Hits and misses with our remodel—20 months later

It’s been more than a year and a half since we remodeled and moved back into our house, so I’ve had time to identify things I really like and things I regret about the project. I thought some of you with remodels of your own might be curious, so I’m sharing hits and misses today.

Yellow tile in the kitchen. I am confident that although they didn’t say it to my face, a lot of people questioned my decision to go with yellow cement tile in the kitchen (see the before and after here). Cement tile is popular (dare I say trendy?), ours is quite the color, and cement is porous. But I am still happy with my decision, probably because it was inspired by this linoleum in my grandma’s home:

You should always select finishes you love, and when you can, choose things that mean something to you. I can’t see myself ever hating this tile.

Photo by Casey James Photography

Same goes for the yellow tile in the kids’ bathroom. It is the truest school-bus yellow out there, but it is such a happy color. I love that my kids start the day with a shot of sunshine. No regrets there.

White paint in the half bath. I knew when the walls in the powder room were painted, they were too yellow. Next to pure-white subway tile, it’s especially obvious. But I reasoned, “It will grow on me. It will look different with ‘stuff’ in the room. I like mixing whites.” And I do like mixing whites, but some days I wish I would have just eaten crow and repainted back when I knew it wasn’t quite right.

A few years before the remodel, I painted that bathroom Martha Stewart Popcorn (by the way, her paint deck is still my favorite, and you can get the colors matched at the big-box stores even though her line doesn’t exist anymore). Popcorn would be the perfect color in the powder room.

Before sanding the stairs

After sanding

Choosing not to sand the stairs. Stupid, stupid, stupid. Lonnie and I were hammered by the time we sanded the hardwood on the main floor and upstairs, and we said we’d get to the stairs later. It just seemed too overwhelming at the time.

But we should have put on our big-girl panties and finished them then because sanding while living in a house is a freaking nightmare. Before the tour, we needed to do the stairs, and we had sawdust every.where. On every surface. Under every closed door. There’s still some on the crown molding in the living room. In fact, if I were to recommend ONE TASK to do before moving into a house, it’s to sand floors and refinish them if they need it.

Green bedroom with painted trim to match. Another decision that had people raising their eyebrows was painting our master olive green. And it’s not just on the walls; it’s on the trim, doors, and built-ins. BEST DECISION EVER. Our bedroom is cozy like a cocoon.

Olive is neutral enough to look good with pretty much any color. If you are gutsy and want to make your bedroom feel rich beyond belief, choose a dark color you love and apply it to every surface. You will not regret it!

Custom cabinets. This will be controversial, but should I fix up another house, I will use prefab cabinets—at least the cabinet boxes. We went custom in our kitchen, and we have been SO disappointed. The tracks come loose all the time, and we have to screw them in over and over. The color on the boxes differs slightly from the drawers. And I assumed that custom cabinets meant wood cabinets, so I didn’t even ask about it. I was a fool. They aren’t real wood, and I wish at least the boxes were.

I do need to step back a bit and say that I am happy with the cabinets in the mudroom (which are solid fir) and in our bedroom. But the kitchen is frustrating. I’d also like to say that the things I’m most frustrated about are new products instead of old (spoken like a true historic-house devotee).

The vanities in the master bath are prefab, and I love them! While I’m on the topic of cabinetry, let’s discuss…

The counter on the pantry. I love my pantry, and there’s plenty of storage. But the counter part of the pantry is chipped already.

If I were doing it again, I’d consider 1) having the counter portion stained butcher block (which doesn’t show chips) or 2) adding chrome trim to the front edge, like this:


I still might add the trim somewhere down the road. I live with kids. I don’t want them to be paranoid about damaging stuff when they’re just living like normal kids.

One recent mistake: The feature wall in the boys’ bedroom. I knew when I decorated for the One Room Challenge that adding rails for marquee letters was not my style. But I convinced myself that the wall needed one more thing. No, it didn’t. Those rails are destined for the dumpster. Say it with me: A woman should always stay true to her style.

All right, it’s your turn: What risks have you taken in your home and ended up loving? What was a big miss for you? Please share your experiences in the comments so we can learn from each other. And if you have questions about other rooms in my house (here’s the full tour), let me know. •

5 thoughts

  1. My husband and I built our house 13 years ago. We had custom cabinets built as well. Now we need to take all the doors off and have them sanded lightly and re finished. Sooo frustrating!


  2. You have such a cute house! That’s disappointing about the custom cabinets, but good to know. We are in the process of remodeling our bathroom now and will be starting on the kitchen later. This was a great read so I’ll know what not to do! 🙂


  3. The risk I took 30 years ago was having my custom cabinets painted white. Nobody was doing it and the cabinet maker thought I was nuts. In fact, he wouldn’t paint them. We had to hire someone else to paint them. I have loved them. Ours have held up well, but maybe they were making custom cabinets differently 30 years ago.
    My miss was having the main floor bathroom in the mudroom/laundry room area. It is so hard to keep that part of the house in order and when visitors need to use the bathroom, I’m usually mortified.
    I know people who renovate or build often and there is always something they would do differently. I think it’s pretty rare to get everything exactly right.


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