Taking stock – updates to the grand plan

Because we hit the 12 month mark, it seemed like a good time to take stock on what we’ve accomplished and update our master plan (original found here). This will give you a snapshot of what we have planned and how far along each room is. (Spoiler: most rooms are still at 0%). To make it a little easier to read, I highlighted any changes that occurred since we drafted the list. At the end of this post, I also highlighted the projects that are on our radar for 2014.

10% done
% change: +7% for installing the freezer, assembling some shelves and starting on the workshop
Plan changes: The functional bits are the same, but a layout redesign really maximized the space.


  • DryLok walls
  • Replace the sump pump
  • Create a cover for the sump pump hole
  • Run electric and build a platform for the chest freezer
  • Add shop lighting
  • Assemble shelving and organize our personal stuff and business materials
  • Add a light to the stairwell
  • Build a door for the stairwell
  • Build a wine cellar
  • Build a workshop <– Going on now!
  • Paint the stairwell


85% done
% change: +20% for crossing a bunch of items off our list
Plan changes: None



 Entry cube
0% done
% change: 0% This space gets vacuumed occasionally, but that’s it.
Plan changes: None


  • Replace the fire hose lights
  • Finish the drywall
  • Paint
  • Hang art


Dining room
1% done
% change: +1% The fire pole was secured in time for our Open House!
Plan changes: None


  • Secure the fire pole at the bottom with more bolts
  • Patch all the holes, including the large one that was possibly a coal door
  • Finish the duct work
  • Run more electrical outlets
  • Put the dining room lighting on a different switch than the studio lighting
  • Build a new door for the basement stairwell
  • Paint
  • Run new floors throughout the first floor, maybe lifting the floor to add a radiant heat system
  • Build a light fixture that’s been floating around in our heads for years
  • Build a large dining table
  • Hang art


Downstairs living room
0% done
% change: 0% This space has really come in handy for staging other projects, like the time we had to build a new bridal show booth. It’s currently holding some overflow from the workshop that will (hopefully) get stowed away in the next few months.
Plan changes: None


  • Finish the duct work into the bathroom
  • Patch the holes
  • Paint
  • Run new floors throughout the first floor, maybe lifting the floor to add a radiant heat system
  • Add a cool, modern fireplace
  • Buy new seating (couch and chairs, some of which may be vintage)
  • Add a window or door to the yard
  • Hang art
  • Find a spot for a bar


2% done
% change: 0% We haven’t made any changes to the kitchen, but we are noodling some options (like the wall removal and flooring) as we head toward a total overhaul (hopefully starting later this year)
Plan changes: We’re tinkering with the layout. My desired island is off the list, but I’m still excited about the additional counter space we’ll be able to squeeze into this space


  • Replace two of the bricked over windows
  • Add a new lighting fixture
  • Buy appliances
  • Open up the kitchen to the rest of the first floor
  • Build a new backdoor
  • Vent the range hood outside
  • Run new floors throughout the first floor, maybe lifting the floor to add a radiant heat system
  • Basically completely gut the kitchen. We’re still figuring out what this looks like. It will definitely have more cabinet/counter space, an electric wall oven and built-in microwave


Half bath
10% done
% change: 0%
Plan changes: None


  • Replace the bricked over window
  • Cover the Swiss cheese ceiling
  • Add a new light fixture
  • Paint
  • Restore the slop sink
  • Restore the toilet paper holder
  • Restore the door
  • Add art and accessories, like a mirror and storage


0% done
% change: 0%
Plan changes: None


  • Decide whether to keep the original door, if so, refinish it
  • Patch the walls and paint
  • Paint the railings and refinish the banister
  • Add new lighting

Upstairs living room
0% done
% change: 0%  Despite being the second most used space in the house (the studio wins because Aaron is in there every day), this space has seen very little love. We’ve cleaned it up and set up a bar, but that’s it. We have our sights set on a renovation in the downstairs space, so we’re planning a help-us-live-with-it upgrade this spring in the form of paint (white, obviously).
Plan changes: None


  • Tear down the plaster on the west side to expose the brick
  • Make the roof hatch usable
  • Fix the plaster on the ceiling
  • Remove old fire alarms
  • Run more electric and add outlets
  • Hide the electric panel
  • Replace the closet doors
  • Insulate the furnace sound deadening material
  • Refinish or remove the hall door
  • Run new flooring throughout the second floor (some sort of old factory-weathered wood is our dream option)
  • Add windows on the west wall (maybe)
  • Investigate the ceiling ducts to determine if we can add a skylight
  • Replace the lighting
  • Paint
  • Build a “mega couch” for ultimate TV and movie viewing
  • Hang/hide a projector and screen
  • Hang art


Captain’s bedroom and bathroom
1% done
% change: +1% The fire pole was secured in time for our Open House!
Plan changes: Originally I thought we would keep the closet, but with no hopes of replumbing the bathroom we’ve decided to make that space into part storage, part vanity. We’ll keep the mirror and build an area where someone could do their hair or makeup. You know how a wet bar doesn’t actually have any plumbing? Kind of like that. We also added a reading nook to the plans thanks to some Pinspiration (follow our ideas on Aaron’s pinterest page).


  • Secure the top of the fire pole with more than just electrical wire
  • Replace/add screens to the windows
  • Fix the duct work
  • Refinish the original door
  • Refinish the window sills
  • Use the water connections (maybe for a coffee bar?)
  • Replace the flooring
  • Add a bed, dresser, side tables and other necessities for a guest room
  • Hang art (maybe a large pull down map)
  • Demo the closet
  • Turn the bathroom into part storage, part vanity
  • Build a reading nook


Awesome bathroom
-5% done
% change: +5% for narrowing down the leak
Plan changes: None


  • Replace fixtures as necessary to make sure everything works
  • Replace the lights over the mirrors
  • Redo/cover the plaster walls
  • Paint
  • Build a storage solution for towels and other necessities (maybe a rendition of pipe shelving)
  • Build an LED drop ceiling
  • Build a new door
  • Add a Mojo washing station in one of the showers


95% done (for now)
% change: +95 for painting
Plan changes: This space didn’t even make the original list. After the coat of white paint, I’ll call this space mostly done for now. Eventually we need to decide on some layout changes, which could affect the door and the lighting.



Workout bedroom/extra bedroom
5% done
% change: +5% for eliminating the stage and actually setting up the treadmill
Plan changes: We’re leaning toward giving the closet space and a window to the laundry room and relying on the Murphy bed/storage wall to serve as the closet for this space.


  • Remove the “stage”
  • Remove the pole closet
  • Build a Murphy bed and extra storage along the south wall
  • Extend the laundry room by stealing the closet space and a window
  • Fix the window sills
  • Finish the trim
  • Build out the exercise area (mirrors and a weight rack)
  • Mount the TV
  • Replace the flooring
  • Fix the plaster
  • Paint
  • Replace the fan and add lighting


4th bedroom
0% done
% change: 0% Technically I organized this space, even though you can’t really tell in the picture.
Plan changes: None


  • Build the old pole closet and furnace into a proper furnace room with a door leading to the hallway
  • Close off the existing door and turn the space into a closet for the master suite by adding a door between this room and the master bathroom
  • Paint
  • Replace the flooring
  • Add new lighting and electrical as needed
  • Add a window (maybe)


Laundry room
0% done
% change: 0%
Plan changes: None


  • Expand the laundry room by stealing space from the workout room
  • Build storage and a clothes drying rack
  • Paint


Master Bedroom
0% done
% change: 0% While we haven’t done any renovations to this space, the facelift should keep us happy for a few years.
Plan changes: None


  • Remove the half wall
  • Remove the double closets
  • Seal the brick
  • Adjust duct work
  • Build a new door
  • Update slide dimmers to something more modern
  • Replace the flooring
  • Redo the lighting
  • Build a platform bed
  • Buy/build side tables
  • Add a fireplace (maybe)
  • Buy additional furniture as needed (chairs, dresser, etc) – maybe some vintage pieces
  • Paint
  • Add light blocking window treatments
  • Hang art


Master Bathroom
0% done
% change: 0%
Plan changes: We took a look at the original ceiling and realized the plaster is in really good shape. Instead of installing a new drop ceiling, we plan to expose the original ceiling, patch it and paint it.


  • Extend the wall of the shower so we can add a steam feature
  • Replace the jacuzzi tub with a claw-foot tub or an uber modern tub
  • Replace the vanity/storage with something more modern
  • Replace the flooring
  • Add a door into the new master closet
  • Add a window to the west wall (maybe)
  • Paint
  • Remove drop ceiling and fix plaster
  • Add new lighting


40% done
% change: +10% for cleaning up the front (we still owe you a good update, but here’s a peek.)
Plan changes: The mulberry tree is here to stay thanks to the electric company hacking the other tree to bits.





Overall updates
10% done
% change: 0%
Plan changes: We realized our main electric panel will need some reworking. It’s not pressing (or fun money).

  • Activate the new security system
  • Incorporate home automation, including smart thermostats
  • Investigate on-demand water, especially for the upstairs bathrooms
  • Rework the main electric panel

Of course, we can’t focus on ALL of that in 2014. Here’s what we (reasonably) expect to tackle throughout the next year:

  • Build the workshop
  • Finish the fence and carport
  • Build a shed
  • Paint the upstairs living room white
  • Start a kitchen remodel

There are lots of other smaller updates on our list and we’ll keep you informed as we go.


A cool, funky cabinet

When we stumbled on this locker at an antique mall, we were instantly smitten. (I’m sure no one is surprised because we will buy ALL THE LOCKERS)




It had a bunch of sweet features (those feet) and seemed liked a good temporary solution for covered storage in the awesome bathroom.

It had a bit of an odor issue, but we brushed that concern away, reasoning that it could be fixed with a good cleaning. Months later we’ve finally wrestled this into place and the odor is much more pronounced. My theory is that prior to sitting at the antique mall it was left open. At our house, it was left closed and the odors built up.


It’s a lovely aroma of motor oil, chemicals and rust. Be glad this isn’t smell-o-vision.



I hit up the interwebs for some suggestions on eliminating cleaning odors from metal cabinets. (File that under things I never thought I would research.) Most sites suggested a baking soda bath.


You make a thick paste using baking soda and water, smear it on the surface and let it dry.  I decided to test the method on the shelves. Most of the stains were concentrated in this area and if the method seemed to work, then I could treat the rest of the surfaces (sides, back, door).



The mixture dried fairly quickly, but I let it set for a week. Then I gave it a good wipe down with water.

The result? Despite the fact that it literally stripped the paint off the shelves, it still smells really bad. Womp, womp.



I’m not sure where to go from here. I could spray paint the inside, but I’m not sure that will totally mask the stench, which is critical if I’m going to store linens in here. It also seems like a lot of effort for a temporary arrangement. Ultimately, Aaron wants to build some custom storage in here.

He’s currently working on the layout for his workshop. If I give up on this piece, I’m sure it will find a happy home in the basement.

So, what do you think blog readers? Does anyone have any tips on removing these smells or should I give up the fight?


White out

Thanks to Apartment Therapy for featuring a before and after shot of the studio. That before shot never gets old. It’s a good reminder of how far the studio has come. Since that “after” shot we hung some canvas prints so there’s a little more life in the space. Now back to our regularly scheduled programming…

I didn’t tell you the whole conversation that ensued when I suggested we paint the master bedroom before a local magazine came to photograph the firehouse. What really happened is I said, “Maybe we should paint the bedroom.” Then, Aaron said, “Yeah! And the hallway!”I laughed. I think I missed some sort of connecting thought there…

I guess I didn’t realize how much the hallway was bothering him. His rationale was that it wouldn’t take much more time or effort to white out this space once we already had the painting gear out of storage. He had a point. And, honestly, the hallway was a completely awful shade of red that gave it sad cave-like quality.





Like any project under a deadline there we some hiccups. We didn’t actually get around to starting the paint until Tuesday (the magazine shoot was set for Friday morning).

Also, the primer went up fine, but the paint had some major issues. We have a friend who works for Porter Paints, and after the studio, Aaron is very much in love with their products. For this quick update we wanted something cheap and easy. We grabbed Behr’s Premium Plus for both the bedroom and the hall. The heavily tinted bedroom paint went up like a dream, and I loved the low VOCs.

The untinted white… not so much. A little way into edging, we decided to abandon the Behr and use some of the leftover Porter Paint Pitt-Glaze from the studio.

Rounding out the “Oh man, did we make the right choice to take this on” list, before the paper was pulled up the hallway felt distinctly suburban. We went to bed feeling a bit defeated. We hated the red, but did we just spend time and effort to make our hallway boring?

Thankfully, once the paper was up, the hallway took on a distinctly industrial feel. And it also had us thinking “Huh. We kind of like these floors. Maybe we’ll keep them.” No permanent decisions have been made and you’re probably ready for some “afters.”






White, happy goodness. Just like in the bedroom, the trim, doors and hardware got a coat of paint. The final verdict? We’re kind of in love with the space… and scheming about what kind of art we want to hang.

One year ago we made the craziest decision of our lives

One year ago we signed a million pieces of paper and the firehouse officially became ours.

As with any anniversary, it’s amazing how long and how short one year can feel. The firehouse definitely feels like home, even though we still call it “the firehouse” (which entertains our realtor-turned-friend to no end.)

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The other night we mused about what life would be like if we hadn’t found this place. It was hard to imagine. Surely we’d be on the hunt to buy a live/work building, but now that we’ve found our dream space, it’s depressing to think about what we might have settled for. Thanks, firehouse, for coming into our lives at the right time.


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Looking back it’s been a whirlwind of a year. One year ago tomorrow, the crew from House Hunters arrived to shoot our episode. After that renovations were in full force, with Aaron and the contractor working to dramatically change the first floor (hello windows!) and exterior (looking at you, carport and patio). We spent more time than we expected outside, putting up (most of) a fence and upgrading the front of the firehouse.

The studio was a constant focus throughout the year. Although we’d hesitate to call it “done,” it’s by far the best looking space in the firehouse. When we finally got word that our House Hunters episode would air in mid-October, it was a mad dash to finish what we could and clean, clean, clean.

Oh, and we did all this while photography 20+ weddings (and engagement sessions, meeting with clients and doing all of the other things it takes to run a business.)

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Renovations slowed over the last three months as Aaron worked to deliver images to our fall wedding clients and we took a few moments to build a new bridal show booth.

A few cans of paint eeked the master bedroom (and a few other spaces) onto the “upgraded in the first year” list.

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Despite all of that progress and many more mini updates, it’s easy for us to focus on the (many, many) items on our giant to do list. At least for today (ok, who are we kidding, at least for this post) it’s nice to take a deep breath, pat ourselves on the back and marvel at what we’ve done in JUST 365 days.

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Thanks for taking this journey with us. Your comments (here, on Facebook, on Instagram and in real life) are always appreciated.

It’s been an awesome, crazy, life-altering year. One that we wouldn’t trade for anything.

The master bedroom gets a facelift

The renovation drought is officially over, but a month ago I wouldn’t have guessed that we would choose this space to go first.

Let me back up. Let’s talk about the master bedroom. It’s a fine/functional/we-just-dropped-furniture-in-here type of space. I mean, we were using moving boxes for side tables until September!

We don’t love the space, and there are plenty of things that need addressed:

  1. Awful paint scheme
  2. Random unpainted access panel in the ceiling
  3. Inadequate lighting
  4. Ugly tile
  5. SIX DOORS and no place to put the bed except the half wall
  6. Bizarre closet arrangement that blocks a window
  7. The half wall
    Oh, half wall, you flow interrupting, unfinished eyesore. Before we closed on this place I had grand plans to knock you out. “First thing! FIRST THING!” I swore to anyone who would listen. You’re the worst.









Besides the long list above the room had some other minor issues, like a missing doorknob. (Broken off with a brick from the yard in a fit of panic at the sound of rushing water. Don’t worry, the water was actually seeping through some random holes in the laundry room and this occurred well before we had anything in the firehouse that could get ruined.)


Plenty of light switches and outlets that simply don’t work. Some were painted to match the wall. Some were plate-less.



Missing trim…


This mess… which is certainly our fault, but easy to look past on a daily basis.


Trim that is in place but not nailed down…


And this mess… which is ironic because we’ve had the mount for the TV since before we moved in. It did get a  lot of action through the temperate months when it held one of the windows opens for us.


And, honestly, none of that bothered me that much until (there’s always an until) a local magazine contacted us wanting to include the firehouse in an upcoming issue that highlights interesting rehabbed spaces. I tried explaining that the studio is the only space that’s really done. While looking at pictures on our blog, the editor said, “The master bedroom looks pretty good.”

I (obviously) protested. She wanted to talk to her art director. I wanted to talk to Aaron.

When I looked at the space with fresh/maybe-we-could-fix-this eyes, I thought, “It wouldn’t take that much paint.” I causally brought up the idea of, “Hey, if this magazine wants to come shoot our space, maybe we should paint the bedroom.” Which snowballed into his suggestion to paint the trim, doors and half wall to make some of the suburban disappear. Cut to us grabbing some paint swatches from Home Depot.


Because this is truly an “in between” makeover (we have big plans for this space… and every space so there was no reason to linger over the choice) and I’m married to a photographer who has a color sense that would make any designer jealous, we quickly honed in on Dark Cavern (bottom right). We wanted to go with a darker shade than our previous bedrooms (we’re still strongly considering black after we renovate) and the warm tone matched our bedding the best.

In the meantime, the editor decided that “yes, we would love to feature your space” and gave us a whopping 10 days to complete the makeover. A few days later and a LOT OF EDGING we had this:


What a difference a few cans of paint make!

Of course, we took a few minutes to add some trim (which had to be custom fabricated, because nothing is ever easy at the firehouse), replace the switches and outlets with black versions and spray the handles and hinges a darker color so everything blends in.



I have momentarily stopped cussing at the half wall.






The access panel (upper left) even got a quick swipe of Antique White so it would blend in. Can we not talk about how much it pained us to buy “white” paint with any kind of tint?






I went into full staging/nesting mode in light of the impending photo shoot. My bedside table got a few new pieces of milk glass that we picked up in recent jaunts to surrounding antique malls.



The walls even got some art. (ART!!) A few fog pictures from long ago.






And Aaron got his very own side table staging thanks to some vintage pieces that haven’t seen the light of day in nearly a year.





Oh my! It feels good to decorate!


Obviously, it’s not perfect. The half wall disdain will surely creep back, in and we decided to nix the light gray curtains in favor of black pull down shades, which are on their way. But I actually smile when I walk in the room. We can certainly live with this, and actually enjoy it, while we focus on some more public spaces over the next few years.

This wasn’t the only thing we painted in that tight timeline. The others are looking a bit brighter (white… obviously). Any guesses?