the very first time we saw our house (six years ago this month, how!?), the real estate agent made vague hand gestures towards the closed mudroom door and said, “basically the house ends here.” as in, nothing beyond that closed door is worth seeing, you guys. seeing as how it had taken 30 seconds to view the main floor, i was pretty hopeful that beyond that closed door was a whole lot more square footage, but it was just the worst mudroom ever, which led to a slightly less scary basement (some good “before” photos here and here).
over the years, i tried to improve the mudroom, but no amount of paint, plants or ikea shelving was going to solve the mould, cold, water damage or potato bug problem and, with a baby on the way, we finally tore it down in may 2015. over the winter and spring i had collected about a dozen quotes from contractors and no one really wanted to take on the project — they either wanted $30,000 to spruce it up a bit or $80,000 to do what we actually wanted them to do: build a mudroom that was less of an outbuilding and more a part of our house. as a result, we set about tackling the project ourselves. which explains why it’s been over a year and i’m only just getting around to a “reveal” post. and, frankly, it’s not totally done — we should really dig a little trench around the perimeter and add stones to protect the wood siding from rot, the siding itself could use a fresh paint job and a step into the yard wouldn’t hurt, but now that were most likely moving in a year, these are all things we’ll wait to tackle when we return to toronto.
so, for now, it’s done enough and i’m ready to share some pics of the finished space! but, before i do, i will say that my only regret is we won’t get to enjoy this major improvement for ever and ever. after going through all we did to get it done, it pains me physically to think about turning this place over to renters next summer. this tiny mudroom has made such a difference to our small space. not only did it give frankie rose a bedroom (we had to keep archie’s litter box, etc. on the main floor since it wasn’t an option to keep the mudroom door ajar), but our basement feels like liveable square footage now that the two floors are connected. and, thanks to a skylight, sliding glass doors and a smaller window, both levels get so much natural light now. being able to see into the backyard from the front door makes the house feel so much larger, too. and, no more bugs! win, win, win, win.
i will start with the exterior! my dad had some cape cod siding leftover from another job, so we were convinced pretty easily to use this (free!). it looks kind of slate coloured (dark blue-grey) to me, but some people think it’s brown. either way, i’m a fan, but all the boards sat in our very dusty yard (no grass survived the renovation) all summer and so they could use a fresh coat of paint anyways. i’ll have the whole house repainted (interior and exterior) when we move back in in, er, 2021, so the siding can wait until then. the exterior lights are from home depot and they match our porch light, which was chosen by the previous home owner. we also replaced our eaves troughs, soffit and fascia and had our roof reshingled this spring, so the back of the house is looking extra nice (i’ll spare you a close-up of the front porch — it needs to be sanded and painted badly).
pierre stained the oak stairs himself last fall and we finally had this glass railing made and installed in march. frankie rose is eight months old and showing zero interest in moving, but i’m glad the glass railing is in, as i’d nearly toppled over the edge myself (especially as an unstable pregnant woman). our mudroom door is, of course, back up as of recently and, while the baseboard heater has yet to be turned on this fall, we did find it added some nice warmth to the space last winter. (it’s totally safe for kids and pets to touch.) the porcelain tile is the same as what’s installed in our foyer and bathroom. amazingly, i was able to find the exact match five years later! the baseboards, shoe mouldings and trim around the doors and windows, etc. are also an exact match for the original trim in the rest of the house. that kind of consistency is very important to me.
you know how some people have a “thing” that they just can’t resist buying, especially when it’s on sale? for my dad, that’s skylights. so we got this 4′ beauty from him. it opens and closes — and closes on its own when it rains. the framed tin is what our original mudroom was built out of. yep, during the demolition, after removing two layers of shingles and every random piece of wood there were walls made of flattened aluminum pop cans. i saved some of the best pieces as a reminder of… what was.
speaking of what was, i made our mudroom’s coat rack out of a fir board, part of our original roof. we had to demolish part of our roof in order to re-angle its slope and attach the new mudroom, so i saved this board, sanded it smooth, oiled it and attached some hooks that i had lying around the shed.
and, finally, our martin sconce from schoolhouse electric! pierre was in portland last june and i made him go to the flagship store, buy this sconce and bring it home for our new mudroom (i paid so much money in customs to bring our bathroom light over the border).
so that’s it! pretty simple, in the end, though it didn’t seem like it at the time. the house functions so much better now and makes it possible to live here with a little one. frankie rose has a little play area in the basement and pierre and i often retreat down there in the evenings lest we wake her up by talking upstairs (pretty much anywhere we sit on the main floor is right outside her bedroom door). so totally worth it — but i also hope my next house doesn’t need a renovation of this size. the process of lifting a tarp, climbing down a ladder into an excavated hole, using a drill to remove the plywood covering a door to your basement, mopping up the water that’s seeped in overnight, putting in a load of laundry and then reversing these steps literally brought tears to my eyes most weeks. but, if i ever end up having repeat this journey i’ll make sure to not be six months pregnant next time.