My husband and I were looking for a larger home to raise our growing family. We just had our first baby and we were living in a 3-story townhouse style condo (not exactly family friendly). We’d been on the search for at least a year and found it difficult to find something that spoke to us  – in the price range that also spoke to us! We lived by the bay and we knew we wanted a single- family home and we didn’t want to move far from the beach or First Landing State Park.

After looking for a solid year I stumbled upon an attached, no fee condo at the North End. The location was perfect; only 4 blocks to First Landing and just one street over from the Atlantic Ocean. The home itself was grossly overpriced but I was drawn to it for some reason. The listing showed only 4 pictures and those pictures didn’t even highlight any portion of the home itself.

before and after front deck

Our front deck, before and after renovation.

I think the location alone is the only reason my husband Kristian agreed to even look at this place. I specifically remember saying to him,  “don’t look at the price – it’s overpriced anyway”. The ability to walk across the street and go surfing was enough to get Kris to at least “look”.

We toured the house two times and really saw the potential. The vaulted and white washed wood planks on the ceiling of the family room and master bedroom were gorgeous. Instantly I was attracted even more to the home’s character and could see the possibilities.  I laid out a design for how I envisioned the house could look and my husband sketched it out for me (his drawing is so much better than my own). We were both on board so we put together an offer. Honestly, our offer was a shot in the dark (for those that don’t know I’m a Realtor) but after a couple of counters we were under contract and moving towards a new chapter in our lives.

kitchen renovation

Removing the kitchen wall really opened up the space.

Having worked with builders over the years I had an understanding of the construction process but neither Kristian nor myself had ever renovated anything. Our prior 2 homes were both new construction so picking selections was all we had to worry about. Now we were opening up walls, relocating the kitchen and dining room, removing every square foot of flooring, renovating a master bathroom, redoing the upstairs hall bathroom and redoing the electrical. Not to mention the unexpected things that came up, as in 2 new HVAC units and new ductwork. (Can I tell you that replacing ductwork is the least attractive item you’ll ever replace in a home! Trust me … I know this.) At least you get cool air from a new HVAC system and you’ll never see the ducts so who cares …right? Wrong!

dining room reno

I now know more about duct work than I ever imagined!

Now when I say opening up walls, I don’t actually mean Kristian and I did the work. NO WAY … we hired contractors (some we loved and some we hated) and managed the process ourselves. I have so many contractor stories by now but I’ll save that for another blog post. Hiring the right team and the right contractors is so important to an enjoyable renovation. Many of your days will be filled with discussions with your contractor about selections, schedules and unexpected hiccups (and money of course –and that topic always sucks).

master reno

Before and after renovation of our master bedroom

beach house master bath reno

We love how our master bath turned out.

We renovated the majority of our beach home in 2013 and the master bathroom in 2017.  I’ll be sharing a few more stories and pictures of this home renovation and I hope you enjoy.

Now, we’re working on a new project. We’ve since moved to the ‘burbs and found ourselves in a new chapter of our lives. A chapter that’s moved us away from the beach to a more private setting where we hear crickets chirping in the night and can’t see our neighbors. We’re also taking on an English Tudor built in the 70’s. We’re only a month in and I can say that the stories are already piling up ( I can’t wait to share with you)!  Finding a can of lead based paint in the garage will really get you going, ha! Thanks for reading and I’d love to hear your renovation stories (or nightmares).


Liz Livernois