Sometimes It Has to Get Worse Before It Gets Better


With my doctor’s appointments multiplying (I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes again) and the renovations intensifying, I’m not finding much time to sit down and write.

Even though everything is progressing (and I love my newly blue kitchen), the remodeling schedule has not exactly gone according to plan. So instead of finishing one floor then moving to the next, our entire house has become a construction zone.

Habitable spaces, places to put things, and soft stuff to collapse on are disappearing, but we are forging ahead. Baby Diana is due on August 13, just two months away.


Maybe if we take deep breaths and try not to look at the piles of objects we can’t find which are covered with plastic in the center of rooms, we might actually finish in time.

So do you want to see some “during” pictures?

As of this afternoon, here is our bathroom:


and our bedroom:


The kids’ rooms look like this:


and this:


Here’s our former linen closet and future hallway (complete with a flue that now pokes through the roof, and some early 1900s wallpaper we discovered):


The good thing is that our living room now has a new paint color (Copley Gray by Benjamin Moore), lots of shelving for Enrico’s books, and a fireplace (with a salvaged mantel I found at a vintage house parts store):


And our basement is no longer a cavern of dark corners, crickets, and dangerous wiring:


It’s all going to look pretty one day, right?

Summer is a time for travel, big projects, and daydreaming for most people, so I’m assuming that no one will notice too much if Frugal Mama is quieter than usual. Over the next few months, I’ll probably revitalize old articles that are still missing photos instead of generating new ones, like I did last week with the bon-bons recipe.

Although I’ll miss that creative drive, I’m shifting into survival mode.  It’s not every day, after all, that one gets to redo an old house with a very special deadline.

Share this post:


  • March 6, 2014, 7:49 am

    The way you start the post with that title and the first photos say most of it. Curious about how the home would look like after the remodeling is completed though. It is a good motivation.

  • Hannah Bouchoucha July 12, 2013, 4:59 pm

    Home improvement are usually huge but it worth it! I have so much to do in my home, your article just gave me more motivation to do it :)

    • Amy July 12, 2013, 9:38 pm

      Hi Hannah,

      Yes, “huge” is right on. Having never really been through it before, I am learning that first-hand. I know it’s going to be amazing when it’s done, but living through it can be miserable. But no pain, no gain, right?

      I wish you luck on the projects you have in mind,

  • Vivian Mandala July 12, 2013, 3:31 pm

    The basement looks WONDERFUL! A few more steps to an amazing basement and livingroom. Hopefully you have them both put together by now.
    How is the rest of the house coming?
    Exciting! A beautiful home + new baby = fun!
    Congratulations! Vivian

    • Amy July 12, 2013, 9:36 pm

      Hi Vivian,

      You’re right — those few steps (or should I say grueling climb?) has happened and our almost-finished basement looks fantastic. I’m so happy. I can’t wait til it’s really done and we can get comfortable in there.

      And yes, we are so blessed to have both a beautiful old house and a new baby.

      Thank you for your encouraging words,

  • angela wilder July 4, 2013, 5:06 pm

    It will be pretty. I was straddling floor joists in my master bath two weeks before I delivered my third. Now that he’s fourteen it needs to be redone :)

    • Amy July 4, 2013, 9:50 pm

      Hi Angela,

      Oh, I’m so glad to hear from someone else who had less-than-ideal conditions to welcome a new baby! I’m feeling guilty about it, and a little protective of the sweet peaceful newborn phase. Yet, who am I kidding? Peaceful with 4 kids and a new school year upon us?

      Sorry to hear that your bathroom needs to be redone. 14 years sounds like a good run, though.


  • Alison June 13, 2013, 11:13 am

    Hang in there. The kids will laugh later about having a toilet in their room, and once you are enjoying your new spaces, you will wonder why it took you so long to make the changes. Good luck!

    • Amy June 13, 2013, 10:14 pm

      I know you’re right, Alison. Thanks for painting a picture of what it looks like at the end of the tunnel.


  • e June 13, 2013, 11:00 am

    Thanks for sharing these images and the thoughts that are getting you through it all. I can’t wait to see both your projects : ) when they are finished (though one will be really just beginning). Isn’t life grand!

    • Amy June 13, 2013, 11:08 am

      Hi e,

      Yes, one project ends and another starts. I think we are made that way — to crave and take on new challenges. I can’t wait for the baby to arrive!

      The end of the renovation will just be the beginning of a long clean-up and organization process. It’s very similar to moving, isn’t it?

      Take care,

  • Sarah June 13, 2013, 2:51 am

    We renovated during both of my maternity leaves. I found it incredibly stressful to live (and breathe) in the dusty mess, and to have workers coming and going all day. You feel like the house is never clean and it’s just total chaos. What helped me was going away for a few days (to visit friends or stay at our cabin) and just get away from the chaos. Drinking more wine also helped.
    Hang in there! Will love to see the after-pictures too

    • Amy June 13, 2013, 11:05 am

      Hi Sarah,

      Totally identify with the frustration of the dust, chaos, and never feeling like the place is clean. That’s exactly where I am. Thank you for the tips about the trips and wine. :-) Definitely a change of scene is crucial — if even just a walk in the hood.

      Take care,

  • Lucy June 13, 2013, 2:31 am

    Hi Amy, I am now the grown up daughter of a builder and you are spot on with your comment about it getting worse before it get’s better. It’s just part of the process. Your home looks beautiful already and I have no doubt that you are going to be thrilled with the result … just hang on in there!

    • Amy June 13, 2013, 11:02 am

      Thanks for the wisdom, Lucy. It really helps coming from someone who sounds like she’s seen it all!


  • Daisy June 13, 2013, 12:05 am

    It is tough living in the midst of a big renovation. I hope it all progresses quickly and you are living in comfort again soon. I’m really looking forward to seeing the completed project.

    • Amy June 13, 2013, 11:02 am

      Thanks for commiserating, Daisy. I remember when you were renovating in order to move. It sounds like you survived!


      • Daisy June 19, 2013, 8:31 pm

        We survived! There are still lots of small jobs to be done, mostly painting and other finishing touches.