Our Boston Home of 6 Years: Reno Before & Afters

While we were packing up to move last week, I came across some old photos of our condo which made me quite nostalgic! Our brownstone was built in the 1800s, converted into condos around 1980, and the unit that we purchased had not been renovated since then. Nick and I put a lot of love into updating this 4th floor walkup (with the help of a contractor), and although we would change some of the design elements in hindsight, we made the most of this small light-filled space and will truly miss it.

Since a lot of you shared interest in seeing before & afters, here’s what I could dig up!

Kitchen

Before: Semi closed off from the living area by a wall.

Boston condo living space before

kitchen renovation before

After: Wall between kitchen and living area removed, and cabinets & countertops updated. Not sure why we chose an olive colored island…in hindsight we’d go simple with all white, or maybe a pale grey island instead!

boston south end kitchen condo renovation before after

boston condo white kitchen renovation after

Added pendant lighting:

toddler kids white gold play kitchen

  Teamson Kids play kitchen // photo originally from this post

Kitchen Nook

Before: Underutilized little space in the corner.

boston condo kitchen renovation before

After: Microwave and pantry nook, which we packed pretty full!

white christmas holiday kitchen decor

Photo originally from this post

Living Area & Entryway

Before: Asymmetrically shaped fireplace with stone tile surface. Exposed AC unit.

updated living space before renovation

condo interior before and after comparisons

After: Reshaped the fireplace, added brick, a mantle, and painted the brick white. We had our couch here (as you guys saw in most mirror selfies) and our dining table set off in a corner towards the kitchen.

updated fireplace before comparison

Our condo association wouldn’t let us install central air or a slimmer AC system, so we made do and added long curtains to cover up the unsightly wall AC unit when it wasn’t in use.

DIY holiday decorations velvet bow tutorial

Photo originally from this post // The Frame TV (white frame sold separately)

Added shoe shelves to entryway and floor to ceiling curtains:

Office

After: Replaced solid doors with glass french doors for better light flow, added vintage doorknobs and a privacy curtain behind the doors.

French door installation stylish replacement door knobs

There was a nook in the office wall, where we added glass bookcases (more info on these in this post) and two desks for Nick and I against the opposite wall.

white jeans and leopard loafer outfit

Photo originally from this post on Rothy’s.

Bathroom

Before: Straight outta the 80s!

condo bathroom before renovation

After: We didn’t love our renovation choices here and were planning on making some changes, but never got around to it! Definitely learned our lesson to test multiple swatches of paint on the wall and review it in different lighting before committing to a color.

boston condo brownstone bathroom renovation after

Bedroom

Before: Good sized closet but limited hanging space, most of which was too high for me to reach.

apartment closet before

And since people always ask where Nick’s clothes go…he got this generously sized laundry closet in the office to work with! I didn’t grab an “after” pic of this, but he replaced the wire shelves with a modular system with hanging bars and shoe shelves.

small apartment closet

After: Painted the walls a dusty grey-blue and reconfigured the closet. Nick installed this modular system, added an extra hanging bar and drawers (sold separately), hooks behind both closet doors, and cleared out the above-the-closet space for additional storage.

small space closet winter storage tips

And this is how our bedroom was set up for room sharing with Nori for over 1.5 years! We started with a bassinet and transitioned to a foldable mini crib around 4-6 months, using a Slumberpod blackout tent over the mini crib every day (except during warm summer days).

sharing bedroom with baby toddler small space living boston city

Hope you guys enjoyed this tour! This first home has truly served us well, and is where a piece of my heart will always live.

Leave a Comment

61 Comments

  1. Michelle Hamric wrote:

    All the renovations made for use wonderful use of small spaces. What a beautiful apartment home it was!! Guess I missed that you’re moving? May I ask where? A house? Larger apartment home? The best to all of you on your move!! When is the baby due?

    Posted 9.12.20 Reply
  2. Ivy wrote:

    Hi Jean. I’ve been a fan of yours for a long time. Love all your fashion ideas, tips on travel, hair and make up as well as food. Being a petite asian woman (just under 5 feet) with little fashion sense, I often struggled with how to dress so people would take me seriously. Your elegant style and sensible buying guide has helped shape the woman I am today. Congratulations on expanding your beautiful family! Keep doing what you do to inspire us and stay safe during this pandemic. 😊

    Posted 8.13.20 Reply
  3. Ashleigh wrote:

    Beautiful renovations you and Nick did. Thank you for sharing!

    Posted 7.18.20 Reply
  4. CINNY wrote:

    Was the fireplace functional and if so did you have gas or electric or wood? Boston homes often have nice fireplaces, but many are just for decoration…

    Posted 6.22.20 Reply
    • Jean | Extra Petite wrote:

      Hi Cinny, it’s a functional wood burning fireplace

      Posted 6.23.20 Reply
  5. Lindsay wrote:

    Gorgeous!!! Did you seal your marble counters? If so, what did you use and how often? Thanks so much!!!

    Posted 6.20.20 Reply
    • Jean | Extra Petite wrote:

      Hi Lindsay! I believe the counters were sealed initially when we purchased/installed them but we haven’t gotten them resealed.

      Posted 6.22.20 Reply
  6. Anonymous wrote:

    LOVE the renovations! I’m getting ready to buy my first home soon and have been considering purchasing a place that needs a little TLC. Seeing your before and afters gave me some much needed inspiration!
    – Tara

    Posted 6.19.20 Reply
  7. Molly wrote:

    What a fun post! I love what you did with the kitchen. Do you remember the brand/color name for your cabinet hardware? It looks great!

    Posted 6.19.20 Reply
    • Anonymous wrote:

      I would love to know this as well!

      Posted 6.20.20 Reply
    • Jean | Extra Petite wrote:

      Thanks Molly! The cabinet hardware is Martha Stewart but unfortunately is no longer available.

      Posted 6.22.20 Reply
  8. kat kat wrote:

    Love this post. Love seeing before and after. Please post any reno projects you will be doing for your new home.

    Posted 6.19.20 Reply
  9. Anonymous wrote:

    Forbid me for asking: How did you make a kid while sharing a room with another one? Isn’t “noise” a problem even with the Slumberpod?

    Posted 6.19.20 Reply
  10. cinny wrote:

    Would you recommend your contractor and if so would you mind sharing their contact info? Thanks!

    Posted 6.18.20 Reply
    • Jean | Extra Petite wrote:

      Unfortunately the contractor that we used moved away!

      Posted 6.22.20 Reply
  11. Hannah wrote:

    I love these pictures! You guys did an amazing job remodeling. Also, Nori’s kitchen set may be my favorite thing ever, I love that it matched your kitchen. 🙂

    Posted 6.17.20 Reply
  12. Brandi wrote:

    I loved your mini trees from a couple years ago and now own 7 myself haha. I love renovation and decor posts, thanks for sharing and giving me more inspiration!

    Posted 6.17.20 Reply
  13. Rochelle wrote:

    Loved this post. Please take lots of pics of your new place so we can see that transformation over time too!

    Posted 6.17.20 Reply
  14. Rosalyn wrote:

    Jean,

    Thank you so much for sharing before and after pics of your reno and congrats on your move. I am thinking about making some updates to our condo and was wondering if you’d feel comfortable talking about approximate costs of your reno?

    Thanks,
    Ros

    Posted 6.17.20 Reply
    • Jean | Extra Petite wrote:

      Hi Ros, thank you for your kind words! We did our reno 6 years ago so I don’t recall the pricing unfortunately and prices have changed dramatically since then.

      Posted 6.22.20 Reply
  15. Cynthia Chin wrote:

    Thanks for sharing your beautiful home. You made such great uses of space, so efficiently! Home office is a must! Love all your finishing touches.

    Posted 6.17.20 Reply
  16. Valeri Pighini wrote:

    This was really fun Jean. I enjoy seeing the transformation but have especially enjoyed all your tips. Thank you, as always, for sharing.

    Posted 6.17.20 Reply
  17. Paula wrote:

    This was lovely!! What a spacious beautiful place! We just moved in to our first home, also a 4th floor walk up. I was wondering, How did you guys deal with baby, groceries, etc?

    Love, from Brazil 🙂

    Posted 6.17.20 Reply
    • Jean | Extra Petite wrote:

      Congratulations on moving into your first home! Let’s just say that between doing the stairs daily and carrying a baby and groceries up and down we didn’t need a gym membership 🙂

      Posted 6.17.20 Reply
  18. Maria P wrote:

    Beautiful kitchen. What kind of countertops did you guys settle on? It looks like marble but I know they’ve made engineered quartz to look like marble nowadays. I’m considering re-doing ours as our marble tops are too fragile (too easily etches.)

    Posted 6.17.20 Reply
    • Giedre wrote:

      Loved the post! Thak you for sharing! Beautiful home. Best of luck in your new place.

      Posted 6.17.20 Reply
    • Jean | Extra Petite wrote:

      Thank you Maria! We went with carrara marble for the countertops. The options nowadays for quartz are much better than when we were doing our reno – I saw a light quartz in my mother-in-law’s kitchen and loved how it looked and how low maintenance it is!

      Posted 6.17.20 Reply
    • Carla Krae wrote:

      There’s quartz and also a “porcelain” that’s super durable. Every few years there’s a new innovation now. Spoiled for choice.

      Posted 6.18.20 Reply
  19. Alena wrote:

    Wow! I really enjoy looking through these before and after. I recently moved into a condo and I was thinking of opening my kitchen up too like yours to the living room. Curious if you did do your reno while still living in the space?

    Posted 6.17.20 Reply
    • Jean | Extra Petite wrote:

      We didn’t live there during the reno just because it was a lot of work being done and it’s hard to live with that much dust. But I think if you do just one small area at a time it’s definitely possible to live in your space during renovations!

      Posted 6.17.20 Reply
  20. Teng wrote:

    Wow, all the afters were amazing! How bittersweet to leave this beautiful home. If you don’t mind me asking, how many sqft was the entire apt?

    Posted 6.17.20 Reply
    • Jean | Extra Petite wrote:

      Thank you Teng! It was approximately 850 sqft

      Posted 6.17.20 Reply
  21. Ann wrote:

    Jean – Are your countertops marble – they always stood out to me in photos? Do you know what kind? And, would you use it again? Currently doing the quartz vs. marble debate…

    Posted 6.17.20 Reply
    • Jean | Extra Petite wrote:

      Hi Ann – ours were carrara marble and I would use them again, though they do show water stains and other marks from frequent use. I’m also a big fan of quartz and given that it’s lower maintenance it’s something we would consider for future homes, especially after seeing a light colored quartz in my mother-in-law’s recent kitchen renovation.

      Posted 6.17.20 Reply
  22. Sarah wrote:

    Hi Jean! Any regrets on your marble countertops for the kitchen? Also, is that polished or honed marble? Thank you!

    Posted 6.17.20 Reply
    • Jean | Extra Petite wrote:

      No regrets, we love how they look! I can’t remember if they were polished or honed, sorry! They definitely do require maintenance and show a lot of water marks and stains from being well loved and used by our family over the years, so I’d recommend only getting light colored marble if you’re okay with that.

      Posted 6.17.20 Reply
  23. Tiffany wrote:

    I didn’t realize you room-shared with her for almost 2 years! I do too! The slumberpod is a lifesaver. Most everyone I know just moved when they had kids and it’s so refreshing to see someone else like me doing this!

    Posted 6.16.20 Reply
    • Anonymous wrote:

      She only shared a room because she couldn’t give up the second room which she clearly needed for more closet space.

      Posted 6.16.20 Reply
      • Jean | Extra Petite wrote:

        My husband and I each work for ourselves and use our home office to work productively. It’s just our family’s decision to share a bedroom with our baby instead of convert our workspaces into a nursery – no need for your judgmental tone.

        Posted 6.16.20 Reply
        • Anonymous wrote:

          We did the same thing. We had two rooms and shared our room with our baby. It was just easier for us with the baby sleeping and feeding around the clock. We need our office space to be separate from sleep. We kept our sleeping space separate from our work space. Beautiful reno!

          Posted 6.17.20 Reply
        • Audrey wrote:

          Wow people are rude!

          Jean – can’t wait to see pics of the new place and how you furnish it. Will you talk about transitioning Nori to her own room and if it’s hard?

          Posted 6.17.20 Reply
          • Jean | Extra Petite wrote:

            Hi Audrey – I know this is a unique situation, but I think by using our SlumberPod black out tent daily it might have felt to her like she had her own room. She’s never had any trouble when we go to our in-laws or places where she sleeps in her own room.

            Posted 6.17.20
      • Jay K. wrote:

        Hey annoying, I mean anonymous. Hurt people, hurt people. You keep your catty sour comments to yourself.

        Posted 6.16.20 Reply
    • Tracy wrote:

      Ha, just by moving to a bigger place doesn’t mean the kids will leave your room! We moved to a larger house when my kids were 3 years old and 4 months old. My 3 year old was scared to her sleep by herself in her new room so she slept with us! In fact, both of them are still sleeping with us!

      Posted 6.17.20 Reply
  24. Natalie wrote:

    LOVE THIS. Please show us how you’ll be doing any decor / renovation ideas / furniture tips in your new home too!

    Posted 6.16.20 Reply
  25. Kartika wrote:

    Hi Jean!

    Love the before and after! I think you and Nick did a wonderful job with updating your space and making all the spaces functional with tasteful design.
    Congratulations on your new home and can’t wait to see it!

    Posted 6.16.20 Reply
  26. Annabel wrote:

    What were your thoughts for removing the kitchen wall? I want to do that too but afraid of losing storage.

    Posted 6.16.20 Reply
    • Jean | Extra Petite wrote:

      We spend a lot of time in the kitchen so removing that wall was key for the space to feel more open! Are you able to add more storage elsewhere? For example, we lost the storage on the dividing wall but added a few more cabinets up high along the back (just needs a step stool to get to).

      Posted 6.16.20 Reply
  27. Annabel wrote:

    Thank you for sharing. Looking forward to more home decor & renovation (before & after) posts/blogs in your new home. I can relate so well, living in a small condo and storage space is precious!

    Posted 6.16.20 Reply
    • Jean | Extra Petite wrote:

      Thank you, Annabel! We always imagined fixing up our next home as well, but changed our tune once a toddler + baby on the way came into the picture thus probably won’t be doing much to the new place ; )

      Posted 6.16.20 Reply
      • Chamilka wrote:

        This is such an awesome post. I’ve always been too nervous about major renovations. Looking forward to see how you decorate the new house. Also, please let us know about Nori’s experiences with moving and settling into a new house.

        Posted 6.17.20 Reply
  28. Carla Krae wrote:

    Shame the 80s renovator didn’t leave more character, but at least the hardwood floors were beautiful. Always thought you guys made a nice place. Remember kitchen pics.

    Posted 6.16.20 Reply
  29. S wrote:

    I love this! I would also love to hear more about things you’d do differently. Do you regret very trendy decisions or loved them?

    Posted 6.16.20 Reply
    • Jean | Extra Petite wrote:

      I don’t think we ended up making any particularly trendy decisions, so for the most part are still happy with the choices we made. The main things we would do differently are the ones highlighted in the post – like the bathroom design and paint color and the olive green Kitchen island!)

      Posted 6.17.20 Reply
  30. InkyGirl wrote:

    Beautiful Home! Thank you for sharing. Cannot wait to see your new home!

    Posted 6.16.20 Reply
  31. GL Gardener wrote:

    It is always hard to move as it tugs at your heart. But then it is exciting to start on a new adventure in a new home. Are you moving out of the area?
    Wishing you well on your move. It is not easy to move as we all accumulate stuff and children with stuff!!!

    Posted 6.16.20 Reply
    • Jean | Extra Petite wrote:

      Thank you for the well wishes, we’re still staying in the area!

      Posted 6.17.20 Reply
  32. Mireia wrote:

    Wow the changes are absolutely amazing!

    Mireia from TGL

    Posted 6.16.20 Reply
  33. Maria Laura Alzua wrote:

    What a nice post! I’m planning some renovations to my place right now. Perfect timing! always good to look at ideas!
    good luck in your new home!

    Posted 6.16.20 Reply

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