I’ve told you I’ve moved but I never did a farewell post to my first house. This house means a lot to me, even though it also drove me crazy at times. My husband bought this house when he was still my boyfriend, I was in college and had just finished chemotherapy. He bought it in 2006, I moved in during the fall of 2007 the day after our wedding, and we moved out just before Christmas in 2014. I lived in this house when there was no kitchen, when we had no bathroom doors and had to cross those delicate boundaries, through cars that drove into the yard and into trees (but thankfully never the house), through getting our first dog, through a break in, and through our learning curve as DIYers.
This house was built in the early 1940s by my husband’s great aunt and uncle. My husband bought it from his great aunt before she died, and now another family member has bought it from us. Because it stayed in the family, we were able to have a simple transaction and the family member was very flexible while we had our infinite house hunting process. Additionally, the relative assured us he wanted to change things like paint colors so he didn’t require us to touch up before we moved. Nice guy, huh? So while I’m not proud of how every room looks here, I can tell you that there’s now a Blues shrine in the space we used as the office and that room seems to get a lot of love. Here’s a shot of the room before we moved in and when we moved out.
And again with the dining room
Here’s a glance at the living room:
The bathroom ended up changing places in the house, hence the major redesign. Here’s what we started with:
And here’s what we ended with:
We had a can of paint ready to go for this room and thankfully the new homeowner has already painted it in a color of his choice. This room was our test room for yellow and we ended up finding the perfect color and putting it in the kitchen. This picture is the last trace of our failed experiments.
That kitchen was really my favorite part of the house. It came out looking so good and while I love my new one, there’s a sense of pride that comes from planning and designing a space of your own.
I’m leaving out the bedrooms and some older exterior shots on this tour to protect our privacy and the new homeowner’s as well. I always thought this house had so much potential and while we found some of it, I know that the new owner will find even more.
The last time I showed off the third floor it was from the week I moved in. Immediately my husband and I had a goal for this floor. We wanted a place to relax after work, to put the job behind us, and to have our own urban oasis.
It was December when we moved in and before the end of the month we ordered a couch and coffee table. We wanted a sectional and while we checked places like Crate & Barrel and West Elm, we didn’t find the style or price point we wanted. We were about to give up after a C&B trip when on our way to dinner we passed IO Metro. I didn’t think I could afford what was in the window display but upon walking in I found a lot of things I liked. Even better, when the assistant heard my husband and I discussing some styles she helpfully let us know we could see even bigger markdowns at an end of the year sale. By the next week we knew what we wanted and placed an order.
Here’s what it’s looking like now:
The space is finally starting to work for us. We have a TV up here so we can easily binge Netflix while having a cocktail or a beer. We did some small upgrades to our HVAC system so we kept cool this summer. We still need to do some insulation work on this floor of the house so we are holding off on repainting any of it until we know what the damage to the room might be.
And here’s some of those pretty little details:
This space also nicely doubles as a workout space. I can just move the coffee table and do my Wii Fit or some video workouts right in front of the TV. I want to make the closet space on this floor more functional so I can store some small weights or equipment as well as games or other entertainment for when we have guests over.
I’m thinking for fall I will swap out the blue pillows with some orange ones and maybe add some new cozy throws to the space since I know this past winter we camped out here quite regularly. I know I’ll also want a floor lamp since I’ve been known to cross-stitch or read up here. I’m still on the hunt for something that might have that industrial modern vibe but is easy to access without having to stand up from where my butt is firmly plopped. The hunt continues but if you’ve seen something let me know!
- Sectional: IO Metro Bree Sectional
- Coffee Table: IO Metro Cohle Coffee Table
- TV Stand: Pottery Barn Rhys Large TV stand (discontinued)
- Rug: Ballard Designs Tabitha Rug
- Floral Pillows: World Market Emma Throw Pillows
- Blue/Yellow Pillows: Target’s Room Essentials 2-pack Suede Pillows
- Oversized Gray Pillows: Target (appears to be unavailable online)
- Kitchen Cabinet pulls: Liberty 3-in arched pulls
One of the reasons I fell in love with this house is the huge amount of outdoor space. All three stories of my new home have an outdoor sitting area. My last house always had outdoor space on the to do list but it never got done (though I hear my buyer is having fun with a fire pit).
On the first floor, just off the kitchen we have a small deck with stairs down to our yard. We’ve already added some outdoor lighting and some small decorations but we’ve always got bigger plans. I want to redo the path out here, conceal the AC, attach both rain barrels and eventually upgrade the deck furniture here.
We have an interesting kind of garage called a California carport. It means we have off-street parking with a garage door off the alley but no walls. We can add walls later if we want but right now this is working for us. It’s very common in this part of the city and it makes our tiny yard feel bigger.
The old blue chairs and DIY pillows made the trip with us. We’ve just added a new friend for them.
The grill is a new addition thanks to Amazon’s Prime Deals Day. I’m not sure if this was part of the sale but I’d been stalking it for about 4 months and when I saw the markdown of $30 I jumped on it. I also was glad that it was delivered to our house rather than hauling this beast in my car and up stairs. We debated which deck to put the grill on but the 1st floor won due to kitchen convenience, the lack of desire to haul it up to the third floor, and wanting to protect it from the elements.
We have another deck on the 2nd floor, just outside the master suite. On nice days you can sit out here and just relax.
I put the potting bench up here because I’m envisioning lots of flowers everywhere. I saw all these beautiful balconies in France just full of flowers cascading and that’s my long-term goal. I’ll buy a couple of planters a year and by the time I’m an old lady my vision will be complete. The chair set is from Target, pillows and potting bench from World Market, and the rug is from Overstock.
Our third story deck is one of the biggest selling points the home had and it also has the fewest photos. I haven’t made any progress on it except to sunbathe with a book and a drink. The photos I have are from December when I bought the house.
It’s hard to see on the camera shot above but you can see the downtown St. Louis skyline including the Arch from up here. We were more focused on showing off our themed shirts for our new neighborhood than capturing the view but here’s a more recent shot.
The minute I saw this view I was sold. Thankfully all the other details eventually came together. The house is really gorgeous outside but we still have a lot to do before we have our first rooftop party. My big plan is to stalk the end-of-season sales happening now to help fill in the rest of the gaps outdoors. Be sure to let me know if you want in on the guest list.
I have had it with my basement. I haven’t unpacked all the tools because I don’t have a workbench yet at this house. I don’t have a workbench since I don’t know where all the tools are. The cycle seems a little silly when I have bookshelves, tote shelves, potting benches, and more in the queue to be built and yet it is all dependent on getting my basement organized. I know making a craft room for the blog would be pretty and finished off the office would be nice but none of it can happen until I can build. So, enough is enough- the basement is the priority now.
Are you ready for the horror that awaits?
This is one big project ahead of us. (That’s right husband, us!) We have some issues: our last house had no space so everything lived in the basement and the old owners left a bunch of stuff in the basement. For issue 1 we will need to unpack some things but as a temporary solution all the totes and seasonal items will live on some wooden shelves we’ll be building. For issue 2 the plan is to store some things in a better way (i.e. on shelves) or throw some things away. Living in the city means bulk trash pickup each month so we have a couple weeks to make some decisions.
The basement has several roles to fill.
- Hold seasonal items– think Christmas ornaments but also the lawn mower. It also needs to keep us safe in tornado season and hold our emergency gear.
- Hold hobby items- We like to spend time outdoors but need a place indoors to store gear
- Hold household items- from extra toilet paper to paint cans, everything needs a home
- Be our construction center- We need workbenches, tool storage, and space to build
There’s several long-range plans we are going to have to do, like add more lighting and run a water line so we have a faucet in our backyard, but this is the “Clean the Basement” phase so here’s the plan.
Doesn’t that look nice and organized? It’s a multi-step process and while I’m sure I’m missing a few steps, here’s the current plan:
- Buy metal shelves for paint cans and other tools
- Clear out the back half of the basement to allow us to build a workbench
- Build saw cart
- Put all the tools where they belong
- Build tote shelves along the front half of the basement and relocated all totes
- Buy rug, pair with table and chairs for tornado shelter storm seating. Add emergency kits.
- Organize outdoor gear like shovels and lawn mower with some wall storage
- Buy a locker for all hiking/camping gear
- Buy/build potting bench for all outdoor gardening supplies
- Drywall staircase wall and build shelves for overstock groceries
Once phases 4 and 5 are finished I can see us splitting our time between the basement and projects on the second floor so hopefully this list will keep me on track. Organizing the basement might not be the most glamorous thing but it will definitely make my life easier.
Onto the final floor of the new house. (First floor, second floor) This space is where we go to escape everything in the world each evening.
When the husband and I first toured open houses we found this one house with a bonus space on the third floor. While that wasn’t the one for us, we both fell in love with the concept. Thankfully we found a space of our own.
I can’t decide what I like best about this space.
That I have another bathroom. (Can you believe I lived for 7+ years with just 1 bathroom in my last house?)
That I have this wide open space to fill
That I have this crazy kitchenette (that the old owners left all their beer in)
Or maybe that this staircase goes to a rooftop deck that has an amazing view.
A view that you’ll have to wait and see!
When we last left off, I’d shown you the first floor of the house. Now up the old staircase to the second floor. A quick note- this used to be a 2-family home. I have just scratched the surface into hunting down my house’s history but this wall you see here would have been fully closed off and this staircase would lead to the second story/second family property while the entire first floor belonged to another family. Kind of crazy to think about.
Once again, here’s a layout to help you orient yourself in the house.
We’re combining that front bedroom/sitting room into an office for the time being. We’ve got some crazy plans for a desk that we still need to work on and some major built ins we hope to include but we have hopes that it’ll end up really nice.
The majority of the walls involve doors, windows, or fireplaces so as you can see it can be hard to fit in furniture. Hence all the planning we’re doing so far.
We’ve got a guest bedroom that we’re just using for storage right now. Hopefully the guests stay a way a bit while we figure out some things around here. When we do pretty it up we have a really nice brick wall and pocket door to work with.
There’s also a nice guest bathroom up here
As well as laundry and linen closets
Then we come to the master suite. Let me tell you right now that this area has been a pain since we moved in thanks to the lack of weatherproofing on doors and windows, a squirrel getting into the bathroom vent, and yet I still love it.
This door here goes out to a deck. We’ve got it sealed off for winter right now but we hope to get out there and get planting soon. I’ll make sure you can see it when I show some exterior pictures.
There’s still some things to improve upon on this floor but it already feels like home. I hope to be back soon with some pictures of the third floor.
My new house is located in the Tower Grove East neighborhood of St. Louis City. I didn’t even know about the neighborhood until late 2013/early 2014 when I started scouting future neighborhoods. I’ll include a neighborhood description in a later post, preferably after it gets warmer and I can start taking longer walks.
The new house is 3 stories tall and was built in 1899 as a 2-family home. I’ve been compiling a house history too so expect a history lesson at some point too. In 2012 it was combined into a single family home. We bought it from the buyers who took it over after that renovation was complete.
Since the house is a little overwhelming, I want to break down some of the house tour by floor. It’s easy to get lost in the layout so here’s the basic map of the first floor:
It’s a long and skinny room that’s wide open. I tend to hate open floor plans and when I first walked into this house back in July (5 months before we closed but yet another story for another day) I remember saying “Why did we pick this house again?” which was a little harsh. This house is pretty cool on the first floor but every floor just gets cooler. It just so happens that the first floor is super intimidating from a decorating standpoint. I have many ideas and yet none at all. If you have ideas as you look through the pictures, please oh please scream them out.
This is a shot from the front end of the house looking straight to the back.
And now looking from the back door to the front entry. There’s a lot of square footage in between so I’ll show you some of that too.
One of the coolest things in the living room is the fireplace. This is the best maintained one in the home and one of the best I saw in all my house hunting. That cool design on the front of it is hand painted and all of this tile is original. I’m fairly certain the exterior color scheme is based around the colors here.
The kitchen is bigger than my last one but has fewer cabinets. You’ll see why that’s not a problem in another minute. What I really love about this kitchen is all the arches. It’s St Louis so you have to have some arches here. The door on the left here is a pantry. At my last house I had a floor-to-ceiling cabinet that functioned as a pantry so I was excited to have something bigger than that when I got here. I’ll post a pantry makeover soon since that’s one of the first projects I did. Next on my task list has to be drawer pulls since opening each drawer takes two hands right now and I can’t do that while cooking.
See why I don’t mind fewer kitchen cabinets? I have even more in my dining room in the wine bar. Or coffee bar. Or tea bar. Or brunch bar. I’m clearly undecided, though wine bar is probably a certainty with the built in wine glass storage and wine fridge.
That door to the left up there goes to the basement. To the right of the wine bar is a door to a powder room. Ordinarily I would assume you all know what a bathroom looks like but I do want to show off at least one neat thing about it.
Okay, that’s two things. The bathroom and many other rooms have functional transom windows. We tend to keep the powder room one closed because well, you know but even our front and back doors have the transom window feature. I’m also really into the vessel sink in this bathroom. It’s not usually my thing but somehow it just works in here.
There’s just so many features like that in this house. There’s original flooring refinished, 5 panel doors, transom windows, dental trim, 12-foot ceilings, 10-inch baseboards, original fireplaces, and all that exposed brick that appears on every floor of the house. Sure there’s growing pains after a move but this house has so many beautiful things that I’m willing to look past it.
Do you by chance remember my messiest closet ever? I don’t blame you if you don’t. I posted about that renovation back in May with a goal of being done in June. To be fair, I was 95% of the way done in June. I just had two tricky parts, one I eventually found a solution for and one that is still ongoing. To recap, this is the closet before.
I know, it is like a room on Hoarders.
I started off by doing just as I planned. I painted the door to match the trim in my house. I had planned to buy a door organizer from Home Depot but when I arrived in my car I realized the organizer would probably not fit in my car. I could borrow my mom’s van but I’d remembered seeing a smaller organizer at Target. Enter the ClosetMaid 8-Tier Adjustable Door Rack. (You might also want its buddy, some hollow door anchors that I ended up having to run back to Home Depot for). I then used that door organizer to put all my cleaning supplies in it. I’m still working on reducing how many containers I’m using but as I run out I’ll be replacing with more multi-purpose products.
Next up was emptying the closet, patching, priming, and painting. I had no clue that my crooked house had a closet with walls that sloped in random directions. I ended up spending nearly a week just on patching and sanding to try to make the walls straight.
In an effort to keep costs low, my husband and I thought we should reuse the original shelves and just hang them with two boards. In the photo above you can see the new boards attached to the wall while the white stripes represent how the shelves used to be hung. Wonder why they had a back shelf hanger? Those crooked walls. Apparently the walls were crooked even when they built the house so they just made small shelves and used an extra-wide shelf rack to accommodate their mistakes and laziness. So by being cheap/lazy, we ended up with the same issue. We had to create one more shelf hanger but luckily our entire basement is full of scrap wood so we still saved on cash.
The new shelves were much less obtrusive than the old ones and we painted them the same paint color as the walls to help them blend in. The paint color is a mistint from Home Depot. My local Home Depot seems to only have orange and forest green no matter when I go but this was one in West County so let’s call this right place, right time.
Now it was time to put everything back and get it all off my dining room table. I used some Closetmaid cubes to add some color and hide all the messy things. More on them in a minute. I bought an iron and ironing board holder from Walmart. Those cool things on the back wall are all from my Ikea trip last November. I have two Rationell Variera that are made to dispense plastic bags but I use them to hold towels and washcloths and they work like a dream. The bar and hooks are all part of Ikea’s Bygel rail system. I installed two of these. (Locals- Ikea will be coming to Kansas City in 2014)
To make things even more organized I spent about $2 on small wooden tags from Michaels. I spray-painted them with chalkboard paint and used them to label those Closetmaid cubes. The basket above holds all my extra lightbulbs, 3m strips, and candles. I have another one for seasonal gear like gloves and bags, and the third basket holds my extra cleaning items like vacuum bags or my shoe shining kit. Everything is labeled so I don’t need the products out in the open.
I also decided that I should probably get a full-sized ironing board instead of using my 9 year old dorm ironing board. I’ve already used it and it’s amazing the difference it brings. As a bonus, it really brightens up the closet and it matches my cubes I already had.
Ready for the final effect?
The top now easily fits all those items that used to sit on my closet floor. I have space for paper products, trash bags, vinegar for cleaning, all my bins, and even extra picture frames at the top.
The bottom of my closet it worlds better. You can actually see the floor! Over on the right I hung my swiffer and broom with a rack from The Container Store. I hung several cleaning items from my top Bygel rail and you can see my Rationell stuffed with the cloths. I decided to use the bottom rail to include the bags I use for shopping and day trips so the closet is even more practical. It might not be as pretty as without them but let’s be real, the practical has to win when you live in your house. Somehow I managed to actually put more items into this closet and it miraculously looks emptier. I am still needing a light in there (hence the dark photos) but having a lighter paint color and a more open space helps immensely in the meantime.
This project is being put in the finished category and I’m ready to tackle a new one. Home Depot sent me a coupon in the mail this month that I need to use soon so maybe that’ll jumpstart a big project once again. Hopefully this gets my closet out of the “Worst Closet Ever” category and into something a little more flattering.Pin It
I have a secret. There is one room in my house that is not fit for human eyes, and that’s saying something considering the state my home has been in during the renovation process. This space is a tiny space between my dining room and my kitchen. I’m talking about my one and only hall closet. It still has the original shelves in there, it has no lighting, and it’s very dark in color. There is a lack of storage and so items end up falling or being dumped on the floor. Yes, it’s that bad in there.
I’ll admit that this eyesore has actually gotten worse since I took this photo. Don’t ask me how that’s possible. Let’s just say I am hoping for a very dramatic transformation in the end.
The first stage of updating this closet was to define what I want this space to be. I want it to hold a vacuum, my steam mop, my iron, and all my cleaning supplies. I want my overstock of paper towels, napkins, and tissues in here as well. I don’t need the coat storage anymore so that rod can go. The games might stay or they might find a new home. Either way, it looks like this closet is due to be transformed into a cleaning closet.
The way I go about a renovation might seem a little strange so I’ll share my process with you. I do this behind the scenes of every project, though some have a much looser timeline. This project is on track to be finished right around the official start date of summer. Of course, we’ll be overlapping it with a few other projects so hopefully it won’t shift around too much.
First, I list out every step of the project. I’ll then reorder my list chronologically. Next, I map out a timeline for the project. On this project I am leaving the schedule very open, giving us entire weeks or weekends to accomplish tasks since my husband and I will have varying work schedules. It’s better to finish a project early than to have it drag out for months beyond what we expected. The last thing I do is assign each task to a person. Sometimes we’ll both need to consult on it, sometimes it just depends on who wants to work inside that day, while other tasks are claimed in a deathmatch. Or you know, just assigned because I like to micromanage.
The only real issue I foresee in this project is figuring out how to light it. We don’t really have the option of hardwiring it due to some limitations in the attic space above. I’d love to find a light bright enough to light the whole space and my two little wall lights that you can see by the ironing board just aren’t cutting it. Has anyone ever found success with a bright but not hardwired light?
Last week I shared my flower bed plans. I’m happy to say that all of the planned plants are in the ground. We still have a planter to build and one corner to add some height in with plants but those are long-term plans. The only other short-term plan we have going on in the flower bed is hooking up our rain barrel. We wanted to create a nice base for it but first we had to drain out our 65 gallons of rain collected inside it so we took some time doing that and then it rained on us again. Such is life.
We’re making progress on the base this week but within a 6 hour period we usually go from a 0% chance of rain to it actually raining (no love STL weather forecasters). That’s why my husband and I have decided to split our projects into indoor and outdoor projects. A few months back I mentioned we were starting our living room makeover but then the nice weather came and we had to do yardwork. All that got done in the living room was a nice paint job, some new trim, putting up blinds, and some furniture rearranging. If we split our energy doing indoor work on rainy days and outdoor work on nicer days, we won’t waste time yelling at weather forecasters for ruining our lives so often. Maybe.
Here’s the current eyesore of the living room. (Click to enlarge) You can see our paint updates and window updates but with all the decorations removed you can see all the flaws too. The fireplace is very oversized in the room. The mantel is undersized in comparison.
The tiles clash, the brickwork is done in a strange pattern, and there’s a random letter H on the front for the last name of the original owners. Let’s not even get into the inside of the fireplace. Right now it’s non-functional with a board propping up some sort of method the original owners used to close off the chimney. We’ve been too terrified to pull it out and we fully expect some animals may be living in there. Either that or we really do have a ghost. More cleaning will have to be done inside as well.
Here’s a closer look at some of the problems. The old toekick around the fireplace stopped the floors from being finished underneath it so we’ll need to address that. Our tiles are not even close to our taste and don’t look good in the house. The groutline is 3/4″ minimum and almost an inch thick between the tile and the brick of the fireplace. We have our work cut out for us.
For tile we’d love to go with a slab but pricing will probably lead us to use tiles again. We’re favoring some white shades but after we get up our new trim we might end up wanting contrast. If you do know of a (very) affordable place to buy fireplace hearth slabs or remnants in the St. Louis area, please let me know. I’d love to go that route but the $25/sqft pricing I’ve seen does not make me think I’ll be going that route.
As far as trim goes, I find myself drawn to the looks of Sarah of Thrifty Decor Chick’s fireplace
and the fireplace by Julia of Pawleys Island Plush
I’m not sure which route we’ll end up going at our house but we do want to cover up plenty of that brick so our fireplace has a better sense of scale in the living room. I hope you’ll have patience with me as I bounce indoors and outdoors. My husband and I plan to be working in overdrive from now until the first of September when we’ll shift gears to start on another idea. You’ll see when we get there. In the meantime, I’m going to try to update as often as I can (3-4 times a week) and I’ll keep taking photos so I’ll get around to showing off every project eventually.
If you have any tips for working on a fireplace, I’d love to hear them because I’m planning on attacking with my chisel the next day the weather forecasters are wrong about the odds of rain and that’s looking like tomorrow.