So. Many. Decisions. (We went with Purse, Snail, Radio.)

by | May 18, 2016 | Gramblewood, Hey Watch This | 36 comments

The end is coming into hazy view on the horizon . . . of phase one, anyway. Phase one of at least three (but probably more like thirty-seven) phases of the fixer-upping of Gramblewood. Our contractor says he’ll be done with the kitchen and the upstairs in about two weeks. I need to finish all the painting upstairs. And we need some furniture. I’m hoping that once school is done for the year at the end of this week, I can really focus on that stuff. And THEN, we can move upstairs, and unpack all the boxes in the garage that we packed up last June (unless I “accidentally” set them all on fire to avoid that), and we can start cooking IN our HOUSE. Crazy. But true.

I’m thinking we’ll be up there in a month. Or by the end of June anyway. We shall see.

I knew going into this that a big issue a lot of people have with remodeling a house is decision-fatigue. How it feels so exciting to be choosing things at the beginning of the process, but that by the end you’re just throwing darts at an old Ballard Designs catalog that came in the mail to the previous owner because you have no more cares to give.

Maybe I’ll get there, we have a long way to go. But so far, I’m still having fun with it. And in a lot of ways, I feel like I’m only now rounding into mid-season form. I’m getting better at this. I’m actually feeling grateful that I wasn’t more organized about my design choices before we moved in, because now that we’ve had some time to live in the house, I’m definitely making different choices.

Some modernizing is going to be necessary in a house built in 1920 that still had a few push button light switches around, but the longer I’m in the house, the more I appreciate the craftsmanship that went into all this old stuff, despite its current shabbiness. I had to watch Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries and Gran Hotel again on Netflix. For important historical research. And now maybe Poirot? If I’m method designing, I need to stay in character.

I’ve been able to find light fixtures and doors and doorknobs at local architectural salvage places and on eBay, to go along with the quirkier Etsy/Ikea/Anthropologie stuff I had chosen before we moved in.

All these lights were made before 1920. The flush mounts are really different from the recessed can-lights we’ve had in every house ever. But I really love how they look. (Don’t mind the smoke alarm + shower cap.)

It took over a week for them to repair and sand down all the wood floors upstairs, and I kind of loved it. The whole house was filled with a fresh pine scent, thrumming with white noise, and vibrating like a magic fingers coin-operated bed. Frankie, who almost never naps anymore, was powerless against sleep. It was awesome.

Then we had to choose a finish.

We have two different kinds of wood upstairs: oak on the stairs and in the boys’ and girls’ rooms, and douglas fir in the master bedroom and office. My Instagram peeps will, I’m sure, be excited to learn that we went with “purse” (upper right) on the douglas fir in the grownup suite.

and “snail” (bottom right) for the kid areas, figuring that it would show less dust, on the off chance that the kids don’t dust that often.

The floor in the boys’ closet and bathroom currently looks like this:

which I love, but I have much, much grander plans for it. So far, those plans have involved me and a bunch of linoleum and a hooked razor blade and a hairdryer and a couple old WWI Marine Corps recruiting posters and much gnashing of teeth and cursing of said linoleum (but never the Marine Corps) and the eventual offloading of the project into the hands of a professional. So we’ll see how it turns out. Hopefully in the next few days.

In the kitchen, the cabinets are all in, and the counter tops are in, and the new old doors are in, and the windows have been replaced. We had about twenty layers of paint stripped off of the amazing solid-wood doors in there. I can’t believe anyone ever painted them!

My only contribution to the kitchen so far was turning this:

Into this:

with some awesome period reproduction wallpaper from Michael Uhlenkott.

That’s the back of the glass cabinets (that don’t yet have the glass in them, or shelves), the wallpaper is also on the inside of the solid cabinet doors, and might end up inside some drawers, too.

The glass in there will be the original wavy glass from the butler’s pantry, and we’re also going to reuse all the hardware that was in the kitchen when we moved in, as is. It seems to be from a few different eras, but I like the idea of some part of the old kitchen living on in the new one.

The kitchen is almost all white. White cabinets, white counter tops, it’s going to have a white subway tile backsplash. But the floor . . . the floor is NOT white.

Many of my five hundred and forty-three and counting remodel-related
decisions have been shared (and voted upon) on Instagram. Including what the pattern of the linoleum floor tiles was going to be.

We went with . . .  radio (bottom). For me it has a symmetry that the regular pattern on the right doesn’t
have. That one ends up feeling slant-y to me. The random pattern on the
right was my original vision for the floor, but I ended up preferring a
more traditional feel in pattern, with such a very nontraditional color

I love this floor. I understand if you don’t. We can still be friends. But it makes me smile. And the kids think it’s awesome. I think it’s evocative of the traditional 1920s black and white checkerboard kitchen floor, but with an unexpected twist.

Appliances and plumbing and shelves and knobs all happen this week. Yay!

I can’t wait to see how it all turns out.


  1. Cydni McLean

    I want to buy a fixer-upper and live in it while we fix it up but the thought of doing all of that with my 2 toddlers makes me nauseous. Then I see you with your 7 kids working on your fixer-upper and I feel so lame, but in a good motivated-to-do-this kind of way! Thank you for all that you motivate me to do in my home life as well as my spiritual life!

    • Cat

      I can't speak for Kendra, but I think there's a huge difference between having only toddlers/littles and having those PLUS big kids to keep the littles entertained and out of your way. (I think she has a post about this.) So she may not have attempted it at that stage, either!

  2. Elizabeth

    Well I love the floor too, for what it's worth, although I can definitely see how some people would not be crazy about it. But what fun is it to have your own house if you only decorate in ways that are so neutral everyone will not notice them?? Because I don't really believe anyone actually likes the total neutrality of a house like that. Gramblewood is going to be beautiful and full of your own family characteristics. As it should be.

    • Kendra

      Yes, it's been really fun to make a home specifically for US!

    • Michele

      Why did you make the decision to move? How did you find Gramblewood? Did you ever do a timeline of the remodeling/moving process ?

    • Kendra

      We decided to move to be closer to the school our oldest kids attend. We found it with a realtor, who is one of the founders of said school, and no, I haven't done a timeline. We're still not done!

  3. Colleen

    A floor like that is the beauty of buying your FOREVER house. It's not something you could reasonably do if you were going to try to sell it within the lifetime of a kitchen floor (think about all those people on House Hunters eliminating a house from contention because "I hate the paint colors!"), but if you're going to live there until one of your kids buys it from you and they're going to live there until one of their kids buys it from them, you can do what you want.

  4. Laura Pearl

    I LOVE the floor. And it does not surprise me a bit that your kids love it. Kids need color. When I tried to do all-white Christmas tree lights, our boys thought that was BOR-ING!

    Every morning when you wake up to have coffee and make breakfast, that floor is going to make you smile all over again. I think it's fantastic.

  5. Erica Saint

    I love the floor and wallpaper! I have worked orange into my decor, and a lot of people seem confused or offended by it. But it has made me and my family happy, and that is what matters! I know you and your family will love your floor for a long time. I enjoy all of your Gramblewood updates. I intended to comment on your last update, but that when I was in the throes of morning sickness, and I couldn't form any coherent thoughts. Anyway, the temporary kitchen that your dad set up for you was brilliant! And it is wonderful that you have an apartment above your detached garage for visiting family and friends. And I had wanted to say something about the Walking Dead, but I can't remember what it was now. One last thing, Poirot is always a great choice.

  6. Mrs. Green Acres

    I have a black and white checkerboard pattern and I much prefer yours! Love how things are coming together 🙂

  7. Sara Boyle

    I would smile everytime I walked into that kitchen in the mornings. What a great way to cheer up a MOnday (or any morning)! It would go well with our kids' orange bathroom that shocks people, but it's beautiful and warm and makes your makeup look good. 😉

  8. Micaela Darr

    Ahhhhh! The kitchen floor! Well, ALL the floors, but especially that one! I'm coming over ASAP to see it in real life.

  9. AnneMarie

    I love the kitchen floor! So bright and cheery 🙂 Also, the wallpaper you used for the cabinets in the kitchen is splendid. Haha, "method designing" is a great excuse to watch Netflix 🙂

  10. Amanda

    The kitchen floor would make me smile every morning too! I'm so glad you went with the bottom pattern, it was by far my favorite 🙂 I'm so excited to see how the phase 1 renovations turn out! Do you think phase 2 will be finished by the time next school year comes around? I can't imagine schooling AND renovating! We're just painting and cleaning our new place and school is on indefinite hold for sure! I have zero brain space left for educating kids!

    • Kendra

      I honestly don't know. We haven't discussed a start date yet. The bathrooms and floors are in pretty poor shape on the first floor too, but liveable, so we might take a bit of a break. The husband and I will have to pow wow after we move in upstairs.

      But we've been doing school throughout this part, and it's been manageable. All the errands I need to do DO take a toll on our mornings, but we've been getting it done. Nothing extra. But we are checking the boxes.

  11. Amelia Bentrup

    I do not love the look at that floor, but I love that it looks like it would hide the dirt…so I am all for that. Many years ago when my mom was designering her house, I distincly remember her throwing cheerios and bread crumbs on tile samples to see which samples hid dirt the best. And that is where I get my stellar housecleaning skills from.

    • Cat

      We picked our carpet pattern based on how good it would hide crumbs. (Which is funny because we ended up making a family culture thing of only eating in the kitchen.) But it also hides brown hair well, so I'll take it, at my husband's bare foot expense.

    • Schafergal (Ashley)

      I asked for "dead bug" carpet to be installed at our old house. So when a fly inevitably died it would blend in a bit until I could vacuum.

  12. Amanda

    I love all the choices! My votes 🙂

    There is a professional builder of linoleum murals??

    I hope you're acquiring some Miss Fisher clothes too. Also, there's a not terribly represented Catholic on that show! (My standards are low. She is afraid of phones but waits for marriage.)

    • Kendra

      There IS. And he has better equipment than I.

      I agree with your assessment of Dot. But I thought the second season was pretty infuriating, Catholic-wise. But still excellent for outfits, lipstick, and general frivolity.

  13. Sarah

    Yay! I love your house updates! It isn't my style, but it looks great!

  14. Cathy

    the floor…I cringed at it, and then loved it! How different and happy!

  15. October Rose

    I have to chuckle, because the person we bought our house from did her kitchen floor in similarly bright colors (just pink and yellow though) with laminate cabinets to match … she thought it was going to be her forever home. Except it's ours now … and it's an expensive thing to change, so I've been cooking in my awesome but very pink-and-yellow kitchen for about 2.5 years now. 🙂

    • Kendra

      Oh no! And she's probably suffering somewhere in a beige kitchen . . .

  16. Elisa BlissfulE

    I voted for beeper, but I'm convinced now that radio was the right choice. Very unexpected and happy!

  17. Caroline

    You have a lively family, you need a lively house! Not a dull moment, not a dull room.

  18. katiefromtheblock

    I enjoyed reading this update about your house renovations! I like that you're adding so many personal touches to the house. I wouldn't necessarily make all the same ones, but that is what's fun about seeing other people's renovation choices, that they're so individual. I also love that you're not doing a cookie cutter modern interior designed by a professional that looks like every other house out there!

  19. Barbara Stein

    I love your kitchen floor! It would look great with my mixed up Fiestaware! And I like the pattern choice you made — the others would have made me crazy, too!

  20. Leah

    That. Floor. Is. Awesome. I agree with Barbara re: Fiestaware. And I love that instead of sticking with white-white-white as the current minimalism trend would convince you is the way to go, you did white with COLOR. High fives – it would make me smile too. (And not show dirt as fast!)

Submit a Comment

Hi! I’m Kendra.

For twenty years now, I’ve been using food, prayer, and conversation based around the liturgical calendar to share the lives of the saints and the beautiful truths and traditions of our Catholic faith. My own ten children, our friends and neighbors, and people just like you have been on this journey with me.

If you’d like to learn more about what Catholics believe and why, and to be inspired by saints from every era all over the world, you’ve come to the right place. If you’re feeling overwhelmed with the prospect of how to teach your kids about the faith in a way that’s true, engaging, and lasts a lifetime, we can help!

➡️ Get my liturgical living checklist for free when you join my weekly newsletter. Sign up here.

This blog contains affiliate links and sponsored posts, for which I receive a commission. We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.