Will and I spent the weekend starting to move artwork, lamps, mirrors, and all of our most fragile belongings from our rental in Greenwich into the kitchen and family room of our new house in Darien. Most of the carpets in the house were ripped up last week and the hardwood floors are getting their final coat of poly today, but we’re hoping to renovate the kitchen in the next year or so and didn’t want to stain the floors in there only to damage them when we start the renovation. So the floors in the kitchen and the attached family room will stay as is until we’re able to renovate, which gave us a perfect loading area to start moving things in through the back door since we have to stay off the floors in the majority of the house until Wednesday morning.

design darling before pictures family room

The family room off the kitchen will keep its orange-y floors until we’re ready to renovate the kitchen sometime in 2020. Right now it’s full of art and breakables we moved in through the back door over the weekend to get a head start on our official move-in to the rest of the house this week!

I’ve been rolling back the plastic on the doors to take a peek in at the floor progress and they are looking so good! I’m ecstatic they were in such great condition overall and just needed a quick sanding and staining to give them a new lease on life. We had lifted up a bit of carpet downstairs prior to closing so we knew what we were inheriting there, but everything upstairs was a total surprise and for the most part it’s been very good news!

While we have a verrry lengthy list of projects we’re eager to tackle in this house, we definitely can’t afford to tackle them all at once! Thankfully all the projects after the floors are completed can be tackled one or two rooms at a time (as opposed to a massive gut renovation where we couldn’t live in the house for a while) so we’ll be taking our time and taking on new projects as our savings allow. It’s been challenging to decide what to prioritize when there are so many projects calling for our attention and budget, but we’re thinking the first round of projects will be as follows:

design darling darien house before pictures stairwell

I’d been dreaming of ripping the carpet off of these stairs since we first saw the house. The steps and risers will need a lot of work and we may want to add a runner at some point as they’re quite creaky, but I was very happy to see that dirty carpet disappear!  

1. Last week: Remove carpet in living room, dining room, foyer, library, staircase, master bedroom, nursery, and two other bedrooms on the second floor. Check!

2. Last week into today: Sand, stain, and seal the hardwood floors in the living room, dining room, foyer, library, staircase, nursery, and two other bedrooms on the second floor.

design darling darien house before pictures library

The library off the foyer that will function as Will’s home office, just before the floors were sanded and stained. We went with a medium wood stain slightly lighter than the color of the bannister and the difference in color is fairly subtle (just a little less orange/warm than the photo above), but the difference in overall luster will be pretty dramatic!

3. Middle of this week: Move in furniture.

4. Beginning of next week: Start work in the master bedroom. It’s currently divided into two equally sized rooms (a bedroom and a sitting room) and the plan is to move the dividing wall back about four feet to give us more space in the bedroom and turn the sitting room into a walk-through closet that leads to the master bedroom. At the same time, the contractor will knock down two small closets that jut into the existing bedroom. Once complete, the project will hopefully give us another ~75 square feet in the master bedroom (which currently fits little more than a queen-sized bed!) so I think it will make a big difference both for our comfort and appealing to more buyers when we sell someday in the very distant future.

design darling darien house before pictures master bedroom

The wall we’re about to move between the master bedroom and the sitting room. The room I’m standing in will be the master bedroom and the room beyond it will someday will built out as my dream walk-in closet! 🤞🏼

design darling darien house before pictures master bedroom sitting room

These shelves in the sitting room will come out and the new wall will come up to the right edge of the window, giving us another four feet along the back wall of the master bedroom.

5. Hopefully sometime in August: While we have the contractor ripping out closets along one wall of the master bedroom, he’s also going to close the opening to a very shallow closet from the guest bedroom on the other side of the wall. One of the guest bedrooms is a mirror image of the master bedroom, so it has a ton of closet space in the sitting room portion and would feel more spacious without a door to a dinky closet in the bedroom portion as well. This will allow us to center a bed on the back wall of the guest bedroom without moving any other walls (which we can only do in the master bedroom because there’s a chimney behind one of the walls in the guest bedroom).

design darling darien house before pictures guest bedroom

We can’t move any walls in the mirror image guest bedroom because of a chimney, but getting rid of this shallow closet that backs up to the master bedroom will allow us to center a bed on this back wall. And let me tell you how much I do not miss that filthy carpet!!!

6. Late August? September? However long it takes to rip out walls and build new ones? Can you tell we’re new at this? 🙂 Once the new walls are in place in the master bedroom, we’ll put in new hardwood floors in both the bedroom and the future master closet. We probably will hold off on building out the closet as we can live comfortably with clothes in dressers and on garment racks for as long as we need to, but the hardwood floors in the master bedroom and corresponding sitting room were in pretty tough shape (having been painted over and leaving a two-inch step up between rooms) and the flooring company recommended putting new floors on top as opposed to trying to salvage and level out what’s currently there.

design darling darien house guest bedroom before picture

The other guest bedroom that we’ll stay in while there’s work being done in the master bedroom and mirror image guest bedroom. I haven’t been able to see these wide plank floors since they’ve been sanded and stained since the floors and stairs are getting three coats of poly and I am DYING to see them in their newly refinished state!

7. Late August: Remove wallpaper in the foyer and stairwell and sand and paint stair risers. There is grimy old striped wallpaper that’s been painted over several times and I can’t wait to get it off and replace it with a fresh coat of paint! The stair risers also desperately need to be sanded and painted to match the newly spiffed up wood steps. We plan to tackle both of these ourselves, starting once my parents return from Nantucket in mid-August and can lend us some of their DIY wisdom!

design darling before pictures living room

The living room floors already look so much better since I snapped this photo the day we closed. The sunroom beyond it used to be a screened-in porch and requires repairs to thermal damage along the exterior wall that we plan to tackle at a later date. 

design darling darien house before pictures dining room

The dining room walls are  desperately in need of a magic eraser (legit obsessed with these for cleaning scuffed walls if you haven’t tried them!!!) and a coat or two of fresh paint. It drives me crazy that the trim is more creamy/yellow than the white walls, so we’ll pick out a bright white for both. 

8. Ongoing: Paint the living room, dining room, foyer, library, staircase, and two bedrooms on the second floor. We’re just going to chip away at this over time and it will get done when it gets done! We’ll also paint the master bedroom and future closet once the new walls are in place.

design darling darien house before pictures nursery

The nursery is in a sad state right now but it should look like a completely different room a couple months from now! Ripping out the carpet revealed the same wide plank floors as we have in the other two guest bedrooms and we’re hoping adding beadboard to the bottom half of the walls will help brighten things up since there’s only one window in here.

9. Late August / early September: Install beadboard and hang wallpaper in the nursery. This is probably the only space that we can realistically make feel somewhat finished before my due date at the end of September and I’m so grateful my dad is a whiz at carpentry and has installed beadboard before because I think it’s going to make a huge difference in brightening up this tiny room!

We’re working on replenishing our savings post-down payment to be able to take on renovating the kitchen and powder room sometime next year, but right now this first round of projects is keeping us plenty busy as we get ready to move in in a couple days! I’ll be sure to share updates in blog posts and on Instagram stories as we make progress on this list. I’m so excited to fully move in this week and really get our hands dirty!


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  1. Hi Mackenzie,

    What a beautiful family you have!
    I was wondering what color stain you chose for your hardwood floors. They look great!

    Renee Gregory

  2. I would highly recommend Baldwin hardware from Massachusetts for any hardware you might need for your kitchen or home. Once you go Baldwin, you won’t go back. Their quality is amazing and it’s perfect for an older. I would also recommend a soap stone counter top – you can’t hurt it and it won’t look like dated.

  3. Beautiful home. Enjoyed reading about your plans. Does the nursery have ceiling lights? If not, can they be added to brighten up the room (if they fit your decorating aesthetic).

  4. Oh Mackenzie it’s just lovely! I can’t wait to see how you make it your own! Lots of wonderful memories to be made here…how exciting for you and your family! xx

  5. Congratulations again!!! What an incredibly beautiful home!! I also love and appreciate how refreshingly honest you’ve been throughout this home-buying (and now renovating) process. It really is SUCH a process and can be such a mixed bag of stress, anxiousness and excitement to get everything done! We just closed on our first home in early July in CT (both my husband and I grew up in Fairfield) and I’m working to be mindful of where we put our savings in terms of projects and what pieces we splurge on/buy immediately, as there can be such a tendency to get a move-on with making “a house a home”, but I try to remind myself how important it is to be patient (working on it!). SO excited to follow along on your decorating process!!

  6. Lovely house! Well thats really nice and honest content, I know many bloggers will never put that they cant afford to renovate many things and plan it first. So happy for you and your family, there is no need to rush in decorating or refurbishing a part of the house right away. Its your first home! I cant wait to see what you do with it! Goodluck x

  7. For your squeaky stair treads – squeaky floors are usually a result of the wood rubbing against the nails that hold it in so a stair runner may not solve the problem. I would see if the flooring guys or a carpenter can come up with a fix if it really bothers you – something like a couple screws from underneath the treads (if it can be accessed) would help. Can’t wait to see what you do with the house!

  8. Such a fun and thorough read! Cannot underestimate my excitement for all the home and baby content over the next few months (years?).

  9. Congratulations! I can imagine how excited and relieved you are to have found a home before your due date. It looks beautiful and full of historic charm — something 95% of houses in Florida are sorely lacking which makes house hunting sooo difficult for someone who adores traditional design and architecture! I can’t wait to follow along and see how you transform the rooms over time.

  10. I am excited to see you and Will take on these renovations! The house looks like it has great bones and will renovate nicely. My husband and I are hoping to tackle a kitchen renovation with a baby, so here’s to hoping you get to it first and can share words of wisdom 🙂 .

    Painting is really everything. I have painted 90% of our house in the past year and it’s really helped me relax on the renovation timeline. Which is good, because it allows us to save more and really do the renovation we want!