Eight years ago my family moved into our current home. It was a dump. A fixer-upper. A mess. But that’s what we do. We move into crummy houses and make them nice. This has definitely been our worst house so far because of a few unexpected surprises.
- Like snakes. We had three snakes in the room I’m about to show you and seven snakes in the basement. I don’t know about you, but I think one snake is too many!
- Raccoons had been living (and pooping) in the attic, and when the weather was just right, you could smell it.
- There was a horrible smell in the backyard. We finally figured out it was an old concrete fish pond that was filled with who knows what.
- And the one acre yard was filled with debris – old junk the original owner had been collecting for years and years and years. It took TWO large dumpsters and a LOT of hard work to get it all cleaned up!
But I guess it was worth it. The house looks a lot better now – inside and out. I’ll eventually be showing you more of our improvements, but for today, I’d like to show you the family room/dining room. I wish I had better pictures but I didn’t know I’d eventually need them for a blog.
These photos were taken the day we moved in so everything was a mess.
This photo below was taken later. We didn’t normally have that much furniture in the room – we were redoing the living room and put the living room furniture temporarily in the family room.
The family room/dining room is on the back of the house and faces the west. The room is about 12×24 with the family room area on the south (left in the photo) and the dining room on the north (right in the photo). The walls were covered with knotty pine paneling and there were wooden beams about every five or six feet on the ceiling running from west to east. The ceiling had been wallpapered and the wallpaper had been painted. The painter got paint on the beams and some of the ceiling paper was peeling.
The room had seven wooden windows with panes. On the west wall, between the two sets of double windows, was a painting. We found out the back of the painting had a plan for extensive landscaping the original owners had planned and carried out. That was cool. But behind the painting was a hole where an air conditioning unit had been. That was not cool. By the way, the house had no air conditioning when we bought it.
The family room/dining room also had carpeting. We planned to leave the carpeting until we re-did the room but we quickly discovered the previous owner had allowed his new puppy to pee freely on the carpet, and under certain weather conditions, it smelled really bad! So we replaced the carpet. We hated spending the money for carpet we were going to eventually replace with a wood floor but we didn’t feel that we had a choice.
The room also had a very large fireplace on the east wall in the family room area. It was ugly, way too large for the room, and made with fake brick.
Here’s what it looks like now:
This is the view from the west windows.
This is the view from the south. We replaced one of the windows with this door and added a small deck (it’s more like a balcony – no exit).
Curtains and hardware for six extra wide windows was going to be expensive. We considered going without curtains since no one can see in but we decided to get them because they made the room look warmer and when it was really cold or really hot we could close them to make the room more comfortable. Because of all the windows, the room tends to be colder in winter and warmer in summer. Anyway, we found the curtains on clearance at Bed, Bath & Beyond for $10 per panel (still not cheap since we had to buy 12!) and David made the hardware out of plumbing fixtures.
What we did:
- Replaced the composite tile with wood flooring.
- Replaced the windows using sash kits.
- Removed the paneling and added insulation and installed sheetrock.
- Removed the beams and wallpaper/ceiling and installed new sheetrock.
- Put a new full glass door on north end of dining area (screened porch is on that end).
- Expanded opening between kitchen and dining room.
- Removed fireplace.
- Replaced window on south end of family room with full glass door and built deck outside.
- Removed arches and made openings square (fit the new look of the house – they were historic!).
- Installed new light fixture over table.
- Added mouldings.
A few things you can learn from our project:
- Large architectural details like fireplaces can be removed or rebuilt. If it doesn’t fit, you don’t have to live with it!
- If you need to replace your windows but don’t want to replace the whole window you might be able to use a sash kit. It’s much easier and usually cheaper. But don’t skimp on the kit. We purchased cheaper kits and you get what you pay for.
- When you’re remodeling a house, sometimes you have to do something twice – like replacing the carpet. It seems a waste but it was three years before we remodeled that room. The carpet that was in the room was unsanitary and had to be removed. The floor underneath was not useable. So we paid a little extra to be comfortable for the next 3 years. If we would have redone that room soon, we would have waited. But 3 years is a long time. So if you have to do something twice, that’s just the way it goes. Sometimes comfort is worth it.
- Beams, as long as they’re not structural, can be removed if you don’t like them.
- Paneling can be removed or painted.
So what do you think? Let me know if you have any questions about our project.
You might also like:
Decorate Outside the Box
Transform Your Concrete Floor With “Flakes”
Decorating and Remodeling: Small Budget, Small House – Get Creative!