House Update: Before & Progress Shots

This weekend brought a lot of major progress to our house makeover, including major landscaping, cabinet painting and more wallpaper removal. Pete’s family came over to tackle the last room of wallpaper on the main floor, while his brother and friend helped take down all of the hedges and trees that were blocking our house. Betty White did her part by constantly stepping in wet paint and sleeping in the fireplace instead of her bed. Lesson learned: stop attempting to bathe the pooch pre-move-in.

I was surprised by how long my project of painting the kitchen cabinets took. I’d say I worked on painting the inside and outsides of the cabinets and the interior shelves over the course of about four days. We also updated the hardware, apart from the one cabinet door that still needs a knob drilled in. The previous owner had punched a pretty big hole in the door and tried covering it up with a massive knob, so I had to use wood filler to fix it up before putting in the new knob. These cabinets are a semi-temporary fix since we plan on renovating the kitchen within the next year, but we wanted to brighten up the already small room with a fresh take on the cabinetry.

During the process of wallpaper removal in the kitchen, I asked Pete for his help in moving the fridge so I could take down the paper behind it. When we pushed the fridge aside, I figured we had just discovered a giant dust bunny. That was, until I realized it was a mummified mouse, which caused me to shriek and run into the dining room while flailing like a crazy person. I’m sure the neighbors enjoy spying on our adventures as new homeowners while I dance around in front of our bay windows shouting, “OH MY DEAR GOD, THAT IS GROSS!”

Upon further inspection, we found yet another dead mouse that Pete had to shop vacuum out of the drip tray under the fridge because the tray was not able to be removed and cleaned. Needless to say, this was a major yuck factor, so we listed it on Craigslist and took advantage of Memorial Day savings. We are definitely going to hell for selling the mouse fridge to unsuspecting locals, but I can’t help but smile at our shiny new stainless steel friend (karma is definitely going to kick me in the ass for this one). With the money we got for the old fridge along with discounts and rebates, we only ended up spending about $130 on our mummified-mice-free appliance. Thank god for Lowe’s. Once there was a day when Target was my only temptation, but now Lowe’s has come along and stolen my heart and tempted me with its non-stop deals.

The dead mice weren’t our only encounter with unwanted critters this past week. Pete and I have been spending our weeknights working on the house, and driving back to our apartment to unwind and relax for about an hour before going to bed. On Friday night we were psyched for uninterrupted entertainment provided by Hulu, when a winged creature snuck its way into the apartment and had other plans for us. Luckily Pete found the small hole the bat was flying in from, so hopefully we won’t have any other unwanted mammals creeping up on us before we move out in the next few weeks.

Anyway, here are some more progress updates!

Here’s our living room with a basic coat of primer on everything. We are having our hardwood floors refinished this week, so we will begin prepping and painting the rooms this upcoming weekend.

The wallpaper is all gone in every room on the bottom floor, except for some spots in the kitchen. Once I had my dead mouse encounter I got distracted and decided to paint the cabinets so we could begin bringing our kitchen stuff over.

We will most definitely miss the Thomas Kinkade themed room, which will be our office/pet area once we move in.

I love that Betty White makes an appearance in pretty much every before/after shot because she’s following me around everywhere. She’s like the Waldo of our home photos in this one where she’s peeking out from behind the shop vacuum. Note the lack of plumbing now that we’ve had the washer/dryer pipes removed. That was finished under our escrow account, which has since had some major drama attached to it. Once we are finally finished with our house buying related drama, I will share our experiences with the FHA loan process, including reviews of our real estate agent, mortgage officer, contractors and inspector.

The room which we will be using as our bedroom was the absolute worst when it came to removing the wallpaper. The kitchen and the bedroom will need some major spackling love before we can start priming and painting everything. But for now, it feels nice to have all of the wallpaper down and to have made some major progress everywhere.

Here’s a view of our house when we first purchased it. The hedges and trees made it so difficult to see the actual house, that I drove by it pretty frequently in the first week of visits.

Here’s another angle of the “before” shots. Pete and I have a lot of plans for the front of the house, but our primary concern was to get rid of the hedges and two big trees so you could actually see our home.

Pete began by clipping the lower limbs from the tree to prep it for chainsawing the next day. Betty White stared through the door and made her sad “Dad, why are you hurting the tree like that?” puppy dog face, which was all sorts of cute.

Tada! This is the exterior now that the hedges and trees are removed. I can’t take any credit for helping, apart from putting bandages on Pete’s blisters and nuzzling his poison ivy arms every night. We can’t thank Pete’s brother and friend Gary enough for helping Pete clear the lawn up with their man strength!

Eventually we’ll make beds in the two spots where the tree stumps are, but for now we’re just going to use some grass seed to bring the lawn back to life.

When I went on a hoagie run for 15 minutes, the boys had magically removed the big tree that was blocking our back door by the mudroom. It definitely makes a huge difference in the amount of light that comes into the house now. I didn’t realize they would be removing the tree so quickly or I would have taken a better before photo!

For now the tree trimmings are on the side of our house, so we’ll be working on bundling up the limbs and bagging them. Hopefully Lowe’s sells those brown bags in bulk!

In addition to making major progress on the house this weekend, we also had a lot of fun visiting our friends in Bethlehem and eating delicious BBQ foods. Pete treated me to a day out at the zoo yesterday for my 27th birthday and we finished the night up with an intimate hibachi dinner for two at Ooka. Nothing makes me happier than elephant shrews and fried ice cream…that boy sure does know me. How did you guys spend your Memorial Day weekend?


17 thoughts on “House Update: Before & Progress Shots”

  1. Wow I’m so impressed by your progress! And your dog is the cutest thing ever. I love her Betty White-bombing all the photos. 🙂


  2. Wow – everything looks incredible! How did the boys pull out those hedges? We want to do the same thing, but I’m worried it’ll be way too hard and we’re seriously considering hiring someone.


    1. Thanks sweets! They just clipped the hedges down to the ivy at the bottom and then Pete has been working on pulling them out, which is the hardest part because the roots are quite strong. He’s nearly finished though, so it could definitely be done within a weekend.


  3. Ahhh! Everything is coming along so well! This will be the cutest house ever once you’re finished with it!

    The yard makes SUCH a difference on the exterior of the house!

    Oh, and my fave Betty White shot is of her in the drawer in front of the fireplace! Adorbs!


    1. Shucks, thanks Mandy! We are really excited to make it our own. We can’t wait to paint the walls after the floors are refinished so we can really get a feel for the way we want the rooms decorated. So fun! Betty totes loves sleeping in the drawers, too bad they’re all back in the cabinets now though!


  4. Soooo great! Yay for turning brown furniture white! Let me know if you need any help with anything, I’m off a lot. 😉 seriously, your house will be fantastic. (Not that I expected anything less) great job, guys!


  5. “Found” you in YHL’s comments… I feel your pain when it comes to wallpaper. When we bought our house 16 years ago next week, there was shiny wallpaper in the staircase, sanitest in the bedroom (YES, KITCHEN sanitest!), those non-skid rubber flowers for the tub ON THE TILE WALL in the bathroom (in case you need to know, they stained the white tile brown behind the flowers), floral wallpaper in the spare room (which admittedly was in good shape so we left it – our next project), and wallpaper in the other bedroom, too. (shiver)


    1. Thanks for stopping by here from YHL! That is insane that they had those flowers on the tile wall haha. Oh boy, that is pretty painful. Wallpaper makes me feel itchy just thinking about it. Especially when the previous owner was obviously a smoker and the white parts of the wallpaper were like a yellow ochre. Eep! Thanks again for commenting!


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