I was starting to get worried that our Tree House to do list was absolutely nuts. But what’s even crazier is that we’ve since added to it – if only because our first demolition weekend was such a huge success! Not only did we crush everything on our list of ‘hope to do,’ but we accidentally added ‘kitchen deconstruction,’ too. The same day that the HVAC system was given the thumbs up, we loaded up the pups and headed to our tiny fixer upper for what we thought would be a long and time consuming – and cold and rainy! – weekend of dust and debris. What actually happened was that we found ourselves getting ready for an early evening out on Saturday, and we spent Sunday morning over a lazy brunch and a walk along Lake Michigan.
Hands down, we owe so much of our success to our friends Daniel and Meghan. They met us at Tree House on Saturday morning, and without any hesitation at all, they picked up sledge hammers and pry bars and were swinging ten minutes later. Between the four of us (although let’s be honest, it was mostly the three of them while I played project manager and ran errands), we demolished the mudroom and kitchen, and we removed the faux brick fireplace surround and removed every last bit of trim throughout the first floor (minus the bath). We put together a mini vlog, if you’d like to see!
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For those of you looking for more details, you know I’m happy to dive right in. Let’s start with the mudroom, which I promise you, no one was happier than me to see this room disappear! Maybe it’s growing up in the Midwest, but I love a good mudroom so much. And this room – this room! – is screaming with potential. It will be the first room you see when you walk into the house, and we imagine a bench for seating, hooks, a tiny broom closet and a stacked washer and dryer. We’re hoping to pack a lot of function into this space, but now that the old water heater is gone (it used to be in that empty space on the far left, below), we have the room to do so!
While Scott and Daniel made easy work of the mudroom, Meghan and I got to work on the faux fireplace surround. Although the little potbelly stove is adorable, we’re on a mission to find it a better home. We have plans for a gas fireplace in another corner of the living room, and instead, this much larger corner will be better suited as a place to create a family-sized banquette.
The tiles came off relatively easy, although an old chimney leak had caused the drywall to become soft and soggy in a few areas. Because we’re already planning on having a fair amount of drywall repair to tackle, it wasn’t a big deal; if anything, we’re happy to uncover these problem areas so we can make them right. But the best news is that underneath the brick platform, the hardwood floors continued seamlessly!
Meanwhile, the mudroom wrapped up, Meghan and I started on trim removal, and the boys were ready to take apart the entire kitchen. This was simultaneously very exciting and very, very nerve wracking, because you might notice this job wasn’t actually on our Tree House to do list!
The evening before, Scott and I decided to innocently remove the kitchen peninsula. Our intention was to see if there was any other flooring beneath it, or at the very least, we could peel back the layers we found. We shared our findings on Instagram Stories, so if you caught those, you know that we completely freaked out when we discovered the same hardwood flooring from the living room! Better yet, we found a loose corner in the mudroom and found even more original hardwood! It had been painted at some point in time, but it’s there. We ended up meeting with a floor refinishing contractor during the weekend, and all our fingers are crossed that the floors will be salvageable. (Insert all the salsa dancing, crying and screaming emojis here!)
Although tearing out the kitchen wasn’t completely necessary to refinish the floors (the refinishers could technically work right up to the base of the cabinets), we didn’t want to risk seeing a line on the floor should anything change in the floor plan, cabinet depth, etc. So just like that, the kitchen was added to our demolition list.
Scott and Daniel had the entire room taken apart in under an hour, and although we weren’t planning on a kitchen renovation so soon, now that we’ve had a moment to let this sink in, we’re really excited to knock it out! We’re also grateful that we uncovered all the moldy drywall beneath the cabinets, as we’ll be able to correct all these issues from the beginning.
Alright, let’s take a look at the satisfying before and
after progress photos!
The living room doesn’t look drastically different, but we’re relieved to remove all the baseboards so that we can start planning for new. While the baseboards were fine – they were just simple builder grade boards – we figured that if we’re going to refinish the floors, we might as well do the baseboards soon after. #thesnowballeffect
Living Room Before
Living Room Progress
And you know now how I feel about the mudroom! There are still supports in place for a partial chimney, which will be removed sooner than later by a pro. We’ve also hired out some electrical and plumbing reconfiguring, and of course, bad drywall will be replaced with new.
View from Front Door Before
View from Front Door Progress
We didn’t think we’d be so giddy to kiss the kitchen goodbye, but now that it’s gone, well, our heads are spinning with ideas! White cabinets or colorful? Perhaps soft gray or sage or navy or black or emerald? We do know we’ll be eliminating most of the uppers to allow for this smaller kitchen to breathe.
View Into Kitchen Before
View Into Kitchen Progress
As for where all of our demo debris went? We rented a dumpster! We actually found this post from DIY Playbook to be very helpful, and they couldn’t have posted it at a better time. Up until then, we were under the illusion that we could fill contractor bags and haul everything away ourselves. Ha! Since we had it on hand, we also cleaned out a small shed in the backyard and tossed old mattresses that we’ll be replacing with Leesas (our very favorite!).
We’ll be back at Tree House to take measurements and start selecting paint colors and trim, and soon, all of our floors are being refinished! We’re looking forward to clearing out the piles that are accumulating in our own Chicago garage (bed frames, lamps, odds and ends), and if all goes well, we’ll be able to make the beds in a few short weeks – #7 on the ol’ to do!