Couple Transforms 120-Year-Old Church Into Their Dream Home

It took them 2 1/2 years to complete the project, but it’s a dream home unlike any other.

Most people enjoy getting involved in a restoration project but they don’t always have the opportunity to take it to a large scale. As you search down through your Instagram feed, you are likely to find many inspirational posts. There are very few, however, that are as inspirational as what Anastasiia and Gunther have posted.

That Maryland couple decided they would renovate a building and turn it into a home. It wasn’t all that unusual until you find out that it was a 120-year-old church they had purchased for $320,000. It took them 2 1/2 years to complete the project, but it’s a dream home unlike any other.

Anastasiia worked as a teacher and Gunther is a biostatistician. They were driving along the road near their home when they were surprised to see a for sale sign in front of the All Saints church. They were not only surprised; they were motivated.

“I suppose it was just like love at first sight; it’s hard to pinpoint what exactly made our hearts skip a bit, but it did so, in spades,” Anastasiia said according to Simplemost. “It was the grandeur of the space, among many other things, like beautiful woodwork, colorful light streaming through the original stained glass, the gothic arches of the windows and doors – and just the overall feeling that it was meant to be ours.”

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Hello there! We are a husband and wife duo, living in a converted gothic revival church on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, and renovating it along the way. Welcome to our journey of never ending DIY/weekend warrior projects, as we figure out how to turn this “never-meant-to-be-a-home” into one. We hope you will fall in love with this place as quickly as we did, with its grand and majestic vaulted ceilings, intricate stained glass windows, and uniquely serene beauty ensconsing the entirety of this new home. #allsaintshouse #gothicrevival #churchhouse #uniquehomes

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The All Saints church was designed by Henry Martyn Congdon, a New York architect. The original church had burned down in 1899, and this building was erected between 1900 and 1901.

Philadelphia Architects and Buildings reports that there are also other churches designed by the same architect, including St. Luke’s Church in Germantown, Pennsylvania, Calvary Church and Parish House in Summit, New Jersey, and St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Philipsburg, Pennsylvania.

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Designed by New York architect, Henry Martyn Congdon, All Saints Church was erected in 1900-1901 on the same site as its predecessor, also designed by Congdon, which burned on December 31, 1899. With construction costs financed by the prominent Goldsborough family few expenses were spared on erecting a replacement church. Following the popular asymmetrical format and sheathed with a combination of horizontal weatherboards and board-and-batten siding, the rectangular sanctuary is accompanied by a massive tower and squat broach spire, an enclosed porch entry, a chancel, and a sacristy. Imported stained glass windows from Munich, Germany along with decorative tile floors, a darkly stained exposed timber roof structure, and intricately carved church furniture were combined in an impressive execution for a country church. All Saints is one of two churches in Talbot County designed by Congdon, the other being Christ Church in St. Michaels. With its well-defined plan and sophisticated exterior and interior finishes, All Saints Church stands out in Talbot County as part of a small collection of architect-designed buildings erected in response to an international movement within the Episcopal Church, initiated in Cambridge, England and implemented in the United States by the New York Ecclesiological Society (1848-1855). As part of their efforts to enhance the Episcopal worship service during the early 19th century, the ecclesiologists promoted specific architectural formulas that would heighten the functional working and symbolic nature of city as well as rural churches. /// (Русский перевод в комментариях) #allsaintshouse_history

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Gunther fell in love with the Great Room and its 20 foot high vaulted ceilings with two skylights. When he walked out on the balcony from the master bedroom and looked down on the Great Room, he was hooked. He told Simplemost, “I imagined the big family events as well as the parties with friends and community.”

Anastasiia said, “He still comes out on that balcony almost every morning to look over the Great Room!”

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The Great Room of #allsaintshouse. The vaulted ceiling here is 25ft high and has two enormous skylights that take up the entire northern side of the roof. The beautiful stone and wood fireplace in the corner is a relatively new addition, built entirely by G (we will tell you all about this magnificent project in a separate post!). The rest of detailing in this room, as well as most of the house, is original. We are very thankful to the former owners for preserving not only architectural integrity of the building, but also the finishes on all the wooden trim and chair rail. #uniquehomes #gothicrevival #churchhouse #iliveinachurch #interiorthursdays

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Admittedly, it wasn’t all that common to purchase a church to make into a home. It took a lot of inspections and reports to the real estate agents that they were buying it as a niche property. It also had its fair share of problems, including mold and termites.

In order to reduce the cost, an online bank based in Missouri was used.

“All I did during the purchase process is worry about it – whether or not we would get it,” admitted Anastasiia to Simplemost.

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Bright and beautiful morning at the All Saints House ☀️ Also, look at this stunning baby grand! It is a nineteen-hundred Packard, that spent most of its life in a church, so it feel right at home here! ❤️ #interiorthursdays

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After making the purchase, the couple renamed the church, “All Saints House”. They then set out to completely renovate it. This included cleaning the place for the first two weeks because it had not been temperature controlled for four years.

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Another angle of the All Saints House. Doesn’t this couch just seem so inviting? 😉 P.S. It is a 12-foot couch, that we thought would be incredibly big…but in this room it looks like a normal-sized couch! #interiorthursdays

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In the end, they feel as if they learned a lot and Anastasiia gives her husband a lot of credit. She even called him an “impressive guy” on Instagram.

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DIY Story Time!(Swipe-swipe-swipe for before and in the process photos) This corner of the room had an opening into the chimney and stone floor, so we’ve assumed that previous owners had a potbelly stove. And while we were pretty happy continuing with their idea, G brought home a fireplace insert (yep, that happens in my life more frequently than you can imagine😉). At first we just thought of building a simple wall to “house” it. But as the process developed we’ve changed the pitch of the top part to a fading slope, the middle got some stone veneer, and the bottom – comfortable hearth. G handled all these changes himself with no previous experience of this kind! Detailed work around the ceiling trim, calculation of all the complex angles, cutting and matching the stone are just few impressive skills that G demonstrated while working on this project. He is quite an impressive guy if I say so myself 😉 /// Время историй «Сделай сам!». Когда мы переехали в этом углу комнаты уже было отверстие для печной трубы и каменный противопожарный пол. Скорее всего у прежних хозяев там стояла небольшая чугунная печка. Мы поначалу собирались повторить их идею, но однажды G притащил домой каминную вставку (он и не такое домой иногда тащит…). Изначальный план был построить простую вертикальную стену с отверстием для камина, но одно повлекло за собой другое… и появилась верхняя часть под необычным углом, каменная облицовка и большое уютное сидение перед камином. И все это сумасшествие G делал сам без посторонней помощи и предыдущего опыта! Расчет тяжелых углов, резка камня и дерева – он все может. Талантливый у меня муж, что тут сказать? 😉 #allsaintshouse_diy #allsaintshouse_reno

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Even though they did a lot of work on the inside and the outside of the building, they did try to preserve the original character.

“All of them have done a marvelous job in maintaining the character of the building while remaining respectful during the entirety of their previous renovations,” Anastasiia said according to Simplemost. “None of the original details were damaged or removed, and all the additions are built around the existing features, allowing for them to potentially be removed at any point without any consequences to the architectural integrity of the building.”

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Another angle of All Saints House, featuring our giant skylights, chimney and the belfry! Two of the skylights are in the Main Hall, while one takes up the entire side of our bedroom (lots and lots of light!). The belfry still has a working bell on the third floor, and first two floors will be an Airbnb sometime (hopefully) soon! /// Решила показать вам наш All Saints House с нового угла! Здесь три огромных окна на крыше, каминная труба и трехэтажная башня. Два окна выходят на Главный Холл, а одно – нашу спальню (много много света!). На третьем этаже в башне есть работающий (!) колокол, в первые два будут сдаваться в Airbnb когда-нибудь (надеюсь) скоро!

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A Franmar “Blue Bear” chemical stripper was used in the building to remove lead paint from the front doors. Protective masks were used to protect from toxic fumes, but the doors were restored beautifully.

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Progress report on The Door Project: Ta-da! G has successfully disarmed the lead paint door! Next steps are to sand, stain and seal it. Swipe to see the “Before”. (If you want to see/know more about the project check out the “Front Door” highlight) P.S. To strip the door we used “Blue Bear” (@bluebear_diy ) by Franmar. They have some really great producs which we plan to use on all of our windows and back doors as well! #bluebear#franmar #paintstripping #paintstripper #diy#doityourself #upcycledfurniture #biodegradable /// Новости на фронте домашних проектов: Дверь с литиевой краской была успешно обезврежена! Следующий шаг – шкурка и морилка! (Если Вам интересно узнать больше об этом проекте, смотрите истории под закладкой «Front Door») #deserve2preserve #restore2home

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They also painted the outside two shades of gray. Previously, the owners had chosen gray over the traditional white color, but they still think about painting it red with white trim!

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Day 16 of #myhousethismonth and “Monochrome”. The exterior of All Saints House is painted two shades of beautiful grey. Previous owner chose these colors over traditional for a church white. We like it as is, but every now and then we have a temptation of painting it all red with white trim! 😅 /// День шестнадцатый. Снаружи наш дом покрашен двумя оттенками красивого серого цвета. Бывший владелец выбрал эти цвета вместо традиционного для церкви белого. И нас это вполне устраивает! Хотя иногда нас порывает покрасить все здание красным с белой отделкой 😅

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The stained glass is also something that they spent a lot of time preserving. They looked carefully into the architectural integrity and maintaining it from the previous renovations. They do what they can to make it livable, and some conveniences were added.

That being said, the stained glass windows are not going anywhere.

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Day 17 of #myhousethismonth This round stained glass window is a true beauty ❤️ /// Не могу налюбоваться на этот круглый витраж! ❤️

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Much of the furniture that is in the All Saints House is from secondhand stores and antique shops. They try to stick with the style that is associated with the original architecture of the building.

Anastasiia does have a favorite piece, and that is the dining room set. She says it is the first thing they purchased after they moved in.

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Good Friday morning, Friends! It felt like a very long week over here, and we are oh so happy to have reached the weekend. On the agenda – finishing up some Christmas errands and getting ready for something rather exciting that’s going to happen on Monday. We are hosting a Christmas Brunch this year, and I cannot wait to dress up this table! What are your plans for this Holiday season, Friends? – A

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Of course, the kitchen needed a lot of work and it proved to be challenging. During the time that they were doing the kitchen remodel, she was in her third trimester of pregnancy. In the end, she feels that it was well worth it.

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Less pretty, more reno! We are currently involved in a major project – kitchen renovation. As with anything, we ran into quite a few more complications that was anticipated, but we are still going strong! The plan was: to move the door couple feet to the left (pictured here), jack up the floors and sister-up some joists, refinish the floors, and move on to building custom cabinets (while we have marvelous carpenter dad visiting). However, things never go exactly the way you want them to…so, some termite damage and half later, we are moving along with this monstrosity of a project (we never did anything on this scale before!). Check out our stories today for a closer look at our game plan and all the things we had to fix! P.S. Gothic arches for days! ❤️

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Anastasiia also relied on her father, especially when it came to the kitchen renovation.

“I’m thankful that my father-in-law is a Russian fine craftsman and finish carpenter/cabinet and furniture maker,” Gunther said to the outlet. “He really saved our bacon on the kitchen reno.”

Even though she was pregnant, Anastasiia still got involved. They did use low VOC and she wore a mask for extra protection.

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Another weekend of kitchen reno is in the books. And while some of us (me, the very pregnant lady) had to resort to landscaping, feeding the crew, and a role of project manager, a lot of work was accomplished in the kitchen. G has conquered all of the electric (that was an impressive task, including replacing some messy wiring and overloaded fuses!) and worked on plastering the dinning room side. Then, him and Grandpa finished patching up the floor! If you followed our stories, you might have seen that every plank had to be cut to width and depth to match the original flooring. And then Grandpa had to spend an entire day planing it down (this guy is a wood whisperer!). Moreover, he finished up the wainscoting and more trim work (and boy it looks awesome!). Tomorrow we are getting some Rubio Monocoat samples in mail, so we can start the final chapter of the kitchen floor saga any day now! Hope you all had a productive (or restful, no judgment here) weekend! P.S. We do feel as tired as we look!

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Their favorite room is the finished kitchen and it became the spot they chose for their maternity shoot.

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And the kitchen is moving back in! We still have quite a few things to finish up, including backsplash, painting, replacing the lights, but…we can finally go back to using the room after three long months of renovations! Here you can see a little sneak peek of this newly completed beauty. Thanks to our lovely @cecilestorm for this photograph from out maternity shoot this afternoon ❤️

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Although the finished product is beautiful, it did take a lot of work and it didn’t all come together immediately. They did much of the work themselves to reduce the costs.

“We live in an area of highly concentrated wealth, with hundreds of waterfront mansions and estates, therefore the general principle is that everyone’s motto is that ‘no-jobs too small, except for yours,’” said Gunther. Paying for others to do the work, like the roofing, would be no cheap feat. “We intend on doing it ourselves after receiving some mind blowing quotes ($100k for a simple asphalt shingle roof!).,” she shared on Instagram.

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Happy Sunday, Friends! ☀️ Romance with an old house comes with a lot of projects, exciting and not so much. But inevitably, you find yourself spending every evening, every weekend, every holiday, chipping away at that long to-do list you’ve set yourself with. You enjoy the process, and sometimes you don’t. You complete one project, and sometimes leave another one half-done for a little while. You finish it on time and within the budget, and sometimes you are months behind with a credit card bill and a massive headache. Owning and loving an old house is an adventure, in many ways akin to parenthood. The results of your hard work are important, but mean very little if you did not enjoy the ride. And so, while we have quite a few finishing touches left on our kitchen renovation, we are taking some time off, and enjoying this other type of adventure – the one with long hours of snuggles, sleepless nights, dirty diapers and unconditional, neverending and the most beautiful kind of love. And we couldn’t be happier. We hope all of you are enjoying your weekend, and for that matter, the adventure you are on! – Cheers, Anastasiia

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There is a climbing wall and roof for the children. So far, they have two teenagers and an infant.

“They like the house’s uniqueness,” Anastasiia said shared with Simplemost. “And the fact that it is our family project. We are on this journey together, and that is quite exciting!”

“It has been a transition from the small French country farmhouse style of our previous home,” added Gunther. “But having the large yard woods and river out back is a nice change for them.”

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Not the most conventional one of all out projects, but certainly is the most exciting one. Especially for our middle G! Behind this blue wall is our new laundry closet. Upon its installation we left it as a ‘bump-out’ and added a platform above it for a hangout spot. Yesterday G added the climbing wall and a rope, and now it’s looking like every boys dream room 😍 P.S. Gunther is the best!

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They also came up with a few unexpected surprises. This included a brick pathway that was buried by the front door. When they found it, it was exciting because it was exactly what they would’ve selected. Their son removed the bricks, added some French drains and put the original bricks back again.

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Freshly planted mums, freshly swept walkway, and a cool photo of the three of us, all thanks to my mom! Happy Monday, Friends! P.S. Be on a lookout for my bathroom #intermidiovation , hopefully it will help me be more motivated!

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Along with all of the work that they did on the home, it also takes a lot of extra work on a daily basis. Cleaning the home takes a lot of effort, which was even more effort with a newborn in the house.

One of the important pieces of equipment they have is a cordless vacuum so it can navigate its way through the home easily.

“It’s a big house and is surrounded by a wooded area, therefore spiderwebs appear overnight, not to mention frequent visitors – flying squirrels, birds, bats and snakes,” she said. “The house requires lots of daily maintenance.”

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Good morning, Friends! Today we are thinking all about balance. Life is a juggling act, that’s for sure. Right now we have a 4 month old baby, two full time jobs, pre-teen son, nursery renovation, desperate lack of storage space, and a few unfinished projects. And oh, how easily could we get stressed out and overwhelmed. At a drop of a hat, that’s for sure. Especially when things don’t always go according to plan. Like the bathroom makeover I started a month ago. How far did I get? Not far at all, I am currently stuck on the most tedious and annoying part – sanding and prepping the wood for stain. But that is okay. Once again, I am here to remind myself that this house is a journey, not a destination. So we will take it slow, one step at a time – 365 steps in one year. Today is back to work. See you next Saturday, Fellow Weekend Warriors! Photo by lovely @oliviareedphoto

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The nursery makeover for their youngest son was still on the radar. They had done some refinishing of the doors but when she “lost steam,” she soon found herself pregnant.

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Good rainy morning, Friends! ☔️ Our little G has recently graduated from bassinet to a crib! It is so special, since both of his older brothers slept in it too! ❤️ And here is some home renovation reality for you – the double doors that are still unfinished and missing hardware. Last summer I stripped and refinished the other three (!) doors in this room to match the original woodwork, but I lost steam on this one and got pregnant soon after… This summer, with newborn, it was not a desirable project, and now it must be put off until next summer in anticipation of better weather. We will never be done with house projects, won’t we? 😅 📸 by @oliviareedphoto

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A nursery progress picture was shared on Instagram, showing that they were ready to remove insulation and linoleum to get started again.

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Another demo-day is over! And this time we were working together, thanks to greatest babushka ever for watching little G! The nursery is well underway, next step – removing remaining insulation and linoleum (looks like the hardwood floors will need some serious TLC), and then we can begin building it back up! And it’s probably a good time to start designing it too… P.S. Take a look at today’s progress on stories or in ‘Nursery’ highlights!

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After their third child was born, they took some time off to enjoy the new arrival. They still have a lot of plans for the future, and she is “excited about creating an English garden with boxwood evergreen maze and a large stone patio for summer parties.”

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Good Monday morning, Friends! We are enjoying some of autumn sun and getting ready for the day. Not much progress to project report on, as we spent this weekend enjoying some quality family time! ❤️ How was your weekend?

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A tower remodel was also on the radar.

“Imagine those vents gone and replaced by 10-13 foot tall floor to ceiling clear glass windows!” Gunther wrote on Instagram.

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Rare back side tower perspective… imagine those vents gone and replaced by 10-13 foot tall floor to ceiling clear glass windows! Also clear glass on the second floor Air b-n-b victorian era bedroom with screened off claw foot cast iron tub… in the bedroom!! Cant wait to get permission from the other 3/4 of the family to start this project. Let me know what you would do with this space. My brother says make it a throne room, with a big plein aire toilet as a throne 🤔😂 – Gunther

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Buying an old church is like buying a piece of history. There are plenty of things in the home to maintain and revamp while still showing honor to the original architecture. That includes the fireplace in the great room and a grand piano, which was originally a church piano

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Have you seen this beauty? Originally a church piano, it ended up in our church-home, which couldn’t have been more perfect! It’s a beautiful Packard from the beginning of the 20th century, in a good condition, and it fits absolutely perfectly in this space. ❤️ /// Вы видели эту красоту? Изначально это был церковный рояль, а теперь он оказался в нашем доме-церкви. По-моему это очень хорошее совпадение! Пакард начала 20 века в хорошем состоянии, он стал великолепным дополнением этой комнаты. ❤️

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All Saints House was ready for the 2019 holiday season and was decorated beautifully.

“I found that smaller objects and trinkets get lost in the grandeur of this room,” Anastasiia wrote on Instagram.

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The Great Hall is officially ready for the Holidays! Even though our annual Holiday Party was rescheduled due to an unfortunate and unexpected well saga, we are feeling quite festive. The tree is up, the garlands are in place, and it’s all looking quite magical. Our decorations are few and far in between, as I found that smaller objects and trinkets get lost in the grandeur of this room (and quite frankly, because I am trying to keep the Christmas item storage boxes to a max count of 4). In other great news, Gunther finished radiant floor in the library and radiator in the master, so we have heat! Now it’s time to snuggle on the couch and edit the All Saints House Christmas 2019 video! -A

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Anastasiia and Gunther are ready to do more work and are in this for the long haul. They feel that they have up to 10 years of renovations to go.

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Renovation life is not for everyone. Even if you love the excitement of impending change spiced up with construction dust and inevitable ‘oops, we didn’t account for that’ moment, you can find yourself enjoying the renovation-free routine. The kitchen renovation took us 3 months and was a giant undertaking. With no proper place to cook or do the dishes (and a very pregnant lady), this exciting endeavor was quite daunting at times. A week after it was complete, the little G arrived. Now, six months later, we still find ourselves unable (or unwilling?) to complete last few finishing touches. Like painting the cabinets around the dishwasher, installing the backsplash and the toe kick…But one must learn to be at peace with it, especially if there are another 5-10 years worth of renovations to follow. I think we may adapt Mary Kondo’s approach – if it doesn’t spark joy at the moment, we shouldn’t do it! 😅 In all seriousness though, one more holiday party of the season this weekend, and then we are diving back into that reno life! P.S. In all honesty, I am not the least bit scared of any other major renovation on our way, with that husband of mine I’m ready for anything! – Anastasiia

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