some serious, grown-up remodeling. We would be redoing the main bathroom (which is also the one the girls use) and the master bathroom. This is both very exciting and very daunting! We love a good DIY and I would say we are both handy people--especially the husband--but since we are talking about renovating down to the studs, maybe even redesigning the space, this renovation is completely out of our wheelhouse.  Not to mention we just don't have the time we used to have. I've just started the process of interviewing some different design firms who can do anything from drawing up design plans and letting you take it from there, to drawing up design plans and seeing the project through to the end. At this point, I'm leaning toward the latter since again this feels SO out of my comfort zone.

It's clear from these inspiration photos that I have a certain aesthetic I'm in mind--lots of white subway tile with dark grout, I'd love to get an old claw foot again (we had one in our Victorian), brass fixtures, and wood accents. Also, I really think you can't go wrong with a black and white palette. That being said, choosing every single fixture, tile, flooring, etc freaks me out a little! Another reason I'd gladly accept the help of a designer. Forgive me, but I've just had an epiphany in realizing why I  like living in already built, old homes. First, the idea of building a home from scratch and choosing every little finish, paint color, flooring choice all at once gives me a panic attack just thinking about it. I'd much rather buy a home that someone else did all the decision making on and then tweak it here and there as I see fit. For some people that probably sounds crazy (put your hand down husband), but if I don't like something that I chose in a year, well no one to blame but myself. Also, the fact that a house is old but design wise still relevant really appeals to me. I have always liked things (books, music, art) that have stood the test of time. So it makes sense to me that I want a house that has also been around for a few decades--it can be timeless, yet we can make the necessary changes to make it modern at the same time. Also, I just like old stuff.  Let's not over think it.

I'm curious to hear from any of you seasoned renovators where did you start? Did you completely DIY a space and just take it one step at a time? If you hired out the work, did you hire someone to handle it from start to finish or did you design the space yourself and figure it out as you went along contracting work when you needed it done? Since I know what I want the space to look like, I don't feel as though I need someone to help my pick every little thing BUT at the same time a good designer will know how to rework the space for maximum usage and will know good sources and can even get you discounts. Did anyone ever start with a designer and wish they hadn't used them for the full project?  Has anyone ever tackled a project solo and then wished they had just hired a designer? Please, tell me all your secrets! 

photos 1/2/3/4


  1. Tamra4:56 PM

    We've never re-done a bathroom. We paid someone to build a bathroom from scratch downstairs, and I agree - making all the color and design decisions was overwhelming! I decided right then and there that I should never build a house. I think I'm not cut out for it. :)

    My 2 cents for the bathroom: Think really hard about if you really want wood floors. My parents had wood floor bathrooms that rotted out. Literally. So, if you're going to have them, take really really really good care of them! (Also, that first picture makes them look amazing - though not necessarily nice on the feet.)

    1. Oh--so I don't actually want wood floors. While I like to look I'm actually thinking a graphic black and white tile. If I did want the look of wood floors, I would go with some of those newer tiles that are made to look like wood. Yea...I don't want to deal with rotting floors. And so glad you get me on the stress of building a house! Plus, there are just so many houses out there for sale, why do we need to build more? (I hope that doesn't rub anyone the wrong way...that's just how I've always felt. I certainly am not going to boycott home building anytime soon...)

  2. We just finished building..ahem :) I actually never dreamed we would build, but in an effort to stay close to the husband's job and provide some more space for the kids it ended up being what felt right.
    I adore pouring over design magazines and blogs and thought I could handle the process of designing and making all the choices myself, but about 3/4's of the way through I hired a designer to help me with some of the really big permanent things that I was having a hard time wrapping my head around. I was so grateful I did because, number one, my family and friends were probably so sick of hearing me talk about it and number two, she gave me some amazing ideas in a few hours (we just did a hourly rate kind of deal) and also boosted my confidence with some things I had been a little unsure of (ie should I paint the interior doors dark? which way to run the wood floors, etc.) I would just suggest finding someone who you share similar style with and also someone who doesn't intimidate you - that you can work with instead of just listen to :)
    We ended up doing white 1-inch hex tile floors with dark grout in the baths and I love it - and we have 5 young kids and it seems to be wearing great and doesn't look super dirty quickly either. If you are looking for a graphic black and white tile - maybe check out Mosaic Moroccan tile house in vegas...we did our kitchen back splash with their hand painted cement tiles and it is my favorite. I don't know that they have a modern graphic line but maybe? They were the most affordable by far (I ordered directly thought them by just calling them up) and were absolutely awesome to work with. I would have loved to do all the bathroom floors in them but it was out of the budget :) I will shoot you some pictures ...can't wait to see how your bath turns out. I love reading your spotlights - such great insights into peoples lives. Love it.

  3. While they're not a design firm, I've used 2nd City Craftsmen and Construction for several projects. They recently redid a bathroom with a similar style to the ones you've included above, including a black & white floor. Just thought I'd share because after buying a 108-yet old house in the city, I found that good contractors are very hard to come by.

  4. I grew up with my parents renovating homes and we are currently on our second home renovation as a married couple. I can't imagine choosing everything from scratch all at once! I love moving into homes that already have a character and then working with it. The home that we are renovating now needed paint in every single room, every single wall and ceiling before we moved in. It was tough to make all the paint decisions for the whole house in just a few days. I like to get a feel of the house before making all those decisions.

    On the other hand, we've renovating several bathrooms so I think I could confidently pick everything for a bathroom-- but it's a small space instead of a whole house! I guess we won't be building a home any time soon.....and I guess what I'm saying is is that if you worry about making all those decisions and doing all the construction yourself, a design firm is the way to go. You'll learn so much along the way that if you ever do this again, you will feel a lot more confident to do things yourself. I'm lucky enough to have experienced all of this growing up and so our first house we ripped down to the studs (pulling off the lathe and plaster in our 60 yr old home was so messy!). Every time we do another house, we learn something new.

  5. Anonymous5:17 AM

    Hi there, thanks for sharing this picture. Next week we are going to renovate our bathroom and bedroom, I am searching for some stores who can have a huge variety of designs. While discussing with my friend, he suggested me this website for renovation accessories. If you have any suggestions, please tell me.

  6. I felt exceptionally glad while perusing this site. This was truly exceptionally enlightening site for me. I truly preferred it. This was truly a sincere post. Much obliged!. HOA Services

  7. This type of message always inspiring and I prefer to read quality content, so happy to find good place to many here in the post, the writing is just great, thanks for the post. Home renovation Staten Island

  8. Some of these renovations can be done without the help of a contractor however, it can be a daunting task and many home renovations require extensive skills. It is often easier to hire a contractor to handle renovations for you.
    my site

  9. After reading your article I was amazed. I know that you explain it very well. And I hope that other readers will also experience how I feel after reading your article. I feel very grateful that I read this. It is very helpful and very informative and I really learned a lot from it. webfont generator

  10. It may cost them thousands of dollars and the last thing they want to do is try to work on it themselves and mess it up. Reno singapore 3d innovations

  11. Wonderful article, thanks for putting this together! This is obviously one great post. Thanks for the valuable information and insights you have so provided here. SS Homes

  12. This is extremely fascinating substance! I have completely delighted in perusing your focuses and have reached the conclusion that you are right about a hefty portion of them. You are extraordinary.