Gambrel Cottage ~ Before and After

When we bought this (over) 100-year-old home in 2016, I had thought I would document the progress bit by bit, blog our before-and-afters but I am not a dedicated blogger and 2 full years have passed since my last home-based blog.

I have always loved old homes and the idea of fixing one up had always been a dream of mine.  After all the blood, sweat and tears I am happy it is almost done and so glad we had this opportunity.  I would not be against doing it again, just have to see if I can sign up the family.

We bought this diamond in the rough in the beautiful Old West Lawrence-area here in Lawrence, KS.  From the very beginning, my family has enjoyed living in this historic location.  We have all enjoyed the easy walk to unique shops, delicious restaurants/bistros/cafes/bakerys, the KU campus, the Arts Center, the Kaw River and our amazing city library.  Even when we were living amidst stacks of boxes, using sheets of plastic in place of doors, sharing a yucky bathroom with rotting wood and a rusty, avacado green  tub, and using a makeshift/camp kitchen; we would wake up with smiles on our faces, because we absolutely love living here in downtown Lawrence.  My teenage daughter never once complained (I must admit, my own record is not so clean).

We have lived in the Gambrel Cottage through the entirety of the years long renovation.  When we moved in, it was into a home that had once been a jewel.  Built by a former mayor of the city of Lawrence, it boasted craftsman-style wood work, stained-glass windows, a gorgeous hearth room with a breath-taking red-clay brick fireplace, spacious rooms with tall ceilings and an amazing front porch.  Over the years it had become a rental for KU students, and was horribly mistreated.  When it was purchased in the 1990’s by a family, they didn’t have the resources to address some fatal underlying flaws and by the time we purchased the home it was literally on its last leg.  We poured more money into the basement than into any other part of the renovation.  It cost almost half of the overall renovation budget.  It was crumbling to pieces and an underground stream was wreaking havoc.  Now the basement is basically brand new ~ new floor, walls and steel beams have brought the foundation back to life and will lead the home through this century and into the next.

Once we got the basement under control we were able to move into other rooms and have done one room at time over the last 2 1/2 years.  We have renovated 5 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, the kitchen, the detached garage, the front porch, the side porch, the backyard deck and the yard.  At this point we only have one room left to renovate and then several odd jobs (inside and out) that will bring the property back to its former glory.

We have worked with a dozen or so contractors, craftsmen and handymen. Undertaking and overseeing this project we have worked with bad people, good people, terribly confused people and amazingly talented people.    We have handled most of the design ourselves and put our own muscle and sweat into several of the projects.  My dad has come in and helped with some of the more delicate word working.  It has been a labor of love, some trauma has been endured but we have endured and recovered and now are hanging out in a pretty relaxed space where we can enjoy the home.

Our Gambrel Cottage is an ongoing adventure and these are some of my favorite rooms that have come out of this massive renovation.


The Kitchen:  Before and After

Gambrel Cottage Kitchen – Before
Gambrel Cottage Kitchen
Gambrel Cottage Kitchen – Before
IMG_8473 2
Gambrel Cottage Kitchen – Oh, Smeg!
Gambrel Cottage Kitchen – Before
Gambrel Cottage Kitchen
Gambrel Cottage Kitchen – Garden View


Things I love most about our Gambrel Cottage Kitchen:

  1.  I love all the counter space, we can easily accommodate 3 to 4 cooks in this kitchen (although truthfully, there is often just 1).
  2. The large window over the farmhouse sink.  I can wash dishes and watch the koi in the pond and all of our bird visitors (plus the shifting blooms of our garden across seasons).
  3. The “tracks” sign above the sink is an antique railroad sign that my grandpa snagged during his decades long employment with the Burlington Northern.
  4. I love my 36″ SMEG gas range ~ it has been fantastic and it is one element I may insist follow us into our next house.
  5. The original pine floor.  It has been refinished but still shows it age, which I just love.
  6. We had double lazy-suzan corner cabinets installed and I can’t imagine not having both of them.
  7. The oversized bank of drawers to the left of the oven couldn’t be more perfect.  The top drawer holds measuring spoons, cups, favorite spatulas and spices/herbs.  The second drawer holds all of our lunch/left-over containers.  The third drawer is extra deep and houses my most used pots and pans.


The Main Floor Bathroom:


Gambrel Cottage First Floor Bathroom
Gambrel Cottage First Floor Bathroom
Gambrel Cottage First Floor Bathroom – Stained Glass Feature
Gambrel Cottage First Floor Bathroom – Before
And after

Things I love most about the first floor bathroom:

  1.  The stained glass window (of course!!)
  2. The barn door which opens to ample linen storage and stacked washer/dryer.
  3. The custom pattern on the floor ~ we had purchased all-white tile, and thankfully, decided to purchase some black accent which really added some interest to the floor.
  4. The European, lighted make-up mirror ~ the magnified side is a life saver.
  5. The vanity has tons of storage and my daughter has filled it up.  I love the Carrara marble top and the frosted glass doors (even though you can see faint lines of all of my daughter’s beauty supplies 🙂


Master Suite Bathroom

Gambrel Cottage Master Bathroom – Previous life as a bedroom

Originally, this room was billed as “a bedroom”.  A bit confusing, a bedroom with a sink? We assume it was a vestige of the Gambrel Cottage’s past life as a set of apartments.  We envisioned it as our Master Bathroom.  So this is what we created:

Gambrel Cottage – Master Bathroom


Gambrel Cottage – Master Bathroom




Here’s where we had to get creative.  We knocked out the closet and used the left 3/4ths for our wet room and used the right 1/4th for our master closet.


Gambrel Cottage Master Bathroom – Waterfall Shower
Gambrel Cottage Master Bathroom – Original Cast Iron Tub
Gambrel Cottage Master Bathroom – Balcony

Things I love about our Master Bathroom:

  1.  I really adore the original, cast iron, claw foot tub.  It is one of my favorite places in the entire house 🙂
  2. The rainfall shower is luxurious, and the handheld shower head helps me get my crazy mane clean.
  3. The double medicine cabinets are a MUST.  These cabinets are double deep and really increase this bathroom’s storage capacity.
  4. The balcony is my favorite place to spend my late evenings (in 3 out of 4 seasons).  It is a peaceful oasis and a great place to look at the stars.
  5. I also love the black stone wall behind the vanity.  We have a matching black stone wall that surrounds the custom barn door that leads into the master suite closet.

The kitchen remodel was finished in December of 2016.  The first floor bathroom was finished in November of 2017.  Our master bathroom was started in fall of 2016 and finishing touches were done just this fall (November of 2018).

I am hoping to do some additional blogs featuring the kitchen pantry, our mudroom, the master suite (the master bedroom is the last major renovation we have left to do), my daughter’s bohemian bedroom, our art room, and then the garden and outdoor living spaces.

If I don’t get around to it, you know why – I am busy working in the garden or inside the house, continuing to bring life back into our Gambrel Cottage.  Or possibly, taking a walk to the river with my husband or one down to Mass Street with my daughter 🙂

Life is good in the Gambrel Cottage!


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