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Mountain Fixer-Upper: Demo Update



My old boss’ New Years Resolution (in 2004) was to stop answering ‘GOOD, just so busy’ when asked how she was doing. All I can say right now is that thank God the two things that are making me feel so ‘busy’, are also the two things that make me feel ‘good’. I’m talking about family and designing. I wake up with a new tile pattern I hadn’t considered the night before, and can barely focus on Arie (from the bachelor of course) while pinning. I’m consumed trying to get both of these houses done by June, AND HAVING THEM LOOK GOOD BECAUSE MILLIONS OF PEOPLE WILL SEE THEM, LOVE THEM, JUDGE THEM, HATE THEM AND POSSIBLY SHARE THEM…

Plus we are creating content around them which surely slows down the process.

Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Upper Cabin Demo Update Emily And Brian 5 Cropped

To be clear I am not looking for any sympathy designing a house for our family and creating content with my husband is FUN. And help is on the way, don’t worry. 🙂 It just goes to show you that you can’t ever predict the number of decisions you have to make during a renovation. Ever.

We are fully demoed at the mountain house and very few major decisions have been made regarding fixtures. All the floorplans are done, yay! I’m working SO HARD on the bathrooms and kitchen plans without trying to rush the design process and settle for things without fully shopping for the perfect resources.

More to come later, but I wanted to show you the almost final floor plan and some fun demo photos.

Things have changed a bit from the first iteration of the plans and while these aren’t FINAL FINAL, the updated plans are pretty darn close.

For all your floorplan junkies (a surprisingly lot of you) here is where we started:

Emily Henderson Lake House Floor Plan First Floor Entire Floor Annotated Changes 01

This is where we are now:

Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Upper Floor Plans With Notes Of Changes

Essentially it’s a gut job and every finish is being replaced (except the stone on the fireplace). So I don’t need to go into detail to say ‘new faucet’. Read all the details of what is happening above, but the major changes are these:

  1. I took your advice and gave “Bedroom 1” its own full bath to create a suite, with enough room for a powder room.
  2. We now have access to the garage because it’s too small for a car anyway (but fits Brian’s bright red 80’s golf cart with a ‘Ferrari’ bumper sticker so nicely). So we’ll likely use the garage for storage of everything seasonal. Going out and around was pretty annoying in the cold, so now we have interior access.
  3. We are reorienting the stairs so that we can create more of an entry/mudroom as the back of the living room was kinda wasted space. We will likely put different flooring up until that point, with some storage…we are still working this out.
  4. We are creating a counter height bar between living and kitchen (with tricked out drawer and wine fridges beneath it!!) to open up the rooms, but allow for more function and a sense of ‘a bar’.
  5. “Bedroom 1” will have french doors leading out to a little deck that then leads to the backyard. We are trying to make every room desirable and doing so by maximizing light and flow.

Things I’m still thinking about – that floating wall in front of the HVAC. Now it could be treated in something pretty – maybe it’s clad or something. Our architect wanted to cover the door to the HVAC and lead your eye into the kitchen instead, but I still don’t totally get how to design it with that wall. It needs to look really intentional or functional…  We are looking into moving the HVAC altogether without spending 1 million dollars. Then we could put a coat closet there…

The second floor has a decent amount of changes as well. Below are the as-builts with our original plans, but a lot has changed since our first thoughts and the actual architect’s drawings.

Emily Henderson Lake House Floor Plan Second Floor Entire Floor Changes 02

It’s so exciting. This house used to have:  3 bedrooms, 4 ‘hang out spaces’, 4 bathrooms (kinda) and now it has 4 bedrooms (3 of them suites), 3 hang out spaces, with 3 full baths, and 2 half baths.

Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Upper Floor Plans With Notes Of Changes 042

Major changes upstairs:

  1. We are giving “Bedroom 2” its own powder room/closet (which was just a HUGE closet) and stealing from that closet to make still a great big full bath for the kids.
  2. “Bedroom 2” will also have a french door out to a little deck (and a ton more light – more on that later).
  3. The bunk room will actually have a staircase up to the play attic, which will be SO MUCH FUN FOR THOSE KIDS. So they’ll have their own little retreat.
  4. We stole from the bunk room to give some additional square footage to the master bath, so it’s a big pretty suite with so much light.
  5. The upstairs family room is now a big old master suite, and we just found out this morning that it can have a vaulted ceiling – YAY!

Generally, you can see we are also adding windows and access to the outdoors wherever possible.

We’ll get into every single specific thing later, on individual posts but for now, please enjoy some before and ‘demo’ photos.

The living room…

Emily Henderson Lake House Intro Before Plans Grid Living Room 1 New


Demo is on …

Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Upper Cabin Demo Update 2Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Upper Cabin Demo Update 1Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Upper Cabin Demo Update 5

Into the kitchen…

Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Upper Cabin Demo Update 8

It’s all gone, folks. So exciting…

Emily Henderson Lake House Before Kitchen 2 1 New 2Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Upper Cabin Demo Update 3

We have to put in a support beam to remove that wall. But no problems there. 🙂

The dining room didn’t need much demo, but while we are at it…

Emily Henderson Lake House Before Kitchen 4 1 New 2Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Upper Cabin Demo Update 6Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Upper Cabin Demo Update 4

The family room is transitioning nicely.

Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Upper Before Family RoomEmily Henderson Mountain Fixer Upper Cabin Demo Update 7

Thanks to all of you who suggested we get rid of the staircase to make the family room and our master bedroom (upstairs) bigger. Both those rooms will be WILDLY more functional and pretty now.

We are likely putting in a fireplace along the new non-stairs wall because a big ol’ wall of glass doors will be going in where those windows are (below).

Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Upper Cabin Demo Update 20Emily Henderson Lake House Intro Before Plans Grid Downstairs Bathroom New1

Well, buh-bye bathroom. Don’t worry – everything that could be salvaged was donated to the Boys and Girls Club as my contractor is on the board. THANK GOODNESS. I was feeling guilty, but all those vanities and faucets will have a new home soon.

Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Upper Cabin Demo Update 19

Our master bedroom, that used to be another hangout area, is getting a jackhammer to that burgundy wall.

Emily Henderson Lake House Intro Before Plans Grid Upstairs Living Room NewEmily Henderson Mountain Fixer Upper Cabin Demo Update 12

The old ‘master’ is being turned into the bunk room (sans fireplace).

Emily Henderson Lake House Intro Before Plans Grid Master Bedroom New

Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Upper Cabin Demo Update 11Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Upper Cabin Demo Update 15

It’s a lot. And this is just one house. I’m going to write a whole post about how to get your project done on time (or as fast as possible) but the biggest tip? Plan, be decisive, order everything with ample lead time and check in. every. single. day.

Oh, just that.

So hanging out in a jacuzzi shooting a video with my husband doesn’t fall on my to-do list, AND YET IT DOES.

Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Upper Cabin Demo Update Emily And Brian 4

Happy Friday, y’all. If I’m not ready for the master bath ‘I Design, You Decide’ post by next week I’m going to take one of my 95 tile options and bury them in my eyes. This ‘designing each room twice, but where we both love them equally’ thing is so hard I can’t even tell you. But I think it’s making me a way better designer and it’s also SO FUN. I’m being way more thoughtful and considerate than usual, which I think is good for all of us. I just need to do it FASTER.

See you Monday (unless you are coming to the ‘Let’s Rummage For Good’, sale tomorrow – get details here).

Fin Mark


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So happy you went with the 180* return in the stairs; it’ll give you so much functionality in that space. For the floating wall to cover the HVAC, have you considered closing in the space between the HVAC and the floating wall, and making that your coat closet? This would essentially extend that entire block of storage in the centre of the house to meet the floating wall. The implications for the HVAC would be either the access door moves to the wall facing the washroom, or you access it through the coat closet.
Excited to see you progress!


Love the idea of extending storage/service to create a closet and relocate the HVAC door! This could align with the drywall ceiling above to create a clean transition from lower to upper level, and perhaps encapsulate the column as well. It may make the space slightly more closed off, but I think this storage/service area would read as solid, clean and functional mass in the space that also helps to further define spaces!


Like both these ideas–yes to encapsulating the column and aligning with the ceiling above! Or, if you don’t want to extend the whole closet, can you integrate the HVAC door and get a pretty register so that you don’t have to have a floating wall? If the column has to remain, I hope it can be aligned with the ceiling. Love seeing all this process! I live in a lake/mountain house, so I am super excited to see you transform the space into a family friendly beautiful home!

Vicki S Williams


Régine from The 256 Project

Love that idea.


Great idea. I would just leave HVAC doors inside the closet, why waste money moving it. How often do you need to access it anyway? I don’t have HVAC, wouldn’t know, but it seems it’ s not something you need to get to all the time. But you definitely always need more storage on the kitchen side and a nice closet is a bonus. Good call.


I would extend but instead of the coat closet (a bit too far from entry) I would use the extra space in the kitchen – because we always need more kitchen storage! (and on the plan, doesn’t seem to have a lot of so far)

Alexandra Rose

Was thinking the same thing. Plus it’ll hide the bathroom door from the kitchen, which is always a good idea, I think.



The reason as of now that we can’t enclose it is that the main return is there, too (although we could move that) and the big outdated heat boiler thing is in there, too, where the heat comes from so as of NOW we can’t enclose it. BUT I’m still looking into moving everything since the floating wall feels weird to me, but i don’t want to look at the HVAC door either ….


I was thinking the same thing. It would be a much better use of the space, and wouldn’t create a weird tiny hallway.

UPDATE: we are moving the door to access the hallway .., stay tuned. thanks for all your help! 🙂


Uhm most important question is when go we get to see those videos??

Editing now! Hopefully soon … 🙂


Sand blasted beams get this super rich honey tone that is to die for it. If you sand blast your ceiling beams, be ready to fall in love 🙂 I got to see this in old mill renovations and the ceilings and the common area stairways were perfection!!

Oh good. that’s awesome. We are going to try to walnut blast, but i’m going to do a post about it!


We just finished moving our HVAC (and water heater and softener) We are adding on, and opted to move HVAC in the process. It’s the best decision of our entire project because the old location was terrible and intrusive. In the whole scheme it didn’t cost as much as I imagined it would, nor was it as complex or difficult as I expected (of course I wasn’t the one crawling around in our ceilings!). Depends how strongly you feel about the location compared to other parts of your project…but there’s no harm in getting quotes!

I feel like there was another reason we couldn’t move it, but i’m going to ask again because just yah, why not move it altogether?


Looks amazing!!! Curious why you didn’t go with a Jack and Jill style bathroom upstairs to give some better functionality for bedroom 2? A powder room in an upstairs bedroom seems like they’ll have to use the kids shower anyways, might as well set them up to share!

Just an idea! Love it all!


I didn’t notice that until your comment. Maybe it’s so bedroom 2 inhabitants can poop in their own private bathroom. If I was staying in the bunk room I would be totally onboard with that. Sharing a bathroom really a toilet grossed me out.


Oh this is SUCH a good idea! That way the shower can be accessed from the bedroom instead of having to go out in the hall. Emily, consider it!

We thought about it … I guess that in a perfect world the kids bedroom/bunk room would have their own bathroom with a bath, but i don’t think we can do that in the space. So while ideally bedroom 2 would have their own full bath, we figured that having a powder room is at least nice to have their own space, then sharing with the kids isn’t the worst thing ever. But i’ll stare at it (although they are framing next week …. ) I guess we could make it one huge bathroom with a pocket door from bedroom… Read more »


If I’m staying bedroom 2, I’m happy to have that separate powder room if you have the space. Do you need it for a closet though?


Powder room off a bedroom is awkward.
You can easily fit a small shower in the closet space. If this is a weekend/vacation house, you don’t need much closet space in bedrooms. A wardrobe will suffice.


Just wondering why bedroom 1 doesn’t seem to have a closet … it seems like in bed 1 and 3 you could have a closet (those kinds with sliding doors or French doors so narrow) along the hallway walls and then be able to have a shower in bedroom 2/bath4


Those stenciled leaves on the wall above the jacuzzi…you’re going to miss those, aren’t you? Ha!

Also: so many boob lights in that house! Why do people (aka builders/landlords) use those? You can go to Home Depot and find other non-boob-shaped lights that are just as cheap and look way better! That style fixture is the worst!

Haley Hawes

Could that floating HVAC wall be somewhere that you could hang a tv for the living room?

I think we are doing a pull down projector screen over the large window, with the projector mounted under the ceiling 🙂

Herself In Ireland

This all looks terrific. My one thought would be that you should put a shower in the en-suite bathroom of Bedroom 2. If you have a full house you could have six people (four in the bunkroom, 2 in the bedroom) all trying to get a shower in the only common bathroom on that floor.

Also, can you say why you changed the wall of the living room from straight to slightly v-shaped? There may be an obvious answer, I just can’t think of it!


Agreed – that was my concern as well. That’s a lot of people for the one shower; I’d even consider eliminating the bathtub (I know!) in the bunk room bathroom in order to shoe horn a shower into both the guest and bunk baths.

It is a lot of people for one shower … we could put a small shower in bedroom 2 IF we got rid of the reach in closet in their 1/2 bath and just put a wardrobe in the bedroom … not a bad idea at all ….

Sarah Amos

If I am pretending to be a guest at a wonderfully relaxing, family friendly mountain/lake chalet, I think I’d prefer an armoire in the bedroom and an attached shower in the bathroom. (Thoughts from the peanut gallery…)


Good Eye! The first set of plans was drafted quickly and we didn’t have the exact angle of that exterior wall which is why it appears different in the second version of the plans, which were drafted after we had the exact mesurements and angles 🙂 xx

patricia blaettler

In my guest room at the beach we don’t even have a closet, just 2 rows of Shaker style pegs. It works perfectly.

priscilla valdes

LOVE me some demo!
(Wow, what a big job, did you ever imagine it would be like that?)


LOVE all this process – the combo of demo/new floor plans + annotated photos is very helpful! I agree that the existing HVAC is problematic. If is stays, I think relocating the door to the side where the w/d is would be necessary for sight line purposes. I agree the wall to hide the existing location is kind of awkward…but I see the benefit for focusing the view from the front door. Other thoughts – could you pull the stairs 3-4′ towards the front door to tuck a closet to the right of the staircase? Or leave the stairs located… Read more »


Relocating the door was my thought as well. Instead of moving the HVAC or the main return, just reorient. Take down the wall separating the HVAC and the W/D. The shelving there would be lost, but could be regained on the other side of the HVAC. There would then be only one door for accessing both laundry and AC which is cleaner looking as well. And it would face the short hallway where BR1 is, which is where I would expect a door – rather than having a door oddly in a space that is more “open plan”.


Floorplant junky here! Love them! It’s going to be so gorgeous! There are a couple of things that strike me as odd, though, but it could be just because I am not from the US. 1) I would put a shower in bedroom 2’s bathroom intead of the closet. The bedroom seems to be quite big, so I am sure you can find a way to put a wardrobe in there. I know you Americans are more used to walk in closets (and they are great! I have them too) but wardrobes are an option too. Also, since this is… Read more »

HA. I just said that, too! Yah, why not a wardrobe and add a shower. I think for resale its hard to call it a “bedroom” without a closet (and i suppose we could put in a closet at the front of the room … but yah a wardrobe is all guests need …. But what if we decide to LIVE there? THen will we be bummed there is no closet?


I’m also wondering why Bedroom 2 didn’t get its own full bath? 51 sq ft is plenty for a full bath. I noticed you put the closet in there. Why not move the closet to the wall that borders the hallway (that room is long and narrow anyway) and make that a true suite?

Vicki S Williams

Was wondering the same.

HA. OK OK . We thought about putting the closet there, but now that you are all suggesting another full bath (with a shower) maybe we should go for it. OH THIS IS SO FUN. Keep the suggestions coming!

Katie Miller

I could stare at these floor plans all day – what a monster project! This home is going to look AMAZING at the end of it all. Super appreciative you’re maximizing every opportunity to bring in natural light and access to the outdoors. Thank you for taking us on this journey with you!


I would forgo the closet in bedroom 2 and add a small shower. Its so nice when on vacation to have a suite and not have to go outside of your room to shower. Much more important than a closet which could be dealt with in a wardrobe or other storage. Or even a small corner closet in the room.
Just my 2 cents. Looking great. I don’t envy your time constraints that must be so hard!

Régine from The 256 Project

I love this series and love seeing you go out of your comfort zone in the design and look forward to each new post. I also don’t get why bedroom 2 is getting a powder room and not a full bathroom. It seems like a floor plan design flaw. Is there any way to change that?

HAHAHHAHHAHA. OK we’ll give it a shower!!

Regine from The 256 Project

LOL, glad we hounded you enough to agree to a shower!


How about if you switched the front door to swing open the other way and then you can convert the new picture window area to a coat closet orrrrrrr if you put the front door where the picture window is then you walk in through a mud room like space. All of this only works if there is enough space there obviously.

Vicki S Williams

Master bath layout bothers me…to walk in and have the shower smack dab in my face makes, to me, a feeling of being cramped. I would place vanities when you first walk in to create a feeling of openness, then the shower and toilet or the toilet then shower. Understand there may be some logistics that I can’t see from floor plan.
Will Bedroom 1 have a closet? I don’t see one.
Your comments about how many decisions to be made and how often they can change I sure can relate too!


I too would switch master vanity and shower. I love seeing all of this!

Vicki S Williams

If you keep a floating wall as you have it now, with all that light, how about a living vertical wall of plants?


Love this!! Though hard to maintain in a vacation home. Maybe a floating wall of air plants 🙂


This is so exciting! I know that the outcome will look really great as always. I do have a couple of things that I personally wouldn’t want if this was my house (which is admittedly a moot point because obviously this isn’t mine). One — stove on the island. There really isn’t an effective way to vent it properly and I want an island to just be an island as prep space and for serving space. Two: that is a pretty big banquette space. I would hate to be the one in the middle. Kids grow up so fast —… Read more »


I’ve seen this done where they use 2 smaller tables to create a space in between so people can get in and out more easily. I think that’s a great idea.


Agree about the range being on the island – it “looks” great but doesn’t work well in practice. Either an effective hood is going directly above (closing things off visually), or you will get talked into one of those pop up vents that comes up behind the burners when you cook. Those things – no matter how expensive they are – do not work AT ALL. All the cooking oils will be aerosolized during cooking and will be dispersed throughout the open kitchen, all cooking smells permeate the house (great when it’s cookies, not great if you’re cooking fish and… Read more »

We went back and forth for DAYS about the cooktop on the island and ultimately we chose the island instead of the counter but honestly that could change and we put the sink/dishwasher on the island instead. But I feel like I love the idea of the sink with that huge picture window behind it …
Also we’ll have a hidden downdraft. But I totally appreciate the suggestions and maybe we will …


I have a window over our stove, with a hidden downdraft; it’s def not common, and I LOVE it. It’s not too hard to keep clean — windex ~1 week and use a fry sheild and easy peasy.


My parents have a range with a down-draft in their island and they haven’t had any problems. They have plenty of space for prep on either side of the range, and it looks like you do too. I vote keep the placement, (but of course do whatever you think is best!) 🙂 PS – All of a sudden this project feels so REAL. Like whoa, this is a huge, and I’m so excited to see the beautiful content you create! PPS – I so appreciate your transparency and sharing your process with us. I’m definitely a floorplan junkie, and posts… Read more »


We are contemplating this as well. In a previous house, I had a cooktop and oven in the island and it was nice to visit with my husband or guests as I was cooking or watch my kid playing in the adjoining living room. The hood was an issue because someone was always running their head into it and it did ruin the view. There is another option – a company called BEST (there might be others) makes a ceiling flush mount range hood for islands. We just might go that route because I cook a lot and hate to… Read more »


I think there is a romantic ideal of a sink and window because before dishwashers one spent a lot of time there. But now, in modern kitchens more time is spent at the stove. just a thought.


We have a vacation home with the downdraft range/cooktop in the island. I love it. People can belly up to the bar while I’m cooking and I don’t have to have my back to the action.

My question is there a coat closet on the first floor? Seems like people/kids will just come in a drop everything on the floor in one big pile.


Quick but super-passionate comment: Yes please to new door. Those fanlights, in California, to my mind, are dreadfully dated. Not only dated, but really not organic to place. I’d love to see you put in something mid-century, or mountain cabin rustic.

You got it 🙂 Definitely changing that out. xx


Excellent! One quick question: from the functionality perspective, wouldn’t it make more sense to squeeze 3/4 bath instead of 1/2 in the upstairs guest bedroom. Skip the closet, squeeze in a shower? Good luck!

Yep,. You are all right. Already emailed my contractor/architect 🙂


Wow! This is great! Thanks for sharing the floorpans…I am definitely a floorpan junkie 🙂 I can’t wait to see this come back together…nothing makes me happier than a full demo & taking the time & $$ to really do a house up right. Good call on all the added windows…expensive, but totally worth it in the long run. We added 8 large windows & 4 skylights to my home when we did a similar project, and the light is everything. We also had to rearrange every piece of plumbing in the house, but it was completely worth it. I… Read more »

thank you! Agreed about the windows. Expect a lot of window posts coming at you soon … 🙂


Can you add a coat cluster under the stairs?

I think so … thats the idea anyway!

Va Mom of 2

I’d look to rotate the hvac to have the door across from the powder room (might need to just steal some storage from the kitchen). If the support post needs to stay you could extend the hvac area to include a closet. I would also put the closet in the bedroom upstairs and add a shower instead of just a powder room. No adult guest wants to exit their room and shower in the ‘kids’ bath. Just some thoughts and so exciting to get to watch (and suggest).

Yah, thats a good idea and easier than totally relocating …


I find the HVAC wall to be awkward. Love other posters idea to add the coat closet behind the HVAC wall and switch the access to the other hall if possible. But if you don’t want to lose that space or can’t reorient it, why not do a hidden door on for the existing HVAC door (magnet push etc.) and you could do some pretty cladding on the whole wall/door with a pretty grate integrated for the venting. Then no need for that extra wall and the door could still be a feature instead of an eyesore.

there is still that weird post … its like its floating in the middle of nowhere so I think my architect wanted to make it feel more intentional …


Mudroom? Serious space needed for beach towels to dry, sandy toys to dry, etc. Maybe you will have a space outside to do this. I’m used to humid Ohio where nothing fully dries outside if wet down. I’m just a big believer in having a designated seriously “dirty” spot/hallway/room with kids/guests/animals. But so exciting to see it all. Super excited for your family!

OH girl, this is my #1 issue and we have STRUGGLED with this. We even considered redoing the front exterior to add on to get one. We will have a wall of hooks and cubbies in the entry (but it will STILL look messy. I’m thinking about actually cutting into the garage to be able to put cabinetry there, but not sure if we can yet. Lastly the garage will likely become a huge mudroom, but to your point – YES WE NEED A PROPER MUDROOM. 🙂


I had the same thought immediately when looking at the floor plan: it would make life MUCH easier for you and guests to use part of the garage as a mud-room – well-worth investment!
It might be a little of a ‘head-scratcher’ in terms of how to divide up the garage and where to locate the various access doors, but quite feasible…!

Cris S.

I would love love love to hear costs on the radiant heat flooring you are putting in. Every time I bring it up with our contractor and my husband I keep getting told it would cost too much. But it feels much more like neither want to be bothered! And we’re in Chicago, so I think it would have much more of an impact for us than for you!

I’ll let you know but I think its around $15k – $20k but there are TONS of new easier methods. I’ll blog about it!


OMG! maybe we had the same contractor, I asked him so many times to quote me on it and he never did! And then we needed to move ahead with the plans and now I have no radiant heat. In Chicago also. WTH?


My husband is acting as GC for a current addition project. His contract buddy told him to do radiant heat, that no one regrets it!.We almost didn’t listen in order to save $$, but it was turned on this week and it’s amazing!! It was DIY before our slab was poured, so not sure of costs to have it installed professionally but I think it’s going to be a game changer! Its feels almost as good as sitting by a fire.


Interesting, my dad’s contractor recommended against it bc when it breaks, you have to tear up your nice and expensive hardwood floor.


Good point! I’ve wondered the same in our situation… but underground the only materials are plastic pex piping. The mechanics are accessible above ground and in a utility room. (I am NOT an expert…learning as I go and probably making this all up ;-)), so I think it’s the same risk as anything else that would be underground in a slab? Plumbing, etc? We pressure tested all the piping before pouring to slab.


(I replied a couple hours ago and thought it was here, but now I don’t see it. Sorry for a repeat!) Good point! This had me concerned at the beginning, too! But, from what I understand, since the only underground material is PEX piping, the likelihood of breakage is similar to that of underground plumbing, ductwork, etc. All of the mechanical components are accessible above ground. I could be making this all up. I am NOT an expert. 😉


Holy hell! You are CRUSHING IT. Making so many decisions on such a tight timeline is tough and you are clearly the right person for the job. It is so fun to follow along with everything! Looking forward to your tips about getting projects done on time for sure. <3

Julie S

Wow, this is a HUGE undertaking and the reality of it is just now hitting me. It’s all fun and pretty until you see just how much dang work it’s going to be! I’m excited for room by room breakdowns as that is a little less overwhelming I think, and will clarify a few questions I’m confused about. Anyway, definitely looking forward to it all.


Quick thought on the HVAC door (not sure what to do with the vent below). Couldn’t you just hide the door? Like a secret door? Not sure what kind of treatment you are having on the walls, but for an example – if you did vertical shiplap (or whatever – not proposing that, just using it as an example) then you could do the door too and make it a push/open door, so there isn’t any hardware and then the door just disappears. Or you could still do a secret door but hang an awesome vertical art piece there that… Read more »


Do you really need two stacked washer/dryers in a second home? If you could live with just the one upstairs by the bunk room, you would have lots more wiggle room with the HVAC and use the extra space as a closet.

This might be my favorite part of other people’s renos – the part where it’s all possibility and all I have to do is imagine.

Yah. but the kids are up there and all our closets are up there so having a quick washer/dryer seems so nice!


Keep it! I would love to have a washer dryer on both levels and not lug stuff up and down stairs. You have the space and after a messy day on the water, throwing the beach towels in downstairs and the kids and your clothes upstairs will be soooooo worth it. Also worth it for when you (or a cleaning service) need to wash all those sheets and towels quickly at the end of the weekend so it is ready for the next weekend!


As the kids and friends get a bit older, won’t you need to have separate bedrooms for girls/boys? Perhaps bedroom 2 could be turned into a girls bedroom and the bunk room could be designated for the boys.


LOVE seeing the floorplans! Looks amazing so far. And can’t wait to see how it all comes together when I win the trip to see it in person ;).


I love seeing your process and how decisions have been slightly tweaked from the beginning. I’m so excited you included the floor plans, it helps to visualize the whole picture instead of room by room. All of this makes me want my own mountain retreat – especially as summer approaches and the heat return here in the high desert!


Two washer/dryers is totally overkill in a vacation home! I would nix the stackable on the first floor and make better use that space…coat closet, kitchen storage, re-orientation of the HVAC to whatever is most pleasing. We recently added a new HVAC system in a fixer upper with full access being inside the adjacent closet, totally out of site. The only way you can tell the heat pump is in there is the thermostat on the wall and the air return below.


I respectfully disagree about two washing machines being overkill. If you have more than one family staying there, it would be hugely helpful. Ditto if anyone there has a baby – even if you’re not cloth diapering, babies go through a few outfits a day, or at least mine did. Just the amount of sheets and towels to wash would be crazy for more than one family.

Julie P

What if you moved the downstairs washer dryer to the garage? That’s where all the beach towels etc will be generated. That way you will have the extra space AND the downstairs washer/dryer.


Yes! Put it in the new mud room area!!


I agree! Move the washer and HVAC to the garage (turn it into an enormous mud room!!) and then you can put in heaps more kitchen storage or even a bar near the kitchen. It will also ensure the hallway from the playroom to the living room is just a bare wall, which offers way more privacy and less noise for that guest bedroom.

Can you also put an outdoor shower near the garage/mudroom? That would be so convenient and practical in summer.


So exciting to see the progress, thank you for including us! I have to add my two cents though … I stay in houses with a group of friends frequently and it sounds like how you are planning on using the house (multiple couples and a boatload of kids or grandparents and siblings and all the grandkids). The only “difficult” part of sharing these houses in when we all have to get ready for an activity or dinner reservation and you have ten people that need to shower and get ready all at the same time. Please please please give… Read more »


I wonder if you would consider writing about or have anything to say about being a woman and dealing with male contractors and subs. I generally know more about construction than my husband but sometimes get so frustrated with workers not listening to me that I have to communicate through him.


YES! My father and I just spent six months restoring (after almost completely gutting) a 1908 Craftsman together. I pulled equal weight but none of the contractors gave me the time of day. They treated me like someone’s daughter just hanging around, nevermind that I’m covered in rust and plaster and wearing a freaking toolbelt.


That’s why my contractor is a woman! (Well that not why, but after I fired my guy who didn’t know what he was doing, his replacement is a woman and she is awesome. So nice being able to raise issues/questions and being treated as an equal. The first guy would text my husband questions when he was at work and I was in the next room. No words.

Diane Sayler

what about making the two upstairs bath a jack and jill? so the guest in bed 2 can have shower access?


I think the bath space in bedroom 2’s bathroom would be a shower over a bath arrangements. I notice that a few people have commented on there only being a bath for the bunk room, so I thought I would post my assumption.
Is that correct Emily??

Maggie S

What about taking some of Bedroom 2 and put a regular sized W/D in the hall and a small closet for the bedroom. That way you could have one W/D upstairs and a closet. The bedroom might be a little small but I think having both a shower and a closet will make up for that. I did that exact same thing…I took some space from another room to make a small laundry room instead of just a laundry closet when I remodeled and I’m SO glad I did. It isn’t big but there is room for a ironing board… Read more »


Love seeing these transformations! One question was about the wall-to-wall carpet in the master since you’re having a hot tub on your balcony (so luxurious!). I know I would hate to track chlorine water all over my nice carpet – would it be weird to have the same stone from your master along that side of the room? Just specifically for the hot tub?


It might just be me, but I think en suite powder rooms are pretty dumb. I’d save the money and go with a big closet or go all the way and put a shower in there.


Or have it connect to the guest bath via a passthrough. Lots of other options that are cheaper and/or more functional!


I agree with this. A powder room by itself is only really useful, IMHO, when there is no other bathroom available on a floor (e.g. a small townhouse when you don’t want to go all the way upstairs for a bathroom break).

Speaking of bathrooms and plumbing, and I know Emily doesn’t have a dog so this is inapplicable here, my dream would be to have a dog-washing tub somewhere in my home. Just a small tub that takes less water to fill, and that’s easy for my senior dog to stumble into.


Layout-phene here 🙂 Will there be other access to the deck outside the master, besides through the master bedroom? Or are there other places you could put the hot tub that would be more central? It seems like either everyone will trek through the master bedroom to get to it (not ideal to those staying in the master), or all those staying on the second floor will change upstairs, go downstairs, outside, and then up the outside stairs (if there are any) to get to it. But so glad you’re having one- winter soaks are the best!

Julie P

I agree. You really need an outdoor circular staircase to access the upstairs deck and hot tub.


My dearest Emily, I just love these floor plans and I am so excited for your house! Seeing as the great bedroom 2 shower issue seems to be headed the right way (haha!) I will now give my two cents on the sink/stove on the island debate. In our NYC apartment we had the stove on the island and we never wanted our kids anywhere near the island, particularly when we were cooking because, well, heat and fire and accidents. We ended up not using it (the island, not the stove). When we moved and did a kitchen renovation we… Read more »

Sarah Jane

Smart! This is the thinking that I was hoping to articulate myself. Another vote for team sink on the island!

patricia blaettler

Agree! I would never put a cooktop on the island.


Team stove here! I have one and love it! I never do dishes when I have guests (I just leave them for later), but I obviously have to cook at least a little bit, so being able to chat is awsome. Also, my island is quite deep, so that there is no risk for kids sitting on the opposite side of the stove to reach the fire. I would never put a sink on an island because personally I couldn’t live without a draining rack cabinet over the sink. But it looks like you don’t use them overseas, because none… Read more »


Love all the details, as much fun as the reveals. That said can’t wait to see the rebuild after demo. Seems like a beautiful space to work with. Love these posts!!!


Could you cut into Living Area 3 to make a shallow reach in closet? Then have space in the upstairs half bath to make it into a shower. On vacation even with a small baby or child I would not sit in a tub. My son’s first shower experience at 13 months was on vacation.

My bestie growing up took over her parent’s basement where there was only a half bath and it wasn’t the end of the world to (climb stairs) and use the family bathroom to take a shower.


Emily, c an you move the entire HVAC system to the garage? Then you could build a coat closet and get rid of the floating wall. That seems so strange to me and I don’t know if it will make sense in the space.


So much great progress! Love seeing the floorplans, too. I would also like to chime in and say YES to adding a shower or shower/tub to “Bath 4” to make it a full suite, and putting the closet for “Bedroom 2” on the wall adjacent to the hallway. I also see that “Bedroom 1” right below it is a similar configuration, and currently does not have a closet sketched up. I would also put a closet in BR1 adjacent to the hallway so it can be counted as a bedroom for bank appraisal/real estate purposes. I know you have a… Read more »


Not sure about appraisals, but in terms of functionality, we had a wardrobe in a bedroom of our old house in lieu of a closet. Honestly, it worked better for us than a traditional closet because the doors opened fully so we could get into every cranny of it, and it already had divided interior spaces (solved the ol’ closet problem of needing to install a closet shelving system). Also, we had relatively easy access to items stored on top of the wardrobe since we didn’t have closet doors and a wall to negotiate around. I read somewhere that closets… Read more »

Daron Nicole

I feel like we are in the same phase with the renovation of our house. Really fun to read this and see your process! About the lead picture with all the hardwood samples, I’m sure it will be in a future post, but I’m super interested to hear about that bottom right sample. Love that tone!


Dunno what happened but my post disappeared! I am loving the demo photos and the floorplans. SO much work has been done in such a small timeframe! I agree with the posters to put a shower in the upstairs bath. Re the HVAC, is there any possibility to re-route it to the garage? I realize that it’s a big move, but the HVAC/floating wall thing is SO awkward to me!!


Just curious, will any the cabinets, fixtures, wood, etc get donated to Habitat for Humanity or recycled?


There is a note on one of the photos and she mentions in the post that all the stuff is being donated to the local Boys and Girls club.


Looking great Emily. Once the demo is done you can see so much clearer. The open spaces make so much more sense. Two suggestions, what if you just move the hvac door to the other hallway so that it is not ‘a feature’ in the main living room? An entire wall just to hide it seems a little ott! And, if you put a fireplace on the wall in the family/play room you can also put one on the same wall in the master bedroom. If you are building a chimney you may as well make it do ‘double duty’.… Read more »

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