Tuesday, January 29, 2013

home sweet home - number two

Our first house was a mid-century Cape Cod in the middle of town.  We were located on a corner lot and were the proud owners of a 2.5 car garage.  Our backyard was non-existent but we did have a fenced-in side yard with a large deck that was perfect for entertaining.  I loved the house.  Hubby was never fully on board, though.  Our main floor had two bedrooms, one bathroom, a living room and a tiny, eat-in galley kitchen.  The upstairs was a large open area that had been finished by a previous owner and our basement had been partially finished by the couple we bought the house from.  Essentially, we had three levels of livable space so the tiny 850 square foot main floor didn't seem so small.

We did quite a bit of work on the house in the five years we lived there.  Walls were painted.  Hardwood floors were re-finished.  Basements were waterproofed (and re-waterproofed and finally really waterproofed).  Rooms were decorated.  Yards were landscaped.  Entryways were tiled.  Lights were replaced.  Walls were re-painted.  Kitchens were remodeled.  Drywall was hung.  Decks were built.  Foundations were braced.  Popcorn ceilings were scraped.  Stairs were refinished.  Drop ceilings were hung.  Paved sidewalks were laid.  Carpeting was installed.  Decks were stained.  HVAC systems were replaced.  It's actually kind of sad and exhausting to think of everything we did... and then left behind.

I'll go into more detail and provide progress photos for a few of the rooms, but I thought I'd share the true before and after photos.  The before photos were either taken by the inspector when we bought the house or by ourselves when we first toured it.  The after photos were taken by our Realtor when we sold the house this past fall.

You can't see the true extent of the work we did outside, but it involved removing very overgrown Yew bushes, building a front porch, adding a compost bin and rain barrel, planting loads of flowers and replacing old, broken patio pavers with a new paved sidewalk.  We also replaced the porch light and added a clothesline.

The living room transformation wasn't quite as exciting.  We replaced the linoleum entryway with ceramic tile, painted the white walls a creamy milk chocolate, replaced the entryway light with a boob light (eeek), replaced the ceiling fan with a more stylish ceiling fan, painted the curtain rods oil rubbed bronze and installed faux-wood blinds.

In contrast, the kitchen was our biggest transformation and the most exciting.  Hubby's dad is a woodworker by trade and helped us to completely remodel the kitchen right away.  We removed popcorn texture from ceiling, skim coated the ceiling, removed paneling from the lower half of the walls, patched  plaster, painted the cream walls a minty green, painted the trim cream, refaced the green and cream cabinets with cherry veneer, built new cabinets for the appliance wall, replaced old cabinet doors and hardware with new cherry cabinet doors and updated hardware, replaced laminate counters and a stainless steel sink with solid surface counters and a flush-mount sink, replaced aged light fixtures with new ones, replaced all appliances, replaced the faucet and installed faux-wood blinds.  Really, the only thing that didn't change was the tile floor and backsplash.

The previous owners used the spare bedroom as a workout room and we changed it into an office.  A few years later, it was transformed into a nursery.  Over the years, we refinished the hardwood floors, painted the white walls mustard and terracotta, installed crown molding and chair rail, replaced the old light with a ceiling fan, painted the closet white and ultimately re-painted the mustard and terracotta walls cream and baby blue.  We had intended to replace the old metal blinds but never got around to it.

We pretty much lived with the bathroom 'as is' and only painted it a light taupe when we listed it for sale.  If we had stayed in the house longer, we probably would have made it a priority to add a second bath (there was another shower in the basement, but no sink or toilet).  We also would have re-finished this bathroom at some point.  It was functional, but was a by-product of leftovers.  There were at least seven shades of taupe/pink/tan in there (the floor tile, the baseboard tile, the tub, the tub surround tile, the toilet, the toilet seat and the vanity).  On a side note - we had someone come through to help us stage the house before we listed it for sale.  She suggested a lighter shower curtain to brighten up the bathroom, so the curtain you see hung above was brand new.  The entire time we lived there, we had used a dark brown shower curtain.

The spare bedroom, master bedroom and bathroom were connected by a hallway that I can't find before/after pictures of.  I suppose it's not something you're specifically trying to market when you sell a house, though.  The hallway housed two closets, as well, so it was really just a jumbled mess of doors.  And the door frames were painted varying colors.  It was one of those things that drove me crazy, but I never got around to fixing.  We really didn't do much to the hallway other than paint the walls cream and install a frame wall, a la Young House Love.

The master bedroom  actually went through a bit of an identity crisis.  I changed the original paint color at the last minute from a darker, gray-based turquoise to a brighter, Tiffany-like turquoise.  I never really liked the brighter color but it took me four years to buy the paint to re-paint it.  It took another six months before my Mom visited and decided to re-paint it for me.  Thanks, Mom.  In the master (that was the same size as the spare), we refinished the hardwood floors, painted the white walls a semi-bright turquoise, painted the closet white, replaced the ceiling fan with a more stylish ceiling fan and ultimately re-painted the turquoise walls cream.  I'll have to find photos of the bright walls to share.

Upstairs, we really didn't do much.  I'd intended to fix the weird trim and paint the ceilings the same color as the walls, but it never made the priority list.  We were also thinking about removing the wood burning stove (we didn't use it a single time while we lived there) and ripping up the lovely burnt orange/red tile.  Instead, we hung a curtain rod to conceal a storage area above the stairs and re-finished the stairs by stripping the peeling paint, sanding the treads, and painting the risers/staining the treads.  I'll also have to share a photo of the stairs, as well.  I absolutely loved how they turned out.

The basement received quite a bit of DIY love, as well.  Besides bracing a foundation wall with steel beams, replacing the furnace and A/C and adding a sump pump and drain tiles, we also did a lot of cosmetic work.  We finished drywall in the main rec area, installed carpet, hung doors, painted the walls, hung the drop ceiling, added can lights and ultimately replaced an area of the carpet with vinyl flooring (the result of putting off installing a sump pump for far too long).

The smaller rec room in the basement was transformed from a poker room to a bar area.  Hubby's dad handcrafted the solid oak bar as a housewarming gift and we were extremely sad to leave it behind.  It was never listed for sale with the house, but eventually it became a condition of the sale.  Still bummed about that one.

The laundry room received a thick coat of white paint to hide the horrible, dungeon-like sponge painting and was also officially walled off from the rest of the basement.  Otherwise, we did very little.  I had hoped to add shelves at some point and we'd even talked about making this room a second bath, but neither ended up coming to fruition. I do need to add a photo of the shower that was built under the stairs, though.  For being the secondary shower, it was far nicer than our normal bath/shower combo.  The built-in granite seat, and wall-to-wall tile were actually very pretty.  Too bad that it was hidden under the stairs and that the basement was always a bit cold to shower in.  I think I showered in it once?  And it was in the last week we lived there because the shower curtain from the upstairs bathroom had been already been packed.

There was another section of the basement that was walled off and used for housing the mechanicals, as well as all of our storage.  I was amazed at how full that room became once E came along and started growing out of baby clothes, equipment and toys.  I think his stuff ended up filling half the room.  Pure craziness.

Also pure craziness?  The number of people willing to help us make this house our home.  We wouldn't have been able to make the improvements we did without the help and expertise of others.  A huge THANK YOU is due to many of our friends and family members who sacrificed their time to assist us.  From the bottom of our hearts, thank you to our parents, our siblings, Bryan, Uncle Jim and Aunt Sharon, our neighbor Gabe, Tank, Aunt Donna and Uncle Gary and anyone else I probably missed.  We love you all.

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