I don’t know what possessed us to do it. Necessity I suppose. We could only afford a foreclosure and foreclosures in our price range were not the prettiest of sights. Cue the peeling wallpaper borders, masses of cat hair, and stained carpet…shudder. But Ethan can literally tackle any project (home renovation, cars, woodworking, metal working…I don’t even know what he can’t do) and he saw the potential in this ugly box of sticks we decided to make ours.
I’m glad I trusted him, because what a ride a home renovation is. I mean, really. The sweat, the tears, the blood (no exaggeration here; all three took place at least once in this process), it was all worth the end result of a house we poured ourselves into.
And then promptly sold in a little over a year, but that’s what house flipping is, guys. It’s just a house, after all.
Home Renovation is Hard Work, Chums
Anyway, on to the good stuff. You’ve got to see these pictures; the work Ethan did was truly remarkable, and most of it was done while he was finishing his final year of college. He’d drive up to our new place and work on it after and between classes so that it was ready for us to move into before our rent was up. I’d come and help on weekends, but Oliver was just a babe at the time, so I was limited in my availability.
Here’s how this is gonna go down: I’m going to post before photos of the house with descriptions. Then I’ll do a separate post with the after photos. Pretty straightforward. I’ll apologize in advance for the lack of quality in the before photos; Ethan took them with a pretty janky cellphone (and I grabbed exterior photos from the interwebs…oopsies). But at least we have them! We’ll plan better next time, promise.
So this is obviously the exterior; nothing awful, but way overgrown and needing some serious love. We gave it love; just you wait and see.
This was the original stairway. This picture was taken standing in the exterior doorway on the driveway side with the kitchen due right and the living room due left. Awful layout. Had to go.
The kitchen. I’m not even sure what else to say about this…powder blue paint, truly terrifying wallpaper, gross laminate floor (we’re not against laminate over here; it’s just that this particular variety was WAY overused in the 80s), and then there were the cabinets that looked as though they’d been shellacked. It was also a little on the cramped side. We fixed it, don’t worry.
More kitchen; just so you can get a better feel for the layout, the stairway is directly at the left elbow of whomever took this shot.
That carpet though. This is the living room; to get your bearings, the stairway is now at the photographer’s right elbow. So as you can gather, this stairway created some serious division in the house.
This is another shot of the living room. The kitchen is still to photographer’s right and the front door is just out of the frame to the left. The open doorway leads to the hallway and that wall furthest from the photographer is what separated the living room from the third bedroom.
This third bedroom was itty bitty. And we needed a new spot for our stairs since we obviously weren’t going to let the great divide between the kitchen and living room remain. So, the walls came tumbling down and the new stairway went in nice and cozy-like where the third bedroom used to be. Let me show ya.
Knocking down walls commences. The black tarp you see is to keep peeping Toms at bay since we obviously weren’t living in the place during the reno. It’s covering the door on the driveway side and the kitchen is at the photographer’s back here. The living room is to the front-ish and right of the photographer.
This is looking from the kitchen into the living room. You can see that another wall was decimated by this point too and the third bedroom is no longer.
Another super fuzzy shot of where the wall used to be separating the living room from the third bedroom. Things are getting wild!
We’re filling the floor in where the stairs were removed and making sure the ceiling stayed supported until we got a lam beam up since we pulled out a supporting wall. And whenever I say we, I mean Ethan. Ethan did all of this.
All flooring is removed here (YAY) which I did help with! And the floor is mostly repaired at this point (I’m pretty sure). Ethan did a little leveling to keep things from getting uneven before we laid new flooring, but this is able to be walked on at this point. And all of the posts you see are, again, support beams for the ceiling as we wait to install the two gigantic lam beams (overkill? perhaps) from the supporting wall knockout.
Another terrifying view of dangling cords and messy messes. You can see the hole in the far end of the photo here where the new stairs were installed!
New hole! New stairs! The stringer and treads have been installed at this point.
A closer view of the hole before the new stairs were there. Exciting stuff, this was. So if you’ve gotten lost again, the living room is at the photographer’s back here and the kitchen is behind and to the right.
Sorry, I got a little ahead of myself and forgot to show you more actual before images. Back to those now.
This was the bathroom. When we removed the vanity, there was enough animal fur to craft a small winter coat. Oh, and while we’re on the topic of hair, I should add that all of the baseboard heaters were crammed with the stuff. Fire hazard much?
And yes, Ethan converted the house into forced air. It was amazing. He’s amazing. This bathroom? Not amazing.
This was a fun afternoon when Ethan crawled up into the attic to do attic-y things and got covered in insulation necessitating a shower. No shower curtain? No problem.
This was the master bedroom. I know, scary. My favorite feature? The specialty down-curved fan blades. Also, zero percent of any of the rooms in this house had lights in the ceiling (except for the kitchen and bathroom; my math skills are shifty, so you can re-assess those percentages if you feel so led).
This was the other bedroom we decided to keep around. I’m pretty sure that’s indoor/outdoor carpet, but I could be wrong. Either way, it was beyond nasty.
The Corkboard of Doom
I can’t believe I didn’t take a photo of it, but in this room and the third bedroom (that we mercifully ripped apart), there was this corkboard adhered to the wall. And when I say adhered, I mean it was one with the sheetrock. After scraping it off and attempting to sand the spot smooth, I ended up having to use sheetrock mud to skim coat and actually resurface the wall. That corkboard was my nemesis.
I won though. But moral of the story: don’t adhere large swaths of corkboard (probably anything, just to be safe) to your sheetrock. Please and thanks!
This was the hallway. Nothing too exciting here, but the carpet came out, the wallpaper painfully came off (much thanks to my skilled mother-in-law), we retrimmed the whole shebang, and obviously, new paint.
For a point of reference, the kitchen is back and to the right and the living room back and to the left. The third bedroom is the doorway in the left corner of the photo and the bathroom is the doorway directly to your right.
A word on the basement: we had a full basement with two bedrooms, a family room, and a bathroom/laundry room, but we took no before pictures of it. Thoughtless, I know it. I do have a few after photos that you’ll see later though. We never did fully finish the basement before selling, however, because the goal was to flip for a profit and we were at a point that putting any more money into the house likely wasn’t going to render much more of a profit unless we really dumped some more dough.
Didn’t have that kinda green or that kinda time, so we left it unfinished and “ready for you to put your finishing touches on!” as the realtors like to say.
Here’s where things start to get exciting! What you’re looking at here is where we decided to close off the hallway and give ourselves a little more kitchen space. The inset to the left of the cabinets is where the hallway used to be and where the fridge would now go. The lam beams have been installed, insulation replaced, and the ceiling closed up with new sheetrock.
Holy jumping ahead, Batman! But this is the next stage of completion I have photographed, so there ya have it.
We pulled out the cabinets, cleaned them, sanded them, primed them, and then painted them. We also hung them up higher to give us more counter room to play with and eliminated wasted above cabinet space. The old countertops went out the door as well, and we’re awaiting installation of the new ones here.
Oh, and new lights and paint! Yay!
This is another view of the kitchen with the photographer standing in the living room. What a difference knocking some walls out makes! And paint. Paint is a beautiful thing.
Also, in-laws. Ethan’s parents were a huge help. Still are. Love those guys.
Whew! I think that about does it for the construction phase of this home renovation. Next up, AFTER PHOTOS! And I’m going to do exactly what they do to you on the telly: make ya wait. Because anticipation is a beautiful thing. And the post isn’t ready yet, so there’s that too.
Don’t go far!
What you can expect in part two: much better photography (I used a DSLR and got some purdy nice shots of the little place) of both the inside and outside of this completed project.
We sure loved our first house and we hope you enjoy perusing our project notes and photos here!
Have any questions about what we did here or how we did it? Drop us a line and we’ll be happy to wax eloquent about our skills or tell you that we Googled it and flew by the seat of our pants; both happened! And it was awesome.
Love you guys and thanks for hanging around!