Saturday, September 20, 2014

Renovating an Old Florida home

There have been many reasons why my posts have been few and far between, but lately it's because we are renovating our home. Anyone who has been through this process knows how overwhelming it can be, and I am finding it exasperating at times. But it is also a source of great insight and personal inspiration.

My wife and I learned soon after we moved in this house ten and a half years ago that the galley kitchen was not functional with more than one person in it. My Mother-in-Law dubbed it the "One Butt Kitchen." It truly was not suitable for more than one butt at a time.

Despite the house's ideal location, we soon stopped entertaining out of our frustration with the limitations imposed by the home's 1924 floor plan. And we started saving our money. About three years ago we hired an architect but got scared when several of the contractors bidding the job told us for almost the same money we could knock down our home and build a new one. But the real reason we hesitated was that we just weren't ready to commit to the process yet. About a year and a half ago we hired a contractor who specialized in renovating older homes. This was a good decision for us, because while we were at times exasperated by this 90-year old bungalow, we loved her like a little boy loves his 'blankey.' It's frayed and old but the sentimental attachment is deep and enduring.

So we are progressing with a plan that maintains the vintage elements of the home, but takes better advantage of its location and makes it more livable. Here are some photos that I took to document some of the areas that have since been demoed.

I created this mosaic to fill in the spot that was once obviously a window. Having dealt with a similar area that rotted in my previous home, I was anxious to try to make it less vulnerable to moisture. 
While I loved the vintage tile and tub of this bathroom, it was actually larger than our kitchen.  To have a larger kitchen, sadly, it had to go.
We wondered if the bathroom was original to the home's 1924 construction. Underneath the blue tile was plaster scored to look like tiles that was original to the house. My guess is that the this bathroom was added some time in the 1950s.
We called this room the Elbo Room, and it was our main living area. While it looks large in this photo, with furniture in it was actually quite small and a tight squeeze for family gatherings. Demolition showed this was originally an addition, probably a Florida Room or screened porch with dark wood paneling and linoleum floors.
This is actually a driveway in our backyard. At one time our home was used for a construction business so we had poured concrete driveway on three sides of our house. I did my best to make it more patio-like, but to no avail. While I was disappointed to lose the planter in the foreground, I will not miss this stretch of concrete.
At one point I stained the concrete to make it look better, hence the  remnants of the brick color. Drainage is an issue on our lot so previous owners had the driveway drain into a pipe that emptied into the yard. I tried to improve the appearance by adding rocks and a proper drain cover.
The renovation process has been both frustrating and exhilarating. I wanted to document what was, as an homage to a cute home with spaces we loved, despite their quirkiness. Stay tuned for images of the construction process as our space morphs into something new...


  1. Looking forward to more photos! It's a shame to lose that bathroom, but a bigger kitchen is worth it.

  2. I have the same blue tile in my bathroom and I love it! My condo was constructed in 1956, so I think you are probably right to date it to the 50s. Good luck with your renovations, it looks like a beautiful lot! I hope you post more pictures as the process continues forward.

  3. Can't wait to see the final! Are you getting close to completion yet?

  4. Kristi- it depends on your definition of close.

  5. I like the mosaic. It is an uncharacteristic home renovation. New rooms or painting would be more common. It's unique.

  6. Wow!! i am very impressed with your lovely post.. I am so glad to left comment on this..This has been a so interesting read, would love to read more here….
    interior designer

  7. Really a great work came to see here I found it too innovative to makeover the bathroom. Thanks for sharing here the beautiful pictures of your bathroom.

  8. Hi!! If you don't mind, could you share the name of the contractor you used that specialized in remodeling older homes?? I'm looking for someone like that to help us with our old home in Orlando :)