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.
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.)
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.
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!