toh editor Scott Omelianuk standing near paint swatches and paint cans for his editorial letter On Home Remodels: This Time it's Personal
Photo: Ian Spanier
The editor amidst some of the paint choices that caused him so much angst during his remodel. Get the whole Colorful Story.
September 2013

What have you written, a hundred of those Letters?" my wife asked me.

"I've written about ninety," I said to her, moving my laptop's cursor one spot right, then one spot left with the arrow keys. I was fiddling, stalling on writing my Letter From This Old House. In fact, I'd stalled all weekend.

"That many makes you practically a semiprofessional," she said, smiling.

"Um, thanks, but this one is harder," I said, moving the cursor two spots right, two spots left. "TOH has never photographed our remodel from top to bottom before. I don't know what to say about that."

"You could say now you know what everyone else goes through," she offered. "Or look at it this way: At least you're not embarrassing me by showing them what a dump the place used to look like."

"Yeah," I said. Three spots right, three spots left, and I thought, Yeah, indeed. See, unbeknownst to her, that wasn't exactly true.

"They'll be inspiring to people," TOH deputy editor Kathryn Keller had said, that Friday afternoon before I left the office. She was talking about attaching "before" photographs to the story of my remodel.
examples of what you get if you download the tablet edition of This Old House magazine
Love a good before-and- after? To see photos of Scott's place in its former, frightening state, get your tablet edition at It's free for subscribers!
Not surprisingly, that gave me some tiny bit of pride, the opportunity to be inspiring, until she followed up with a hoo-boy laugh and "What a sight to see!" She practically slapped her knee.

"I lived in a dump," I said, glumly. She nodded.

Now unfortunately, I can't show these "before" pictures in the print edition of TOH. My wife gets a subscription, and I can't risk it. For some reason, though, she hasn't started downloading the tablet edition yet. Which is just silly, since for her, as for all our other subscribers, it's free. But her loss is your gain, because if you go to and follow the instructions, you'll be able to access our digital edition, which is loaded with extras—interactive step-by-step projects, tappable tips, videos, and, of course, the dreaded "before" photos of my own remodel.

In looking over the crumbling plaster, the collapsing stairs, and the damage unchecked termites can do when they tie on the dining bib, I couldn't believe three things: what bad shape the place had been in, how far it had come, and why my wife ever agreed to marry me knowing what a dump I lived in.

Download the issue and let me know if you agree.

Ask TOH users about Remodels & Upgrades

Contribute to This Story Below