The finished product! Our new addition looks like a vacation
ROCKY RIVER, Ohio — Can’t believe this is mine.
The gas fireplace. The rich hardwood floors. The massive shower bathed in light, the heated tiles on the floor and the bathroom big enough for a lemon tree (on a table, no less).
“You have a plant in your bathroom. It looks like something Californian,” my sister said when I showed her around our attic.
What was once a cold, dusty dump of out-of-season clothes, old furniture and suitcases is now a warm and welcoming bedroom and bathroom.
It took us eight months to build, after five months of planning. It took a loan and a lot of headaches. But our home renovation, which blew up the back of our house and also created a second-floor laundry room, creates respite for my husband and I above our kids’ bedrooms and the go-go-go of our busy lives.
The space with white walls and wooden floors looks like an Airbnb. Like it’s too nice to be mine. As if I was on vacation. (He has a television that I can watch from bed!)
It’s exactly how I imagined it – back in 2016, when I first climbed the stairs. We had been looking for months for a house in the western suburbs. I wanted to be in a good school district, within walking distance of Lake Erie, in a house with character – and preferably four bedrooms and two bathrooms.
We bid – and lost – on four houses before this 1913-built farmhouse came up for sale. And even though there were only three bedrooms and 1 ½ bathrooms (with an additional toilet in the basement), I immediately imagined its potential. We made an offer the same day. And we moved two months later to a white house with a large, inviting porch, which longtime residents of Rocky River knew Mrs. Kaiser’s house.
Six years later, after gutting a bathroom, adding built-ins, repainting the porch, planting a garden and a dozen trees, there are still projects I dream about: concrete to replace our asphalt driveway crumbling, red barn garage, herringbone brick patio.
were still waiting for wallpaper and window treatments. But this sequel is truly a fantasy come true.
“Where do you get your ideas?” asked my mother-in-law when she saw the space. My husband pointed out the pile of ubiquitous magazines in our living room. I love magazine spreads and have torn out a folder full of pages over the years. Ideas also crystallize through a layer cake of vacation home tours and home and garden exhibits, antique shopping and Instagram scrolling.
The attic was the last part of my house where I had to incorporate all the design trends that I admired. So I have a shiplapped fireplace, a wallpaper accent wall, and a pebble floor shower. I bought an x-leg table and an upholstered king headboard, even a lounge chair by the built-in shelves. And I found room for all sorts of vintage things I had collected, from sink full of plants i rescued from a thrift store in michigan at a red buoy that I couldn’t pass in Maine; it says “Books. Clothes. Antiques” – all my favorite things.
December was filled with last minute tasks. We cleaned everything up. I eliminated the clothes I wasn’t wearing, rather than dragging them all into the new closet. We moved all the furniture. I fixed the dents in the drywall by moving all the furniture. We painted two rooms, so that my daughter could move into our old room and we could finally have a guest room. I drilled too many holes trying to install curtain rods, then patched those holes; I learned what wall anchors are. We took the beds apart and put them together and did the laundry in our new laundry room on the second floor. I hung pictures.
It was a ton of work. And all is not quite perfectly finished. (Our lights keep blowing a fuse, for one thing.) But when I flip the switch and the fire in our bedroom fireplace ignites, I feel instantly relaxed. It’s the only place I want to be.
Content director Laura Johnston writes occasionally about modern life, usually with children. She has been chronicling her home renovation since March. Check columns passed here.