before and after

One of the many reasons I wish I’d started this blog a long time ago — like way before blogs were even invented – is that we’d have such an amazing history of the evolution of our home. I envy the young folks at, for the living archive they are creating every day.

Of course, there was no Internet back on January 31, 1994 when two energetic, childless and much-younger-than-we-are-now newlyweds moved into the house vacated just hours earlier by the original owners, the new husband’s parents who were on their way to retirement in Florida.     There were also no digital cameras back then, so our original photos are on paper and fading, and I took far fewer shots since there was no instant repeat and delete.

This house was a wreck.  To put it more nicely, this house needed a buttload of work.

The past 17 years have been non-stop work, renovation and improvement.    We’ve changed the house so much that it is hard to remember the original footprint sometimes.     Which is why I was so excited when, a week ago, I jogged past a house a few blocks away that is for sale and is our exact model.  I stopped to look, and realized that the owners of that house had hardly done a thing since the day it was built! I decided to get into the house one way or another, to look around and especially to take some “befores”.

Yesterday I visited the house with a friend who is a realtor.  There is a whole entry to write about the emotions of walking into a time warp.    But, for right now, I offer this Before and  After as an indication of how far along we’ve come.

My husband has done so much of the work, and has had all of the vision of how this house could change and become modern and wonderful.  Much of his vision has met with my resistance for years, until I finally concede on one project or another, see the finished result and then wish I’d done so years earlier.

In fact, this shot is a perfect illustration of that dynamic.     We did agree, Day 1, 1994 that the spindles had to come down and we took a crowbar to those puppies so fast we damaged the ceiling and we did not take 1 “before” photo.    However, it took 16 years and many iterations to finally achieve the “after” and it went something like this:

One. I did not want to take down the wall.

“Where will we put the love seat?” I would wail.

Two.  I did not want a door leading out to the back yard. And, by then, we had two little boys.

“The floor will get dirty,” I would moan, sounding exactly like my Mother in 1968.

Worn out with the years of discussion, 3 years ago I did agree to cut out the right side of the wall, near the window, as a pass-through which enabled flow to the family room and out the sliding doors. I admit it – that was a good improvement.

Patrick, designer and mediator, arrived on the scene in March 2010, and took one look at the wall and stated, “You’re going to take that wall down right?” It was gone 2 days later!

Here is the Before:

(Lou’s parents used to file their mail in between the spindles.)

And, here is the After, and current state of that exact same space :

Love seats don’t need walls to exist as it turns out.

Happy Birthday, honey.  You were right.

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