I grew up watching my mom and grandma painting, grouting, making brick stairs on the outside of the house, and doing other small projects. They had fun at it, laughing and spending afternoons together. I remember when I was younger than 10 years old wanting to join and help paint our deck. I sat carefully painting scrap 2x4s as "try outs" to prove that I could paint well enough to join them.

I've always done a fair amount of my own projects like painting and simple car maintenance (thank you, YouTube). One of my big goals this year is to become more handy with house projects and renovations. Over the last few months, Jeremy and I have done a mini house renovation! I almost don't know what to do without a tool or paintbrush in my hand!

I've significantly added to my repertoire and it's liberating to have a knowledge foundation around the home, demystifying what's constructed where and in what order and using what supplies and tools. I've sawed through walls and ceilings, used circular and chop saws, used an air compressor and nail gun, rewired power for lighting, installed and textured sheetrock, helped design a kitchen island, and done a ton of artistic staining and finishing work.

Spot the differences!
House renovations before-after House renovations before-after House renovations before-after House renovations before-after House renovations before-after House renovations before-after

Round 1 of house reform:

  • Removed old blue carpet
  • Refinished existing hardwood floors (only job we hired a professional)
  • Installed a whole-house attic fan
  • Installed recessed lighting in kitchen
  • Ripped out non-load-bearing wall between kitchen and living room
  • Built a kitchen island
  • Walled in pocket door with insulation
  • Removed wallpaper
  • Repainted kitchen
  • Replaced all baseboards, 5 window trims, and 16 door trims (remove old, cut new, install, caulk, putty, paint)
  • Installed in-wall speakers in living room

We started by ripping out the awesome blue carpet in the front half of the house, which had existing hardwood floors underneath. We also ripped out all the baseboards and trim so the floorboards could be sanded and refinished right up to the wall. The original baseboards were sunk into the expansion gap (the floor refinisher said he'd never seen this in 30 years) and nailed downward instead of straight into the wall, which made them a pain in the ass to remove--we had to cut them at the floor level using a hand-size oscillating multi-tool and pry them out of the gap.

House renovations removing carpet House renovations removing carpet

I'm pretty sure whoever installed the carpet 20+ years ago was laughing at the fool who'd be taking out their staples.
House renovations removing carpet staples

Fitting 2/3 of the house in the back room.
House renovations

Pleasantly surprised at how good the hardwood floor, circa 1940s, came out! You don't find top-nail flooring like this anymore, especially with the border boards running the opposite direction.

House renovations refinished hardwood floor

Demo day to open up the wall between the kitchen and living room! We were too covered in slime when removing the '70s tribute wallpaper to take photos.

House renovations knocking out wall House renovations knocking out wall

Sharpie method.
House renovations knocking out wall

Relocating light switches.
House renovations electrical light switches

Installing recessed lighting in the kitchen. Jeremy got the two buried in the blown-in insulation.
House renovations recessed lights

Walling in and insulating the pocket door between bedroom and kitchen (our bedroom used to be a formal dining room).
House renovations walling in door

Texturing the kitchen side.
House renovations applying wall texture

Patching and texturing the bedroom side.
House renovations applying wall texture House renovations applying wall texture

Caulking, lots of caulking and puttying (more on that later)
House renovations caulking

Installing in-wall speakers
House renovations installing in-wall speakers