The house offer was accepted, the inspection didn’t reveal anything horrifying, and everything is on track with us buying the house next door.

Now the hard part:






The sellers still need to clear out, ah, quite a bit of stuff, obviously, and we need to think about what updates we want to make before we move in. Painting for sure, and possibly the flooring in a couple rooms. Longer term projects include the sun room — keep it? Maybe get rid of it in favor of a deck? — and the gloomy paneled living room that could have a wonderfully vaulted ceiling if we ripped out the existing structure.

You probably think I’m nuts for sharing these not-so-flattering photos, but I’m so excited about the potential here. I can’t wait to share our plans and bug you for advice.


98 Responses to “Diamond in the rough”

  1. Deb on June 28th, 2012 8:42 pm

    I CANNOT wait to follow along on this adventure! Our second house was a fixer – we replaced everything, down to the doorknobs.

    You might think about keeping the plywood cupboards if they are sturdy – they don’t make stuff like that anymore.

    RE: Heater – you can get flat panel wall heaters that are electric and heat rooms without burning the kids. Search for Convection Ceramic Flat Panel Wall Heater or similar combination and see what comes up.

    And congrats! You bought a house!

  2. Jess on June 28th, 2012 9:02 pm

    It looks like it’ll be a great house after a few updates. :)

    I’d keep the sunroom, it’s a great place to sit if it’s raining and icky outside, and in your neck of the woods I’d say that’s often? (I live in the weather extremes of Wisconsin, I’d opt for a sunroom here too…) My grandparents just added a nice second floor sunroom to their house, and they used the radiant floor heating under the tile. It works great, it’s a nice temperature up there even in December.

  3. Kate in puyallup on June 28th, 2012 10:56 pm

    Do you know the blog They’re experts at painting paneling and updating an older home. They have great (mostly inexpensive!) tutorials! Amazing transformations, check their site out

  4. sooboo on June 29th, 2012 12:16 am

    Such a great house and it’s nice that you have the opportunity to put your flava on/in it! I like the cupboards/ sun room/ potentially high ceiling. We’ve done a lot of remodeling on our place and I like Apartment Therapy and Design Sponge for inspiration. A.T. has a good search feature. Pretty much really looking forward to your house updates.

  5. Stephanie on June 29th, 2012 5:20 am

    Since our house is done and we have no plans to move (ever!), I’m excited to live vicariously through your renovation. It has potential. Endless potential. And, you have a very handy husband. It will get done and we’ll all be glad we saw the before photos to appreciate the transformation. Looks like it has good bones, plenty of space, and really great views/lot. I’d say that is a great start.

  6. Debra on June 29th, 2012 5:28 am

    That house looks like it has a lot of potential and “good bones.” I would certainly keep the sun room and add a deck too, if possible. Looks like it would make a great play room for the boys.

  7. Sarah on June 29th, 2012 5:51 am

    So happy for you guys! Your house is awesome! I too bought a fixer upped with ugly floors and ugly sunroom. I would do the floors before you move in, no matter how much money. It is the one thing that you will never want to do while you are living in the house. My sunroom was wood paneled and unheated/cooled. I put up dry wall and insulation, added skylights, and use window AC/space heater. Three months out of the year, it is unusable…but still my absolute favorite room in the house!

  8. Beth on June 29th, 2012 5:58 am

    Definitely do the floors before moving in – we didn’t in the house we’re in now, and it’s my biggest regret. Putting new flooring down is not all that expensive and it is a big bang for your buck, so to speak. It’s neat to see the before as I’m sure the after will be wonderful.

  9. Wanda on June 29th, 2012 6:33 am

    Congrats!!! I can’t wait to see what your plans are and the transformation.

  10. Tia on June 29th, 2012 7:55 am

    You guys will make it awesome. I can’t wait to see the after pictures! And then you also have that huge backyard. The boys will have the coolest fort ever I am sure of that :)

  11. Geri on June 29th, 2012 8:15 am

    love the new house! so much potential and fun to make it your own! Keep the dinette set, put windows/screens in the sunroom, add a electric baseboard heat..( we had a screened in porch in Iowa transformed into 4 season room.. it was the best room of the entire 3000 sq ft will love it!)
    Walls were cedar and it felt like our favorite place in Colorado! Try white washing the panel, or making it look like cedar wood paneling…somehouse lighten it up, get the window treatments changed. You can always change it later.. focus on the floors, painting and get settled in! :)

  12. Geri on June 29th, 2012 8:20 am

    can I send a pic of the cedar porch?

  13. June on June 29th, 2012 8:20 am


    Re space heater – get one of those electric, enclosed-oil heaters (ours are DeLonghi brand). We used one in the drafty bedroom for our oldest child, it was super.

  14. marilyn on June 29th, 2012 8:32 am

    My parents’ house has a sunroom and we always put the Christmas tree in there, so you can see it twinkling when you drive up, and yes, my dad complains every Christmas morning when I want to go open presents out there in the cold. They do have two space heaters for it though, and for so much of the year, it’s just right. When my brother and I were teenagers and would have friends over, it was the perfect slightly separate place for us to hang out, too. Love all the greenery and light in the picture of this one.

    I adore the idea of having a painting from the previous owner — the snippets I think I can see of her work do look lovely.

  15. stephanie on June 29th, 2012 8:49 am

    I think it’s very exciting – so what if it looks a little crappy right now? Remodeling is so great because you can make stuff just how you want it – although the process itself can suck at times. I read your previous post about the “house next door” and I swear, I actually welled up with tears. Yes, I am a total sap, but it is just so cool that you learned the history of the house and can take care to honor some of the things that the previous owner valued. It is also sweet that she knows you will be raising your kids there and that you will have one of her paintings, etc. Far better than moving into a home where you know absolutely nothing about the past owners. Anyway, best of luck – I look forward to seeing your remodels over the next couple years!! ‘Cause it will be years!

  16. Annie on June 29th, 2012 8:51 am

    I love that you took the leap of faith with your dream, and the move, and look how it’s all coming together. It was meant to be, you just needed to leap. I love when good things happen to good people. Congrats.
    And I love that dinette set too.

  17. Redbecca on June 29th, 2012 9:06 am

    Oo oo oo this is so exciting! There is so much potential in this house. I am so happy for you guys!
    If you need some time to think about it, at a minimum I would paint the paneling in the living room white as a temporary measure until you settle on next steps for the room. Our basement is paneled in the stuff and I thank god the former owners had the good sense to paint it white/offwhite because dark paneling + basement = fail.
    I agree with PPs to focus on the floors first before moving in. Those are the biggest PITA to do after you’ve moved in! The rest is “easier” to do after. Can’t wait to see the changes you’ll make to make the place yours. Yay!

  18. Jo on June 29th, 2012 9:58 am

    Look at those bones! And look how tidily lined up the stuff is! They’re going to leave it clean as a pin and the rugs look new and it is totally livable. Way better to start like this instead of some brand new reno that cost a bezillion dollars but that you can’t stand…. You are going to have a blast!

  19. dorrie on June 29th, 2012 10:52 am

    HOW EXCITING! It’s perfect, really, to buy a sound house with updating to do. SO amazing what fresh paint and ripping down curtains and pulling up carpet and and and…how much time do you have to work on it before you can move it? Amazing, the light in the house is generous and gorgeous. You will figure out everything in time, and it’s amazing what you can live with for awhile (or for a long time, if you are me). Mozel!

  20. Jamie on June 29th, 2012 11:47 am

    I love everything about this – not least the fact that you and I will be suffering together. We closed on a house recently circa 1948 and *just* finished all the demo. Now we have to move some walls, and put in two bathrooms and a kitchen. It’s daunting but it’s a chance to have exactly what we want! And that would have been more expensive to buy than install, at the end of the day. Wishing you luck and patience! Can’t wait to read about all the fixins.

  21. Katharine on June 29th, 2012 11:53 am

    Just wanted to chime in and say what is UP with that quilted floor in the first picture?

    And I vote for a fake fireplace (pellet stove?) in the sunroom.

    And yes, it was a good idea to put up these pictures.

  22. Maureen on June 29th, 2012 1:02 pm

    I mentioned in an earlier comment about keeping the paneling, I meant in the sunroom. I totally understand not wanting that darker wood paneling in the rest of the house.

    Since I love the midcentury ranches, I hope you keep many of its original features, but I am just speaking for what I would like for myself. It looks like a great house, and I know you will have many happy years in it.

  23. Judy on June 29th, 2012 1:19 pm

    Not fond of the grainy wood paneling in the dining area, but love the built-in cabinet. Perhaps a nice coat of paint? Definitely keep the sunroom, it would be a great place for the kids to play Legos on rainy days. You could put a small free-standing fake fireplace there for warmth, and with a bunch of plants it could be a gorgeous room. The living room paneling has to go, but we all know that. But it’s a great house! Two years from now it’ll be a showplace and will reflect your personality and living style. I don’t envy you the work, but your sense of accomplishment is going to mushroom.

  24. Anonymous on June 29th, 2012 2:47 pm

    Can I just add my one paltry vote to keep the wood paneling? Call me crazy, but I love it! I recently had to watch a friend remodel the crap out of this gorgeous old house with a ton of paneling and built-ins and it made me so sad that all the people that can afford to buy houses are just ditching this gorgeous, homey old look. If I ever get to a place where I can actually afford to buy a house, they’ll all be erased from the face of the planet. So sad…

  25. Annabelle on June 29th, 2012 2:58 pm

    Keep the sunroom. If the yard is as big as you say it is, you’ll be dying to build a HUGE deck out there anyway in a year or two. The sunroom is something unique you can use for many of those “in between” outdoor days when it’s raining or mosquito-ing and you still want to get away from the house a bit. I’m so excited for you.

  26. Jennifer on June 29th, 2012 3:23 pm

    Keep the sunroom – many great reasons outlined already.

    And your current and previous house had wood floors all over the place, seems a good match for you and for the house style. So I vote for ripping out all the carpet, matching wood where you can, and sanding/refinishing the whole thing, then move in and do the rest of the stuff a bit at a time.

    Nice that you take possession the first of August and don’t have to move until the first of September. About the right amount of time to get everything fixed up (and supervise all the work from next door).

  27. Rachael on June 29th, 2012 3:24 pm

    You know I love me a mid-century ranch!

  28. Nancy on June 29th, 2012 4:02 pm

    What a great, new, endless blogging topic. We’ll enjoy going along for the ride.

  29. Taryn on June 29th, 2012 4:11 pm

    woohoo!! exciting! in the first picture that old rocker & the dinette set were kinda cool. even the deer head on the wall was sorta neat.
    anyway, take out the paneling and drywall and then either new carpet or wood flooring. would help a lot. will look great with your own stuff & a fresh coat of paint!

  30. Erin@MommyontheSpot on June 29th, 2012 6:16 pm

    I love seeing the possibility in a new home!

    Having said that, holy pack rats, Batman!

  31. Gwen on June 29th, 2012 6:37 pm

    I see loads of potential! I am so thrilled for you guys :)

  32. Casey on June 30th, 2012 5:07 am

    That little dinette with the pink chairs is worth about $1,500!! It is adorable. See if they will throw it in with the house, to make up for the keruffle about the paneling… :)

  33. KDA on June 30th, 2012 7:33 am

    Don’t do anything too drastic too soon. Live with it for a while and then figure out what needs to be done. That dinette set is great!

  34. cara on June 30th, 2012 8:54 am

    I, for one, definitely don’t think you’re nuts. That house? Is at a great starting point!
    [we bought our neighbor’s house in faaaaar faaaaar faaaaar worse shape, with the place & surrounding acre full of trash, grossness and wierdcrazythings. Our neighbors thanked us the first time they saw us cleaning up! Comparatively speaking, that place looks spotless and ready to go! Congrats!]

  35. Lauren on June 30th, 2012 9:15 am

    KEEP the sunroom… it’s my favorite part!! And as for heating it, my parents found a lovely solution, I don’t know the exact name of the model they used, but it’s a Charm Glow Gas Fireplace with real flames, pilot light, etc — cuts utilities WAY down with how much heat it efficiently puts out, and is very lovely to sit by/look at. They got theirs for around $200 (on sale though), and loved it and the $$ savings so much they put them in their rental properties as well.

    Space heaters, on the other hand, are energy suckers…. and less efficient.

    Congrats, btw — nothing embarrassing about these pictures; my parents gutted a house they bought from a diagnosed hoarder. They had to rent a massive dumpster… and filled it almost 20 times…. with things like glass food jars from the 70’s….

  36. Lauren on June 30th, 2012 9:16 am
  37. Kari on June 30th, 2012 11:57 am

    It must feel completely surreal to have so many things in the universe come together – the job, the move, the house. I am so happy for you – it is really inspiring.

    You have probably heard this advice a million times, but still – don’t do anything for six months. Yes, put in the floors before you move in – and completely blow your budget and get your dream flooring situation – it is the only thing you can’t/won’t undo later. But don’t make any big, permanent decisions on anything else.

    Spend the next six months (if not longer) building your budget back up for the renovations. And living in your house for a while and really get to know her – and your family in her.

    Make a list of your top priorities for remodeling now – before you move in. Then, after living in it for six months, write out another list. Those lists will probably be quite different. And spring is the perfect time to start the remodeling stuff.

  38. Fidi on June 30th, 2012 11:04 pm

    I think it looks gorgeous. Congratulations on the house. Agree with one of the first commenters, floors & colors can make a huge difference and we can clearly see from the photos that the not so easy to change features (size of rooms, windows, …) are gorgous. Thanks for sharing the photos. So exciting…

  39. CC on June 30th, 2012 11:48 pm

    oh my gosh – SO exciting. I wish I was moving into a house with nasty paneling and a dodgy sunroom in my dream neighborhood – so much fun to dream and make it happen! Thank you for letting us all living through you.
    We have painted white paneling throughout our house and I love it.

    Congrats again – the universe is shining down on you right now :)
    And I love the light in your new home.

  40. CC on June 30th, 2012 11:49 pm


  41. Jen on July 1st, 2012 7:06 am

    These pictures reminded me of a house my family bought when I was a teenager. With everything else that had to be done to remove to eau de hippie (do they really think patchouli covers pot smell?) there was no scratch left to deal with the awful dark panneled family room. So, my parents did the only think they could…painted it just-off-white. It worked too! It looked cozy and rustic. Imagine living in an Etsy listing. Something to think about when you’re in the OMG WE CAN’T DO ALL THIS AT ONCE!! Stage.

  42. Sarah Bell on July 1st, 2012 2:01 pm

    Fun! You know we bought the crazy cat lady’s house and saw potential in it that everyone else couldn’t see. Now we’re halfway to the house of our dreams! So no, I don’t think you’re crazy at all. You might want to pick up Atomic Ranch magazine, though, for ideas. It looks like it has great bones, you just need to get rid of the old-lady decor!

  43. Jill Browning on July 1st, 2012 5:51 pm

    Ditch the sunroom, yes to the vaulted ceiling, HELL to the YES on the built ins and big ass windows. This is a great house, regardless of the condition. Congrats!!

  44. bessie.viola on July 2nd, 2012 10:41 am

    Unflattering pics or no, all I can see is the beautiful bright sunlight in every room you posted. So exciting! I can’t wait to see what you do either, your last renovations were beautiful. (Is that creepy? I’ve been reading for a while. HI!)

  45. Cindy on July 2nd, 2012 12:41 pm

    We had a family room with the 70s wood paneling. Tight on funds to make a major change, I gave it 3 coats of a latte-colored paint. It was a big improvement- enough give us a couple years to save funds for a total overhaul.

    Love the photos. Keep ’em coming.

  46. Life of a Doctor's Wife on July 2nd, 2012 1:43 pm

    YAY! Congratulations!!! What wonderful good fortune that your perfect home was sitting right next door.

  47. Rachel on July 4th, 2012 12:44 am

    The bedrooms in our house have the same windows as your paneled room has — up high like that. I think maybe it was supposed to be some kind of safety thing in the 70s? I can’t imagine any other reason to make them that way. We painted those rooms light, bright colors, including the ceiling, and it really made a big difference making things feel more airy and less… prisony. (Well, except my son’s room. He wanted camo colors, so his room is khaki, olive, and tan. With impenetrable camo curtains. But the ceiling is the lightest, and even in there that helps a bit. :) ) And yes, you can paint that paneling if you want to make a quick change. It makes a bigger difference than I thought it would — we couldn’t afford the time or the money to redo the walls in my daughter’s room, which had the dreaded paneling (we had it in most of the houses I lived in growing up and my dad used to say if you ever needed a fire exit just run through the wall. I’m glad we never had a fire because I totally believed him) as WELL as the prison windows. It looks not half-bad, and later on if we want to tear it out, it’s just as easy to tear out painted flimsy paneling as dark 1970-was-here flimsy paneling.

    I’m so excited for you, and some of those rooms are just lovely.

  48. Jen W. on July 4th, 2012 9:44 am

    That is super exciting! Sometimes the most fun part of a house is dreaming up all that you could do with it.

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