Our House Over the Years

We’ve lived in our house for almost eight years. It sounds like a long time considering we’re only in our early-mid 30s but it’s gone by fast. When we first bought our house as first-time home owners in 2011, we knew we were buying a fixer-upper. The first time we unlocked the door to OUR house with OUR keys, excitement was a bit overshadowed by a not-yet-defined to-do list. Having no experience with home renovations, only the obvious came to me at the time: let’s paint, replace the carpet, and get new blinds and curtains.

Only being a few years out from college and having to prioritize other financial responsibilities such as paying off student loans, saving up for newer and more reliable cars, and now paying a monthly mortgage, we were unable to rush in to extreme renovations. In retrospect, this was probably for the best because we needed time to figure out what what our style is and what changes made sense for us.

In the early years, we did put money toward painting the walls of the entire first floor. We also installed new blinds in the living room, entryway, and kitchen. We bought and installed a new water filtration system — a necessity, in our opinion, due to our rusty and sulfurous well water which made doing laundry and showering less than pleasant. We also replaced the front and back doors for both aesthetic and safety reasons given the previous doors didn’t even have deadbolt locks.

We knew we needed to replace all of the flooring of the first floor but it took us a few years go agree on what to do. At the end of 2017, we went for it by deciding to install hardwood floors throughout most of the first floor. You can read about that process (what we used, what we did) here:

The reason I am writing this post now is because I wanted to look back at how our house has changed over the years. I wrote a Our Home Then and Now post in 2014 which showed some improvements since we moved in and I wanted to follow up with another round of before and after pictures – plus a few more.

Bay Window (Living Room)

Our living room used to be an attached garage. The previous home owners built a detached garage in the backyard and turned the existing one in to the living room. The large bay window you see used to be the garage door. Bay windows are not usually this large and it’s one of the things I liked most about this house when we decided to submit an offer. The top picture was taken in 2013 after we had painted the walls Mocha Accent by Behr.

Since then, we have replaced the ceiling fans, replaced the window trim and baseboards, and replaced the carpet with hardwood floors. We also painted the ceiling and painted the bay window white (this included sanding, priming, and 3 coats of paint). I recently made curtains out of Dwell Studio’s Porte Bella Slub in the color Charcoal following the directions I outlined in my DIY Curtains post. Then we used a 240 (!) inch curtain rod to hang the curtains and frame the bay window. And we replaced the light in the bay window with a more modern one.


Fireplace (Living Room)

To the right of the bay window is the fireplace. I like the progress we made between 2011 and 2014. I actually had that big picture of the teal flower on our fireplace for a long time and only replaced it recently because I wanted to bring more white/brightness to the fireplace.

I am struggling with wanting to paint our fireplace but I’m hesitant because I know anything I do will be permanent. I’m going to leave it as-is for now and try to clean some of the bricks up. I’ve read that using vinegar can remove soot from bricks. Does anyone have experience with this or other recommendations?

Meanwhile, I love that the antique mailbox is the only thing that has stood the test of time in these pictures.


Living Room/Entryway

To the right of the bay window is the entryway and hallway back to the kitchen/dining room and bedrooms. Other than the changes we made in the above pictures (new flooring, trim, and baseboards) the only difference is that I redecorated slightly by using more neutral colors and I painted the ceiling.



I don’t know what color those walls were when we first moved in — maybe some kind of lemon meringue pie color if I want to be positive about it. I bought the chest in the corner of the 2014 picture from Goodwill and refinished it. It’s now in the home office. We replaced it in 2017 with the armoire in the 2019 picture (we call it a tank because it is sturdy and really heavy) to hold all of our books, DVDs, and movies. We bought it at an auction for a decent price.

This room was the easiest room for us in terms of renovations because the hardwood floors, trim, and baseboard all went in easily and there was nothing in this room that required extra work (no interior doors or shelving to paint or replace, etc.)


Guest Bedroom

What you see in 2012 was inspired by this bedroom makeover by Emily Clark but I think I used too much black and the room ended up feeling too dark. In 2017 I bought brighter and more cheerful bedding when we got a new bed frame and I think that helped a lot. And of course we replaced the flooring, baseboards, and trim in late 2018.


We also replaced the closet in late 2018 which I think makes a huge difference in terms of making the room look cleaner and more modern.


Master Bedroom

We made a big change to this room in 2012 which I am really proud of. We painted the ceiling and walls in a weekend and I made all of the curtain panels you see in the 2012 picture. I replaced the curtains with black-out curtains a few years later because we found we really needed a darker room to sleep better. I am still using the curtains I made but they are in the home office now. And we replaced the trim, baseboards, and flooring in 2018 as you already know.


A True Before and After

I found this picture of our living room from when the house was for sale by the previous owners if you’d like to see a true before (we lived here) and after picture. It’s not perfect; the L-shape of our living room makes for awkward furniture arrangement but I am proud of the work we’ve done.


There are still a few more before and after pictures I’d like to share of the kitchen and back hallway but those will come later this year as we are currently making improvements to both.

Thanks for reading!


Side Table Makeover

I was given an old table that I decided to paint. I’ve spent most of the past year sanding, priming, and painting baseboards, trim, and doors so I really wanted to minimize the amount of time I spent on the table because I’m in need of a break from this kind of work. Because I put water-based paint over oil-based stain, I should have sanded and primed, but I didn’t. Instead, I just wiped the table off with a paper towel and slapped on some paint by Behr in the color Bit of Sugar. I put two coats on the sides and three coats on the top and then I lightly sanded with 220 grit paper to distress the table. I think it turned out great!

Here are some before and after pictures.



I put it next to a chair in our entryway and it really brightened the space.

I hope everyone has a wonderful New Year!

New Porch Lights and Decorating for Christmas

We have disliked our front porch lights ever since we moved in 7 years ago. They have light sensors that allow them to turn off automatically once the sun starts coming up. The problem, however, is that they don’t come on automatically when the sun goes down. So, even if we leave the switch on, we have to physically be at home to “reset” the lights by turning the switch off and then on again in order for the lights to shine at night. This means there are no exterior lights on when we are away from the house. So, we bought ones that have a simple on/off switch and we can leave them on when we are away.

Here are the old lights:


And the new lights:


We are really happy with them!


I also started decorating for Christmas. I’ve seen a lot of pictures online where people clearly have spent a lot of money on making their front porches really festive by adding lanterns, lights, trees, sleighs, wreaths, and even furniture. Most of the decorations I have were given to me and I think I am reluctant to go spend money on more because we do not host anyone for the holidays. To what extent do you decorate?

I did take some time to decorate the fire place and we are going to put up a tree in a few days.


I hope everyone enjoys the month of December and is able to spend plenty of time with loved ones.

The Project Board – A Look Back

Today marks 6 years since I started my blog. I’ve found it very helpful to keep track of how I’ve done things throughout the years like how I made curtains or a certain recipe. I don’t otherwise mark a lot of this down and it’s been helpful to be able to come back and follow a recipe that I liked a few years ago. I hope you’ve also found it helpful to read some of my blog posts and be able to come back to things you liked.

My most popular posts are:

Slide1Bathroom Before and After posted on October 14, 2012 has 7,420 views, most of which come from Pinterest.  The bathroom looks exactly the same now as it did then, except it now has a shower curtain instead of glass doors. We’re talking about replacing the baseboard next year but otherwise have no plans for changes.


DIY Curtains posted on December 12, 2012 with 4,369 views. I made the curtains to go in our bedroom as pictured right but they have since moved to our home office. I replaced them with black-out curtains because we got tired of our neighbor’s flood lights keeping us up at night. Our bedroom is currently going through some renovations and I will post pictures of that by the end of the year.  My 3rd most popular post has been the Bedroom Makeover Pictures that go along with the DIY curtains.

My personal favorites are:

Buffet1_wordsRefinished Buffet posted on July 14, 2015.  I still can’t quite believe my luck at finding this on the side of the road out with the trash. I worked really hard on this and it was worth it. People compliment it when they come over and are often surprised to hear that we didn’t buy it new. Actually, the only furniture in our house that we bought new is the couch, coffee table, and end tables in our living room. Everything else was either given, bought at Goodwill, or found on the side of the street like the buffet. I am getting to the point, though, that I’m willing to spend some money on new furniture, especially because I think new furniture would look great with the renovations we’ve made on the house recently.  There are two things I’d really like to have soon and that is a new dining room table and a big, comfy chair for our entry way.

Here is what our buffet looks like now –
Buffet_UpdateI made the tray at Board and Brush.  If you haven’t checked them out, you should.  They have locations all over the U.S.

DIY – Installing Hardwood Floors, posted on March 18, 2018.  As you can tell from the picture on the right (and from the post), we installed hardwood floors throughout our house and also replaced all of the trim and baseboards. The two of us (my husband and I) did all of the work. In the “after” picture, we still need to do some touch-ups on the bay window and put the shelves back on the bookcase behind the couch. But we think it looks a lot better than the early 1990s carpet we had before (no offense to 1990s carpet).



My Starter Story, posted on January 18, 2015.  I like this post because it bring back memories and reminds me how much progress we’ve made on the house.  After we are finished with installing the hardware floors, new baseboard, and trim, it will be fun to look at before and after pictures again.  Soon the bedrooms will have new trim, new closet doors, new interior doors, and new carpet so I’m looking forward to before and after pictures of those changes.  It’s also interesting to look back and see some of the decorative decisions we’ve made and how things have changed even since 2015.  The picture to the right is a reminder that one should always, ALWAYS spend the $3 to get a sample before deciding on a paint color.


IMG_1691Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies, posted on December 2, 2012.  One of my co-workers gave me this recipe and it is one of my favorites.  It makes a few dozen so it’s easy to give them to family and friends, especially around the holidays.
Thank you to all who follow my blog!  I really appreciate it.

House Update

As a recap – my husband and I began installing hardwood floors almost a year ago.  During this time, we decided we should go ahead and install new baseboards, door and window trim, and interior doors.  The reason is because we had to remove the baseboards in order to install the hardwood floors and it seemed silly to put old, worn, and scratched baseboard and trim next to brand new, shiny floors. Exhibit A below.


For contrast, we decided to go with white trim and doors.  In our opinion, it makes our house look cleaner and more modern. Additionally, it’s much easier to paint everything white than it is to try to match stain colors.

We still have to install baseboards in the bedrooms and finish installing hardwood floors in the hallway that leads to the back door.  We also need to install (and paint) new closet doors in the bedrooms and the back hallway but we are really close to being done.

Here is a sneak peek of the before and after. The closet in the hallway is not yet finished but everything else in the picture is.


What house renovation projects have you done this year? After we’re done with this, I hope we get a LONG break before we have to do anything else to the house.

Decorating for Autumn

I usually don’t put up autumn decorations (because I didn’t really have any), but this year I decided to change that.  I had a hard time figuring out how to decorate my mantel without going out and buying more things, but I think it turned out cute in the end.  How do you decorate for Halloween, Thanksgiving, or autumn in general?



The pumpkin picture I took in 2012. The banner I bought at Target for a few dollars. Everything else was purchased at various places like Jo-Ann Fabrics and HomeGoods.



3 Year Blogiversary!

I created the project board exactly 3 years ago today.  I’d like to highlight some of my favorite posts from the past year.

Click on the picture to be taken to that post.

  1. Autumn Leaves – October 3, 2014
    October2. 2015 Calendar – December 10, 2014January
    3. Coffee Chocolate Cake – January 11, 2015

    Coffee_Cake4. My Starter Story – January 18, 2015
    5. I Made Bread! – January 19, 2015
    IMG_633426.  Foggy Day – March 10, 2015
    IMG_64217. Refinished Buffet – July 14, 2015
    Buffet1_words8. Moths and Butterflies – July 25, 2015

    moth9. Morning Light – August 28, 2015
    IMG_976010. I Opened an Etsy Shop! – August 30, 2015
    CongratsDots1You can see the highlights from my first and second year of blogging are also available.

    Thanks to everyone who has followed me over the past three years!