Before Photos: Basement and Upstairs

Here’s where the before photos take a turn for the worst. The basement is the most terrifying spot of the house by far. This is where you’ll find mummified mouse bodies, decaying walls and a plethora of old records left behind to choose from (Peter Pan, Bob Dylan and Bobby Darin were the highlights).

I’m most excited about fixing up the old furniture downstairs and really bringing them to life to make them brighten up the current zombified state of things. Here’s a shot of the pool table before Pete cleaned it up with the shop vacuum, which made a huge difference. Now we just need to find an entire set of pool balls since somehow the previous homeowners lost a few of them.

The washer/dryer are a bummer to look at, but at least they work and we’re not being charged $2.75 a load. Pete tested them out last night and now has a ton of clean undershirts to show for it! As part of our escrow (I’ll ramble more about our disaster of a settlement soon, I promise), we will be having the chipping paint on the basement walls cleaned up and sealed. I’d like to get patio paint sooner than later so the floors can be a nice shade of brown and less frightening. I don’t want to feel like I’m walking into the Home Alone basement every time I go downstairs to wash my clothes. Ok, let’s be honest, Pete takes care of laundry, but I might have to go down there at some point!

Some of the things the previous homeowners left behind for us, not including the hanging crucifix which I will share with you all later!

Here are the stairs that are located right near the oven in the kitchen, which lead to the upstairs floor. There was an unfortunate trend of wood panelled walls at some point, which we will be addressing with gallons of paint for the time being. The upstairs bathroom is full and perfectly functioning, but we could do without the butterfly wallpaper and vinyl floors so we’ll be tackling that once we make the bottom floor more move-in ready.

Betty White is partial to the all-wood room, which we aren’t quite sure what to do with. We will mostly be living only on the bottom floor until we can afford to heat/cool the entire house. For now, the upstairs will contain the guest room and this room, which we’ll likely turn into an art/photo studio or something until we are grown up enough to think about babies and stuff.

The long hallway, which has horse curtains on either end (I kind of think we might keep these and clean them up) a lot of dreary rugs which were immediately ripped up after these photos were taken. Betty White was adjusting herself all ladylike while I admired a portion of the wall that is filled with the previous owner’s vintage encyclopedias (which we’re keeping!).

The guest room will need to have the wallpaper removed and painted, in addition to revamping all of the furniture to make it more modern. The mattress needs to be tossed since it doesn’t have the most attractive smell on the planet, so add that to our ginormous list of to-do items. Speaking of lists, we were inspired by Young House Love to write down everything we’d like to accomplish, whether short term or long term, so I’ll be sharing that with all of you soon.

That just about does it for “before” photos. Next up I guess I’ll start sharing the progress we’ve made so far in the house and what we hope to realistically accomplish before we move in this summer.

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Before Photos: The First Floor

On Thursday, Pete and I settled on the house! Unfortunately, there were some discrepancies between our requested repairs and what was actually finished, so we had to start an escrow to have those problems resolved within the upcoming month. It’s not an ideal way to start off as homeowners, but we will work together to figure it out I’m sure. Thursday evening we devoted to emptying out the house since the previous owner left a lot of belongings that we wanted to get rid of (rugs, curtains, a shed full of antiquated push mowers and lots of other stuff that made me sneeze).

We bought a wallpaper steamer, which has been our best investment yet, second to the shop vacuum, which has been a great help in cleaning up the place. There were nails, screws, dead bugs, peanut shells and dust bunnies galore, so it felt good to walk around without stepping on anything. Pete found a mummified mouse in the basement, so needless to say, there is a lot more cleaning to do before the place stops smelling like a smoky nursing home.

On Saturday, Pete’s family came over to help us with cleaning and prepping the living room and upstairs for priming. We finished up all of the primer on the wood trim, windows and doors, so we’ll move onto painting those after we tackle the wallpaper in our bedroom. Pete swapped out the front door hardware with a new deadbolt and lock, which was a big project since the deadbolt didn’t fit the hole in the steel door. Thank god for chisels. Lowe’s is officially my new favorite place. Gone are the days when I long to go to Target to browse their new dresses and shoes. Now I am more concerned with having a new kitchen than a new wardrobe, so unfortunately you guys might have to see me sporting some outdated outfits for a while until we can afford to revamp the kitchen.

This is the living room, which we will be painting a medium gray with white trim and a white fireplace. Our soon-to-be IKEA couch and chair in Isunda Gray will lend some lighter gray tones to the room. We’re scouting out chartreuse rugs to find something to bring a pop of color to the space. Not sure what to do about curtains yet, but we’ll get to that once the room is a bit more together.

Betty White is our tour guide, and here she can be seen in our dining room, which is now wallpaper-free. “After” photos of the dining room to come once we’ve sanded and primed the walls! The dining area will be painted a pale, cheerful yellow with white trim. We managed to take down all of the wallpaper in the dining room, the walls just need a bit of sanding to smooth everything out before we prep it for priming. Our goal is to have the living room, dining room and bedroom ready and painted by the time we move in. We’re not sure when we’ll be moving, it really depends on when our landlord can find new tenants for our current apartment, but we’re hoping it will be sometime in June.

Here’s my super crooked photo of the other side of the dining room. Sorry for the super rushed photos, I was just racing through the house to snap “before” photos carelessly because I wanted to shop vacuum the place before the sun went down (a lot of the rooms need lights in them). We bought a new thermostat so we won’t have to stare at that hunk o’ junk on the wall anymore thank goodness. There are large vents all over the house since the air conditioning/heating units are pretty ancient, so those are things that we’ll probably want to address next year once our home warranty expires. We also removed the door from this frame since it seemed pretty unnecessary and just made the room look smaller. We took the door leading to the upstairs down as well and listed them on Craigslist as a curb alert, so they were luckily gone within less than a day.

The kitchen is the room that pains me the most. The vinyl floors just look dirty no matter what you do, so we will be likely addressing that with some temporary stick-on vinyl until we can afford our kitchen makeover. Pete created a mockup of what we’d like the kitchen to look like in less than a year from now, so I’ll be sharing that with you soon. Hopefully we can save our pennies to make it happen sooner than later, because I’m not so sure how long I can tolerate the hideous sink/dishwasher combo. Until then, we’ll be removing the bunny wallpaper eventually, painting the cabinets white and replacing the hardware. It kills me that the knob on the middle bottom cabinet doesn’t match the others, but I’m trying to not obsess about it and focus on wallpaper removal instead.

The kitchen has a door on the right that leads to a mudroom (with clunky storage furniture that the homeowner left us), which takes you outside once you fling open the insanely heavy door. We’ll be working on getting that door replaced, as well as the basement windows since they are not good condition.

During our pre-settlement walk through of the house we discovered this plumbing in the room that will one day be our office area. The previous owner must have stacked things perfectly in front of it so we wouldn’t notice it, so this will be one of the things that will be addressed (and removed) as part of our escrow.

We were left with some pretty hideous Thomas Kinkade wall plates, which matched the border of the wallpaper remarkably. I’ll be sure to capture photos of all of the wallpaper borders before we tear them down so you can appreciate the “after” photos even more.

The blue bathroom is another room that makes me cringe, but we’ll work slowly to try to replace the sink with a nice vanity and address the floor situation. Until then we’ll paint the door, room and probably replace the medicine cabinet and lights with something more modern to distract from all of the blue.

This is our next project, which we’ll be working on every night this week after Pete gets home from work. Our goal is to have all of the wallpaper down in here by the weekend so we can focus on priming next week. Next up will be “before” photos of the upstairs and basement, along with the front and backyard, which just might be my favorite parts of the house.

The house needs a ton of work, so we are excited to work on small changes like removing wallpaper and painting since they’ll make such a big difference in the look (and smell!!) of the place. My goal is to make it not smell like old lady anymore by the time we move in. No offense to old ladies, but they just have a very specific scent that I’d very much like to avoid until about fifty years from now.