christine clling

Before and After: Two Years Later

We bought our house two years ago yesterday (May 17), and we’ve redone almost every part of it since then. Here is an update with a bunch of before and afters of everything we’ve done so far!

Late last summer we repainted the whole house. We shattered the front window in the process, and still haven’t fixed it. It’s still got one pane hanging in there, so we’re alright for now. You can read all about that painful process on this post, Exterior Renovation Reveal

We still need to, eventually, redo the roof, replace the front hanging light, paint the stairs and planters, put in a wholeeee bunch of landscaping, put in new front doors, and I might re-paint the trim eventually. Some of these projects we’ll do a long time from now, but some, like the landscaping, we might try and get into this summer.

The living space in this house was pretty big, but how they’d laid it out made it feel so small. And the worst part was that none of the walls were even needed for support (but the best part for us….). I walked in in house for the first time and immediately saw what it could be, and that’s exactly what we did.

This kitchen was tiny, closed off, and dark within a potentially big space. And there was a tiny tiny window for that incredible view of Lake Superior. There was carpet, paneling, drop ceilings, fluorescent lights, jail-like bars looking into the dining room, and green counters.

There was space for an eat in kitchen, so we doubled the size of the kitchen by combining the spaces into one.

We considered keeping the beams, but they just didn’t fit the house at all. I would consider putting up a different style of beams, but it just seems like a lot of extra work at this point.

The floors in this main living space are Graceland Oak by Pergo. They are my favorite floors I’ve ever had. Sometimes the girls spill water on them and I just leave it because I know it will dry eventually. They have never scratched once and they’ve never had any damage. They did separate a little bit but that is because a part was installed over a cold garage and it caused expansion and shifting where the cold met the warm spot. Reed was able to pound them back in with glue, and they’ve held so far.

The walls are Super White by Benjamin Moore and the cabinets are Downpipe by Farrow and Ball.

That purple plexiglass room divider. So trendsetting.

This change required a bit of planning. Do you see the railing on the before picture, where it comes about a foot short of where it should be? We didn’t want it like that, and we weren’t going to spend $5000 on new railings (at least) so we had to get creative.

We decided to extend that mini wall by a foot, and at the same time add built-in bookshelves. Reed figured out the design and got them built. They still need a bit of finishing, and a bit of styling, but I absolutely love how they turned out.

The stairs are one of Reed’s most recent project. We couldn’t decide what to do with them for anything. They have unique shapes, so we couldn’t just buy a stair kit.

He ended up making every single stair out of the same laminate that’s upstairs. It took him probably 40 hours of work to finish it all. But it turned out wonderfully.

This bathroom was a decent size, but it felt so. cramped. There were faux marble walls, a green toilet with the wall so close *my* knees were close to touching the wall, shell shaped double sinks, and that one of a kind green mini tub shower dungeon combo.

We actually made the bathroom SMALLER so we could make the master bathroom on the other side a little bit bigger. By doing that, both bathrooms feel like they each doubled in size. Neither bathroom is huge by any means, but they both feel very functional.

That green tub. It was pretty clean at least. Surprisingly. Use the small child as scale to see how small that tub really was.

We put in a basketweave pattern with subway tile here to customize affordable tile. The faucets are Delta.

Here’s a wide-angle shot of the bathroom to see a little more of the layout. We still need a vanity light, a tiny strip of wallpaper, and hooks for towels.

I’m pretty sure every single person that came over asked if we were going to keep this fountain. I decided it was too unique and fun not to keep. I’m planning to plant flowers or plants here soon too.

This is our master bedroom. There were no windows to rightly appreciate the view, and they were in horrible shape. We lowered the windows and installed a new one, but not before we had to deal with these windows.

That window was so terrible we had to rip it out and put plastic on it for a good month or more. We’re on the top on the hill in Duluth, Minnesota and we get wind storms here. There were many nights where we were arguing with each other trying to get the plastic stapled back onto the trim, and many more spent listening to the sound of the plastic flapping in the wind. Good times.

We decided to add a walk in closet here. It’s not the biggest walk in closet, but I wanted it there to use as an extra “nursery” if we needed, and it seemed more practical if someone wanted to put a TV somewhere in the room.

We also put in new carpet and painted, but haven’t done anything else to the room yet.

You could see this toilet sitting in bed, and there was no door to close it off from the bedroom. Oh, and carpet.

We took some space from the other bathroom next to it and added a double rain head shower, storage area (didn’t fit in the picture), and toilet and sink obviously. Not so obviously, to the builders, we also added a door.

The hallway was so so so dark. Eventually I want to fill it with pictures and artwork to brighten it up even more.

Here is a picture of the basement bedroom. It’s a picture that was taken before the trim and closet doors were put on.

We took out that exterior door, made that half wall into an entire wall, and closed off the room. We felt it was wasted and inefficiently used space.

The laundry room is right behind where the old door above would have been. Where the cabinets are sitting is where we closed off the door.

We still need a new window, trim, and we’re going to repaint those cabinets (the ones from the old kitchen upstairs!) and install them with new counters, either laminate or butcher block. We’re going to paint the cabinets the same color as the cupboards upstairs, Downpipe by Farrow and Ball.

This was the old basement bathroom, and it was gross. You also had to walk around the whole living room or through the walk in closet and laundry room to get to it.

We separated the laundry room and bathroom, and added a door just to the left of the vanity in this picture. We also kept that gross looking toilet because a new one that mounts to the wall would have been at least $600 🙂 We’re just glad we checked the price before throwing it away.

The new bathroom is super white (ha, literally. that’s the paint name), but it’ll get color added to it through shelves, a shower curtain, bath mat, art, light fixture, and mirror.

The basement family room had grass growing in the walls when we moved in. Now it’s a cozy family room with a big couch and tv. One day we’re going to add a hanging light in the corner and put a little round table under it for games and puzzles.

Here are a couple more old pictures I forgot to include. The first gives you a better view of the old kitchen. The second gives you a better visual of how tiny that green tub was. And yet it took up the whole bathroom.

And here are a few more recent ones.

In our master bathroom, we still need a glass shower door, a vanity light, shelves both above the toilet and in the space next to the shower (wouldn’t fit in picture), a mirror, decor, and maybe wallpaper.

I’d also love some plants hanging in the shower.

The dining room still needs a light fixture, curtains, different chairs, and way down the road maybe a new table. Until then I’m planning to paint the white structure black.

In the kitchen, we’d eventually like to put in a backsplash, get new bar stools, and finish the fridge enclosure and paint the undersides of the cabinets.

In the living room, we need end tables, two chairs that will face the window, and coffee table, and rug that will tie it all together. I’m also going to get dark gray velvet curtains from Ikea to add color and depth to the space. And it turns out, I’ve had a harder time picking out a rug than picking out a house, so.

We are seriously considering adding a fireplace on that far wall in the middle of the dining area and piano. It would go all the way to the ceiling, come out from 6-8 inches, have a gas insert, and have some sort of feature tile or color.

Here is a picture of the kids room. I didn’t clean it, obviously.

One day I’d love to get fun bedding for the beds, put wallpaper in the white part of the bunk bed, put a curtain in that nook with a cute light, curtains that actually fit the window, with decor on the walls.

This is the third room upstairs and it’s pretty dismal. That window with a sheet covering it is spray foam insulation-ed shut with plastic covering it. Super classy. On the wall to the far right, not in the picture, I’d love to put a table top with chairs and peg board on the wall for art and writing supplies.

Here’s a picture of what the back of our house looked like mid-reno the first summer.

This is what it looks like now.

We’re going to put a deck with a gas fire pit off of the dining room (far left window on top floor) and run it to the end of the long window. We also need a whole bunch of landscaping, a new shed, and new garage doors eventually.

We still have a lot of projects we WANT to do, but we don’t have more projects we HAVE to do to make the house livable. It feels so good to have a house we can actually move in to. We’ve been renovating, this house and our old house, for four whole years now, and I feel like I haven’t had a settled home in probably 10 years.

We can’t wait to keep settling in and make this more and more our home as time goes on.

May 18, 2020


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