Stories from middle America

We feel very fortunate that we’ve lived in our cute little Tudor for the past three years. Along the way we’ve grown Birdhouse and Christopher started culinary school. We’ve invested in the guts of our house; like a new roof, updated plumbing and electrical, and new AC. This past winter we had our fireplace re-lined which made the snowy days much more inviting since we could finally have a fire burning safely. But focusing on the inner workings of this house built in 1940 has left some of the more fun and noticeable cosmetic changes on the back burner.

Our goal now is to slowly start attacking those projects. What’s on the list, you ask? Well, it ranges from an a new kitchen backsplash and vent hood, to building a side patio in our backyard. The biggest things we hope to get done this year is a complete basement build-out with a finished laundry room, adding heating to a actual family room (right now there is a weird paneled box of a room that the previous owner created), and most importantly a new office space for us to work from.

There will be a ton of elbow grease, DIY action, and decisions of where to splurge vs. save in our budgets. Sometimes I feel like it’s not the best idea to share in detail the thought process, budgets, and behind-the-scenes of all my client work to respect my clients’ privacy, which can leave only the basic before and pretty after. With this house overhaul I will try to be as transparent as possible to hopefully help inspire and mentally prepare you for how much work actually goes into all of this.

There will be plenty of times that we hire a contractor to do the work. Why? Because we want it done well and done right! Not everything should be DIY and we are not good at everything. There are so many benefits from hiring professionals who specialize in areas and sometimes you should know when to humble yourself and let someone else help you.

Ok, now on to our first small update. Really it is not a huge before and after aesthetically, but it is giant in terms of functionality. We desperately needed more storage in our kitchen. I’ve been eyeing these bad boys for a while and I finally pulled the trigger and purchased them. Having the extra space has made a world of difference and the shape of the furniture will be essential in phase two of the kitchen overhaul. The one open cabinet will house our new microwave. We’ll rip out the current one (that’s supposed to vent your stove but totally doesn’t and gets everything filthy) and replace it with a beautiful new stainless vent hood. Seriously, I would never recommend a microwave that doubles as a vent again because they always make your cabinets sticky and greasy which we have learned the hard way.

Before, which we thought looked nice, but didn’t really meet our needs:

Screen Shot 2013-05-08 at 11.49.37 AM

 Photo by Dana Damewood

After, with lots of storage:



My favorite part might be the newly painted black window sash with the freshly-sprayed brass original hardware. I’ve only done two windows in the entire house so far, by the way.

before pull


Check one thing off the mighty long to-do list.

  • Katie

    Love your house! Do you have recommendations for a good upholsterer in Omaha? And also, where can I find similar window blinds? Thanks!

  • Jessica McKay

    Thanks, Katie! We got those blinds at Lowe’s and I use Denny and Son Upholstery.

    • Katie

      Thank you-I appreciate your help!

  • Jeff Nordhues

    It is great to see brass replacing the old chrome plated
    window hardware , nothing like a little warm and natural patina. Looking
    forward to seeing the rest of the remodel process.

    • Jessica McKay

      Jeff, I couldn’t agree more with the character and warmth of brass. Thanks for following along!

  • Karin

    i love the barsools in the before picture – any ideas on where to source them?

    • Jessica McKay

      They are vintage, so I’m not sure where to find them. I know Restoration Hardware has new versions. And, they are coming back with a new smaller island in our kitchen!

  • Robin Moore DeCapua

    I saw this before and after on WE’s Facebook page and I agree with all the commenters on that platform that the space looked awesome before. Whatever it may have lacked in storage space it made up for in design. I loved it before 🙂

    • Jessica McKay

      Robin, thanks for the feedback. This is less of a before and after and more a before and in-progress. The vintage stools are coming back once we can find a new, smaller island that will fit perpendicular to the window. It will have plenty of design and storage!

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