Uncharted Territory…

Just like we did in our first house, we find ourselves bouncing around from project to project and from room to room (we’ve tackled the living room, guest room, nursery, master bedroom, kitchen, dining room, office, laundry room, patio, deck, etc). But there are still a few completely untouched spaces after two whole years of living here (other than slowly filling them with clutter in some cases)!

Up until about a month ago they were:

  • the sunroom
  • the playroom
  • the hall bathroom
  • the guest bathroom
  • the basement
  • the carport (which we want to convert to a more curb-appealing structure)
  • the front porch (we want to frame out the columns, remove the scalloped trim, etc)

Those are a lot of spaces to leave completely alone (or fill with clutter) for nearly 24 months! But thanks to some scurrying in the past four weeks, we’ve actually started in on the hall bathroom and the basement, which just leaves:

  • the sunroom
  • the playroom
  • the guest bathroom
  • the carport
  • the front porch

That’s still a bunch of areas that’ll keep us busy, but it feels better to only have five untouched zones on the list instead of seven. And ya know what will feel even better? Starting on the sunroom. Whoop whoop!

And yes, we’re getting excited to tackle Clara’s big girl room, so that’ll be happening pretty soon too. You know us in the winter, it gets cold and we get all crazy and bite off a ton of stuff (as seen here with an update that we also gutted the kitchen last Christmas).

There’s nothing like looking a room square in the eye (the wall? the trim? the window?) and saying “dude, we’re getting on that.” So we officially did that to the sunroom. And then we got started. First here are some shots of the sunroom as it looked yesterday when we started. This is the wall that looks out to the upper patio:

This is the wall to the right of that which overlooks the patio we added on the side of the house (this terribly-out-of-scale sketch of our lot might help orient you more):

This is the brick wall to the right of that with a window that looks into the kitchen:

And this is the wall to the right of the brick wall that looks into the living room (here’s a floor plan of our house that might help orient you too):

Not much to look at, eh?

And since we all know I’m nothing if not long winded and thorough, here’s a video for ya, just to capture our “before” in 3-D. Well I guess it’s still 2-D, but it paints a better picture than the pictures, if that even makes sense at all. Maybe not? Oh and the video explains why we can’t remove that window between the kitchen and the sunroom since we get that question semi-often:

So the first step after standing in the sunroom and declaring “dude, we’re getting on this already” to no one at large was to draw up a little plan. Not to scale, just more like a brain dump on paper. It looked like this:

We knew the daybed only worked on one wall (we moved it around a lot when we first moved in and the brick wall just makes the most sense layout wise) and we thought adding a bar overlooking and patio through those giant windows would be cool and then bringing in some sort of storage for the completely bare wall across from them might make sense. We also want to reuse the jute rug leftover from our bedroom and the bright blue stools leftover from our kitchen along with a few other items that we already have (like floor pillows, daybed pillows, etc) because you know we love to work with what we have. Of course there are major things that have to happen like painting and adding window treatments, etc – but in this case we thought figuring out a layout that worked trumps paint, so that’s what we started with since we had so many existing pieces that we wanted to work in.

The first step to seeing if our little floor plan rendering would make sense in real life was to clear out the clutter and either craigslist, store, or donate anything extraneous. After about an hour in there we were left with this:

And then after moving some items that would go back into the room into the living room, just to get the room bare enough to look at/place the rug, we were here:

Yup, it looked like move-in day all over again. Except without the snow.

Then we brought the rug in and laid it down with a bit of it going under the daybed to ground everything. It’s a nice size for the room, the jute makes sense in a sunroom, and it cozied up the cold tile floor so we were sold. Although with the butter-cream color of the walls it’s a little off, we’re sure once we paint and add accessories and otherwise complete the unfinished 99% of the room we think it’ll all come together.

Then because I’m impatient, I tossed down the floor pillows, placed the coffee table, and played with a plethora of pillows. You guys know about me and my pillow problem, right? Oh but don’t mind the orangy-brown drawers to the right of the daybed (those will be craigslisted – they’re leftover from our kitchen reno) and those stacked tables to the left of the daybed (we’ll figure out where those really go someday).

Next we brought in the stools that we envisioned for the bar against the bay of windows overlooking the stone patio and it was like a DJ slammed their hand down on a record. Screeeeech. It just didn’t work. No matter if we scooted the rug over, moved the daybed, or even removed the rug and tried the daybed on another wall – in person they just felt way too cramped and not-really-functional there. Sad face.

But as we’ve learned about a million times before, sometimes the first idea that pops into your head for a room isn’t the right one anyway, so thinking things through thoroughly (especially in the middle and the end of a project- more on that here) seems to yield a room that works the best (and looks the best). So we have plans to use the stools in another way that will hopefully make more sense of the room and actually be functional without getting all jammed up on the rug/heating unit by the window. And they won’t sit on either side of the daybed, I just stuck them there for now.

Wouldn’t they look sweet in the corner with a bar-height table in an old beat up wood finish? I think I’ll shimmy the rug under the daybed more to give that corner more room so it doesn’t look quite as squished in there. Unless we change our minds for the third time and things end up somewhere else, which definitely could happen. Sometimes you just have to let things shake out as we like to call it. Haha.

I know it’s hard to picture, so we’ll just share photos and details as we go! So excited to be starting in on yet another untouched space. Smells like teen spirit progress. Are you guys starting in on any formerly untouched rooms? Do you ever sketch things out and then try them in real life and it completely doesn’t work? Oh and do you like how the brick wall stops about seven feet up right at the top of the window? This used to be the exterior of the house and that’s where the slope of the roof started, so there’s no more brick above that. Boo! Wish it went all the way to the ceiling! But we have a few ideas to make it look less jarring and more integrated. Will keep ya posted!

Psst- Wanna see what a typical Thanksgiving looks like for us? Here’s Clara’s rundown on Young House Life.


  1. says

    Too bad that long window bar area isn’t going to work out like you originally planned. I thought it looked like a pretty cool idea. You’re right though, too much in one room gets problematic. I always have that problem.

  2. lizaanne says

    It is SO funny that you posted this today!!! I was just thinking last night, that I need to completely re-do our little sunroom (and sistah, I mean little). It’s about 1/4 the size of yours, but it is jammed with HUGE windows, so it’s still a lovely space to go in the summer. We are quite a bit north of you, so it’s cold in there in the winter, but this year my husband bought one of those encased oil radiator heaters, and he’s been cozy going out there every evening to work on hobby stuff. Will have to see how that flies in February when it’s 20 below! LOL

    You have such a beautiful space to work with, I’m sure it will be a blast pulling it together. :-)

    Looking forward to it!!

  3. says

    Fun space! I loved your original barstool/bar idea for the room, but agree the window area didn’t work out so well for it. That kind of stuff happens to me all the time – I have a plan, it works on paper, but just not when I actually lay it out. boo.

    What if you moved the bar wall from the window area to the brick wall? You could have more open shelving for glasses and such on the wall. I’m sure you know your own space better than me though – ha! Just a suggestion. Those blue stools are awesome in there.

    • says

      Sadly the daybed only works on that brick wall (it’s really deep and juts out way too far into the room against that window wall- especially with the air conditioner unit there). Such a shame! But I have faith we’ll figure it out! I hope. Haha.


  4. Lauren says

    I can’t believe it’s already been a year since you gutted your kitchen!

    I’m bummed that your bar idea isn’t going to work out. It immediately reminded me of this coffee shop I used to go to in college– I used to love sitting at the bar along this big wall of windows. But I see why it won’t work in your room. Too bad! I’m looking forward to seeing the progress and finished product!

  5. says

    I’m so excited to watch your sunroom makeover come together! I can empathize with the disappointment that comes when you have a vision that ends up not working in practice (i.e., your barstools/bar idea) — we just did our sunroom, and I went into it really wanting to fit in both a seating area and a little dining area. But once we actually played around with things, we just couldn’t get both to fit without it looking cramped and/or just plain odd, especially when looking in from the adjoining family room. So we ultimately abandoned the dining zone and just embraced the seating area full-on. We’re happy with how it turned out (http://thebluehousechronicles.blogspot.com/2012/11/happy-birthday-to-me.html — if you want to take a peek!) I can’t wait to see what you two do in your sunroom; I have no doubt that it will be a knock out!

  6. Carrie says

    It’s always a bummer when things don’t work out the way we hoped. For some reason when you first mentioned the bar idea I had it in my head that it would be on the blank wall with the slider that you want to put the Ikea bookcases on.

  7. says

    I wonder if, now that it’s officially the holiday season, people are buying multiple to give as Christmas gifts? I mean, that’s pretty obviously what happened last night, but my point is that I bet it’s a trend that continues at other signings this month. : )

    • says

      Oh yeah, that definitely makes sense! Many people usually buy multiples but others bring their preordered ones and many just get one, so it’s always a mix but last night it was lots of “I’m getting three!” and stuff, so we have already put in a panicked cry to the powers that be that we need more books from here on out! Bring on the books! We’re so glad we had those bookplates though, since so many folks said they could just stick them into books they picked up/ordered in time for the holidays. Whew! All was not lost! Haha.


    • Kim says

      Definitely think it makes sense! I tried to buy it on Amazon yesterday for a Christmas present and it said it won’t show up until after Christmas! (At least with the free shipping, didn’t try the faster rates because I’m cheap!). Guess I’ll have to try a book store instead.

    • says

      Aw thanks Kim! We heard (although you never know if it’s true in all cases, if things have changed, etc) that the overnight shipping on amazon.com is only $4 and that plus their book price is still cheaper than some bookstores are selling it for, so that might be an option for anyone who might be a rush but doesn’t want to pay too much!


  8. Kate says

    How do you see yourself using the space?
    I’m sure you thought this through, but have you ever considered using the sunroom as a playroom? In our house we have a sunroom/playroom next to the living room and it’s nice to have the kid and adult spaces next to eachother so the kids can play in sight of, but away from, the big people. It would save you turning the playroom into a playroom only to have to convert it to a Nursery when/if you decide on a number 2.

    • says

      Since it’s on a different heating and cooling system we didn’t think it would make a good playroom since it would have to “warm up” or “cool down” whenever Clara wanted to go in there. So we thought a place to heat up or cool on a Sunday morning and then go in there and lounge and read while Clara scribbles on some paper or plays with stickers at that low coffee table might work for us. Will keep you posted!


    • Suzanne says

      Any idea how much it would actually cost per month to heat/cool it consistently? I ask, because I had the same situation one time, and found out by experimenting that it would only cost me an additional +-$7/month to keep that room useable (and not every every month, sometimes I didn’t need either since I was in a mild climate). I loved how it added that room back into my house, instead of a glorified porch which is how I used it up until I checked it out.

    • says

      Oh yes, we hear it’s not very much per month (a friend has a system that’s only $20 more per month to heat and cool her sunroom all the time) but putting in a system that can maintain that temperature in an open space with that many windows (instead of a closed small space on a separate heating/cooling unit) would be 3K to install! Sadly it’s not in the budget…


    • JessicaB says

      I love this idea! We have a very similar situation with our sunroom – much smaller but heated/cooled with a hotel room style A/C. We set it up as an art room/ play room for our daughter, and at first I worried about the whole turning the A/C on & off bit, but really it hasn’t been a big deal Most of the time it’s fine – especially if the door between the kitchen and the sunroom is open, and even if it’s a bit cooler or warmer than I find comfortable my daughter doesn’t seem to care. I don’t think that stuff bothers kids as much as us. She’s out there all the time. Of course we’re in Texas, not Virginia so it doesn’t get consistently as cold here, but it does get darn hot in the summer, and I think I’ve ended up turning it on once a week or so in the summer. And seriously you will be surprised how a second kid exponentially multiplies the toys – it’s crazy. Not that I’m trying to tell you what to do with your house-LOL! Just thought you might like to hear from someone with a similar situation before you rule it out.

    • says

      Aw thanks for the tips Jessica! Right now it’s about 50 degrees in there so we couldn’t let Clara play in there without a coat (or without firing up the heat) but it sounds awesome in Texas!


    • says

      Yup, I’ve pinned them both! Sadly the daybed doesn’t work on any other wall (it’s very deep and juts out very far into the room when it’s placed vertically). And ditching the daybed for some stools probably won’t be as functional as we’d like!


  9. Karen F says

    Looks like you’ve made a lot of progress already! That room has such potential, and I’m glad you’re able to use a lot of pieces you already have.

    I wouldn’t say we have any untouched areas (we’ve lived in our house for 10 years) but we also don’t really have any finished areas, either (how is that possible??? ugh) I have lots of plans in my head, but I don’t always have the confidence to follow through on them (afraid of commitment, cost, etc)

    Completely off topic, but I would love if you could write sometime about how you deal with clutter. Your house always seems so peaceful and uncluttered. Specifically things like dealing with mail, Clara’s papers from school, etc. I can’t seem to keep on top of that stuff!

    • says

      Aw you’re sweet! Mainly I just try to create a system! Clara has a file folder for her school stuff, so when things come home that I want to save they go in there (otherwise they go in the recycling bin or I leave them out to frame them so we can enjoy them on the wall). For all things like that I try to have a system (mail gets paid and shredded, etc) so we don’t get those dreaded piles of things everywhere – well we have them but we’re working on keeping them at bay! Haha!


  10. Brenda says

    I’m excited to see what you come up with for the brick wall, both because of the color and because of the off-center window. Yay for tackling a new space!

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