Chicago Home Before & After Renovation

Chicago home before & after renovation posts are my favorite kind of blog posts – I cannot even tell you how many times I’ve searched for “home renovation Chicago!” I specifically love the Chicago (or Chicagoland) posts because they’re often old charming homes. Our home is from the 1890s, which I love! It’s hard to believe it’s been one year since we moved in and over a year since we kicked off renovations at the Herrmannito House! There are so many things I want to share with you all about our Chicago home renovation, but one step at a time. After finding the perfect partnership with a Chicago home renovation contractor, we were quick to get to work. I’ve found that working with home renovation contractors in Chicago, it’s important to find a team that’s knowledgeable about older home architecture whether you’re planning to make updates or keep that old world charm.

Family Room Before & After

I think our family room might go down as the world’s most awkward original family room. This room was by far the funkiest room in the house when we bought it.  It’s a pretty long room making it challenging to layout furniture very well.  Plus the window, the giant TV, random coat closet, and patch of tile. Yikes. This will definitely go down in the Chicago home renovation history books.

Can you believe this is even the same room?!  We covered up the window and removed the coat closet so we could create built-ins across the entire wall.  Then, we removed all of the carpet and the awkward patch of tile and laid down new hardwood floors. Built-ins and hanging the TV really helped to anchor the room. Plus, new hardwood floors, bright paint, and stunning trim from The Matt’s Construction made it feel fresh and like a room you’d want to be in.

The longwall next to the arch initially felt like wasted space, so we anchored it as a reading area. I still dream of reading here, which has only happened maybe twice because I’m always running after Emmie, ha! I love the gold frames and the squared-off arch. The Matt’s Construction, our Chicago home renovation contractor, designed the arch specifically for us and I absolutely love it. Matt is such a creative, dedicated contractor, and I was honored that he’d want to put his stamp in our home.

We could have added a bench here or storage, but I really love functional seating, so I didn’t want to.  Who wants to sit on a bench?  No one.  Although it looks super cute. Toy storage was another consideration, but with all of the space in the built-ins, we didn’t need it.  Plus, I didn’t want the space to feel boxy.  A sitting area was perfect.

I haven’t taken a picture that’s squarely looking at the back family room wally, but we kept the couch there and added in a picture wall. When we did the renovation, the vents were moved up towards the ceiling to better circulate air. Vents in the wall aren’t too attractive, so I found really pretty gold vents to add charm.

chicago home renovation before and after blue curtains west elm poly bark chairs

It’s not the clearest shot, but you can see that I left a couch along the long wall. Our couch has a chaise lounge to it.  I love to sit in that seat and look out the window!

cb2 hexagon hardware built-ins styling neutral home

Shop the family room:

Leather Chair // White Pouf // White Marble Side Table // Gold Frames // Play mat // Couch // Built-ins Hardware // Coat Rack // Curtains // Bay Window Curtain Rod // Arch Floor Lamp // Picture Ledge // Picture Ledge Frames

Dining Room Before & After

It’s funny because we didn’t change much in the family room outside of adding hardwood floors, but oh my gosh is it different!  It’s hard to see but we also added custom double doors to our guest room.  I’ll share that soon!

chicago home renovation before and after

The poly & bark chairs are my favorite and give the table a facelift.  We’ve had this table since our days in Lincoln Park, and I love how it made the table look new.

Framing the windows and adding a pop of color with our blue velvet curtains really made a difference.

chicago home renovation before and after blue curtains west elm poly bark chairs

Shop the Dining Room

Dining Room Table // Dining Room Bench // Dining Room Chairs (linked similar) // Rug (linked similar) // Curtains // Curtain Rod // Buffet // Chandelier

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Bathroom Before & After

I absolutely love this bathroom!  It was technically a standing shower before and we converted it to a tub so it’s easy for bathtime.  Our Kohler shower fixtures are my favorite.  It feels like you’re showering at a spa.  It’s not the largest bathroom so we ended up having a custom vanity created from the cabinet maker.

Shop our bathroom 

Bathroom hardware // Bathroom sink // Bathroom faucet // Shower fixture // Shower handheld // Curtain rod


Have you ever seen a more dramatic before and after?  Sometimes I can’t believe that the original kitchen existed.  What’s funny is the layout is essentially the same, we just added an island and moved the fridge.  The best tip I can share if you go the semi-custom route with cabinets is to get 15″ deep cabinets.  The extra 3″ allows you to fit so much more than you’d expect – think deep platters, dishes, and an extra row of glasses!

cafe matte white chicago home before and after renovation

Adding an island defines the space and gives us the counter space we need.  I think my best decision was adding upper cabinets so we could maximize storage.  I haven’t even filled them all!  Our kitchen isn’t that large by any means, but space is truly maximized.

Opening the wall by the staircase might be the best idea I’ve ever had.  It was a gamechanger in creating a stunning staircase.  We took it from being solely functional to a statement piece in the home.  I detail the full process in my stair runner post here.

white gold modern kitchen

The kitchen is by far my favorite room in the house. When we first kicked off interviewing contractors, I knew that finding the right team to make this room special would be the most important part of a partnership with any Chicago home renovation contractor. It’s light-drenched with my ideal layout. When I designed it, I built it to feature my favorite attributes from both of our homes together. The Café appliances are to die for, and I’m obsessed with the color of grey cabinets we landed on. I detailed our full kitchen renovation here.

cafe appliances matte white neutral kitchen

Shop our kitchen

Kitchen stools // Sink // Sink faucet  // Cabinet pulls // Cabinet knobs // Cutting boards // Lazy susan // Light fixtures  // Oven // Hood // Microwave // Refrigerator // Dishwasher

Adding an open staircase allowed the skylight to work its magic and fill the house with light.  Plus, the heavy furniture from before wasn’t too helpful for the space.

I love my desk and filing cabinet from Megmade. It’s always been a dream to work with Meg, and she lived up to the fangirl dreams I had.  Her furniture is beautiful, classic and so well designed.  It’s fun because this was actually a desk that Jenn Lake had for years.

I added removable wallpaper to my office to give it a pop of color and warm it up.  It’s my little feminine corner of the world in our home.

chicago home before and after renovation home office blue desk feminine lofted space

Shop the office 

Filing cabinet // Desk // Desk chair (linked similar) // Rug // Artwork // Removable wallpaper // Fiddle leaf // Lamp (linked similar)


The nursery was another room with lots of change!  We framed the windows, added wood floors, and adding wainscot around the room.  This is the boldest color I’ve ever used in a home and I LOVE it!  It’s Northern Hemisphere by Valspar.

MG Happy Home (formerly MGFancyFont) created the ruler for us and I love it!  It’s such a fun keepsake to remember how teeny Emmie was no matter where we live. The tent also felt like a fun addition to encourage storytime and pretend play. 
dark green hunter green pink wainscot girl nursery
Emmie loves to play in her room.  Having books that are easily accessible are a big win so she can read in her chair or in the tent.

The wainscot really framed the space and made it so much more elegant. This seemingly small detail was another that was beautifully executed by our Chicago home renovation contractor, The Matt’s Construction. I’ve also always loved the giraffe print, which we had in her first nursery in Southport Corridor.

Shop the nursery 

Crib // Rug // Giraffe Print // Dresser // Changing pad // Nightstand // Glider // Leather Pouf // Bookshelves // Curtains // Curtain Rod // Lamp (linked similar) // Tent // Artwork (linked similar) // Measurement sign (linked similar)

Phew!  That was a lot to share, and I still have our room and the guest room!  Better to start with this than wait any longer, right??  I hope you love looking at before and after photos as much as I do.  I’d be lying to say I wouldn’t want to do another renovation someday… I kind of love them, ha!  Maybe sooner than later, we’ll see!

Meet Jen

I’ve always had a love affair with creation. Since I was a child, I handmade my gifts or combined toys to design something new. Fast forward twenty years, and I’m still making my gifts every holiday and designing new ways to do things.


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In order to grow my small business, I earn revenue in a few different ways. I publish sponsored posts from time to time, which are always labeled. Sometimes I earn an affiliate commission on the sales of products or business resources I link to. I only feature items I genuinely love and want to share. Thank you for reading and supporting my small business!

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