Leave it better than you found it

Leave it better than you found it

Warning, picture-heavy post below!

We bought our first house in 2009, closing only ten days after our first child was born. It had been a rental and was being sold as a short sale. The price was right but it was definitely a fixer upper. I wrote more about that journey here, right after we finished a major renovation. Everyone says, you just finished fixing up the house! Why would you sell it? We loved the changes we made, but the truth is that it still didn’t solve two main problems: the overall size of the house (1380 sq ft) felt cramped and made it difficult for us to have guests, and the terrible school district we lived in. There were a lot of other reasons, too, but those were the two main ones. So, in May 2017 we sold our house and bought a new one.

I haven’t before sat down and compared pictures from when we moved in and when we moved out. I have a lot of before and after renovation pictures, but the truth is we had already come a long way when we started the renovation. So, this post is mainly about how the house changed from the first time we saw it to the last time.

A few notes about the pictures before I begin. You can see more pictures of our kitchen renovation here – I didn’t highlight that as much in the pictures below. All the “before” pictures were taken at the inspection in July 2009. There were very few light bulbs in the house so a lot of the pictures are dark. The “after” pictures from the day we closed in May 2017. It was early in the morning, just getting light. I meant to take the pictures with my nice camera except it accidentally got packed, but I think my cell phone pictures turned out pretty well. At the time, I was a bag of nerves and the stress of selling and packing and just everything was starting to hit. So, understandably there were a few rooms I neglected to get pictures of. I grabbed the images from our listing for this post so if it looks weird that some pictures have furniture and others don’t, that’s why. You can see all our listing pictures here.

Now… on to what you really wanted to see!

The outside didn’t change TOO drastically. Painted shutters, replaced the light, added house numbers, new roof, painted the front stoop and removed the weird door shutters.

The front flower bed was literally cement! My husband and dad broke up all the cement and carted it away, and later my sister transplanted some azaleas from elsewhere in the yard. So much better!

First peek into the house from the front door – so much different!

Refinishing the floors, removing wallpaper border, and paint really freshened up the living room. We also had to replace the front door for safety reasons. I gave away the old door and they turned it into a headboard!

The dining room was so dark and dreary with the deteriorating sunroom on the back. Removing that and putting in french doors really brightened it up.

Opening up the kitchen to the rest of the level really brightened everything up.

The kitchen was the most major change. I miss the renovated one so much!

Not an exact match for the angle, but you get the idea!

It originally felt like you were descending into a cave!

New carpet and paint made a huge difference in this room!

We first painted the paneling, then completely replaced it with drywall because it was falling down.

Oh this tiny laundry “hallway” – so difficult to squeeze by when I was pregnant!

All we did was paint, but that’s all it took to make this half bath look loads better. If we had stayed in the house, we would have converted it to a full bathroom.

This was just the utility room and the random carpet when we bought it, but our realtor helped us paint all the walls white when we sold and it made such a difference. Most of the time we owned it, it was just full of stuff.

A new HVAC and hot water heater were very welcome changes.

I hardly remember these carpeted stairs!

The master bedroom – I forgot about the red trim! So glad we painted that. I don’t recommend these panel curtains from IKEA as closet doors. Fortunately, we only had to live with them for about a month before we moved.

The second bedroom – paint and removing carpet made this room look like a completely new house.

Second bedroom and hallway. So much brighter! I miss those original hardwood floors that we discovered under the disgusting carpet. They were beautiful.

The smallest bedroom.

It’s hard to get pictures of bathrooms. This one was really something else. We didn’t finally finish it until a few months before we sold. I wish we had done it earlier!

The infamous wall of mirrors

We never really used the sunroom on the back – it leaked and smelled awful. My uncle removed it and it opened up the whole backyard.

It took us 6.5 years to remove the awnings over all the windows, and I don’t know why we waited so long!

The backyard without the sunroom. Too bad it was so poorly constructed – could have been a great addition, and new setback laws prevented us from being able to replace it. You can also see we replaced the falling down cinder block retaining wall with a nicer wooden one.

Well, that’s all she wrote. I still get teary-eyed about not living in that house anymore. I am definitely glad we left on a high note! And while our current house isn’t a fixer upper, there is a lot of potential for updating and making it our own, so I look forward to sharing about that sometime in the future!

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