Before: Our House

In early 2010 my husband N and I decided it was the right time to buy a house. We were going to get married that summer, and the lease to our ridiculously expensive apartment was going to be up around the same time. We got pre-qualified by a mortgage broker, and it wasn't for much. We had to stay in an area that was central to both of N's jobs at the time (he had a second job throwing newspapers at the time) and unfortunately it's not the cheapest area to live in. We started looking at houses right away, but because the first go-around of the first time home-buyers tax credit was about to expire houses were selling fast.

After having our hearts broken a few times, and seeing more decrepit and trashed houses than we'd care to remember we almost considered giving up and buying a townhome. But early one morning I got a call from our relator saying that a new listing had popped up in the perfect location. N was at work but I met the relator at the house hours later and well... it was a sight to behold. But moreso than that, it was a SMELL to uh... smell.

As we walked up to the door another realtor was showing someone out. And I noticed on the kitchen counter that there was already a sizable pile of relator cards already laying there! The house had just gone on the market a few hours earlier! The house was in sad shape, but I reckoned that a fresh coat of paint and a few updates would spiff her right up (along with a liberal amount of Febreeze.) I called N at work and said we should place an offer on it immediately, to which0 he tentatively agreed. We ended up offering $1,000 above asking price and they accepted our offer. Let me just say right now that the previous homeowners got SO lucky.

Other drama ensued but in the end we ended up with the keys in our hands. I'll never forget our mortgage broker asking us if we were going to bring sleeping bags over to spend the night in our first house. N and I just looked at each other and laughed. We weren't going to be spending any nights in there for quite awhile.

So without further ado, here are the first pictures I took of the house. (I apologize for their small resolution. The computer I had the originals stored on crashed and these were salvaged from Photobucket.)

Here is the front door and a lovely shot of N's face. He had so much hair! ;)

This is the living room. To the left is the front door and to the right is a wall- and behind that wall is the kitchen.
Here is said kitchen. These pictures do no justice to how terribly the cabinets were painted. It was a disaster I worked hard to fix, and ultimately failed at.

This is the sliding glass door to the deck and yard. Look at the gorgeous patina on that heat grate won't ya?

And to the right of the sliding glass door is the small eating space.

The house is a tri-level so this small set of stairs leads to the family room and laundry closet. The door you can see on the left goes out to the garage.

This room was an ugly inception. That paneling had been a hideous faux wood, that was then hideously painted white and sponge painted blue. The carpet had been removed from this room for god knows what reason. Considering the condition of the carpet everywhere else, there must have been a murder down here.

This is the laundry closet and the saddest water heater jacket I've ever seen in my life. That small space was also home to a few dead mice and birds.

Now for the upstairs...

This is our one and only bathroom. Although it didn't smell as bad as the rest of the house, it was probably in the worst condition. I hope I can find some better pictures of the damage but the might be gone. Not pictured is the ceiling that was painted royal blue with sponged on clouds...

This is our master bedroom. The small door in the first picture leads to our small walk in closet. Notice that there was a hole punched into it?

This is the second bedroom which is now the office/ playroom. That wallpaper was a real pain to get off. Someone had also penciled in "pained for baby 1987" which was sweet but was eventually primed over.

This is the third and smallest bedroom which was supposed to be a guest bedroom, but quite quickly became the nursery. ;) It was the most offensive smelling room of the entire house and the subfloor got two coats of Killz. Our neighbor later informed us that this had been the "cat room." That explains a lot!

These pictures really show how outdated the place was but they don't show how dirty it was, and of course how bad it stunk. The previous owners had smoked cigarettes (and god knows what else) inside and it permeated the carpets, ceilings, and everything in between! There was also the strong smell of cat urine throughout. There was even filth in each of the power outlets! It was a real wreck. But it was our wreck and I decided to take the summer off school and devote it to working on the house. Next up I'll post some pictures of what we did.


  1. Aww I love a good house story! For the life of me I will NEVER understand sponge painting.. why people?? Why??


    1. I totally agree! My mom had someone do it in tasteful colors in their old house and I just went back there recently (they had moved and were renting it) and I realized it actually looked awful, haha. Thankfully they repainted it before they put it on the market!