...because home doesn't happen overnight.

One of my favorite things about living at the apartment now is how close we are to the Underdog. It takes us about 6 minutes to make the trek from the apartment to the Underdog.  The boys and I are able to pop over in the evenings to visit Handy Hubby {and bring him milkshakes and offer him lots of little helping hands} and give him much needed breaks while he’s working. Plus, it gives me a chance to document all the changes on camera.  This week the Underdog is without scaffolding.The ridge beam installation is complete.

Notice all the electrical boxes and wiring that have been added as well.  Our electrician/cousin-in-law is working his tail off in the evenings and on weekends to finish this side job he agreed to do for us.

Once again, opening up the ceiling has made a bigger impact than I could have ever imagined. Layne even said, “The house looks giant now!”  The mantel sans scaffolding…

…and the wall opposite the mantel sans scaffolding…

As you can see, we didn’t leave the area above the mudroom/dining room open for a loft.  Great idea!…Just not in the cards {i.e. budget} for us.  Plus, we’ll need the attic storage.  And speaking of attic storage, HH cut a hole for attic access above the bedrooms in the hallway.  He put in a nifty extending ladder for easy walk-up.

He’s very proud of this project.  Be sure to tell him how cool you think it is in the comments section.

Back to the great room…Last night when we visited HH, he was busy jackhammering through the future kitchen’s floor to make way for electrical service to the new island.

Per code requirements, the island must have an electrical outlet.  HH was jackhammering over from the future office area of the kitchen.

You can see the outline of the island taped out on the floor with painter’s tape.  If you look closely, you might also see another problem encountered when HH decided to take a peek into the plumbing access door that was located on the wall where the trench to the island starts.

Black mold.  Yeck.  HH went ahead and tore down the plaster wall covering the mold to check the extent of the water damage that we’re guessing is probably coming from a leak in the bathroom plumbing.  If you’ll remember from the floor plan, the boys’/guest bathroom is located on the other side of this kitchen wall.

On the opposite side of the kitchen, the ‘new’ laundry room is framed up in all new lumber.  The original framing was severely damaged due to past termite infestation.  Here’s the backside {kitchen side} of the laundry room…

Ahh.  I can smell the new lumber now.  There’s something about that smell that screams progress. And we like progress.

Notice that we decided to leave the laundry area open all the way to the ceiling and on both sides to give it more of the ‘nook’ feel that we like better than the closet thing it had going on before.


Those are the latest Underdog undertakings.  From all the comments, I can tell you guys are chomping at the bit for Underdog updates daily.  I’ll try my best to keep you up to date but this is a real time renovation, so don’t expect an ‘after’ anytime soon.  Slowly but surely, we’ll get there! And now that our previous home has sold and we’re all settled in our cozy apartment, we’re kind of enjoying the process.

images:  Dana Miller for House*Tweaking


I cannot get over how much bigger the place seems by taking up the ceiling. Kudos to you for seeing that potential and to your hubby for being able to accomplish so much of the work himself!!


That is all so exciting! Thanks for the update! I am loving watching your renovation – it’s going to be amazing!


I’m very, very interested in a post on how to sell your home on your own. My hubby and I keep tossing that idea around but would like to hear from someone with experience how much work it is, is it worth it, etc. Good luck with the Underdog, the progress you’ve made already is incredible!


To HH: The addition of the attic opening and the ladder is by far the coolest change made thus far! ;) Well, a close second to vaulting the ceiling anyway. :) Seriously though you rock to do all this hard work yourself…way to go!


yikes, sorry about the mold, that’s gross, but best to find out now before you finish everything. Hope it’s a straightforward fix!

attic access is impressive, take a bow! we don’t have any access to the attic above our bedrooms (in the top level of our split), but maybe this is something we could try to do, too. when we had new insulation blown in, they had to do crawl up through a small hole between the levels, they were not impressed, esp. in the heat of this summer.

I am seriously blown away by your renovation. I LOVE reading your reno posts. You guys are doing the most amazing job. xoxo


I can’t wait to see the completed projects!


It’s looking so great! I love when things start being added back to a space…that’s when you know it won’t be too long! :)

Our renovations are getting close. I think we have another 2 weeks on the kitchen, another week on the bathroom. You’re lucky you don’t have to live in the house during the renovation – though since we don’t have kids, we figured we could rough it for a while. ;)

Fun to blog about it so you have a good record. Our family in other states have loved watching the progress of our renovations on my blog. What did we do before the internet??

Keep up the good work!


OMGosh! I’m clapping my hands in glee over the fireplace structure now. THAT is going to be SPECTACULAR when you’ve finished…Looooveee it! And tell HH that I think his attic stairs are pretty nifty…;)


Attic access and stairs are amazing !!!!!!


Thanks for the kudos on the attic stairs. I was very happy with these after putting them up. Mainly because their so cool. These stairs are for use in areas where you don’t have room for a standard attic access ladder (Werner AA10 Televator Telescoping Attic Ladder). They extend and retract like a slinky. Very easy to put up, too. This unit isn’t on the cheap side. But I picked out one with a damaged box and was able to get 10% off due to the damage! Little tip there for ya!

Btw, we get no kick-backs from Werner. Just thought it was a good product.

Wow!!! Opening that room up makes a HUGE difference…Love it!!! I also love the attic ladder your HH installed :)


Yay HH, beautiful job. And way cool. Any chance you could do a quick hop over the “ditch” (as we affectionately refer to the Tasman Sea that separates us from New Zealand) to Australia next time business takes you to NZ? I could really do with one of those ladders ;)


I just wanted to say how absolutely AMAZING it is that you guys are DIY’ing the majority of the renos. Love love love the progress so far, especially the vaulted ceiling. Your Handy Hubby is truly incredible. I should send my bf over to the Underdog for some handyman lessons, LOL!


Love the progress!

Have you considered wiring for a pair of sconces on the fireplace wall? Maybe you don’t like that idea, but perhaps it would be good to consider what you are going to do with that wall in advance. I would love to have a pair of sconces.

looking good! I had NO idea that you guys would be getting this intense with the overhaul, but there is something just so wonderful about “starting from scratch”! My parents are in the process of a remodel where they pretty much ripped the house down to the studs. LOTs of work, but so amazing (though we’ve started to wonder if it wouldn’t have been easier to start from scratch and build new)! Sooooo excited for you guys and can’t wait to see it all shape up!


The house does look huge with the new ceiling. Thanks for the updates it is fun to watch!


WOW! The Underdog is looking so great! The attic ladder is very impressive and quite awesome looking :)


The ridge beam looks amazing. Although I won’t push for more updates (seesh, you have two little ones to keep up with, I’m surprised we get as many as we do!), I will admit that seeing a new blog post on the Underdog makes me super giddy. Fantastic job!


HH- how hard was it to open up the space for the attic? I have a very small opening to my attic currently that I can’t anyone to venture into. Even my home inspector wouldn’t try it out when I bought my house. I would like to open this up. What all was involved other than installing your stairs?


Alana – From what I know, HH created the attic access from scratch…there was none there previously. I’ll have to ask exactly what tools he used to cut the opening.


Ashley – Somedays it feels like we are starting all over…like we are building a house from the ground up. But I think the big reason people {including us} decide to renovate an older home {even from the studs up} versus building new is location. We love the Underdog’s neighborhood. It’s an older, mature part of town that has the best lots. Just to buy a lot to build in the same area would have cost us a bundle…maybe even more than we spent on the Underdog’s purchase. Plus, with it being a mature neighborhood, it’s likely you couldn’t even find a lot for sale. Everything is already planned and built on. I haven’t seen any lots available for sale. It all comes down to personal preference. Even with the surprises that the Underdog throws at us, we’re still happy with our decision. It’s such a great area.


Mari – We do have plans for the fireplace wall. In fact, HH will be working on it a little this weekend so maybe I’ll be able to share pics next week!


JennyB – A post all about how we sold our home by owner is in the works! Just waiting for internet hookup tomorrow so I can start writing away! It’ll be a long one and I don’t think I could bribe my kids into playing quietly at the library for the 3 hours it takes me to write it up! Can’t wait for apartment internet service. Seriously…it’s like I’m a blog druggie.


I’m enjoying watching all of the progress on your house. I feel like you’re giving lots of updates and you’re getting TONS of things done in a short period of time. And I really do love that ladder. My grandma’s attic had a full set of stairs that pulled down from the ceiling — it makes the attic so much more accessible!


I think the attic was a horrible idea.


Thanks so much for the info about the telescoping attic ladder! We are renovating our house, and need to relocate the attic access, but the only reasonable spot to put it is pretty tight. My husband figured he could modify the common attic pull down to make it fit – this is much more simple! He’s actually pretty excited to see this option. Thanks again for sharing your work, it’s gonna help us out!

Wow! I love seeing the progress of the Underdog, and I love seeing my Reader updated with new posts from you because I know it means something new and exciting at the Underdog!

I do love the new attic access– our attic ladder is seriously in need of replacement. It makes me nervous every time I have to go up there. More important than the attic, though, is how much work HH is putting in there! Congrats to him!


Just wondering why you left the laundry hook up where it originally was rather than moving it, and creating an even more open floor plan into the dining room/mudroom?


Jen – We left the laundry room hookup where it was to save money. Whenever you start messing with moving plumbing around things can get pricey. Plus, there isn’t really another ‘better’ place for it. The garage is HH’s future man-garage and I’d feel bad taking up precious workspace with a washer/dryer. The original placement isn’t bad either. Especially when the weather is warmer, I think I’ll like having easy access to the backyard to hang clothes out to dry.


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I discovered your blog via YHL’s podcast.

I was drawn to your blog because my family also recently downsized from 2600sq ft with a full basement & oversized 2 car garage to 1452 sq ft, 2 car carport & detached 1 car garage /workshop. I’m loving it!

We also have a dark kitchen area that is already opened to the living/dining room. I would LOVE to vault the ceilings but it sounds expensive. The ladder to the attic is great too . We currently have to drag a ladder inside to get into our attic.

We used to live in Cincinnati & we have several friends who live in Dayton.

Just wanted to tell you I’m enjoying the blog, thanks!


Hi there! This is so beautiful! My husband and I are about to purchase a house similar to this. Can I ask what the square footage is for this great room area?