Planning for 2021 turned out to be difficult. I’ve never experienced such level of unpredictability before, which prevented me from making plans. After all, nothing went as planned last year. We were looking forward to an awesome ski season; I was supposed to celebrating Chinese New Year with my family for the first time in 15 years. We were getting on a cruise (for the first time) to accompany our good friends on their honeymoon. My parents’ 50-year-old anniversary celebration, my grandaunt’s 100-year-old birthday celebration, my sister’s big birthday celebration on the west coast, and my high school reunion… 2020 was supposed to be about family, love, and companionship. At the end, it was filled with isolation and endurance.

As the world knows, we are still experiencing dark times in the States, but I have to say, the vaccine distribution and more importantly a new leadership did bring a glimmer of hope. I still dare not to make any plans when it comes to family and friends, but I am able to make plans for the ranch house due to the solitary nature of DIY…So, what is in store for the ranch house in 2021?

1. The main floor bath

The 2021 renovation has started in the main floor bathroom.


This 5″ x 8″ bathroom is the only bathroom on the main floor (labeled as “5” in the floor plan below). Upon completion, it will be a guest/hall bath as our master bath is located in the lower level. As you can see, we have started the renovation by demolishing the old bathroom into studs and upgrading the electrical. We will start plumbing work in January and hope to complete this renovation by end of Spring. You can see our design plans for the new bathroom here.

Ranch main floor_3D

2. The kitchen

After the main floor bathroom, the kitchen will be the last room to tackle in the ranch house. I cannot believe that how long we have waited! Below shows how the kitchen looks today, which has not changed since the day we moved in.




The current layout of the kitchen is shown below. The L-shape layout provides very little counter space.

Kitchen plan_current

Furthermore, the fridge is located right next to the back/garage door and stair area, obscuring the view of the kitchen and making the kitchen feel crowded.

Northern wall

The new layout will feature the stove/oven between the two windows. This arrangement not only removes the visual obstruction near the backdoor, but also allows us to look into the backyard while cooking.

Eastern wall plan without soffit_

The fridge will be relocated to the left side of the room. We will also remove the soffit which are empty inside to make more head room. The upper cabinets are attached to the soffit will be replaced with new and taller upper cabinets to provide more storage. The open shelves were drawn in the SketchUp below just for comparison sake.

Northern wall plan with shelves

The non-weight-bearing wall between the kitchen and the living room will be removed. We will also create a pass-though window on the upper half wall above the stairs to provide more light into the living room.


Renovating this kitchen will be a gut job. The cabinets are moldy and Slav is looking forward to a dishwasher. The old tiled flooring is half inch taller than the hardwood floor. We also would like to add more lighting in the kitchen and the adjunct living room.

3. Main floor floor refinish + baseboards

We removed all the carpet on the main floor and uncovered the original hardwood flooring shortly after moving into the house. But the wood floor was in rough shape and need to be refinished.


23 after office

24 after hallway


Later on, during the office renovation, we patched the hardwood flooring at the new doorway. These were brand new flooring and more shining than the old ones.


We will be refinishing all the hardwood flooring in the living room and two offices once all the bath and kitchen renovation work is complete. In addition, we have been waiting for the floor to be refinished before installing baseboards in Slav’s office, the living room, and my retreat room. All the work will be performed after removing the wall between the kitchen and the living room.

4. The shed patio

One of the big landscape project in 2020 was carving out the shed patio and adjunct terraced garden. Due to our inability to get landscaping supplies, we did not actually pave the shed patio, but covered the bare dirt with some black plastic for weed suppression. We were fortunate to get 800 sqft of pre-owned flagstone for merely $100, which is more than enough for the patio space I have prepared. As soon as the ground thaws in April, I will be paving the flagstone patio around our shed and building the retaining wall around it!


5. Structures and hardscape in the garden

Garden structures provide layers, dimensions, and functionality to a garden. After getting most of the perennial beds established, I am dying to add pieces like garden trellises and bird bath to my garden.


Above is a picture of the raspberry garden. It is so productive that in the peak season, bounties of raspberry weighted down the brunches down to the ground. Come around Spring/Summer, we will be building a trellis system for the raspberry bushes like the one below.

Raspberry Trellis

(Photo credit:


A new addition to our edible garden is grapes. We will be planting four grape plants along the northern fence (facing south) next Spring, and building garden arbors like the ones below for both function and form:


Our 2021 renovation plan

might be short in numbers, but it is actually plenty of work as the bathroom and kitchen projects will likely take months to complete. Paving a patio and set all the trellises into the ground also require lots of elbow grease. I am hopeful that by the end of the next year, we will be at least wrapping up the renovation inside of the ranch house. No matter how far we get to the tasks in the garden, the garden will come to fruition, and we will have more leisure time in 2022 and finally get to explore the State we now call home.

What do you think about our renovation plan? Are you planning for any renovations to your space in 2021?