The Befores

It’s been three months and a couple days since closing day, and we’ve undertaken quite a few projects, but few of them feel near completion. We have HGTV dreams, but a DIY network budget, and a couple unglamorous projects- a burst pipe and a roof repair- have distracted our time and funds.

The big project, though, the kitchen, is finally underway. While we were house hunting, one of my must-haves was a kitchen we would have no compunction tearing out. I loved doing our kitchen and bathroom in our condo and knew that I wanted another opportunity to make our house just the way we wanted it. I also knew that I’d have the vision to see the potential in a house that others would reject.


Through the front hall

I came close to not seeing it in this house, though. The foyer captured our hearts right away, but as we walked through the house, the overwhelming abundance of beige Builder’s Special tile and a choppy layout was overwhelming. Every single bathroom suffered badly at the hands of the 90s. The kitchen was awkwardly placed at the back of the house. I knew that I wanted a kitchen that would open to the main living space, but a two foot masonry wall behind a back stairway would have made that impossible.


On the left, the passage leading to the current kitchen

There is also a strange, non-room between the walled-off kitchen and what seemed like the intended formal dining room. Somewhere along the way, someone cut an unsatisfying window in the wall (for light? Take-out service?). Like every other room in our house, it’s painted a bold, primary color. It’s helpful for identification (the red room. The pink room. The hot dog stand.)


The front hall on the left, the pass-through to the dining room on the right.


It seemed so far gone that we didn’t put an offer on the house right away. We saw another house the same night, put an offer on that, were preempted by a cash offer and found ourselves reconsidering the house a second time.

Looking for houses kicked both my anxiety and insomnia into high gear, and I spent a sleepless night going over the possibilities in my mind. It didn’t have to be this house, and we didn’t have to settle, but something about it seemed like it might be the secretly perfect house, if I could just figure it out. The ceilings are high, the molding original. It has a fenced-in yard, an unheard-of-in-Philly three car detached garage with a studio apartment above it. It had been on the market for months. When Nikki woke up in the morning, I had the answer. We needed to move the kitchen.



Looking back into the red room.

The current kitchen is a decent size, but overstuffed with builder-grade cabinets and an oddly proportioned island. It also clearly had some significant plumbing problems, and no heat other than a ventless, open-flame gas stove. The door on the left leads to a deck overlooking the backyard.

Moving the kitchen forward one room would allow us to open that useless take-out window into a large, casement opening into the dining room, which is already open to the library through the large pocket doors. The extant kitchen could become a multi-functional sunroom and provide a landing pad for the more frequently used side entrance. We’ve been thinking of it as a kitchen remodel, but we’re really redoing three rooms, which will transform the whole first floor.


The dining room, looking into the foyer. The library is through the pocket doors.

So the kitchen will be dismantled (and I’m pretty psyched that we’re rehoming the cabinets. Overall, they are in decent shape). The current kitchen will become a sunroom with a new wall of windows overlooking the deck. The red room that currently has no purpose will become the new kitchen, and the kitchen will open to the dining room by knocking down the wall in-between.  Every damn thing is being painted white.

With some planning and a little luck, hopefully we’ll wind up in the ballpark of our inspiration photos:


Sunroom inspiration


Kitchen inspiration


Dining room inspiration



  1. burkehousecrafts · · Reply

    We’re not moving into a house (yet!), but I always think of you & your vision for transforming living spaces when doing future-homeowner recon. I can’t wait to see the end result, but the “during” pictures will be intriguing to see as well.

    1. So impatient to get to the after! Although the recon is a big part of the fun, too.

  2. Rachel Loischild · · Reply

    Love that the blog is back! And I think rearranging the rooms makes so much sense. A quick drawing of the layout of the floors might be helpful. I’m so excited to see what you have on the way. Thanks for sharing with us 🙂

    1. Thanks for reading again! A floor plan is a good idea, I’ll add one to an upcoming post.

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