Our unexpected upstairs remodel is finally done

I know what you are thinking.

“Ninja, your blog has been kinda lame lately. Only posting once a week. I’m over it.”

You’re right. Things around here have been a little lame, but I think I have a good excuse. Girl Ninja is nine months pregnant and could literally explode at any moment. Like right now!

How weird is that?

For obvious reasons, I’ve been spending a good chunk of my free time with her, doing our best to enjoy the last few days we have as a kid-free household. Not quite sure I’m ready for all the change that is about to take place, but I equally can’t wait to meet our little dude.

Anywhoozle, don’t know if you recall, but a handful of weeks ago (six to be exact), I got a little ambitious and punched a whole in our upper level ceiling (a finished attic space). After we had the skylights installed earlier this year, I realized we had a few feet of space above the finished ceiling and the peak of our roof.

Seeing that I’m 6’2 and the ceiling up there was only about 6’6, every inch mattered to me. I spent a few hours on an April Saturday doing this to our ceiling to see what we were working with….


Upon ripping the ceiling out, we discovered most of the electrical upstairs still ran on knob and tube (meaning super old and potentially dangerous wiring). This discovery made me, and my wallet, sad. We had little choice but to completely gut the place and get rid of all of the old wiring.

So gut we did…




I, along with some of my high school kids, did all the demo work. It was pretty fun to take a hammer to a wall and not really care about breaking something. We spent about 9 hours one saturday ripping out every piece of drywall and insulation in the place. It made a terrible mess, but was a necessary evil.

Before we ran the new electrical and added new insulation, Girl Ninja and I had some of our high school Bible study kids write a few of their favorite verses on the framing of the upstairs. Our little man doesn’t even know it, but he’s got a whole slew of prayers covering him in his new room. Dope!


After the place was completely gutted and the roof was reinforced (figured might as well do this now since it was exposed), I added new insulation (its brown insulation because it is eco-friendly, unlike the pink stuff). The electrician ran all new romex wiring (the yellow wiring you see in the pics below) and installed our new recessed lights and outlets.

Here are some pics of that process…



After the insulation and electrical was in (and tested to make sure it worked), we had the drywaller and taper come by and hang the sheetrock. I felt bad for the guys. Sheetrock typically comes in 8′ or 12′ boards, but the angle to get up our stairs only allowed for 6′ boards. That means every piece of drywall had to be cut down before it could be brought upstairs.

Nightmare city.

And don’t forget, our house is 84 years old. Meaning not only did they have a lot of crazy angles to deal with when they were hanging the drywall, but virtually no walls in the space were plum. They spent a lot of time shimming things out and doing their best to make everything nice and pretty.

Here’s a picture after the taper finished sanding (the final step of the process)…


Up next was the fun part. Finishing the space. I spent three days priming and painting the space. We went with a high quality (read: expensive) paint so I didn’t have to do multiple coats. We did a mint green accent wall in Baby Ninja’s room to change things up a bit.

Here is what his room look liked when we bought the house (note the jenky drywall job on the right wall and how close the ceiling is to the window)…

Screen Shot 2014-06-10 at Jun 10, 2014, 10.30.53 PM

And here is what Baby Ninja’s room looks like after the skylights, recessed lights, paint, baseboards, and window trim were added…



Nova liked it so much she took a nap on our rocker…


I added a piece of crown molding to the built-in to give it a more uniform look and we found some sweet knobs at Hobby Lobby that had little maps inside them…



The office space upstairs was tiny. It used to be a completely separate room with a door and full wall. During the demo we decided to blow the  wall out and make the office space feel more open with only a half-wall instead. Here is what the space looked like when we bought the house…

Screen Shot 2014-06-10 at Jun 10, 2014, 10.32.44 PM

And here is what it looks like after we added a horizontal skylight, recessed lights, a new window, baseboards, etc…


The project took quite a bit longer than we originally anticipated, but I’m glad we took our sweet time because everything looks awesome. The only thing that survived the remodel was the carpet. Everything else is brand spanking new from insulation, to outlets/light switches, windows, trim, paint, etc.

Our house might be 84 years old, but that doesn’t mean it has to look like it, right? 



19 thoughts on “Our unexpected upstairs remodel is finally done”

  1. Great job Ninja! The newly designed space looks beautiful and baby Ninja will be so happy there!

    Can’t wait to hear the big news of your new little baby’s safe arrival into this world. Wouldn’t it be great in time for Father’s Day??!!

  2. That looks awesome! Nicely done, love both the windows.

    Being that you are 6’2, make sure you watch your head during those late nights (or early mornings) with little Ninja over his crib!

    • There absolutely is when the Knox and tube is touching old paper and wool insulation. Knob and tube doesn’t have the same protective wrapping that romex does and the wires run much hotter and can start fires.

  3. Thank you for the update on the baby’s room.. It looks amazing, well worth the wait. I’m sure ninja girl is happy its all ready now! Look forward to hearing about the arrival of baby Weston 🙂

  4. Did you make sure to get insulation contact recessed light cans? I noticed that they’re touching the insulation and wood, and they tend to get really hot. Just double checking.

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