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House-iversary: Then and Now (Part 1)

We’re celebrating five years in our house this week with a little house-iversary celebration. (Thanks for your sweet comments on the last post!)

I thought it’d be fun to look back at how our house has evolved over the last five years and share some of the big projects we did pre-blogging. Also a case study in how my tastes are always a-changin’! One post with all the changes would go on for MILES, so I’ll do half today, and half in the next post. Deal?

House-wide Updates

No mo’ popcorns!
Pretty much the day we closed on the house, we got started taking down the popcorn ceilings. This is really not a tough job (details here), but it makes a WORLD of difference in how light your house feels. Look at just the ceilings in these two photos. Before:


The whole room is painted and changed so that helps it feel brighter, but if you look at the ceilings alone, you can see that getting rid of all those tiny shadows makes the light spread across the room. SO MUCH BETTER.

De-grossifying the stanky floors
Once we had the floors covered in little popcorn ceiling nuggets, we rolled up all the old carpets and linoleum so we could add new hardwood floors in the downstairs and new carpet in the upstairs.
South American walnut
Then we got to work adding snazzy crown molding to the downstairs. There was some in the dining room, but we added more to the ceiling and some boxes below the chair rail:

We added more to the office too, all the way through the upstairs hallway and through the entire downstairs.

We bought the crown molding at a lumber yard because it was less expensive than Home Depot or Lowes and installed it ourselves. It ended up costing us about $500 for the entire house. I think it was money well spent! Here’s how to install crown molding like the pros.

Painting. Painting. PAINTING.
Then we caulked and painted, caulked and painted for, like eight years straight. It was some WERK.

New windows
Our windows were incredibly inefficient, thin and rotten. In the winter, if you stood by the dining room windows, there was enough breeze coming through the windows to blow your hair back. NOT COOL. We priced out new windows with three or four different companies and got ranges from about $5,000 to $25,000. The moral in this: get lots of bids!

We ended up installing them ourselves. We got the best price we could find on energy-efficient windows (which ended up being from a lumber yard), then got Home Depot to price-match them, then used a 10 percent coupon on top of that. This was a BIG job that took us Andy a whole summer, but if you’ve ever had terrible windows, I don’t need to tell you what a delight it is to be able to slide them open effortlessly, and keep the a/c where it belongs.

Room-by-room updates

The Foyer
Here’s the foyer from when we bought the house:

See how it had hardwoods just in the foyer, then the carpet began? We took out all the flooring and replaced it with hardwoods and I feel like having consistent flooring made such a difference in the flow and how big it feels.

Doesn’t that hallway look about a mile longer now? Same size!

We sanded and stained the railing, then added new iron balusters, new carpeting on the stairs, and some chair rail molding going up the stairs and down the hallway.

I wish I’d chosen simpler balusters instead of something so swirly. I think my tastes have changed a lot there. I’m also planning to completely rework this whole entry area soon! Don’t touch that dial!

The Office:
Yep, still mad that this is my only before photo of this room:

After we did all the house-wide updates, we let this room sit just like this – empty – for about three years. Talk about wasted square footage!

Then we built the bookshelf wall, added the DIY capiz shell chandelier and Bessie the faux cowhide rug, painted the walls and here it is today.

The long wall and other half of the room still need lotsa lovin’. I’m getting close to making a decision on curtains (finally!).

The Living Room
At first, it looked like this:

Then it went through a very, very tan phase with the addition of the Tannosaurus sectional and my inability to add any new colors because I was paralyzed by the blue walls.

But I made a plan, added the slipcovered ikea sofas and the DIY striped curtains and today it looks something like this:

(That’s not a completely honest representation, because when I took that photo, I was lying.)

I still have the same swirly paisley rug as I did during The Tan Era and I’m itching SO BAD to replace it, but after The Great Rug Throw-down where Andy’s princess feet were exposed, I’m still a little stuck there.

The breakfast nook
Not many people know about the darkest days in my breakfast nook’s history: the tragic stage of the Death Star chandelier.

That picture is terrible. I wish you could get a better sense of how weird that light was until I replaced it with our DIY drum shade.

The chippendale chairs came from craigslist and I fixed them up with a quick little DIY job. The only other changes I’ve made here were to add my new window skivvies to hide their nakedness, and the DIY Greek key curtains.

Oh! And the controversial plate wall. Of course the plate wall.

As happy as I am with the drum shade, I’d really love to find the sparkliest, crystal-est chandelier of all time for this nook. So much light comes in through those windows and I’d love for it to just bling out all over your face.

The kitchen
SIGGGGGHHHHH. Ohhhh the kitchen. Source of my self-loathing! It used to look like this:

But we gutted the whole thing and now it looks like this:

I’ll have a whole post on the kitchen saga in a couple days, but suffice it to say that I wish I had done SO many things different here, and someday I want to make some BIG ol’ changes. Andy will hear none of it.

Powder Room
It was this:

And now it’s this:

It all happened pre-blogging so I just have this post with all the details. I just threw up a temporary curtain and I don’t love it, so I want to change that out and change out the art too. It’s pretty and I love it, but it’s just very traditional and formal and not so “us” anymore so I’d like to make a couple small tweaks.

Dining Room
Here’s the before:

This room had wallpaper backing left all over the walls, and you KNOW that was a delight to remove. *ahem.* Then, decorating paralysis STRUCK, and I could NOT for the life of me choose a paint color.

Now I know: the method I was following to make that decision was ALL wrong. (I’ll talk about the right and wrong way to decide on a paint color in a future Decorating 101 post!)

I think I’m coming a long way in finding confidence in my choices. Making enough mistakes to know what I’ll end up loving or hating. I’m happy with the color that’s there now. It’s a dark brown-black that looks like different colors in different lights:

I still want to add some things to this room, change the art and maybe do something cool on the ceiling.

You can see all the details on the dining room here.

So that’s how the downstairs has evolved over the last five years. In the next post, I’ll show you what’s become of the upstairs, including some (embarrassing) photos of rooms that I never talk about on the blog because they’re just so bad. But they WILL be exposed! Once and for all!

Do you ever look back at what you’ve accomplished in your house? (Or in your life?) On one hand, it looks like we’ve done a lot – but on the other hand, it’s been fiiiiive yeeeeears. And, as you’ll see in the next post, there’s still lots more to accomplish.

Update: check out part 2 of our befores-and-afters right here!

Oh by the way? Proud mama moment: my little Mila Jane is taking steps! (*tear!*)

Let's connect


  1. OH look at her go!!!!!!! so sweet!!!!!
    and of course the house has come a long way. thank goodness you de-grossified it.

  2. Julia @cuckoo4design says:

    Oh how sweet. First steps are the cutest thing ever.
    I think my favorite view of your house is the before and after of the kitchen!

  3. AHHH! Such a beautiful home! I love love the hardwood and crown molding it’s so sophisticated! You really turned it into a home! Great job!!

  4. Before and afters are the best 🙂 Loved looking at all of these. You are totally right about the hallway looking a mile longer now!

  5. Everything is beautiful, especially a walking toddler.

  6. Ummm. I love that you make your own lights. I’m stealing all your ideas. But we’re also living parallel lives and have both made multi-surfaced geometric pendant-y hanging lights.

  7. Steps! Go Mila!! I am impressed with this whole post, but I think mostly that you installed your own windows. I may be back to pester you about this later, after we get some window estimates for our sunroom. I am terrified both of how much windows cost and of installing them ourselves. Terror all around! And I want your floors.

  8. You done a lot of work. Looks wonderful 🙂 We are in the process of ‘lightening up’ our home. From red, gold and green of the Tuscan era to a lighter brighter French Cottage. Coming along nicely. We evolve and grow… our homes right along with us.
    Sweet video clip… first toddling steps… adorable.
    Hugs, Gee

  9. Priscilla LeBerte says:

    I love your home! Very beautiful wall colors! Congratulations on five years! What I really want to know is where to purchase that adorable Trojan horse on your coffee table!!! I love that little guy 🙂

    • Thank you so much! 🙂 I love him too! I think he came from Ross or TJ Maxx a while back. He was $8, but I’ve seen him on Joss and Main for like $70 since. I’m almost positive they have him on!

  10. I love before and after shots. Can’t wait to see the upstairs. 🙂

  11. hurray for first steps! There is something about little off balance babies that I just love…it’s such a struggle but then such a reward for them. And lady, your house is nuts. It’s so amazing what you have done with it….and in 5 years…my goodness! I look forward to the next post showing all of the other changes.

  12. Go Baby Go!! One of the most special moments is when our kids take their first steps! 😀
    You’re house has gone from sad and unloved to gorgeous and filled with love! My favorite light is the drum light, twist ties and all! My “meeting” today when I received this in my e-mail went smoothly! Can’t wait to see what you’re creative mind comes up with next.

  13. So fun to take a look back … and Mila walking … whaaaaaat!!! Love the idea of super blingety bling in the breakfast nook!

  14. Your house is so pretty and even though your tastes have changed, I can definitely see a common thread in your design and I love it.

    I have to say, while Mr. princess feet didn’t garner any sympathy on the whole jute rug deal – sorry Andy – I am standing with him on the sprawling cow issue. I love your solution here and I didn’t know they came faux. Awesome 🙂 It’s the perfect rug for that space. 🙂

  15. Your house is so gorgeous and the amount of work you’ve put into it is astounding. You are such an inspiration! And that baby is 100% smoochable!

  16. You guys have done so much! Looks beautiful Kelly 🙂 xo Kristin

  17. dying of the awesomeness. it takes time…but it so worth it! and those sweet little steps…*LOVE* 🙂

  18. I love your foyer! Ours looks like your before pic except that we also replaced the hardwood floor so it runs all the way through the kitchen. Can you tell me (or post) how you did your banisters? Ours are also light oak and we would like to darken them and add the iron. Thanks! Everything looks beautiful.


  19. Holy cr*p Kelly, your house is gorgeous!!! And you’re so right about that foyer, I can’t even believe how much bigger it looks when that carpet doesn’t stop you right at the stairs!

  20. Wow! What a transformation and a ton of hard work! We scraped the popcorn ceiling basically the day after we closed on our last house. It makes the biggest difference even if it’s such a pain! The house looks so beautiful. Can’t wait to see what the next 5 years hold! 🙂

  21. Yay Mila!

    Your house is gorgeous darling, GORRRGGEEEOUSSSSS. Can’t wait to see the grossness (better be legit or you’re gonna get it!!) so I can stop having a pity party for one over here!! 🙂

  22. your home is just gorgeous. gorgeous gorgeous gorgeous! you guys have done so much work and it shows! I especially love the office.

  23. I love this transformation! I style is definitely in line as well! I have pinned alot of these photos on my Home Inspiration board 😀
    thanks for sharing!

  24. Yay Mila Jane! Great job, little cutie! And great job to mama, too! What a dramatic transformation! You have to be so proud of all you’ve accomplished in your home. It is gorgeous. I especially love all of the “glam” touches. Can’t wait to check out the upstairs!

    ~Abby =)

  25. I love this post, Kelly! So fun to see where you were and where you are now… and I totally get the whole taste changing thing… after 14 years in our house I’m slowly but surely getting rid of the 1999 golds. 🙂
    More, more, more, please!
    xo Heidi
    PS — Yay for Mila!!! Put your running shoes on, girl!

  26. aww yay Mila! Look at her go! 🙂

  27. Great changes! I love what a difference the continuous wood flooring made in the foyer (living room) area.

  28. YAY for Mila! I’m waiting for my little guy to take his first steps any day now. 🙂

  29. Xavie Augenblick says:

    I love what you’ve done! But I especially love the hardwood floor! Can I ask the product and color?
    Thank you!

    • Thanks so much! It’s South American Walnut, Home Depot brand. We love it!

      • Xavie Augenblick says:

        Bummer! It looks like it is no longer carried by HD. The search continues… 🙂 Thank you again for all your wonderful posts!

  30. You. Are. Incredible! What an inspiration–even the rooms you are all “I want to change” are super great. Your blog is just my fav at the minute. 🙂

  31. Wow. Just, wow!! I’ve seen many of your rooms in separate posts but to see it all together in a house tour like this is fantastic! You and Andy have done a PHENOMENAL job (did I spell that right?!?) with this house. There are so many things I want to say about each of the rooms or something you said in this post that I totally related to, but I’d end up writing a novel, so just know that I think you guys totally rock and I have LOVED following along, even if I was a little late to the party. 🙂
    And way to go sweet beautiful Mila! You’ll be chasing her around (and the boys will be too) in no time!

  32. I love before-and-afters, so I LOVE this post! You have great taste and everything has come together so nicely.

  33. Kelly I just love all your ideas! What you’ve done is so inspiring and amazing. I’m bound and determined to convince my husband that the next house we buy will be a foreclosure with great bones and tons of potential. 🙂

  34. Kelly – perhaps this will help with your rug dilemma (aka soothe hubby’s sensitive tootsies). A FAB blog post about the good, bad & not so ugly types of natural rugs…


  35. Wow, your house has definitely come a long way! This makes me excited to see how you continue to fix up your house and to see how your style continues to evolve. Love it!

  36. Wow. What a transformation. Your home is wonderful!!!

  37. Yay Mila!!! Pretty soon you’re going to be chasing her all over that beautiful downstairs of yours 🙂

  38. WOW! Your house has come so far in just five years! Your crown looks gorgeous. The hubby and I have been debating on wether or not to try to DIY but your instructions make it seem manageable. I have it bookmarked for when we decide to go ahead 🙂 And your daughter is too cute!

  39. Wow, Kelly! The befores and afters really show all the work you and your husband have put into your beautiful home. You’ve got crazy skills!

    And such a precious little wee one, too!

  40. Crazy how flooring can change a space and make it look bigger and more cohesive. We’re saving our pennies to do the very same thing. Congrats – look how far you’ve come! Love the before’s and after’s!

  41. Ok, so I read this post days ago and keep meaning to comment. I am so amazed at all you have done to this house! You should be really proud of all that hard work and yes, it does take a long time when you have a limited budget and are doing it yourself!

    I’m excited to see part 2!!!


  42. Fascinating post! I’m really interested to hear your kitchen saga in particular. Nothing like learning from other people’s mistakes 😉 I didn’t even realize there were parts of your house that were kept hidden but I totally get it.

  43. Big, BEAUTIFUL changes! Totally makes me want to get my rump in gear.

    Go Mila!

  44. Holy moly! You guys have really worked your butts off in 5 years! It’s seriously amazing how much you’ve done! Way to go!

  45. I just stumbled upon your blog and I’m so glad I did- I absolutely love this! I started off doing before and after pictures with my first few houses and then I had some kids and got super lazy but I adore all the changes you’ve made.Such vision and a great eye!

  46. You guys have done a TON in five years…looking at all those before and afters is truly astounding. Um, I think that maybe I need to sign you up for HGTV Star. This post alone qualifies you. And in addition to your stellar design sense (how cool is that bathroom vanity?), you’ve got personality for days…you’re a shoe-in. Since I’ve got David Bromstad on speed-dial, I’ll just go ahead and let him know to put you on the list for next season. Cool? Cool.

  47. Look at Mila Jane!! Woohoo little pumpkin!!
    Kelly & Andy, you have so much with your house. It looks so amazing!! One of the best changes was adding all that new flooring – it’s CRAZY how different your first floor looks from the front door with the hardwood going straight through. And the staircase!! Wow! It’s been so fun to follow along on all your projects and I can’t wait to see what the next five years hold for your abode!!

  48. I’m loving all the befores and afters! Like a lovely house tour … and there are some pics I’ve never seen before, so am loving it all! Oh, and can you see how behind I am on blog reading! Sigh. But I’ve truly been busy working on some renos here. And, hey, I’ve been here 18 years! So it never ends …

    🙂 Linda


  1. […] the last post, I showed y’all the progress we’ve made through our house – and some of the […]

  2. […] Memory lane. When we bought our house, the entryway looked like this: And, as I mentioned in this post where I showed you all our befores-and-afters, we changed the railings to look like this shortly after we moved in: I’ve gotten soooo many […]

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