We bought our quant 1892 Denver home in 2014. We were vaguely considering purchasing a house, but we weren’t in a hurry. Our house was on the route I walked Porter on every day and I noticed that the house just wasn’t selling, but looked great.
We ended up finding a realtor and digging into the issues and why it wasn’t selling, figuring out that it wasn’t any huge issue, and buying the sucker.
Ever since we purchased it, we knew that the house could be more than it was. We had plans in our minds for a pretty large renovation project. Pretty much as soon as we purchased it, we started saving money for the future project.
Well, after two and half years of planning and construction, the project is (mostly) done and we have moved back in to our house. YAY!
I wanted to give you all a tour with some fun before/after pictures!
We started planning for this massive project in the summer of 2018. Yes. You read that correctly.
We found an architect and designer that we loved and embarked on the process of planning what, exactly, we wanted to do.
This is the layout of our main floor of the house. Our big issue was the basically abandoned garage that was attached to our house. It’s completely wasted space and what we hoped to use to build something great.
Originally, we were going to keep our kitchen in its location and build a family room in the back. Our designer eventually talked us into switching that plan though and making the current kitchen a family room and making the addition the kitchen.
Here is the plan that we ended up signing off on!
There were probably a dozen different versions of this plan that we went through. It was quite a process, but sort of a fun one. It’s crazy to realize that we are now living in the space that, for so long, was just on paper.
Main Floor Changes
The largest changes we made to our house was on the main floor.
For starters, the dining room. We didn’t change much in the dining room, but it feels very different in the new house because it’s more open and has new paint and light fixtures.
Here’s a picture I snapped when we moved into the house six years ago.
And here’s the same room today from the other side of the room.
Now for the big changes: THE KITCHEN!
As you might imagine, I had many thoughts on the kitchen layout and the kitchen will be getting a full post on its own I think.
But, generally, this was our kitchen when we bought the house. Actually this was after some paint, but this was the kitchen we used for years. It was totally fine and nicer than any kitchen I’d ever had. It was just kind of a weird space and was super closed off to the rest of the house.
For the renovation, we completely gutted the kitchen and turned the room into a family room. This allowed us to really expose the brick and use it as a media room.
I love the flow of this room now.
Two huge things we wanted on the main floor that old homes just don’t have is a coat closet and a powder room. We got both of them, even if they are quite a tight fit!
The other room on the main floor is our living room which used to be a TV room. Since we moved a TV into the old kitchen, we converted this to a true living room. It has music and books and that’s it.
I love this room so much. It’s a very calming room to sit in with the fire going.
Onto the second floor!
We started by thinking we wouldn’t touch much on the existing second floor, but as with any big project… stuff happens!
This was my old office which was on the second floor. It was in a weird location and you had to walk through a bedroom to get to it.
We ended up closing off that room and making it a true bedroom (which is now a playroom) and making a big closet on the room.
Controversially, the new upstairs and the old upstairs don’t connect. I actually like this, because it gives some privacy for my office and the guest room which is over the new kitchen.
My new office is right as you come up the stairs in the new addition. I’m still working on getting it all setup but it gets nice light and is a good space for me.
The unexpected project that I took on during this whole deal was redoing our second floor master bedroom. Because this wasn’t in the scope of the renovation, I did all this work myself. I’m pretty happy with how it turned out.
I also redid our very small master bathroom with new floor tile and new shower tile. I pretty much learned everything from nagging my contractor and watching approximately 300 hours of youtube videos.
Can you find the floor tile that is in the wrong space?! I see it EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.
The Backyard Dilemma
If you are doing a massive renovation, the space has to come from somewhere! The above photo is of our old backyard which was decent sized for a downtown Denver home. The shed on the left of the photo is wasted space and the poured concrete patio was a death trap. It’s hard to see in the photo but it’s actually on a slant so in the winter everybody was constantly falling on it.
To do this project, we ended up losing about 8 feet of our backyard. This was just a tradeoff that we decided was worth it, mainly because we live quite close to one of the larger parks in Denver.
And we got a massive new deck as well that extends off the kitchen. Nine months out of the year we will be able to use this space as an extra dining room basically.
Betsy and I have made hundreds of decisions for this project. Luckily, the project took forever so many of the decisions were spaced out, but it got to be very tiring.
Just look at this below photo of our new downstairs floor. How many decisions do you think are involved in this picture?
The answer is seven. Seven individual decisions just one little corner: Floor material, floor stain, vent size, vent cover, wall paint, trim style, trim paint.
Multiply this across the whole project and I got pretty good at just picking something quickly without really thinking twice about it!
We hear a lot in Denver about how it is very hard to build affordable housing in the area. I now understand why.
I could write thousands of words on all of the struggles we encountered from the city on this project, but here’s an example that drove me up a wall.
In two of our existing bedrooms, we had beautiful double-paned windows that were 100% fine windows. They worked. They were insulated well. No issues.
The city made us rip them out and replace them with new windows that were the exact same size but just opened differently for egress.
Because we were in a historic district this one change was a huge waste in materials and cost us around $5,000 in equipment and labor.
I can’t write any more about it because I’m still mad about it.
We had so many things like that where the project was delayed or more expensive just because of the area we live in. So it goes I guess!
Well, even though we have moved in, the project isn’t technically done. We still have a lot of work to do on the outside of the house including some new concrete, paint, and landscaping. And we still have to pass a final inspection.
But, we are living here now and it already feels like our true home. I’ve loved cooking in the new kitchen and it’s so great to have a little extra space especially since we are all mostly home all the time now!
I’m working on a separate post just on the decisions that went into our kitchen!
Have any questions? Leave a comment!