I’ve been wanting for awhile to do a series on remodeling, mostly do-it-yourself for as little as possible! We did a lot of DIY projects at our old house and learned a few things along the way we are bringing to our new house. One thing about DIY remodeling, it doesn’t move fast, and I am learning to be patient (but it’s hard…).
So this series is two-fold: To provide inspiration, because if you’re anything like me, looking at what people have done is great fun! And, to illustrate how we used different materials to accomplish things for less money so you can think “outside the box.”
First up is the “before and after” of the outside of our house.
We moved to our current house 5 years ago this August. We lived in the big city (well, for Oregon, anyway!) in a 1946 bungalow that I was sad to leave. I was ready for a change from our location, but we had spent 15 years getting the house to look like we wanted, and the only thing that made it easier to leave was the fact that we sold it to a sweet family who loved everything we had done.
We found out pretty quickly in the hot market at the time that there would be no old farmhouses in the area we wanted in our price range- not even fixers. There were, however, a few ranch houses circa 1974. They shared the long, low roof lines and long, shallow windows in the bedrooms (set very high in the wall) typical of the style. The living room windows were usually huge plate glass, which (from experience making window covers for others) I knew were very hard to cover.
I was a little discouraged. They just seemed so dark and small.
Then we found this house and I breathed a sigh of relief because I knew we could work with it. Yes it was a 1982 ranch, but it had large double-hung windows made from wood and vinyl (unheard of in ’82!), a sweet 3-window set up in the living room, a high ceiling, some wood floors, and lots of built-in cupboards. All the wood doors and cabinets were quality solid wood with routed panels, and if you’re familiar at all with ranch houses from this era, you know how amazing that is.
Note: This picture was all I could find of the front of the house before, but isn’t it pretty cool how my daughter is literally “flying” home?
What it didn’t have: room.
We had 3 floors and 2200+ square feet in our old house. This one was 1600, which wouldn’t have been too bad if not for the fact that, not counting the bathrooms, there were only FOUR rooms in the whole house! Three bedrooms and an open living/kitchen/dining area. My husband works from home and I had a small sewing business then, so you can imagine how crowded we were for the first year.
So our first order of business (after painting EVERYTHING inside, but that’s another story), was converting the 24×28 attached garage into living space. We were able to break ground 6 months after moving in and were able to start using it 5 months later, though we are still finishing some of it…
We had put aside money from our move, so we were able to hire the majority of this conversion done. We took over for the electrical, heating, and all the finishing.
Plus it made no sense with the fact that we had a circular driveway. People would park on the driveway where they thought the door was, and then attempt to reach the door by walking over the flower bed and ducking under the tree.
We cut the tree down within the first month.
Then we landscaped on both sides to even up the beds around the drive. I reused the scalloped edging, though it wasn’t my favorite by turning it upside down for a clean edge.
We also reworked the siding around the main windows to match the rest of the house and beefed up the molding around the windows to make the three windows all look like one together (I’m thinking craftsman…).
Whew! You can see why people would brave the flower bed instead.
This is another shot of the front before looking from the drive, where you could see the door as you drove into the driveway.
In order to take up space in the huge area left from the driveway, we used the broken concrete to make paths and a seating area for my bench we carried from our old house. Then I planted some things that would grow big to take up more space…
The area in front of the bedroom windows. The rhodies were overgrown (why, oh why didn’t they put them along the edge of the property where they could’ve grown to their hearts content?), and the flower bed cut crazily across from the “front door” area with grass in front.
I took the shutters down (another pet-peeve is shutters that are smaller than the windows…), and my husband and a friend replaced the wimpy molding with wider molding. I’d love some window boxes under the windows one day…
The broken concrete path goes through this section, too, and meanders by the birdbath.
And I’m leaving you with a view of our half-finished garage. While we are completely taken with the idea of a garage after four years without one (or a basement), it WAS started last July, when we hired the floor, sides and roof done and then were to finish it ourselves.
Um, yea. Remember what I said about DIY taking awhile?
Well, we did redo two bathrooms at the same time, and they are (mostly) done.
But that’s for another time.