Uncategorized Our First House June 15, 2013


After: Exterior-We rebuilt the portico, replacing the aluminum with real wood siding, put a new storm door and trim on, added shutters, jackhammered out the old front steps and repoured the concrete, then covered the steps in bluestone pavers and veneer stone.  We removed all of the bushes in front, laid new sod on the left side of the house, and planted some tiny rhodedendrons that will hopefully grow one day!

This was our first house.  We bought it in March of 2008, one week before they stopped offering the first time homebuyer tax credit, so the housing market was pretty slim.  Looking back at these photos I cannot believe we thought buying this place would be a good idea.  It had been on the market for over a year, and we found out at settlement that the previous owner was in prison.  It was a disaster.  Jason and I had absolutely zero renovation experience, and our only tools were a $6 set from Ikea.  It’s pretty amazing how much we were able to accomplish.  The only thing we knew was that the schools were ranked very highly and someone had told us that really helped your resale value.

Living room: Before

In the living room we removed the huge mirror over the fireplace and  broke up the terra cota hearth with a sledgehammer, retiling it with honed marble and whitewashing the brick.  Of course we covered everything in paint, too.


The kitchen was our first big project.  We painted the cabinets, replaced the appliances, had new granite countertops installed, laid a floating vinyl tile over the floor, added new cabinet hardware, installed a glass subway backsplash, and painted the walls. This is after:

Our main floor bathroom was done before we moved in.  Jason gutted, but we had a contractor move the wall back 30″, install drywall, and plumb.  Then we tiled in Carrera marble and replaced everything.  It doesn’t look as gross as it really was because th previous owners covered everything in bath fitter before putting the house on the market, which made it a nightmare to demo.  Before:

It was so small you had to stand in the bathtub to open the sink cabinet.  Here is the after, we did all of the paint, wall tile, and hung all the fixtures:

The next big project we started was the upstairs.  It was a synthetic paneling, not wood, and it was buckling all over.  We gutted it and removed the carpet, then had some guys come in and do drywall.  We prefer not to do drywall, it’s pretty messy and heavy, and worth paying someone else to mess with.
Sorry,  I know those before photos are awful, but that’s all I could find.  We added a walk-in closet, put in a click-lock laminate floor, painted the walls, cut new baseboard molding-this was when we bought our first mitre saw, we have since upgraded to a sliding mitre to cut wider pieces.  It was a big moment for us.

The basement was our last project before we put the house on the market.  Grant was six months old and, originally, we planned to remodel the space to give us an additional living area, but once we were done we decided it looked so nice we had better put the house on the market before we messed it up.  I don’t have any before photos of the bathroom and laundry, but I tiled that myself-that was how I lost the baby weight.  The drop ceiling, synthetic wood paneling, and carpet were pulled out, and drywall and vinyl plank flooring were done by a contractor, but we built the custom cabinetry and barn doors for the utility closet.

That’s me pulling carpet off the stairs.  

And these are the “built ins” someone had made from wood paneling.
In the bathroom I painted horizontal stripes on the wall in an attempt to conceal the uneven ceiling, so the ceiling and upper wall stripe are the same color and matte finish.  I also reglazed the shower with a Rust-oleum shower refinisher, it was almond before.  That stuff stinks, but if you have pink tile or an almond shower, it will do the trick.  We replaced the vanity, mirror, and light when we first moved.  That and the laundry are below:
Last but not least was the sunroom.  Our friends took the old hot-tub, and afterwards we ripped up the carpet.  Jason built up the part of the deck that enclosed the hot tub to the same height as the other deck, and then I stained the wood, painted the brick, and hung some shades where the venetian blinds used to be.
These next rooms we didn’t do much to, besides change out light fixtures and paint.  Our bedroom was nothing more than a bed and some old furniture that was too large for the room.  For staging we painted (it was the only room in the house that had never been painted), sold the old furniture on Craigslist, and hung some pictures on the wall.  We built the headboard when we upgraded to a King Size mattress, I’ll put a tutorial on for that later, or at least link to someone else’s-that’s an easy and incredibly cheap project.
There you have it, that is the story of how we learned carpentry (sort of), plumbing (still a work in progress), masonry (not really, but it lasted long enough to sell the house), electrical engineering (I’m still deaf in one ear from the last time I was shocked), and everything else we do.  We are looking forward to doing it all again in the new house-hopefully we’ve gained enough experience and things will go more smoothly this time around (it’s doubtful).


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