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. Nicole says

    Cement, I can be used to scrape over parts of a brick wall for a nice aging look, very New Orleans/Spain. better then painting it I feel.

    Good luck

  2. Alissa says

    This may be a weird question, but what is the ceiling like? Looking at your photos, it looks like there are high and low corners opposite each other which would make it shaped like a taco shell. Or maybe that’s just shadows. Does the whole ceiling slope up to that outside corner, or does it have a high or low ridge in the middle? Sorry, I studied architecture so I feel this weird need to over-understand space layouts. :)

  3. says

    We’re just wrapping up the sun porch project in our house. Though it’s smaller than your space, it has many similar challenges. It’s a great open space with lots of natural light, but I feel like that can complicate layout and design decisions quite a bit. We’re very happy with how ours is turning out, but it has taken a full three iterations since we bought our house to really feel happy with the end result.

    Looking forward to watching everything transform.

  4. says

    Yes – I love new projects! Are you all planning on working with the floors or replacing down the line?

    We have a screened in porch off our living room that needs a major overhaul. Our plan is to convert it to a sunroom like you have (but may have to settle for rescreening if it’s more expensive than we’ve estimated). We’ll be dealing with exterior brick walls as well, so I’m looking forward to seeing what you do!

    • says

      Originally we thought about replacing them but then once we threw the rug down we realized how neutral/ok they were so it might not be worth it to jackhammer them all up to replace them since most of them are under the rug!


  5. says

    How fun to see the begining process. I love these steps, where the ideas are brimming and the possibilities are endless, but you are just chomping at the bit to get started. I have been doing that with our finished carport room that I have transformed into the Mego Cave (ala my name!).It’s definitely be a fun process…well is as I am no where near finished.

  6. Susan says

    It was so fun to meet you guys last night! I hope you enjoyed some of the Georgetown cupcakes after that marathon signing. You guys are real troopers. And I’m really happy that blue-haired girl didn’t show up and cancel the whole thing!

  7. says

    Maybe you could add wood planks up to the ceiling on the brick wall? Might look like siding and go with the “exterior wall” look

    Did the stools not work if you just did 3 instead of 4? I like the corner idea too!

    • says

      We actually thought about that! We’d love to experiment with it! As for the stools, even three of them were cramped with the rug and the air conditioner unit. Oh well, we’ll figure it out! I hope. Haha.


  8. says

    I wish I had more empty rooms! I’m so excited to see how this room goes and in the meantime maybe I’ll move us to Virginia so we can have a warmer climate and a bigger house. But we’ll need jobs too – besides the house diy jobs :).

    • says

      So my comment got me thinking…I don’t really need to wish that I had more empty rooms since the ones that I have aren’t “done”. I also like the way that you think of your house as more than than just the living spaces (bedrooms, living/dining room, kitchen) and including the other spaces like the bathrooms, laundry room, basement and garage as rooms that can be a blank slate. By including all those other spaces, my house feels bigger already and still has lots of “unchartered territory”. Thanks for the internal mental decorating epiphany. :)

      P.S. I ordered a nook copy right away too! Now I can look at it anywhere!!

    • says

      Aw thanks Crystal! You’re so sweet! We definitely count everything as a zone (ex: front yard, back yard, patio, deck, carport, etc) so it gives us more freedom to hop all over the place when the mood strikes! Haha.


  9. says

    I love that idea of a bar with those awesome stools. Boo for plans that don’t work. Would it look totally crazy to center the day bed under the window and grab some more space for the bar?

    Knowing you guys, problems are only opportunities for something even better!

    Can’t wait to see what transpires.

  10. says

    Thank you for coming to DC last night (I was one of the crazy girls first in line – lol!). I was totally starstruck – I meant to have you write “May the renovating budget be ever in your favor” in my book and I think I only managed to smile and nod a bit – thank goodness I had someone with me that could carry on a conversation like a normal person!

    And yay for untouched spaces – a couple years back my husband and I tossed up some paint and curtains in our study, and then just loaded it up with stuff (we were both working on our MBAs at the time). Now I’ve finally gotten around to brainstorming some ideas for what we want to do with the space for the next few years (someday, it’ll be a nursery). And I got the green light from the mister to start making it a reality in January – time to post the mood board and get this ball rolling!

    • says

      Hahahahahahahhaha, I love that! Wish we had written that in your book, but at least you told me about it so I can laugh and pretend that we did. Haha. Thanks so much for coming out last night, we had so much fun and you guys were such troopers with that cold weather! Hope the cookies and the cider and the popcorn warmed you up :)


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