Cottage on the Corner: Before

Well, I guess we’re going with Cottage on the Corner. It’s not the most creative name, but it’ll do.

Before we laid a hand on this house, we took “before” photos of every room. I mean, I guess we technically laid a hand on it by taking down the MANY thick window coverings, but if we hadn’t there wouldn’t be any actual light in the place, so it had to be done. We wanted to make sure we got a good picture of what things were like before we started so we can always go back and appreciate where all of our hard work has gotten us! I tried to take photos to give you a feel for how the house flows, as well as listing the things we are planning to change, so you can try to get an accurate picture of our vision. And without further ado, here we go!

If you were to come in through the back door of the house, the first thing you would see is a long hallway directly in front of you, with a doorway at the far right that opens to the kitchen. Off to the left however, is a bathroom. It’s not a very nice bathroom, and frankly, the number one thing on my list for house hunting was a laundry room (after three years of doing laundry in the basement). So, we plan to not only tear out the bathroom, but remove the walls, so the back door opens up into a nice, open mudroom/laundry area. We will also install new flooring, since we’re removing the walls and the existing linoleum is old, old, old.

Eventually, we’ll have a washer and dryer, utility sink, stand freezer and pantry set-up in there. The right wall will have a row of coat hooks and some shoe storage. Maybe someday, a locker-type situation.

Thankfully for our budget, the kitchen is in pretty good shape. It really just needs a few cosmetic updates, but it’s a really great set up for us right now. If we ended up staying in this house for the long run, I’d probably want to remodel somewhere down the road, but for now, a little bit of paint will go a long way. We are hoping to paint the cabinets, walls, ceilings and trim, paint the beadboard backsplash, and install a new fridge, dishwasher, sink and countertops.

We’ll add new light fixtures, fix the broken window panel, remove the headers over the window spaces and install a new faucet for the sink. We think there are wood floors below the laminate, so we’re hoping to be able to refinish those. The door right next to the opening from the mudroom goes down to the basement, and the wall just to the right of that, or the one Emmett is standing in in the next photo, will be removed. We think opening the kitchen up to the neighboring dining space will add lots of space and light. It’ll be so wonderful to be making dinner and able to see Emmett playing in the living room!

When you walk through that doorway from the kitchen- which will eventually all be open, you end up in a long, narrow dining area. There’s a slider door out to the porch on one side- which we’ll be replacing with some beautiful wood french doors we scored on Craigslist ($75!). And on the other side, you can see the doorway that heads back to the bedrooms, bathrooms and the staircase to the attic. We’ll be pulling up those laminate floors to expose the original hardwoods, so the floors in the living room, dining area and kitchen will all flow into one another. I’m hoping this will make the space seem bigger and more seamless. We’ll also be painting walls, ceilings, and trim, replacing the light fixture and I’m playing around with the idea of adding some board and batten to make the area seem united, since it’ll be so open. We’ll see!

The Living Room is probably the space that has puzzled me the most. What do we do with the fireplace area? Do we leave the rounded opening or take that wall out and open things up? Why would any one in their right mind put a coat closet in the middle of the only solid wall in there?

We plan to take up the carpet (and that weird patch of tile), expose the original hardwoods, remove that coat closet and fix the main large window which has some dry rot. We’ll remove the ceiling fan, replace it with a schoolhouse light and I’m thinking for now we’ll simply spruce up with fireplace with some white paint. Something tells me it’ll need some work down the road, but we need that storage for now and it will save us money just to leave it. There’s a wood stove that’ll go back in to the fireplace, so this room will be extra cozy in the winter! The view out that main window is really lovely and I can’t wait to light a fire in the stove and put up our Christmas tree next month! Fingers crossed.

The master is the only room where the original oak hardwoods were left uncovered. Those floors will be everywhere on the main level besides the bathroom and mudroom, and we are so thrilled to get them refinished. The master has a good sized closet, which will be even bigger when we take back the space from that weird coat closet in the living room. We’ll have a view of the sunrise out the side window and I just love how light and bright it will be in there. We’ll be painting ceilings, walls, putting in new trim and replacing the light fixture.

This might the worst room in the house. Although the upstairs is pretty bad, so maybe just the worst room on the main level. This bathroom is getting almost completely demo-ed, except for that little arch between the shower and toilet area. That’s staying. Because it’s adorable. The tub is also staying for now, it’s in pretty good shape and can easily be re-glazed. Other than that, everything must go!

The floors will be replaced with tile. We’re installing a new toilet and pedestal sink. The cabinetry and medicine cabinets are going, and we’ll be looking for some antique freestanding options. That weird built-in magazine rack is going and the shower surround will be raised up since the shower head currently hits Taylor right about sternum level. We’ll take out that arch above the shower and a install subway surround, along with new plumbing fixtures. We’ll also stick with a shower curtain for now, because I HATE cleaning glass shower doors, but maybe go with an extra tall, ceiling-mounted variety. All in all, it’ll be a really cute, clean little bathroom.

This bedroom sits at the other end of the hall from the master, with the bathroom in between. It doesn’t have a closet, but we are guessing that when the back bathroom was added, they took this room’s closet space to do so. If we have enough left in our budget to finish the upstairs, this room will be a  tv room/den area, but if we don’t, this will be Emmett’s room for a while. Since he doesn’t have a large wardrobe and uses baskets for easy access anyway, the no closet thing isn’t an issue. This room will be painted (walls, ceilings, trim, door, etc.), we’ll replace the light fixture and rip up that carpet so we can refinish the hardwoods underneath.

By far the worst part of this place is the upstairs. Low popcorn ceilings, nasty carpet, terrible paint colors and dark, dark, dark. So I suppose it won’t be much a surprise when I say that we are tearing it all out. ALL of it. Every wall, door, the ceilings, EVERYTHING from the floor up is being removed. There is about 5 feet of attic space on either side that we are going to finish out into, as well as a good bit of space above those horrible dropped ceilings. Beautiful light and vaulted ceilings here we come! We also plan to put in a small bathroom up here. Eventually, the upstairs will be kiddo land; with a bedroom, play/school area and a small nursery/office. The views up there are pretty incredible, and I can’t wait until it’s a usable space. We will install a really nice looking laminate floor on the stairs as well as the entire upper floor, and the stairs will be open from the floor up, with a wood banister surround instead of walls. I’m hoping to put some beautiful paneling on the ceiling, painted white and bright and making this space seem big and airy.

Anyway, that’s the gist of it! My Dad arrives tomorrow with a giant UHaul trailer packed full of tools and materials and we will get to work! We are so excited about this process and so looking forward to getting our hands dirty. I’ll try to share some inspiration photos on Friday so you can get the feel of what we’re going for, but we’ll be in full demo mode all weekend long. I can’t wait to see it all come together!


  1. Looks like it’s such a perfect foundation for your home. Huge congratulations <3 I don't often comment, but I get your blog sent to my inbox. I'm so very happy for your family and can't wait to follow along. We renovated our home last summer and have been in it a year now. There's something so special about a little place to make your own.

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