The Pasadena Empty Nest Fixer Upper Update!


kitchen remodel
The refrigerator and freezer panels are waiting for the appliances to arrive. Next up: The hardwood floor to be finished and hardware for the cabinets. There is paper covering the new floors for now.

Another update for the empty nest fixer upper…

More progress, more decisions, more changes, rinse, repeat. It does seem that the little house in Pasadena has made some significant progress, but with that progress came a couple of setbacks.

Every time we are cruising along at a healthy pace, something happens that slows it all down just a bit. The tile that I had originally picked for the front of the fireplace arrived and I was taken aback at what I had chosen. There was nothing about it that I liked. The architect urged me to choose something more traditional, more “old Pasadena” and we made the choice together. I now see that the colors were wrong, it seemed old fashioned, but I made this decision in the middle of the last few (horrific) months of my dad’s life. I made a mistake.

Craig was great about it. He didn’t like it either, but I was the one who placed the order. I will try to sell the box of tile on Craig’s list or donate it. Our interior designer Elizabeth (she hadn’t been hired yet) went to search for something more contemporary but with a pattern that would work with the other updated Spanish-like tiles we have in the other parts of the house.

Wrong tile



Right tile!








This is what we chose (I love it) and we have to wait 4-6 weeks for the tile to be made, which will delay the job. Oh and I also didn’t like the outside paint color. It had been another fairly quick decision during a bad week. What I really wanted was for the house to be a warm white color, and it came out just too yellow. All of the outside painting actually wasn’t finished yet and they will just repaint the part they started. It was an expensive, but necessary lesson for us.


Now for my kitchen!

This is where my new stove and stainless steel hood will go.


I LOVE my unique, hand made backsplash tile and cabinet colors. They came out amazing and complete PERFECTION. I honestly nearly cried when I saw it installed and grouted for the first time. It is exactly what I was looking for! Yesterday we shopped for hanging pendant fixtures for the kitchen that have the just the right vintage feel for the age of the house!


The grey paint on these laundry room cabinets is actually a richer color in person. Look at the tile floor. Love it!


The grey cabinets in the laundry room and bathrooms are the perfect color of grey and I couldn’t be happier. The living room new leaded glass window was installed too! I had fun with this mini project. Ray (the glass artist) and I discussed each pane and whether it would have a “distressed” section of glass. We removed all of the colored glass from the window and took out many of the accent areas too. We wanted the window to be less busy. The entire wood window frame was completely rotted and was replaced as well. It took about a month to complete and really looks terrific.

The original window was very rickety, the lead was missing and there was too much color.


They made a template of the original and then created a duplicate window in their shop. You can’t see it very well because of the plastic in the interior to protect it from the painting. I am thrilled with the results. Stucco and paint are next!


The evolution of the kitchen ~

Glen Summer Kitchen - View from laundry room
Original kitchen


Completely demolished
Drywall in place
Today with painted cabinets, new tile, countertops and hard wood floors


The Backyard


The backyard and pool project is moving along and we just love how it is turning out. We will have so much more usable space in the small yard, as well as an updated look.

A few personal thoughts ~

I have a great deal of emotion tied to the house. We initially downsized and moved to this dilapidated fixer upper in January of last year. We left a beautiful, much larger home with 27 years of memories and many dear friends. Because we now live so close to my family, we were able to spend an emotionally charged year with my Dad. The year was filled with many highs, but mostly lows. So much of this project was connected to visiting him and dealing with his health issues.

Grief is a personal journey. No one can really assist you, or warn you about what is ahead, even if they have experienced it. We all deal with it differently. The really good news for me is that I have no regrets. Craig and I were there with him and were able to share in some happy times and be there for when he really needed us.

In my mind, my Dad will forever be linked to this house and to the renovation. Today my emotions are just below the surface and I never quite know when I will display a little personal over reaction. I give myself grace and kind of roll with it for lack of a better way to handle it.

Craig and I have been living in limbo for 15 months with just a month or so left to go. We began the search for the architect and contractor back in January 2015. We interviewed 4 different contractors and their sub contractors, received plan approval, picked all of the fixtures, cabinets, hardware, appliances, paint colors, countertops, bathroom tiles, flooring, lighting, cement color, roofing tiles, and doors. We are going to be so happy and satisfied in our newly renovated empty nest and bursting with pride over our accomplishment.

We are so close now! Thank you for all of your good wishes and prayers when we needed them!


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15 thoughts on “The Pasadena Empty Nest Fixer Upper Update!”

  1. I can’t wait to see it! Let’s scheduled a date soon for summer. Obviously we will come to you. So excited for you two!

  2. So beautiful. I can’t imagine making all those decisions on a good day, let alone with the emotional journey you have been on.
    You will always have the memories of your old home. And you are on your way to memories in your new one.
    So happy to be able to share this with you through your writing and photos.

    • Thank you Laura. It has been challenging and I when I write about it, it makes me feel better about what we have actually accomplished. Thank you for your support!

  3. That tile is going to look phenomenal! You have already made such great progress. Your hard work is definitely going to pay off! Great job! Thanks so much for sharing!

  4. That tile is going to look phenomenal! You have made such great progress. Your hard work is definitely going to pay off. The room looks so much better already! Great job! Thanks so much for sharing!

  5. Hi Suzanne – I just stumbled upon your site when I searched “moving into an older house.” Out of the blue, a family recently offered to buy our house. We built this house and raised our 3 kids here. We are now in the process of buying a small house built in 1937. (Sound familiar?) Anyway, just wanted to say how much I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve read here. I love the choices you’ve made for your new old house, too! Will continue to follow your progress!

    • Dear Lynne- thank you so much for reading and finding the blog. It sounds like we have lots in common! I hope you will stay in touch and maybe write a post about your experience for Adventures of Empty Nesters. Where do you live?


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