Our First Nest

Three months before our big day we found and purchased our very first house.  Sadly for someone, it was a foreclosure but happy for us, we got it for a steal.  It definitely wasn't our 'dream home' but we knew it had major investment potential and boy, were we right!  We put about 15% of the purchase price into renovations/upgrades and, after deciding to make a move across the country two years later, we sold it two weeks after listing it for sale by owner for double the price we paid for it!  Take THAT housing slump!  ;)   

As far as renovations go, it just needed cosmetic updates on the main floor along with new appliances (the 'foreclosed upon' took them all, plus the shed in the back, all of the shelves out of the pantry, and the window screens...I know, weird right?)  The basement however needed to be completely gutted and redone (due to faux wood paneling covered with rainbow wallpaper and black mold - the really dangerous kind - in the bathroom.  Yikes!)  After our honeymoon, Anthony moved in and the madness began!
With the help of our parents and friends, we did everything from completely finishing the basement and installing french drains for waterproofing, to painting and landscaping by ourselves.  We moved before we could make all the changes we wanted but it was so far, so good in our eyes.
   I love before and after pictures so I hope you do too!  Unfortunately we were in such a hurry to dive into DIY-dom that we didn't think to take lots of 'before' pictures with this house (check our current nest for lots of them though!)  We've got a few but for some rooms, my descriptions of the gruesome states (mostly in the way of paint colors) that existed might have to suffice.

So, without further ado... 

I know.  It's everything you'd ever want in a front facade, right?  The double-doored, stained brick, and faux wood shingling/siding made sure the front of our first house was ready to be featured on the covers of home magazines everywhere!  K to i to the dding y'all.  :)  So maybe cozy front porches and gleaming archways are where it's at when we're talking street views but what we didn't have for a facade, we made up in landscaping, pinky swear.  Oh, and did I mention that this is actually an 'after' photo?  The before would've revealed untamed landscaping, brown grass, and some hideous, floral house numbers.  We added lots of plants and groomed beds around the entire house and along the retaining wall, spray-painted (I absolutely LOVE spray paint) the porch lights and landscape lights a hammered brown, planted new grass, and replaced the flowery numbers with some simple, modern digits. 

Before, our yard was one big bunny slope right down to the house so when it rained, all the water came straight for our back door.  To remedy the water issue and to get a more level playing field, Anthony moved lots of dirt around to create a bi-level backyard.  It wasn't completely flat but it was definitely better.  Where the levels met, the main man also added a landscape bed and some stone steps.

In process:

We also put up a fence on the one side of the yard we were allowed to (city rules) without having to pay a fee.

 The back of the house was pretty plain.  A few windows and a sliding door at the patio summed it up.

The concrete pad where you can see the two white chairs and grill was where a shed once stood...the shed the previous owners decided to pack up and head out with. :/  Those electrical wires were a little bit of an eye sore but since they were connected from our house to the nearest street post, there wasn't much we could do about it.

Inside, starting with the living room:
This is after we did a quick update and decorate.  Before, three of the walls were painted a dusty rose, one was dark brown with a splotch of white smack dab in the middle, and the wall adjoining the living room to the dining room/kitchen was a bright periwinkle.  The wood floors were covered up with horribly stained, tan carpeting that came up a few hours after we closed on the house along with the hundreds (thousands?) of staples that held it in.  The love seat was a hand-me-down that we covered with a clearanced slipcover, the rocking chair was a $5 thrift find covered by a slipcover I found on eBay, the rug was actually two 5 x 8 rugs put together to make a bigger rug (from Kmart), the hutch was a hand-me-down, and the end tables and coffee table were our very first, new furniture purchase - an off-the-floor set on sale at Big Lots.  

We painted the walls Hopsack (by Valspar) and eventually saved up to get all of the floors refinished in here and throughout the house...the only thing we did not attempt to do ourselves.  Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that ripping up the carpet uncovered a boarded-up two-by-two foot square in one corner of the living room.  I was CONVINCED it was the gateway to a secret treasure/a-previous-owner's-stash-that-they-forgot-to take-with-them-when-they-moved-thereby-making-us-nouveau-riche but no, there was nothing but dust mites, an empty space, and a hole to fix.  Bummer. 

After we got the floors refinished, we took away the rugs to behold the beauty of the wood (and because we were afraid the rubber backing would ruin the floors).

The kitchen:

We had a typical galley-style kitchen in our first house.  I have zero pictures of what it looked like before but it didn't change much anyway.  It was pretty much what you see in these pictures minus all of the appliances. 

As mentioned above, the previous owner had taken the pantry's slide-out shelves and all of the appliances so basically we had a room full of cupboards.  Lucky for us the cabinets were really nice and the floors were a nice, neutral ceramic tile.  We did replace the worn cabinet hardware with new hardware (found on eBay for $1 a piece), which we put in after these pictures were taken.
We also gave the dirty white walls a fresh coat of creamy white (Valspar's Cream in My Coffee), purchased new appliances during a huge sale at Sears, and built some new slide-out pantry shelves.  Because we preferred an over-the-range microwave vs. a counter top one, we also had to shorten the cabinet above the range to make sure there was enough clearance between the bottom of the microwave and the top of the stove.  A friend helped us with that project by rebuilding/shortening the existing cabinet.  

We had two new doors custom-made to fit the re-sized cabinet by the same company who outfitted the rest of the kitchen and that was about as deep as we got in here.  We were so thankful this house didn't need an entire kitchen reno because, hello...$$$$$!  

The dining spot:
The two walls surrounding our little dining spot were already red except there was a large splotch of white in the middle of the biggest wall.  I'm not sure what the thing was with the splotches of white but the dining room wall, the living room wall, and the guest room wall all had a big splotch of white on them...hmmmm...elusive patches hiding treasure in the wall?  I guess we'll never know.  Anyway, we grabbed a deeper red (Posh Red by Valspar) and painted over the existing red.  We found that big 'ole oil painting at a starving artists' sale for $60 (the frame was gifted to us but was also $60) and it just made the space.  I loved to sit facing the painting in the morning, pretending that I was on a Grecian coastline eating my Lucky Charms...

The table and chairs were a $100 thrift find and the runner in front of the patio door was from Kmart.  I found those tulips at JoAnn Fabrics on super-clearance for $3 a bunch, cut each stem off the bunch so that I had a couple dozen individual faux blooms, and stuck them in a vase.  I still have those babies and am still in love with them.  :)

The main floor bathroom:
Oh man.  How do I say write this...  The photos above are the 'after' photos.  I know.  Muddy brown and orange?!!!  Bad, bad, bad.  You're thinking of the last diaper you had to change, hours before which, carrots were served.  I know.  What the heck was I thinking...I wasn't thinking.  I've since come to my senses and have redone the entire bathroom in my head...and in writing here.  Before, the walls were a not-so-peachy peach and we wanted to try something dark so Valspar's 'Cabin Plank' came to be.  Painting was all we did in here so it was a quick and easy (and very bad) transformation.  

The master bedroom:
I would describe the previous wall color in this room as very, very old chocolate milk left in a sippy cup to ferment under the corner chair.  We cleaned things up with a serene light blue (can't remember the name but it was a Valspar color), added bright white curtains, and a light fixure because, yep, that was taken too.
On a side note, we thrifted our bed and two dresser set for $100 (at the same thrift store we found our dining set).  We made the pieces more modern by replacing the dated hardware with cup pulls we found on clearance at Lowe's for a buck each, and by stripping the old, glossy finish, and giving them a coat of satin polyurethane.  Hello twenty-first century.  :)

Guest room #1:
This room somehow evaded the crazy paint scheme that scampered throughout the rest of the house so so all we did in here was set down furniture.  Besides the curtains, which I made myself with some cotton fabric from JoAnn's and iron-on tape, every piece of furniture and all of the bedding was handed down making this room the most budget-friendly room in the house besides the office/second guestroom, which boasted the same thing.  :)  It wasn't necessarily 'our style' but it was cheap and we got to pinch a lot of pennies thanks be to generous family and friends.

Office/guest room #2:
Once again, we don't have a picture of the entire room before we got our hands on it but we did snap the above pic right before we got our floors refinished.  Somebody painted and apparently...obviously didn't use a drop cloth.  Or maybe he/she thought he/she didn't need one since he/she was going to go all cray and cover these beauteous floors with carpet.  I don't know but on top of the paint splatter, three walls in here were white and one was an eye-popping hot pink with, again, a splotch of white paint right smack dab in the middle of it.

This 'after' kinda makes me cringe because, once again, we were working with what we got for free - the huge filing cabinet, a couple of non-matching desks, and a boring office chair.  Very, very budget-friendly and so thankful were we for that but it was pretty ugly.  We rid ourselves of the white and pink by painting the walls a dark sage color (Valspar something...can't remember again) and then we added subtle stripes using the same color in a different sheen.  Fan-say.

The basement bathroom before:

When we bought the house this bathroom was actually finished but had the black mold mentioned earlier growing on and in the walls and so we had to completely gut the room to the cement foundation and studs, got the whole space treated for any remaining mold, and added french drains to fix the water problem and prevent future mold issues.  This is after we started putting it back together.
The floor was already tiled in the same tile inhabiting the upstairs kitchen and bath; the lighter ceramic tile in the above pic.  However, remodeling after the mold fix made for a few space adjustments and left us with a few untiled areas around the perimeter of the room.  So, since we couldn't for the life of us find matching tile to fill in the now empty spaces, we changed things up by adding a border around the room with smaller, complementary tile.  Hint:  A great way to bring down the cost of coveted, expensive tile is to use it inside a less expensive, but still equally appealing border. 


 Complete with a new vanity base (discontinued and thereby discounted 80% at Lowe's, then painted with left-over kitchen paint), a new mirror (also painted), the existing but, once again, painted light fixture, a brand new shower, the existing counter top, a super-nice and super-clearanced faucet, and the existing but cleaned John.  From gutted to great (and mold-free), rebuilding this bathroom only put us back around $1000. 

Guest room #3 before:
Also known as our temporary workshop and located in the basement, we bumped this little space up to bedroom status after stealing the bathroom's closet and giving it to this room by simply closing up one wall and opening another.  Lots of framing, drywall, painting, painting, more painting, trim work, some can lighting, and a ceiling install later we got...

Once again, I'm unsure of the paint color in this room; a pale yellow.  I do know that we bought it at Wal-Mart and that it took somewhere around three coats for even coverage - bad, bad, bad.  We also painted the concrete floor a dark brown and added a large area rug.  You might've noticed the shutters in the far right corner.  That, my friends, is our clever way of hiding the ugly fuse box.  We framed it out and added some shutters to give a room without a view, still no view but at least a fake window.  :)



Laundry room after:
You can kind of see what it looked like before two pictures up.  I know.  It was two thumbs down before, and after it's still at least one thumb down.  It's likelihood of being pinned is like, way high. *wink*  We didn't do too much (obvi) besides adding a wall separating it from the bedroom, giving the cinder block walls a fresh coat of white paint, and continuing the dark brown floor paint from the bedroom into it.  Thankfully it was tucked away in a corner of the basement where no one but us laid foot so nobody really knew how beautiful it was.  ;)
Had we stayed in this house longer, stenciled floors and some smartly placed curtains might've raised it's score on the aesthetics scale, but alas, we moved and I'm sad happy to say, we don't miss this room and we definitely don't miss our ancient washer and dryer.

The basement/rec room before:

This big room was by far the biggest project in the entire house - we drywalled, insulated, put in laminate wood floors, painted the walls the same tan that we used upstairsk (Hopsack by Valspar), painted the stairs, put in doors...you name it, we did it.  The ceiling we installed in here and throughout the rest of the basement was called the EZTrack system from Lowe's, which allowed easy access to pipes and other such things in the basement ceiling.  We literally finished this room the day before we handed over the keys to the new owners meaning we didn't get to decorate or enjoy it at all.  We would've loved to cozy it up with some couches and a big screen, lay down a big 'ole rug and a runner up the stairs, and spend many a night playing games down here.  We'll save all those wishes for our next basement though.  :)    


.           .           .

So there you have it, our very first home and quite possibly our most budget-friendly one too - structurally and decor-wise.  Every piece of furniture except the coffee and end tables (which were floor models at Big Lots and therefore el cheapo) and our mattress (another Big Lots bargain ringing in at $550) was either a hand-me-down or thrifted, meaning we furnished this entire house for under $1000.  Money well spent...or not spent, however you wanna look at it.  :)

 The End...of the beginning.