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Our Farmhouse – The Upstairs Tour + What We are Keeping and Changing


As you saw last week, the first floor needs a lot of reconfiguration which means we have to really invest down there – not only in framing, plumbing, electrical, windows/doors but in all the finishes. So when we looked at our “budget” we said let’s splurge on the downstairs and save on the upstairs. No offense to our children and future guests, but we are absolutely prioritizing our new bedroom suite over their bedrooms 🙂 Listen, they’ll be fine – Brian wants to get alpacas and they’ll have a sports court for goodness sake. So here we go.

Let’s go on a video tour of the WHOLE HOUSE, shall we? (Just let the ad in the beginning play through:))


When you walk into the house you immediately turn and see the stairway to the second floor. It is surprisingly grand and beautiful. I was corrected in the comments last week by many of you who said that older homes of this age actually did typically have taller ceilings – whoops – so I was wrong about that, but I guess the older homes I’ve been in have felt more sweet and cramped (and I know your Europeans are laughing when I say ‘older’). This stairway is so wide and grand and the rooms are just so roomy – I LOVE it. My brother, a true bull in a china shop, won’t stop talking about the width of the stairway. He can do so little damage in there.

As I mentioned before we are likely keeping that pretty original window (this one we might not have to restore, crossing fingers). We are almost positive that underneath the carpet is wood flooring and if so we are going to rip out the carpet and then assuming the wood is in good condition, paint the flooring. Then we’ll add a pretty stair runner (with a brass rod) to make it cozier and warmer (and help with sound).

Most of the trim work – the stair molding, handrails, and that tiny little closet will be kept and just painted. I originally considered redesigning the stair railing because I’ve grown to love them as an unexpectedly pretty feature but I’ve since changed my mind.


How sweet is this little landing? It’s big enough even for a homework area (maybe that’s where the computers go when they are older?) and really connects the rooms in a friendly way. We love the doors and will likely refinish and paint them. The flooring will get a fun painted pattern and maybe we’ll put in a skylight to bring in more light. It already has that pretty window so maybe we don’t even need a skylight. It doesn’t feel that different than our LA home in the sense that all the bedrooms are close to each other and share a landing, which just creates a good feeling.

Challenge #1 and a Splurge – Can We Add a Laundry Closet?

One of the only things I wanted to do up here on the ‘luxury’ side was to add a laundry closet to the landing. Having laundry on your bedroom floor (if you can) is so nice in a million ways (avoid that schlep). Since COVID, our kids have to do their own laundry (fold and put away), and having their own (not mixed with ours) is going to make it that much easier (with less excuses). Hot tip that every parent knew but me – if you tell them that they have to wash, fold and put away all their own clothes, guess what happens? They produce way less dirty laundry. I overheard Birdie asking Charlie, “Do these jammies stink? Mama said if it doesn’t stink it’s still clean’. It might sound gross to you, but it’s a pretty darn proud moment as a parent to get them to think about conserving work, time, water, and wearing things multiple times if they aren’t dirty or ‘stink’, as she put it. We do laundry and deep clean the house on Sundays and they get a sundae when it’s all done – sundaes on Sundays is a very fun tradition. Even if/when we have help cleaning our house again by a service, these kids will do their own laundry. So yes, I want them to be able to have their own washer and dryer upstairs so I never have to do their laundry. But where can it go? I figured it would be in the landing like where the linen closet is but Anne (Arciform) has a better idea – stay tuned!


These bedrooms are GREAT. The bones are just so good and not one feels compromised. All three are corner bedrooms which means they each have 2 walls of good light (3-4 windows each). They have tall ceilings and are pretty spacious (225 square feet). For now, the kids want to still share a room. I think going from sharing a king bed here, to moving states, moving homes, moving rooms, being in separate beds (it’s time) and then being on a different floor from their parents is going to be a lot of change (not to mention new school, new friends, new weather). So we are thinking one bedroom for them to sleep in one bedroom as a playroom til they are ready to separate, and the third will be a guest room. They are best friends and if they want to share a room til they are 9 and 11, that’s fine by us (10-12 yrs old is usually when the older one wants autonomy + the whole puberty thing… ).


  1. Wall to wall carpeting – We are likely going to keep the original wood flooring underneath and just put in wall to wall carpeting to make it feel super cozy. We LOVE our carpeting up here (with the 1/2″ memory foam underneath) and are in search of a different (still subtle) texture or pattern for these three rooms. I’ll probably do all three different – but design them with flexibility because I don’t know who is going to end up where over the next couple of decades.
  2. Bigger closets – These kids don’t need walk-ins (nor is there room) but right now the original closets are pretty small so we are hoping to expand them to be larger reach-ins. The kids have also requested a secret door through the closet from one room to the other, and as a lover of all things whimsical I will be searching for a wardrobe to build into the wall to please all our ‘lion, which and wardrobe’ fantasies.
  3. Better lighting/electrical – right now the only light source is these pull chain sconces (no overhead lighting and no light switches). So we are definitely putting in overhead lighting (likely just a centered fixture, no recessed) and what I’m seriously debating are sconces. I said over and over in my book about the benefits of having multiple light sources, however when you don’t know how you are going to layout a room long-term it makes it hard to play junction boxes. for instance, I didn’t know that a lot of kids like their beds to be in the corner – thus freeing up space, but also making it feel cozier. If that’s the case then our symmetrical junction boxes for sconces or pendants flanking the bed would become awkward without the bed. So it’s a funny balance of not wanting to miss an opportunity now, setting ourselves up for long term lighting success, but at the same time not actually creating a problem we have to then solve (like awkwardly placed sconces). I’m working on the solution, so stay tuned. We will also update all the outlets (and add way more) and think about future computer/tv usage (OR NOT and just put those in the landing – maybe no wifi at all in their rooms????? Is that legal????). I’m even considering ceiling fans to cut down on AC up here in the summer. You heard me – there are a lot of pretty ones out there and I LOVE the ones from Rejuvenation.
  4. Restore all the windows (and make them safe) – As you can see the original windows are super low, like a MM thick and not tempered. They are grandfathered in so technically we don’t have to raise them to a safer height. We have to remove them, double glaze them (strip them), and repair the sashes. Also, we need to make them operable without my kids falling out. So we might add little iron safety rails outside (this is what we did in LA) but if anyone knows of a better solution let me know. I haven’t asked our build team yet … ****(BTW if you are in Portland and want to update your vintage windows but aren’t renovating my sister and brother-in-law own Veridian which comes to your house and does this on-site, window by window – It’s GENIUS. Also funnily enough, my Father in law does the same thing in Sacramento (inspired by my BIL). It’s a special patented tool that very few companies have and is wildly more convenient than not having your windows for weeks during the winter – look them up!).
  5. Replace/update all the trim work and add any special paneling – Since we have to open up walls and ceiling and rip out the carpeting we have an opportunity to rethink all the casings and trim work. While I love the original doors (and they are staying), I have a different vision for all the moulding and casings. Stay tuned.
  6. What to do with the walls? – At first, I wanted to put this tiny 1 1/2″ vertical beadboard that is original to the victorian house (think crazy tight, thin vertical paneling) but I’m worried it doesn’t give us enough flexibility. Elliot has already requested and made me promise that she can have a LOT of color in her room (her favorite color is “all the colors in the rainbow”). She followed that request up with “because, Mama, there is NO color in this house except brown and white”. AHEM YOUNG LADY. She’s not right – we have blues and some greens, but point taken. I’m not in the business of creatively stifling my children so I’m leaning towards just drywall with paneling on the ceiling so if/when we want to paint/repaint, do a mural or wallpaper we have flexibility. I showed her Violet’s bedroom last week and she SCREAMED again and said, ‘Mama, Mama can I please just have that room – I WANT PINK AND PURPLE EVERYWHERE!!’. So I’m pretty sure my ‘quiet mauve’ original vision might get usurped by some serious color and pattern and that’s fine by me 🙂


This house is 2 bathrooms now, but we’ll make it 2 1/2 which doesn’t sound like a lot, but I actually think is totally fine. The kids and any guests will share this bathroom as there isn’t room to really put another one in here nor do I think they need it. This is the room that if we weren’t renovating we’d likely just update a bit – it’s pretty cute! It was renovated in the ’80s and I know that a lot of you responded to the tile. Here is our rough plan or at least our first thoughts:

  1. The layout – We’ll leave all plumbing where it is – saving money on trying to relocate and since it was redone a few decades ago (can you believe the ’80s was 40 years ago??) likely nothing in the wall needs to be updated.
  2. The clawfoot tub, but maybe paint the feet. It’s so cute!
  3. The Shower – We’ll make the current shower ‘room’ better by bringing it to the ceiling, redoing the finishes, and adding a door. Since it’s a shared bathroom we thought that the privacy of an enclosed shower would be nice (plus I think it will be super cute in a vintage way when we are done with it).
  4. The toilet and pedestal are both in decent condition, but this room will likely get a lot of use with two kids so we are planning on moving the original toilet and putting it in the victorian home (which is toilet-less right now), and relocating the pedestal to the new powder room, and replacing with something with more storage.
  5. The floor tile – This tile is from the ’80s and while it’s actually pretty cute in photos, up close the design/build team has said it’s not necessarily well done and not in the best condition (it’s 40 years old). So while we could live with it, absolutely, everyone agrees to replace it with something that will feel fresher, more high quality and more in line with the art direction of the whole home – coming soon). Do me a favor and wait to post your tile rage until we are done, and if you don’t think I’ve done this vintage bathroom justice, please let me know 🙂
  6. The paneling – While this beadboard is sweet, a floor to ceiling subtle handmade brick tile is sweeter and will be such a great backdrop to the tub and vintage windows (not to mention last forever and be really water-resistant).
  7. The lighting – We’ll update the placement and style of the lighting to be classic (but maybe with some whimsy or youthfulness since it’s for the kids). The only thing I want to explore when we are up there in a couple weeks is the medicine cabinet – remember this post? Well, surely there is something we can do to keep the function but make it feel special.

As I stated at the beginning – it’s become clear that doing what we want to the downstairs will be a pretty penny, so for every decision upstairs we are asking ourselves ‘Do we really need to do this? If so, how can we save money?‘. While we have to open up the walls and ceiling in the bedrooms to update the electrical and HVAC we are limiting the luxuries and anything that doesn’t need to happen. Quite literally every move you make costs money – even slightly reframing a closet can set off a domino effect where you then have to account for the trim work, the flooring underneath, etc. So we are being pretty conservative up here which feels really, really good. Less design time, less construction, less finishes to decide on – just make it safe and functional (and fine, beautiful) and don’t overthink it. This is a problem of mine and I’m often grateful for it where I benefit (like our bathroom up here which is a DREAM to be in) but these rooms are nice, spacious, have great light, and some sweet details – they don’t need to be totally re-invented.

Coming up next – the *final* floorplans, and I think we all know it won’t be final… but we are getting super super close and we are SO EXCITED. If you see any major red flags I’m missing up here, let me know 🙂

Fin Mark


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Ooooh, I’m sooooo excited to see upstairs.

I came for a peek now, late afternoon (“arvo” in Aussie slang) and I’ll have to wait until late tonight…. Eeeeee! 🤗


for what it’s worth I would keep the panelling in the bathroom – it will be less money to repaint the top half and you can repaint in the future to give a different look. I know you want to renovate once but a quick coat of paint in a different colour can can give a completely different look. Also, I think the panelling style is in keeping with the house. In the UK that style is found in lots of older houses and most people would see it as an original feature that they would want to keep. The house is beautiful, so much potential!


I totally agree, but maybe Emily feels like she has already been there/done that with the headboard paneling and wallpapered upper half she had in her L.A. house. Or maybe she has some super sweet tile that she is dying to use? But I agree this would save money. I am actually going to be painting beadboard in one of our bedrooms a darker color with a light upper half (I originally wanted wallpaper but too much $$$,) and I think it is going to freshen it up and update it so much!


Agree. Also keep the floor. Keep the integrity of the house.
Love tub. Paint feet.
Keep pedestal sink do a separate tall narrow storage cabinet.
That’s what my kids did in their Victorian house.
Also keep the wood trims as is on windows and doors.
Look to how people do it in England.
Somehow adding new will look dated in a few years .
Keeping it will always look right.
Ps. I raised my kids in a Victorian house in Chicago.
Always regretted after a few years that I had “ updated” the bathroom.


When you remodel a bath, everything has to go. You can’t keep the paneling where you have to update plumbing, and electrical. It’s just not possible due to how walls are constructed. I’ve been there. The tile is not original to the house. Neither are lights or plumbing. And they weren’t necessarily designed by an architect. There is nothing romantic about scratched tile and dirty grout. In either case what is still in a hood shape will be needed in the second house. Emily hired a team that knows better what can stay or go, while keeping the architecture and charm of the house. I personally prefer functional and updated interiors. There’s nothing fun about a cluttered bath that lacks storage

Paula Carr

“Keep the integrity of the house.” Repeat this 500 times. There’s nothing worse than a house that is “updated” to look like what’s currently trendy. In no time flat, it will looked, shocking!!!, dated. If you have a vintage house, the best thing you can do is retain or reinstall original features. Houses that were built with darker stained wood look so depressing when they’re painted out all white.


YES!!!! I live in a 1906 cottage style home. The kitchen and baths were updated by previous owners in 2000. Their choices were tasteful but the rooms look dated now. Keep all of the vintage touches in the core of the home’s design. Update the electric, plumbing, etc but weird nooks and long, low windows are the character of the home. It’s an opportunity to create unique storage solutions and special corners to sit and read. Creative design-minded people usually have great furniture and accessories from various periods that look perfect in an older home.


Majorly second “Houses that were built with darker stained wood look so depressing when they’re painted out all white” ESPECIALLY in the PNW. White paint only makes rooms up here look bleak grey for the 80% of the year you don’t see the sun. You can’t always apply California styles to a rainy weather house!!


Get rid of the beadboard in the bathroom and have tile on the walls instead. So much easier to clean! Wish I had never put in beadboard in my bathroom.


I have old (1940s) breadboard in my bathroom and it is terrible in a bathroom. I can’t wait until I can remove it and put in tile. So hard to keep clean and with kids taking baths it seems to always get damp. Have issues with rot and peeling paint. Team Remove!

That being said, I’m so sad that the trim around the doors and windows feels “heavy” to you because it’s classic 1900s PNW trim. I see it everywhere in the turn of the century houses here in Seattle. I think it’s gorgeous and really hope you can savage it so someone else can use it. It is so beautiful and likely old-growth, tight grained good lumber. 😭


Totally agree, BR does not feel original and the beadboard doesn’t feel classic and appropriate, it just feels dated, in an 80’s way. AND AGREE to keep the trim! It’s probably great quality and looks like it’s the correct choice for this house!

Another vote to keep the trim! As stupid as this sounds, I’ve seriously thought about this multiple times since reading yesterday, lol. I’m also confused about why you think it feels “heavy”…it’s such a classic trim profile, especially for a farmhouse. You say you have something else in mind but, with the crazy price of lumber currently, reusing the current trim (even if it initially needs removed to deal with windows) seems like an extremely easy way to save money, keep character, and stay true to the era of the house.

Noelle Swiergol

Agree on window and door trim!! It’s beautiful and classic and when painted white (as opposed to a dark stain) it doesn’t feel heavy at all. I think it’s a shame to tear it out! So agree with the above comments and I too can’t sake the idea of it being removed. It’s classic farmhouse trim. And yes, lumber is through the roof right now so seems like a crazy place to put dollars when totally unnecessary. Keep the trim! ☺️👍

I’m not the only one who wakes up at night thinking about Emily losing her original trim? Ha! I do love it too. I also love the windows and I’m so sad some have to be replaced (though I completely understand).


The trim is beautiful, in my opinion, and while it might be an older design, it’s also put in many new builds!
It’s timeless.

Paula Carr

Not only timeless, but it fits the house!


I agree with keeping the trim. If the ceilings are high, then that bigger trim will feel proportional in the room. We have a 148 year old home and we kept the bigger trim because we have almost 11 foot ceilings. If we had made it smaller, the windows would have looked puny.


I love the trim too!


House is gorgeous and I can’t wait to see your plans!!! So exciting… ps I love the original door and window trims- so charming. Keep those beautiful trim babes!


Yes! Keep the trim! It’s period appropriate, why spend money replacing?


Keep the trim…it is beautiful!


Yes! Please keep the original trim!


100%. On the east coast that wide trim is what houses from this era has and people add it to their new builds to add an architectural touch and a more luxurious feel. Saving some of the details from the original house is what makes it have character. I don’t understand why some of the elements that add the character and beauty to the house are not preserved, doors painted, floor painted on 2nd floor landing – it looks gorgeous, trim changed that evoke the era and are too scale for the windows…built-ins removed, what is left of the original house character? The sixties section makes sense, and ripping up carpets, but please preserve some of the charm the old house and that time period. That is how we preserve history. This saves money, but is also more sustainable.


The trim is my favorite part! Please keep it!!

Rhonda M

Really I don’t see anything wrong with the trim! I have it in my brand new house and paid a pretty penny for the upgrade. Everyone always loves my trim. Add crown and then it won’t seem so heavy.


Yes I love the original door trim!

Mary C

Agree! I’d kill for that chunky beautiful trim!


Don’t replace any of the trim. It is probably solid redwood!!! It is beautiful!


yes! why wouldn’t you want to keep this beautiful trim?! this is the only thing i’m mad about…so far. 😉


I agree! This is appropriate for the period, provides beautiful architectural detail and is lovely.


Personally, don’t like the trim and excited to see what Emily is going to replace it with!


Keep keep keep the trim!!! Go into some other houses of the same period here in the Pacific Northwest and you’ll see that it’s exactly what our homes have. It’s the character you are looking for!


Totally agree!! Please keep the trim! It has so much character

Cristin E Denight

I agree with everyone on the trim! My house growing up on SE Hawthorne felt very similar to this one on the interior. The trim seems very common for the era and it’s lovely.


Nope – get rid of the trim. It’s a dusting nightmare, painted or not. Just another chore to add to the list! I lived in a Victorian home for about ten years with loads of trim, and yes while it was pretty, it drove me crazy having to dust it constantly.


I am so excited to see what Emily does here because this house has so many details that are EXACTLY the same as our 1900 farmhouse (in MN). Same doors, same trim, same massive windows, very similar layout. Our windows are so big that it’s a design challenge but I wouldn’t trade the light for anything. I too can not stop thinking about whyyyyy one would replace this trim which is to me perfectly proportional and appropriate to the house and also a very versatile style? It has literally never occurred to me that our trim could be better. I will hold my judgment, but consider keeping it and painting it! Even with all the renovation you are planning, this type of trim is REALLY easy to pop off, paint and reattach. And you will never recreate the patina of 100+year old wood – even when it’s painted. Our trim is all painted white (except the main floor which is still original oak – swoon) and I can’t imagine it any other way, and we have taken plenty of design risks with our house in other ways (like Emily’s, it’s old but not overly precious style-wise. Just your average farmhouse… Read more »


OH I will also say this! We did pop off the ‘crowns’ on top of the trim on our 2nd floor because they had been added later and they bothered me. Perhaps this would alleviate the ‘heavy’ feeling as a compromise?


So great bones, oh I love the equal rooms, simple floorplan, windows , views and light!
My 2 cent: I dont believe in the public computer space in the landing/hall. It made me think of the landline phones in the hallways or kitchen in the 80/90s. No privacy. We all escaped, and stretched the phone cable more than it was good. You will need computers for school and homework. But I think the kids will end up with their laptop in the family room, at your kitchen counter, dinner table, breakfast nook when young. And in their bedrooms, when indipendent enough to use it allone, due to concentration, silence or for privacy. For controlling what they browse and how long, you have apps and digital tools.
Maybe you consider a desk in EVERY bed-/play-/guestroom with modern wifi/LAN set-up. So a happy room switching is possible. Even if the rooms are similar in size, your kids might be an early bird personality and a owle one. The natural light will differ in each room: East, West, South. It can be used by the right person to meet their rhythm and preference.


You called it home work area. But I see very little chance kids work with concentration in a public space where siblings go to the bathroom or play/stroll around… Plus you hear from the staircase what is going on down stairs.


We put bookcases in our huge upstairs hallway along with a cosy reading chair beside a radiator which was the best use of the space. Also reading chairs with standard lamps in the bedrooms along with bedside lamps and a central ceiling chandelier. Small lamps too on top of chest of drawers.


As a teacher, I agree. Not a good place for young kids or medium kiss to do homework. Older kids need focus and privacy with apps to censor online roaming.
Not a good spot for homework.

You all made such thoughtful comments about the desk spaces and quiet concentration for learning. I was coming to comment that I just wouldn’t want to see messy desks in the landing! 😂 Totally get the internet concern; we’re just working on an “open laptop” policy… Mom and Dad get to look over your shoulder any time, and that’s part of the privilege of using a tablet or laptop.


Yeah, I’m not sure I see the need for a dedicated computer space there. A desk is either going to be a) functional, but not the prettiest, or b) styled beautifully but rarely used. Besides, it doesn’t seem the best space to concentrate. And aren’t the kids more likely to work off laptops or tablets when they’re older and be completely free-range anyway?


My brother and I had to do our own laundry when we were kids, too. Our parents started us young (and it’s still the only chore that I don’t dread, as a 30-something adult 😉 ). We only had one washing machine and one dryer, and it was totally fine for a family of four. We were also pretty active (lots of clothes and towels covered in sand, sweat, cholorine…) and it was never really an issue. So long story short, love to see you giving them the responsibility, but I’d question whether a separate set is necessary. It’s convenient, sure, but think of the extra cost and environmental impact.


I was a single mom with two girls – they did their own laundry as well. At one point I added each of us having our own color of towels to the mix, which I washed once a week.


I don’t see why they can’t do their laundry in the main laundry room.
If it’s about teaching responsibility, they should be organized and responsible and take their laundry downstairs.

C’mon, Emily!



Agreed. If your kids are old enough to do their laundry they are old enough to carry it up/downstairs. Two washer/dryers seems absolutely crazy in a house this size! I’d make a big combo laundry/mudroom/dog room out of the space downstairs and keep the cupboard!


I agree with the combo laundry/mud/dog room for PNW climate! A dog wash station could double as a kid/boot rinse station and you can leave wet boots in there to dry. Any chance you can add a laundry chute??? Maybe one of the upstairs (many) closets line up with that little closet at the bottom of your stairs where you could store a laundry basket….might eliminate the want for dual machines and of course the coolness factor, for kids anyway 😉


I don’t really understand how two washers and dryers adds more environmental impact than one set. It’s not like they’ll be doing more laundry than before, they’d just have the capability of running multiple loads at the same time. Does using them simultaneously use more energy and water than one machine being run twice?


Exactly! An extra bathroom doesn’t mean a family takes more showers, same goes for an extra laundry room. I think having one on each floor is super convenient.


Two sets of machines – double the amount of appliances that have to be made, transported and installed and repaired/replaced. It’s a totally unnecessary expense when you have a nice wide staircase to carry a laundry basket down! Also I think the temptation to put on a half-load would be much stronger if there was no physical effort involved. I’m team upstairs laundry room if all the bedrooms are upstairs, but definitely not team two laundry locations. That’s an insane extra expense and environmental impact for very little gain.


Great question, Michaela! There could be a considerable environmental impact with having dual machines. Washing machines account for about 10% of household water use and SOMEtimes when you have 2 machines, especially on different floors, you might be more likely to run a load of laundry when the machine isn’t really full simply because it’s easier. I imagine this happens A-LOT considering the reason that people buy a dual set is because it’s easier. Also, please don’t forget the fact that materials have to be used to make the actual washer/dryer and requires labor/resources to build then transport to the end user. C’mon guys, we can’t leave this problem entirely to our kids to figure out, the products we buy and the resources we use make an impact. NO PLANET B


On the other hand, with 2 sets of machines, each machine will get far less use, will last far longer, and will not have to be replaced for a much longer time. It’s a wash as to which is better for the environment.

Instead of always rushing to judgment about EVERYTHING, some of you could just chill and stop yourself from jumping on that soapbox. You don’t convince people; you’re just irritating.


I think partial loads are pretty common when kids do laundry separately. My mom didn’t let us do our own laundry because she said it wasted money / water. We were responsible for getting our clothes to the laundry room, she did the washing (and taught us in the process), and we all folded together. There was never a partial load because it was always 4-6 people’s clothes washed together. Even now when I visit, she washes everyone’s clothes, and we all fold together!


I don’t mean to sound inflammatory, but having two laundry areas because your kids can’t possibly be bothered with schlepping ALL THE WAY DOWNSTAIRS just screams First World privilege in my mind. I get that you’re proud of their sense of responsibility of themselves (which I absolutely applaud!), but you’ve also got to teach them a sense of responsibility to the Earth EVEN if it inconveniences them for the 30 second trip down the stairs. My vote is for a badass mudroom/laundry room downstairs and a laundry chute upstairs if possible. The kids would love the chuck their clothes down that. Just my two cents, and don’t mean to sound condescending…I just don’t see that you’re doing as much of a favor for your kids down the road as you seem to think you might be.


My kids do their own laundry and they have to carry it to the basement, where the laundry is in the boiler/plumbing stack room, just as it was when we got the house. It isn’t pretty but whatever! They complained once and I reminded them that I grew up spending Sundays at the laundromat. 🙃


Yes – can’t recommend starting your kid on laundry at an early age – it’s not hard! And it’s an important life skill.

And with front loading machines you really don’t need a second set – they hold plenty.


I don’t understand the environmental impact argument here, other than the manufacturing of an additional washer and dryer. It’s not like more loads of laundry are being done – they’re just being done in different places or at different times, i.e. not lumped in with Emily and Brian’s clothes. Additionally, you can run a washer on a small load and it doesn’t use much water. If I had room I would be 100% a two laundry room family. Gross dog towels, rugs, rags, etc. on a lower floor and sheets and clothes upstairs in a different machine.


Also for those so concerned about “half” loads. Modern washing mashines sense the amount and weight of laundry in the drum and adjust water amounts accordingly. I agree with Lee, it is highly irritating for this constant environment battle to be going on on a design website. Emily is already pretty conscious of her choices. She’s her own person and a grown adult. This constant policing is so aggravating. You can’t do anything right with some of you here no matter how hard you try to make the good choice.

i like the heavy trim. it’s like those parisian apts with heavy molding and then all modern furniture. but that’s just me.
i can’t wait to keep following along.

Kate F

Agreed—I think once everything else is freshened up this trim won’t feel too heavy at all, and it’s a great place to save money and charm simultaneously.


Totally agree–and it’s original to the home and looks like it’s good quality and is in proportion to the ceiling height and doors–once everything else is freshened up, can’t imagine that they will feel heavy. Trust you’d make it beautiful either way, wonder with the sequencing of construction if this is something you can wait on? If you have to change them downstairs given extent of that construction though, might lead to motivation to change upstairs so whole house trim matches–sadly, can be cheaper to rip out original to match with necessary new trim if the original cannot be easily replicated.


I’m also in agreement for saving the trim. IT gives old houses charm. Once rooms are painted and set up with art, etc it will bring character and won’t look heavy.


I agree about saving tge ORIGINAL TRIM.
It’s something original, the history, the age of the home.
If this ain’t broke – and it most definitely ain’t – don5switch it for no good reason.


Agreed. Can not believe you would even consider removing the window trim!


Completely agree. I would have bought this house just for the trim alone. But I agree that the moldings aren’t too special/in poor shape so can’t wait to see what you do with those!


Totally agree about trim. It will look far different when the stuff around it is spiffed up. I also suggest waiting to paint any unpainted wood until everything else is complete. And, I love seeing the exposed wood floor around the edges of a room – maybe you can consider an area rug with 12” of space around it – you can still have a cushy rug pad!

Cris S.

Honestly, I would go this way also. You have dogs and kids up and crafts and spills there. We put hardwood floors throughout the second floor in our renovation. We have rugs that cover most of the floor in each of the rooms with nice cushy rug pads underneath. It just feels much cleaner, especially when I need to lift and spot clean a rug if a cat is sick (vomit, and other bodily functions). Or with my daughter’s long hair, lotions, finger nail polish, etc. We ripped out carpet in the previous house after a few years – do you know how disgusting it was? How much hair and dust and fur and dust mites and shed skin and nails it absorbs and holds on to? Yuck yuck yuck.

My 17 year old still spends most of her time lying on the floor and my son is all over his with his legos. When we lift those rugs/pad and vacuum underneath it is DIRTY under there. I can’t live with not being able to lift that and how much blech wall to wall carpet absorbs.

Agree. Carpet traps the dirt so you are living in it.


similar to the comments on two sets of washer/dryer. Tearing out old growth wood trim and disposing of it in order to replace with new materials all in the name of aesthetics is not an acceptable activity if you take our current climate crisis seriously. Design choices simply MUST be constrained.


Agreed. It seems if you dislike so much about a house, why even buy it? She would have been better off finding a plot of land and building a house to her exact specifications. Much of what she is proposing to do in this house is tragic. Trying to force a 100 year old to be a modern new build is a exercise in poor design. Instead, she should try to bring the house back to its original glory. Restore, not replace.

Cris S.

Totally agree – the window and door trim is the best part and is the thing making the house look vintage and well made. I love it. The ceiling and floor trim probably need to go though.


Absolutely agree about KEEPING the original trim. It’s not looking heavy at all. It will look weird if you put something else there since this is so original to the house and style of doors and windows.

Erin Kinney-Fields

YES! Keep the original trim!! Stop trying to make everything into exactly what you think you want and try working within what you have! Like nearly everyone else has to do. You don’t really understand the charm/history you are removing until it is gone. Think about all those 70s and 80s renovations of old homes that we now bemoan. I particularly appreciate the comment about the old growth wood — you will never find materials as strong, hard, bug/mold/fire resistant, aside from the eco nature of using what you have instead of throwing out perfectly good/better materials.


absolutely. The old growth fir is amazing. My brother in law is a contractor and just priced framing two small windows in fir (just second growth). Just the materials were 900 dollars (canadian). If you wanted trim of the quality she has here, it would be double that, I am sure (if you can even find it). One of the big issues though in rejuvinating this kind of trim is all the lead based paint. So, it will be costly and time consuming to do that here. But, holy cow, totally worth it. Strip out this trim, and you have a different house. Probably a beautiful house, but a different house.


Thank you for saying this so clearly! I was feeling triggered about this too! Why buy an old house if you take all the elements out of it that bring it’s charm and preserve some history, particularly when there are some really lovely architectural details. That wood is spectacular. Replacing everything – like everything has to be fixed doesn’t sit right.


Absolutely agree. For the love of all things holy, do NOT get rid of that trim!! At first I was confused about the notation on the pictures saying to “lighten” the trim…I was like, but it’s already white…? And then I read the article and see you want to replace it ::cue horrified gasping emoji:: It makes no sense at all.


While I also like the heavy trim, I think it depends on the shape it is in… someone painted over our 1918 trim with crap white paint and to get it to a safer place (aka no chipping paint) would destroy the trim. Currently we are leaving it, but it will need replaced sooner rather than later.


Joining the crew who hopes the trim stays. It’s quirky, but isn’t this in keeping with the kind of art and lamps etc. that you pick up at thrift stores?


I too like the trim. It is very typical for older homes in this area…and I just happen to live in SW Portland in an older home with the exact same trim over each door and window. Now I’m looking at it differently. Is it really too heavy? I guess compared to a contemporary space. But in an older farm house it seems to add to the character. Just sayin.


You are not alone! A lot of people commented above – totally agree. It is to scale with the rooms and love it!

We are in a similar situation with the bathroom in our Victorian (good tub, great little shower cubby, high ceilings, old pedestal, *quite a lot of* 80s tile) so I am excited to see the finishes you choose! Also second keeping the door and window trim, but it’s not my house, so: you do you 😉


In the hallway – think of your own experience in your loft office in the Mountain House – and perhaps think of another use. Perhaps a laundry folding table in disguise? Since you want a laundry closet with a washer/dryer in the hallway and there doesn’t appear to be much room in the closet except for the washer/dryer create some kind of storage for laundry extras and a flat surface for folding outside in the hallway? Good luck🙂


… Except for the point of WANT VS NEED = ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT.

The thing about being aware and conscious of the choices we make and the jmpact on our environment is just that … choices!

It’s about what’s necessary and what’s wasteful, overkill and excessive.

Cris S.

Hi Rusty – I want to be sure I understand what the objection is. Is it to the purchase of a second set of washing/drying machines? Because as a family they are already washing their clothes separately, so even having one set of machines they aren’t going to be using more/less water or energy. And in purchasing two sets of Energy Star (US designation for environmentally machines) they will put less wear and tear (could we also get into the difference between less and fewer please? Grammatically the use of less when fewer is called for hurts my head on the blog) on each set of machine and they will last longer, so I think that mitigates buying one set, wearing it out earlier and having to replace it sooner with a second set.

So, and this is an honest and genuine question, not a sarcastic one – what is the objection? Thank you for the dialogue. I’ve learned a lot.

Marianne O'Malley

I think the concern is this: creating two laundry areas requires the manufacture of an extra washer, dryer (and probably) plumbing lines, flooring and other items. Most of this stuff is manufactured in China (under pretty lax environmental standards) and then shipped across the Pacific,

That said, everyone needs to cut Emily some slack. She is trying. Plus, we ALL make choices that are necessary for our sanity but suboptimal from an environmental standpoint. (Like flying away on vacation. Like the extra refrigerator in the garage.) What Emily is considering may be really important for family. Let’s not be so quick to judge.

My thought on this design question is different. Specifically, the extra laundry room may feel more important now than it will two-three years when her kids are older. My kids never had trouble using our downstairs laundry room and my stairs are much narrower than hers. I’d be tempted to have just one laundry room and spend the $$$ elsewhere.

I’m thinking keep to one laundry (cost + planet + space)


Hi Cris, this is a great question! I am just going to paste my response that I left to another reader: There could be a considerable environmental impact with having dual machines. Washing machines account for about 10% of household water use and SOMEtimes when you have 2 machines, especially on different floors, you might be more likely to run a load of laundry when the machine isn’t really full simply because it’s easier. I imagine this happens A-LOT considering the reason that people buy a dual set is because it’s easier. Also, please don’t forget the fact that materials have to be used to make the actual washer/dryer and requires labor/resources to build then transport to the end user. C’mon guys, we can’t leave this problem entirely to our kids to figure out, the products we buy and the resources we use make an impact. NO PLANET B. P.S. A note about wear and tear; it would make sense that a new machine purchased in 5-10 years (when needed) would likely be more energy efficient than current models.


I think stuff like two laundry rooms is one of the ways that US houses keep growing in size; and larger houses use more resources and take more energy to run.


If the upstairs landing contains the only washer/dryer then I think the area may end up looking like a cluttered laundry room – at least it would at my house. Outside of all the laundry tools/supplies (detergent, spot cleaners, iron, etc), I always have some clothes hanging to dry, others waiting to be washed and some that I’ve yet to put away. All of that won’t fit in a closet unless it is a huge closet. I would not want this out in my landing all the time. A laundry ROOM not closet downstairs seems the way to go. My laundry room is a room (not closet), but it is TINY. I wish it was bigger, but at least I can close the door!

Also, I LOVE the idea of Sunday cleaning followed by sundaes. And thanks for the the reminder to have kids do their own laundry. My 13 yr old does and I think it’s time for my 10 yr old too. The Sunday plan is perfect!


Love all this!!!!
This whole house is SO charming and the second floor is so well laid out! I am so happy that you’re not re-inventing already good things. It seems like you guys are making such smart choices. I’m at the planning stage of a reno of our 100-yr old house and will be following your reno very closely! Please share all your thoughts, debates, options, etc! It’s all so interesting!


I hope you don’t “lighten” the trim! That most farmhouse trim was simply the same size boards used in different places is part of the charm, especially over the windows. It’s the ultimate use what you have design philosophy and so much of what gives houses of that age and type their soul.


Agreed. It is a traditional/original craftsman style trim. I think you can modernize the space in many ways, but replacing the woodwork will make it feel too new. Same with closing in the nooks in the bedrooms. If the budget is a concern, there are budget benefits to keeping both also.


Agreed! I love the nooks, and the trim and they’ll just get better as you work your magic. Big beautiful wardrobes or linen presses in the nooks (if you don’t put in built-in desks) might even reduce the need for closet reconstruction.


I also love the nooks. Really fun possibilities with those. As we say in the theatre, “every problem is an opportunity.”


We are in the midwest. Our last home was 94 years old (craftsman) when we bought it and we lived there for ten years. We redid the baths and parts of the kitchen. It had a whole lot of period features and was in the actual historic district of town where other houses were close to 150 years old. I agree with others who said that the norm was to have high ceilings. The heavy dark look is part of the whole charm of houses of that period. Everyone has different styles, but if one’s preference is to have lighter and brighter, buying an old somewhat rundown home may not be the way to go. So I agree with those who are hoping that Emily won’t strip this house of its actual character. People in our old neighborhood along with contractors were very very careful about preserving what made the houses unique and characterful. That means preserving features that were original to the house and getting rid of crazy updates people did .. So you keep the windows (especially that gorgeous casing) but you get rid of the wood panelling – basically opposite of what Emily wants to do !… Read more »


Those details are the bones and soul of this house, you take them away and it loses its charm. You can create something new, but then you have lost the history and that it was a period farmhouse.


I agree!
This is the difference between making original pieces work versus unnecessary change that, ultimately, lessens the history and story of the house.


This!! Some of these decisions seems like what a flipper would do rather than someone who is trying to save/renovate a charming older period home. I’m trying to redo an older home and we’re forced to guess what the original home was meant to look like while we try to bring back charm after a flipper yanked the good stuff out. I think it’s always better to save the charm where you can from the start.


I love upstairs that have a large landing with the bedrooms opening off of it! So charming and warm. We had it in our last house and I loved it. Now we have a long hallway and it’s not nearly as nice. I agree with some of the other commenters that a work station there probably won’t be used. When kids are little they will want to do homework near you, and then once they are 10 or 11 they will want to do it alone in their rooms. How about a small library type situation? A few bookshelves and a cozy chair for a reading book? I used to love the little library Nicole from Making it Lovely had in her old house at the top of her stairs.


Oh I love the library idea! I agree with other commenters that a homework station may not be the best use of that space. We have a similar landing and there is a floor to ceiling built-in bookcase that was installed well before our time (1940 house). We’ve always loved it and neighbors all comment on how much they wish they had the same feature. The bookcase mainly houses children’s books now, but it’s a good central location for our kids to get books.


My daughter-in-law’s mother has an old farm house in Ontario with an almost-identical floorplan and landing. She found an enormous glass-door bookcase where she keeps her children’s old books, the loveliest of their old toys and art work – it’s wonderful, whimsical – and beautiful/photogenic – and the children’s first stop when they come home for visits. And it’s a perfect styling/evolving styling instagram opportunity

I really love the look of barristers bookcases and they keep out dust too. I can see the kids adding treasures into their book display and perhaps extra bed linens/quilts on the bottom. That concept could grow well as they do.


Impossible to concentrate at the top of the stairs – it absolutely won’t get used as a homework station – but I totally agree that having lots of bookshelves around the walls is a fantastic idea.


I, too, think that putting a computer/desk in the landing means it will never get used. Instead, how about turning the landing into your library: put book shelves on the walls (they don’t have to be expensive built-ins)?

My kids had a lot of books in their bedrooms and once we moved the books out into the hallway area (using Elfa shelving, which looked good and was reasonably priced), that opened up a lot of shelving space in their bedrooms and made the bedrooms look less cluttered.


Such a great idea!


She could also buy 1 or 2 vintage armoires for the landing to store spillover/off season clothes that don’t fit in the bedroom closets, then there doesn’t need to be any renovation or framing done in the upstairs.


Really fun seeing all your plans! My two cents: keep the little nooks in the bedrooms – they are what gives old houses their charm. And keep the trim!

I really like all the trim work! I’m curious to see what you want to replace it with.


I love these plans! The rooms are such gracious proportions and such a good opportunity for decorating rather than renovating.
Also, as a professional designer I am SO PSYCHED you are considering ceiling fans. I am TEAM CEILING FAN. I mourn that TV design has turned them verboten, because even the ugly ones are such an amazing physical enhancement in a space. Summer to me is cicadas whirring and a ceiling fan blowing gently. Heaven. I’ve planned lots of high-end projects with nice unobtrusive fans, and the lack of a chandelier for me is so worth the pleasure of the air. And way less AC! I low-key hate AC even though I live where it’s 95 with 98% humidity all summer. Anyway. YAY TEAM CEILING FAN.


Here here! Normalize ceiling fans in design and maybe more lovely ceiling fans will be designed. I live in the south and you have to have one.


Yes to ceiling fans! We’re in the northeast so it’s not insanely hot but we use fans so much in summer! We love the minka aire.


Yes this is what we just installed in our primary bedroom and love. We have installed ceiling fans in 3 rental apartments so are huge fans (ha). This house we finally bought had one already (hooray) but it was hideous so we changed it out for the Minka. I will say options have gotten better since the first one we installed 15 years ago but would still love to see more good looking modern options!


Maybe in a dust-and-dog/cat-free environment. I finally removed ceiling fans from my house because of the way they blew the dirt around–the rooms always had a ring of dust and hair along the top of the walls, and the fans themselves got filthy and were difficult to clean without redistributing the hair. And before you ask, I vacuum every day, and keep the dogs brushed.
I find floor and table fans much easier to manage in my AC-free windows-open house.


Just here to say I too am on Team Ceiling Fan. I don’t understand who decided they were horrid and ugly. I think it all started with that show Trading Spaces in which they would ALWAYS remove the ceiling fan, even when the owners demanded they keep it. I never understood it. I find them pretty unoffensive. I never even notice them (until I’m lying in bed unable to fall asleep due to the absence of one 😉


I live in Georgia, and it is hilarious to hear of ceiling fans needing to be normalized. It’s very strange for any bedroom not to have one, and many living areas do, too. Absolutely necessity in the Deep South!


I am a public school teacher. You’ll definitely want WiFi in the bedrooms. Your kids will probably end up doing at least some of their school work on their beds. It’s sort of the nature of the teenager. Also many of my students are doing their current distance learning in their bedrooms so they can hear in zoom. Let’s all hope we never have another pandemic in our lifetimes but you never know.


Yessssss!!!!!! 👍

Cris S.

Oh my goodness, YES. This is the way it is going to end up anyway. Just plan for it. Only a very rare teenager would be willing to do their homework in a public landing way where they can hear other people and can be harassed by a sibling and where someone can try to sneak up on them and see what they are doing (and you can’t really, because they are always going to hear you coming up the stairs or in the bedrooms). I’m living with this ‘homework in public space’ right now – my daughter has depression/anxiety and ADHD and so school from home hit her really hard without school supports and she just quit. She wasn’t doing anything. We’ve had to move her desk to the dining room (open to the living room and main hallway and adjacent to the kitchen. When she does her homework now (or takes a practice SAT, etc) the whole house has to shut down so that she has perfect quiet. Everyone else has to hide in their bedroom and no one can get snacks (this may also be her way of getting revenge on us for making her be in… Read more »


Also, children deserve their privacy! Teenagers should be able to hang out in their rooms on their phones or computers without worrying that someone is looking over their shoulders. (Barring any dangerous internet activity, sometimes kids just wanna like, read fan fic without being made fun of.)


I agree.. I am somewhat surprised that so many people seem to be regulating their children’s choices so closely. Do parents REALLY never allow technology in bedrooms? How are tweens and teens doing zoom school then? I genuinely want to know? Are always out in public spaces like dining rooms and family rooms ? We have tweens and they have laptops in bedrooms for days . They are in private schools, so they have been doing a mix of remote and in-person learning and they absolutely focus on their work, their music in their rooms (except piano which is in the formal living room) ! They do pretty advanced math, play their strings, write stories.. oh and yes – also play Minecraft and Among Us with their friends online ALL from the seclusion of their rooms! Are we naive parents for allowing all of this? There are controls one can enable on laptops so that they don’t accidentally see anything they shouldn’t .. online. But mostly, we have exposed our children to good taste in music, film, thought… and we trust/hope that they will make good choices for themselves in the future and will recognize what to stay away from.… Read more »


I think the choice is just up to the parent without it having to be that one is better than the other. We just don’t all parent alike and thats ok! Just like in the 80’s some kids had a phone in their room and some didn’t. Mine is only 11 so I haven’t hit on the electronics in her room yet. She uses my laptop outside on a nice day or in our sun room for her online classes. She uses my phone for now when she wants to make a phone call and she can of course talk and text wherever she wants to in the house. We do not do social media or internet browsing (except for school purposes) just yet. We decided to take all of that slowly and it happens to be what works for our family……for now. I’m sure privacy will play a role in all this changing as she becomes a teen and hopefully the best thing we can do for her is set a good example of electronics behavior such as no texting while driving and other activities being more important than social media.


We definitely evolved with our child. She’s been on the internet forever, but in the beginning (throughout elementary school), she was in a public place, and she was cautious on her own. She heard of friends who would do “random searches” and she was afraid of the possible results. She chose to visit basically theee well vetted sites. We always have very open conversations with her, and she also feels safe sharing with us, because the only thing we get angry about is lying or harming others. If she sees something she’s uncomfortable with or wonders is inappropriate, she talks to us. Later, when she was watching YouTube, she’d only follow those she felt safe, so she ignored suggestions that pop up. In middle school, she wanted more privacy, so she could be in her room, but we had an open door and screen policy, where we could see her screen on request. We also checked texts in these early days, because kids were mean, not necessarily to her. They had group chats, and sometimes there were jokes. We discussed what was kind and what wasn’t. We talked about being an upstander, and she certainly got some negative responses when… Read more »


Thank you for this!! It is something that is coming up very very soon with my daughter being 11. We do already have lots of dialogue about it but of course we will know more on how to navigate it when she is a teen and it actually happens! I love that your daughter is definitely working on self control and being self motivated to do the right thing and I am sure knowing she can count on you means so much. I’m hoping for her to be on that same path!


Thanks for these replies to my question. I was wondering where we were on the spectrum of parenting choices – more towards the mean or towards one end or other. Sounds like we are not terribly far out. Our children (twins) are not 11 yet but have no social media or phones. They email classmates from their school accounts – but I think those emails are monitored by teachers. On their laptops they are basically prevented from doing youtube except for certain sites. When they play Minecraft or online games they are on tablets, with zoom sessions going with friends simultaneously – they play as a group. So there can be a lot of yelling – so we either send them far since it’s actually a good time for us to get work done.
But it is really good to learn that part of this journey is to prepare them for what is good and constructive and what’s not. Giving them some autonomy and expanding that with time is our preference.


Dena (and others), you can also check out

It has a lot of suggestions and guidance. I think they even have a media agreement that you can use with your child. Good luck with the approaching years. I find them the most challenging, both when I was that age, as well as parenting that age.


I like the idea of removing the computer and phone at night. Maybe Emily could have a space in the landing where the kids could store (and charge) their equipment, and as they get older it could be their responsibility to dock their devices, like brushing teeth. I think, if it can be helped, it is better to remove everything from the bed that may be “alerting” or “stimulating”. I think it is really important for creating good sleep habits, to last their whole lives. I have toddlers now, and I am a family physician. When we do allow screens in their rooms, when they’re older, I think we’ll make a plan (that they can participate in) to remove all screens at night.


Yes, Amy, so much is about helping them develop healthy habits they can take into adulthood! Having them dock their devices is a great plan.


Building on what you said about checking in with communication like texting and email. When my 8th grader first got a phone and email at the end of that school year, I explained that I was going to help him learn how to use it well and correctly, and I explained how the lack of “tone” can affect how people read and respond. I also explained that there’s a difference too with communicating with peers, and communicating with teachers and other adults! I’d check in on his messages and emails every day for awhile, and then tapered off as he handled things well. But for the first year or so, any time he needed to email a teacher or an adult I’d have him write a first draft and then I’d read it before he sent it. It often needed some tweaking, and walking him through it (“hey, do you hear how it could come across this way…? Yeah, if you say something like ____ instead, how does that sound now…?”) It made a HUGE difference in him understanding how to communicate properly in those settings. How to ask for extensions, how to phrase a question, how to ask for… Read more »


Kate, this is such a great point! We also worked on emails with teachers. Explaining the differences between peer to peer interaction and addressing teachers and adults is so important.


What worked for me:

My kiddo didn’t have a phone until the end of 8th grade, and that’s also when he got a chromebook.

He’s a 10th grader now, and the iPhone doesn’t have safari on it, and it locks at 8pm and unlocks at 8:30am. This keeps it a tool for both calling and messaging with friends, and for listening to music. That’s it. (He’s not on social media and has no desire to be).

The chromebook has the same hours and has a restricted filter on it that blocks p*rn.

The school he went to discouraged media and tech use until 8th grade and I’m grateful for that, because he’s grown up with a group of friends who aren’t hooked on video games, youtube, tv, or or social media.

I absolutely don’t mean to say this is the only way to do things, it’s just what worked for my kid. I guess I’d say the attitude is that the phone and internet are fantastic *tools* – but/and use them as tools, and not the focus.


This has always been my plan that I am hoping will go over well!! This thread is so important! Thanks for the info.


Most parents are where you are. Some are super strict, those kids are generally not able to regulate themselves when they get to college. You’re doing the right thing.

Instead of a sky light, consider a solar tube(s). It requires much less construction (can be installed in a few hours) and costs way less. We have three and LOVE them. The amount of light they put out is incredible, and at night they become night lights by using the solar energy they stored during the day.


Ooooh, yesss!!!
Solat tunpbes are fab-u-lous!!!
And, then it won’t be such a cleaning issue.
Great suggestion!


I came here to say this too! Our house in Portland had them and they were very unobtrusive design wise and allowed a LOT of light. I liked that they didn’t become a focal point the way that skylights do (although skylights can be great in the right space). I could really see them working on the landing area!


Ditto this – plus they don’t make a space hotter in the summer like a skylight can.


Love love love love solar tubes/tunnels! Especially here in the PNW, they are amazing for bringing in the daylight.


I love watching this project unfold, so exciting!
I wanted to throw in my two cents about child locks on the windows. I live in a 200+ year old house with huge windows and three little boys and feel that teaching them about the dangers around open windows and to be careful with their bodies in an old house is an important sort of awareness to grow up with (along with no “door games” with all of the iron-hardware doors!). Your kids are old enough to pay attention to safety rules and understand the dangers of open windows that are accessible to them. Unless you have toddlers in the house, I would not bother with child locks. Whatever they are doing around windows that requires a lock, they shouldn’t be doing anyway. 🙂


Good point.👍


Agreed. We are in an old house; the second floor windows are less than 1 ft off the ground. Our kids were born in this house; we were very careful about the windows and the kids absorbed the rules easily.


The other option is to put a steel flyscreen in (sounds gross but looks like a flyscreen which I assume you’ll need anyway if you leave windows open at night). This is particularly useful if other people’s kids are at your house – you want to know all thr little ones are safe up there.


As another parent living in an old house, I wholeheartedly agree.


I love this perspective!

Also, as someone who had parents who taught me about safety, we had drills about different situations in the house that could occur – like fires… and if that main stairwell would be blocked, your kids would HAVE to have access to be able to open windows on their own. I know THAT sounds super scary, but I started doing fire safety drills with my parents when I was really young – probably as an only child they were extra concerned about my knowing what to do if I was in the house alone and something happened. They drilled it in my head that I was not allowed to look for our cat and had to leave by myself in a dangerous situation. Where to run to call for help, testing door knobs, that I knew how to open all of our windows or doors, etc.


This will be just fabulous! I love the window trim. Are you sure you want to get rid of it? It suits the gorgeous windows. The upstairs hallway: I think a reading area, and a computer printer, shared, is the way to go. Your kids will end up with laptops, and you will need good wifi. They will work all over the house, and as they get older in their bedrooms. While the nooks can become desks, I have always hated looking at a wall when I work, and many people do as well. A comfy chair with a side table might be a place to work on a laptop. Go you!

Please reconsider getting rid of that beautiful original trim on the door and window casings. It’s gorgeous and it’s what gives an old home a lot of its its character. It feels a bit shortsighted to ditch it instead of honoring the old house’s history.


Yup … let the Old Girl keep her nic-nacs!


Oh…I did not realize she was going to remove the window trim…no no no no nooooooooooooooo


Regarding windows. In 100 years, I’m guessing no child or adult ever fell out of those windows, and it isn’t likely to happen now . Kids are very good about knowing what’s safe, especially the ages yours are now, and how old they will be when you are living there full time. If its a true concern, consider something temporary inside the room, rather than something on the exterior.
I have 3 boys, they all do their own laundry, they each have their own basket and they each have to go to the basement from their attic rooms to take care of it. Seriously not an issue


Is that the concern with the low windows, that a child will open them and fall out? That seems like over-safety to me, to be worried about. However, if your children are of an age or are the kind of risk takers that they will open windows and punch out screens in order to climb out of or dangle out of windows, surely there’s some kind of fix that wouldn’t require installing smaller windows that gave LESS light?


I also have young kids and an old house with big, low windows. We have cheap window guards anywhere this is a climbable piece of furniture near a window. The second floor windows are open most of the summer. Yes, kids *mostly* survived all the somewhat dangerous stuff that used to be the norm, but there were far more fatal accidents before modern safety standards! That’s why we started making things safer.


This is going to be so fun to watch! The upstairs looks so charming. Im intrigued by the library suggestions for the landing. We’ve just moved to an old house with a large landing and I’m thinking about how that might work here. I really like the trim at the top of the doors, for what it’s worth, and love that the medicine cabinet matches so well. I would keep those elements as-is (just painted)! I also don’t think the sconces in the bedroom would look funny without a bed underneath if they were flanking some large art on the wall. Our new house has one carpeted room (our bedroom) in a very light color. With two dogs, it’s just impossible to keep clean. Maybe “carpet care” could be a post someday… in the meantime, we’re replacing the carpet with hardwoods to match the rest of the house. Hardwoods and vintage wool rugs are so easy. Will be curious how you manage the shower door. Seems like clear glass is the “accepted” material but I grew up with brothers and would absolutely want something that is not see through. The tub is so awesome. Love the tile in pics but… Read more »


Bravo to you for getting your kids to do their own laundry. If you already have a family system for laundry, why add a laundry upstairs? Seems space that could be put to better use. If the bathroom was above mud room, maybe a laundry chute for the once -a-week drop.
If the weather is as wet and muddy as you indicate, you will have half the kids clothes downstairs and half upstairs.
My vote is to keep the trim and doors and add the same to the first level ‘60s addition. Don’t throw out the charm of the house. From my experience with my kids and friend’s kids, a vote down to the homework station in landing.
Love the secret door.
Fans are good for winter weathers as well to circulate the heat back to the floor.


MKK, all great points! 🤩


Thanks, Rusty!

I also forgot to mention I love the medicine cabinet. I find pedestal sinks better for a Powder room than a busy kid bathroom. I would use the closet/nook in the adjacent bedroom for more room in the bathroom vs. laundry.

I live in a historical district and, more often than not, when they renovate and add on to a four square home, the secondary media room is upstairs not down. As kids get older, it is very desirable.


Wowza! Reality cgeck: the kiss aren’t going to do homework ir study on the landing. Nup. Nope. Not a thing. Sorry. I really like the suggestions about library shelving and then you could EEG the landing to your heart’s content.😁 I wah-really think changing the trim is a bad idea. The story, the history and soul of the house is in them thar trims. It’s plainly unnecessary and really, just change for the sake of change. Hold your horses (or Alpacas, as the case may be). I love those little nooks in the bedrooms. Great place for a snuggle chair, bookshelf, etc. I like the bathroom, but I really like you ideas for the tile. Practical, beautiful and a good change (unlike the trim-swap). The tile, shower and other ideas will imrove the bathroom for the long term.🤗 I’m so, so glad you’re keeping those drool-worthy wind5and the safety bar is a great idea! SUPER GLAD TO HEAR ABOUT THE DOUBLE GLAZING. The coat closet is darned cute! The other additional storage is sooo useful too! The upstairs of your farmhouse has a terrific layout! How lucky are you?!?! Then you can really redesign the tricky downstairs layout. Just think… Read more »


I’m here as Birdie’s advocate 🙂 Yes to pink, purple and all the colors of the rainbow!


Re the low windows:
The house I grew up in had knee-height windows. I actually loved them because I could sit on the floor to play or read and still see out.
So I would vote to keep them, with safety bars, because, kids.
With the great success of NYC’s “Children can’t fly” campaign, I’m sure there are lots of options. And don’t forget the screens!


Emily, you wrote “… what we want to the downstairs will be a pretty penny, so for every decision upstairs we are asking ourselves ‘Do we really need to do this? If so, how can we save money?‘”

Well, save-a-da-money and for the love of God, leave the Old Girl’s trim alone!
(pretty please? 🙄 )


I’m excited to see how Eliots bedroom will turn out. I loved Violets purple bedroom and chose the same flower wallpaper for my daughter. She loves pink, purple, yellow and all the colors too!


With Birdie’s flair for design (remember the Thanksgiving table?!) she’s gonna shine!🤗

Sandra Ash

Please, please, do not change the wood trim around the doors or windows. They add balance that so many windows with tiny trim just don’t have. I realize it’s your house, and you are a decorator, and I am not. The bones of this house are beautiful and any changes you make need to support the original house and how you wish to live in it. The original trim will not affect how you live in the house and removing it could diminish the value. This is a grand old farmhouse, cherish each and every thing it offers.

Gosh, this house has so much inherent charm! I can’t wait to see how it all comes together!w


We have a nearly identical upstairs layout/set of features and 2 kids that are 5 and 7, and just a few thoughts:
-Our clawfoot tub looks cute but is SO impractical. It’s too short for an adult to fit comfortably in and the kids are compelled to “slide” down the back of it during baths which make a huge mess. It also (maybe this is just ours?) doesn’t retain heat very well so baths are short-lived.
-We also have low/thin/dangerous windows but couldn’t do bars or adjust the windows because we’re in a historic district. Our architect recommended this clear plastic netting that just goes over the bottom half of the window (outside). It’s barely noticeable and would presumably catch a child were one to fly out.
-We loved the grand landing when we moved in and were torn because we also wanted to move a laundry upstairs. During pandemic timez, however, we’re realizing that a little more physical separation between all the bedrooms would be nice, and I think that will become more so the case when the kids are teenagers. So we’re saying screw you beautiful landing and putting in the laundry.


I toured a lovely Colonial Revival home with laundry hidden at the top of the landing. They put the washer in a built-in to the left of the window and dryer in a matching cabinet on the right. Beautiful hidden solution.

Emily J

please don’t paint the dark woodwork!!! it’s timeless craftsman style. that’s one historical detail you shouldn’t mess with. go back to your post on doing craftsman right!


I so so agree. It would be so much more satisfying to see “doing craftsman right” than taking out old trim and windows, replacing with thinner trim and painting everything white. I know Emily doesn’t like McMansions, but how will this house be different from a McMansion once you get rid of all of the period features (changing out the trim will be a travesty – truly 🙁 ), paint everything white, add two laundry rooms etc. ? I say this as someone who lived in an old house, loved it, maintained it but then decided to move out into a newer more convenient 30 year old house. So I understand the desire for light and bright.. especially when kids are small – we do have a giant mudroom, upstairs laundry and the works. So I do understand the desire to have the modern amenities and by all means add all of the amenities you can afford. But can you do that without replacing the old charm? If you want to preserve craftsman features have you looked into adding prairie home style features that would mesh with the current style? There are tons of old historic craftsman (true craftsman style)… Read more »


I mean maybe refer to your own post Emily ?


The architect may be planning this – for laundry closet I’d take space from Bedroom 3 and extend that hall closet back into the niche. It’s next to the bathroom so you’d be keeping the plumbing in that corner of the 2nd floor. It’s a luxury to have an additional washer/dryer but, if you have the space and budget, it makes sense since a lot of laundry will be generated on 2nd floor. I generally advocate for as few appliances as possible in home but with 3 bed + 1 bath upstairs, I think a W/D upstairs makes sense for this house and future-proofs it. I vote no sconces in the upstairs bedrooms. I love a sconce but they can be challenging to design around if you don’t want one specific furniture plan (like you said). Anticipating multiple creative furniture arrangements as the kids age, I’d go with lamps and plug-in sconces, installing well placed outlets around the room. Even if these rooms weren’t specifically for kids, sconces limit bedroom furniture arrangement and I don’t think the architectural integrity of this house is in any way diminished for lack of sconces in these specific rooms. If the 1st floor has… Read more »


Please, please, please leave the window trim and keep them the same size! I live in a Victorian home built in 1880 and we restored the windows, trim, sills, etc. While they may not be quite as energy efficient, they are so beautiful and bring me so much joy. Chunky trim adds character to a room and you can even paint it darker to show it off. Our windows are also very low and in the kids’ room, we put their beds up against the windows so they can’t access them. The windows are tall and the beds aren’t too high, so we still get lots of light. My girls are 7 and we’ve never had any safety concerns. You could do the same thing with a nightstand or low bookshelf perhaps? I’d also consider keeping the paneling in the bathroom. You could paint it a fun color and put beautiful wallpaper on the top. A big cost savings and more in-keeping with the style of the home, perhaps? But I get it if the paneling isn’t original or not in good shape and you feel like you need to swap it out with tile. SO excited to see your… Read more »


Lucy, it’s exciting, that they’re going to restore AND double glaze the windows!! Yaaay!

Nicole Dehlin-Grant

About the safety of the windows: Why not make the bottom panel fixed and only allow sliding on the top? Much safer and still allows air flow flexibility. This is actually how modern windows operate. 🙂

Roberta Davis

Aw, the trim over the windows and doors is one of the most charming things about the house! I don’t think it will feel quite so heavy if you use light wall colors, as you usually do. And the money could be spent for something more impactful? I also think overhead lighting is highly overrated. You can wire the light switch to outlets so that lamps will turn on instead of an overhead light, and that is a much kinder and more useful light in a bedroom (or just about any room). In our last house, we had no overhead lighting in the bedrooms or living room and it was wonderful. Now we have boob lights in every bedroom and they are terrible. They don’t even provide enough light to read by in the daytime. And recessed lighting is even worse, in terms of light quality. Maybe your designer has a lighting expert to advise on how to get the best lighting quality in every space? The boob lights just make me angry because I can’t even put most LED bulbs in them because they are enclosed fixtures! I also think that medicine cabinet is great! Just change the lights… Read more »


Roberta, good point about LED bulbs!
Let’s hope Emily and her team choose light fittings that take those = SO LITTLE ENERGY USED. Boom!


Agree with many comments- no need for two laundry rooms. I have 3 kids and a dog and laundry is in the basement, and my kids do their own laundry. I would also leave the original trim. In an old house, so much money is spent on things you cannot see, so I would not add on items, like replacing trim, that seem superfluous.

Now this is the area that I’m most interested in – if only from a budget point of view. I’m in the very early stages of doing two bathroom remodels and cost is a huge factor. While I absolutely love your aesthetic and would love the same designs etc (ie love Rejuvenation and Pratt & Lambert) they simply aren’t in my budget – I could never afford a $600 fan, or custom tile etc). I’m hoping that you will be able to give us budget friendly alternatives; and I know that’s obviously more work for you, but it really would be appreciated!

Jennifer Dumortier

Wait- “from the 80’s” means it’s 40 years old?! Lol. You will LOVE that tub if you keep it… small size+cast iron means the water stays warm forever.


Yeah, I lurve my cast iron tub. Ut stays toasty warm for aeons. 🤗
That one will look fab with painted feet – I’d paint them black.
I had my tub re-enameled in situ. Inexpensive and it’s still perfect after 18 years!


I don’t know, I would tend to want to just take out the carpets, clean and paint white, then live in it for a year. It’s so wonderfully quirky! The windows and trim and nooks are delightful. Easy to say from just looking at photos though, as opposed to trying to raise kids there.


Very excited to see how the house develops. Re the upstairs windows – we has this installed (not this exact product – in Australia so I tried to find as US link) in our windows once the kids were mobile. Keeps my anxiety down, especially when they have friends over and means they can leave their windows open at night and I know they are safe


When we added a dormer a few years ago, we used Marvin double-hung windows that came with a child safety lock that can be disengaged so that they can fully open. When engaged, it prevents the windows from opening more than 4″ and was the perfect solution for us to prevent worry about any safety issues. It’s a very small latch on the window, so visually it was much better than a bar or other child safety device.


Regarding the windows – check out Phelps Hardware for double hung ventilation locks. They limit the amount the bottom sash opens. These are pretty popular in NYC for huge windows in brownstones. Model SVL90


I CANNOT WAIT for the floor plans’ reveal. I get so giddy when a homes’ listing has a floor plan. They really tell the whole story. And reconfiguring them in my head is my favorite past time.


If you’re not keeping the trim please, please please consider taking it down gently and donating to a nearby architectural salvage/ reuse center. That trim is very indicative of turn-of-the-century construction and lots of folks are likely looking to patch/ replace with the same (as it has already been torn out of many older homes). Even if it’s not in perfect condition – someone will be very happy to have it. I have the same trim in the main floor of my 1893 worker’s cottage. Sadly, it’s all gone upstairs and finding suitable replacements is really difficult.


Agreed. I die whenever I watch renovation shows and they throw it all away. People should donate every old doorknob and hinge if they possibly can, since there may be someone else out there who is looking for that exact thing.

Erin Kinney-Fields

I’m confused about your continual refrain that you will be painting the floors? Are they in bad shape? Otherwise, historical craftsmans take on a “country” look that is not really appropriate when their floors are painted. Also floor paint, no matter how well done, eventually scratches and looks messy. I’m not really understanding this design choice…


I had the same reaction. I’m surprised to hear painting the wood floors is part of Emily’s renovate-once-to-last-forever-plan. I’m also surprised that it was mentioned so casually, without explanation. I’m sure we’ll hear more about it soon.


Yes! I scrolled all the way down here to see if anyone else was like “Wait, WHAT?!?” You think/hope there’s hardwood under the carpet and if there is you’re definitely going to paint it?!?! In a PNW climate with two kids and two big dogs and a wide staircase visible from your main entry and living area? It’s going to be destroyed faster than you can say shabby chic.
For the record, I am also #teamceilingfan, #teammedicinecabinet, #teamwalltowallisgross and #teamsavethetrim


I also have been questioning the painted floors. Seems like a strange choice.


I have painted wood floors in my home. It’s listed as one of two approved flooring choices that are allowed by the historic neighborhood restrictions. The other choice is unstained heart pine. If you have dogs, painted floors can be very easy to maintain. If the paint is applied to sanded wood it is very durable. If it is applied to completely bare wood, the painted finish will be indestructible. If you get a deep scratch, it can be covered with a bit of touch up paint. You can’t do that with stained/finished wood floors.


I have to admit I cringe every time I see you mention changing the door and window trim. That style is so typical to craftsmen era homes and is probably some very nice Douglas fir.
It’s likely that the living room was originally divided into a living room space and a dining room space. Might not have been a full wall. Is the current location of the front door original?
Looking forward to seeing the end result.


If it were me, I might consider holding off on any trim modifications on floor 2? I know you say you don’t love what’s there, but they are pretty great and match the house, so that might be a very easy place to cut the budget and give yourself some wiggle room. Plus, old houses = nothing is straight/plumb, so while trim seams like an easy thing to update, the reality is the labor cost in an old house is much larger than a newer one. Consider living with it for a few years – you can always update later as budget allows, but that’s the one thing you’ve mentioned here that seems potentially like a big cost for little benefit.


Just piping in to say you, Emily, should do whatever you want with the casings and trim, especially if they’re in not great condition and need to be replaced anyway. It’s your house and you don’t owe anyone anything. I know this will offend the history buffs and scolding purists, but you don’t have an obligation to create a museum that needs to be a precise replica of a certain era, for heaven’s sake; you’re creating a home for you and your family that should feel comfortable and work for you, your needs, and yes, your aesthetic. Also, it irks me when people who love historic homes say that updated features remove “character” from a home. Historic features are not the only features that give a home “character.” Some people happen to think modern features also give character, just a different, lighter, cleaner, less fussy kind of character. Lastly, I do want to say that I’m loving all the cute little nooks in this home — perfect for built-in desks, benches and cozy little reading corners!


Mid century homes are now considered historic. I wonder if you would feel the same way about installing shaker cabinets in a modern house. For the record, I would prefer a modern house, but if I bought something of an older vintage I would work with what is there.


I understand your point (although I think shakers — especially “skinny” shakers with minimal hardware — are versatile enough to sometimes work in MCM home if done the right way). I get what you’re saying — your design does have to take its cues from the architecture to some degree. But I don’t think the rules are totally hard and fast — there are ways to do a lighter, airier version of a historic home, for example, that are still beautiful and inspired after historic looks, even if they are not 100 percent true to the aesthetic that would have been popular at the time the home was built.


I think you are missing the point, it is actually the soul of the house. You could just say you don’t mind changing it rather than correcting those (not all purists, just appreciate the farmhouse and the architectural features and soul of the house). Taking an old farmhouse that which seems to be what Emily appreciated and then taking away all the features of it does make some of us cringe – modern features do not do the same thing.


I guess I just don’t understand the reprimanding tone in all of these comments, talking about how she is deviating from what is “architecturally appropriate” or taking away the “character?” Appropriate to who? Unless you are creating a museum or in the business of historical preservation, 100 percent fealty to recreating the home’s aesthetic as it would have been when it was first built should not really matter. All that matters is what is appropriate to the people who will be living in the home every day. And character is in the eye of the beholder. Some people enjoy certain cozy features of historic homes, such as the layout and quirky nooks, but may find other features, such as dark woods or heavy trims a bit claustrophobic and oppressive. It’s totally up to the homeowner to strike the right balance between modern and historic features to create a home that feels functional, comfortable and beautiful to them. And I find the retort about, “don’t buy a historic home, then,” really condescending. People end up buying homes for all kinds of reasons, such as the school district, the proximity to a metro area or relatives, a thousand reasons under the sun.… Read more »


By the way, I think in Europe people are much more comfortable with the kind of eclecticism I’m referring to — people frequently live in homes that have almost a startling contrast between some modern features and some historic features. Nobody thinks twice about it, and the variety and heterogeneity of this mix of looks has its own beauty.


Hey Deepa – we *are* living and let living ! 🙂 It’s just a discussion, and disagreement is fine when discussing. Not all of us have to agree with Emily or anyone else. Nobody takes any of this seriously – I am sure – Emily included. It’s fun for us and probably somewhat amusing and helpful for Emily.
As for what character is – there’s a pretty objective meaning to that. I think that many people are actually interested in good design, good style. They don’t want to see another quirky house turn into a white light bland California home… – that’s all, really. Nobody is reprimanding Emily. And all of us have faith in her. She’s given us some gems in the past, so we just want her to do the best – is all. 🙂


Oh sure, I agree that it’s just a discussion. 🙂 Just speaking up in defense of mixing styles rather than feeling obligated to stick to one era. I think it can be done tastefully. Anyway, I’m excited to see what Emily does, either way!


The first thing to consider in approaching a house is to identify what its significant features (the things that make it special and characteristic) are and not mess with those. There’s so much to do even if you back away from the decisions that would lessen its integrity. Normally I would say that people in the future would say, geez, why on earth did they do that? But we are saying that NOW! It would be a mistake for all the reasons people have stated above. Also, Emily is a tastemaker and I’d hate to log into Pinterest and see a bunch of inane pictures of ruined casing that people decided to “lighten.” The future reversibility of your actions (which involve significant features) is one of the most important things to consider when making changes.


The only 2 cents that I haven’t seen added is I would rethink painting and/or the runner down the stairs. We remodeled a 1973 farmhouse and added wood floors everywhere and they hide dirt so well! With our two dogs allowed upstairs (I know, but they are SO CUTE to say no to!), I am sweeping/vacuuming often but am thankful for the dirt-colored floors to save me when I don’t.

And you’ve heard ad nauseum about the homework, but I’ll also add that my 11 and 13yo use their tablets in our living room and, while it DRIVES ME CRAZY, I’m glad I can eavesdrop what they’re watching and look over their shoulders when I need to. If you don’t want them in their rooms, you won’t want them upstairs at all either, if you’re downstairs all of the time.

Super excited about seeing the final mockup!


Agree about the homework. Unless you plan on sitting upstairs in the landing with them while they use their devices, it’s not very practical. Desktops are kind of obsolete too since most people prefer laptops and tablets over them. Personally speaking, I’d much rather have my kids using their devices in the family room, kitchen, etc, places where I can monitor them and keep an eye on what they’re up to, and were it’s easier to help them with homework and stuff. Like someone else mentioned, the landing could be turned into a great, cozy library/ reading area. That’s what I would do with that space!

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