The project before the Project

It’s been almost three weeks since I’ve updated on the house (how have you guys even been sleeping at night?!), so here’s a quick summary:

  1. Paint is done…ish
  2. Floors are done…ish
  3. Everything is filthy
  4. The kitchen looks worse than it did before.

I have been visiting almost daily hoping for when I can take some “pretty” pictures of the progress, but it’s just not going to happen until about sixty pounds of dust are shop vac-ed out of the house.  Then today when we went over, the kitchen had been pulverized, and I started getting a wee bit panicky.  A wee major bit panicky.

So, instead of writing a sad post entitled “poorly lit pictures of dusty areas and broken things,” I thought I’d do a little flash-back to our first project–where we first experienced the anxiety, euphoria, and heart burn of a total home remodel.  Here’s hoping a reflection on our previous renovation will make me feel a little braver and a little less like why are we doing something so stupid and where will we eat and we’ll be covered in filth forever and our babies will choke on lead paint chips and someone help us, etc. etc

Stumbling Upon our First Renovation

A quick summary of how we ended up with project number one:

  1. We wanted to buy a house in Downtown (Greenville)
  2. We could not afford any of these houses.
  3. We happened to look at a tiny house off N. Main St. the day it was listed.
  4. We could afford aforementioned house, but it was a total disaster.
  5. We went to a bar after seeing the house.
  6. Two hours later we were under contract with the house.

(Note: although the steps above are listed in a highly professional list-like format, they are not intended to be a template for one to follow–particularly step #5).

The Starting Point

The exterior of the house was actually very charming (pictured above), but here are some views of the less-than-charming inside:


The kitchen featured green AstroTurf flooring, funky wallpaper, and washer and dryer right next to the fridge.  Handy, sure, but not super pleasing to the eye.


The living area was…and the carpet was…and those window treatments were…well, just look…


This was maybe the master bedroom, but it was hard to be sure.

The house was originally 1,000 sq. ft., with two bedrooms and one bathroom. Our goal was to make it into a 2,000 sq. ft. , 3 bedroom , 2 bathroom home.  Bold?  Yes.  Fool-hearty?  Yes.  Cheap?  No.

The Process

We bought the house in October of 2012, but we didn’t actually start renovating until February of 2013.  February 9th, to be exact.  How do I remember the particular day, you might be wondering?  Because it was a Saturday morning, it was super cold and spitting snow, and I had JUST found out we were expecting our first baby.  So we had a delicious celebratory breakfast, got in the car, headed over to the house to grab a tool or something that my husband had left over there, and were greeted with THIS:


and THIS:renno-9



And I died one thousand deaths.  Here’s a brief summary of the thoughts that immediately came to mind after seeing the apocalyptic destruction:

  1.  This was a terrible idea.  Just terrible.  So terrible.  The worst.
  2. Can we just burn it down “accidentally” and find a house where our baby won’t have to sleep in a nest of insulation?
  3. I hate my husband*

Luckily, we stuck it out past the first day of demolition, and ended up with a pretty nice little house, if I do say so myself.

*I do not hate my husband.  I did not hate him then.  My confused newly pregnant brain just needed a quick scapegoat, and much like our former kitchen washer, he was just right there so…

The Finished Product

We started on February 9th and moved in on June 29th.  It was stressful, exciting, and a major learning experience.  Here’s how a few of the areas turned out:


I couldn’t find a picture where every single thing on the exterior was finished, but you get the idea.  New siding, paint, windows, HVAC, roof, driveway, upstairs and garage, nbd…


We moved the kitchen to the opposite side of the house so that we could pour a new (non-shared) driveway on that side, refinished the floors (there were hardwoods under the carpet), and added everything else from scratch.  Not a huge space, but lots of light, and easy to cook in. I still miss those soapstone counter tops…


We relocated the washer and dryer to a slightly more practical location.

N. Avondale pic14.JPG

And our baby had a place to sleep juuuust in time.

The Takeaway 

I’ve realized the following things from looking back on this project:

  1.  There’s no reason to be flustered by demolition.  If you want an omelette, gotta break a few eggs, as my dad would say.
  2. My husband is maybe a saint, but also maybe needs to quit listening to my crazy whimsical ideas.
  3. We probably need to quit moving at some point.
  4. Every house has the potential to be pretty, fresh, and livable.
  5. I might be addicted to trying to make houses pretty, fresh, and livable.

Man, I feel like a million bucks now.  Nothing like a little list making, Memory Lane walking, and glass of red wine drinking to give a girl false confidence.  Once more unto the breech, dear friends!

Stay tuned for upcoming paint, floor, and kitchen remodel pics!




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