Our Big House Renovation! (Finally!)

Since we moved to Arizona about five years ago, Michael and I have been saving up and planning for a big remodel. We really love parts of our house and we really, REALLY love our neighborhood. We feel like this is most likely our forever home. I’m so excited that we can finally make some really big changes that will make it work even better for our family. I feel so lucky and grateful that we are able to do this!

I promised to post the floor plans and here they are! In a nutshell, we are closing up the two back porches and one hallway, which will allow us to shuffle around rooms and make small, awkward spaces function much better! We have plenty of square footage in our house, but most of our rooms are either way too big or too small/narrow. The master bedroom is ridiculously enormous but the closet is TINY. We’re capturing a dark and narrow hallway to use for a bigger master bathroom and we’ll be bumping the closet out into the bedroom’s footprint.

EXISTING FLOOR PLAN JENNY KOMENDA copy
NEW FLOOR PLAN JENNY KOMENDA

The kitchen is also pretty small. You can see from the as-built floor plan above that it’s a narrow U-shaped layout that feels out of proportion to the rest of our home.  It also feels isolated and disconnected from the living spaces. If you’re cooking a meal, or eating at the dining table it feels like you are basically on another planet! You can’t hear or see anything in the rest of the house. It’s such a bummer for me because I really love to cook and entertain and I know if our kitchen were more connected to the rest of the house, we’d all be in there together more. Here are some quick snaps of our kitchen from earlier today.  We have DIYed every square inch of this space and I would say we got a lot of mileage out of those projects. But I’m frankly pretty surprised I lasted this long before started the reno! :) It’s time. We are getting ready to demo in here in the next few days and I’m already bummed about having to do dishes in the bathtub for the next 2+ months!

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We already did a little work in here when the guys installed a few headers for the living room. Isn’t it funny that I’m getting rid of my arched brick hood surround right when that design is getting popular again?! Ha! I’ve actually always really liked the arch, but it bugs me that the brick doesn’t continue up higher. I might have been tempted to make it work with the new kitchen layout, but it’s right in the exact wrong place for where we will be opening up the walls.

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By closing in the back porch, we can basically double the size of our kitchen and have a more separate and comfortable dining space closer to the living room. Here are a few pictures from demo and framing in the living room over the last two weeks or so! Part of me was sad to take out the fireplace, but we’ve used it exactly twice in the last five years, so it wasn’t really that big of a loss.

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I just placed the order for a 16′ bi-fold door to go along the back exterior and I can’t wait to have our first party and open up the door completely! The weather here is truly perfect for about 8 months of the year and I’m ready to enjoy it more!

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We were also able to squeeze in a new little office just off the master in the porch addition. This will be our new master bedroom entrance, and the office and new entrance to the laundry room will act as a sort of foyer to our room. We haven’t had a good office in this house and it will be great to move out the desk in our bedroom since we are taking some of the bedroom for the new closet.

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To make the porch addition feel like it’s always been a part of the house I made the tough call to drop the ceilings. We had a crazy high vault in our living room (more than 18′!) and the highest the ceilings could be in the addition is about 11′, which is still plenty high, right? They just finished the framing for the drop and I think it was the right call.

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The kitchen is just on the other side of that door. We’ll be opening the wall about where the center post starts to almost the corner. I love that my kitchen will feel more connected to the spaces where we hang out the most. Even though we’re opening this space up a lot, we’ll still have a ton of separation and privacy. It’s pretty much my main goal in life to not let people at the front door see if I have dishes in my sink! :)

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We’ll also be closing in the small side porch where our giant ficus used to sit. It was truly heartbreaking to see that beautiful 30 ft tree come down, but the roots were destroying our foundation and our roof. Our insurance company told us they would drop us this year if we didn’t have it removed (!) so it had to go, even without the renovation. By closing in the smaller porch on this side of the kitchen, we will gain a bathroom and an interior stairway up to what used to be my studio space and will now be our play room/bonus room. The only other access to that part of the house is through a tiny spiral staircase in our mudroom, so a wide and straight set of stairs inside will be a game changer! We also don’t have interior access to our garage right now, but we will after this!

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It’s been an exciting couple of weeks watching all the demo and framing happen! I’m a little behind on kitchen plans, but I’m hoping to spend some serious quality time with Pinterest this week and praying inspiration strikes! Guys, it is a MILLION times harder to make design decisions for myself! I can spend other people’s money all day and tell them what they’ll love for years to come, but my money? Hard to spend. My commitment to design choices? Hard to pin down! Argh! Such a fun problem to have though. :)

 

  1. Pieter Janse van Rensburg

    The new floorplan is so, so good! It’s taken me 8months to commit to a curtain colour, so I feel your pain! I’ve been following your blog for ages (but think it’s my first time posting) and even though I don’t know you, I still think you and your family really deserve this— I can tell you’re really good people:) I’m looking forward to seeing the finished product and following your progress. All the best!

    • Jenny

      I really, truly appreciate the support! Thank you! I honestly hesitate to post about this reno because I know it could look silly and irresponsible to some, and there are so many tragic things happening in the world right now – it all feels a bit trite sometimes, you know? Really we are so lucky to get to do this – that’s not lost on me. Thanks again for your sweet comment. xo

      • Angelina

        The fact that there are so many tragic things happening in the world is one of the reasons I enjoy your blog. It provides a much needed mini respite from the madness, ha. Your talent provides inspiration and joy to so many, so just soak in the blessings!

      • Jenny

        Thank you, Angelina! xo

  2. Val Williams

    I love everything about this!!! Thank you for sharing the floor plans and your detailed commentary behind all of your decisions. I really relate to your design style and can’t wait to see how this project progresses. For now I’m only in the daydreaming phase about our own house’s big remodel, but this is great inspiration! Thanks so much for sharing your journey with us

    • Jenny

      How kind of you, Val! Thanks for commenting! Glad you’re here! xo

  3. Peggi

    Wow. This and the new flip house…what are you going to do with all your spare time? Ha. I’m tired just thinking about it, but I can’t wait for the beautiful design inspiration!

    • Jenny

      Basically drowning over here, but loving every second!! :)

  4. Lara

    Im so excited to see all this unfold! You are my all time favorite blog/designer I follow and I know this is going to be incredible!! Cant wait!

    • Jenny

      How sweet of you to say, Lara! Thank you!

  5. Katy

    Oh Jenny…..this is gonna be such a game changer. I remember when you first moved in and made some stop gap DIY changes to the kitchen to hold you over until a real renovation. And it’s finally time! So excited for you guys.

    Quick question: Do you mind sharing the price for the bifold doors? We are going to build a new house soon and really want a wall of bifolds butI’ve been told they’re about $1,500 per linear foot. Is that what you found to be true? I just assumed I couldn’t afford them, but I’d love to hear if you’ve found a more affordable option.

    • Jenny

      That’s about right, Katy! Ours was $1300 per foot by Sierra Pacific. Pricey, yes, but some of my friends have them and I’m completely obsessed! The door will be the absolute center of our house and for us it was worth it! Best of luck with your new build and thanks so much for your support over the years! xo

  6. Knowing that my kitchen would be out of service for six months, I had my contractor replace a bathroom faucet with a gooseneck faucet. I knew I didn’t want to wash in the tub, but knew I also couldn’t wash in a bathroom sink with the existing faucet. A gooseneck faucet was the perfect answer. Just a tip from someone who lived through a huge home reno six years ago!

    • Jenny

      Such a good call!!!

  7. Christina

    Wow! That’s a big project! Caution – opinion ahead – I might consider changing the orientation of the kitchen island to match the dining table. I’m envisioning a bottleneck of traffic flow from pool entry, playroom, and bathroom through the kitchen. They hit the middle of the island and have to swarm around. Maybe if the island is in the other orientation, they will move away from the “kitchen” side to the “pantry” side. Also, if you can add a doorway from the interior stairwell to the mudroom (next to the pool bathroom) you might complete your traffic flow circle. However, I say all this not knowing your complete kitchen plan and existing limitations a renovation has. As an architect, I just can’t help myself!

    • Jenny

      Hi Christina! Thanks for the input Our kitchen is sort of the worst size – long and so skinny. I know exactly what you mean about the island breaking up the traffic. Not ideal at all! It’s either have a small square island or this. My only thought is we won’t have a TON of traffic going that way. Most of the time we’ll be going toward the mudroom. And there is a man door in my 16′ bi-fold so we’ll likely access the outside most often from there.

      I’m meeting with my cabinet maker tomorrow and we’ll go over all this and maybe some new ideas I’m toying with! So glad you chimed in! :)

  8. Nicole

    These floor plans are so amazing!! I agree with the tough call of dropping the ceiling. You will love the interior stairs and office! Love all of your decisions and can’t wait to see the bifold doors! Heavenly! Enjoy the wild, fun ride! You are the best!

  9. Sarah K

    This looks amazing! This might sound odd, but it has been encouraging to me to watch you work with what you have, making the best of it while you saved for the reno. Those are my circumstances too (and probably most people’s who aren’t on tv design shows?! ). Also, I think dropping the ceilings is absolutely the right call. Huge vaulted ceilings and cavernous rooms tend to feel out of scale for humans to me. Can’t wait to see how all your plans turn out! Thanks for sharing.

  10. Hannah

    I know you must be so excited to have renovations underway! As an Interior Designer myself I have the same trouble identifying my own style and committing to design decisions. Glad I’m not the only one!! I can’t wait to see what you decide for your kitchen.

  11. Heather gray

    I would agonize over dropping that values ceiling too! But now look at all that storage space you have!! Hello holiday decorations and food storage!

    We also took space from our master bedroom to make a larger master bathroom. It gave us storage space because it dropped a caulkers ceiling. The best thing we did was lay doe a plywood floor and a little 1/2 door from an upstairs bedroom to access it! We love having that extra storage space!

    • Heather gray

      *vaulted ceiling

      • Heather gray

        Wow! I really should have checked for typos before I hit submit! I must really have fat fingers this morning. Or maybe I can blame autocorrect for being really extra creative this morning. ‍♀️So embarrassing!

    • Jenny

      Yup! Exactly Heather! We are adding plywood today for the extra storage! :)

  12. Allie

    So exciting! Can’t wait to see all of your decisions :)

  13. Allie

    Yay! I have followed along for years and am so excited to see this transformation. Love everything you do. Thanks for sharing this process with us!

  14. Saad

    Wow, the living room seems pretty big, that’s great !! Renovations are always full of surprises and excitement. The

    Would love to see your home once it’s done completely. :)

  15. Janis

    Cannot wait to follow along with this transformation! I’m sure you will make it incredible as always! We embark on our kitchen reno this summer and I will be looking forward to all the advice! (And I remember all those DIY kitchen projects! I’m such a die hard follower of yours Jenny!)

  16. Elizabeth

    Woo hoo!!! I have been waiting for this one for years! (Hahaha, I’m sure it’s been on your mind more than mine, though). I’ll be excitedly following along. Thanks for the floor plans, they make it so much easier/more fun to see what you’re doing. It looks like it’s going to be wonderful!

    By the way, that tiny piece of gingerbread still visible in the pic with your girls takes me back!

    • Jenny

      RIGHT!? The last remains of what used to be! :)

  17. bena

    Who is your architect? Or are you working with a home builder? Please give them some shoutouts and some love! Us architects work hard and deserve to be recognized! And please point it out, if I missed it.

    • Jenny

      No architect on this – I did all the plans. Our contractor isn’t taking on a lot of new work right now and didn’t want the press :) If that changes I’ll for sure share!

      Thanks!

  18. Linde Giddens

    so excited for you! couldn’t love your design taste or inspirational projects more.

  19. Trisha

    I’m so glad you guys are finally getting a dream kitchen! I’ve been thinking for years that it was odd you hadn’t done more yet :) So exciting!
    http://warriorsimon.com

  20. Kristen

    The new floor plan makes so much sense. It really feels like it’s what it should have been all along. Excited to see this come together!

  21. Kelsey H.

    I can’t wait to see how this turns out! You’ve been a huge source of inspiration for me over the years, and even more so since I purchased my first home about a year ago. :)

    Can I ask how your diy concrete countertops have held up? I’m tempted to do the same as an interim solution in my kitchen but I’m wondering if in your experience you feel the effort/results were worth it.

    Looking forward to following along your remodeling journey!

    • Jenny

      It’s a great short term solution! I ended up doing some form of touch up once or twice a year, but for the most part I was happy to have such a cheap and pretty solution for this in between time!

  22. Jenny, I can’t believe you’ve been in that house that long! Really excited to see how it all unfolds (and I love the floor plan).

  23. Helena

    So you won’t have any exterior porches? I’m a landscape designer here in Phoenix, and I’m always telling people to have more porch space, not less, because we need SHADE here. Are you adding a new porch?

    • Jenny

      Yes! A covered patio! :)

  24. Jamie

    So fun following along! And that first comment nailed it for me-I’m so genuinely happy for you! Thanks for sharing your talent, and your light, with the world! :) You’re awesome, Jenny!

    • Jenny

      Thank you Jamie! How sweet of you to pop in and say that! :)

  25. John

    Excited for this project! Small question, is there a second floor where the other bedrooms are? Looking forward to your choices, I love your taste.

    • Jenny

      Yes, this is the floor plan for just the first floor. My girls bedrooms are on one side of the house and my studio and a guest bedroom are above the garage and mudroom!

  26. Emily

    Loved reading through this post Jenny! Keep sharing…the good, the fun, the hard and tbe pain it all is!
    We are a long way from a major kitchen, dining and outside deck area remodel and most days I feel frustrated in the space I’ve got now but following your big changes makes me so thrilled and excited and hopeful for the futurel!! Eventually we will figure it all out and get to say gbye to my annoying front door view of the kitchen sink and awful shag carpeted dining space
    Thank you and good luck with it all!! I’m rooting for you!!

  27. Felicity

    We just finished remodeling our downstairs…rather than doing dishes in the bathtub, temporarily replace a bathroom sink with a plastic laundry sink (about a hundred bucks for a sink complete with a faucet at the big orange). Really, really saved our backs!

    • Jenny

      That’s a great idea, Felicity! Thanks for chiming in! xo

  28. Jess Hissem

    This is great, approx how many square feet will you have when you are done?

  29. Dandy

    This is amazing, love this and am excited to see the finishes and how the backyard will speak to the new house design -Long time admirer

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