First House – Week 1

Ok, so I know it’s been a while, and I said I’d post next with a tour of my apartment, but things have been a little busy around here and I think you’ll understand why! We bought a house last month! We did a lease-back with the previous owner, so we just got keys last Wednesday night and we’ve been working like busy beavers all week to get the renovation started.

Before - front exterior 2

Day 1

Unfortunately, our experience with the previous homeowner has been a bit of a
nightmare. The first big problem we had with her was when she was supposed to hand over keys last Tuesday night, and she didn’t end up moving out until a day later around 9:00. AAANNDD she left this mountain of trash on the curb with a few bags-worth more inside:

Day 1 trash

Thankfully, the trash department in my city is pretty cool and they took it all no problem. The only things we have left that they won’t take are 3 big car tires that were on the side of the house for some reason. She also left the pool a nice swampy dark-green for us. We spend the first night getting all of the trash cleaned out of the house so that we could get started on renovation the next day. I also wanted to be the one to take the first few tiles out, so here’s my ceremonial shot:

First tile demo

Day 2

The next morning I got there a little early and ripped up all of the old laminate from the kitchen, dining room, and laundry room, because we’re installing continuous flooring throughout the house. It didn’t look bad before, but we’re doing a barnwood color, wide plank, high-quality laminate. It was surprisingly easy to take out because it was a floating floor, and I ended up selling the salvaged boards to an old friend for $100 (hello new toilet!). It’s funny how I don’t look at money as money anymore, but potential things I can buy for the house haha.

Old laminate Day 2 old laminate Day 2 no floors

We also ripped up all the carpet in the bedrooms, and got about half the entryway tile demoed before we realized that it’s stinkin hard. We ended up hiring a contractor and the rest of the tile is being demoed as I type this. I wish I had gotten close up pictures of the carpet before we ripped it up, but believe me when I say it was NASTY. Here’s the master after we got the carpet up, and the meager work we got done on the tile:

Day 2 no carpet

Day 2 tile demo

Adam also started getting up the baseboards so that we could lay our new flooring without installing a shoe molding, and I started cutting in around door and windows with our new paint color.

Day 3

On the third day we got a big chunk of painting done in the house, in the master, Adam’s future music room/study, the hallway, the entry way, and a bit of the living room.

Day 3 master paint

Day 3 music room

Day 3 hallway

Day 3 living room

Because we’re removing the baseboards, we’re not cutting in along the bottom, but we will come back with a roller and make sure it’s covered once the boards are off. I wanted to cover as much wall as possible as fast as possible, and I didn’t want to worry about cutting in twice around the other trim that needs to be painted, so I left most of the cutting in for later. The trim was a gross yellow-y white, and I got a bright white to go over it with.

My mom also got me a set of Adirondack chairs and is giving me her fire-pit as a house-warming present, so we got those set up on the back patio too. Here’s a before and after of the patio:

Before - back patio

Day 3 fire pit

I want to hang up cute patio lights when we move-in, and eventually do a Behr Deck-over on the patio and pool deck.

Day 4

Day 4 was a day for switching out lights! We still have a few more to do, but we got the living room, dining room, front porch, and hall bath lights switched out with lights I LOVE. Here’s a few before and afters:

Before - Fan Day 4 new chandelier

The old fan wasn’t bad, but I got this orb chandelier last Christmas and I thought it would be the perfect statement piece for the living room, especially since our dining room is a bit smaller. We didn’t have light bulbs for it when I took this picture, so it’s a bit dark =p.

Before - dining room light Day 4 dining room

Again, the old flush mount light wasn’t bad, but I love love love this glass globe light that came with an Edison bulb. We may have to raise it a little bit, because I want to put that vase in the corner on my dining table and the flowers are a little tall, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.

Before - front light Day 4 front light

The old front porch light was dirty, scorched, and installed upside-down. My new light reminds me of somewhere northern and coastal, and I think it really cozies up our porch. I can’t wait to paint the exterior and hang a swinging bench out there.

Before - vanity light Day 4 vanity light

The old vanity light was this weird little brass and etched frosted glass sconce, which we replaced with a proper vanity light. We also ripped out the old hall bath vanity and my dad did some drywall patching from where it was torn out by the old homeowner at some point to expose the pipes.

Day 2 old vanity
Day 4 dry wall beforeDay 4 dry wall patch

We can’t install the vanity until the new tile goes in, because it’s a furniture style vanity and you can see under it, but here’s a preview of what it’ll all look like put together:

Day 4 vanity preview

Vanity preview

I’m still learning my photography tricks, so I wasn’t sure how to get enough light to see the color of the vanity without making the vanity light look like a mini-sun. Therefore, you get two pictures. The wood has a bit more of a weathered gray tone in person. We also got the rest of the house painted except the laundry room, which I had been avoiding because the light was burned out and I was too lazy to get a step-stool and replace it.

Day 5

Day 5 was a little slower because I was at work and Adam got a late start and had to leave early for work. He got 2 1/2 rooms of baseboards off and I tried and failed to install a new doorbell. Basically, when I got the old doorbell off, one of the wire hooks that threads around the little screws fell off, and I didn’t have wire strippers. I tried to improvise with a pair of scissors, trying to be very careful about just cutting the insulation and not the wire, but after two attempts of making a new hook and having the wire break again and again, I gave up. I’m going to attempt again when I get proper wire strippers.

Day 6

Day 6 was also a slow day, because I had to work during the day and Adam had to work at night. Adam did however get our 1,500 sqft of flooring picked up from a warehouse 45 min away and got it all unloaded.

New Floors

We also had an incident with the old homeowner who somehow gained access to the locked backyard (probably with a key she kept), ripped her hose that she left out of the wall, broke the spigot, and left with the water spraying out of the wall without telling us. I got a call from our neighbor saying his yard was flooding and we discovered what happened and turned the water main off.

Hose Vandal

I went to Home Depot immediately after work and bought 2 deadbolts and a new gate padlock. It was only $27 and the deadbolts were super easy to install. I wish I had done it day one, but I didn’t know how easy or cheap it would be. Hopefully that’ll be the last time we have to deal with her nonsense, but it’s costing us about $300 to repair, and who knows what the water bill will be. I was LIVID. At least I can hope that karma will bite her in the butt for it.

My mom and I also had a little bit of time to paint the window sills and get some more cutting in done. The bright white is so much better, especially because the old trim wasn’t just yellow-y, but banged up in a lot of places. Here’s a close-up before and after, and a wide shot of the sill I painted on the left, and an unpainted one on the right:

Before window sills Day 6 window sill Side by side window sills

We also started sweeping up the crud (i.e. insect droppings, dirt, and debris) that was under the baseboards when we pulled them out and it’s pretty disgusting. This pile was just from under one and a half walls:

Day 6 baseboard trash

And that’s in EVERY room…blech! Needless to say the renovation has been wreaking havoc on my respiratory system, even with a mask on. I can’t wait to get everything swept up and to have the ducts cleaned next week so I can stop coughing all the time.

Day 7

Yesterday we finished pulling the baseboards off and started prepping for the contractors to come to demo the rest of the tile and raise the sunken living room. That involved moving all of the baseboards to the garage (by the way, we made a code system and chart to label all the baseboards so we know where they go back), clearing out the living room, and demoing the half wall that’s separating the dining room and living room. Part of the reason we wanted to raise the floors was so that we could get rid of that half wall and make the plan look more modern and open, and part of it was for safety. The back door dropped straight down into the living room with no safety step, and if we decide to start our family in this house, I don’t want a little one learning to walk in a house with 4 drop-offs like that.

Day 7 prepped living room Day 7 half-wall demo

I’ve also been itching to tear out the brass fireplace cover since we bought the house, so with the living room finally clear we got it out and scooped out years worth of ash and cobwebs. Adam also discovered that the mantle (which I wanted to replace anyways) wasn’t secured to the posts at all and just slipped right off.

Day 7 no fireplace cover Day 7 fireplace ash Day 7 cleaning fireplace Day 7 no mantle

I plan on cleaning and then whitewashing the brick, and building a hollow mantel that looks like a big wooden beam. Once the floor is raised, the hearth will also be closer to the ground.

That’s all of week one, and I’m about to take a 4 day weekend to make even more progress! Our last day in the apartment is Oct. 5th, so we’ve really got to hustle to get the floors done before we move in. The contractors are working on raising the floor right this minute, so stay tuned for tons of exciting updates next week =)


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