Our big ole gigantic home renovation

I like to think that I’m the kind of person who’s always in a mode of decluttering and donating, but last year I started a new push to move things out of the house.

Generally speaking, I consider myself a very, very messy minimalist. My mom just read that and is quietly wondering how she raised a daughter who doesn’t know what the word “minimalist” means. But! Hear me out! I admit that I’m messy, and even if the most minimal person in the world never put anything away, their house would look exactly like mine.

I try really hard to keep on top of what comes into my home and sorting through things that need to go out solely because I know that Tom and I are messy people, bless our hearts.

My point: I’m constantly getting rid of stuff, but in 2022 I really got after it.

In an effort to gamify the year of decluttering, I kept a tally of each bag. In 2022, through our local Buy Nothing, Goodwill, ThredUp, and random asks from teachers for tchotchkes for their prize chest, we donated a whopping NINETY-THREE bags of stuff.

THEN! In one weekend, Tom and his mom did this:

All of this was in prep for a gigantic renovation project in which we completely replace our second floor.

Before this project could start, we had to move every single thing from upstairs and put it downstairs. We had to move everything from furniture and curtains to Legos and Calico Critter bars of soap. It was sort of like of moving except there’s nowhere new for your stuff to go.

I knew this was coming, which was why I slowly worked toward donating and decluttering. But then we got a start date and things moved into high gear.

Oh, and our children, too. They also had to come downstairs.

During construction Thomas and Anna are sleeping with Tom and I Willy Wonka-style in our first floor master, while David and Mary sleep in Tom’s office. The toys that were in the kids room are now all in the play room, Anna and Thomas are sharing a closet with Tom and me, and the rest of our stuff is in our shed, crammed into the first floor of our house, or the Chesterfield County Waste Department. Tom and I are patting our messy-minimalist selves on the back for not having to rent a POD.

Pre-renovation, or second floor had a gigantic attic, two bedrooms (each with two large walk-in closets), and a bathroom. Our renovation will make use of all the attic space to add a bedroom and a bathroom. The whole project will make our house more functional as our kids get older, but the main catalyst was having a decent guest room. Currently our guest space doesn’t have access to a bathroom, which is a big fat gigantic bummer if you have out of town family.

When neighbors ask me what we’re doing to the house I answer honestly: everything. Tom and I will move into the upstairs master and the downstairs master will become the guest room. The kids will still share bedrooms and a bathroom and I’m sharpening my speech  for the kids, “Oh you want to complain to me about sharing a bathroom with your brother? My family of five only had ONE BATHROOM and you know what? Back then kids were GRATEFUL! We never complained once!”

I can’t overstate how big this project is: new framing, flooring, HVAC, insulation, plumbing, and a partridge in a pear tree.


If I were a very good blogger and it was 2007, I would be sharing every single bit of this project. But I’m not and it’s not, so I’ll give this nine-weeks-in update: the renovation is going incredibly well.

We were worried about living in half of our house, but it hasn’t been a huge deal, and our contractors are absolutely wonderful. We can’t relate to any of the horror stories we’ve heard about renovations — these guys are top-notch. I’m not good at design, decorating, or even having a vision for a space, but these guys have been super helpful with all my questions and decisions and haven’t laughed at me even one time.

Here are a few update videos that are probably a little confusing since I didn’t thoughtfully film them all from the same perspective.

We were out of town for all of the demo and the initial framing. We came home to this:
(Plz note that I was right about the new framing.)


More progress:

When I was writing this post, I went back and looked at the post I wrote when we first moved into this house. When we moved here, we left a 1,200 square foot house in the city.  With so much additional square footage I couldn’t foresee this much space not working for our family. In seven years we haven’t done any significant home projects except for removing wallpaper and killing a bunch of landscaping. But in those years we learned that we don’t need more space, we just need the space to make sense.

Looking back at that post I was shocked at what has changed (baby Thomas!) but also what has stayed the same. For example, I still have that wreath with the pink flowers hanging on my door. It’s *seven* years old. That explains why it’s fading and the flowers are barely hanging on!! Meh, maybe the most accurate category is messy minimalist with a bit of a hoarding problem.



  1. Loft Boarding January 31, 2024

    Fascinating read about your renovation journey! The juggling act between decluttering and living in a half-renovated space must be quite the feat. I’m curious, did you consider loft boarding for any of the decluttering needs? It can be a great space-saving solution, especially for guest rooms. Would love to hear more about your experience if you did!

    • amandakrieger February 12, 2024

      we didn’t consider it — i’ve never heard of this option! is a loft the same as an attic?


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