Monday, April 22, 2013

From a house to a home

This one is for all my clients out there who I've talked about renovating our house with. We finally got it decent looking, just in time to move (more on that later). For those of you who don't know, here is a little backstory:

We searched and searched for a house in the Oakland/Berkeley/Alameda areas, and had horrible luck for months. Finally our offer was accepted on a short sale for a 1920's craftsman bungalow in Alameda, and after waiting 5 months for the banks approval we finally got the keys. The catch...the house was kind of a dump. I wish I could share lots of before photos, but all of the ones I have are when the previous owners were still living there. It just doesn't feel right to share the interior of someones decorated home online, at the same time as describing what mess it was, so most of the photos here are in progress photos. (side note, these are all crappy iPhone photos, NOT a testimate to my photography, so please ignore the poor quality!)

Let me paint a picture for you though. Here is the day after we got the keys. The whole house was carpeted, but we knew there was hardwood underneath. We IMMEDIATELY ripped up all of the carpet because it was very stained, and had the lovely aroma of dog pee and fish. The boards on top, those are from the fake wood paneling that covered a wall in the living room. We tore it down to discover original windows that had been boarded up and stuccoed over on the outside. Who does that?!

We had the floors throughout the house refinished,  and put up new drywall on the previously fake wood paneled wall. We also had the windows repaired and the stucco removed from the outside, and built a new mantel out of real wood instead of the crappy veneer that matched the wall. We also painted the walls a light grey, took down the blinds and got curtains, and repainted the trim throughout the whole house from a yellowish white to bright bright white. Here is what it ended up looking like. 

 The kitchen was also a bit of a disaster. The walls and cabinets were so covered in grease that we had to scrub and scrape for days. Even after the cleaning, I still didn't feel comfortable putting food in the cabinets until we had primed and painted them white. Here I am scraping the linoleum floor up, which revealed yet another layer of linoleum, before coming to beautiful pine flooring.

Here is the kitchen with fresh paint, refinished floor, and new pulls on all of the cabinets. We decided to leave the doors off of the top cabinets, and it looks much less stark white with all of our pretty dish ware in there! When we move back we've talked about replacing the counter with either concrete or butcher block, and adding a tile backsplash, but we will see what happens!

The dining room had carpet in it, and was an ugly glossy tan with yellowish molding. The chandelier had tons of crystals and looked pretty tacky. We had planned to replace it, but once we took the crystals off and cleaned it, it's wasn't so bad! Unfortunately I don't have before pictures of this room, but here is a progress one after we've painted the walls and are working on the trim and the built in cabinet. Yes, we were living in the house at this time.

I was pretty pumped about the chair makeover too. I did the chairs myself, my mom made the curtains, and my dad built the bookshelf on the right. The entire house spruce up was definitely a team effort!

Here is the damn breakfast knook. I say damn because this tiny little room took about a week to make look decent. There were 3 layers of wallpaper in here, and linoleum that wrapped from the floor up the wall about a foot. After lots of time removing wall paper, repairing the walls, painting and adding trim, it's cute, but empty. We plan to add a built  in bench and bookshelves around the window once we move back in.

The bathroom appealed mostly to 8 year old boys with it's paint job. It also smelled quite bad no matter how much we cleaned. 

We took up the linoleum and replaced with some cheap cork flooring we got on craigslist. We repaired and painted the walls and cabinets, and replaced the toilet. The finishing touches were in the new drawer pulls from Anthropologie (I'm obsessed with their drawer pulls and put them on as much as possible), and by replacing the mirror with one I got at Salvation Army for $2 and spray painted white. As much as I loathe the fake marble in the shower, it just wasn't in the budget to replace it. I'm envisioning teal Moroccan style tile eventually.

The exterior of the house was in desperate need of a new paint job, and a new roof. An extension on the garage had been leaking and caused water damage which we had to fix. Here are some progress photos.

This was when I came home to find that the contractor had locked the security gate on the front door, which we never got a key for. The only way to get in was through an open window on the second floor, but luckily he had left his ladder at the house. I had to climb up, remove the screen, and very ungracefully climb/fall in through the window. I should also mention I was wearing a dress.

Here it is after. It's a bit darker than I wanted, and I want to compensate by painting the front door bright yellow. Eric is refusing, but one of these days...I'll get him :) We normally have pretty potted flowers on the ledge, but took them off before this photo as we moved out the following day. Notice the "for rent" sign on the left! 

That is pretty much everything that had extensive work, the rest was just a lot and lot of painting, and small decorating. There is still so much I want to do when we get back. A huge thanks to all my friends and family that helped out (Crystal, Azzura, Mom, Dad, Shelly, Tim, Alex, Ryan, Kyle, I hope I'm not missing anyone!)

Entry way: I've had two people tell me that the "hello" sign actually looks like it says "hella". I'm debating taking a saw to that extra little bit on the "o". I'd love to hear other thoughts on this :)

 Master bedroom is a purply grey. And I made those curtains! Just don't look to close, I'm a horrible seamstress.

The hallway to the basement was painted tan with dark brown trim. It was dark and dingy, so I decided to paint it tiffany blue and the floor light gray. The color is so fun it makes me happy to walk through. 

My awesome friend Alex spent days out in the yard planting with me. It still has a long way to go, but it's getting there! Eventually I want a veggie garden, and Eric really really wants chickens.  I'm still iffy about that one. Don't get me wrong, fresh eggs would be amazing. Dealing with squawking chickens and poo everywhere would not.

This is the basement that will eventually be my studio. I want to tear up the linoleum, stain or paint the concrete, and add french doors to the backyard.

Ok that's it! Our first house, and our home for 9 months before we had an even bigger move!


  1. It is beautiful so far. You have done a great job. Can't wait to see where it will go from here and who will win on the yellow door and the chickens! I think you should each get your win(chicken poop makes great fertilizer).

  2. This is a fun post! I look forward to more home renovations :) Now, can we get a blog post regarding your living status in AUS?!