Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Great Townhouse Project of 2013 - Before and After

"How was your summer?"

The question everybody asks when school starts again. Usually I can just say, "Great! Really fun!" but this year I had to hesitate.

Great? Sort of.

Fun? Um . . .

Yes, I got to take a truly amazing trip with my mom and sisters--that was the highlight, for sure.

But to be perfectly honest, this past summer was a hard one for me. It was full of hard work--physically hard work--which can be gratifying, but also exhausting. 

It was also a lonely summer for me. Sure, I had helpers occasionally, but a lot of the time I worked alone. Just me and Pandora.

Toward the end, I wondered if the project would ever get finished. I wondered if we'd run out of money. I wondered if the guys at Home Depot knew my name yet. And I wondered what every other person I knew was doing, because for sure they were having more fun than me.

Yes, I got whiney. Hey, I was tired! The project definitely took its toll on me, and I was happy to be finished with it.

I think my favorite day was the day we took the final set of pictures (some of which I'm showing you here). My word, the house looked beautiful! (Of course, it's full of college girls now, so who knows what it looks like, but I'm sure it's in good hands.)

So, because so many of you have asked, here are some final pictures of the Great Townhouse Project of 2013. 

Let's start in the basement. It's hard to see how nasty it was before because it's basically one big, open room, but here's the before photo. 

See those tiny wooden slats on the ceiling? I painted each and every one of those suckers. That's right.

And here's the finished product (a few furniture pieces were added after we took this photo): 

I know this doesn't thrill you much, but I have to include some pictures of the utility room. Early in the summer, B took on the utility room as his own personal project. On the first day, he moved the washer and dryer to clean behind them and found not one . . . not two . . . but THREE thongs . . . in which, it seems, some mice had made a very nice, if not thin, nest. 

Thankfully the mice were nowhere to be seen this summer, once we removed their *ahem* bed.

Here was the utility room before (note the cans of paint and paint thinner tucked back behind the furnace. That's right! We nearly had a heart attack.):

And the utility room after (notice the brand new water heater. My pride and joy.):

OK, moving upstairs. Remember the half bath on the main floor? Seriously disturbing sponge painting in a funky green and gold. Still gives me shivers to think of that.

And the filth! Ugh. All over the house. I just couldn't capture it with my camera (these are the times when an infrared camera would have been helpful).

Anyway, here's the downstairs bathroom now:

Sadly, this picture doesn't capture the gleaming grout on the floor, but let's just say that hours on my hands and knees with a bottle of Soft Scrub (twice!) really did the trick. 

Moving on to one of my biggest projects of the summer, the kitchen. Remember the ugly green walls (what was WITH the previous owners and ugly green?)? The hideous checkered/appled wallpaper border?

Also before (note, again, the filthy grout):

When the water heater blew, we decided that replacing the kitchen floor would have to wait for another year or so. So, once again, I grabbed the Soft Scrub and went to town on the grout. (Thinking over that now, I probably should have sealed the grout when I was finished. Next summer.)

Here's the kitchen now:

Don't you love the indoor/outdoor rug that I bought from a friend for $20? It covers a multitude of sins cracks.

Here's another angle, looking back the other way:

I know you can't tell from this picture, but, trust me, that grout is CLEAN.

Moving into the living room. Here's where the biggest transformation took place, I think.

Before (sorry it's a blurry picture, but I wanted you to see the old dining room chandelier and the opening into the kitchen:

And one more from before (take a good look at the floor):

And here's the living room now:

I absolutely LOVE the new floor we had installed. It took a big chunk of our budget, but it was so worth it. (And I have to stop and say that Empire--yes, that Empire--was fantastic to work with. Who knew?!)

Moving upstairs. On the first day, Julia and I were immediately grossed out by this:

We never knew what that was dripping all over the wall, but this was the state of the stairway going upstairs. 

Here is the stairway (headed upstairs) today (sorry, the sun was shining very brightly that morning):

No drips. No splatters. No hair or lint covering the carpet. Just a nice, clean stairway. Ahhhhh.

The bedroom at the top of the stairs used to be bright yellow.

Now it's a soothing color of grayish/periwinkle (B thinks it's purple. No.).

Be prepared because a seriously nasty picture is coming your way. Remember the hall bathroom? The one with the shower and the hideously filthy floor? 


(I warned you!)

Soooo much better now. I might even use it.

Quickly now, let's head to the master bedroom (I only call it that because the bathroom is attached, or en suite, as they call it in Europe.). This is the room that was totally tan--even the ceiling. It was so dark in there, I don't know how anybody could stand it.

Here it is now:

And from another angle:

Here's the totally tan bathroom before:

And after:

I know, I know, it's not that much of a change, but I think the lighter color really makes everything look bigger, don't you?

So there you go. My summer project is complete, and I hope I never have to do that much work on a house in eight weeks again. 

Until next time. . . .


  1. Wow! It looks so great!! I hate myself so much for not taking before pictures of our house this summer. Decluttering, deep cleaning and lots of DIY improvements made a huge difference - even though, I swear, the house was NOT that cluttered, filthy or broken to start with! Well, maybe it was. Because even though I have no photographic proof, the difference is amazing. All that to say - I definitely identify with your summer and am super impressed with your townhouse!!

  2. It looks sparkly and welcoming from top to bottom! You deserve an award, Shelly. Maybe you could start a DIY blog to go along with this one! Well done, my friend!

  3. Wow, it looks amazing, Shelly! The girls must be so happy living in that clean, cheerful space. I think your color choices are great for students, too - calming and peaceful for all those hours of study. Well done you!

  4. Thanks, Kristin!

    Becky, I'm dying over here! Me? A DIY blog? Now THAT would be hilarious! :)

    Mary, I'm sure your place looks great. Have you sold it yet?

  5. Oh my it looks GREAT!!! I know those girls are loving it!!! You did it!!!

  6. Woo hoo! Your great summer project is done! And how cool that your own daughter is getting to live there. Are y'all planning to keep this as a rental property going forward?

    You did a great job. Funny--I never would have guessed that you are so grossed out by dirt and grime. Of course, you are the mother of three girls, not three boys! I wish I found grime a little more disgusting, to tell the truth! :)

    Thanks for linking to Grace at Home!

  7. Shelly, you not only have
    a heart of gold, you have
    arms of steel! That is a lot
    of scrubbing and painting
    and hauling and.....loving.
    Yes, loving, because that
    is what was at the root of
    all of this work. I hope the
    girls are head over heels for
    their new abode!!!

    xo Suzanne

    PS: Thank you for your recent
    words of kindness and support
    regarding my friend Kathleen. It
    really meant so much to me.

  8. Looks fabulous Shelly! I'm so proud of you and for you! I'd love to move in myself! How wonderful for your girls. My daughter moved into a house near campus this year, and I would have loved for it to be THAT ONE! I know you are sooo glad that is over and the work is done! Blessings!