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Our Renovation Design Process

Our Main Floor Demo Plan

As you may know, we are mid-renovation over here and it’s insanely exciting. It’s moving way faster than I ever dreamt. We are shooting to be done by Dec 1st so we can move in and be there for the holidays. That is a 3 month full home renovation, folks. If you have ever renovated your home and you think “THAT’S IMPOSSIBLE!!!”  You are not wrong. And yet we are doing it.

Of course we are happier than anyone to speed up the process and start living in our little Los Feliz Dream House. But, nobody in the history of renovations has made so many permanent decisions at the speed in which we have. And so far, you guys, there are no regrets. If you think we are making choices really fast and just yelling out “yes” and “no” and ordering things willy-nilly you are wrong. We have three people (including myself), full speed on the project, and I myself have spent no less than 17 hours choosing sconces, pendants, flush-mounts …. SEVENTEEN. And that’s just the lighting. That doesn’t include the cabinets, layout, moldings, lighting placement, flooring, flooring color, interior paint, exterior paint, location of toilets, vanities, showers, height of sconces and mirrors, direction of tile … And we have barely started on furniture, decor and window treatments. There is a reason people hire designers and not just because you want the design help, no, you want help with the endless minutia. So much GD minutia.

For those of you who are still reading – think about this: the other day we spent 3 hours choosing baseboard, crown and paneling for our house. And I don’t mean 3 hours total – I mean that we researched the best place to go, talked to our contractor about square footage, installation, etc, and then drove to two places in the valley before we found the right store. Once inside we spent three hours. The reason it took so long wasn’t because we were indecisive with styles, NAY, but because every room had its own problems (pop your ambien … fall asleep for this one). In the living room the risers, windows and shelving allowed for the moulding to be either 3″ or 6″ or 5″ with a certain bevel, but you have to add in the height of the new flooring which changed everything. Guess what? We finally figured it out. YAY. But the transition into the dining and entry make those three options totally impossible?!??!? Upstairs in the bedrooms, after so much research, we realized that we only really had one height and profile option because of the decorative framing of the door. And in the bathrooms we had to order a specific profile to fit perfectly and not awkwardly with the tub. None of this information you walk into the molding store with … but it’s all stuff you have to problem solve as you are there.


THAT is why you hire a designer.

Thank god for Ginny and Mel. Because molding is only 1 of the 1578 permanent decisions we’ve had to make the last month. Historically I’ve been a fast decision maker and when it comes to decor I’ll take advice from my closest, but I don’t really rely too much on others. But this project has been different because when you have to make that many decisions so fast, you just need other brains in the game to weigh in so you don’t make as many mistakes. So thank you, guys. You have helped so much, you have been so integral. I would have collapsed without you.

I’ll blog about every category of decision … starting with the biggest today…. the LAYOUT OF THE ENTIRE HOUSE.

Here is the house when we first bought it:


First things  first – the house is beautiful and old and stylistically I LOVE it. It’s full of happiness, light, quirk, beautiful architecture and humble finishes. It’s not fancy, but neither are we. It’s totally perfect and “US” and I can’t WAIT ’til we move it.

But it had some serious functional issues. So we’ll walk you through the first floor and chat about the major changes.

First the Entry:


There are obvious changes like changing out the light and removing the strangely cheap scrollwork. We might even take out that telephone niche so we can put a piece of furniture there and we already removed the cut-out on the stairs so we could hang a piece of art.

I have a general rule with updating older homes that if I wouldn’t like it in a new home, I’m allowed to think about changing it in an original one. For instance the decorative pieces on the beams in the living room are something that I probably wouldn’t like in a new english tudor, but I’m leaving them because I like them enough and it gives character. That big red X shows that we are opening up the entire downstairs and making everything just so much better (as you’ll see below).

We are now to this point and it’s so insanely exciting:


It feels so open and lovely and happy.

I know it’s hard to picture, but the door to the powder room (which you previously had to go through the utility room to get to) is now on the right and then the family/play room is on the far right. Then straight ahead is the kitchen and in between there is a utility room that is way more functional that will have a pocket door.


The only bathroom on the first floor was this tiny little powder room above. We are renovating the whole thing and since we are putting in a new bathroom upstairs, we took out the awkward (clearly added on) shower. We are shoving the whole thing down to make room for a larger, more square and functional utility room.


That is the view from the kitchen. It means that our kids can play and run and quietly do their activities (HA) while I cook (HA) all while feeling like we are together.

But seriously, we are trying every day to not be the helicopter parents that our culture has trained us to be, and we really want our kids to feel independent yet loved. So our parenting method is to keep the line of site clear enough so we know that everyone is safe (especially when they are so young), without having to be next to them every second. Our current house doesn’t really allow for this so I’m so excited that this house is open to the family/living/dining and kitchen.


The playroom is now going to be open to the kitchen, like I said.

Into the kitchen/dining area – the real problem.


You can’t even tell how tiny and closed off it was. We couldn’t expand out so we had to think about ways to reconfigure everything.

On the other side of the kitchen was the dining room – which still might be the dining room but might also be just a general family/hang out room since we have the island to eat at and the dining area right outside. We are deciding later as we just aren’t sure how we are going to use the space. If it were just Brian and I we would put the TV in here and have this be a cozy night time family/tv room, but since we have kids we know how important family dinner is and we don’t want a TV to be so optional for them all the time. At the same time there really isn’t an ideal tv area in the living room and we don’t want to not use the living room, once again. It’s a conundrum that you will hear much about the next couple months and one that Brian and I go back and forth every. single. night.

But back to the plan.

There were of course issues with just taking out that wall because it was load bearing. So our architect, who also happens to be an engineer, had to figure out how to add support. A bonus was that the entire floor was not properly supported underneath so they had to add footings in the basement/guest suite. Anything is doable, it’s just how much do you want to pay and how long do you want to wait. We knew that in order to maximize this house and live here the easiest (and most beautifully) we would need to make the kitchen bigger and better, so we did what we had to do and ripped down that wall. The architect/engineer fees to draw up plans, pull permits, do revisions, take measurements, etc was around $15k.

It’s a massive renovation and its not cheap (more on that later as its all still up in the air) but its a good price for great work. And so far, Mega-builders (who is not giving a discount to be mentioned, but knows that I will review them publicly) has done an AMAZING JOB. I literally couldn’t be more impressed. The only thing that is holding us up is us. We are late with materials and finishes, but they are absolutely killing it in quality and speed. We have passed every inspection so quickly, its insane.

Back to the kitchen.


I know it’s all super confusing if you haven’t been in the space (check out Insta-story for a big fun tour). But what might be super helpful is an overhead of the plan before and after.


You can see that the living room is big and great, but then the kitchen/entry/utility/powder room area is so crowded and smooshed together.

So here is the plan:


We, again, remove the wall between the kitchen and dining room and instead add an island. Then we break open the “utility room” and give some of its space to the kitchen and open up more for a proper laundry room.

Look how much more open and clean this is:


If you are a true fan of home-porn nothing is more fun than watching it in action:


Maybe that is too fast. Here are the major changes:


Here is how its now being laid out. original_floor-plan_revised-floor-plan_new-floor-plan_with-text-overlayI knew it was all happening but I had no idea how much fun and how much better it was all going to be.


My contractor insisted on everyone wearing gold hard-hats and I happily complied (truth: I bought this at a vintage store in the valley for $40 years ago, hoarding it for its perfect debut).

We had a demo party first, where everyone came to tag the walls that were going and so that all our friends could see the before’s, including Orlando.


The next day the real demo began and it went FAST.


The floors came up, the walls came down.


The beams and supports were installed. All in 2 weeks. CRAZY.progress_kitchen_demo_floor-demo_island-roughed-out

Once the temporary supports were removed we roughed out the island – aka the most awkward shaped island in the world. It’s a long story and one that I will tell in detail.

It’s starting to look up! All the plumbing, electrical and foundational work was done quickly.


It’s so open, its crazy. Whenever Brian and I visit (which is every day or every other day) we just say to each other this is going to be such a better house and life. I know that this house can’t solve all of our problems, but I really think it’s going to be so great for our family.

As you remember the living room looked like this with lots of decisions like these: emily-henderson_renovation_home-imporovement_spanish_tudor_living-room_construction-plans-12

The wood flooring was removed. Quick point! It was in super bad shape and was cheaply installed. Just because it”s original doesn’t mean its high quality. It was 2″ oak which is rather generic and while I wanted to keep anything that I loved that was original – these floors didn’t fall in that category. progress_living-room_demo_floor-demo

Then the real work started. As most of you might know we made some final (but VERY HARD) trim paint decisions recently so they started work on those.


The stripped beams look awesome and once we stain them they’ll be beautiful. We saw the herringbone floor go in yesterday and it’s ridiculously stunning.

All in all there are some hiccups, sure, but no major problems that are going to set us back weeks or months.

I guess a good conversation to start today is how much do you remove of original character and architecture? We are preserving the original plaster on the walls, the shelving, the windows and doors (although some we have to replace because after 100 years they are just falling apart), and updating all the fixtures to be more modern but still classic. But we are taking down walls and that tiny adorable non-functioning kitchen will no longer exist. I will say one thing on record right now: when buying an older/vintage home you should NEVER, EVER, EVER try to make it a contemporary style. Update it, modernize it, but don’t force a crop-top onto Meryl Streep.

Most of you know that, but in case one of you is about to buy a castle in Ireland and put in glass mosaic tile as the backsplash, PLEASE DO NOT. You can modernize kitchens, update the appliances (perhaps using this line, eh?), and certainly work with the trends, but love the house for the era and architecture that it is and don’t try and make it something that its not.

I know that the last owners of the house might be reading this and understandably confused and upset, so I’ll just say: Please know that despite looking like we are tearing this house apart we are keeping in mind its original intent and respecting its charm and architecture at all points. I know you loved this house for 12 years, but I promise we will love it even more and for longer.

Do you guys think we are respecting it??? You might have to wait for the design plan to decide but if you have ever demo’d out original flooring or walls please weigh-in …


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132 thoughts on “Our Main Floor Demo Plan

  1. “Update it, modernize it, but don’t force a crop-top onto Meryl Streep.” This may be my favorite Emily quote of ALL TIME, and I’ve been a fan for years!!!

  2. I actually think Meryl could totally rock a crop top. I mean, is there anything she can’t do?

    All joking aside this was such a fun post to read, I love these new house design decision/progress posts. I cannot wait to see the final product! I think you guys are doing a great job respecting the original character of such a fun and lovely home.

  3. Emily, did you ever consider opening a design school or some course? You are so informative to the last detail.

    1. YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS Emily (when you have finished your house) PLEASE do a design course!!

  4. I do love the quirk of older homes, including even some reduced functionality, and it seems like much of that is going away. But still, you are making wonderful choices that is bringing an older home into a modern era, and most importantly you are making it functional for your family AND not ruining it! It’s going to look fabulous.

    I’m sure you’re so sad to see that impossibly small bathroom go.

  5. This is going to make all our lives better! 😉 I am so excited to see what you do! The new layout is incredible. Herringbone floors! Swoon.

  6. I hope you keep some of the adorable built-in details or at least recreate them or move them somehow! Our house is a 1948 cottage in Austin and had a big remodel 12 years ago. The floor plan is much more open and the bathroom is updated which is nice. They kept the original floors which I really appreciate (but understand when that just isn’t an option). BUT, none of the cute built in cabinets or details remain and I really feel that it takes away from the home.

    So excited to see where you go with your new house and I’m so glad you’re blogging about it! SO much useful information for us homeowners!

  7. Thanks for showing the in between progress shots! It’s just as interesting to see what goes behind the walls and all the effort it takes to get to the staged photos. I think it’s important to respect the original character of the house but I agree that you can do that and modernize it at the same time. Hopefully the previous owners will follow along and see how wonderful the house will turn out.

  8. So exciting! I am a retired Kitchen/Bath/Interior Designer and I gotta say this is really fast for all that you are doing and I can see it is going really well. Amazing decisions! Like you said anything is possible, (as I would tell my clients when they came up with some great ideas), though often would back down when they saw the cost in time and money. They trusted me so knew I wasn’t scamming them.
    Love your posts, I know there are a lot of design posts out there Emily but you are terrific and absolutely cover all the bases. Thanks!

  9. I respectfully disagree on the parallelism with Meryl Streep and the tank top. I recently read an interview to the wife of one of the Princes of Luxembourg (she is an architect, if I recall correctly), who renovated an ancient castle, where she lives. She said something about restoring what can be restored (if still practical) but be as modern as possible with new additions, obviously making sure they work with the rest of the home. This way, generation after generation you can see and appreciate the additions. They had a 1800 patio on a 1500 castle (or older?), and the bathrooms were as new as and contemporary as you can get, and yet, in my modest opinion, the contrast with the old parts of the home was amazing.

    On a much MUCH smaller scale, I live in a three hundred years old building. While I kept the original cathedral window glasses and I love the vaulted ceiling, it would be impossible to install a kitchen true to the era. Or a bathroom, since they did not have bathrooms at all, and the kitchens were on a different level, for the servants only. A “classic” bathroom or kitchen would still be quite different from the structure of the apartment. So my kitchen is very 2016 and I believe it contrasts beautifully with the ancient vaulted ceilings and the original wooden doors. And most of the furniture is contemporary as well.

    That being said, I understand that in a Country were the majority of the homes have less than 60 years, it might make more sense.

    PS love the new plan. A great improvement! Can’t wait to see it finished

    1. Just to clarify the design should simply reference the era/architecture not try to recreate it. We are bringing in new materials, modern appliances, etc, but i want to make it look like it belongs in the home. I’ve seen CRAZY awesome renovations in old barns or old cathedrals that are stunning, and there truly are no rules if you can do this kind of work well. But for most people, who maybe can’t execute that risky vision I’d say to stay safer and reference the era/architecture. But that is just my opinion. I’ve personally been in so many homes that feel ruined to me when someone tries to make them all of a sudden ‘contemporary’ without referencing the house at all. THink about all the bad flips out there! Make sense? And its crop top, not tank top 🙂 Meryl can certainly rock a tank top and she probably could a crop top, too, but i think you all get my point.

      1. Haha, sorry about the tank/crop top. English is not my mother tongue.
        Thanks for the reply, btw. I do understand what you are saying, but still believe that a super modern kitchen looks lovely almost everywhere. But I’m in not saying that a classic one doesn’t!! I love your current kitchen, which I am not even sure qualifies as classic, honestly. Whatever it is, it’s gorgeous.

        Chris, I wish I could share pictures, but honestly, I am one of those person who seems to NEVER be able to finish a space. Think bare bulbs 2 years after we moved… So no, I will never ever share pictures 😀 Besides, I am NOT an interior designer, so it is really amateur compared to what you see on this blog. What I meant is that if a talented designer such as Emily came to my place and, keeping the furniture I already chose, took care of the decor, it would become a very beautiful place in a hartbeat. But I am still trying to figure out what I want decor-wise. And it’s hard as hell, so the room isn’t pulled together yet. Hopefully one day 🙂 This blog is helping a lot, I must say. If you are curious, though, this is the kitchen (slightly different layout, though):
        This kind of kitchen is currently one of the most common in mid to up quality Italian stores, and I love it.

        The bathroom is traditional and I hate it with all my heart because it’s beige marble. I hate beige. I would have never ever chosen that, but the bathroom is honestly perfectly fine and most people compliment it. So I guess we are not renovating anytime soon. I am trying to use Brady’s suggestions to change it a bit so it looks more like me. Still in progress.

        I am usually super concise. It looks like I am using now all the words I didn’t use in the past years (faithful reader, VERY rarely commenting). Sorry about that.

        1. And yes, I know the bad flips you refer to. While house hunting I saw an amazing apartment with original (1700) wood panelled ceiling and square white shiny small tiles on the living room floor that made me cry. The ad said “beautifully renovated”. Argh.

        2. That is a very typical European modern kitchen. Yes, the quality of the cabinetry is nice, however, the style may be too stark for many people. It’s considered fairly taste-specific here, perhaps seen more in urban areas. In the suburbs you see more of a mix of styles, and a taste-specific kitchen like that may make your audience smaller when selling the house (see the bad house flips). When people go look at an older home with Mediterranean, Spanish, Craftsman etc. architecture, they want to see original details with an interior that matches. The interior does not have to be an exact replica of the original, but like Emily said, should reference and tie into it. Lots of bleeding hearts for the olden days with cutesie wood cabinets 🙂

          1. Yes. Good point. The reselling is something you should consider. That is something I did not consider because a) I plan to stay here forever and b) the good thing about European kitchens is that they are just furniture such as a bed or a dresser, placed on top of tiles and close to the wall, but if you take them out, the wall is intact and the floor too. So you can repaint the wall and change the furniture easily and without paying as much as you have to, with mouldings and stuff. Often, when you move you even take the kitchen with you, unless it had a crazy shape that is useless in another home. Our home had an empty kitchen when we bought it, for example.

      2. And considering bathrooms in castles built in the 1500’s definitely didn’t have toilets, lights, or anything else we have today, I think the risk of major change is much less. There isn’t anything to replicate or save other than the walls. I imagine it being pretty difficult to remove walls in castles. Same for kitchens……

        1. Don’t know about the castles, but in a 300 y old apartment I have 60cm thick stone inner walls, holding the upper floors. So no, I would not move those 😀
          But architects were very clever: every room has at least a niche, which is actually a hole in the thick walls between two rooms, closed on one side. Should you want to move or add a door, you open the bottom of the niche.
          Not even remotely as flexible as a newer home, so forget that amazing open plan that Emily is creating. But I love the atmosphere that comes from double heigh ceilings and cracking old wooden floors. Pro’s and con’s, as usual.
          Btw, most older homes in my city also have original fresco ceilings that can be partly restored (ours were too damaged) and original fireplaces, so you can definitely save more than the walls, if you are lucky.

          OK, I am definitely out of topic.

          1. I really do think this sort of contrast works WAY better in Europe where there are ancient stone buildings–we go to France every summer and have rented several houses with exactly that sort of sleek Italian kitchen and UBER-modern baths set against 500-year-old stone walls, and the contrast is stunning. Vessel tubs and glass showers against ancient stone and 10-foot windows! It’s dreamy.

            Here in the U.S. it’s much harder to pull off, both because those Italian kitchens are very taste-specific (as mentioned above) and because without that great contrast the very slick modern look can be really strange with a house built 75 years ago! (I have a theory that the low ceilings in many American houses built 1940-1970 have a lot to do with this.) Plus few people are going all the way to the ultra-modern; they tend to stop at easily-dated “contemporary” finishes, so they clash, instead of contrast, with the original house style.

    2. Emily,
      I love the changes you have made. The symmetry loving person in me wants you to square off the back of the kitchen so you can have a huge kitchen and a square (or rectangular) island! I can’t wait to see the finished product.


    3. This is where I have to respectfully disagree with LA. I do not think people should make new additions as modern as possible. Generation after generation will not appreciate this. I have seen many older homes that were updated in the 60’s, 80’s “very modern to the time” style that doesn’t read well today. How many people walk into these homes and say everything needs to be gutted? Most. Today’s “modern” will read as 2016 in 20 or 30 years and people will come along and rip it out for whatever is current then.
      I think people should make additions fit the home. What is classic design and architect with the home will translate for generations.
      As far as renovating a castle or 300 year old home, I wouldn’t mind an updated kitchen and bathroom but I personally wouldn’t want it “super modern”. I would want wood or white painted cabinets, carrara marble counters, wood floors and updated appliances. But to each his/her own.

      1. Haha, a lot of respect and disagreement around here today 😀
        I understand and I totally agree: in 40 years I’ll be the first one who wants to gut that. But wouldn’t you gut a ’70th bathroom or kitchen, regardless of the design? I would. To me, 30 years is the maximum life for a bathroom. But my bathrooms renovated in 2003 (one classy and traditional the other kinda traditional without the classy part) feel both already outdated, especially the not-so-classy one. My mum’s bathrooms, renovated in 2003 as well, but with the latest trend, feel still pretty new. That style that was at the time so new that was quite surprising, now is much more common and still very “in”, 13 years later (at least here in Italy, don’t know about the USA): minimal bowl sinks on thick wood shelf, transparent glass shower door and a minimal toilet that still looks like out of the last catalogue.
        I believe in 10 years hers will look slightly outdated, mine will look really outdated.
        So yes, I’ll replace the kitchen cabinets some day, but at least until that time I’ll have a kitchen that I genuinely love and, FOR ME, a traditional one would not have been so amazing (even though I do like a good classic kitchen).
        I grew up in a house with a good mix of modern and antique, so that the only classic I fully appreciate is that of antique or vintage furniture. But the new pieces with classic shapes are not my cup of tea.
        But, as you said, to each his own 🙂 In the end, it’s our family that has to like our house, isn’t it?

        1. I agree with you LA, and our new kitchen looks a lot like yours (we are not in the US either). I find even new American kitchens very traditional/old-fashioned looking but I guess it’s just a regional taste thing – basically it’s each to their own when it comes to whether or not a style is sympathetic to an old house. Personally I think a sleek style like you and I have gives the bits and pieces of retained character the chance to sing.
          And I also agree that kitchens and bathrooms get re-done every 20 years anyhow so just go with what you personally love!

          1. I love reading statements from all over the world here. Such a great conversation! Greetings from Germany! PS I would really love to see pics of your house, LA.

    4. This seems to be the favored position of preservationists in the UK…on the design shows I watch via YouTube, the preservation officers always want things to be clearly modern and in contrast to what was the original structure…so you’ll see a very modern glass addition added to, say, a 1650s house. As you said, they seem to want people to clearly be able to tell what is old and original, and what’s new. Of course, they are dealing with houses that are much older than most of our housing stock here in the US.

      1. I’d like to hear what design shows you watch on YouTube! 🙂 I’m living in Hong Kong and unless I download fully bootlegged episodes (not ideal), I starve for HGTV!

    5. I agree, LA. An intentional contrast is much better than a failed replica. The issue is to make sure that it is very thoughtful and well-designed. In my opinion, a lot of these things are done much less deliberately in the US than they are in Europe, and the time contrast is much greater in Europe than in the US because of the age of the buildings. Americans also have a nostalgia for “old” things and style continuity that Europeans don’t have because they are surrounded by so many things from so many eras. Meanwhile, in America, people will be upset if you build a modern/contemporary house on an empty lot that is next to more “traditional” homes.

  10. Absolutely love this post, especially the floorplan images with changes are really helpful! Think the end result will be amazing! A renovation doesn’t have a be a painful process and it can be done in time and within budget like you said, you are doing it. There are some great online tools for people who are not as experienced with renovating. I recently discovered where you can calculate the renovation costs for free and it even has an ROI tool that tells you how much equity your renovation will build onto your home. This took me a lot less time compared to waiting on all the contractor quotes.
    Really can’t wait to see the end result Emily!

  11. I am so with you on preserving the original charm and architecture. We live in a 1910 American Foursquare and are currently renovating it to remove the parts that were updated out of sync with the true intentions of the home. Yes, we need to modernize it for daily function but the layout and finishes HAVE to match the period and style of home. I’ve toured too many homes in my wonderful prewar neighborhood that have been gutted and look like hideous suburban builder tract homes inside. I’m always like you have ruined it!!! So, I love your thought process and definitely love what you’re doing. Total envy that you’re not living in it while renovating and that’s being done in 3 months! 🙂

  12. Amen! As someone who purchased a 100 plus year old home, I completely agree about maintaining the intent. Also, because its old, the imperfections that would drive us nuts in a new home (e.g. different flooring, or imperfections on the wall) just make this house more beautiful. Owning an old home can be a headache especially in the beginning when you need to sink a lot of money into things you dont see (I am looking at you water heater, AC unit, and termite damage), but in the end you feel like you are part of history and its awesome!

  13. Looks great. Personally, I would use the “den” space as a dining room and the open “dining room” space off the kitchen as a family/playroom.

        1. This really seems like such an obvious choice! Its connected to the kitchen and the living room, perfect flow when kids are playing. The den is the perfect dining room, because it can be decorated as its own separate formal dining space. It’s perfectly close to the kitchen to work that way. Is there a reason why that isn’t the settled decision?

      1. I vote to keep the current dining room a dining room. It’s right off the kitchen, and as the kids get older there will be art projects and homework and leaf collections and the table will serve as a hub in a different way than the kitchen island. Also, for me island meals = quick ones, not “family dinners”. Sitting all in a row on an island, or even around a corner isn’t really conducive to conversation. ALSO, it will be great for entertaining since it looks from the drawings that it opens up to the backyard, so you can use the dining room table as a buffet for parties while people actually eat outside, etc.

        I think if you end up making that a den, then you’re going to get in a similar situation you’ve talked about in your current house where you don’t really live in your living room. You can totally make that living room cozy. I mean, there’s a FIREPLACE!

        As someone who did a “gut to the studs” reno earlier this year (and used so many of your resources in doing it), I love watching this transformation!

        1. Totally agree about the island comment! I hate hate hate sitting at barstools for a prolonged period. I’m not five–I don’t want my feet to dangle when I eat! The bar/island is for snacks or breakfast, but family dinners and lunches happen at the kitchen table. When we moved this last time, I ruled out so many houses because they only had an island or bar in the kitchen. I want a true eat in kitchen. We use our dining room as a music room/library and need it for the piano.

    1. I vote yes for Regan’s idea— using the space directly next to the kitchen as den/play area. I remember in a past post from when you bought the house you pictured your kids playing and having the doors open, oriented to the backyard. Would be a perfect set-up for your vision. (The reason I remember is that it’s something I value in my home). I guess the beauty of your new plan is that you could always change it up when the kids get bigger doing homework, etc. at the table would be more conducive to your life, and not needing to be in eye-shot constantly.
      I’m so excited for you! This looks awesome! On another note: MANY thanks for being so inspiring everyday, Emily. And thanks for all your THOUGHTFUL, THOROUGH, AMAZING posts. I do feel like I’ve been to EHD School of Design having been following you since design star days! XOXO and keep up the great work!

  14. I did something similar 25 years ago. I live in a 1953 Bay Area ranch house. My kids were not quite two, and four. We knocked out the walls to our kitchen, replaced the old vinyl tile with wood, opened a bedroom with a pocket door into the living space to become an office, and built a new master bedroom & bath. Replaced the pink 1950s tile. Respected the house origins enough that it still looks like a ranch house, used simple finishes to avoid too much dating in the renovations.

    I live here still, and absolutely love my house. The key was choosing materials that feel beautiful to me, a black granite in the kitchen, a gray slate tile in the new hall, etc., and building in views of my garden that change but never let me down.

    Your new layout will be so much better for your family. I applaud your focus on laundry, by the way, the only thing I’d change now is to expand my pantry/laundry out six feet into the garage, so I could fold where I wash:).

    My only suggestion to your plans, based on living in a space like this over 25 years, is that you might want to actually make the room you call the “dining room,” the playroom, and just eat there with the kids. Then the room that is now the den, the future “playroom,” can be your dining room for when friends come over. (If you have a table there it’s also a place for quiet homework later.) That ensures that all the mess of cooking will be less visible when you care about it, i.e. when you are trying to be a grownup, and the kids going from playing to eating will be a more seamless transition.

    I say this because as our kids started school, and had friends, the parents of their friends became our friends, and some of my absolute best memories of those times are eating slowly as adults at the table, once the kids had eaten quickly and then run out into the back yard, or back into our bedroom with a screen for movies. We always let them stay up late, they would quiet down as they realized, or at least believed, that they were getting away with something.

    And oh the Halloweens sorting candy on the living room rug.

    You are coming into a beautiful time, when home is so much more than just a house, and yet the house is itself the home. xoxox.

    Ah, and I’m 60, and I wear a semi-crop top, but with high-waist jeans;).

    1. I love this. And thanks for the dining advice. It’s something we are seriously considering, too (the playroom as a dining room). Rock that crop top!

  15. Hear, hear! I live in an area with homes that are from ~1840 (and not very strong historic preservation laws), and it kills me when people try to completely gut the insides and make them look super modern, like feel you are walking into a cement-walled condo somewhere. Nay!! (Why did they even buy these houses?!?) If nothing else, keeping the original plaster walls helps preserve the original charm..

  16. I would say, Emily, that not only are you respecting this house’s style, but also the lifestyle of your family, and you’re doing a very fine job integrating the two. Love every change you’ve made and can’t wait to see how that island turns out. What a wonderful, open plan; you’re all gonna love it there (and btw, that gold hardhat is sublime!).

  17. I’m very excited about this new house and seeing the transformation. I have two thoughts though, one being that island is giving me all the weird feels. Maybe it won’t that bad once you finish, but I can’t see it yet. Also, I think you guys should leave the dining room as a dining room and fit the tv in the living room. Having a table inside will be really nice for when you have guests/holidays and eating together. We always used the island as a more breakfast/lunch spot and table for dinner but that’s just my two cents!

  18. This is my favorite post ever! (Okay, I say that at least once a week on this blog, but seriously this is really exciting stuff.) I think the open floor plan is going to be AMAZING and so liveable.

    I just have one question–from the front door, how well can you see into the kitchen? I ask because at my house there are pretty much always dirty dishes piled on the counter by the sink, so when I see floor plans that open up to the kitchen from the front door it gives me pause. (Maybe everybody else isn’t as messyvas me, though. And maybe you weighed that in your decision but still decided opening up the space was the best option.) Anyway, this remodel is brilliant and I cannot wait to see the rest as it unfolds!

    1. Thank you 🙂 and yes, front door view into the kitchen is not our ideal, to be honest and something we talked about A LOT. But hopefully the opening up of the space will be worth it!

      1. I’m sure it will be worth it. 🙂 Thanks for sharing the posts on projects on your own home–my favorite content on the interwebs!

  19. Love this kind of in depth post where you walk through your decision making! Big fan of the blog but really wish you guys edited a little more – ” coudl see the ‘beforee’s, ” and the like are just really distracting

    1. I think our latest draft didn’t get saved so what got published was my 11am unedited rant. We went in and updated the draft this morning, so hopefully those are gone. When I woke up this morning I was like AH!! Where did all my saved changes go!!!!???

  20. So happy to see the layout of the kitchen hasn’t taken away from the chance to have a dining room. When I heard you were tearing down a wall and putting an island in there, I was nervous it would jut into the dining space. Looks great–all of it!

  21. Did I miss out on what is happening with the den, because I love the idea of that being the dining room and the current dining room being the family/tv room open to the kitchen?

    1. It might happen!!! At this point we are going to move in and see how we are using the space before dictating some of those decisions.

  22. I love all the details and changes! Keep up the great work!
    Please, post the follow up to this post about your second floor soon! The suspense is killing me…I saw the instastory and I am amazed at how you were able to add the shared bathroom for the little ones and have your own master suite! Congrats!! Love how you post the blueprints, since I can understand better that way the changes you are making.


  23. I could not agree more! Just because it’s original doesn’t mean it’s high quality. I live in Detroit where the single family homes are historic and absolutely gorgeous, but a lot of them need some help. From a sustainability standpoint, it is better to make changes that ensure the home’s livability, rather than allowing it to fall to ruin (something we know a lot about in Detroit) because no family wants to live in it. It is better to be updated and used than preserved and wasted.

    Also, there is a difference between tearing out original hardwoods and replacing it with sheet vinyl vs. replacing an original wood floor (in desperate need of repair, as you said) with something of equal or higher value that will extend the life of the house.

  24. I love the direction you’re heading with this reno. I think you’ve found that balance between updating and keeping it true to the original style. I can’t wait to see it all finished! I just love your work.

  25. This was a truly excellent post (and I love everything you do). Looking forward to seeing how it all comes together!! I’ve been loving the sneak peeks on Instagram as well.

  26. have you considered creating a dining space within the living room? perhaps just as you step down under the jail window? of course, still have a living space over by the fireplace. This way you can make the old dining room into the casual living space you mentioned wanting. just a thought 🙂

  27. This is all super exciting and Emily, I really appreciate your taking the time to do an in-depth post like this in the midst of chaos and marching orders! To take a 100 year old beauty and thoughtfully and lovingly give her the support she needs to live for another 100+ years is a gift to all of us. It’s wonderful that you have the resources to do the upgrades in the proper order. I love that you’re making it more functional for a young, active family. I also don’t see you guys as a “dining room” family. You don’t cook that much and you live in LA…chances are your gatherings can be outside or will be cocktails and finger food affairs. I wonder if you could get away with a folding table and chairs that are stored in the garage and set up for the rare sit-down formal dinner. Once covered with linens and styled like you do so well, it would look beautiful. And setting up a table in the middle of the living room even with a roaring fire and Christmas tree would be magical!

    1. I feel like I’ve seen a lot of styling posts in her previous dining room, perhaps because Target regularly comes out with updated tableware. I think she should keep a formal dining room for that purpose at least. This is a working house! 🙂

  28. Character is nice, but day to day quality of life is way more important.

    Everything looks great so far.

    Honestly, I’m feeling kind of relieved seeing this post. The house is looking more sunny, relaxed, and Emily-y now :).

  29. So exciting! Definitely think you guys are respecting the house’s architecture, but no matter what, it’s your home, so your choices. My only 2 cents are to hold onto that dining room! I know it’s California and you can eat outside – but isn’t also sometimes too hot to eat outside? Can the playroom become a playroom/den with a comfy couch for tv-watching??

  30. These plans make a lot of sense and I know it will be amazing. I L_O_V_E herringbone floors for this house. Perfect upgrade that is appropriate to the house. I agree with your Meryl Streep analogy. The architecture should inform the design. I’ve seen a lot of horrible renovations, where the owners just put in whatever was the hottest look of the year that they redid the kitchen, no reference to the age or style of the house. I also find it hilarious how people shop for a house and want a Beach house (when they live in a landlocked state) or a farm house in a downtown urban area. I mean, to a point, you can reference those kinds of designs, but you have to follow the logic of the structure itself.

  31. Will be curious to hear why you didn’t go with a round or elliptical island instead of the funny shape. I think a slim oval island would be so lovely. I agree with what you’re saying about not mixing historic and contemporary, I think some of the people disagreeing with you may be confusing ‘contemporary’ and ‘modern’ – modernism can look really wonderful paired with an ancient French chateau, but it has to be done with the same quality as the original architecture. You shouldn’t buy a historic home and do a bunch of contemporary renovations (ie glass mosaic tile – a great example). It’s really about the level of design and craftsmanship matching, which, obviously, glass mosaic tile and fake wood floors from big-box-hardware-store do not belong in a house that was built by hand 100 years ago.

  32. The photo of you in that gold hard hat should be your profile pic everywhere. Leave it to you to look gorgeous at a demo site wearing demo gear.

  33. Removing those walls was a good idea. Tiny, cramped kitchens might’ve been the style then but it’s not coming back anytime soon and it’s just not functional anymore. It’s not a merely aesthetic decision like keeping a phone niche. It’s your kitchen! Make it open and new. Plus no one wants to read a design blog about leaving an old house old. ; )

  34. As someone who is also renovating a house, you are so lucky to have things move so quickly! As far as all your renovation ideas, I think you’re house is going to be so lovely. I can’t wait to see some more details. I also think that sometimes you have a vision and then the house says “no I won’t wear that”, and it’s important to listen to what it’s saying. At the end of the day the bones of the house have to shine through. Your points are spot on and unfortuantely not everybody has interior design skills, which is where the bad flips happen etc. I see a lot of friends design rooms by the piece instead of envisioning how it will all look together (this also pertains to exterior choices, please match your roof to your exterior paint people 🙂 Keeping the character of the home while modernizing to expand the function of the home is excellent advice, and obviously expert advice! Thanks for sharing Emily!

  35. It’s just so exciting to see how you can make a traditional small-roomed home feel open and airy! I love it and am glad it’s going fast, I’m dying to see more!

  36. Looking great and I love following your thought process:) Had to laugh about your baseboard story, I spent about the same amount of time in a lumberyard at 90 degrees weather with a 4 year old and a 1 year old, putting molding pieces together to figure out the perfect baseboard and window/door trim. If I remember correctly from those times from 5 years ago, there comes a point, usually at 2 am when you wish you were not so ?#%$% detail oriented and particular about everything, and could just go to Home Depot and get something in a half an hour. BTW, the feeling goes away after 5 minutes, so don’t panic.

    1. My brain seriously hurts right now – like I actually have a headache. Choosing all the paint colors today about wiped me out ….

  37. Thank you so much for this post! So much fun to read it and live vicariously through all that you’re doing. I truly savored it and even made myself stop reading for a few minutes to make a cup of coffee! I just love it, love your decision making process, and can’t wait to see the final product.

    In the meantime, I keep thinking that the den/playroom could be an ideal dining room, and then you can use all the rest of that space off the kitchen for more kitchen space. Perhaps you can store the kids’ toys along a wall in the dining room and hide them for whenever you need to throw a fancy dinner party?

  38. i’m sure you’ve thought of this & it could just be the way the plans look like here versus IRL but what if you made the den the dining room & the dining room the den more of a casual kids room? that way the front of the house flowed for entertaining side to side versus through the kitchen to the dining room? And the kids would then be next to you playing if you were having friends over in the living room or if you were in the kitchen so you could keep an eye easier?

  39. I just sent this article to current clients. No joke. It is insane how much it takes to do this, and you just perfectly explained the 1000s of details that goes into a remodel.

    Also, would your architect/engineer mind if you shared their information? I am in LA and would love a reco.

  40. Have lived in 2 Tudors consecutively and I know that getting rid of original features is painful. I mean it really hurts tearing out that old wood, or painting trim work. But I think as long as you stay true to the style of the home you cannot go wrong. We choose to leave as much original as we can, but sometimes you just need a bathroom sink that’s tall enough for a 6’4 man. So it’s a good thing there are so many options these days from companies that specialize in modern reproductions. So glad you kept the beams natural, the floors would’ve been tough to rip out, but that herringbone is undeniable and suits the space beautifully. Hopefully someone got a hold of that old wood and can put some good use to it.

  41. 3 months sounds crazy!!! I love hearing about your entire process and love the way the new floor plan ended up! The island looks like an interesting/unique shape, can’t wait to see the after photos to see how that turned out!

    Characters & Carry-ons

  42. Since you’re moving the waste line for the powder room anyway, can you flip your present PR layout so you can’t see the toilet from the entry? Sightlines to toilets are one of my design pet peeves.

  43. I’m going to have my husband read your re-cap of the hours you’ve spent making decisions about “endless minutia”. Thank you for describing it in such detail! We renovated our new-to-us 1917 Craftsman from January – April this year and I didn’t have a team of 3 working on all the decisions – just me, and LOADS of 2 am bedtimes (while my husband worked 65 hrs./week and my oldest daughter took over meals & grocery shopping for our family of 8). Among other things, I spent an entire 3-day, snowed-in weekend deciding on appliances! I’m feeling so incredibly validated right now that I did the work of 3 people – no wonder it was the most stressful 4 months of my life. Anyway, YES we took out walls and some original flooring, but, much like you, preserved and even enhanced the original character of the house. You’re doing an amazing job! Don’t doubt yourself!

  44. Oh what about putting the formal dining room in the den and just making the current dining room the more casual hangout? I don’t see many pictures of the current den so maybe it’s not as pretty? That way you could cook and hangout.
    The only drawback would be (from what i can see in the layout) is the bathroom would be right next to the dining room. 🙁

  45. I love what you are doing. The house has to work for you and your family, and you have a knack for updating without being insensitive to the feel of the home. When we used to get the San Francisco Chronicle they were forever featuring Victorian Era homes that had been stripped and turned into modern, cold interiors, it was idiotic IMHO.

  46. Re this topic of preserving original character:
    Sometimes you see situations in an older home that have nothing to do w character, but are more like, “What the heck was someone thinking? Why, why, why??” That’s how I feel about the (former) crazy corner in your kitchen. I mean, who made that decision and what kind of drugs were they on? Or how incompetent were they?! That crazy corner just boggled my mind. And what was the deal with the utility room and powder room? Was it a utility room or was it more like…useless?! (On the other hand, where are you putting your w/d?)
    I know that in older homes the kitchen was meant to be out of sight. In the former layout, you see a closed door when you enter the home. Now you’ve changed that…I just wonder what that view from the front door will actually be. It looks like you’ll see the side of a cabinet. Just curious how that will end up playing out.

  47. The minutia and how you educate us on your process is exactly why I read this blog religiously and I can’t wait for more!

    Question about opening up spaces for families. Do families with young kids at all value privacy so toys aren’t everywhere and adults can have their own space? I ask because we live in a cozy cottage built in 1903 that has three main rooms on the first floor – kitchen, dining room, living room – and three bedrooms on the second floor, i.e. no separate family room or den situation. We are always talking about how we’re going to renovate it and want to open it up but will opening up the downstairs so that it’s more like 2 main rooms rather than 3 hurt us with buyers with kids when it comes time to sell? We don’t have any kids of our own so we’re really not sure.

  48. Emily, thanks for posts and sharing about the decisions. I love your thinking about the feeling you want the house to have behind aesthetic decisions. I would love you to share also thinking about sustainability factors in the reno. The oak flooring, does it go off to a recycler? I know you are great on using flea market finds, which is one part of it and renovating rather than doing a new build is more sustainable. Not a lot of people realise that we are actually living through what biologists are calling the sixth great extinction (ie we have lost half the species we started with in the last 50 years) so sharing all the recycling and refurbishing and sustainable choices made would be really good.

  49. We are finishing up our own crazy three month renovation of a 1905 house that turned out to be a FAR bigger project than we expected. We got the keys on May 6th, ripped EVERYTHING out (except for the roof and stairway) and had to move in on August 20th so that the children could start in their new schools- and I had a baby on the 6th of August! The only thing that worked out better for us is that we made our offer on the house in February and had three months to plan and order things. But still, things go wrong (the entire order of light switches was wrong, the doors ordered from Italy were in wrongly labelled boxes and had to be sent back, a floor collapsed from a leaky sewage pipe, the chimney column was leaking due to a bad roofing job and we had to repair it and finally condemn a chimney as repairs would take too long, etc) and we moved in with one floor of bedrooms and bathrooms more or less done and a totally completed kitchen but pretty much an entire floor and a half was still in a raw state. However, two months have gone by since we moved in and we are spending this week finally installing light switches and swapping out the broken original fireplace surrounds for new to us salvaged chimneys. We are still waiting for our new windows to be installed tho- it has been a nightmare getting a permit to change anything on the outside of the house as we unknowingly bought in a historic district. Oh well, crossing my fingers that there won’t be too much damage done to the newly plastered and painted walls… Still, the crazy deadline we gave ourselves pushed us to make decisions fast and not look back and in so many ways this was a blessing. The design is tight because. i didn’t have time to wander off course. The downside is that sometimes when the builders messed up on something little, like making a niche in the shower, we had to just accept it and keep moving forward. We definitely tried to honor the original house by not changing ceiling moldings so that you can still see the original floor plan but we did have to do things like rip out the gorgeous original encaustic tiles as they were too fragile to survive the work of moving walls to open up the main floor. The original iron radiators had to go because sending them out to be stripped and cleaned was a long complicated job to coordinate and we didnt have the time which I really regret. We maybe made up for it by getting a cabinetmaker in early on to help us design lots of built-ins which I feel like have added so much charm to the house and absolutely look original. I guess every project tends to require trade-offs and the timeline made me feel like we didn’t have much choice in the matter but overall I am pretty happy. Good luck for the next couple months- it is so mentally draining but so exciting!

  50. I get sad when I see original flooring removed but i am eager to see the herringbone finished. i only wish you’d keep the telephone nook. i’ve lived in so many 20-30s apartments with those nooks and i just love them… you could always style it like a wee shelf! looking forward to seeing it continue to come together! 😀

  51. I have SO many feelings about retaining original charm/making a house livable. There’s a very fine line to tread, and in this case I think you’re going about it in a respectful and smart way. You’d said the floors were really squeaky, right? And they were damaged and not that awesome. You’ll replace them with something solid and beautiful and be thrilled with it. You’re removing walls that reflect a lifestyle people lived 100 years ago, when a servant was cooking and serving and the kitchen was never used by the family who owned the house. I really admire how you’re keeping what counts and updating so it works. (I did love that niche in the dining room but that wall HAD to go. Please keep the phone niche!)

    Two personal reno stories. We bought a 1914 house in the country 3 years ago and did a big reno on it. We spent way too much money on the electrical because we didn’t realize that plaster guys can patch pretty easily, so we were having the electrician make tiny tiny holes as he rewired 4000 sf of knob and tube. We were able to refinish the GORGEOUS floors, and in the end, aside from gutting the kitchen and 2 bathrooms, it ended up being a LOT of wallpaper stripping and painting, restoring 52 windows, and addressing a lot of boring things like drainage and the driveway. In the kitchen we took out a dumb laundry room and a wall separating it from the mudroom, and ended up with the most perfect and incredible dream kitchen–I’ve never regretted it for a second. I think we did exactly what your’e saying–updated, modernized, respected the house. My only controversial choice was painting the built-in bookcases/window seats/window and door trim (4 sets of french doors) in the living room, but I left the beams dark and it completely changed the room to brighten it up. (You’d go nuts for this house, to be honest!)

    Now here’s the opposite, and what you’re warning against. A house went up for sale on our block in the city–an estate sale. It’s huge and needed a lot of work and we really wanted it but just couldn’t swing it. A local developer bought it for $2.5 million and his approach is to gut COMPLETELY to the exterior shell–all interior walls, original hardwoods, everything comes out. I cried the day the salvage truck came for the floors. He’s dividing it into two townhouses (which he’ll sell for $3 million each). That house had a library with a HIDDEN PASSAGE through a closet to the back hall. A hidden library passage. It was Clue come to life. I mourn every day as I walk by. I wish he could build new houses, because he does a gorgeous job but it’s such a shame to make 120-year-old houses brand new like that.

    Anyway, you’re doing great. Old houses are great. If people want new houses they shouldn’t buy old.

  52. Why not make the maybe dining room (connected to the kitchen) the den and the existing den, the dining room? I know its not connected but how often do you truly use a formal dining room? Im so excited to see all you do with this!

  53. I’m amazed at how much more livable your Tudor will be. Great ideas. I especially like the refinished beams–so afraid you were going to paint them black. Thanks for sharing your experience. I check in a couple of times a week to see how you’re doing.

  54. Well, reading this post was so much fun. Will you please consider writing a post about dealing with the “scary” stuff in old houses—bad electrical, asbestos, lead pipes, etc.? You mentioned you are preserving plaster walls, so maybe you could talk a little about keeping them intact while you make improvements to electrical and plumbing. It would help a lot of us fixing up our own historic houses! 🙂

  55. Going to go against the grain here and say: Don’t turn the den into the dining room! The dining room should be spacious enough for a crowd to be able to lounge around a table for hours (well, once the kids are older) after finishing the meal. Some of my best memories from my childhood are of family meals around the dining room table, you want it to be a comfortable space. Trying to fit a large group of people into a cramped room is not ideal.

    If it were me, I would turn the den into a cozy play or tv spot and leave some space for “formal” dining (which doesn’t actually have to be formal at all). Plus, if it’s open to the backyard, you can easily bring in food from the grill, have guests mingle between indoors/outdoors, etc.

    And I second the others on how great these posts are – especially including cost info, it really helps us set realistic expectations for our own renos. Thank you!

  56. So far, so awesome. Love the update. Thank you for sharing. Can’t wait to see more!

    (PS: don’t worry so much about the integrity of the house, preserving old vs. new, blah, blah, blah…. I know as a designer this is natural to some point, but at the end of the day do YOU and do YOUR family. Period. And then you will be happily ever after.)

  57. What an awesome post! Keep them coming 🙂
    Also just watched the facebook video of choosing paint colours, it was really cool I would defs enjoy more of that kind.
    I think the plans for the house sound amazing, just do what will make your family happiest!

  58. Such hard decisions! We have a 1920’s spanish revival that we remodeled in stages, so I know what you’ve gone through. We gutted our kitchen when our youngest was 7 months old, which I do not recommend. Our kitchen had been remodeled previously and we wanted to bring in some of the architectural features of the house, so we had custom cabinets with a similar door style to yours, casement windows, arches, and molding that matched other parts of the house. Trying to blend old and new was a huge challenge, but we’re pretty happy after 15 years. I do still sometimes miss our funky little breakfast nook though. Good luck! And those herringbone floors look gorgeous…

  59. Loved seeing the progress today!

    I like the current plans with the dining room and playroom. Fits the flow of wanting to use the outdoor space for entertaining, etc. A formal dining room off in the corner will get used less. And when the kids are older, perhaps the playroom can become an office – I can just see a desk under that window, a cozy reading nook….

    I also liked the ideas floating around about some kind of wainscoting and a saturated green in Charlie’s room. If anyone can create a dark green room that looks like a fun and whimsical, yet serious, kids room…and not a billiards room…it’s you! (I’m thinking Wes Anderson Moonrise Kingdom kinda vibe for some reason?)

  60. First off, I can’t tell you how happy I am that you refinished the beams and are going with wood and white instead of black trim! It’s going to be gorgeous! Also, thank you for the, love your house for its era and architecture talk. I cannot tell you how many adorable vintage homes my husband and I looked at when moving where we would be totally enthralled with the charm of the house only to walk into a kitchen that was screaming 1990’s. It was jarring. The realtors thought an “updated” kitchen was a selling feature but we were completely turned off by it.

  61. I love this post Emily! I’m so happy your shared the floor plans. It makes it so much easier to understand. The island is such an interesting shape and I can’t wait to see how that turns out. Oh and the herringbone floors you shared on Instagram are so so beautiful. I can already tell that space is going to be amazing! I’m looking forward to your next post. Keep #killingit girl! 🙂

  62. I’d love to hear the story of the island! Wondering if you plan on putting shelves/cabinets in it? I never get why more people don’t make it a functional storage piece as well, especially in small kitchens.

  63. LOVE THIS!! your new layout is perfect for that space. My one suggestion, keeping in mind I’m no expert, so take it or leave it, would be to use the space near the island as an actual dining space w/a table as opposed to just relying on your island and the outdoor courtyard space for eating. I grew up in LA, so I know the weather is conducive to outdoor eating much of the time, but it definitely can get chilly Nov-Feb, especially at night, so not having an indoor table would really limit your ability to eat and/or entertain larger groups during the winter months…

  64. Changes look AMAZING! Thank you for providing the old and new floor plan pics! Totally helped! Beyond excited to watch all of it unfold! Thanks for including us!

  65. I have a nearly 100 year old row home. I agree with your vision of respecting the character of an older home, but modernizing it with an eye to its era.

    Many of the row homes in my neighborhood are purchased by investors who strip them bare; put in engineered hardwoods or laminate flooring (arghhhh!!!!); and remove all the walls on the main level creating a shoe box effect. The homes end up feeling smaller and looking cookie cutter IMHO.

    I’ve restored/modernized each level of my home over the last nine years. I’ve kept lots of the old (plaster walls, original large parquet oak floors, original yellow pine floors), but updated the tech (central a/c), appliances, and kitchen (making it bigger but adding quality cabinets that wink at the era of the home).

  66. I vote yes for the idea of using the space directly next to the kitchen as den/play area. I remember in a past post from when you bought the house you pictured your kids playing and having the doors open, oriented to the backyard. Would be a perfect set-up for your vision. (The reason I remember is that it’s something I value in my home). I guess the beauty of your new plan is that you could always change it up when the kids get bigger doing homework, etc. at the table would be more conducive to your life, and not needing to be in eye-shot constantly.
    I’m so excited for you! This looks awesome! On another note: MANY thanks for being so inspiring everyday, Emily. And thanks for all your THOUGHTFUL, THOROUGH, AMAZING posts. I do feel like I’ve been to “EHD School of Design” having been following you since design star days! XOXO and keep up the great work! ****sorry I reposted my comment from down below, I didn’t want it to get buried:)

  67. I just want to chime in my opinion on the opinion to move the playroom. For what it’s worth, I say keep your original plan. As a mom of two under the age of three, I would LOVE a playroom where things could be corralled and “stuffed” when you need to do a quick clean up. When toys are floating around in an open concept space, I get the anxious feeling that our house is ALWAYS cluttered. Having a space that is kid toy free would be nice when entertaining or even just having an unexpected guest. Also, a lot of our toys require wall space that it doesn’t seem like the space off the kitchen has…like a play kitchen and bookshelves. But, I’m sure whatever you choose will be stunning and the most functional option for you.

  68. There are so many homes in Los Feliz that have had terrible remodels over the decades? You are a talented woman who could’ve fixed them. Instead you bought a house that hasn’t changed since it was built (except the hideous kitchen). Enjoy watching Luis next door smoking in his underwear. We only had to see it from the kitchen. You’ll get quite the view for dinner parties.

  69. Emily, I have been an avid reader of your blog for many years now but I have to say this is one of my favourite posts ever. I loved the detail, the layout diagrams, your thoughts. I soaked up every detail and I don’t know if it’s possible for you to get stats on how long each viewer spends on each post but I spent hours on this one, soaking it all in.
    I have also renovated an older home and, although it cost more to renovate than it would have to knock down and rebuild, I’m so glad we did as it’s now going to last another 100 years.
    Can’t wait to see all the minute details of everything you do in your lovely home and I’m also sooooo glad you refinished the beams.

  70. Not that you need my two cents but I love old houses and I love your new layout. To me it looks like you needed to change the layout for your active family. The old layout looked very cramped.

  71. You have no taste or sense at all. Why would you buy a beautiful all original 100 year old home and tear it apart for your crappy better home and gardens IKEA nitemare of an interior? Are you going to fill it full of spray painted driftwood you bought at Target too? No class, no sense, what a tragedy.

    1. She’s making it work for her family and she’s obviously doing everything possible to maintain the character of the home while also modernizing it. Also–have you seen something I haven’t? Sh has not revealed her interior design decisions yet. I have a sense she will be selecting authentic pieces for the home. There were so many more tasteful ways to say that you disagree with her design, Christina. This was just rude and disrespectful. Shame on you.

    2. Doug and Leonard, if you hate Emily and her design so much, why are you even on her site; just to Troll? Grow up.

  72. I think you are totally respecting the house! We are in the midst of another home renovation and we are constantly wondering the same thing. We are renovating an 1820’s home that has been in my husbands family for over 120 years. So while we have completed gutted the entire house we are still trying to respect it…If that is possible? I do feel a little weird making major changes though. especially when family members walk through it and tell us all their memories of the home.

  73. Excited to see how the dining room/family room works. We have plans to do an addition and I’ve made the dining room open to the kitchen in hopes of it functioning as a family room, and what is now the living room be a living/dining room. I see it as a flexible floor plan for our young growing family. My current issue is lighting and designing a functional lighting plan that can flex if we change the room functions around. Very curious to see how you plan yours, and very glad to be a few steps behind!

  74. I like the plans, and respect of the house. I balk at the island idea. it seems limiting… and if that is your family eating space, don’t ya want to face each other to interact?
    I think you have more options for the ” dining” if an island isn’t visible. bookcase/screen with rising tv? ? then you can see the kids tv isn’t a focus, but an option. ( my bro built a 6 ” deep cabinet onto walls and have vintage doors to close in tv. ) I had a dual purpose dining room. round table w/ leaves , lg. old cabinet to hide toys, easy chair (for me). Kids got older, cabinet went, loveseat came in.

  75. The more I think about it, the more I like the idea of putting a dining table in the den and a casual sitting room/play room in the small room off the kitchen. We have a small sitting room off the kitchen that gets beautiful light and I swear we sit in that room more than anything other spot in the house! It totally depends on how many toys and kids items you imagine putting in that room, though. It might overwhelm the space 😉

    I love the plan!!! This has been such a fun process to watch. You all are amazing.

  76. Wow, that old utility room area layout was crazytown! With the separate entry into the den, it was like having two corridors next to each other and no usable space.

  77. How much to keep, how much to go. Ugh I wish there was a magic button to help us decide this.

    Original pink bathroom tile? I can work with that. I can make it fun. BUUUUUUT it was laid improperly, the subfloor damaged, and the grout was dang near destroyed. I hated to get rid of it, but it had to be removed. Decisions decisions.

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