BEFORE: It wasn’t pretty.

Often times when we have guests, they say, “your house is so lovely!”.  Which I’m sure is a standard compliment that new guests give to their hosts.  I always reply with, “Oh thank you, it’s a lot different than when we bought it, but we still have a long way to go.”

Looking back over these photos I’m about to share with you, I had forgotten how far we’ve come.  Some days I get impatient with the waiting.  My kitchen layout drives me batty, I have a very ugly bathroom, and some really nasty floors (carpet isn’t my friend).  But then I look back at these photos and see all the massive change, and it stops me in my tracks.

Gosh, I need to be more grateful about the progress we’ve made, rather than always focusing on what’s left to be done.

We purposely purchased a home that needed some TLC because that’s what we do best: taking ugly spaces and bringing them back to life.

We have bought ugly homes for several reasons:

*we are not afraid of hard work.

*we typically are not happy with someone else’s idea of a “good job” on a remodel project, so it’s preferable to do it ourselves and get just what we envision for the space.

*we wanted to be in a certain area, and it just so happens that acreages in this area are not easy to come by at an affordable price.

*since we are able to fix most things ourselves, we have been able to build “sweat equity” in our properties. Our first home gained a significant amount of equity in 5 years, about 45%, enough to buy the one we are currently residing in without breaking the bank.

*we couldn’t afford anything more, and location has always trumped size or a perfect, turn-key home.

Now, this philosophy does not work for everyone.  In fact, there are some people that should not buy a fixer-upper.  But it works for us.

And without further adieu, here are some photos of our fixer-upper (on the day we went in for home inspections and the day we closed):



It was like a maroon paint can had exploded everywhere.  The prior owners were in love with maroon.  Maroon roof, porch, shutters, and even maroon bushes galore (not pictured).  Also included: lots of weeds (home had been unoccupied for a while).


Moldy siding!  Overgrown bushes!  Swampy backyard from poor drainage!  More weeds!


Living room



Fake floral arrangements at every turn.  Even in the fireplace, as if on top of and next to the fireplace wasn’t enough.




Nasty nasty wallpaper.   Nasty.  Original almond stove.  Mis-matched white dishwasher.


It’s the biggest floral arrangement EVER!  And the largest microwave on the planet (which, if I recall, the prior owner took at closing. Probably to put into the museum of “largest microwaves in the world”).


Please note the smoke colored glass light fixtures.


I shudder inside when I see these photos.  The whole place smelled like a funky plug-in.  The prior owner was attempting to cover up the lie that she didn’t have pets.  If a seller tells you they have never had pets, just assume they’ve had 5 cats, mkay? (disclaimer: I’m allergic to cats and they make me sick.  This is not a personal attack on your cats, which I’m sure are quite nice, always clean and minty fresh, and never shed).


Master Bath


We will call this “tiny master bathroom with giant vanity, peeling popcorn ceiling and falling-down towel bars”

Upstairs Bathroom (for bedrooms upstairs)


Did you know toilet LID covers existed?  This owner loved a good toilet cover.


Guest Bath/Powder Room: we have more toilet seat covers, complete with floral arrangement and circa-1986 wallpaper and mauve mini-blinds.


Do you think we are cray cray?  Oh, friend, I’m not done.

Nothing says sexy like a laundry room that has not been painted in 25 years, yes?


Before I take you to the bedrooms, let me lead you up this beautiful set of stairs, and don’t forget to look up to catch sight of the pretty wallpaper border AND BATHROOM DOOR WREATH.  That baby could take an eye out.







The only part of the home that looks better then, as compared to now, is the upstairs attic storage.  I can only dream of it being this empty today!  I’m pretty sure I shouldn’t put this in the post, as Nathan will freak out and rent a dumpster for us to fill.


Yes, we bought this house on purpose.  With eyes (and nose) wide open.  We saw potential.  We saw a quality, custom-built home that needed some (lots of) love.  We saw a home that gave us room to grow and host guests.  We saw 3 acres within 15 minutes of our jobs.

Even though we saw all of that we were quite skeerd.  We were afraid of what we may find.  Of how long it may take to fix up the home.  When we bought it, we couldn’t even afford to buy a gallon of paint.

I snapped this photo of our boys playing on the front porch of the home we were selling.  This was taken the morning of the closing day.  It’s no wonder I had to go in the bathroom of the bank, sit in a stall and ball my eyes out.


We had to step back to move forward.  And it was hard.  But worth it, even though there are days I still miss our tiny, completely updated, 1920s bungalow.

More coming in future posts on the things we’ve done to our home, and what’s still in the works.  We’ll never be “done”, but seeing these photos will help give you context to appreciate where we started.

We’ve come a long way, baby.

Thanks for reading.


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2 thoughts on “BEFORE: It wasn’t pretty.

  1. This post is great! I did love your brick house- it was so cute. Your microwave comment about it being put into the giant microwave museum was hilarious (especially because we had one like that growing up!) Also, we had a toilet lid cover growing up- it was actually nice, it meant there was no slamming sound when it shut.

    • I cannot even tell you how big that microwave was. I wasn’t upset that they took it; rather, amused. The rest of the appliance were on the verge of broken, so I cannot imagine it had much life left! I’m glad I made you giggle.

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