It has been two months since we moved into the basement master. This move did not only grew the square footage of our living space, but also dramatically changed our way of living. In today’s post, I’d like to show you the current status of our ranch, and bring you up to date on our 2020 renovation plan. Are you ready?

The Basement Master

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The biggest change inside the ranch since our last house tour, is in the basement. We placed a brand new master suite in the previously unoccupied basement, and finished the big living space as our future media room. This basement was “finished” when we got the house, but it was in such a rough state that it required an total overhaul:

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We demoed the whole basement to studs, combined two small bedrooms to create the new master, and installed a new bath.

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The adjoining living space was renovated too and will soon become a media room for movie, music, and games:

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To be honest, I never had high hopes for the basement before it was finished. Its low ceiling and lack of lighting convinced me that it would never be as comfortable as the main floor. But with recessed lighting, smooth walls, and simple color palette, the end result was spacious, minimal, yet cozy.

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I love spending time in our new bedroom. In fact, I now prefer spending time here. I take long and hot showers, care for my skin and hair, stretch, read, and daynight-dream. Slav gifted me a massage chair recently and I started relax on it after evening exercise. This space helped me so much to rejuvenate and rest at the end of each day.

The Main Floor TV Room

As a result of the move, our old bedroom which used to house our bed and clothes, was suddenly empty. Since the holidays, it became a Slav’s TV room. Slav always likes to watch videos and play music at home, whereas I prefer quite evenings. He has been wearing headphones in the evenings. So having a TV room where he can let the volume up and close the door has been great for each of us to relax in our own ways.

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I always loved this room – it locates at the back of the house and has a big east-facing window overlooking our garden. It is private, it is bright, and it is… perky. The morning lights bounces among all white walls and fills the room, making the house plants happy. One day the bedroom furniture and TV will leave the room (after we set up the basement media room), and this room will become mine. I always wanted a grey+pink office. A yoga/tea room filled with indoor plants also sounds good… The possibilities are endless and I cannot wait to create here. It also needs to function as a guest room for weeks at a time, so making this room multi-functional yet minimal will be a design challenge for me.

The Main Floor living

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The rest of the main floor did not change much, except most of the house plants went into the TV room. We just took down the Christmas tree and I am thrilled to have this unobstructed view into Slav’s office again. I like empty space. Leaving void is big in Chinese inkpainting as it represents possibilities, growth, and inner peace. And the ability of doing so often require restrain and strength. I think the same principle applies to interior design. After gaining 600 sqft finished space, we’ve been careful not to acquire any new furniture, but let the new space dilute the pieces we had so every room now has more breathing room.

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The Basement Media Room

What happened the new media room? We had plans to furnish it with a big leather sofa and bring down the TV, speakers, projectors, and records. But considering the upcoming utility room renovation (more on it later), we decided to halt the plan so we do not expose electronic to drywall dust. For now my new massage chair is holding down the fort, and of course tools.

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Oh, and this painting. Can you tell whose portrait it is? Slav was borderline upset when I gifted him this portrait as an anniversary gift. But this is something I wanted for years. It represents everything of Slav that attracts me: handsome, intelligent, dignified, and strong.

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I am glad we did not just go out and buy a big L-shape leather sofa it was really tempting. Nowadays it is so easy to spend money just with a few clicks. But every time we waited, better ideas and choices came along. Being patient is so important part in home renovation, and so is in life.

The Basement Utility Room

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This utility room is the last unfinished space in our basement. And I think it will be our next renovation project. We need to update the old plumbing, and we would love to put a kitchenette for serving drinks and snacks downstairs. With all the demo and new electrical this room has improved so much already, but I want to make it the star of the basement. It will be finished with color, texture. I want it to be unexpected. Then we can officially close the curtain on the basement renovation – who cannot wait?

The main floor kitchen and bath

You may notice that I did not show you our kitchen and the main floor bathroom – we have not touched them at all since the last house tour. With their close proximity these two rooms will be renovated at the same time, which means the renovation project will take months, cost thousands, and turn the whole main floor into a complete mess. The plan is to tackle the utility room first so we can some place to cook simple meals while renovating the upstairs kitchen. Hopefully we can get our hands on the main floor for the second part of the year.

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Strategize the 2020 Renovation

As of the renovations in 2020, most of the interior work will be hired out. 2020 is a year both Slav and I want more professional growth, so we will try to trust and manage instead of DIY. The truth is, renovating a house requires many different expertise and experiences in each one. If we want to have high quality results without living in dust forever, we need professionals we can trust.

Looking back, I am actually thankful to the bad experience we had with the previous GC in 2019. It revealed my strength and weakness in project management, and show me exactly what triggers my stress response. I am not stressed over financial challenges, unexpected technical difficulties, or making decisions in an emergency. Years of the laboratory experience has trained me to make the best possible snap decisions without overthinking or regretting them later. What I cannot stand is incompetence and lack of communication. And this was exactly how our last GC was. But as soon as I started interacting with experienced subcontractors and focus on one task a time, I did not feel stress only excitement. So the key elements of a successful 2020 ranch reno will be to identify contractors who are knowledgeable and respectful.

The 2020 Garden

With the plan of hiring out the interior work, I will be picking up the shovel in the garden. My gardening goal of 2020 is to grow a better vegetable garden and to take better care of the plants we have. I want to stay on top of tasks such as tree pruning, lawn fertilization, rose training. I also want to improve the look and function of the existing flower beds by automating the irrigation and setting up paths and terraces. In summary, I will try to do better with less with gardening, and I believe that being more focused will help both me and the garden grow.

In 2020 we are hope for a year of growth, both professionally and personally. What is your 2020 goal?