Two years and a few weeks ago, we looked at a house filled with wood panelling, dust, and darkness. Instantly, I knew one thing…we cannot pay money for this house. Emma had other plans. She walked in, instantly saw the potential in the house (and the original hardwood floors in the hall and bedrooms) and fell in love. It was a far bigger undertaking than anything I had done before, but she convinced me of its potential and we placed an offer. A few days later, we signed papers and turned in a massive check…we were home owners!
Emma has this thing where she can instantly see spaces, how they flow, and the things that will make them “click.” I have this thing where she tells me what we need to do, I look at Youtube videos, call people, go to Home Depot about thirty nine times a weekend, and then we do the work to make it happen.
Whether anyone ever reads this post, we wanted to walk through what we did and how it worked out. In every room, we painted the walls, painted the trim and doors white, scraped off the popcorn texture on the ceilings, and painted the ceilings white (huge huge thanks to family that helped!). It is CRAZY the difference from just those four things. Obviously the “before” pictures are just snapshots as opposed to composed photos, but you’ll get the idea.
The one question we’ve been asked over and over and over for the past few weeks is, “You mean you did ALL that work on your house and then you’re just going to sell it?” Absolutely. When we originally bought the house, we knew we needed to buy small. We’re about as deep into Dave Ramsey’s approach to finances as you can get. So we needed a house that we could afford 20% down, and that had mortgage payments on a 15-year fixed mortgage less than 25% of my take-home pay. We didn’t want to factor Emma’s job into the mix, because we didn’t know what God was going to do with our family, and Emma has always wanted to be a stay at home mom. That greatly limited our options. SO, we decided to look for a house that needed a lot of work but had good bones. We knew if we did the work ourselves, we would learn a lot, have some fun, and come out in the black. Whether we stayed in Cabot 2 years or 102 years, Pear Street was never a long-term house. We knew at some point, the time would come to sell the house, take our equity and profit, and settle in a different house. All of that to say, yes, we did all of that work on our house to turn around and sell it…and that was our plan the whole time.
NOTE: If you or someone you know is interested in buying a house in Cabot, AR, please send the link to see the full Realtor.com profile!
Living Room. Originally, when you walked in the front door, you walked into a narrow living room that had a wall separating it from the rest of the house. This wall had a door that locked…which meant we could have locked people out from the rest of the house. Emma knew the house would feel much better opened up, so that’s what we did! The wall was load bearing, and we had to have an expert come in and make sure I was right in how far and where we could open up the wall.
The wall came out, we drilled two engineered headers together to hold the load, and redid the drywall on the living room side. The living room floors were listed as “true hardwoods,” but they were just engineered laminate. Underneath were original hardwoods that had been patched left and right. We knew the best thing for the house would common flooring in all the living spaces. It was a lot of floor space, and I had never done tile before…so we paid our friend Jesse Pierce to be our resident expert…and had a few awesome friends come help out. That was a pain, but it turned out really well. We swapped out the light fixture and I built the casings for where the wall used to be. Some new base trim and curtains, and we were good to go. Doing all this brought so much more light into the kitchen and dining room, and the continuous tile brings the entire space together.
Dining Room. We opened up the wall between the living room and kitchen/dining room, but that still left the kitchen and dining room divided. Our dads helped us rip out the top part of our cabinets, which instantly helped. Both dining room and kitchen got new light fixtures, and I put in new crown and base trim. It was a BIT of a pain getting the paneling in this half of the living spaces painted (especially resetting the paneling above the new casing where the wall once was). Thank goodness for family. We are going to owe them a lot of man hours on their homes. A lot. The double doors going out back were once red…thank goodness they aren’t anymore. We hired Nick Mesker, and he was clutch. Between seminary intensives, pregnancy, planning for two different jobs, and everything else going on in life, having someone like Nick come in and paint the trim and our doors was well worth every penny.
Kitchen. Those cabinets came down…which left a weird section of cabinets to the top left of the sink. Because of how the uppers were configured, the existing uppers needed some work to make them look like cabinets again. Instead of trying to finish them out, Emma requested some open shelving. Therefore, we made open shelving! We cased it out, painted it white, created the rest of the soffit above the shelves, and there you go! We also painted the rest of the cabinets white and cleaned all the hardware. While stainless steal appliances aren’t super high on our to do list, we found a great deal and decided to make the swap. We had plans for a new backsplash and counter top, but decided the Corian countertops fit well enough with the new colors…and we took down that weird curtain over the sink. Now, the space is open, the room flows well, and it feels bright and welcoming.
Open Shelving Built-Ins. This may be your best view of the existing flooring in the dining room and kitchen. Those of you that follow us on Instagram know that at one point we painted these floors. Don’t. Do. That. It was a “good enough” temporary fix, but just take our word for it. Don’t.
Our white dishes are Emma’s third favorite thing in our house. We needed to be able to show them off, “because they’re pretty.” Emma’s favorite thing is original hardwood floors. But, in order to show off her third favorite thing, we built her second favorite thing. A gigantic built-in. This used to be a “media center,” with massive speakers (shout out to my brother in law Kris for lugging those things out of our house) and weird shelves. Emma walked into the house when we had our showing, saw this nastiness, and envisioned the biggest open-shelving built-in known to humankind. We gutted it and hung bead board inside. Building the cabinets on the bottom was a bit of a trick, but having the doors from the cabinets we removed in the kitchen helped out a lot! Knowing we wanted to put our nice dishes on display, we were extra careful in making sure it could support a decent amount of weight. I built the casing to match the other, and it turned out pretty well. After all of that? Emma’s favorite 16 foot wide built-in.
Office Nook. This little area is between the kitchen and carport. It’s crazy what good paint, better floors, nice trim, and staging will do, isn’t it?
Nursery & Guest Room. This is what happens when you have something dark, nasty, and gross, and give it some fresh paint, good trim, window treatments, and better lights. Crazy, right? For the bonus round, imagine a wallpaper that perfectly matches the curtains in the “before” nursery picture. That was an entire wall of the nursery!
Master Bedroom. Did you know the color “neon peach” is a thing? We didn’t either. This was the first room we painted, since it’s also the room we had to sleep in. We went with a good cream color to go with white trim. Life hack: the curtains like these and the ones in the living room? Drop cloths. From Home Depot.
Backyard Patio. We love spending time outside, and one of my favorite things to do is sit around a fire in our back yard. This was intended to be a surprise birthday present for me while I was gone on my first seminary intensive…but it was a bigger project than Emma anticipated. As always, family helped a lot. I went through THREE rental tillers to dig out the dirt…and had to use a saws-all on some of the roots. Emma got some antique bricks from 2Brothers in Conway to line the patio, and my dad picked up two loads of pea gravel. Put in some furniture donated from amazing friends, and we have our back yard space! It also doesn’t hurt that the former owners took one of the storage sheds and our neighbors (who really are the nicest people ever) ended up selling their RV.