Archive for the 'Fixer-Upper' Category


Wednesday, April 5th, 2006

Ready to see something amazing….?

I’ve mentioned before that we live in a fixer-upper, right?

Well, most of the ‘fixing’ that need to be done has been to erase the horrible things that the previous owners did to the place. No one was brave enough to take on this challenge. But WE decided that a few ‘surface’ problems wouldn’t scare us away from a good deal on a structurally sound place.

The previous owners painted EVERY room in this place some terrible (and I really do mean terrible) combination of colors. They had even painted most of the ceilings, but the realtor made them paint those white before showing the house. He made them cover up some other things, too, we discovered later.

But there was no covering up the upstairs bathroom – easily the ugliest room in the entire place, which was no mean feat in this technicolor house. (I’ll post more before and after shots, later, to show what I mean).

When we moved in, it looked like an alien had been murdered in that bathroom. The walls were electric sky blue and there were HEAVY, thick splatters of deep green paint over that – yes, even on the ceilings and on the light switches (most of the pictures below can be clicked for a larger view):

I’m happy to report that that’s all behind us now!

We had hired a painter before to try to cover this stuff up. He said that he went through ten sheets of sandpaper on his electric sander, just thinning down the three dimensional green splatters. We painted the walls a light grey then. It was better, but we still weren’t happy.

Then our friend, Todd, came to visit and helped us to find our way out of the darkness. First, he had helped Paul pick a better color for the walls (a darker grey). Paul painted the walls. Then last weekend, Todd came back to help Paul paint, cut, and install wainscoting all around. What a difference. See for yourselves:



There are a couple of decorative strokes of genius in this remodeling job. Note the decorative cornice Todd installed on the upper left of the shower. And on the right side of the shower, he installed a white strip of trim to cover a previously awkward drywall ledge.

Todd is truly gifted in the remodeling, grouping, renovating, and decorating arena. He has a special eye and a deft touch. You can hire him to help decorate your walls though his business, Wallflower, accessible online at Thanks, Todd!!


Woo Hoo! New Tenants!

Monday, March 27th, 2006


As of May 1, we’ll have some new tenants living upstairs from us. I was worried that we’d go much longer without anyone to help us out with our mortgage payments (one of our previous tenants moved out last December, and the other one is done at the end of March).

These new people are both college grads. One is currently a Master’s Student in Theology. They know that the place isn’t the Ritz, but they said they picked it both because the price is hard to beat AND because they appreciate the care that Paul puts into taking care of the place. (Awwwww.)

Apparently on his tour with them he showed them how he’s currently repainting and wainscoting the bathroom, how he’s painted nearly every room in the place, and, yes, ladies and gentleman, how he added a primo deluxe toilet model known as “The Champion.”

Our last tenants were a family member and his buddy, respectively. This is our first experience with new people. But they’re great, and I’m excited!! (We’re going to have an actual written lease this time, too – a month-to-monther, just to keep it as flexible as possible on all sides).

Lately, I’ve been a little bummed out about the house. I think it might be the fixer-upper-two-year-itch. That is, we moved into our place (a nearly 80-year-old Bungalow) about two years ago. It needed lots of work, but that’s part of why we got a great price. Like all buyers, we were optimistic. We immediately pulled up carpet, had hard wood floors refinished, had the lower level (inside) painted by professionals, and Paul painted most of the upper level inside. We installed new carpet upstairs, and put in new kitchen flooring (just vinyl) in the downstairs and upstairs kitchens. Paul installed new toilets upstairs and down, and we also bought kitchen appliances for the place (stove, fridge, dishwasher), since neither kitchen came with any.

The amount of improvement after just those things was astonishing. Over time, Paul replaced a few light fixtures. We had ugly wallpaper removed from our bathroom. We had the common stairwell painted. I had some shelves installed in my closet. When the furnace broke, we replaced that, too.

But after all that, it starts to sink in how much MORE there is to do, how much we don’t want to spend much money doing it, and how little time we have for this kind of thing now that there’s a baby around! I’ve been wondering if we shouldn’t just have bought a tiny place for ourselves, and paid a mortgage that is half the price of ours, instead of paying double, and having the landlord and extra fix-up obligations.

And now that we’re thinking we’ll move on in a couple of years, I’ve been looking around with a pessimistic seller’s eye. Would someone actually buy this place? Paul is more optimistic on that front than I am.

But oh, well. I guess it will all work out. Actually, I already feel better after listing all the things we HAVE done. We’ve got new tenants for now, and we’ll get to some other things as time unfolds…