Final project

The contractors finally finished everything! Replaced garage, replaced roof on house, sided dormers, tuck pointed brick, new sidewalk along side and back of house, new brick patio, and a fresh coat of paint on the front steps. Phew! That was a lot!

Check out the before and after pictures below.


More home improvements

We finally got around to starting the other projects that needed to get done: tuck pointing, new roof, garage replacement, and side walk repair. While we’re at it, we have also decided to redo the patio. The tuck pointing and side walk repair are finished. The patio is also finished (brick pavers), as is the concrete slab for the new garage. Tomorrow, the contractors begin building the garage, followed by roofing on the garage and replacing the roof on the house.

If you’re looking for someone to help you with your home improvement projects, I highly recommend our general contractor, Goran Veseli of Veseli Design and Build. Goran is also an architect, so he can handle projects from the idea stage through completion. Goran worked with us to remodel our bathroom and we didn’t hesitate to call him when it was time to do this current project. So far, on both projects, he has made everything super easy on our end!

The sub-contractors who did all of the concrete and masonry work are A Kats Construction (at least, that’s what the side of the truck said). These guys are quick and efficient and they seem to do great work.

New bathroom!

We’ve finally finished the bathroom remodeling!  For your viewing pleasure, I’ve included before and after pictures below. Enjoy!

Before… note the lovely color of the floor tile. To top it off, the plumbing was done incorrectly, so the toilet backed up into the tub. And, the tub was cracked on the bottom layer (porcelain over fiberglass).

Then, After!

Pieces of the puzzle

The various pieces for our bathroom remodel have started to arrive. The contractors are supposed to start on Monday, but it sounds like our bathtub may not arrive for a couple more weeks, which leaves our start date up in the air.

The radiant heating mat for under the tile arrived today, along with our lights. I looked at quite a few light options, and most were a lot more expensive than these, so I was worried that these would look or feel cheap. I made sure to open the box right away to check that nothing had broken during shipping, and found that the lights are actually of good quality.

I’m getting pretty excited because I can see the finished product in my head. I hope the mix of traditional and modern come together the way I see them in my mind. I’m especially excited to see the gorgeous carrara marble countertop for the vanity once that is complete. I’ll be sure to post a picture.

Bathroom remodel

We’re finally making progress on remodeling the first floor bathroom. I know, we’re kind of slow, aren’t we?  Honestly, the hardest part was mustering up the energy to call the contractors back for a bid on just the bathroom after the bad news they gave us (i.e., extremely high bids) regarding our initial renovation plans. But, once we got the contractors back out, and they submitted their bids, we quickly made our decision and are moving forward now.

On the recommendation of our contractor, we went to Advantage Kitchen and Bath in Niles to look at vanities. Our bathroom is kind of narrow –  we need a 19″ vanity rather than the standard 21″ – so we’ve had trouble finding vanities that we like in the shallow depth required.  Thankfully, Advantage had some options that could be custom ordered in the depth that we need.

We decided on a vanity in the color of the kitchen cabinets shown below (cherry wood with brindle stain), and the styling of the vanity is similar to the vanity shown below. The main difference is the vanity will have a straight front, rather than the profile shown below. And, we went with a 36″ wide vanity, which is the size that we currently have.

We’re thinking about a carrera marble counter top with undermount sink, white subway tile in the shower, white hexagon tile on the floor, and gray or blue glass mosaic border in the shower with the back wall of shower as accent in gray or blue glass mosaic.

Home: Work


Cliff at work with heat gun & scraper


We’ve been talking, for a while now, about starting to scrape the paint off the window trim in one room as an experiment to see how easily it would come off. The other day, while I was working on homework in the dining room, Cliff decided to do some home: work of his own. He pulled out his heat gun and went to work on the window trim in the back bedroom. An hour or so later, and he had uncovered some really beautiful wood underneath all of that paint.


Small portion of window trim



Most of the trim is done



Window sill



Window trim & base board


As you can see from this last picture, the room also has wood base boards that have been painted. This is as far as Cliff has gotten so far, with just a little bit of work, but this is a MAJOR project for the future. This house has a ton of wood trim (windows, door frames, base boards, crown molding…), but I think the hard work will totally pay off in the future.

Now, we just need to find some free time so we can make some real progress. Free time seems to be in short supply these days.


We LOVED the plans we got back from the architect, but we likely won’t see them come to fruition.  When the bids came in, they were all way outside of our price range – in fact, two of the bids were 3 times our price range.  First, we just can’t afford to do it.  And second, even if we could afford it, the cost is just insane and we can’t rationalize it since we know there’s no way we’d see nearly that much return on our investment.

Now, we’re back to the drawing board.  The architect is going back to the contractors to ask them to rebid it after we’ve done some value engineering (paint grade wood trim instead of real wood trim that would be stained, etc).  I anticipate the bids will still come back quite high, so we’re also talking with one of the contractors to see whether it’s feasible to build out the space for our price range.  We’ll see what he says we can get for the price we’re able to pay.  And, lastly, we’ll start talking with some other architects/contractors to see whether we can add a bathroom and skylights in the existing space without building out dormers.  Ultimately, if the answer is “no” or “yes, but you’ll still have to pay through the nose”, we just won’t do it.

I’ve decided that Chicago bungalows are kind of racket in the real estate market.  Yes, it’s a great house with great bones, but most don’t have the attics built out because it seems too expensive to do that. But, realtors don’t tell you that part. They market the bungalow as “ready for expansion” but never really tell you that you’ll spend almost $100k to build out the attic. (Can you tell that I’m a little bitter and disappointed?)  Don’t get me wrong, I love our house. But, we might have made different decisions had we known how much it really costs to build out an attic.  Maybe.