Empty Nest Renovation Update, Marriage & Midlife

empty nest renovation
The original backyard with an unusual (ugly) large planter in the middle of the yard and no upstairs addition.


Beginning of demo


Back of the house with new addition framed upstairs and lower floor remodel


I just wanted to give you an update to the downsize and Empty Nest Renovation adventure! We so appreciate all of your support and good vibes sent our way!

We are just about halfway through…if you stick with the 6 months estimate for the renovation. We moved to Seattle, still travel a great deal, fly back and forth to see my Dad who is sick and help supervise/make decisions for the Empty Nest Renovation.

Sounds like a lot of stuff on my plate… yes, it is a lot to deal with. On most days I would pat myself on the back and be happy with the progress and with my ability to handle it all. However, there are plenty of days of insecurity, tears, and overall exhaustion.

Sometimes we get more done, the busier we are…

Craig and I have never seem to let too much grass grow under our feet. We joke that we are the only family that could visit the Uffizi in Florence in sixty minutes. Not that this is a good idea, but I guess we always feel that there is never enough time to see it all and we always want to do as much as humanly possible in a day.

On the flip side, relaxation doesn’t enter Craig’s vocabulary. I don’t relax much either, but at least I sit and read a book for some down time. I am afraid Craig may just pop from pressure and taking on far too much. After 31 years of marriage, I know that I am his best protector and supporter and it is my job to help him slow down, enjoy the scenery and not have a heart attack.

I think he thinks he is invincible, but I keep telling him that my life is nothing without him in it everyday. Now in our fifties, time can be our friend if we slow down a little and take care. Lately neither one of us sleeps well, although I exercise plenty! Do you have trouble sleeping? Is it a midlife thing?

Now in midlife, we no longer have day to day activities with the kids, but we are more involved with our parents and their needs. In addition, some of us are transitioning from full time Mom to something else… what should that be? My advice is to just try something, whatever you may be interested in, you never know where it will go and if it goes nowhere, be proud that you tried. But it may just be FABULOUS!

On to the renovation and more photos:


The house was built in 1937, but the stove was a 1950’s Wedgwood, and the tacky green tile from the 80’s.
We knocked out the wall in the middle that adjoined the breakfast room The kitchen will now be in that space and there will be a built in banquette where I am standing taking this photo. There are french doors on the left now with a view of the yard.


The renovation is going really well. Only a couple of hiccups with the requirements for the Energy Permit, (something about the size of the new windows) but the architect and contractor handled it. Yay! As of today, the demo is complete, new walls in place, plumbing finished, electrical almost finished, roof tiles chosen and ready for installation.

Dining Room

The original dining room and fantastic wallpaper – with wall intact.


dining room progress
New dining room area with the wall taken down and the back wall to the right filled in. The kitchen is behind it and the new window/french door openings are framed.


We are finalizing tile/stone purchases, the kitchen appliances and we are choosing light fixtures, paint colors and floor coverings. I am working with some fantastic people that make me feel so comfortable by offering their sound advice. Will the house be ready by the time our lease is up in Seattle? In a perfect world, yes, but there is no such thing as perfect. We may have to extend our apartment lease and we also have no idea how El Niño (the big rainstorm season that should hit Southern California) will affect the project either.

I believe that I am not unrealistic, but hopeful that we can get home to Pasadena by the end of February or early March. Now that we are starting to see some major changes in the house, it is really exciting!

Rocco has adjusted to high rise apartment/city living and is still the sweetest little guy. We enjoy taking him to all of the beautiful parks here in Seattle. I do look forward to getting back to Pasadena and to starting our new life there without the uncertainty of an upcoming renovation and maybe even slow down a little and enjoy the fruits of our labor.

Rocco on the street in Seattle


Thanks for listening!


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12 thoughts on “Empty Nest Renovation Update, Marriage & Midlife”

  1. I’m sure the end product will be worth all the time and effort, but I KNOW you are going to miss the wallpaper in the dining room! 🙂

    • Jan – It is just so ugly, I can’t imagine living one more day with that paper! I have some great photos of the wallpaper in order to remember it!

  2. Wow Suzanne, what a project! I can’t believe you took out that cool breakfast room wallpaper, the parquet flooring and the bay window! Ha ha! But really, what did you do with the fantastic stove?

    • Yes the peacock wallpaper had to go… I ended up selling the stove on the day that we moved. We just wanted a modern kitchen. The ovens were so small in the 1950’s Wedgwood stove.

  3. Amazing progress, it’s going to be fabulous when you’re done. So exciting! It was once my dream to have an amazing older home with lots of character. After seeing what you’ve gone through, I’ve amended my dream to someday have a home with lots of character and all the modern conveniences. 😉

    • I can’t wait to have you and Steve over to enjoy it with us. So far the experience has been fantastic.I will say that with an older home, everything seems to cost a little more than we anticipated. We are trying to keep the costs down, but we only plan to do this once! Thank you for reading and for your support!


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