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:


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


That’s all, folks. Thanks for reading!

Lighted Leaning Bookcases

My wariness of decorative items — as mentioned in my last post — extends to books, which might be an unusual stance for someone with a master’s degree in Library & Information Science.  But, having worked in three libraries, an illuminated manuscripts gallery and a rare books shop, I agree with the first law of library science (though I’m not sure it’s enforceable in any jurisdiction): Books are for use.  Sure, they’re pretty, but without use, there is little inherit value.  I got all preachy about this before our last move and streamlined our collection, trying to keep only the books that we love, would want to read or reference again, or would want to be able to loan to someone else.  Maybe I’ll hoard books in the future when we’re homeowners, but as frequently-moving renters, a smaller library makes sense.  Books are heavy, man.

Here’s what the bookcases looked like the last time you saw them:


And here’s what the bookcases look like these days:

Styled Leaning Bookcase

I swapped out some houseplants, got a new stereo and moved the booze to a bar stand.  I tried to style it up a bit, which isn’t my strong suit, but I’m really happy with the current look.

Bookshelf Styling and Storage

Sloane Leaning Bookcase – Crate & Barrel
Big Jambox – Jawbone
Rugby Stripe Bin – The Container Store
It seems like the EcoLogic Pots may no longer be manufactured, which is too bad because they’re awesome looking. I have them scattered throughout our apartment.  Chicagoans can find them at Gethsemane; they’re pretty expensive on Amazon.

Leaning Bookcase Cat

We’ve had these bookshelves for five years and they’ve held up really well.  They’re available only in brown now; some similar white options are:

Bookshelves Storage

The striped bin is perfect for hiding ugly board games and whatever else we want to toss in there, and the HEKTAR spotlights cast a really nice light in the evenings.

Lighted Leaning Bookshelves

The Big Jambox was a splurge and well worth it.  It’s plenty loud for our apartment and it connects wirelessly via Bluetooth with my iPhone and iMac and Jarrod’s iPad mini.  It has a super long battery life, so we can move it to the kitchen or backyard for hours without a power cord.

Styled Leaning Bookshelves

See that electrical outlet on the floor to the right of the bookcase?  That is some crazy stupid luck.  I don’t know why it was placed there originally, but the location couldn’t be more ideal for this arrangement.  All of the cords are hidden neatly behind the bookshelf.

Leaning Bookshelves

Read any good books lately?  Or read Emily Henderson’s blog and been driven crazy by the fact she doesn’t spell “cord” correctly?

Cat Concessions: Plants and Upholstery

Lola is a bit of a pig when it comes to my houseplants, treating them as an all-you-can-eat salad bar.  Adding plants to my hoard collection is a trial-and-error process: some plants he simply isn’t interested in, others he gorges on until he pukes.  Those are either relocated to my office (which is like a rescue sanctuary for half-eaten plants) or moved out of his reach.  What is officially “out of his reach” is also a trial-and-error process.

Cat Eaten Plant

I wasn’t even sure how he had managed to reach this one until I caught him in the act, wedged up behind and on top of the books below.

Cat Salad Bar

Whatta jerk.

Bad Cat

I decided to mount a plant container on the wall, fully out of fatso’s maw. Enter the IKEA FINTORP rail and container.


IKEA FINTORP Rail with Plant

I also love these modern hanging planters, which I picked up a few years ago at Sprout Home here in Chicago.

Hanging Planters

That’s a somona (euphorbia milii) on the left and a goldfish (nematanthus) on the right.

Hanging Planters

Another decorating concession we have to make because of the cats and their never-ending shedding is our upholstered furniture.  This used to be our solution for our armchairs:

Living Room Chairs with CoversUgh, winter.

I had yards of this fabric leftover from getting the cushions reupholstered, so I asked my tailor to sew two long pieces of fabric. I know that sewing in a straight line should be within my skill set, but, well, it’s not.  (When explaining what I wanted I called them “table runners” because because it was a lot easier than “See, we have these chairs that I want to look like normal chairs while protecting them from cat fur, so I’m going to wrap fabric around them and I want it to look tailored and not sloppy.”  Actually, that sounds pretty simple now, but there’s a language barrier. “Table runner” was easier.)

Living Room Chair with Cover

Living Room Windows

I can easily wash and iron the slipcovers, and when guests come over we can whip off and stash the slipcovers and have a cat-hair-free place for people to sit.


Have a good weekend, e’erbody.

Chair Slipcover