House Before & Afters

Summer camp continues at the Johnson residence.  I don’t have any current events to report on, unless you are interested in homemade slip-n-slides, watermelon, homegrown tomatoes, etc.

So instead I’ll go backwards and share some of the ups and downs of #28 – Sell our house and move to Mississippi.  First up, getting the house all cleaned up for market meant we had a real stager and a professional photographer come snap some photos.  The stager helped me de-clutter everything, and the photographer had some kind of magical lens that makes houses look nicer than they are.  Anyway, all this makes for great before-n-afters! I know Bethany wants to see these, if no one else cares.  We share a love of home renovation.  Her big reno project turned out incredibly well.  And I’m pretty proud of ours too, although we had some different constraints.  You see, we knew all along that we’d be selling this house in short order, and so some of the design decisions were based more on “what the typical homebuyer might want” rather than “what Mary-Hall wants”.  Enter beige walls, stage left.  Mary-Hall wants to stencil a wall, but homebuyers like neutrals.  yada yada.

Or so they say.  Well, I guess it actually did work in our case, now that I think about.  Anyway, let’s get to the goods.

First up is the exterior. Yard deer alert! We bought our home from the original owner, Eva.  She built it in 1971 and loved it all the way until 2008. She was clearly a yard person, and we always struggled to maintain her high standard.

After 4 years, the yard deer are gone. The bushes grew larger, and we only killed a handful of things.

Moving right in the front door, here’s the living room in full-on, late 80s grandma style. Check out those gold accents! Curtain rod! Fire place!

Our first ever project in the house was spray painting that fireplace cover. We built out the mantel and added recessed lights. We majorly lucked out and found lovely wood floors under all that cream carpet.  We installed crown molding without anyone filing for divorce (barely).

Looking back, Eva had some lovely mid-century furniture.  She also had a lovely dining room light fixture.

Clearly, we had a superior photographer and a superior light fixture. And now you can see the heart of where we made upgrades – the kitchen… “The kitchen” was like our first child. The project was a constant in our lives for, uhm, a couple of years.

Man, this is turning into more of a jog down memory lane than I anticipated. Showee, look at the oak paneling everywhere. And that linoleum floor was literally 2 inches thick, composed of many many layers of linoleum. Eva was a redecorator.

We ditched the eat-in kitchen since the eat-in dining room was literally right in the same room.  Instead we went with a pantry and desk area.  That was a great decision.  We kept the general layout of the kitchen area and we left the appliances in their original spots.  And absolutely everything you see was done by my husband and I.  We are serious about DIY and by “serious”, I mean those cabinets started out as a big stack of plywood in our basement.  Here’s my husband during some phase of demolition.  There were several demolition phases.

Here’s me showing off some freshly constructed cabinet boxes in our awesome basement workshop – perfect for working straight through the cold Colorado winter.

We lived in a state of disarray for longer than I want to think about.  People came to visit us.  We put them to work.  I cooked dinner in the living room where the range sat.  You know, all in the life of the extreme-diy’er.

And in the end it was worth it.  We considered the project to be a learning experience, a practice round for our next house or possibly our next custom cabinetry business.  And our overarching goal was achieved – the final product didn’t scream “Look mom we did this all by ourselves” when you walk in the front door.  In fact I don’t think our somewhat naive home buyers had any clue that it wasn’t all done professionally.

All credit for the cabinetry is due to my detail-oriented husband.  The cost of this project was not insignificant, but it was less than you might think.  We saved money throughout the house by buying used (i.e. appliances) and buying discount from local thrift stores (tile, molding).  Anyway that’s where we spent the lions share of our effort.  We did a quick reno of the bathrooms as well.  The bathroom before’s are terrible:

In the after, we repainted that awful vanity and changed the top out.

The tub in that room originally included a weird tiled seat area at the back.  And granny bars.

We replaced the seating area with a little shelving inspired by none other than Bethany and Keith.  I remember calling her to ask how wide hers was, to see if we could squeeze a similar one in.  Turns out we could!  We didn’t get a great photo of it, but here’s the general idea.  Oh yeah, we did this project post-child!  He looks thrilled doesn’t he?

The rest of the house got your general coat-of-paint/carpet removal/change-of-light-fixtures.  Here’s our hilarious master bedroom with Eva’s draperies.

She took those with her when she moved out, even though they weren’t expressly excluded in our contract.  We were sad but decided not to argue about it.

K, I’ll splash a few more afters up but I think this post has become long enough and I suspect now I am the only one still interested.

Sigh.  Its emotional selling your baby to strangers, even when you’ve been planning to do it all along.  More on that in another post.  I hope they take good care of you, old house!


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About Mary-Hall

loyal southerner, exceedingly frugal, compulsive DIYer

6 responses to “House Before & Afters”

  1. Momma Daniel says :

    See, MH, you’re WRONG about being the only one interested! I thoroughly enjoyed the pictorial remodeling diary. (But maybe I’d better hide our gold-trim fireplace doors!) I hope you’re enjoying being back in MS. Have you bought the house you’re staying in now or just renting? What lake are you on – the reservoir?

    • maryhalljohnson says :

      Hey Mrs D – we are staying in the house August grew up in, still owned by his dad, until we figure out where exactly we want to buy. Its on Lake Cavalier, which is a decent sized private lake. Its a huge blessing to be able to park here temporarily while we recover from the move!

  2. bethanybordeaux says :

    Um, maybe it’s a “Daniel Women” thing, but I read every word and loved it. Even though I saw the house in many of its phases (and yes, even sanded some of those kitchen cabinets) I’m still amazed by all the transformation. Thanks for posting all this!

  3. Anonymous says :

    Great story…I stayed with it till the end
    Papa Lars

  4. Freya Zipperer says :

    Aunt Freya and Uncle Pete never saw the actual house but followed the virtual progress through facebook and word from the grampa’s mouth. As a Johnson I applaud the thrift, planning and beside the road pickups of treasures.

  5. Keith Bordeaux says :

    Wow. This is the first time I’ve seen ALL of the renovations in their completed state. Great job, guys! You put a lot of sweat and love into that house.

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