Sunroom Renovation Before and After

I’ve covered virtually every detail of this renovation in my previous posts, so now it’s time for the big payoff: a boatload of before and after photos. Let’s start with the exterior – we’ve come a long way since 2015.

Such a sad window.

Of course, the house hasn’t looked sad for the past few years. Within the first year of homeownership, I chose cosmetic improvements that made a big impact on a smaller budget: we took down the awning and had the siding and stucco painted. And never underestimate the impact of plants! This livened up the exterior of our bungalow significantly and made me happy with our house until I was able to afford this renovation. This is what Hauslermo looked like in May 2020 – quite cute!

Here’s what this babe looks like at dusk with the shades down.

Moving to the interior, here’s a crucial before and after:

And the windows are nice, too.

I plan to write a post rounding up all the Marvin window details in case it’s helpful for anyone going through the options selection process. This sash lock is really nice – it automatically locks when you shut the window.

Here’s a snazzy feature: you can use the slider in the images below to compare before and after views. (This probably doesn’t work if you’re reading this post via email or RSS, so click through to the website for this functionality.)


North-facing window:


West-facing window – I have to use a fisheye lens to capture this view because the space is so long and skinny (approximately 7.5′ x 21′):


If you’re worried this room looks too stark, I hear you: let’s bring in the plants.

Here’s a monstera in the south window. I’ll share details on the wall-mounted sconce in a follow-up post – it’s a hardwired fixture that I had rewired as a plug-in.

In the north window, there’s a ficus benjamina (AKA weeping fig).

Tucked in this corner is a simple pair of ledges I made for Lola. He can’t jump very well in his old age, so he uses the lower ledge to climb up. The window sill (technically called a “stool” on the interior side) is plenty deep for him to walk and sit on, but the ledge gives him some more room to sprawl.

Lola spends a lot of time here sleeping, chattering at birds, and pretending he would totally fight a squirrel if only there weren’t a window in his way.

I won’t get into listing all of the plants because this post is long enough as-is. Suffice to say, this room is heavy on plants and light on furniture, just like I wanted. A chair for Jarrod and a chair for me, with a side table for each, and a vintage footstool.

The curvy cardboard thing that lives under the bench is Lola’s chaise longue. Here’s an older photo of Naptown USA, population 2.

I propagate plants as a hobby: visitors usually leave with a plant in hand, and this summer I held my first not-for-profit plant sale (I donated the proceeds). So, my plant collection is constantly evolving.

Here’s a book I definitely do not need and absolutely had to own.

I designed and built this simple plant bench for ~$10 using salvaged lumber. I moved Lola’s lounger so you could see the keyhole detail in the legs, which I love. I’ll share some DIY details in a future post.

Here I’ll confess one of my remaining to-dos: installing moulding around the openings on this side of the living room wall.

I’ll close with an interior timeline. It’s a good reminder that renovations can – and often should – happen in phases over multiple years.

2015, plastic brick decals and all:

2016:

2018 (we did have furniture in 2018, for the record – I had moved it because I was working on the living room moulding):

2020:

That’s all, folks. Thanks for reading!

DIY Moulding and Painting in the Sunroom

We’re in the home stretch! This post is all about the finishing details I tackled myself. I chose to do this part to save a bit of money and because I wanted to be hands-on for at least some aspects of the space. Note: some of the DIY work happened before the painting crew arrived, which is why the window trim isn’t finished like you saw in my previous post.

I started by washing and painting the brick wall, which had gotten filthy during construction.

I used Benjamin Moore Regal Select, Chantilly Lace (same color as the trim) in the eggshell finish. When I painted this brick back in 2015 I used a semi-gloss, and I far prefer this new finish – it looks really soft.

I also painted the new drywall (same paint as the brick) and the beadboard ceiling. I know the ceiling looks white, but I swear it’s not. It’s Behr’s Irish Mist (color matched by Benjamin Moore), which is the same color as the walls throughout the rest of our house. This was my first time painting a ceiling a non-white color and I didn’t know what the effect would be – e.g. if it would make the ceiling seem lower, or if the color would appear darker on a horizontal surface.

I played it safe and went with a barely not-white color, thinking I could always repaint down the road. NOPE. Painting a beadboard ceiling is not fun – you have to roll and then back-brush to get into the grooves. If I ever want a new beadboard ceiling color, I’ll buy a new house.

I used a simple cove moulding for the moulding around the ceiling. This profile is nearly identical to the moulding in our mudroom, which is original.

I had my contractor include my crown and baseboard supplies in his window trim order. This worked out awesomely because it was delivered to our house in 16′ stretches, which would have been a challenge for me to haul with our Subaru.

This was baby’s first outside corner.

Please note the socks on the ladder legs, keeping my new floor safe from harm.

It was oddly hard to find details online about exactly how people caulk the gap between a beadboard ceiling and crown moulding. Maybe you’re thinking “Marti, that’s because it would be really boring blog content.”

Based on discussions I found online, other people are actually looking for information about this. So, buckle up, because I’m going to subject you to it.

I ran a line of caulk along the seam, like normal.

And then I ran a wet finger along the caulked seam (maybe lurid prose makes this content less boring).

That smoothed out the flat sections but created snow drifts of caulk in the beadboard grooves. I then dipped a cheap paintbrush in water and gently mashed the caulk into the grooves…

… which made it look both better and worse.

Finally, I ran my finger over the seam again to smooth it out, which made it look fully better.

I worked in ~3′ stretches around the room, and it actually went pretty quickly once I had figured out my technique. We went from this:

To this – ooooOOOOooooh!

If you’re glad this section is done, imagine how I felt. Onward and upward downward!

I used a simple oblong shoe moulding for the transition from the wood floor to the brick.

While I was down here, I turned my attention to the stone/concrete threshold between the living room and sunroom. While cleaning it, I realized the raised texture was adhesive residue – probably the same stick-on tiles they used on the sunroom floor.

I spent too much time scraping before deciding to break out the chemicals.

Acetone made much quicker work of this.

I also repaired a chipped corner that my shoe moulding wasn’t going to conceal.

I built out the corner with Bondo and then sanded it down.

The shoe moulding is installed with finishing nails, construction glue, and caulk. I used dumbbells and kettlebells to keep it in place while the glue dried – finally making good on my resolution to lift weights during quarantine.

Here’s the freshly painted threshold.

Fresssh.

For the drywall, I chose to use pilaster and cap moulding to match the original baseboard in our living room. It’s two pieces, which means I got to do twice as many complicated cuts.

I tackled the pilaster part early on. It went pretty quickly, though those outside corners were tricky for this first-timer.

My end boss was the base cap corners. The inside corner had to be coped.

And the outside corner had to be mitered. I am so dang proud of the finished product.

Have you ever seen anything so crisp? (If you have, don’t tell me. We all need a 2020 win, and this is mine.)

Annnnd we’re done! Thanks for sticking with me through these posts, especially given the beadboard caulking slog. Up next: the big reveal.

All the posts in this series:
•  Bungalow Window Decision Making
•  Sunroom Renovation Plans
•  Let’s Get Into Our Sunroom Renovation
•  Sunroom Renovation – Week 1
•  Sunroom Renovation – Week 2
•  Sunroom Renovation – Week 3
Sunroom Renovation – Floor Installation and Painting

Sunroom Renovation – Floor Installation and Painting

After all the work of Weeks 1, 2, and 3, you might think our sunroom was as good as done. Cool your jets, because this was our view on Saturday morning.

Our new hardwood floor material had been delivered several days earlier and was acclimating in our living room. We used unfinished solid 2 1/4″ red oak to match our existing 100-year-old floors.

No one but you and me will ever appreciate the work that went into this level plywood floor. Now let’s get it covered up.

The hardwood floor contractor (referred by Chris) was ready to go the day after the GC crew wrapped up. We went from one construction zone to another.

The two-man crew installed the floor on Saturday.

They returned on Monday to sand the floor and apply the stain.

We used DuraSeal Quick Coat in Golden Brown, which was a great color match for our existing floors.

They used two coats of Loba WS EasyFinish in Satin to seal the floor.

Here’s the first coat.

And here’s the second! It’s beautiful. They were all done by Tuesday.

The floor was dry enough to walk on in socks by that evening, but I kept the tarp up overnight to keep curious cats (Lola and me) off of it. Wednesday was the big day for tarp removal.

Jarrod and I stood in the living room saying “Wow” to one another for a while.

Before the painters arrived, I had our bungalow’s entire ductwork system professionally cleaned. I figured it’d be nice to get all of the construction dust out of there. We did this once before, when we first bought the house, and I hired Wright Way Corp both times. They’re super nice and I recommend them highly. It takes a few hours and costs $450.

Our Marvin windows are wood on the interior side. They’re factory-primed white and need to be finished with a coat of paint. I chose Benjamin Moore Advance paint; the finish is satin and the color is Chantilly Lace, which is a very pure white. This was used on all the window interiors and the new trim.

All of the sashes pop out easily for painting.

The crew also painted the exterior stucco and AZEK trim around the windows.

They had a jobsite microwave, just like our roofing crew.

Here you get a peek at the baseboard and crown moulding work I had started.

Paint and caulk took us from this:

To this!

The painters finished interior and exterior painting in two days, which is two hundred days faster than it would have taken me. All of the contractor work was now complete, and it was on me to wrap up this project.

All the posts in this series:
Bungalow Window Decision Making
Sunroom Renovation Plans
Let’s Get Into Our Sunroom Renovation
Sunroom Renovation – Week 1
Sunroom Renovation – Week 2
Sunroom Renovation – Week 3

Sunroom Renovation – Week 3

We’ve arrived at Week 3, pals. This week was stressful. Our entire house was a construction zone, and there were two curveballs thrown at our west wall of windows that set us back a bit schedule-wise.

The first setback was that a special Marvin part needed to connect the brick moulding that went around our giant window frame was nowhere to be found. It was a very small part in a big order, so it’s possible it got thrown away, or it may not have been included in the shipment. The latter seems more likely because the crew unpacked and inspected everything carefully upon delivery. Not a big deal, but it meant we had to wait for a replacement part to arrive.

The second setback was that our stretch of windows was designed and ordered with 4″ mulls. Mulls are the metal strips between each window; here’s an image from a Marvin manual.

The stretch of windows was factory assembled with the 4″ mulls and shipped in two parts (3 windows each), as planned.

Once the window opening was framed out to accommodate all the wonkiness of our 104-year-old sunroom, we wound up needing to slightly reduce the width of this stretch of windows. We needed 3″ mulls. That meant we had to rush order new mulls and tear apart this stretch of windows. Chris took this all in stride – onsite assembly (AKA field assembly) is just as common and as sturdy as factory assembly. I think I was the only one who was stressed about it! Here’s what the windows looked like with the mulls removed.

Both of these setbacks were minor: we were fortunate that these were the only hiccups we encountered during a complicated job in an old house. I mention them only because I don’t want to give the impression everything went flawlessly – nothing ever does. What was important was that the crew continued to push forward on the job while we waited for the parts, and that Chris had the experience necessary to expertly resize the stretch of windows. Onward!

Day 9 saw windows installed in the south wall.

Day 10 saw interior window trim.

On Day 11, the 3″ mulls had arrived and the crew assembled the west window in preparation for installation. The other window part, however, had not yet arrived.

So on Day 12 they were officially stalled out. The crew worked at a different jobsite because they couldn’t make another inch of progress at our place without the magical Marvin piece. The painter squeezed in a few hours at the end of his workday to mud the drywall.

I joked that this was like four opening bands before the headliner finally goes on.

But we had a stroke of luck: the part arrived on Thursday, so we could have a full workday on Friday! Hallelujah!

All the stress of the week was washed away on Day 13. So was a lot of the sawdust: after weeks of great weather, it was a rainy day. I was glad we were able to offer this pop-up canopy for the crew.

Over our three weeks together, Chris worked everyone super hard: he was demanding of his crew and the sub-contractors, and worked just as hard himself. There wasn’t a minute wasted when they were onsite – definitely something I appreciated both because I was paying by the hour and because it felt rather vulnerable having our house opened up like this. There wasn’t any real risk (the tarp kept out the rain and the plywood kept out the thieves/squirrels), but Jarrod and I were eager to get the sunroom closed up before the weekend. Chris, Adam, and Corey went into beast mode to make that happen.

This 20″ unwieldy stretch of wood and metal was manually lifted and set into place. It fit! It was perfectly square! It didn’t crush anyone to death! We all breathed a sigh of relief.

And then they were off to the races. The final tasks included the installation of trim on the west wall, AZEK trim on the exterior, and lifts/handles on the windows. By 5pm, they had packed up all their gear and were out – this phase of renovation was complete!

I helped by standing on the sidewalk and staring at our house.

That evening, we enjoyed our first rainstorm with the new windows. Here you can see how much work there is left to do. Wood floors were up next. Installing crown and baseboard moulding was on my to-do list, as was painting the walls. Painting the trim and the windows was not on my to-do list – I’m smart enough to know my limits. I’ll cover all of this in my next posts.

After the storm, there was a literal rainbow over our bungalow. Such a good ending to the week.

Sunroom Renovation – Week 2

I took time off from work for Week 2 because I knew I’d be too distracted to focus on my job when there was so much excitement happening around me. There was also DIY work for me to do to help push things forward – for example, I demoed the dining room window trim in preparation for that window installation.

I tried to stay out of the crew’s hair except for photos or when Chris would shout “MARTI!” and I’d come running to make a small-yet-major decision on the spot. As someone prone to dwelling on choices, it was stressful but ultimately beneficial to have to make snap judgements. Chris said that he typically doesn’t involve the homeowner in so many small decision points – they’re either not onsite or they don’t care – but he knew that the details mattered to me. I got pretty good at scurrying up and down this ladder!

Day 4 (continuing the count from Week 1) was spent framing out the room. Framing was significant labor and materials – and thus a big portion of the budget. They started by installing a heavy-duty header beam across the 20′ opening: a continuous run of windows requires major structural integrity.

Banging in the header accidentally knocked out a chunk of our stucco, which they moved to the basement for safekeeping. The painter reaffixed it later.

Here are our new roof rafters: a major structural upgrade.

The electrician popped in to replace three old outlets and install two new ones. The new outlets were part of my design plan for wall-mounted sconces – you’ll see all the details on that in future posts.

In case anyone is curious, the electrical was run through our crawl space below the sunroom. It’s a big space down there – the same width and depth as the sunroom – but we don’t use it for storage that much because we have so much room in the basement (see Our Clean, Organized, and Practical Unfinished Basement).

Day 5 saw some major excitement: our first window was installed!

On Day 6 it was time for spray foam insulation. I won’t lie: this was nearly as exciting as the first window installation. There had previously been no insulation under the roof. With so much glass, I wanted to make sure the rest of the room was as energy efficient as possible.

The foam is ~2″ deep on the walls and nearly 6″ deep in the rafters – it looks like a snowdrift. This job was done by Sereno’s Insulation and it cost $1,700.

While the insulation contractor was here, the crew turned their attention to the dining room window. I’ll cover the dining room and bedroom progress in later posts – just wanted to remind you that the sunroom wasn’t the only construction zone.

The photo below is a good view of the framing done for window installation. It may not look like much, but it’s exacting work. The sunroom is not perfectly square, and the roof line and the limestone sill are not perfectly level – but the framed opening needs to be perfectly sized and perfectly square.

Story intermission! The crew consumed absurd amounts of ice. They only drank water if their monster contractor thermoses were filled to the brim with ice. Our freezer’s ice maker couldn’t keep up. A new gas station convenience store had just opened up the street, so Jarrod and I walked to check it out and get a bag of ice. (Anything new after months of quarantining was a welcome change.) Jarrod bought a popsicle, stepped outside, opened it up, and immediately dropped it on the ground.

He wasn’t going to buy a replacement until a man pumping gas shouted “Go get another one!” So he did. That’s the end of my dropsicle story.

With the rafters and spray foam done, it was time for the beadboard ceiling installation on Day 7. We used pre-primed tongue-and-groove wood planks.

By Day 8, the framing was finished for the giant stretch of windows – compare the photos above and below to see that work.

We closed out the week with fresh drywall, and the room started to feel like a room again. But it was another full week before the front windows were installed – lucky for you, you only have to wait until tomorrow to see that.