All moved in, with a gigantic mess on the main floor and a beautiful second floor, it was time to decide our next step. The most natural choice was to start in the front and move our way back. This plan made the living room our next project in the DIY Revolution. Here is our starting point:
Not horrible, but not good either. Since we replaced the boiler system with forced air heating, there was drywall work that definitely needed to be done. A tremendous amount of discussion took place surrounding the best way to correct the drywall issues. Patch things in or tear it all out and start from scratch. We were leaning towards patching and piecing things together, but then we made a very important discovery. My hubby made a small hole to see what kind of insulation we had. The house was built in the 1920s; you just never know what is going to be behind those walls. What we found, NO Insulation! There was a little bit of cardboard and tin foil, but nothing that resembled actual insulation. I have never been so glad my husband cut a hole in the wall in my life. Can you imagine the distress after replacing all the windows and still having a cold, drafty house? Horror! Luckily, he made that hole and we were not destined for a lifetime of drafty mutterings about too many windows in the living room. So we tore all the drywall out, put in insulation, and put new drywall up.
All the windows needed to be replaced as well. Buying a house full of windows and natural light was amazing until we started calculating the cost to replace them. The logistics of furniture placement was also an issue. With the living room we decided to reduce the window count by one. Going from six windows to five did not leave us wanting for light. We replaced the large picture window with a bay window for a more artistic presentation in the front. Finally, we took two of the windows and replaced them with smaller awning windows. The plan here was to keep the light without the feeling of living in a fish bowl. I just do not need to be seen from every angle while doing yoga in my living room. There are plenty of angles as it is now.
While we were tearing out drywall and boarding up windows, we also decided to move some walls. Actually remove is a better word. We made the doorway into the dining room much larger. I wanted to open things up. I wanted to be able to see from one side of the house to the other. It is one of my favorite features. I think it makes the room feel bigger and less boxed in. The living room was my first experience refinishing hardwood floors. I discovered my husband is a master puzzle maker, patching in hardwood where walls once stood with ease. The sanding process is loud and long. My “oh so important” job was to hold the cord of the machine as my husband went along strip by strip. It may not be a difficult job, but it is necessary for the efficiency of the process. We stained the floors darker to more closely match the flooring installed on the second floor.
The biggest project and the most creative use of our space involved adding a fireplace to the living room. We took an empty void of space and gave it purpose and beauty. The first step involved framing everything out so that we ended up with all the correct walls and cubbies for a fireplace and built in shelves. We chose these amazing glittery, black panels of stone. This is us – Can it be harder than tile? Probably not! Yes, we are brave and a little bit crazy. There was quite a learning curve installing the stone. At one point a ton of it fell right off the wall and we had to start over. Starting over is not fun. But at the end of the day we accomplished our goal. It is quite the center piece of our space. The fireplace is also amazing during the cold wintery months.
As I went through pictures, I realized there are no “final reveal” type finished shots. I think this is because we were so far from done at the completion of the living room. I did not fully decorate or complete the room for about another year. The completion of the living room gave us more than five feet of space to live in on the main floor. It was an incredibly important milestone for our two girls who needed space to roam. The introduction of a couch also encouraged our smallest girl that walking might be something that she wanted to try. Never underestimate the power of furniture in the developmental process. The finished living room gave us somewhere cozy to hang out, while taking breaks from the rest of the madness; which we definitely needed. One more step complete in making our HOUSE a HOME.