Never in a million years did I think I’d be writing the words “home renovation.” I still can’t believe we own a house, let alone one that we renovated!
Jeff and I started casually looking for houses around a year ago. We rented our first apartment together last July and I definitely was itching to have something of our own. We had chosen a less expensive and desirable apartment in order to save for a bigger move. I knew what I wanted more than anything a kitchen that made me excited to cook. I wanted to absolutely LOVE where we lived.
I had no intention of doing work on whatever house we found. No one in our families has experience with renovations. It’s actually kind of funny how not handy we are. Luckily I had some contractor connections from Alchemy and friends who’ve renovated before.
We basically got our house off the market, meaning we got a good deal in a market that’s been pretty insane. We were really lucky to have a friend that lived next door to the house we ended up buying who knew we were looking. The universe was working its magic!
We looked at a lot of homes that were redone, in more prime locations, and considerably more expensive. Looking back, I’m really glad we didn’t go with a more updated house. This home feels so us. We’ve really put our hearts and souls into it. And by no means has it been easy! Renovating a home is frustrating, expensive, complicated, and insanely unpredictable.
I remember crying when a plumber told us we had over $10,000 in plumbing to fix. (Thank God he was lying.)
I remember when there were a zillion different kinds of bugs in our house and the exterminator had to come twice in three weeks.
I remember when our sewer line clogged a month after we moved in and the basement flooded.
I remember asking myself, “was this was a mistake?”
I remember buying fifteen boxes of the wrong kitchen flooring. And choosing the wrong sheen for the bathroom walls. And learning a little too late that I should’ve been more specific about the trim.
But frustrations of home ownership aside, what I remember burning in my soul more than anything was an overwhelming, tear-jerking, surreal sense of gratitude. It’s pretty much all thanks to this blog that we were able to renovate and furnish this house. And pay down my student loan debt. I mentioned once before that I blogged for years before I made a dime. Now when I’m making coffee or cookies or chili in our kitchen that this blog helped finance, I feel like it’s all come full circle. That all the years of hard work have been worth it.
Jeff and I didn’t have much furniture, and what we did have was pretty old. We pretty much started from scratch in the furniture department and bought things like a nice couch and dining room table that’ll actually last us a long time versus cheap furniture to get us by. I’m really impulsive and don’t leave things in my shopping cart for long, so I started virtually furnishing our house as soon as we closed. The coolest thing I learned throughout this whole process was how much I enjoy interior design. My mom and grandma have always had an impressive knack for decorating, so I guess it’s in my blood!
Working on the house was a new creative outlet for me that I didn’t see coming. It gave me something to be inspired about outside of work and food. Now that the downstairs is in good shape, I’m already itching to do the upstairs master bathroom. It’s kind of addicting.
While we definitely put some money into this project, we also did a lot of things to save money. And luckily the house isn’t huge by any means, at just under 1,500 square feet with two bedrooms and two full bathrooms. It doesn’t have a real laundry room or an accessible (let alone finished, ha!) basement to furnish.
I found all our gold cabinet hardware on Amazon for less than $60. I bought our sink and faucet on Amazon rather than from the retailer. I bought a lot of furniture on Wayfair using my business account (if you have an LLC, sign up for a business account to get awesome additional discounts).
I found decorative pieces like mirrors, blankets, pilllows, and wall art from Target. I used a buffet piece I found at a yard sale as the centerpiece of the dining room. I bought our kitchen rug on eBay. I found an amazing deal on painting our entire first floor after having several painters come give us quotes. I had the cabinets painted white versus white buying all new ones. I got yellow tag deals on our stainless-steel appliances at Appliance Smart. I bought our white oak hardwood at Floor & Decor for a great price. I worked with a super affordable contractor for our hardwood floor installation and wall tear down/rebuild.
I did a lot of research ahead of time and I never jumped at the first quote, which saved us a ton of money in the long run. Long story short, ask a lot of questions. Take the kitchen floor demo and installation, for example. Who’s buying the supplies? Does the rate include trim?
I spent more money on a few statement pieces to make our home feel more classy and high end, like our living room rug, our fixtures, and our countertops. Adding big patterned rugs and plants helped add the coziness factor.
Before we dive into the details, here are some epic before and after pictures:
Everything in the kitchen is new except the cabinets, which we painted. It totally transformed the space! I knew from the get go that I wanted a white kitchen with two tone cabinets and gold accents. The first thing we did a few days after we signed the papers was tear up the floor. (And when I saw we, I mean our contractors. We’re not handy, remember?) We ditched the brown flooring for porcelain gray with white grout. The white grout isn’t the easiest to keep clean, but it really lightened up the space.
Next up was installing the countertops. We went with calacatta verona quartz.
I knew I wanted a really deep sink, so I went with this Kraus stainless steel sink. It’s sleek, modern, and almost industrial looking, which I love. The best part is how big it is so it can house my billion dirty dishes that Jeff loves to clean. I probably picked out our Delta champagne bronze faucet before we even closed on the home. It’s such a statement piece!
After countertops, we had our new appliances delivered. We saved a ton of money by getting yellow tag stainless steel appliances at Appliance Smart. We got our fridge for an excellent price because it had a scratch you’d never notice on the side.
Next our contractor knocked down the cabinets where the old microwave was and put electric in a cabinet you can’t see in this view so we could move the microwave and put up the new hood. Then he installed white subway tile with light gray grout. I’m glad I did gray grout versus white because as much as I enjoy white, I didn’t want a stark white kitchen. Contrast is key!
P.S. We do have a refrigerator, a pantry area where we housed the microwave, a hidden washer and drier and another door on the other side of the kitchen that you can’t see in these pictures.
Paint was what really fueled the transformation. I knew I wanted green for the bottom cabinets, specifically Evergreen Fog. We used High Reflective White for the rest of the cabinets and all the walls except the bathroom, which was an amazing shade of black called Tricorn Black. Next time I’ll need to learn more about the proper sheens because some of our walls are getting scuffed up. We’ve learned sooo much from this project!
Once we finished painting, we screwed in the brush brass cabinet hardware that I found on Amazon for SUCH a steal. I had the hardware sitting in our old apartment two days after we signed the closing papers! Be sure to measure the distance between your existing holes before you buy.
I’d say my taste is a mix of mid-century modern and feminine glam. I wanted the fixtures to bring that femininity to the space, so I went with these glass pendants. So lovely! We got the Edison bulbs from Ikea.
I wanted a really bright, fun, and colorful vintage rug to contrast with the light kitchen. I found our Persian area rug on eBay but this one is really similar! Be sure to get a rug pad so you don’t slip and fall on your tush.
Redoing the wood floors in our house made a huge difference. The old floors weren’t level and one was original hardwood where the other was redone but in poor shape. They used to be a dark reddish and yellowish wood. We went with a medium panel white oak to lighten up the space. It worked wonders to brighten up the whole first floor. You can tell from the below picture that we’re still waiting on the reducer piece!
We also knocked down the left wall where a closet used to bedroom between the dining room and TV room to create more of the open floor plan we wanted.
To be honest, we were a little nervous that it would look weird. When it was all said and done, it was one of the best decisions we made. There’s a natural flow now that wasn’t there before.
I fell hard for this tower dining table. It’s a really soft wood so we’re careful not to set too many things on it and to use place mats whenever we eat. To complete the look, I found this runner on sale for more than 50% off at West Elm plus this gorgeous globe centerpiece that I filled with white pillar candles.
I usually weave something green in between for a pop of color, like Trader Joe’s eucalyptus or garland! Above the table hangs one of my favorite pieces, this glass cylinder chandelier. Again, such a statement piece.
I got a ton of our furniture on Wayfair to save money, including six of these amazing Cleveland Parsons Chairs in gray. Rugs were huge for me to cozy up the space, and this 6’7 x 9ft gray and cream rug compliments the darker tones beautifully.
To keep the mid century modern vibe, we went with these swivel bar stools in gray. They’re super comfy, too!
I found this amazing chest at a yard sale in German Village over a year ago hoping that someday it would fit in our house. Voila! We decorated it with a bunch of plants and hung this round mirror set above. We have this Columbus skyline painting coming this week to fill in more wall space.
We found our two piece sectional on super sale at Macy’s and it’s the BEST. Modern but super comfy and functional. We got all our throw pillows at Target, duh.
Next up was this gold glass end table where we put a plant, a candle, and a lamp we had at our old place.
How amazing is this soft blue tyley chair? I snagged it on sale from World Market (on sale for $110 off!)and couldn’t resist this white shag throw to snuggle with it. This black floor lamp totally made the nook. I’m obsessed with this black throw pillow, wire basket for blankets, and black and white wall art. I found soooo much at Target!
Plants definitely brought this place to life. We got all of ours at Oakland Nursery. Love this modern ceramic and wood planter!
We’re still looking for a good coffee table, but right now we’re using our old one from Target. If it ain’t broke! As you can see, we went with a black and white theme for this room. This is the black wall hanging we just hung between the plants and the couch. Our black and white patterned wool rug is sold out, but this one is similar.
Cheers to finally having a king size bed! We got almost everything for our bed for amazing prices on Wayfair. Our dark wood headboard is sold out, but this one is similar. We got this mattress, bed frame, box spring, bed skirt, and down comforter on Wayfair as well. They have amazing customer service in case you’re worried about having trouble with ordering online. I found our gray end tables, Weston table lamps, and gold hanging mirror at Target.
And that’s a wrap! We kept the first floor bathroom pretty much the same minus the fresh coat of black paint. The second bedroom we jazzed up with a cute rug and some plants. We’re planning on redoing the master bathroom next year. We do have a cute little yard and I’m obsessed with our patio furniture. We’re planning on hanging some fun lights out there once it’s warm again!
Questions about furniture? Comments about my Target obsession? Wondering if Jeff and I still like each other after all this!? Leave a comment and let’s chat!
Big thanks to Jeff for letting me post the pictures of us where we’re not looking at the camera, which aren’t his favorite. And even bigger thanks to Photo 243 for capturing the most beautiful pictures of our home!