Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Our First House: Take a Tour

Now that we are making improvements on our second home and we recently conversed with the new owners of our first home (love them!), we should take a look back at Jeff's and my first home where we lived for a little over three years. Granted, all of the progress we made on that house in three years exhausted us, so we slowed our roll a bit for this house, especially since it's bigger and we plan to live here longer. The only thing we hired out was a landscaper for the backyard, and all of his work washed away. Jeff ended up having to fix several of his mistakes (like the broken deck steps and eroded soil). Waste of money. That's why we DIY almost everything because no one cares about your home like you do. We poured a lot of love into our first home, and we both miss the home and the neighbors SO much. However, our commutes were just too long to justify staying there.

Please note that this post was inspired by Compass--a New-York-based, real-estate company that offers agents, listings, and an app for the home selling, buying, or renting process--who began a "Starter Stories" series in which multiple bloggers participate. I loved the idea so much that I decided to participate.  It's like HGTV via social media, a peek into the homes of real people. Who doesn't love anything HGTV? By the way, a pregnant woman taking a trip down memory lane results in so many emotions. Whew. 

First, I'll take you on a tour of the house. Then, I'll tell you what we learned through the process that we are now applying to our second home in which we will live for at least three times as long as the first home!

Part 1: Main Level (living room, 1/2 bath, dining area, and kitchen)

Living Room: Before we moved in
We Changed: window coverings, wall color, and ceiling fan (obviously added furniture)
Would Have Changed Later: Flooring

Living Room: During (when we wanted people to think we were college chic)

We did end up buying a new couch, but it was not deep enough for my 6'3" husband. Plus, it was way too dark. So were the walls. So much darkness. Bats in a cave. 

Living Room: We lightened (read: I lightened) up the walls and the couch. The couch is from Lovesac. Make sure you spell that correctly if you type it into Google....

 I like to play musical furniture, so the bookshelf replaced the end table. 
Bookshelf: Home Depot
Couch: Lovesac
Curtains: Bed Bath & Beyond (they still sell them)
Lamps: refashioned hand-me-downs

Living Room: Here's what it looked like before we moved. Jeff doesn't like rugs on carpet, but I do. Judge me all you wish.

Living Room (other side): Before we moved in

Living Room: During (when it was dark...and rust-colored)

Living Room (other side): Once we lightened things up, I moved one portion of our couch to this side. Yes, Lovesac couches are like Legos. You can take them apart and reconfigure them.

Wall going upstairs: Before

Wall going upstairs: After
Table: Home Goods 
Mirror: Target
Box & Wicker Ottoman: Home Goods, I believe
(Creepy dog not included)

Half Bath (which Jeff refers to as a "make it or break it" bathroom): Before we moved in

Half Bath: After 
We Changed: Wall color, light fixture, switch plates, flooring, mirror, faucet
Would Have Changed Later: Cabinet color (needed sanding and restaining or painting), would have upgraded to tile or wood flooring later

 Frames: Ikea
Faucet: Home Depot
Mirror: Target
Flooring: Home Depot (peel-and-stick, would have later upgraded to tile)
Wall vases: Crate and Barrel (wedding gifts)

Kitchen: Before we moved in
We Changed: countertops, removed peninsula and added island, flooring, all appliances, faucet, window coverings, light fixtures (above sink and middle of floor), wall color, added backsplash, added a potrack, new knobs for cabinets
Would Have Changed Later: Added pot lights to replace our updated light fixture (I LOVED what we did in here, so there was very little left that I would have changed. I really fell in love with the kitchen once we updated it.)

 Kitchen: Before new flooring

Kitchen: After we redid the flooring (a.k.a. labor o' love)

Curtains: DIY
Barstools: Home Goods or Marshall's
Tray on island and Pot Rack: Crate & Barrel
Island & Countertops: Ikea
Sink & Faucet: Home Depot (I think...or Lowes)
Backsplash & Light Fixtures: Beadboard from Home Depot

Dining Area: In the beginning of our living there
Added: New light fixture, flooring, dining table, curtain rods, and had to fix condensation in the sliding glass door

Dining Area: After (right before we moved)

"Weird" Area: Before we moved in

Buffet/Drink Station: After we moved in
(I took a lot of time trying to figure out how to make use of this odd area on the main level. I don't think Jeff cared about it as much as I did, haha.)

Part 2: Upstairs (three bedrooms and one bath)

Master Bedroom: Before we moved in
We Changed/Added: added a window seat (which I still miss, but we will end up adding seating in our den for this home--go, handy husband!), changed wall color, added blinds, added shelves in closet (not pictured)
Would Have Changed Added: Would have added a second closet and added a master bath on the left (where the bumpout is), the ceiling fan, new curtains (added blinds but never curtains), a headboard (got an awesome one in this house!), flooring (wood flooring with radiant heating), 

 Master Bedroom: After we added our touches (only color I didn't repaint because I loved it--as long as it wasn't offensive, Jeff didn't care about the color, especially if he didn't have to paint it.)
Looks lonely without a headboard, but the pictures suffice?

Frames: Bed Bath & Beyond
Lamps: Pier 1
Nightstands: hand-me-downs painted white
Down-free Comforter: Overstock
Wall Color: Mysteria by Behr
Mirrors by window: Target (came in three pack)
Cushion on windowseat: Made by my mom
Windowseat: Made by my husband
Desk serving as vanity: Ikea, repainted white and tray covered with contact paper
Mirror and lamp on vanity: Target

Bathroom: Before we moved in 
We Changed: flooring, curtain rod, wall color, medicine cabinet, mirror, light fixture, faucet
Wow, I forgot how unappealing this looked. HAHA.

Bathroom: During (realized later that it was too dark! yes, we did have a mirror, just not before this picture was taken)

Bathroom: After
Flooring, Faucet, Knobs, and Light Fixture: Home Depot
Rug: Target
Mirror: Marshall's

Spare Bedroom: Before
 We Changed: wall color (can't imagine why), added new curtains
Would Have Changed: Fan, flooring

Spare Bedroom: After

Other Bedroom: Before
(I don't understand these shades. They look like butts.)

Other Bedroom (turned office): During
too green, tons of furniture, but very teacher-y
We Added: Shelving

Changed it up...again...with new desk and shelves (a little less busy)

 Other Bedroom (turned office): After

 Curtains: DIY
Chair: Ikea
Nightstand: old, repainted
Shelves: Ikea  
New Desk: Pier 1

Part 3: Basement

Laundry Area: After (can't find the before picture)
We Changed: Painted the floor (did it to the porch, too!)
Would Have Changed: about real walls!? 

Basement Bedroom: After (no before...sorry)
 We Changed: Jeff had to fix duct work and the ceiling in the basement and we painted the walls

Basement Bathroom: Before
 We Changed: paint color
Would Have Changed: light fixture, cabinets, faucet, flooring, pretty much everything
I spy a husband arm!

Basement Bathroom: After

Part 4: Outside

(I couldn't find all pictures, so I am just showing you the porch.)

Porch: Before (kind of)
We Changed: painted banisters, mulching, brick work, added storm door, changed locks, and painted concrete like in laundry room
(Out back, we painted the deck, which was the worst experience of my life. Jeff fixed the deck steps destroyed by landscaping idiot. Jeff and Dad also built the "Great Wall of Webber" that looks awesome from the street below. He also had the county remove the trees.)
Porch: After
You can find concrete paint at Home Depot or Lowes. We used a primer (Zinsser) first and then painted the concrete.

Part  5: What We Learned

How to:
* Tile a floor
* Install countertops
* Use powertools (Jeff was already quite adept at this. I need more practice.) 
* DIY curtains and about a million other things
* Make ModPodge your friend
* Hang pictures
* Choose a better color for a room
* Paint concrete
* Paint walls without painter's tape (well, I did)
* Install a ceiling fan
* The list really keeps going. Let's just say that we know how to read instructions and tutorials really well at this point. We also are great at just figuring it out ourselves.

The Importance of:
* RESEARCH -- I'm the planner. I research the heck out of everything so that I can find the best option for the best price. He looks at all of my research, says yes to things, no to things, "what about this?" to things, and we come to an agreement together :)

* Teamwork -- I paint, research (SO MUCH), and make everything cohesive. I get down and dirty with tiling or whatever needs to be done when I'm not doing school work. Jeff helps finalize plans and then executes a lot of the plans. Jeff is ridiculously handy. He can fix cars, computers, and clogged pipes. He also loves to research how to do things, so we come together on a lot of things. We make an awesome team, and home improvement projects have proven that fact.

* Working in phases -- You can't accomplish it all at once. Make a list and prioritize it. We wanted to get it all done right away, and that's exhausting. For this new house, we are much better at being patient (probably because we know we'll be here for longer). In our current house, we keep the list posted to the fridge. Jeff gets really excited when he can cross something off of the list.

* The right paint color/color scheme -- When we first painted, the rooms were so DARK, which made them look tiny and made me unhappy. When we lightened things up, we realized how much we love natural light, dark metals, rustic wood, and calming colors. We have begun applying our knowledge of color to this new home, and it already feels so much more cohesive despite needing a lot of work.

Final Thoughts:
Our first home will forever hold a large part of our hearts, but it taught us so much about how to care for our current home in which we will live for a lot longer. It taught us how to work together (with a baby on the way, that's pretty important). It taught us patience (man, do things break). It taught us that no one cares for your home the way that you do, so you must supervise work and educate yourself on everything about your home so that someone fixing termite damage in your new home doesn't mess up something or the guy at Home Depot doesn't steer you toward the wrong product. Ultimately, it taught us that we are capable of much more than we ever imagined before owning a home. (Hey, we are on our second home by the age of 30 and 31.)


  1. I truly love this post, Danielle! We can't afford a super fancy house right away, so we're fully expecting to do a lot of DIY projects to update whatever house we buy. I absolutely love what you did with your first house, and a lot of the things you were able to do in the house are things Kevin and I are excited about trying. We're big researchers as well, and we aren't afraid of a little YouTube tutorial to undertake a project :) I am so excited to find our dream house and make it our own like you did with yours!!

  2. Love this post! It's so fun to see how much a house can change as you go along. We have been in our house for almost 4 years, and still have a list of things to do, but I'm pretty happy with the current state of things. I absolutely agree that you can't always rely on the "experts" and you really have to advocate for your own best interests!

  3. This was such an interesting post! It's fun to look inside other people's houses. I could recognize the island in your kitchen from one of my favorite outfit pics of yours, the banister where you used to take your indoor pictures, the bench seat in the window (always wanted one of those!), and your deck. You guys did an amazing job with the color choices and decorations. I especially like the soft grey of the bathroom. I had to laugh at your college-chic living room. It reminds me of my first college apartment (but yours matched a little better). I hope you'll do another post once you get more of your new house done. The changes here are so exciting!


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