Oops! When Simple Projects Lead to Full-On Remodels
TOH readers share how a quick fix, an argument, even an off-hand comment led them down the rabbit hole of a large-scale renovation
Ever had a five-minute repair job morph into a monthlong project? How about one of those "while you're at it" requests from your honey that resulted in a renovation far, far beyond your initial plans?
If you recognize yourself in these examples, rest assured that you're in good company. Read on to see how fellow readers took on small projects that ended up becoming wildly ambitious.
Who> Kathy and Nick Petlicke
Where> Northville, Mich.
Nick got a bonus at work and decided he wanted a 42-inch flat-screen TV. It was too big for the entertainment unit in our den, but that was okay because I'd wanted a new one and the furniture store was having a sale. So we bought that piece first and then splurged on a sofa bed since the sale prices were so good.
This is where things start to get complicated. The sofa bed didn't match the wallpaper, which was also okay because I'd wanted to change it. While scraping it off, we found layers of paint and wallpaper beneath it, and damaged plaster behind them. So we decided to demolish the walls—and, while we were at it, the ceiling—and replace them with drywall. When cutting the drywall, Nick had a run-in with his table saw, resulting in a trip to the ER for seven stitches to his index finger. While at the hospital, we decided to pull up the den's carpet and refinish the hardwood floors. They turned out so well that we had hardwood floors put in throughout the house. All the improvements looked great, but by the time we were done, there was no money left over to buy the 42-inch TV that had started it all.
Who> Andrea and Ryan J. Kragerud
Where> Longmont, Colo.
Our renovation began as a heated discussion over who should do the dishes: my wife or me. We finally agreed that what we really needed was a dishwasher. But getting one meant first recessing the fridge, which in turn meant losing the tub in the adjacent bathroom. Reducing the size of the bath in our one-bedroom home was not an option. What to do? Our answer: Add a second story and an entire basement. This plan required lifting the house so that the foundation could support the weight of the additions. Our daughter was born amidst the rubble, and now, after seven years of remodeling, we have five bedrooms, three baths, two dishwashers, and an incalculable quantity of DIY know-how.
Who> Joseph Gray II
Where> Clarks Summit, Pa.
When a built-in soap dish fell off the wall of our guest bathroom, I realized simply gluing it back on wasn't an option. So I began taking out the surrounding tile. The next thing I knew, I was standing in a fully gutted bathroom. Which led me to realize that if I rearranged its floor plan, I could carve out more space in the adjacent master bath, which had only a shower stall. So I went for it. By the end, the only thing I hadn't replaced in both rooms was a cast-iron tub in the guest bath. I love my larger master bath with its luxurious soaker tub!
Who> Vinny and Mary Lou Maroney
Where> Rockland, Mass.
We hired a pro to remove a tree in our yard, which raccoons were scaling to get to our roof. While he was there, we casually mentioned that we eventually wanted to replace some bushes out front. Being a thoughtful, proactive type, our landscaper pulled them up for us, leaving our yard with gaping holes.
The barren facade led us to notice that some of the wood windows were rotting. Soon we were rushing to put in new ones while also planting new shrubs to make our house look presentable. This project took several weeks, and when we stepped back to admire the result, the siding started to look awfully shabby. What started as an offhand comment about bushes had us re-siding our entire house with cedar shingles.
It took us over two years to finish, painting trim and adding light fixtures along the way, but we're finally done. Well, except that we're scoping out a spot for a deck. Stay tuned.
Who> Christine and Roger Olson
Where> Centennial, Colo.
One day Christine remarked that she didn't like the drawer pulls for our kitchen cabinets. That should have been my first clue that a massive project was about to begin. While shopping for new hardware, it dawned on us that our small kitchen was adjacent to a bright, airy dining room we hardly used. Why not get rid of it and create the bigger kitchen we'd always dreamed of?
So we embarked on a renovation. Our plans included new flooring that extended into the area where the staircase is, so it made sense to put up a new banister at the same time. Then the carpet in the adjacent family room looked worn out next to the new flooring, so we had it replaced. Though we had a few "what have we done?" moments, we soldiered on. With the help of a designer, a makeshift kitchen in the basement, and $60,000 in hard-earned cash, we finally completed our kitchen-plus renovation, transforming it from a cramped room to a great space for cooking and entertaining.