About three years after our painting adventures, we were ready to tackle Phase Two. It was a crazy time, with Olivia less than a year old, but I needed a home office for my real-estate business and Olivia's toys needed a place to park.
This time we brought in a general contractor, Bill Haan, who enclosed the screen porch, adding windows to create an office with a view. He also rebuilt the stairs to the attic, which we fixed up as a playroom. Our DIY efforts were harder with a newborn in the house but, again, neighbors and our parents came to the rescue, putting us up for weeks so that we could refinish floors and sand old paint without having to sleep with polyurethane fumes and lead dust.
Shown: Paint and floor refinishing gave the dark, paneled staircase a lift. Up two steps and through a doorway sits homeowner Nicole's new home office, a former family room that now has an interior window.