After living in a condo for seven years, Matt and I purchased our 1948 fixer upper in August 2013. After we purchased the house, I spent some time removing all of the old carpet, removing a built-in closet that wasn’t original to the house, and refinishing all of the original hardwood floors before we actually moved into the house in October 2013.
Scroll down the page to see all of the before pictures, current pictures, DIY projects, and related posts for each room of our house, as well as the front and back exterior and yards, or click on a specific room/area linked below.
Select a room/area:
When we bought the house, the floor plan was what I would call “a good start,” but I thought it could be improved upon.
We have made a few changes, but we’re far from finished. What was once the den has now been divided to create a breakfast room at the front, and a pantry at the back. The garage has been converted into my studio (which is still far from finished) with a half bath and storage closet at the back. And we now also have a large covered carport out the back doors of the studio. At the beginning of 2020, we also did the demolition on the original master bedroom to turn it into the master bathroom.
Then COVID hit, and our plans for finishing that bathroom in 2020 put on hold. I picked back up on that project in summer of 2021, and now (summer of 2022) it’s almost finished. We eventually plan to build an addition onto the back of the house that will include a new master bedroom, laundry room, and family/media room. For the time being, we use the guest bedroom as our main bedroom, and the new master bathroom isn’t actually attached to a master bedroom. It’s a bit confusing right now, but it’ll make perfect sense once it’s all finished.
The Long Term Goal:
In order to build our planned addition, we will have to tear down the existing sunroom and the existing original master bathroom. That will make way for the large addition of a new master bedroom, laundry room, and family/media room. With the addition, you can see that the current conversion of the original master bedroom into a master bathroom makes much more sense. We don’t have an official start date for that big addition, but Matt would like to start ASAP, so we might see something happen on this in 2023! We’ll see.
Front Exterior & Front Yard
When we bought the house, the exterior looked tired and outdated, and the house had no curb appeal at all.
I don’t have a current photo showing the entire front of the house with all of the changes that have been made, but so far, we’ve converted the garage to my studio (so the garage doors have been removed and replaced with windows), the old vinyl siding has been replaced with HardiPlank siding, the front door and some front windows have been replaced, the house has been painted, new shutters have been installed, the front porch and steps have been completely redone, and the old sidewalk has been replaced with a new wider sidewalk.
Our future plans include lots of landscaping, landscape lighting, and a new driveway. In fact, for my birthday in 2022, Matt paid for a local landscape designer to create an entire landscaping plan for our one-acre lot. Here’s a peek at what that looks like…
Obviously that will be a very extensive and lengthy project that will take years to accomplish, but it’s fun to have a vision and a goal in mind.
And you can check out the DIY projects that have gone into the front exterior of our house here…
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The house doesn’t have an actual entryway, but that doesn’t stop me from calling the front door side of the living room the entryway. 🙂 The area originally had green carpet and antique white walls.
It took me four tries, but I finally got the entryway just like I wanted it. The finished area includes some of my favorite things — dark teal, birds, stripes, a gallery wall, and grasscloth. The ottomans and credenza are DIY projects that I built from scratch.
And you can check out the DIY projects that have gone into the entryway here…
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The original living room felt very small and dark, with green carpet, antique white walls, and polystyrene tiles covering the ceiling. It also felt very closed off to the rest of the house.
Never in my life have I had such a hard time decorating a room as I did this one. After trying many ideas that didn’t pan out (including trying to turn the room into a dining room), I finally came across the rug that served as a jumping off point for this final (and finally finished) living room.
And you can check out the DIY projects that have gone into the living room here…
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This room was obviously originally intended as a dining room by the builder, but with a husband who relies on a wheelchair for mobility, this room that is used as the main passthrough from the bedroom to the kitchen would have been an impractical spot for a dining table and chairs. So I decided to call it a music room, and place my beloved spinet piano (the one my mom learned to play on as a girl) in this room.
The music room is probably my favorite room in the house. It’s a small room, but there were so many DIY projects that went into it. I removed the original sliding glass door and replaced it with decorative doors that I made myself. And then I built bookcases around the door so that they would be more like pocket doors. The walls have a hand-stenciled design and wainscoting, and I refinished my childhood piano (which was also my mom’s childhood piano), which now has a prominent place in the room. I made the artwork on both walls, and filled the bookshelves with colorful items. The icing on the cake is the raspberry velvet settee.
And you can check out the DIY projects that have gone into the music room here…
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The original kitchen was very inefficiently arranged, plus it was walled off from the rooms around it, making it feel very small and cramped.
After (original remodel):
This was the first full room remodel I ever did myself. I jumped in with both feet, tearing everything down to the studs and ceiling joists, and rebuilt the kitchen with a different and more efficient configuration. I used stock oak cabinets from Home Depot, and customized them with trim and furniture-style feet. I originally painted the cabinets a bold green with gold leaf accents.
While I loved the green kitchen, I just found it hard to decorate around, especially considering that my favorite color is teal. So I ended up repainting my kitchen a couple of years later. The color? A medium teal, of course!
And you can check out the DIY projects that have gone into the kitchen here…
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What is now the breakfast room was originally a large room next to the kitchen that the previous owners referred to as a den. It was very dark and cave-like, with a stained plywood drop ceiling and dark green carpet. There was a wall separating it from the kitchen on one side, and a door that led to the garage on the other side.
After (Original Remodel):
I knocked out the wall between the original den and the kitchen in order to create the breakfast room that was open to the kitchen. It made these rooms feel so much bigger.
In 2021, I gave the room a little makeover, not only injecting a little more color than before, but also turning the room into a sitting room. This is a temporary change, and was done at Matt’s request. He has M.S. and requested a comfy place outside of the bedroom where he could sit and relax during the day. Since this is the only non-bedroom room with a television, we decided that this was the perfect spot. So I swapped the table and chairs for two recliners to create a sitting room. When we build our addition on the back of the house, it will include a large family/media room with comfy seating and a TV, and this room can go back to functioning as a breakfast room.
And you can check out the DIY projects that went into the breakfast room here…
[laurel_index cat=”breakfast-room-diy-projects” title=”DIY Projects”]
The house didn’t originally have a pantry, so I created one at the back of the den. What was the den is now the breakfast room at the front of the house (i.e., the windows look towards the street) and the pantry at the back of the house (i.e., the window looks towards the back yard).
I built the entire pantry from scratch, including the cabinets, the wood countertop made from hardwood red oak flooring, and the floating shelves. I even hand-tinted over 200 tiles with clear resin and alcohol inks for the backsplash, and painted my white utilitarian freezer teal to match the cabinets.
And you can check out the DIY projects that went into this pantry here…
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The original hallway was very dark, and at some point, a previous owner had built a DIY closet that seemed to crowd the hallway. Opposite that DIY closet was the original coat closet that housed a huge duct for the furnace. The doorway from the music room into the hallway was very narrow. And just like the rest of the house, the hallways had green carpet and polystyrene tiles on the ceiling.
The hallway now feels much larger after I tore out both closets and widened the doorway to about twice the original width. I added storage with a floor-to-ceiling DIY cabinet, and we use the bottom cabinet to house our cats’ litter box. The adorable side entrance that the cats use to access the box is a must-see. I painted all of the doors my favorite go-to color, teal, and spiced up the walls with some horizontal stripes. A DIY console table and some colorful artwork completed the look.
And you can check out the DIY projects that went into the hallway here…
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The original bathroom felt even smaller than it actually was because of a narrow door, a door configuration that covered the linen closet, and a huge storage cabinet that had been built right over the tub, making the tub feel very cave-like. The original bathroom had a window that at one time was an exterior window, but now it just looked into the enclosed sunroom, which was awkward.
After original remodel:
I tore this room down to the studs, floor joists and ceiling joists, and completely rebuilt it. It’s the same size, but the new wider door and double door configuration make it feel more open. The original linen closet was replaced with a lower cabinet with open shelves above, and I built a much larger vanity to replace the original tiny vanity.
The original bathroom remodel was done before the hallway remodel. During the hallway remodel, I decided that I wanted the hallway (bedroom and bathroom) doors to be teal, so I painted the teal vanity gray. It stayed that way for a year, and then I decided that I couldn’t live with dull gray anymore. I needed color!
So I gave the bathroom a small makeover with a new vanity color, refinished countertops, a new colorful shower curtain, a brighter wall color, and some new art. I also painted some of the mosaic tiles to tone them down a bit.
And you can check out the DIY projects that went into this bathroom remodel here…
[laurel_index cat=”hallway-bathroom-diy-projects” title=”DIY Projects”]
Kristi’s Studio (Garage Conversion)
This was originally the garage, and while there were two garage doors presumably making it a two-car garage, the doors were so narrow that it was a very tight squeeze just to get my small Honda Civic through the door. My truck (and it’s a small one) wouldn’t fit at all. Also, the floor of the garage was about 18 inches below the floor of the breakfast room, accessible via a set of steps at the door. That made accessibility impossible for Matt. So we decided that this area would be better used as a studio/office space for me.
A new pier and beam foundation with plywood subfloor was added to this room so that the studio floor would be level with the rest of the house. There were also come significant structural changes made so that the room could have a vaulted ceiling free from all of the visible (and very low) framing that was in the original garage. Now the room has new doors and windows, electricity, spray foam insulation, drywall, oak hardwood flooring, and is on its way to becoming an amazing studio. I still need to make a whole lot of cabinets for the room. This room is still a work in progress. While it’s usable in its current state, I still need to build a whole lot of cabinets so I can store things properly. That will be a huge project!
And you can check out the DIY projects that went into Kristi’s studio remodel here…
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Studio Half Bathroom
The half bathroom at the back of the studio used to be a storage room at the back of the garage. It was dark with a really low ceiling, and this area housed the huge furnace. Since this bathroom is connected to my studio, I thought this would be a good place to use a little more color and pattern than I normally would in the main part of the house. So the new bathroom features a hand painted wall design that I painted in a rainbow of colors, as well as a custom vanity that I built to house a full-sized kitchen sink. I figured a studio bathroom sink would be used for way more than just washing hands, so I wanted to be prepared.
You can check out the DIY projects that went into this half bathroom remodel here…
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Master Bathroom (Originally the Master Bedroom)
When we bought the house, the master bedroom matched the rest of the house, with antique white walls, polystyrene tiles covering the ceiling, and green carpet. It also had a tiny “master” bathroom attached to it.
We decided to turn the room into a large wheelchair-accessible master bathroom with a big curbless shower. For the time being, that leaves us without a master bedroom, but a new master bedroom will be part of an addition that we plan to build beginning in 2023.
You can check out the DIY projects that went into the master bathroom here.
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Original Master Bathroom
I’m including this just so that you can see the “master bathroom” that we started off with. This room is still there, but it is not accessible at all from any part of the house. The doorway to this room has been covered up with concrete board and tile to create a wall in our current master bathroom shower. When we do our big addition, this bathroom will be torn down completely.
The bedroom was the only room in the house where the hardwood floors were actually exposed. It also had tongue-and-groove wood walls and ceiling.
All of the wood on the walls and ceiling was removed, and new drywall and lighting installed. I had the closet in the other bedroom (the guest bedroom) opened up to this room so that the closet in this room could be doubled in size. I finished the home gym at the end of March 2023, and we’re getting lots of use out of it!
This was yet another room with green carpet (actually this was more like teal carpet) and polystyrene ceiling tiles. In other words, this room looked like all the rest when we bought the house. This room also had a door that led out to the front porch.
This room has been completely transformed with a hand-drawn wall design and a painted floor. I had the door to the front porch removed and drywalled over (and new siding installed on the front porch), and also had the window on the other wall (the window the air conditioner unit in it) removed and drywalled over (and new stone added to the stone facade on the exterior) so that I could build new closets flanking the one centered window. This room is actually serving as our main bedroom until we do our big addition, which will include a new master bedroom, laundry room, and family/media room.
You can check out the DIY projects that went into this guest bedroom remodel here…
[laurel_index cat=”guest-bedroom-diy-projects” title=”DIY Projects”]
Before (and Current):
The sunroom is an addition by a previous owner, and it wasn’t done very well. There’s a big step down from the music room into the sunroom, which makes accessibility impossible for Matt without a very long ramp. The sloped ceiling isn’t even seven feet tall on the back wall. And the “subfloor” below the green carpet is particle board. I’m pretty sure it’s not even attached to anything.
This room isn’t salvageable. It will eventually be torn down completely, and this is the area in which our new family/media room and laundry room will be built, but it will extend out towards the back yard several more feet than the current room.
Back Exterior & Back Yard
The back of the house originally consisted of (from left to right) the back of the garage with one door, the back of the sunroom, the so-called “master bathroom,” and the back wall of the master bedroom.
I don’t have a current picture of the whole view of the back of the house because most everything is the same with the exception of this end of the house. After we converted the garage into my studio, we decided to have this carport added to the back, with a nice wheelchair ramp for Matt. (Please excuse the shutters.) The one single door that used to lead from the storage room at the back of the garage to the back yard was removed and replaced with a window in what is now the studio half bathroom, and new French doors were added at the back of the studio that lead to the wheelchair ramp and the carport. The carport still needs trim, a ceiling, electrical wiring/lights, and paint. But it’s usable for now even without those things.