Keeping it real since 2014

Before and After

Homeownership is a series of peaks and valleys. For all the pleasure I take in homemaking, I just as often feel stressed, overwhelmed and financially strained. I’ve had a garage flood, a sewer line repair, and a complete HVAC replacement. But I’ve also found cool art, neat craigslist finds, and a deep sense of pride in my home. So after 1.5 of house projects, I thought it’d be nice to back step observe and share my progress with my friends. And random internet people. Enjoy (and don’t judge).

Living Room

Living Room Before and After Horizontal 2

The living room in my house also serves as an entryway and thoroughfare to the rest of the house. It’s long and narrow, so I’ve moved the furniture around repeatedly trying to get an optimal layout, that also allows more than just me to see the television. It was also challenging because my 1940’s home doesn’t have electrical plugs in useful spots. So, there is a bit of (safe) extension cording happening beneath the rug. Right when I had moved in, I tried making this area a living room and dining room combo. However, I found that it cramped the space way too much, plus a 4 piece dining set isn’t something that I used that often. Obviously, I love bright, vivid colors, so I’m always striving to find a balance. To help even out the look of the room, I jettisoned almost everything that didn’t serve a purpose (i.e. books, bookends, tchotkes). Clean surfaces and empty space balances the neon pinks and purples. Also, since the space is so small the various plants helps the room feel more alive rather than a small shoebox.

Updates since move-in: sofa, NASA Jet Propulsion poster, plants, window treatments, Ikea chair and ottoman, orange tray, several rounds of decluttering, purchased larger area rug, added neutral throw pillows.

To do: Paint the ceiling and walls, hang lighter window treatments, buy a matching loveseat and ottoman, get rid of the coffee table, install a fish tank, hang a gallery wall, install an updated hook rack, replace front door


Bedroom Before and After Horizontal

My bedroom is an addition on the house, and is actually the largest space in the house. The window and exterior door placement made furniture placement a bit tricky. Again, I’ve probably moved the furniture in this room 10 times before ending up on this particular layout. It works well for me, I don’t read too much into Feng Shui- but I try to adhere to the “no feet toward the front door” recommendation. I also don’t want to be able to see the front door from my bed (#smallhouseproblems).

Updates since move-in: hung window treatments, new lamps, endtables, bed, mattress, dressers, vanity, painted walls, added lampshade to closet, hung hook rack, multiple accessories

To Do: replace light fixture, replace windows, swap out flooring (eventually I want the whole hose to be wood-look tile), refinish the vanity, vanity chair

Master Bathroom

Bathroom Before and After 2Bathroom Before and After

The master bathroom has caused me a lot of grief, from an endless grout painting project to leaky fixtures. I feel like updating the master bathroom has been about 90% of my effort since moving in. The blue color of tile is definitely screams high school gym locker room, but I think my updates have really spruced up what was uninviting room. Added teak shelving and a shower bench has created storage and utility in the large space. Again, you can see that I don’t shy away from bright colors- I especially love the pops of red in the shower curtain against all the different shades of blue in this room.

Updates since moving in: removed all wall cabinets, removed medicine cabinet/light combo, replaced faucet, replaced electrical outlets and light switches, re-caulked toilet, fixed leaks on sink, added colorful accessories, installed towel hooks and racks, added teak shelf tower and shower bench, painted walls Navy, fixed exhaust fan cover, frosted windows, installed light fixture, painted overhead light fixture, replaced bulbs with LED/daylight balanced, painted grout lines grey

To Do: Paint trim, have plumbers replace shower handles and shower head (the wall needs to be opened up)

Office (second bedroom)

Office Before and After

So the office also took a turn being a dining room. Again, not a terribly useful or enjoyable use of the space. It’s a tiny room for four people to be in, plus it’s usually pretty dark. All in all, I think it’s much better utilized as an office. I telework sometimes, and am also attending grad school full time, so it definitely gets a lot more use as it is now. The older house charm comes with its share of challenges, there’s only four outlets in the room and they are all on one wall (sigh). I had almost painted the room a muted blue or green, when my best friend/interior designer Jenn recommended shades of gray with an accent wall. Though most would shy away from painting a tiny room’s wall black, I figured it would give the space some dimension and contrast with my lighter colored furniture and accessories. I’ve also converted the tiny closet into a dog-proof cat litter station and office storage. The space is really opened up by taking off the window treatment and also removing the door.  You can see more office photos here:

Updates since move-in: painting and patching walls and ceiling, replacing light fixture, adding office furniture, hanging gallery wall, thrifting desk, salvaging retro filing cabinet, adding area rug, cat litter closet and mail station

To do: Replace the window (it’s an original window, it doesn’t open :/), add shelves to closet for pet supply storage,


Guest Bathroom

Guest Bathroom Before and After

Oh (somewhat) original 1945 bathroom. Your tiny shower and short sink make me feel like Godzilla. The original plaster on the walls was cracked, the tile was pretty dingy, and the vanity was light green. Plus, there wasn’t even a shower head in the shower area- something I didn’t notice until after I signed the mortgage. It was like, I’m not mad at you bathroom, I’m just disappointed in your choices.  Early on in the updating the home process, my thought process was this: either try to change the colorful tiles in the house, or just lean into them. As I’m a color lover, I chose to lean in. Guess that makes me a modern woman according to Sheryl Sandberg. It took two tries to find the perfect color (I used the Sherwin Williams color matching), and when I opened the paint can it looked white, but actually is a powdery lavender. With the new paint and grey/silver accents make it look less nursing home and more vintage on purpose.  One caveat of removing the lighted medicine cabinet was that I also removed the only electrical plug in the room. Whoops. But since it’s a guest bathroom, it’s not a huge deal. I love my scented plug-ins, a candle will have to do in here.

Updates since moving in: patched the walls and ceiling, scrubbed tile with bleach, replaced toilet seat cover, replaced hardware on cabinet, installed a shower head, installed a permanent shower curtain rod, removed medicine cabinet, installed new light fixture and electrical box, painted the vanity, added new accessories: glass shelf, towels, shower curtain, artwork, etc.

To do: I’d really like to paper the cabinet with something interesting, and maybe add another shelf for candles. This room is pretty much done!

Kitchen and Dining Nook

Kitchen Before and After 1Stove Before and After v

The kitchen has so much more to do, I try not to think about it too too much. It’s a tiny galley kitchen, and had original/30 year-old features. That range was from the 70’s, the hood too. The door was original and was only secured by a hook and eye “lock.” I slept with one eye open the first month I lived there- while also having that door barricaded with old books. The walls are tiled with vinyl, there were a bunch of random cabinets (not pictured), one of which required 5 tools and the jaws of life to remove. The light fixtures were mismatched, old and cheap. But with some baskets, a new shelf, and stringent organization skills I make it work. Plus I’ve got a whole garage to store totes that have my cake baking supplies and other rarely used items. Oh, I forgot, my counters are four inches taller than the standard, which is weird too (especially after using the 20″ vanity in the guest bathroom).

The floor is badly patched, old, and dingy. I’ve scrubbed that floor with bleach, oxyclean, scouring powder… nothing works. I’ve had to get really creative and ruthless with the amount of things I have in the room- because there’s very little storage.

Contractors quoted a floor and subfloor replacement around 2k. Not terrible, but I’d really like to have the same flooring throughout the whole house so it unites the space. And I’m not sure what I want, so it’s been on the backburner).  New sink, new dishwasher, new backsplash, paint. Basically I would want to rip out the kitchen and start over. But for now, I’ll settle for new paint and save up for a dream kitchen in the future. Again, another reason not to spend 2k on the ugly floor, when 10k would redo the whole space. Maybe.

Since moving in: Removed old/awkwardly placed cabinets, removed installed toaster, painted wall tiles and ceiling, patched concrete, installed new refrigerator, new stove, new range hood, changed light fixtures, added swag light with shade, installed new door (with lots of locks), new accessories, added lots of hanging storage, baskets, industrial shelving, miscellaneous decor, purchased dining nook from craigslist.

To do: Maybe a new floor, paint the kitchen (the same color as the living room), paint the trim, possibly paint the cabinets and dining nook.


Utility Room & Laundry Room

There’s no before picture, these are all from my utility/mudroom/laundry room as she lives and breaths right now. Don’t you envy my supply of paper towels and bath tissue?

But for realsies, this room has the tallest ceilings in my whole house. It’s also the only access to the backyard. I dream of a living room and kitchen that open to the backyard. As you can see now, my lovely guests have to travel through my furnace/water heater room to go outside. Meh. The washer and dryer face weird ways, the tile is rainbow, the utility sink is dingy. But, they all work, and it’s good room for Cash when we’re away from home.

Since moving in: Hung a mirror and some random artwork, added a bamboo shade to the shelf, added window frosting on side window (faces right into my neighbors home)

To do: Paint the walls and trim (the trim is that lovely shade of old oakey orange), add a ceiling fan (there’s no ventilation in this room), add an area to fold clothes, get a new door.

As you can see my to do lists are still pretty long. I’m also coming to a point where I have to ask whether it’s worth it in the short term to do repairs that require major overhaul. The house is old, and it needs a lot of updating. I’m hoping in 5 years (3 years from now)- I’ll have enough saved to do a Fixer-Upper type overhaul with a design/build firm. For now, it’ll be little cosmetic projects, and lots of major cleanup outside! That’s all folks. School is starting up, so blog posts and house projects will be few and far in between. Have a neat summer!  x, J



2 Responses to “Before and After”

  1. Fiona Apple

    Great job! You’ve really worked hard and it’s paid off!! That rug MAKES the living room.


  2. Jen

    Oh, I’d be leaning into that colored tile all the way! I love the tile in the utility room. Your bedroom is so inviting with the splash of color in the quilt 💗



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