House 17: Renovation Plan and Progress

Since the last Renovation Diary update, things have progressed rapidly. Dismantling the old kitchens and hacking the walls took more than a week, but we’re on track. Hats off to the guys. Demolishing brick and mortar is not for the faint hearted.

We did hit a few speed bumps though.

That’s the thing about old houses. As we tore down, more and more problems cropped up. (Just know that when I say we, I don’t mean ‘me’ because I didn’t sledge hammer anything, but I mean the awesome team from Granbuilt Construction.)

We found out the water damage in the ground floor bathroom did not originate from said bathroom but from the ventilation pipe. The vent pipe goes through the ground floor bathroom to the first floor bathroom and all the way to the roof. Somehow water found a way down. I panicked a bit because when he was explaining the issue to me, all I could hear was an old Abba soundtrack.

Fortunately, the guys at Granbuilt were able to solve it without me needing to sell my uterus. Then, just when I thought I could breathe easy, we had the strange case of waste water not flowing into the sewer. That stinks, literally. We had to lay new pipes and we’re back in the flow.

You can’t help it when it comes to old houses. If there’s anything I’ve learnt, it’s you need a good contractor to help you troubleshoot on the fly. And make sure you have buffer in your renovation plan for way unforeseen stuff.

The old tiles in the kitchen, dining and bathrooms are also out. The much too low plaster ceiling is out too. And oh yeah, after we removed the plaster ceiling, I was horrified to see the ceiling beams at different levels. You may have caught a glimpse of them if you followed my Instagram Stories. I’m not quite sure how to fix this yet. Most likely I’ll expose them and learn to love irregularities.

At this point, we’re laying new cables for lights, sockets and smoothing the walls.

Renovation Plan – Layout

Okay, now let’s talk about the fun stuff. I promised you in my earlier post that I’ll share the renovation plan for the house. So here goes.

This is the original layout for the ground floor. I’m not altering much of the first floor except the master bathroom, which I’ll share another day.

House 17: Renovation Plan and Progress

And this is what we’re going to end up with.

House 17: Renovation Plan and Progress

Study (Home office) opened up

The study is tiny and I wanted my home office to feel open and a little bit more expansive. So we broke the wall down.

House 17: Renovation Plan and Progress

Miles better, isn’t it?

There’ll be a set of sliding doors for some privacy (like below), when I need it. And also to “close up” for the day, so my workaholic brain can clock out.

What’s my vision for the space? A bit like this.

home office inspiration

Mood wise, I want it light and cheery, some what like Joy Cho’s office.

home office inspiration

Renovation Plan – The kitchen

The major change is the kitchen. The previous kitchen was divided into 2 spaces — a dry kitchen and a wet kitchen. We’ve done away with the dry kitchen (which will now be the dining area) and enlarged the wet kitchen, breaking down a wall and door that previously led to a laundry area.

House 17: Renovation Plan and Progress

This was the first layout plan. I wanted two washing zones, mainly to take advantage of the existing pipes along the left wall, courtesy of the old laundry space. I thought an extra washing zone would be wonderful should I throw a party and need help cutting up the veggies or doing the dishes. And, maybe more than that, the java junkie in me thought it could be made into a nice coffee station.House 17: Renovation Plan and Progress

Final kitchen layout

But … and it was big but … some issues still bugged me. For one, I had very little counter space. And the flow was less than ideal. The coffee station was off to the side and would not be a functional part of the kitchen. In the end, I scraped it and we landed with this.

House 17: Renovation Plan and Progress

No more coffee station. 🙁 (Okay, I may still set one up in the dining space 🙂 ). We extended the counter top into a peninsula. And now, I have a lot more counter space and storage too. The kitchen feels a lot more integrated, rather than 3 separate blocks of cabinets.

Kitchen inspo? It was hard to nail down a style because I freaking like so many different kitchen styles. And I’m totally fickle. Some day it’s farmhouse. Another day it’s rustic industrial. Next week it’s traditional kitchen with antique handles. You know what I mean? So I went to town pinning and pinning, hoping it’ll lead some where.

indoor outdoor kitchen
robkennon kitchen - lees house

Looking at my inspiration photos, the styles may differ but all seem to point towards a black kitchen, with a touch of the outdoors. I’ll build on that and see where it leads me.

As for the nook at the top left, I’m open to ideas. I’m thinking of a banquette, like this.

The Yard gets some love

One more thing. If you look at the original layout, there were 4 doorways located at the back portion of the house. Who needs so many doors in such a small area? In our renovation plan we removed one and sealed up the other. The original 2 on the right remains. One leads to the yard and the other leads to the alley at the back of the house.

What I think I really did right was to make a new opening (replacing the fish-tank-like glass panel) to enter the yard. Previously this space was hard to access. You had to climb through the study room window to get to it. Here’s a reminder of how it looked.

House 17: Renovation Plan and Progress
Climb through the study window to access yard

It was long and narrow and I honestly felt kind of claustrophobic in there. Many who saw it on my Instagram Stories suggested turning it into a vertical garden space. Guys, I love that idea. It would be dope. Let’s hope I can cultivate a garden. Fingers crossed.

Renovation Plan: Yard door

We’ve enlarged the doorway and removed the slab at the bottom turning it into a proper doorway. So much better.

That’s my renovation plan for House 17. If you have any thoughts on it, give me a shout.

Next, I’ll talk about the my bathroom plans and what happened when I went tile shopping!


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  1. Sorry Jules but there’s no such word as “smoothening” !
    Flattening or evening out are OK though.

  2. Nook to left? Big planter with plant. Or if you have kids, install office wall holders (Container Store) for craft papers and pencls, etc. with a tiny round table with one or two tiny chairs.

  3. LOVE those folding glass door/walls!! They allow so much light and air when needed! Your house plans look very good.

  4. I wondered what you were going to do with that odd corner bump out to the left of the kitchen also. Will you still access the yard that way? By the way, my latest apt had a small cabinet that was too small for anything but a coffee station and i love it

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