Anatomy of a Remodel

Cathy ZielskeCZ Life63 Comments


In October of last year, we broke ground on a home remodel project. I've posted a bit here and there during the past 12 months, but decided it's time to post the befores and afters.

Granted, we have no photos on our walls in the family room and there's a tiny bit of final painting that needs to be done, but if I wait until that's completed, you will not see these pictures until am I very old woman.

We bought our house in 1993. We had no kids, little money, and lots of time. However, not really being the go-getter home improvement types, we were simply thrilled to have a house with a basement that wasn't just a dirt floor as was the case in our previous home.

Our home had been remodeled at some point in the 1970s, and boy did it show. Mirrored tiles on some of the walls. Several rooms with metallic wallpaper. We simply removed the offending elements, and settled into our lives.

Fast forward to 2010. With our family firmly settled at the number 4, we knew this was where we hoped to entertain our grandbabies some day. And with certain parts of our house slowly sinking into the ground (that would be our front porch) we decided to finally set out on a remodel project we'd been thinking of for years.

Initially, it was just to be a facelift of the porch. You know, shore up the foundations, make it level, that sort of thing. Funny how things snowball out of control, isn't it?

But the changes we finally agreed upon definitely add to the livability of our home, especially the remodel of our family room. As you'll see, we closed off the exit to that room to create a fuller room of space, and changed the entrance to the back of our house.

I present to you my Befores and Afters.







Next, the porch.





The family room.







And the scrap/dining room.



And my hidden mini mudroom.


When you buy a house built in 1919, mudrooms aren't exactly plentiful. I love this tiny detail in the overall scheme.

And that is that. We absolutely love the results and fully accept that we will be paying this off until we are very old people. But hey, isn't that just part of the American way?

I like to say I may only have 5 pairs of shoes to my name, but I sure do have a pretty porch now.

Still, we love having a little zest and personality added to our old, Saint Paul neighborhood home. It sticks out enough but not too much, and we like that. It's a strange thing to see people drive by and actually slow down to look at our house, or to have people walk by and simply strike up a conversation about it. What? But we are introverts. We don't talk to strangers in the street! Yes, our remodel has made us connect more to humanity at large. You can't really put a price tag on that one, now can you?

And as one of our neighbors once told us we seemed like "theater people," now we actually have a home that visually backs that up.

Thanks to Michael and Chris at RoehrSchmitt, our creative architects (and friends) and to Michael Beebe of Beebe Construction for being amazing people to work with, and people we very much enjoyed drinking wine and beers with.





Cathy ZielskeAnatomy of a Remodel

63 Comments on “Anatomy of a Remodel”

  1. #1

    This is stunning Cathy!! I love love all the changes and the color added to your lives. You have really done a great job with the updates. Your rooms are gorgeous and comfy/warm feeling to them. I would love that front porch and your mini mudroom is so adorable, want that too soooo cute!!!


  2. #2
    Stephanie Howell

    Oh Cathy it’s fabulous!!!! It is so YOU. And the hard work y’all put into it shows. Beautifully. You know, moving so often for the army…we never get a chance to have family photos on the living room wall. πŸ™‚ and that’s okay!! Also, I laughed out loud at the “theater people” line. Haaaaa! I knew there was a reason we were kindred spirits!!!

  3. #3

    That is one cool space. Porches make a house and yours rocks it.

    Very cool space. And hey, I’m looking for a sectional myself. Is yours comfy? Did you find it locally?

  4. #4

    We got it at Macys and they are no longer carrying it, but I have to tell you: last night Dan and I were talking about our couch and he confessed to me he still doesnt know how to sit on it to make it really comfy. And we just laughed. Yes, its very cool, and it works great in the space, and it is comfy to a degree, and, it was a good price. But its not the kind of couch you just plop down in and fall asleep on if that makes sense. its just funny that weve had it for two months and both just admitted that were not sure if its very comfy.

  5. #5

    I love all the changes and it just seems so… you! But I totally miss the wall of built-ins in the scrap/dining room (which is so me, not you.)

  6. #7

    LOVE IT!! It has a very clean Scandinavian feel to it!! πŸ™‚ And while the couch may not be comfy….it’s a great landing pad for teen’s! πŸ™‚ TOTALLY LOVE the new space Cathy!!

  7. #8

    Quick question…..does the porch roof actually tilt up on the right, as you’re looking at it? or is that an optical illusion?! Very cool either way… “appears” to have a lift to it, so that the rain drains down to the rain chain! Yes, I’ approaching stalker status when it comes to your porch!!!LOL

  8. #11
    Lori P.

    Wow Cathy & family! What a remodel! I Love it! I also love the one window that you had trimmed with green. Thank you for sharing all of your pictures with us.

  9. #12

    LOVE IT! and LOL – I was gonna ask the same thing about the sectional and I see that someone already did!!

  10. #15

    My heart is breaking over the missing built-ins. I absolutly see why they had to go and they didn’t really have your look. . . but oh. . . . Love what you’ve done. I especially like that you kept some of the porch.

  11. #16

    I have to ask where your albums and scrap items are stored now. That’s a big wall of storage to lose.

  12. #17
    debbie McIntyre

    Nice updates! It’s worth all the trouble of the renovations. Now you can sit back on your new porch and enjoy.

  13. #18
    Debby O'Brien

    Really beautiful, Cathy -and you should be so proud of how you’ve taken your home to new heights -But where is your computer/design room, and did you keep the reno done to your kitchen on the HGTV show?

  14. #19

    The mini mudroom and the porch are hands down my favorite touches. Congratulations on a job well done. And the grey couch- well let’s just say… here’s to many good reads and naps.

  15. #21

    Wow, your “before” pix are the mirror image of the house I grew up in, on the other side of the river. [Insert poignant wave of nostagia and home sickness here.] I’m hopeful that your “after” pix will inspire a transformation in my parents’ home, too. (We certainly can’t let St Paul be the cool twin, don’tcha know.) πŸ˜‰

  16. #22

    Very cool. Everything looks great Cathy. I have done two major redos: one in a little house I had when I was single, and ten years ago when my husband (an architect) and I redid our current 1936 home. We are ready to tackle a new project and your photos inspire me. Enjoy your home.

  17. #23
    jennifer Camplin

    definitely lovely home you have!
    nice change for sure.

    Funny that we are in middle of project! no more ugly brown panel walls! painted over.. would love to get rid of them. stuck w dropping ceiling attached.

    enjoy sweet home sweet!

  18. #27

    It’s just so YOU, right down to the colors. πŸ™‚ Love it! It’s modern yet classic, with a twist. The fireplace wall looks amazing, and I love the slight tilt of the roofline over the porch. And how awesome is it that you can now use the porch year-round? Congrats, you guys must feel so amazing now that it’s done!

  19. #30

    Well, the porch in winter might be tricky without a space heater! It is insulated, but not part of the house. So we are thinking about doing a space heater for chilly days when we want to be out there in the peace and quiet. And boy, it is SO quiet out there!

  20. #31

    love it!! the whole thing looks amazing! love the porch and the mini-mudroom. was going to ask about your sectional sofa, but just saw your reply to another reader above. i love that grey color… thanks for sharing!!

  21. #33

    I must admit that I don’t really ‘get’ the whole thing (room flows and all that). I need before and after drawings of the room plans. I’m not very visionary! So if you’re ambitious and want to – a simple little hand drawn plan would work for me!

  22. #34

    Thanks for sharing! The rest of us live vicariously through you, ha. I’m your age but we’re in the military so still have never owned a home or lived in the same place for more than 4 years. Just looking at your pictures makes me very wistful and ready to settle down!! Love the paint color, the rain chain, the huge picture window…. fun details!

  23. #35
    Mandy Douglass

    I ABSOLUTELY Love the change Cathy! It is SO you! I love the modern touch that still stills homey! Wish your architect lived in Utah … cause I would love to hire him! Just got into my first “REAL” home and can’t wait to give it a little Mandy flair! Thanks for the inspiration!
    HUGS from Utah

  24. #36

    Cathy, I love your porch and the furniture you chose; looks like a comfy, bright place to hang out and read. I also love your tiny mudroom. I don’t have one either, so our shoes congregate in various unsightly places like the kitchen, living room, and dining room. πŸ™‚

  25. #37

    Cathy it all looks fabulous! I so want a chatreuse and steel grey house now. No mud room here – I am still holding out for a back door though.

  26. #40
    Jenny B.

    I love it, and it just fits your family so perfectly! Before, your house looked like it was frowning… now it has a cute winking look to the front. πŸ˜‰

  27. #41

    Love, love, love your mudroom. Jealous is more like it. My 1920 house has no mudroom or even a mudcloset. Actually, the 10×10 kitchen is the mudroom. Such a pain.
    Beautiful, soulful colors. Congratulations and enjoy!

  28. #42
    Pilbara Pink

    We have a couch that is similar (although from Ikea). It looks great and looks comfortable but we also find it a wee bit awkward to sit on. The back on the `leg’ of ours is quite low and that doesn’t suit my 6ft hubby. It is a bit deep I think for my short legs. So we look kinda cool but feel marginally uncomfortable .. hopefully that makes us look painfully sophisticated – hahaha!

  29. #43
    Pamela K.

    I love your remodel! I am coveting your sectional. I love the colors and it looks so comfy. I know exactly what you mean by things snowballing when remodeling. Last winter what started out as only getting new countertops and flooring, turned into a complete gutting of our kitchen. It was a pain but I’m so glad we did it. Great job!

  30. #45
    Ellie A.

    Oh I love it so.. I love the colors & just everything. Especially that porch I could see me spending loads of time right there. Thanks so much for sharing!

  31. #48

    Wow, Cathy. My hubby and I have had this conversation a thousand times as we are STILL trying to find the right sectional for our family room. You hit it on the head. It can look uber cool and feel not so uber comfy.

    Thanks for sharing. Guess I’ll continue my quest for the quintessential cool but comfy sectional. Maybe have to give up some cool factor for comfort. Why can’t we come up with great design AND comfort? Too bad Steve Jobs didn’t design furniture…

  32. #49
    Angie Hall

    Cathy, everything you do is lovely. You continue to inspire me! We spent all summer house hunting and found nothing we liked. But now, after seeing what you all have done with your home, maybe we should think about remodeling…or we could just move in with you guys. Just sayin’.

  33. #51
    Bec Kilgore

    I am loving the whole remodel. What a great job everyone involved accomplished. Such blessings.

  34. #52

    Congratulations to you all on getting through the reno!

    I know what you mean about the couch. We’ve had a few of those – seemed perfect til time went by and then there was ‘you know this really bugs me about…’ moments. I dread any furniture shopping.

  35. #53

    It is “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” isn’t it? While the electricians are here…while the drywall guy is here we might as well, so on and so on. Glad you survived. We are at the end of a kitchen/laundry room/great room redo. Looks great.

  36. #54

    I can’t really add anything new to what everyone else has already said, but I’ll throw my 2 cents in anyway: your house is fabuloso!! And you lived to tell about the remodel – that’s sayin’ a lot! Enjoy your beautiful home!

  37. #55
    Jennifer Moore

    Cathy – the house looks fabulous… you incorporated the Zielske’s look to the home (inside and out) and it really looks great! Congratulations on a job well done!

  38. #60

    Love it! So cool, amazing job! It does look very much like “you” – even though I only know you from this lovely blog πŸ™‚ About the new look: good on ya! Hugs from sunny Heidelberg!

  39. #61
    Missus Wookie

    Amazingly – love the touches and colours, plus the porch/window and steps. Hey your house is seven years older than the one I live/work in. Really like your tiny mudroom and adore that comfy looking couch too.

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