The Transformation of Our First Little Bungalow

I’ve never photographed or shared any of our home renovation projects before.

Looking back through some of my old photos on Dropbox, I wished that I had. Luckily, it isn’t too late to start now.

This is the journey of our first house which had been purchased in 2010. At the time it was a 3 bedroom 1 bath, 1,100 square foot bungalow.

We began renovations very slowly. We were young; 28 and 32. I had just had my first baby and our budget was minuscule. This made for our longest-running renovation project (I think we’ve done 5 personal renovations, not including my husband’s clients’ projects).

We began with the exterior in what must have been 2013. My husband did the labor and deserves most of the credit because really, that’s the hard part. I designed, sourced/chose materials, and managed the budget. I think we had like $2000 bucks when we started and we started small. We added cedar shakes to the gables and repainted the exterior siding (which had been white painted aluminum that had faded so badly the aluminum was exposed in places).

The front of our first house, before we did anything (2011 or 2012)
The front, after (although we still hadn’t finished the steps). The cedar shakes are wet; paler wood when dry.

Next, in 2014, we re-financed, taking out $10,000 cash to fund a bathroom addition upstairs. The attic had already been converted to a bedroom, but we added a dormer to the space for a new bathroom and bedroom-level laundry. We enclosed the giant hole we had made in the roof, did the framing, plumbing, and electric. Then, the project took a very long pause.

In 2015 we bought a different house using a construction loan, and began our first “flip”. We lived in that home and then sold it in 2017. While that was all happening, we were renting out this first little house to a friend. After selling our first “flip”, we were able to revisit what we’d started.

By then it was late 2017 and that’s when we finally finished the upstairs bathroom renovation we had started 2 years prior. We took our “flip” proceeds and also re-did the flooring with a period-appropriate 2 and 3/4 inch hardwood oak. Then we added central air conditioning, built a deck on the back, re-painted the interior, re-did the main floor bathroom, replaced many windows, and, finally, spruced the kitchen. We also re-roofed the garage. Our budget for this entire second-leg was about $30,000- not a lot, but enough.

For as small a budget as we had, I’m very happy with the outcome. I wish I had more “before” photos to share. Unfortunately for me, in 2017, I lost about 3 years of photos that hadn’t been backed up. In parenting exhaustion, I left my phone on the top of the car while loading the car seats, and then I drove away. It flew off into the street and by the time I went looking for it, it had been run over and busted to smithereens.

I loved this house so much… When we were finished renovating, the house was a 3 bed 2 bath bungalow with about 1, 350 square feet. We sold it in 2021.

Here’s the journey, in photos from what I could find:

The giant hole we made in the roof to build a dormer for the new bathroom. You can see the upstairs railing in the bottom right corner, which we kept.
The upstairs landing area after we finished. The bathroom door is there on the left and there is the same upstairs railing, one side replaced with a wall.
Looking out from new upstairs bathroom. Bedroom is to the right.
Looking in to new upstairs bathroom, where we had opened up the roof and dormered out.
Marmoleum floors in Van Gogh. 5.5-foot, extra depth tub. The photo makes the grout-grid more noticable than in real life- so annoying!
Tub ledge I requested, along with a nook. Shelving on other side.
Live-edge slab sourced from a friend’s mill. Pretty branch holding the slab was found at the dump- no joke.
Vessel sink, was necessary in this case, although I wouldn’t do a vessel again if I had a different option because they’re harder to clean
These are both pics of the bedroom upstairs (bedroom 3). I miss the built-in!
Stairway to upstairs/downstairs before.
Stairway after.

Living room, what you see when entering.
Living room.
Dining room.

All the living room, dining room, and bedroom pics are un-staged ‘afters’. I don’t have any old pics showing what they looked like before, but the floors were a very very dark-stained and un-finishable 1-inch hardwood. The walls were all white and the trim was painted dark brown. I could tell the trim had been painted to mimic the natural wood trim in the back bedroom (pictured further down), but the painted brown trim looked awful in this house. The living room walls were repainted with Sherwin Williams’ Sea Salt and Snowbound white trim. I wouldn’t use the color Sea Salt again. For me, it was fine enough not to repaint again. But I didn’t love it.

This is an awful picture, sorry. But this is the kitchen showing the floors and the walls before we did anything. Our dog, Beana- (who’s since passed away), she’s sitting to the right of the stove. The “before” floors were vinyl- marred and stained. The walls had a patterned vinyl paneling on them. This must have been 2014. Considering our shoe-string budget, I’m happy with the outcome.
Kitchen’s “in-between” stage.
Kitchen during.

Above depicts the kitchen after we had re-done the floors and while we were re-painting the cabinets and replacing the paneling/counters. If we could have afforded to replace the cabinets, trust me, we would have. They were super low and it was frustrating how many things wouldn’t fit underneath them. But we did what we could with what we had. Oh yeah, stained drop ceiling tiles were removed and replaced with drywall and painted.

Kitchen after. Lower cabinets are a dark green, Pratt & Williams Leafy Bower.
Kitchen after. Counters are Corian with an integrated sink. They were found on Craigslist, in pristine like-new condition.
Kitchen corner where you saw the dog, (dining room in background)
Main floor bathroom after.

I wish I had a before pic of the bathroom!! It was pretty awful. The cabinets and tub are original- I had to make-do. But we did a new sink, counter, toilet, tile, shower rod, flooring, and paint. We also added a hanging shower from the ceiling; there was no shower before, just a tub.

Bedroom 1
Bedroom 2.
Back yard in-between before and after
Back yard after
We built a wood deck. If I could do it again, I would have done a patio instead. It’s more expensive up front (which is why we didn’t), but a patio is so much less maintenance than a deck, and it would have lasted far longer too.

More before photos would have made a better story. But truthfully, we didn’t know that we’d take the renovation so far. This was our first house. We were just sorta winging it… But ya gotta start somewhere- I’m just happy we did.

Huge thanks to my husband. Every time I say “we” did something, really it’s been him. He’s amazing, funny, talented… I’m lucky to have him.

Purchased in 2010 for $45,000. Put in about $50,000 over a few years. Sold in 2021 for $152,500. Our best comp was $159,900, which was our asking price. We had full price offer right away but we took a lower offer that was cash, quick closing, and no contingencies. It was worth the lower price to have a zero-hassle sale. The buyer still lives there and seems happy. Not bad, eh? It’s definitely not the type of price appreciation you see in the city. But at least here, you can get your foot in the door.

Happy weekend everybody,

HouseRat Zero

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