The Aftermath: Kitchen Edition

Well law ham-mercy, we are FINALLY settling in over here.  I have an organized kitchen, my children have legitimate places to sleep, and I finally know where all my pants are.  I think we all know what that means:  BLOG TIME.

While my instinct is to regale you all with exaggerated stories about how the move went or how it’s been to live in the house so far, I figured I would go a different route this time and try to be somewhat informative–dare we say–even helpful instead.

Maybe it’s just me, but I am always curious to know exactly what is in a picture of a home renovation. Like those cabinets are cool looking, but sonova, COME ON, PINTEREST, WHAT IS THAT COLOR!?  So below, you’ll find pictures of our finished kitchen, notes about finishes, some comments on what we love so far, and a little something that didn’t exactly go as planned.


old floors

Above is a little reminder of the shape our kitchen floors were in just after we bought the house.  They were covered in tiny white tiles, so we karate chopped until we found hardwoods under tile and linoleum.  There was so much damage and glue that it’s a tiny miracle they turned out so well.  At one point, our poor contractor was hunkered down scraping them off with a….well I guess a scraping tool….and a heat gun.  Anyway, we love how they look now–they’re not perfect, but they’re full of character, and they’re holding up well to the 14 thousand Cheerios that are crushed there everyday (Cheerio example provided in the pic below for reference).  The stain color is Minwax Espresso, but I’ve heard this can sometimes look a lot darker than how it turned out below, just as an FYI if you’re about to stain your own.floors


We only used lower cabinets, and only on one side of the kitchen, since the space is a little narrow.  The paint color we chose is Sherwin Williams Magnetic Grey, which is one shade darker than the Silver Strand we used on the walls in our living and dining rooms.  They ended up looking a little lighter than I would have thought originally, but I really like how they’re a colorful, cool neutral.  The pic below is a weird angle, but it was the only one I took that seemed truest to the “in real life” color.  And omg I’m obsessed with that rug, don’t even get me started.



One of my biggest concerns was that we wouldn’t have enough room for all of our kitchen things, but so far, it’s worked out well.  To be honest, we use the bottom two of our shelves regularly, but really the other two levels are just too high to have things on there that we need.  Dust collectors?  Maybe.  Do I regret having them?  Nope.  To me, they make the kitchen feel more comfortable and homey, but also I’m not exactly Suzy Practical, so maybe just ignore my opinions on this one.  They are stained the same Espresso as the floors.


Our main storage area has been our Butler’s pantry.  A total clutch area for all the presentable dishes and cookware.

butlers pantry

But about a week before we moved in, I had a major panic attack about where our ugly stuff would go.  Like the neon baby cups, mismatched Tupperware, and my husband’s pint glasses, for example.  So we did a little rigging up of the room that goes out to the back porch.  We used the cabinets that were inexplicably in one of the bedrooms–

old cabs

–and, after a little doctoring, put the upper cabinets in that area.  A little paint, a wooden top, and a few shelves on the wall, and voila!  Room for the land of the misfit cups.

pantry finished.jpg


The paint color in the entire kitchen (plus the pantry area above) is Sherwin Williams Alabaster.  Not too creamy, not too cool–too me, she’s the perfect white.  She’ll make you feel comfortable without bossing you around or filling you with regret.  OK, I’ll calm down.  But the color is a super close match to the tile we used, and to our Cambria Torquay quartz counter tops, for anyone out there who is as anal as I am about that kind of coordination, and we used Oyster Gray grout.  As a side note, our contractor wanted to stop the tiles below the first shelf.  Big mama was not pleased.  The scale was all wrong and it was ruining everything and I rolled around on the floor in a tantrum until he agreed to tile up to the second level of shelving.  Maybe that’s not true—or IS IT!?  

countertops finished

We also used the baby hex tiles around our fireplace.  We’re hoping to do more with this area sometime soon, but for now it’s at least clean and festive.

fireplace finished

Oh no!

Our biggest headache for the kitchen was the fridge:  where to put it, how to make it look OK, etc.  The first time I walked in and saw this monster, I almost cried.  Like maybe I did cry a tiny bit.

huge fridge

WHY DID GODZILLA COME ATTACK OUR KITCHEN AND BUILD A TOWER TO LIVE IN LIKE A HUGE COMFY ENCASED DINOSAUR?!  Our ceilings are 13ft. tall, for reference, and building this thing up to the ceiling was just a no.  A huge no.  An OH NO.

side fridge

I MEAN JUST LOOK!  But anyway, everyone calmed down, and we made a plan to make that area smaller and blend the side in with some bead board.  After that, most of us started feeling a little better.  I still don’t love the disproportionately tiny doors, but we’ll fix ’em.  At least it doesn’t look like a staircase for Jack to get up to his beanstalk.

fridge finished whew

Oh yes!

Our two surprising faves so far are the little breakfast perch area–

breakfast area

and the sink.  We end up having most of our meals these days on those stools, mainly because our older daughter loves to watch the trains while she eats, and because the baby loves to sit in her high chair close by and throw her food at us.

And check out the sink in the first picture.  It’s a single basin, under-mount sink, so nothing fancy, but guess what:  I had two plates, three cups, one baby bottle, a pot, and a house plant in there when I took that picture.  That’s right, friends, this sink hides allll the dirty things until you’re ready to face them.  I love her–it’s a pure, simple, and grateful love.

All done–psyche 

So the kitchen is one of our most finished areas.  We still have one MILLION more projects to complete, but we’re feeling pretty settled in this spot, at least.  Coming up next, a little peek into our new (clean, unoccupied) bathrooms.  Coming up never, the room full of boxes that I keep ignoring.

P.S. the pot on the stove in the fist pic is a prop.  I literally got the pot from our pantry and put it on the stove to make it seem like I had a delicious roast simmering in there, but really it’s empty– or maybe it’s full of hopes and dreams, depending on how you look at it.  

Until next time, friends!



Third Quarter Updates

No, this is not a stock report, and yes, I realize that showing pictures of things that are kind-of-finished-but-not-all-the-way-finished makes the final result a little anti-climactic, but I am getting excited so I can’t help but share a little of our progress.

Everything is still dirty–make that filthy–but at least the kitchen actually looks pretty kitchen-y, and the bathroom is looking highly bathroom-y.  Don’t even get me started on how mudroom-y our mudroom looks.

The picture above is of the outside of the porch-mudroom area from the second story window.  The window screen makes it look kind of wonky, but hopefully you can still get an idea of what’s happening out there.  Lattice, begone!  New windows, siding, and light fixtures have been installed.  We’re still adding a small deck area and changing the location of the stairs, but all in good time, my friends.

OK, I’ll calm down and just post a bunch of pictures below.


The inside of the side-porch / mudroom area is actually totally FINISHED (minus the blue tape I just noticed).  I am so excited about how it turned out–especially the tile!


The hallway bathroom is getting close!  It just needs paint, the re-glazed sink, the glass shower surround, and the “seat,” as our contractor politely calls it. The shelf on the far left was one we took out of another bathroom in the house and painted white–nice to use what we already had!


Here’s the future laundry room. This shelf is also one that was in another part of the house, just with a fresh coat of paint.  I think all this room actually needs is our washer and dryer, but the “funny” thing we realized today is that the doorway into this area is insanely small…soooo…anyone out there able to rebuild a washer and dryer once they’re disassembled?!  I mean you try to think of everything beforehand but…


Behold the new door out to the back porch and the little pantry area beside it.  This tile ls the same style that we used in the laundry / half bath area, and we still are having cabinets installed on the wall to the far right of the pantry room for more storage, but so far, so good.


OK, I’m getting excited again, but I’ll try to simmer down and not make crazy long captions.  Here’s a view of the kitchen from maybe three days ago.  Counter tops-check! Back splash, check!  Shelf brackets-almost check! (two more sets will go above the ones installed). Stove and dish washer-check check! Bar top across the far widow-check!


Speaking of the bar top area, I’m kind of obsessed with it.  It’s at standard bar top height (42′) and is 72′ wide, so about three bar stools will fit under.  So excited to still have this pretty view outside the window!  counter-close-up

OK, this is the last one I’ll post of the bar top, but isn’t it cool how they notched it in to fit with the window trim?

kitchen shelves.jpg

Shelves were installed today!  The highest ones are HIGH UP, but I still think it looks good in proportion to the ceiling height. We’ll just get a ladder and also never put anything important up there, nbd.  We still need to finish the vent for the hood, but not long now!


Here’s a close up of the finished back splash.  There was some discussion and rampant side-eye about how far the tile should go up, but I think it worked out for everyone (I got my way, so I feel like everyone wins in the long run…).  I mean, tall ceilings = tall back splash, right?  It’s simple science, guys.


I mean, is there ANYTHING worse than deciding where a fridge should go in a kitchen?  Especially a kitchen that was built when refrigerators weren’t even invented?!  Nope, there’s not.  But at least this one is hidden by bead board.  Sneaky, eh?


Last but not least is my pal, the kitchen fireplace.  I had to fight to keep him in the plans, because let’s be honest, we don’t actually need a kitchen fireplace.  But he’s going to look so snazzy.  We still need to add small hex-tile and some plate holders above the “mantle,” but he’ll be looking sharp soon, my friends.

OK, that’s a wrap for the third quarter update.  Still lots to go, but we’re hoping to finish strong in the all-important fourth quarter.  One day soon, I hope to be able to touch surfaces in my own kitchen without needing a baby wipe after, to let my daughters roam around without telling them to watch out for nails, glass, or old cigarette butts, and to use our restroom without having to hover (ladies, you know what I’m taking about).

Stay tuned to see if my pipe dreams are fulfilled.

Old House Tales

I’d like to start this post by saying that almost nothing below is based on research, historical documentation, or first hand observations.  Now that I have your total trust, confidence, and undivided attention, I’ll continue.

Since the fist time we saw our house, I’ve tried researching (read-Googling) information on the home’s history, but to no avail.  The only thing of note I was able find out was that the town of Central was so named because it’s exactly half way between Atlanta and Charlotte (about 133 miles each way), and was a hub during railroad construction for the South East in the late 1800’s.  Click here for a cute little write up about the town’s history.

Besides that, I’ve had to make up my own accounts of what must have happened in our house; they always start with some lame joke about how how the old piano probably plays Vaudevillian tunes by itself at night, and always end with me convinced that a Victorian era, Polio-stricken child-ghost has befriended my three year old and will convince her to do his bidding.  My stories were fueled by quirky things we kept finding, like the freaky little fellow below, for example…


Finally, I decided it was time to end this unhealthy cycle of misinformed thinking, so I contacted the most recent former owner to see if she had any information she could give us about the house (the engraved names and broken plate above are her handiwork, and now are a perma-fixture in the home’s foundation). and she agreed to meet with me to share what she knew.  Most of what she told me was conveyed to her by the owner before her–so really what we’re dealing with here is what someone told me from what someone told her about things even older than that, but hey–the stuff makes for some interesting stories at least.

The Early Years

We’d incorrectly thought that the house was built in 1890, but that’s only when the land was purchased.  The foundation of a small home that predates the main house lies on the back of our property , but we don’t have any information about it other than that it’s mostly gone and extra old (#dontaskdonttell).  Our house was officially built in 1905, and was it originally used as a boarding house for railroad workers during that time because the town hotel across the street had recently burned down.

This information helps explain why almost every room has a sink or plumbing for a sink, and also why the house is pretty obviously divided between the main living areas and the “boarding areas.”  The entire left side of the house would have been used by the owner and his family, and the right side and upstairs were boarding rooms.  Even this room at the left front of the house that seemed oddly cut off from the rest of the rooms used to be connected through what is now a closet–


And would have opened up where these shelves are now in the living room:


Old Exterior Quirkiness 

Below are pictures of some of the home’s original exterior features.  We’d been wondering what the heck some of these things were…


An old stone well in the back yard.  Pretty cute, actually.  Like a little gnome could pop out of there one day.


So much less cute, but the concrete slab-like square thing beside the side porch had been puzzling us big time.  Also a well.  Like there’s water down there–it just has a top on it.  We should maybe do something about that.


This shed in our side yard sits on another foundation-type area that was once the separate cook-house for the home.  It’s now where we put our redneck trampoline so our daughter can jump her little buns off while we roam around the house and look dismayed.


The porch swing is still resting on the porch in what is apparently its original location, and it was allegedly built when the house was.  During our chat, the former owner said she had seen a photo of the front of the home from around 1912, and there were two little girls on the front steps with this swing behind them.

I don’t know why, but that kind of freaked me out a little.  Maybe because I have two little girls?  Or maybe because I imagine the two little girls to be twins…naughty twins with matching menacing grins and severely cut bangs..who just swing on the porch swing and do evil little giggles while they–OK, woah.  See what I mean about that unhealthy thinking!?

I better stop before I talk myself into a pre-move-in appointment with a sage-burning shaman, but stay tuned for more about the interior of the home–we finally know why we didn’t have to replace any plumbing or electrical work, and why there’s a secret passageway from the butler’s pantry up to the master bedroom.  Also coming up, plenty of update pics on renovation progress.  We’re getting so close to being able to actually live here!  But also, does anyone happen to know the number of a good shaman…?  Asking for a friend…



Starting at the finish line


In my opinion, nothing is more thrilling or more intimidating than planning what a room should look like from scratch.  But also, here’s what my head looks like on the inside right now:


Currently, our kitchen is basically a medium-sized dirty rectangle (took the picture up top yesterday).  But our filthy parallelogram fills me with such dorky excitement and gleeful anticipation– because it’s time for the stuff I’m actually interested in.  No more pretending to pay attention while my husband uses his protractor and talks about the kitchen triangle.  No more sneaky Pinteresting during a powwow with Engineer and Contractor over effective use of space.  It’s time for ya girl’s most favorite segment in the renovation process…it’s time to PICK–THOSE–FINISHES! (hold for applause).  

Good grief, there are just so many options, though!  And they all have to look great TOGETHER!  It’s easy to get flustered by the endless cabinet, counter top, back splash, paint, and appliances choices.  And by flustered, I mean like staying up until 2 in the morning on looking up grout colors, or making a “kitchen finishes” screen shot album on your phone that has SEVENTY-NINE pictures in it, hypothetically…for example.

But after many a sleepless night, we’ve (I’ve-my husband just pretends to care on this part) chosen what I think will be the finishes for the kitchen.  I’ll post them below, so if you’re not a nerd like me about stuff like this, maybe just stop here and wait for the next blog about the history of the house (found out such good stuff today!).  But if you’re an HGTV junkie, a DIY enthusiast, or if you just kind of wish Joanna Gaines was you bff,  here ya go:  (Feedback totally welcome–nothing is permanent yet, so tell me if the plan needs tweaking).

We’re refinishing the hardwoods that were underneath a layer of tile and a layer of linoleum, so they’ll look like the rest of the house when they’re done.  Below is a pic of what the newly-refinished living area looked like for the 4 hours the house was clean about three weeks ago:


For a sitting area, we are making a little bar space across the far window in the kitchen.  I posted a picture about this in a previous post, but here’s another idea of what it may look like.  The final product is a little nebulous, still, but I’m excited to see how it turns out.


We aren’t having any upper cabinets because the space seems a little too narrow for them, so we’re using open shelving like this-


-but we’ll have a stainless hood for above the stove (stainless was on sale at Jeff Lynch, so what can you do?).

I especially love the black brackets holding the shelves.  Here’s a close up of a similar style:




We’re planning to do painted lower cabinets, and here’s the color I think we’re going with: (this could be a total game time decision–I can be shifty about paint colors)

cabinet color.jpg

And the counter tops will be white quartz.  Cambria Torquay is the specific name for the style below.  Apparently, it’s what you can get if you want marble but you’re too poor.


The back splash will be white, also.  I was thinking of doing subway tiles, but we’re using a lot of those in the bathroom, so I decided on these sexy hexys instead:


–but with lighter grout than in the picture above.  For some reason, I have a hard time liking that much contrast, and I feel like I’d always be wanting to somehow brush the tile’s teeth, for lack of a better way to describe it.  But also I’m neurotic, so anyway.

I also want to use white paint for the walls, which I’ll admit makes for a pretty tame color palate in there.  Not usually my style, but I’ve also realized that I like to change up decor things too much to make anything that will be permanent too bold.  Instead, I’ll try to add color with accent pieces on the shelves like these cute, vintage, minty little jadeite green dishes that I just discovered (thanks, grandma!)


Plus, we’re using this tile–


for the adjoining pantry area, and for the attached laundry and half-bath.  Neutral, but a little sassy, right?!  Also considering using this tile around the fireplace in the kitchen, but probably another game time decish.

The only thing we actually already have (so please don’t comment that they’re ugly because I have no idea where the receipts are), are two of these light fixtures for the center of the room:


OK, I’ll stop.  It’s a lot, I know.  I just can’t help myself.  Picking finishes is the BEST.  Let’s hope it all comes together and looks alright…Whatcha think?!

In the mean time, I’ll go wake up my husband from the hour-long boredom coma he’s been in while I’ve shown him all my ideas and tell him some of the ghost stories I’ve heard today about our crazy old house.  Can’t wait to share more soon!


Everything but the Kitchen Sink

So an engineer, a contractor, and an English major walk into a bar…and the engineer is all like, “this bar layout is illogical and a poor use of space,” and then the contractor is like, “hurry up and tell me what you want to order,” and the English major is like, “I hate how bright the lights are in here, and you’re hurting my feelings with your stern tone.”

Yes, a terrible and non-funny joke, but an accurate illustration of the current dynamic of our renovation.  The three of us all have a very specific idea of how the process should be going, but all speak a very different “love language,” if you will.  It’s not like anyone is arguing, and I think we actually all really like each other (two of us are married, so…), but we all have been guilty of giving one another some serious side-eye action over the past few weeks.  And now that the actual renovating is underway in the kitchen, there has been far more side-eye than regular eye…straight-ahead eye?  You get the idea.

Our kitchen is getting a total gut job.  The cabinets are out, the weird tiny tiled counter tops are in the dumpster, three layers of flooring have been scraped off, and the mini- ancient oven has been passed along to someone, presumably in a tiny house, who can make good use of it.  The only thing we are keeping, literally, is the kitchen sink.  Naturally, a lot of decisions have to be made about where things go, what things should look like, which finishes to use, etc.  So here’s an example of a conversation that the Three Amigos have had about say…their first impressions of the original kitchen:


Engineer: This won’t work.  There’s a door, then a window, then another window, then a door, and two more doors.  Too many openings, not enough space to have a modern kitchen.  Impractical.  A planning nightmare.

English major:  Ooooh look at these windows!  And so many entryways!  Love the flow.  This space will be amazing.  It will be the best part of the house.  It just feels right.  Feels good.  I’m home. (holds back tears).

Contractor: (silence)……(thought bubble……$$$$$$$$).  OK, I will take this job.

Or here’s what the Musketeers had to say about choosing flooring for the kitchen:


Engineer:  There was nothing wrong with the tile that was on the floors to begin with.  It was undamaged, covered the space, and was fine .  Why expend energy and money on something we already have?

English major: Eeeeek!  Hardwoods!  Love them!  Restore them as they once were!

Contractor:  You need new tile.  Tile goes in kitchens.  I’ll make your new tile look great.

English major:  Noooo….we need the hardwoods!  They were here before, and it’s our job to make them beautiful again.  Plus, I already have the finishes picked out in my mind, and the hardwoods are so much easier to coordinate with.  It’s like if you’re wearing jeans, and you want to wear a cute shirt and– (feel free to stop reading this paragraph and any point. Everyone in person had for sure stopped listening already)–and you also have to pick out shoes to go with it.  You want the jeans to be a neutral, because then you don’t have to see them as a particular color…they just go with everything.  Tile is like wearing blue pants, or maybe gray pants.  You have to match them.  So you have the gray pants tile, the cabinets, the counter tops, the back splash, and the wall color..that’s a very busy outfit guys.  Plus-

Engineer:  We don’t even know where to put the refrigerator yet, and you already have a back splash picked out?! That doesn’t even make-

Contractor: Ok. Fine. Hardwoods. (side eye).

Engineer: (side eye).

English major: (holding back tears)

Despite our differences, we’ve been able to come up with a plan that we think will work for the kitchen.  Here’s a summary of what we have in mind for the final product:

We’ll keep the full window in the picture above because it gets the best evening light, saves money, and we can add a seating area over it (a win for everyone–the lion, the witch, AND the wardrobe).  We’re using the picture below for inspiration, but think less modern, more woodsy:


The stove and range hood will be where the current sink is, and the sink will be below where a large full-length window used to be (far right in the pic above).  Here’s what it looks like right now…

kitchen mess.jpg

Not exactly looking like the dream kitchen in my head, but still making some progress.

We are also making the former pantry/laundry area door wider, and just yesterday, had a door added to get to the back porch.  Here’s how it used to look:pantry

Clearly, the pictures aren’t exactly stunners right now, but I feel like we’ve got a good thing going.  At least Huey, Dewey, and Louie think so.

Contractor: I’ll have this done in 6 weeks.

Engineer:  I’ll be here every day making sure our plan is being executed.

English major:  Six weeks?!  I’ll be on for the next 17 hours making sure my hardwood floor pants match my counter halter top and my back splash earrings and...

If you need Stop, Drop, and Roll, we’ll be at the bar, drinking our martinis with a spritz of side-eye in three separate corners.  But we’ll each be planning one helluva kitchen renovation.  Cheers to the next six weeks!






The project before the Project

It’s been almost three weeks since I’ve updated on the house (how have you guys even been sleeping at night?!), so here’s a quick summary:

  1. Paint is done…ish
  2. Floors are done…ish
  3. Everything is filthy
  4. The kitchen looks worse than it did before.

I have been visiting almost daily hoping for when I can take some “pretty” pictures of the progress, but it’s just not going to happen until about sixty pounds of dust are shop vac-ed out of the house.  Then today when we went over, the kitchen had been pulverized, and I started getting a wee bit panicky.  A wee major bit panicky.

So, instead of writing a sad post entitled “poorly lit pictures of dusty areas and broken things,” I thought I’d do a little flash-back to our first project–where we first experienced the anxiety, euphoria, and heart burn of a total home remodel.  Here’s hoping a reflection on our previous renovation will make me feel a little braver and a little less like why are we doing something so stupid and where will we eat and we’ll be covered in filth forever and our babies will choke on lead paint chips and someone help us, etc. etc

Stumbling Upon our First Renovation

A quick summary of how we ended up with project number one:

  1. We wanted to buy a house in Downtown (Greenville)
  2. We could not afford any of these houses.
  3. We happened to look at a tiny house off N. Main St. the day it was listed.
  4. We could afford aforementioned house, but it was a total disaster.
  5. We went to a bar after seeing the house.
  6. Two hours later we were under contract with the house.

(Note: although the steps above are listed in a highly professional list-like format, they are not intended to be a template for one to follow–particularly step #5).

The Starting Point

The exterior of the house was actually very charming (pictured above), but here are some views of the less-than-charming inside:


The kitchen featured green AstroTurf flooring, funky wallpaper, and washer and dryer right next to the fridge.  Handy, sure, but not super pleasing to the eye.


The living area was…and the carpet was…and those window treatments were…well, just look…


This was maybe the master bedroom, but it was hard to be sure.

The house was originally 1,000 sq. ft., with two bedrooms and one bathroom. Our goal was to make it into a 2,000 sq. ft. , 3 bedroom , 2 bathroom home.  Bold?  Yes.  Fool-hearty?  Yes.  Cheap?  No.

The Process

We bought the house in October of 2012, but we didn’t actually start renovating until February of 2013.  February 9th, to be exact.  How do I remember the particular day, you might be wondering?  Because it was a Saturday morning, it was super cold and spitting snow, and I had JUST found out we were expecting our first baby.  So we had a delicious celebratory breakfast, got in the car, headed over to the house to grab a tool or something that my husband had left over there, and were greeted with THIS:


and THIS:renno-9



And I died one thousand deaths.  Here’s a brief summary of the thoughts that immediately came to mind after seeing the apocalyptic destruction:

  1.  This was a terrible idea.  Just terrible.  So terrible.  The worst.
  2. Can we just burn it down “accidentally” and find a house where our baby won’t have to sleep in a nest of insulation?
  3. I hate my husband*

Luckily, we stuck it out past the first day of demolition, and ended up with a pretty nice little house, if I do say so myself.

*I do not hate my husband.  I did not hate him then.  My confused newly pregnant brain just needed a quick scapegoat, and much like our former kitchen washer, he was just right there so…

The Finished Product

We started on February 9th and moved in on June 29th.  It was stressful, exciting, and a major learning experience.  Here’s how a few of the areas turned out:


I couldn’t find a picture where every single thing on the exterior was finished, but you get the idea.  New siding, paint, windows, HVAC, roof, driveway, upstairs and garage, nbd…


We moved the kitchen to the opposite side of the house so that we could pour a new (non-shared) driveway on that side, refinished the floors (there were hardwoods under the carpet), and added everything else from scratch.  Not a huge space, but lots of light, and easy to cook in. I still miss those soapstone counter tops…


We relocated the washer and dryer to a slightly more practical location.

N. Avondale pic14.JPG

And our baby had a place to sleep juuuust in time.

The Takeaway 

I’ve realized the following things from looking back on this project:

  1.  There’s no reason to be flustered by demolition.  If you want an omelette, gotta break a few eggs, as my dad would say.
  2. My husband is maybe a saint, but also maybe needs to quit listening to my crazy whimsical ideas.
  3. We probably need to quit moving at some point.
  4. Every house has the potential to be pretty, fresh, and livable.
  5. I might be addicted to trying to make houses pretty, fresh, and livable.

Man, I feel like a million bucks now.  Nothing like a little list making, Memory Lane walking, and glass of red wine drinking to give a girl false confidence.  Once more unto the breech, dear friends!

Stay tuned for upcoming paint, floor, and kitchen remodel pics!




The Befores


I’ve been sitting here for almost twenty minutes trying to think of how to avoid using the phrase “our journey” in this post, and it’s just not working, so I’ll just get it out of the way now:  Before our journey begins…we want to document our journey…our journey will be a long one full of…no one said our journey would be easy…if you want to see how our journey began…

OK, I think that covers it, and I’m feeling better…cleansed.  Now on to the house info.– here’s what we do actually know about the history of the home:  We know for sure that the land was purchased in 1890, and that the home was built on the front of the lot shortly after.  The style of the house is technically “Folk Victorian.”  For an excellent description of the style, click here. Essentially, it’s a less fancy version of the classic, super elaborate style of Victorian architecture…still lots of nice molding and high ceilings and a large staircase, but nothing too over-the-top or luxurious.  The house is like that friend you have that has a respectable job and goes to church every Sunday, but is also not afraid of a few day beers at a tailgate.

Beyond the construction date of the home, most of what else we know is pretty cloudy.  Our realtor told us that it was possibly used as a boarding house during the time that the town’s railroad was being built; the previous owner says she has “more stories than she can write down” about the house, and a coworker of my husband’s says he knows the house from the week-long parties that were hosted there in the 90’s.  I’m highly curious to find out more, but for now, here are some pictures and descriptions of how she looked when we first saw her.

The view from the front door:


Pinterest tells me this must have been a super common layout for Victorian homes.  I’m hoping to create a more inviting entryway like the one below eventually.


Here’s the bathroom we’re planning to completely gut and refinish.  Save your gasps for later…the tile is not cute in person; it’s not even tile, actually.  And the shower is the size of my toddler, so it all needs to go, besides the sink.  We can re-glaze her and she’ll be back in business.


There are just SO many rooms in this house.  Not in a “this house is so huge” way.  In an “open floor plans did not exist back in olden times” kind of way.  When you walk in, there’s a room…and then another room….and then a room…and then this room, which I would consider the living room.  This is where our old pal the huge haunted piano lives.  He plays tunes for free at night–mostly ones that sound like they’re the soundtrack of a Vaudevillian circus.


Oh what a cute little nook in the kitchen!  Jk jk–this is just in some random other room.


THIS is the kitchen (release those gasps you’ve been saving).  I have so many questions about this room:  1.  Where in the…?  2.  How in the…?  3.  What in the…?  Needless to say, we’ll need to work on this area a bit.


This full bathroom is directly off the kitchen.  Although the tub would make dinner and bath time with the kids pretty streamlined, we are planning to change this into a half-bath / laundry area (would you STOP about the tile!  It’s fake and ugly in real life.  I can’t help that I take amazing pictures).


Cool view from the top of the stairs.  The second set of stairs lead to the attic.  My husband says no dead animals are up there that we know of, but he did find an old school beaver trap, plus tons of old empty handgun boxes.  I’ll be staying on the main, non-secretive, non-animal floors, thanks.


Here’s a room upstairs that has tons of shelves and a sink, and we have no idea what it is or what to do with it yet.  Anyone need a couple of rickety tables?


This is the view from outside of the shelf/sink room above.  Really hoping one day to have an herb garden here again, since that seems like what it used to be.  Mr. Rosemary bush is still holding strong.


And there’s the back yard.  Super excited to have this space for our girls and sheepdog, Olaf.  He’s hoping to finally live out his herding dreams here, and we’re hoping that the other 5-ish acres that you can’t see past the tree line don’t have some kind of Native American burial ground on them or something…We really have no idea what’s back there, but probably it’s fine.


There are many more run-down rooms and other weird quirks about the house not pictured (more to come on those spaces in future posts), but we’re hoping with a little TLC, we can make her as nice as she once was.  For now, I’d like to end as I began, with talk of a different sort of Journey.  Don’t Stop Believin‘ that we can make this home beautiful again.  If you Faithfully follow along, you’ll see that anyone can make an old home Any Way you Want it, and we welcome any comments or advice with Open Arms.

OK, I’m done.  Next up–painting time!






One day, like…tomorrow?

I hate waiting for things. HATE. WAITING. FOR. THINGS.  Presents?  Lemme open them now!  Long check-out lines?  Get real–I’ll go Amazon Prime it.  Gender reveal party?  Surprise!  Ate a cupcake in the kitchen earlier–congrats, it’s a boy!  I realize this about myself, and try to temper my urges for immediacy when I can, especially now that I have a husband, two kids, a mortgage, an enormous dog, and most recently, some responsible mom bangs.  But then this old house came along, and inevitably, there was just no stopping my insistent, irresponsible, and inconvenient impulses to make a major life change.

You know one thing that’s not quick, easy, or full of instant gratification?  The renovation of a 120 year old  “folk” Victorian house.  Or so I assume–we are still pretty early in the process.  So why did I think this house would be a good purchase for us?  Glad you asked.  Here’s a quick run-down of how we got the Old Girl:

A few months ago, I was busy googling how to sleep train an infant (can’t be trained, won’t be trained, FYI), when a friend sent me a link to the listing of the house on some “Old House Dreams” website. Sometimes, when you have no babysitter, no Saturday night plans, and no pants that fit, you just decide to go see an house because it looks cool and old and semi-scary, and also because the baby actually sleeps on long car rides.

My first impression of the house was that it was filthy and stuffy, and it felt like when you used to go sing Christmas carols to elderly shut-ins with your church as a kid and you tried to be polite and festive, but really you were just about to pass out from mothball smells and a heat stroke.  But on the other hand, it also had amazingly tall ceilings, windows that started at the floor, about a million fireplaces, original stained glass, and acres of pretty land around it (more house details and pics coming soon!)  After we left, I couldn’t get it out of my head.  Deep inside, urgency beast was stirring.

Over the next few weeks, I tried to write off the house as a “one day” scenario.  I talked with my husband over hasty pre-bedtime glasses of wine about how one day we’d find a house like this and renovate it.  One day we’d find a place that had a good amount of land. One day we’d live within walking distance of a cute little town…and we could find a house with a great front porch…and have chickens and mini goats and tractors and I could decorate things and he could have a barn blah blah etc. then more wine then bedtime. Repeat convo. the next evening.  But my inner, impetuous, toddler–like feelings wouldn’t be satiated.

WHY did we have to wait for One Day?!  Would we have more money then?  Less responsibilities?  Self-sufficient children?  Flexible careers?  Maybe, maybe not.  It would be impossible to know, and even more impossible to wait on.  What I did know is that we wouldn’t find THIS house again.  So we went for it.  And it worked out. And we’re crazy.  But also, we’re excited to see what we can do with this place, and excited to share this project with you.  It’s going to be a long, slow process, but that’s why Jesus gave me a patient engineer for a husband.

Now, back to eating my blue cupcake in a pile of Prime shipments.  Gotta feed the beast somehow. Thanks for following along!