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.

After nine months, we moved into our attic renovation, complete with a master bedroom and bathroom. It’s so beautiful, I can’t believe it’s really ours.

“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.

house renovation

Remember the sink from the flea market? It’s the centerpiece of my laundry room now.

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.

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