Before House Tour!

I’m sure it’s no surprise to everyone, but my house was a real diamond in the rough when I first saw it.  The bones, though, were great, and it obviously had potential to be beautiful.  Thankfully, aside from some exterior damage to the siding at ground level, and some soffit damage to the overhang of the roof, it was structurally in great shape.  The roof is only three years old, the crawlspace had no water issues, the brick was sound, the foundation was very stable.

These photos are the listing photos, so the furniture in the house is the former owners.


From the front it’s a fairly basic brick ranch.


However, there is an addition to the back set at a right angle to the main structure to the house, creating a very nice sunken family room.  The backyard is large, filled with gorgeous trees and a tiny rivulet that only runs with water when it rains.


As soon as I saw it, I knew it would be perfect for my daughter.  Summer days playing in the shade of those beautiful trees, splashing in the creek in our rain boots when it rains, enough flat ground for a small raised bed garden……

Living Room

You enter the house directly into the small front living room.  When I purchased the house, it had old carpet that was pulling loose, and those fabulous rainbow bookshelves.




The kitchen is quite open for a ranch in this part of the country.


The star, however, is that combo electric cooktop, overhead oven and dishwasher.


My inspector said he has inspected over 2500 houses in his career and only ever seen one other of these.  (That’s my realtor, btw).

Guest Bedroom

The guest bedroom had blue carpet so old it had faded to taupe everywhere except where a piece of furniture sat for decades, dated wallpaper and a built in desk and bookshelf combo.



Eva’s Bedroom

My daughter Eva’s bedroom had electric blue shag carpet so worn it had been rubbed down to the threads in the doorway.



Master Bedroom

The master bedroom had similar shag carpet, this time in mustard yellow, and a dated half bathroom.




Full Bathroom

The only full bath in the house had a fabulous 70’s era swag light, dated wallpaper, a vanity with a truly questionable paint job and a tub with tiles falling out.



Family Room

This room, despite its obvious decor issues, is one of my favorites in the house.  Carpet that looks like the 70’s threw up on it notwithstanding, those beams overhead are beautiful and the dated wall paneling will take on a cute cottage look with paint.  The stone fireplace is wood burning and needs some repair but will be great in the wintertime.


There she is, the grand Before tour!  Work has already begun.  The house had baseboard heating, a defunct attic furnace, and no A/C, and my HVAC professionals have just finished their installation of a new furnace and A/C unit.  The baseboard heaters will be coming out, and I’ve already removed the carpet in bedrooms and living room.  I’ve got a handyman for the exterior damage and an electrician coming in for electrical work and I’m hoping to be moved in by the end of May, if not sooner.

I Closed On A House!

My new house!


It’s been a long road to get to this point.

The process of readying our marital house for sale, listing it, fielding offers and then searching for two individual properties was a long, emotional one.  I cried when I saw the listing sign first pop up in our former front yard, and while I have saved the professional photos from the listing, I haven’t been able to bring myself to write up a blog post about our former house.

We lived there for four long, painful years, and while we bought the house full of hope for the future, it represents many projects left undone and many dreams broken along the way.

I purchased this home (my first as a single homeowner) with a renovation loan, and the process of inspection and purchase was long and filled with drama.  However, eventually everything got done, and I closed on the house on Tuesday of this past week.  Renovations started immediately, with a new lock going in (tutorial eventually!) and a full HVAC overhaul, which was budgeted into the home loan.

It’s amazing how much just having closed on the house and started work has improved my mood.  It’s a total turnaround, and it’s directly related to what the new house represents for me – not endings, but new beginnings. It’s full of projects to work on, a new space to call our home, and a fresh start built with my own hard work.  After investing years sinking everything I had into a relationship that was failing, I can’t describe how good it feels to have something to invest my energy into that’s just for me.

I’ve only really been able to put in a few hours worth of work on the house so far – real life work and holiday schedule has filled my time to the brim this week.  But already I can feel my energy seeping into the bones of the place.  I walk down the hallway full of the dust left behind from carpet removal, and the path my feet trace already feels familiar to me.  It’s getting a hold on me, or maybe I’m setting down roots into it, and it feels good.  Safe and exciting at the same time.   Two weeks ago, the sheer amount of work before me felt daunting, another burden on my already overburdened shoulders.  Today, it feels invigorating and exciting.  Onwards and upwards!


Sealing Grout

One of the parts of unwinding two lives that’s most unpleasant is preparing to sell our marital home.  It was the first house purchase for both of us, and I’ve put a lot of myself into this house.  It’s hard to leave, but neither of us can afford to stay here, and frankly, I’m ready for a fresh start.

We moved in while I was in my third trimester of pregnancy with our daughter, who is now 3.5.  In three-and-a-half years, we’ve made a lot of progress but not nearly as much as I wanted to.  We gutted our kitchen to the studs as soon as we moved in and are only now putting the finishing touches on our custom renovation.  It stings a little that the people to enjoy it in all its glory will be the buyers, not us.

There are tons of tiny fixes that have to be made before the house is ready for sale.  We hope to have everything done by mid January, and are working til late every night to make sure it gets done. (With a munchkin in the house, often the only available time for DIY is after bed time.) There’s been tons of trim painting…….


And then it was time to clean up and seal the grout in the downstairs half bath.  I installed the slate tile myself, and it was my first tile job! I was pretty proud of that square border at the edge of the doorway – it was my solution to a room width that was exactly three tiles wide everywhere except the door.  But the room was painted in the interim, and several paint smudges made their way onto the tile and sat there for months while the grout went unsealed:


Turns out a magic eraser and some elbow grease will take latex paint right off tile.  After that I swept and mopped the whole room to prep for sealing the grout.  You can really see the natural variation in the slate tiles when the floor is wet. (Don’t mind the pajamas and the pedicure applied by the three year old.)


Once it was dry, I used grout sealer on all the grout joints.  To be honest, I found the kind that comes with an applicator brush to be difficult to control.  The sealer is quite liquid and flows from the brush tip very quickly.  It’s hard to keep it from spreading to the outside of the grout lines.


Enter the DIYers secret weapon: baby wipes.  Useful for everything.  You can see this package is already covered with trim paint.


A careful wipe along the edges of the grout lines where any sealer overflowed cleaned it right up.


After a second coat of sealer tomorrow, I’m calling this task done.



So here we go.  Deep breath.  To have new beginnings, you need endings, and that’s where I find myself now.  Divorced, single mom, selling my marital home and looking for a single pad on my own that my daughter and I can call home.

It’s all going to be ok.  In order to grow, we have to be willing to stretch ourselves, sometimes in uncomfortable ways.

So why start a blog?  Well, for one thing, because I believe our surroundings have power over us.  The space we live in can bring us down, it can keep us trapped – or comfort us when we need a welcoming place to come home to and inspire us to reach for better things in the future.

I’ve got plans.  Big ones.  But I also have limited time and a tiny budget, so it will take some creative thinking and elbow grease to get there. Fortunately, thanks to the magic of the internet there’s a wealth of information out there to help anyone learn, including me.