In the spring of 2019, we bought this house. We had no clue what the heck we were getting ourselves into, yet we were thrilled at the idea of having a large house to truly make our own.
Here we are two years later, a family of three (soon to become a family of four!) and so much has changed. The house looks completely different; we’ve lived through a pandemic; we have spent a year at home raising our daughter; and now we’re expanding our family yet again. It’s wild how life can change so very quickly and we feel so grateful for all of it.
Home Tour Before and After
Today, I thought it might be fun to share how far this house has come since we first bought it in May of 2019. I remember when I originally showed the house to my mom she kinda put a pained smile on her face and did her best to grin, as I excitedly shared all of the plans we had. (This post walks through all the before photos of the space back then.) I think she, as well as most people, just couldn’t envision this outdated beige house turning into anything special.
I’m proud of how far this house has come and I’m eager to see what these home tours look like after three, four, and five years. There’s still work to be done and we don’t plan to leave until this house is finished from top to bottom. Before we dive into the home tour, before and after, here are some stats on the house.
- Built in 1921
- 2-story Red Brick Bungalow
- Location: Chicago, Illinois
- 4 Bedrooms
- 3.5 Bathrooms
- Paint Colors (found in this blog post)
The Exterior – Front
The outside of our house has gotten a bit of TLC over the last two years, but not nearly as much as the interior. Most notably, we removed the chain link/wood/aluminum (yes, three different materials) fences and replaced them with a white vinyl fence. This was a great decision and we now have much more privacy in our backyard. As for the front of our house, I painted the door (Benjamin Moore “Blue Note”), built a fresh window box, updated the landscaping, installed a new flag pole, and fixed peeling paint.
Future Plans: Someday, we may discuss painting the exterior but I don’t think I could ever part with the original red Chicago brick on the front. I would like the brick on the side and back to match – we have two-three different colors right now from additions over the years – so maybe we would paint all that. We’ll see what happens…
The Exterior – Backyard
The new fence really made a difference here in the backyard. It’s much more private and we can’t see into our neighbors’ yards. During the summer of 2019, we ripped out the rotting garden beds and stained the deck. Last summer, we created a little oasis on our deck and added rocks along the fence line.
Future Plans: The big changes kick off this month as we renovate this entire space! We’re replacing the deck and adding a stone patio and tons of landscaping back here. Just wait till next year’s three-year home anniversary post. Hopefully, this outdoor room will be the star of the show!
The Living Room
While the living room looks like an entirely different space from when we bought the house in 2019, it hasn’t changed much at all over the past year or so. We moved our coffee table to the basement for now, so Rory has more room to play, and you’ll notice there are fewer accessories around here. (Rory is interested in alllll the home decor!)
During our phase one renovation, we removed the center wall, replaced it with a steel beam, which was a $25,000 setback, replaced the flooring, added new trim and doors, and painted everything. With the shell of a room looking good, it was just a matter of filling it with furniture and decor that fit our personality. We spend lots of time in this space with Rory and we do our best to keep it as organized as possible.
Future Plans: We’re getting new windows in here this summer, which will be so wonderful because these are old and drafty. I’ve also been tinkering with the idea of adding an electric fireplace and mantle in place of the entryway console area. It would be a project waaaay down the line – at the very bottom of our to-do list – but I think about it when I look around this space.
Sherwin Williams HGTV Home “Clary Sage” // Sources & Reveal
We ended up doing a refresh to our first-floor bathroom. It wasn’t a complete gut, but we installed new tile in the shower, on the floor, and added other pretty elements in the room. We DIY’ed custom molding on the wall for our towel hooks and the final touch was a new waterproof window in the shower.
Future Plans: None.
When we bought the house, we knew that the large kitchen had a lot of potential but we wanted to live with the space before making any permanent changes. In the fall of 2020, we renovated the entire kitchen and it turned out beautifully. We completely changed up the layout of the room. We had a window removed; we built a breakfast nook; and we added an entire bar area to the other side of the room. You can read about the entire process in this blog post, along with all of the sources for the space.
Future Plans: None.
The before of the staircase…wowza. There was a lot of beige wood going on there. We ended up removing the section of the wall to open up the space a bit more and get rid of that strange “office” nook. Our contractor also extended the laundry room out on the second floor to get rid of that awkward landing. We then replaced the flooring and had the stairs stained to match with the risers painted white. I had the railings custom made and we still love them two years later. After Finn fell down the stairs, we decided to DIY a stair runner and we haven’t had any incidents since!
Future Plans: The stair runner is looking a bit shabby, so I think we will eventually replace it. (I don’t think I chose the best rug for the project.) I also want to do some sort of wood wall treatment on the large wall you see when walking up the stairs. It’s not a top priority right now, but I think it would add a lot of interest to the space. Oh, and potentially, I might add a floor-to-ceiling gallery wall in the hallway between the bedrooms.
Paint Color: Benjamin Moore “Ballet White”; Trim Color: Benjamin Moore “Simply White” // Sources & Tutorials
The laundry room was actually the first room we DIY’ed and finished in the winter of 2019. It was a fun DIY project and we now have tons of storage. The space hasn’t changed one bit since then, except we now use it more than ever with Rory around, and I can’t even imagine the amount of laundry we’ll soon be doing with another baby! Overall, we love our laundry room.
Future Plans: None.
This room had potential from the start, but it has needed some love along the way. When we first moved in, we transformed the closet and DIY’ed a wardrobe system from IKEA. We still adore it. We then removed the carpeting, outdated trim and paint. It then stayed that way for about a year and a half.
Over the past few months, I’ve transformed this room into one that feels more “us” and I’m so pleased with how our main bedroom turned out. It truly is a calming oasis and we love it. You can find all of the tutorials and sources in this blog post.
Future Plans: None.
This space has gotten a bit of TLC over the past year with a painted floor and painted vanity. I’ve gotta say, I’m impressed with how it updates the space on such a budget! However, I am eager to really renovate this room.
Future Plans: We originally planned to gut this space in the fall, but with the baby coming, we’re pushing it back to the start of 2022. We will bring it down to the studs and rebuild a brand new main suite! I cannot wait…
Paint Color: Behr “Snowy Pine” (walls); Benjamin Moore “Simply White” (trim) // Sources & Tutorials
The kids’ bathroom also received some budget-friendly love over this past year with painted floors, a painted shower, and a painted vanity. (The power of paint, I tell ya!) I really like how it turned out and it doesn’t even look outdated, even though it’s over 20 years old! You can find all of the sources and tutorials in this blog post.
Future Plans: We will eventually remodel this space, as well, but the layout will stay the same. A new bathtub, tile, and vanity will complete the space. Perhaps sometime in 2022.
Guest Room/Future Nursery
Paint Color: Benjamin Moore “Tarrytown Green”// Sources
Here’s another room that hasn’t changed one bit over the past year. It got some attention before we moved in with flooring and paint (eek, that lime green color was rough), but other than that it’s just been a cozy room for our guests.
Future Plans: This is the next room makeover on our list as I design a nursery for our son! I’m thinking wood wall treatments, potential wallpaper, and decorating galore. Oh, and we’re also getting new windows in here too, which will be a treat.
We finished this space right before Rory arrived and it pretty much looks the exact same way now. It’s such a functional room and I’m so happy to have this space to work in each day. This past winter, we finally made the most of the empty closet space and created an organized closet using the IKEA wardrobe again. It’s still staying super organized and I love having the extra space.
Future Plans: Since we’re losing our guest room, I may look into swapping out the loveseat for a pull-out couch so we have an extra bed if Finn’s mom comes to visit. I am still trying to figure out the best game plan now that we’re losing our official guest room.
Awww, my favorite room in the house. This room was such a pleasure to work on while I was pregnant with Rory. From the wallpapered closet, to the DIY chair rail, and the custom built-ins, it truly turned out so beautifully. We haven’t changed much since I debuted it last year, just tweaked organizational systems, like her dresser, as she has grown up.
Future Plans: Eventually, it will be time for a big girl bed (cue the tears!) and I’m happy that the crib we chose transitions to one. Other than that, this room is working out great for Rory and our family.
Paint Colors: Valspar “Clay Angel” (bottom wall); Valspar “Chimney Smoke” (top wall); Valspar “Chimney Smoke” (vanity color) // Tutorials & Sources
I think 2020 was the year of the budget-friendly bathrooms because here’s another room that I transformed with a bit of paint! The painted floors, the painted vanity, and the “window to nowhere” shelves all make this space look much better than before.
Future Plans: We don’t ever plan to gut this bathroom because it’s not worth the investment, so I think it will stay this way for now. Eventually, we will replace the trim and door when we make that change throughout the rest of the basement.
During our first year of living here, we rarely ever came down to the basement. Now, it’s Finn’s office and he spends his entire day down here! We really haven’t done very much to this space – we haven’t even painted – but we quickly did our best to transition the open space into a work-from-home setup for Finn. He doesn’t complain and he gets a lot of work done down here.
Future Plans: The basement will someday be our playroom for the kids and I hope to have a large couch, that pulls out for guests, and a television for a cozy family room down here. We’ll paint, redo the electrical, replace the trim, doors, and carpeting and probably add some sort of built-in storage. When will that happen? We’re not totally sure as we’re waiting to see what the long-term plans are with Finn going back to an office every day.
Wow, this home tour before and after ended up being quite the wordy post! But there was just so much to share. I think it’s important to showcase that home doesn’t happen overnight. I renovate our home full-time for a living and we still have a way to go to complete this house. To truly create a home that reflects your family and personality takes time, so don’t rush it. Enjoy the process and be sure to document it as you go, because I can’t tell you how fun it is to look at some of these before photos and think “Wow, we’ve come a long way!”.Casey