Dampers, Lounging and Walls. Oh my!

Something you don’t think about when purchasing an old home: the living spaces don’t focus on making the television the center of the living space. Lovely!

Altering space is not for the faint-of-heart.

I mean renovating and building. Formulate it as you may, something is always bound to go wrong.

Ryan dealt with plenty of woes for the 3 months he took on this house renovating project.

It’s never over.  

While we love and know we can live in this exact floor plan forever, there are times when we look at our renovated space, and realize we could have done things better to fit our needs.

Can you relate?


One thing  I’ve recently figured out, is I think I am not a fireplace person. I shrink a little when I say that.

When we go camping (which I love to do), I am not a fan of smoke up my nose and eyes. And the smell of smoke all over our belongings drives me nutty. 

How about cleaning a fireplace?… Don’t make me go there. Actually, I looked it up one day. Just ugh…

Word of warning: It is not a beautifully choreographed scene from Mary Poppins 😦

Good ol’ Bert

After almost 4 years in this house, we hadn’t used the fireplace until this last Christmas break.

One burn was enough for me.

I took my husbands handy shop vac went to town to clean it spic and span. I’d already cleaned the entire house, to an immaculate, eat off the floor state – listen to me, so self righteous!

Well… the vacuum did not have the filter in it. Pretty important when you’re using a shop vac to vacuum ashes. 

Turned it on, feeling so proud of myself.

I had a tornado cloud of ashes hovering all around me. It was without a doubt, my Lucy moment. Back to square one. 

Granted it was not the fireplaces fault. Just Ryan’s for not buying a replacement filter. Sigh…

I still love the look and feel a fireplace brings. I was the one that insisted on testing it out.

I guess having something so traditional has always been fascinating to me. And I love the centerpiece it can be for a space, visually and socially. 

But let me be completely honest, I am longing for a gas log fireplace. With fake logs and no smoke. 

Don’t be offended lovers of fire wood! I once judged those people too. 3 houses with 3 fireplaces later. I’m over it! 

We would  keep the wood burning for camping trips and our lovely fire pit for out-of-doors. 

We had a quote not too long ago to repair the broken bricks and add a damper to the chimney, basically do an overall update to it. Just the inside part of this repair was almost $2,000.  The outside needs lots of attention too.

We’re going to wait it out until we know for certain we want to keep the fireplace. 

Sadly, our fireplace is falling apart and it has been daunting knowing what to do next.

We keep wondering if we should repair it, or knock it out completely?

There are a few issues present:

  • Can’t hang anything heavy over the fireplace. It’s hanging on by a thread, because it has aged, the brick sags. 
  • There is no damper or flue. This means a wide open chimney for the heat to escape in the winter and during the summer valuable cool air goes out. Pests meander in easily as well.
  • Rain water is getting in, even thought we have looked for ways to fix it, we have started to notice mold in the past year.
  • It is simply wasted space right now.

The Living Room:

I found two lovely photographs of the living room I just had to share with you.

The photograph on the bottom left is from an advertisement for our neighborhood in House and Home magazine (not sure of the date). Below right is a lovely decorated pre-purchase photograph of our living room. Didn’t the last home owners do a lovely job?! I saved the photos from their real estate listing, 2013. 

Definitely gets my creative juices flowing. I do wish the previous owners would have left their furnishings behind, ha! I’m thinking I need to reach them to help me re-decorate. 

I think Ryan wishes I didn’t have these photographs in my possession. Too many ideas flowing, ha!

Something you don’t think about when purchasing an old home: the living spaces don’t focus on making the television the center of the living space. Lovely! 

Really, I’m okay with that. It’s just something you don’t think about with old homes. 

I imagine the nook in the fireplace (shown below left), was the spot for it! 

But not for our McMassive plasma T.V.

Photograph shown below right is NOT our t.v. Ha!

Living Room Renovation:

We ended up “modernizing” the fireplace to create a wall for the T.V. 

Yup. For the T.V.

I can’t lie to you guys. For the T.V.

We realized hanging a television from the brick would not work, for safety concerns and wiring. 

Above you can see where we pushed back the wall to the left of the fireplace and framed it. It was all brick against brick. We also closed off a window that was floor to ceiling. 

The result of this was it made the wall flush all the way across with the entry wall, and gave us a wall that has usable sheet rock wall space. 


You see how hard I try to ignore the existence of the TV in our home, shown above. The T.V. is obviously WAY off-center. It’s an easy fix. We just rearrange the seats a touch and it’s livable.

Haven’t heard anyone say, “but, we don’t want to watch t.v. because the tv is off-center mom.” Or “video games with the t.v. the way it’s positioned? Wah…”.

No friends 😉 

A big part of me wishes there was not a television in the house at all. Sacrilegious, I know.

It’s rarely ever on during the week. The kids get it as a treat on the weekends for a few hours. Ryan and I on occasion stay up and watch something together. But most of the time I’d rather sleep or read. And don’t we already spend enough time on the computer and smartphones as it is?…

Just saying, my way of life would not be spoiled if we did not have a T.V. anywhere in the house. 

But I have yet to win this argument. I don’t suppose I ever will.

The Office:

While we are in the living space I’ll go ahead and show you the “office.”


The original space was intended for the dining room. Since we knocked down the wall in the kitchen, we were able to add the 6 person table to the kitchen space. 

Since we can not use one of the three bedrooms, we utilized this as our fully functional office space. 

Thanks for visiting!

Have you gotten a healthy dose of enjoyment from your fireplace? Any Advise you can thrown our way?

Closing 4 Blog-2

Moving Walls Pt. 3: Bathroom and Laundry

I get the funniest look when I tell someone we only live with one bathroom. Probably funnier then the looks I get when I tell someone we live in 1,140 sq. feet. It might be because it’s easier to picture only having one bathroom.  And what they picture may look like complete and total madness! hahaha…

And while the one bathroom deal is a bit crazy, you would be surprised to find out that it’s not such an odd existence. A lot of families have to do it. I am from a family of 6 and we only had one bathroom most of my young life. My parents would temporarily host families and we enjoyed many gatherings growing up ~ we always had an excuse to cook out and have folks over ~ one bathroom was never an issue.

Actually, I got to live in a house with more than one bathroom when I was in high school, and as a married couple this is our third house. We have lived in two different 2-1/2 bath homes and we always utilized just one of the bathrooms. I figured out early on that the least amount of bathrooms we used the less amount of cleaning there was to do. It’s a clear win-win for me!

So one bathroom is not such a hard pill to swallow. But, when we purchased our lil’ old ranch, we knew the bathroom would have to go!

Here is a little video of the before bathroom:

As you can see, the original pink tile from 1953 was still holding it ALL together. But the house had seen its fair share of owners, we know of at least four by name, one was an investor. It needed a fresh update!

One of the families that previously owned the house spray painted over the pink and as you can see, that did not end up so hot! Shown below:

I’m glad my hubs has the skills. I totally see me taking a can of primer to this. It was a good try by the previous owners. It needed something!

Our main goal was to make the one family bathroom as comfortable as possible for five, but make it fit with in the original floor plan. 

It was pretty neat to find out that after so many years there were no issues under the tile, like dreaded mold. The tile was placed directly on an old school substrate of concrete and wire mesh that was at least 1″ thick.  No water gonna mess with that!

Being in the shower door business there is a constant string of people who find themselves remodeling because of the lack of protection behind the tile and/ or in a jam because of bad tile workmanship. I am nagging asking my hubby to help me put together a little post on what to expect from your tile man or lady 😉 to get the most out of your bathroom renovation. He was our tile guy/plumber/framer/trim guy/architect by the way.    

So the best option was to move more walls. I shared last week about the kitchen and wall re-configuring here. But basically the space that was once the bathroom stayed. We moved walls out into the hallway and over into the old main entry. That space we took over is shown here:

Below is a photo of the old bathroom at entry. The linen closet was right outside of the room on the left. And a photo of the gutted bathroom is on the right.

Old main door getting closed off  below left. New laundry and bath walls being modified below right. 

Ryan is not a professional plumber, but he has vast experience with bathroom remodels. With that and the fact that we were practically still using the same bathroom space, he was able to confidently do all the plumbing for the shower, sink, toilet, and laundry himself. Shown below:

Then we have the issue of the laundry being in the kitchen. I wash regularly to avoid pile-ups. But try as I may, pile-ups happen. So we needed to create a space where our clothes could be placed and easily hidden from guests, and sometimes even hidden from me! The dread of washing, meh…


I am assuming this made more sense because of plumbing?  

Below: Once the walls were drywalled and plastered. You can see the large opening to the right is now the laundry, and the door to the left of that is the new bathroom door.

Here is the new laundry and bathroom after:

~word of warning: the house is not sprawling, so it was quite difficult to get decent shots. For example: I had to open the window and shoot from outside the house to get a better look at the shower glass front~

A laundry room was not going to happen with the already tight space, so we opted for a laundry closet. It is a multi purpose space for us. In the past we have utilized it to store some camping gear, toys and now school books and board games. It’s that space I always rotate endlessly. I found this really useful article on the Lowe’s website to get your creative juices flowing.

The vanity space is big enough for more than one person to use at a time. And you wont be shocked when I tell you that the cabinetfaucets and sink are all from Ikea. I know, I know… I swear we look for things at other stores and it seems like Ikea is one of the few places that caters to lil’ homes like ours.

The walk in shower is roughly 41-1/2″ x 44-1/2″ of floorspace, plus the seat and step over ledge. The rain shower head (this is not the exact one, ours was a few hundy cheaper but the same idea) and handheld fixtures, both are from faucetdepot.com. These are awesome for giving our Allie dog baths (spoiled puppy), and they are kid height as well so they utilize them a lot. Here’s a fun little tidbit about these, water can run from both heads at the same time! The handheld makes cleaning the shower  way easier too.

There is a seat in the shower. It is wonderful for shaving and while I never sit down on it ~ I am just weirded out about that kind of stuff ~ I guess it’s the next closest thing to relaxing in the tub. For the kids it’s a great place to make a race track on. 

There is a niche with glass shelves to the left of the shower that was supposed to be for extra towels, etc. I use it for placing decorative knickknacks, since we have a linen closet in the bathroom (below in the right hand picture).

 And here is a floor plan:


I can’t forget to mention that the shower door, glass shelves and mirrors came from our business, Chattahoochee Shower Doors. *I am not getting paid to advertise for them or anyone else mentioned above. When and if I do I will be sure to let you know ;-)*

While the bathroom is not completely private for several people to use at one time, we have managed just fine. The truth is, we have applied simple manners and trained the family unit that before anyone enters the bathroom we warn the others that the facilities could be temporarily unavailable. I admit, I am probably the worst at this. I am usually the one getting knocks on the door, haha! Still there are no fights.

Our kids are learning a lot from it too. They realize that everything is shared, the toothpaste can’t be left smeared in the sink. That they can’t take too long out of respect that others have to use the bathroom too.

Our daughter is the best. She waits until everyone has had their turn and then she feels free to go in and take her time. No one will nag her and she won’t nag others to hurry. She knows she’ll get a chance to brush her hair 100 times and stare at her pretty face as long as she wants when her turn comes. And she does… haha!

Bottom line is no one is entitled to their own bathroom. At least in this house 😉

♥ Best wishes updating your little ol’ treasure! ♥

Helen and Ryan