Before Pictures of our #FinnFixerUpper
As promised, I’m back to share a plethora of pictures of our new house (get ready, this post is a long one!) The moment we closed, I went to the house and took about 500 photos. I don’t want to look back and not have a “before” photo from every single angle…ya know?! I’ll be kicking myself if I don’t document all of our hard work. And since our contractor will start knocking down walls next week, things will soon be looking very different!
Renovation Phase 1
Before we get to the home tour, let me give you an overview of the tasks our contractor is completing right off the bat. He estimates that this will take about 2 months to complete, so my hope is we can move in by August (fingers crossed…)
- Remove multiple walls on the first floor
- Remove fireplace
- Expand laundry room
- Rip out all hardwood & carpet
- New hardwood on first & second levels
- Remove all trim & doors
- Replace trim & doors with white craftsman style
- Replace all outlets & switches with white
- Add recessed lighting to every room
- Paint everything (walls, ceiling, trim, doors, windows)
I’ll go into more detail as we discuss each room, but that’s just a general overview of what’s happening throughout the entire house.
Before Photos of Our New Home
Now, I’m not gonna lie…it’s not the prettiest home on the block. But I do think this home has so much potential. I can just picture how great it’s going to look when we’re done with it. So just keep an open mind as you check out these photos…
Exterior – Front
As we discussed yesterday, our home is a 1921 red brick bungalow. At some point, there was an addition added to the back, as well as an entire second level. Finn lovingly calls this house the “hair flip house” because of the little piece up top that flips down. Kinda looks like it has bangs. I’m sure we will forever refer to it has the hair flip house because now I can’t unsee it!
I’m not gonna lie, I’m not in love with the exterior. We saw a lot of American Foursquares when house hunting, and they have so much curb appeal with their cute front porches. But I do think we can make the exterior much more our style…eventually.
Our Gameplan: Right now, we’re not tackling the exterior. I’ll probably paint the front door this summer and get new hardware, but the big stuff will wait until next year. We’d love to paint the entire home (the brick on the back is a different color because of the addition, so I want to have it all be the same!). I envision new paint, shutters, landscaping, and a new fence. For now, a few cosmetic updates will have to do!
Exterior – Backyard
We have a backyard!!! I feel like I need to shout that from the rooftops because outdoor space in the city is such a novelty to me! But we have this awesome deck, yard, and even a side yard.
Not to mention, a large 2.5 car garage! Since we only have 1 car, we’re going to have so much storage space on our hands. We are thrilled to have a spot for all of our tools (no more sawing in the kitchen!).
Our Gameplan: The deck is new and was never stained, so we need to do that ASAP. I’ll probably go with a grayish stain (similar to what I did on our balcony) and we’re hoping to get that done pretty soon ourselves. Again, we’re not planning to do much to the outside of our home this summer. I think we’ll save most of the big changes for next year. We’ve chatted about adding pavers to an area of the yard so we have a larger seating area. I’m sure we’ll also add string lights, a dining area, our grill, and lots of flowers. Plus, we’ve always loved the idea of growing herbs and veggies, so I want to give that a try too!
Okay, so let me do my best to explain the layout here. The doorway on the right in the above photo leads to the front closet and front door. The plan is to tear down all of the walls on the right side of the room to open things up substantially.
Here’s the front closet and front door. The left wall will be taken out entirely, so when you enter the home you don’t run smack dab into a wall.
Here’s another view of the entire main room. Those french doors lead to an office area and we are completely removing it to make this a big open space. We already have 4 bedrooms upstairs, so this room really isn’t necessary for us.
We’re also removing this fireplace entirely. I know, I know…not everyone is going to be happy with that decision. But we really don’t love the idea of putting a TV over the fireplace and this fireplace is taking up valuable real estate. And it’s not original to the home (it was changed out at some point in the 90’s). I’m going to try to salvage the mantel for another project, but everything else will be gone and that wall will be completely flush.
I love these windows right when you walk in the home. They let in so much natural light and I know it’s going to be a cozy spot for a few chairs. Plus, it’s the perfect spot for our Christmas tree over the holidays! Cannot wait.
Our Gameplan: With the walls down and fireplace out, we’ll have new hardwoods put down. The light fixtures will be removed and recessed cans added throughout the space. Plus, thick baseboard, crown molding, new doors, and window casing. Not to mention fresh paint!
I still have to figure out the exact layout, but this room will be our main hangout area with our couch and TV. We’re also planning to put a large dining table in this space. It’s hard for me to envision it all until the walls are down, but I will have plenty of room to work with!
1st Floor – Bathroom #1
Right after the main room, you’ll find the first bathroom on the left. It’s a decent sized bathroom with a shower and a window. It’s not the cutest looking space, but it has so much potential! I think we could do something bold and fun in this bathroom since it will primarily act as a powder room (even though it has a shower).
Our Gameplan: For now, we’re just changing out the trim, door, and painting. I’ll also get a new shower curtain, mirror, and light fixture. Down the line, we’ll completely gut and redo this space!
Here’s our kitchen off the back of the house. Isn’t it huge?? Right now it’s very beige, on beige, on beige…but the potential for this room isn’t lost on me! It already has such an open layout and could truly be a gorgeous space. We want to live with the kitchen for at least 6-9 months before we talk about redoing it. I think it’s so important to live in a space and figure out your pain points before you gut it and put in new. I’m sure we’ll learn a lot about what exactly we want out of this space after living here for a while.
There’s great natural light back here too, which I absolutely love. And those double doors lead to the deck and backyard.
I’m not totally sure how we’re going to layout this space just yet. My contractor is going to try to remove the pole and put in a beam, but he said he won’t really know if that’s possible until he gets into the ceiling. Fingers crossed it can go. If not, we’ll figure something out! I love the idea of doing a breakfast nook underneath the window by the back and making that a casual seating area. I’m not sure what we’ll do on the wall across from the island…expand the kitchen there? wet bar? more seating? Time will tell, but I’m happy to have such a large space to work with!
Our Gameplan: We’re holding off on doing anything too major back here. For now, we’re removing the light fixtures, adding recessed cans, replacing trim with white, replacing the pantry door, and replacing the hardwoods.
Off the kitchen, there’s a stairwell that takes you up to the 2nd floor with a little desk nook. We’re taking out the entire wall where the desk is so it will be an open hallway from the front of the house to the back. I’m excited to see what this space looks like with that wall gone!
I’m eager to get my hands on this stairwell because I think it can be a showstopper. With a modern handrail and balusters, a jaw-dropping chandelier, and a pretty runner…this little area would be 1000x better.
Our Gameplan: The treads on the stairs will be changed to the new hardwood (I’m going with a white oak) and the risers are being painted white. For now, we’re keeping the railing and baluster and painting them white. Eventually, we’ll replace them with something less traditional and more modern.
Guys, I have an entire room dedicated to laundry! It’s mindboggling. We’ve only ever had our washer and dryer in a closet, so to have a laundry ROOM right by our master bedroom is amazing.
Here’s the outside of the laundry room. We’re actually moving the wall on the right out towards the stairwell in order to use up that free space. This will make the laundry room a lot bigger and allow us to put in an area for a folding station, cabinets for storage, etc. I was wondering what I would do with that random space on the landing by the stairwell, but I think this is the perfect solution!
Our Gameplan: Our contractor will move that wall in the first phase of renovation, and then Finn and I are tackling the rest of this space right away! It will actually be one of the first rooms we remodel completely, so I’m looking forward to it! New floor tile, new lighting, additional cabinets, a folding station, etc. It’s going to look totally different by the fall (I hope!).
The 2nd floor is where I really fell in love with this home. The ceilings are grand and there is so much natural light. Those 2 things make me so incredibly happy! I think our master bedroom is going to be gorgeous by the time we’re done with it. Right now, it’s pretty blah and I’m not in love with the mint green ceiling. Yikes.
But it is a great size and I love that it has a bathroom right off the master. Not a lot of the old houses we saw had that.
Our Gameplan: We’re ripping out the carpet and putting hardwoods in here. Then we’ll have all of the trim and doors replaced and painted white. Everything will get a fresh coat of paint (including the minty ceiling!). I’ll replace the ceiling fan eventually (have to figure out the style of the room first), add window treatments, and add a closet organization system.
The master bathroom is pretty sad. Yes, it’s a good size but it’s very, very dated (that floral tile – oh boy!). Our plan is to live with it for now, but eventually, we will gut this entire room.
Our Gameplan: For now, we’re just adding new trim, a new door, painting and swapping out all of the electrical. I may also swap out the mirrors and lighting for an inexpensive upgrade, just to tide me over until it’s time to redo this space completely.
I think this room will be our guest bedroom. It’s down the hall from the master and is a decent size. It should be able to hold our queen bed fairly easily!
Our Gameplan: Ripping out the carpet, new trim, new doors, paint everywhere! Plus, recessed lighting and removing the ceiling fan.
We’ve got another full bathroom up here with a shower and closet (yay for storage!). It’s a decent size, so someday it will be really amazing for our guests!
Our Gameplan: New trim, doors, and paint! Eventually, we will gut this room completely.
I can hardly believe that I will have a room for my home office. No more sitting at the small desk in our bedroom, or working away at the dining room table! Plus, to have a room with a closet for my styling and photography equipment is going to be absolutely amazing! I have a feeling I’ll be tackling this room pretty quickly because I love having an organized place to work. I imagine a gorgeous light fixture, large desk, and tons of secret storage in this space.
Our Gameplan: Remove carpeting, replace with hardwood, new trim, new doors, remove ceiling fan, and add recessed lighting.
I love these 2 bedrooms off the front of the house with the vaulted ceilings and windows. They’re just so pretty! I would love for this room to eventually be a nursery for us, but for now…it’s just kinda extra. Finn says maybe we can make it our workout room, so perhaps I’ll be doing my yoga in here.
I know it will someday be the most perfect nursery for our baby (and I can already envision every sweet little detail). Here’s to hoping that day comes soon.
Our Gameplan: Remove carpeting, replace with hardwood, new trim, new doors, remove ceiling fan, and add recessed lighting.
The before photos of our new house continue down in the basement. I’m thrilled to have a finished basement, but for now, it seems like so much space! I shouldn’t complain, but I doubt we will be doing much with this space in the immediate future. Just the upstairs is going to feel like a mansion to us! Down here we have a large open room, 2 storage rooms, and a half bathroom.
I’m very happy that it’s a finished basement, but it will eventually need some work. My hope is that it will eventually be a cozy family room space and playroom for our kids (someday!).
Our Gameplan: We have ZERO immediate plans for this space. We’re not even painting it, haha.
So this was officially the longest post ever, but OMG GUYS, WE HAVE A HOUSE! I can’t even describe to you how thrilled I am to take this home from beige and boring to fabulous! It’s going to be quite the process and a shit ton of work, but we say…bring it on!
I’ll be sharing every single step here on the blog, but if you want updates in real time definitely follow me on Insta Stories. I’ll be using the hashtag #FinnFixerUpper to document everything and I’ll save clips to a “Finn Fixer Upper” highlight. My plan is to head to the house every morning to meet with my contractor and review his work for the day, so I’ll be able to share all of the progress as we go. Can’t believe we’re kicking off our 2-month renovation…
In the meantime, you’ll find me pinning away and figuring out our style for this new house. I cannot wait until it’s time to start decorating…
I’m Casey Finn, the voice behind The DIY Playbook. I’m married to Finn & mom to Rory and Ellis. Together we’re creating our dream home in Chicago, one DIY project at a time.