My Home Remodel, Part 1: The Backstory

Since we married five years ago, my husband Bart and I have been slowly making our house into our forever home. We’ve just begun Phase 5 of our remodeling process and I’d like to bring you along with me on this journey. I plan to share some of the highlights of our remodel, as well as write about some of the materials, that were integral in creating our dream home. I hope my personal story continues to underscore what we cover in each issue of retrofit: Any building can be transformed into the perfect space with enough dedication and desire.

Before: Our house.

Bart purchased our home on his own and closed on it in July 2014, three weeks before he and I began dating. He planned to be a bachelor for the rest of his life so he bought a ranch-style house, built in 1960, along town bay of Blackhawk Lake. (The drone that captured this video essentially starts from above our house.) I think it’s funny that Bart bought a house on a lake, intending to “reel in” his future dates. The one time he used the following line, “Would you like to go back to my house, sit on the dock and talk?”, it was on me and it failed!

After the house was built in 1960, it was a rental until 1984 when a young family bought it. They updated its 1960s style to the ’80s (think oak cabinets, oak trim, oak windows, oak doors, oak, oak, oak) but didn’t change the floor plan, which consisted of several small rooms on the main floor, including three bedrooms, and an unfinished concrete-masonry-unit basement with concrete floors.

The backyard view.

When Bart bought the home from the matriarch of the family 30 years later, he opened up the main living area by knocking out walls so the living room, dining area and kitchen now are one L-shaped room. He also combined two bedrooms on the main floor, making the master larger and adding a window in the master that overlooks the lake. Bart covered the original hardwood floors with LVT because he thought hardwood would be slippery on bare feet coming in from the lake. Finally, he connected the two-car garage to the house. He likes to remind me he never planned to do anything to the house again.

Then we got married in August 2015. Little did Bart know, we were about to start a multi-year, multi-project journey toward creating our family home.

In Part 2 of this series, I’ll cover waterproofing our basement and then creating—in the basement—my office space, a guestroom and a walk-in closet.

About the Author

Christina A. Koch
Christina A. Koch is editorial director and associate publisher of retrofit.

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