A little over two years into this home renovation and I am exceedingly glad that we took lots of before photos. Without them, I seriously couldn’t remember how terrible some areas truly were at the very beginning, especially as I continue to look around and see what still needs to be done.


Take the landing at the top of the cellar stairs, for example. A week ago, it still looked more or less like this — 100+ year old wallpaper, dirty baseboards, sheet tile and random hooks and holes for brooms, etc.

But in the past two years I’d painted the door that closes it off from the kitchen and changed the brass hardware to matte black. (The landing was originally part of our kitchen, but a staircase was added for basement access at some point.) We moved the light switch over to accommodate door trim and drywalled over the hole. That amplifier for the doorbell got removed. The kitchen walls got a fresh coat of paint. I painted the dirty sheet tile and then ripped it up to expose the original fir underneath (we’re planning to rip out all the tile and refinish the kitchen floors this summer).


What a wonderful thing to reach a point on this journey where projects that were so not a priority get to be a priority. It means we’ve come such a long way. A long enough way that a landing closed behind a door, which leads to a basement that is decidedly raw, gets a bit of love.


I took a wet sponge and an exact-o knife to the wallpaper and it was like peeling dried white glue off your hands or sunburned skin — strangely satisfying, hard to stop? I worked long into the night after the girls were asleep in bed, getting right down to bare plaster.


I patched, primed and painted the walls to match our kitchen walls and then used leftover baseboard from our kitchen to create a backing for these dowel rails that I found at the thrift store. We don’t own a nail gun so we countersunk the screws into plaster anchors. I caulked all the seams (no mitre saw either) and painted them as well. The baseboards in this area are original and in lousy shape — I may or may not have our carpenters replace them when they return in the fall to finish our hallway.


The long thin piece is leftover from our built in project and is sort of a way of marking the edge of all our “renovated” spaces. Beyond that little edge of white is please leave your shoes on territory.


Finally, here we can see what we’ve exposed of our original fir floors. It seemed like a good place to investigate what we’d be working with. I can picture it throughout our entire kitchen, all golden and beautiful like in Winnie’s room. We’ve all but decided that’s going to be our summer project. Still to do in this space is change out the plastic light fixture for one of the ceramic ones I rescued when we replaced all the old lighting in our basement and add in the rest of my tidying essentials. I’ve ordered some leather cord for hanging the litter scoop and dust pan as well as a pair of Chinese scissors for clipping blooms and herbs.