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The Extras | Behind the Before & After

Updated: Jan 17

When is a Kitchen Reno not a Kitchen Reno? When you take on "The Extras!!!"

So, like probably every homeowner reading this, we have had a bunch of small projects around the house that have been on our to-do list forever. You know the type - projects that are too small for a contractor, but too big for a handyman. You can’t find who does this kind of work exactly, but you need them to really good job at the same time. The beauty of having an experienced, fully-vetted crew at your house for 2-3 months is that you can take advantage of professionals already on site!

Now, for us, the list of "extras" was not too long, but each project on that list definitely required professional skills & expertise.

1. Our Brand New (Times Two) Front Door

Long-time friends & clients may remember that we put in a new front door a few years ago now. Well, that door started to have some problems; namely, the paint around the frame of the door started to peel off. My first step was a return to Home Depot, where we’d ordered the door. I initially thought I’d just ask if we could order a small container of paint to match the door, since it was a specific Jeld-Wen color.

But the paint desk folks called the manager in the Door and Window Department (Steve, in Everett - he is fantastic!) He asked about my issue and so I showed him the door photos on my phone, and he insisted that we put in a warranty claim. He told me that definitely should not have happened and that likely Jeld-Wen would send me a brand new door!! Crazy, I know, but that is exactly what happened.

They sent the door and then . . . it sat in our garage for, I don’t know, a YEAR!? I just didn’t bother to try and find someone to change it out. However, with Fresh Start on site - BOOM - door installed!

2. The New-to-Us Fireplace Mantel

Our living room fireplace has never had a proper mantel, just a 12” deep piece of dark, rustic wood that laid across the top of the brick - a look that you may remember from Crate & Barrel c. 1998. Totally boring, and while functional, no longer sparking joy.

In addition, the brick surround around the fireplace is quite wide and I always thought it would be nice to have a proper mantel that could dress up the room a bit. So I started Googling photos of mantles and was completely expecting to buy one, but luck was on my side. I was able to get a beautiful, reclaimed mantel - with a classic colonial-style dentil moulding under the mantel shelf - from an older home in my neighborhood, for FREE!

Thus the mantel joined the replacement door, in our garage, for a good long wait. But when the kitchen work started I asked my carpenter could they install this too? “Yes, no problem! We’ll make it work.” And they did, fitting the mantel into the space, and doing a bit of (to me) invisible shimming and trimming. The new-to-us fireplace mantle looks like it’s always been there, and I can’t wait to re-paint the living room to really highlight the piece.

Left to Right: Mantel Awaiting Install, Fresh Start making it fit, and the final product. Question, what to do with the brick & slate?

3. A Sturdier, Safer Stair Railing

I think I’ve mentioned before that our house was built in 1948. So we have the latest and greatest carpentry and design from…1948. That said, I’ve never really paid any attention to our interior stair railing to the second floor. That is until the day my husband fell on the stairs and broke the handrail; It’s a long story and he is now fine - hit me up with a private message if you want more details.

The handrail, it turns out, was not one solid piece of wood; it had three joints in it and when my husband grabbed the handrail for support, one of the joints gave out and just broke. It was so oddly put together; our stairs are straight up and down with no curves or turns at all that would require breaks in the handrail.

For about two years we lived with a (wait for it) duct-taped handrail. We tried and tried but could not get anyone to come out just to build us a new railing. So when we learned that the kitchen reno would have to pause while we waited for the cabinets, I asked the Fresh Start team, “Hey, can you build us a new railing?” And of course the answer was (thankfully!) yes! The new railing has a better grip on the handrail itself, and the new posts are all a little taller than our old railing (in short, it’s now up to today’s code!) The new newel post at the bottom of the stairs, right near our front entry, is a simple, classic square post. Perfection.

Out of everything that we’ve done so far with this project I have to say I am most happy about this. I just want my family to be safe!

Left to Right: The old stair railing, the duct tape fix, the new posts, handrail & newel post.

4. New Shine on Old Floors

Well, this is always the question, right? The new floors are all buffed and polished…so do you do the rest of the floors so they match? Of course the answer is yes. And, in terms of pricing, it’s another case of “Well, they are already here…” So yes, we are going to have all of the first-floor hardwood floors refinished at the very end of the work. I am so NOT looking forward to having to move everything else from the first floor of our house to either the second floor, basement or garage. But it has to be done.

I had the floors done when I first moved in, back in 2006. And one husband and two dogs later, they are due for sanding and polishing. And there will never be a better time; half the space is already packed up and moved so may as well do the other half. We have been slowly moving small things upstairs so when the time comes we’ll only have to move the bigger items.

So those are our “Extras" . . . for now. But we are discussing one more BIG extra - so stay tuned for more info on that!

I'm writing these Behind the Before & After posts about our kitchen renovation because I want to share our process - including any bumps along the way - so that homebuyers and homeowners can get a look at what really happens when you take on a major renovation. Clients ask me all the time, "Should I renovate?" And my answer is - usually - this, "Renovate for you, now, and how you want to live" so I'm following my own advice and inviting you to follow along.

Read more about our kitchen renovation here! And feel free to comment or contact me with any questions you have!!

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