House Tour

We bought our 1980’s brick ranch in August 2011 as a short sale. We waited almost 4 months to get this house, and it was so worth the wait!  It’s a 3 bedroom, 2 bath house and definitely a fixer upper. We’ve still got a long way to go, but we’ve loved being able to make it ours over the past couple of years. (Bear with us on the before pictures. All we had were iphone cameras.)

Here’s our house tour only a month after moving in.

Here’s a floor plan to help you visualize the layout of our house!

Simple House Expressions Floorplan

Front Yard

Here’s the front of the house shortly after we moved in.

The roof was replaced by the seller’s insurance due to hail damage while we were under contract, so we chose a dark architectural shingle. It was a huge improvement!

We’ve done tons of landscaping, weeding, re-landscaping and more weeding in the front. It’s a never ending cycle! But we’ve also repainted the front door, kick plate, and railing, removed vegetable gardens on either side of the front yard, replaced the mailbox and created a new mailbox planting, planted azaleascreated a portulaca planting along the sidewalk, and replaced windows.


The most dramatic improvements, though, were definitely repainting the entire exterior of the house,  installing new, white gutters, and repainting the front door.


Living Room

Most of our original before pictures were taken before we had fully unpacked, so the living room in particular was very empty and sad.


We did a lot in here during the first phase of the project, including scraping and painting the popcorn ceilings, repainting the walls a less tan shade and redoing all the trim, installing an updated ceiling fan, and adding some new furniture to make it more personal (here, here, and here.)


But when we were finally able to replace the red couch, the room really transformed! We also bought a new desk and chair to go behind the couch.


It’s a far cry from where we started!


One of the biggest improvements was simply getting rid of those curtains!


And eventually replacing them with these Ikea Marmorblad curtains!


We’re really happy with how this room is coming along! We adore our flat ceilings, modern ceiling fan (only $80, too!), and without this red couch….


It’s finally starting to reflect our taste!



We tackled our living room and kitchen all at once, scraping and repainting all the ceilingsrepainting the walls (more work than you might think due to several coats of paint done without proper prepping!), redoing all of the trim, and replacing light fixtures. Eventually we’re planning a full kitchen remodel, but for now we’re trying to do what we can to deal with the crazy floor and old cabinets. Here’s a before.


And here’s an in progress shot after we upgraded to stainless steel appliances (we got an awesome deal!)


During the scraping/repainting project, we also decided to remove this bulkhead and the two pendant lights.


It made it feel so much more open!


We’ve also replaced the light fixture over the sink (which broke as a result of a different project).


And made several changes to our large dining area…


Including installing a new patio door and upgrading to a new kitchen table that fit our space and could comfortably seat more than two people.


Laundry Room

Our laundry room (or closet, really) was our first project after moving in.

We scraped and painted the popcorn ceiling, repainted the walls, replaced the light fixture, and reconfigured and repainted the shelves (after stripping sticky shelf paper off of them.) Shortly after redoing it, we bought a new (to us) washer/dryer set because ours broke.


I love the bright turquoise in here. You may notice that I don’t really choose a lot of bold paint colors, but for such a small space (and one used for a boring task) I figured it should be something cheerful!


Our hallway. Also known as the hallway of doors. Water heater closet, furnace closet, hall closet, guest bathroom, master bedroom…all on the same wall. But what you can do? Well, for starters, you can get rid of the lava lamp-esque light fixture that casts an eery red glow over everything…


And replace it with a much brighter, happier Allen+Roth light fixture. Yes, please.


Things got even better, though, once we scraped those ceilings and repainted. You can see the subtle, but important, difference between the two colors in these pictures. It’s still very neutral, but much less yellow.


Mmmm, I love it. Some of the doors still need to be repainted to match the white trim (it was all antique white, and very damaged). We also gave the attic fan cover a deep cleaning, repainted the doorbell cover white, and added some friendly little birds at the end of the hall.

Guest Bathroom

This room is probably the most transformed. It should be, as it’s also where we spent the most money. We weren’t planning to do a complete gut so soon, but after noticing a crack in the bottom of the shower, decided to go for it!

Here is the really dated before.


And after.

Here’s the shower before.


And after in usable condition, too! No more leaking!

Here’s the vanity area before.

Guest Bath 3

And after.

There’s not much to say about it…I think it speaks for itself. I will say, though, that it was a very long, tedious process! Check out this post for a full list of what went into transforming it or this one for the full budget breakdown.


Oh, the office. Nothing has really happened in here besides taking down the curtains the previous owners left. And moving random furniture in and out.


Here it is now…


Someday, though, we will scrape the ceilings, replace the light fixture, and get rid of that baby puke paint color. We do have big plans…stay tuned.

Guest Bedroom

We have completed the initial phase of the makeover for our guest bedroom. That is, scraping and painting the ceilings, repainting the walls, and redoing the trim.


We did all of that in one weekend for our “labor day challenge,” transforming our guest bedroom into this.


We replaced the ugly, 1 bulb ceiling fan with a $7 garage sale chandelier. We spray painted it and bought new glass shades to update it. Check out how hideous it was before!

We also chose curtains for this room from World Market, which really helped it feel a little more cozy and finished (though we still have a bit of work to do, obviously).

Unfortunately, I washed them and shrunk them, but my mom came to the rescue by sewing a band on the bottom.


And we finally ended our quest for 2 new lamps for the end tables!


Eventually, we want to find or make a headboard, replace the bedding (and get rid of the bedskirt!), hopefully repaint a long, low dresser for the wall opposite the bed (over which I want to do a frame wall), and hang some art so it doesn’t look so empty.

Master Bedroom

The master bedroom was our second project after moving in. We actually decided to set up our bedroom in the guest room until we could finish scraping and painting the master. Here it is before, all dark and dingy.

Master  Bedroom 3

And here’s what it looked like shortly after scraping the ceilings and repainting the entire room (including trim)…

We made a lot of changes to this room including buying the new (to us) bed frame, buying new bedding, removing the door between the master and closet and installing a sliding barn doorinstalling a new light fixture and stenciling custom curtains.


And here’s what it looks like now after buying a new bench that better fits our current style, redoing two matching end tables, swapping out our shams, and getting new mirrors and matching lamps.


We only have one small window in this room, so we loved the idea of mirrors over the end tables to mimic windows and brighten up the room.


Here’s a before of the other end.


And the in progress shot. Ideally, we’d like to add a comfy chair and a small rug and coffee table to make a cozy sitting area.


But for now, I’m calling this room complete!

Master Closet

Our master closet is probably the best room! And definitely not one of the main reasons we bought this house. Nope. Definitely not.

It’s over 100 square feet, and it’s awesome! (It was built as an addition in the early 2000’s.) It’s a walk-thru closet connecting the bedroom to the bathroom. I thought maybe it was weird at first, but after living with it for a while, I really love this setup!


It hasn’t really undergone any changes yet…other than being filled up with our clothes that were still in boxes.


Unfortunately, though, it has the same flooring as the kitchen…


So we added a cheap 5′ x 7′ rug to hide some of the craziness and give our eyes a rest. And no, that is not my entire shoe collection. I have more.


We’d like to paint this room a bold color, possibly with some stenciling and a large leaning mirror where the shoe shelf is (But where will the shoes go? Hm…). We’d love to do custom built-ins, too, but that might not be worth the investment in this house.

Master Bathroom

Our master bathroom is huge, too! (It was part of the addition, as well.)


As you can see, not much has changed. Except more rugs….Must. Cover. Floor.


(That bulkhead in the picture above is where the house stopped originally. We figure there was probably a door to the left of the vanity that connected to the bedroom.)

We did swap out the shower curtain that was left behind. These people must have really loved blue.



And we swapped out the cheap, brass faucets for something a little more updated.


It feels a little less crazy now, but we still need to scrape ceilings, paint, and redo trim. We’re undecided about doing a full remodel long term (we might not recoup the money in this house), but we do have some small changes planned like repainting the vanity, replacing the medicine cabinet, etc. We’d love to find extra flooring on Craigslist for cheap, but that’s almost impossible when you need over 200 square feet! But we do love that it’s spacious and we have two sinks. We’re never in each other’s way!


Oh, the garage. Maybe let’s just not go there. We thought having all this stuff in our garage was a temporary thing when we first moved in.


Turns out, it’s not…and our garage only looks like this “after” picture right after we’ve spent a whole day cleaning it.

Let’s just say it doesn’t look like that right now…and the car is parked in the driveway.

Back Yard

Ugh, and the backyard. I don’t want to go there, either. Sometimes I forget, though, how bad it really was when we got the house. It was a jungle!

Back Yard from Left Side

 Back Yard from Right Side

About a year in, the back yard looked like this after taking the fence down to tear out trees behind it, majorly pruning the boxwood, and taking down our deck.


Still not pretty or functional, but it took a lot of cleaning up to get there. I mean literally. We have found so many random things in that yard: plants, tools, pots, rocks/pavers, stakes, ashes (?), tarps, broken lattice and fence planks, mulch, pieces of kid’s toys, garbage…

This was our deck.


We had to take it down so we could re-grade underneath it.


After doing that and digging a drainage trench, building some small retaining walls, and other miscellaneous things….


We finally have a deck again!! Only took us 2 years to get there.


We still have a lot to do out here like painting the railing and door, making some changes to the retaining wall, regrading behind the addition and around the deck, building a few steps off the side of the deck, disguising the ac unit, landscaping…but we’ve come a long way!

*     *     *     *     *

So there it is…our humble little abode. We’re almost 4 years into this, and sometimes we feel like we’ve made very little progress. But then we’re surprised at how far we’ve come in other areas, like the guest bathroom, the living room, our bedroom, the deck…

We’ve certainly accomplished a lot, it just wasn’t exactly in the order we had planned. But we’re proud of what we’ve done and determined to keep up the momentum and continue improving our home, one project at a time. Or ten. Cause why finish a project when you could start a new one?