Our New House & Project List

Sunday, September 23, 2018

We've officially turned the corner and are through the due diligence period for our new house! We've had all our inspections (which went super well), and have negotiated for the additional repairs we'd like made before closing. Our next deposit has been turned in, and we're flying straight ahead to closing in a little under 3 weeks!

I figured some people may be interested to see the projects we have planned for this new home, and I'm hoping that sharing a list of our goals for this home will keep us accountable for actually doing them!

To me, this new house has so much potential. It's in one of our favorite neighborhoods in Durham, walkable to all our favorite trails, restaurants, and public transportation. It puts us a few minutes closer to out of town family, and while it's not aesthetically up to our tastes, it has really, really good bones!

This house was built in 1983, and has had the same owners since then. The owners did spend a good bit of money fixing it up, but unfortunately the styles they chose don't appeal to the typical buyer, and this house sat on the market for over 6 months before we negotiated a deal. The previous owners put on a new roof, new HVAC,  new duct work, new plumbing, painted the house inside and out, new garage doors, new kitchen, new baths...  they really did a lot. 

We're really appreciative to reap the rewards of their investment, but pro tip: If you are planning to do work on your home in order to make it more attractive to buyers, consult a Realtor before spending money on projects. Realtors know what buyers are looking for in your area and can help you maximize your return on investment. These folks didn't do that, so they spent a looooot of money that didn't come back to them.

But, we are excited to have a home that's been well taken care of AND needs aesthetic work, because it's the best of both worlds! We get to do the fun projects we love to do, but the home is in awesome condition and there's no rush to make changes.

So, without further a do, here's the new pad! *All of the current house photos come from the MLS listing, so apologies for any weird angles.*

Exterior Front: 

We eventually want to repaint this house in order to make it less 80's, and more colonial classic. This is a quick n' crappy Photoshop job I did to show you what we're thinking it can be:

Exterior To Do: 
  1. Paint all brown trim white 
  2. Paint front door red
  3. Paint garage doors white
  4. Replace exterior light fixtures
  5. Re-landscape/prune shrubs (these currently make the entry way feel super claustrophobic)
  6. Re-paint house darker blue/grey (we'll  save up for this bigger job, but will get  started with the trim, windows and doors, first)

Entry Way : 

Here's the inspiration image I'm working from for this space. I wish I had this same angle in our  current house, but  this is almost exactly what it looks like from the other side of the stairs, so you'll have to trust.

Entry Way To Do: 
  1. Replace flooring on main floor
  2. Remove carpet and re-finish stairs
  3. Improve/repair railing (currently a little loose)
  4. Take down those curtains 
  5. Replace boob lights with something more stylish
  6. Paint the room a new color - thinking something like this! 
  7. Paint the spindles & side of stairs (what are those called?) 
  8. Paint interior door something fun like this
  9. Possibly add a chair rain, or decorative wainscoting
  10. Replace lock with smart lock/touch pad 
  11. Make a coat drop area - we don't have a great coat closet, so need to make a good drop spot  for guests to hang their coats!
  12. Eventually replace door. It has a bit of wood rot near the bottom, and binds pretty badly, but will work fine until we can replace it since this isn't the main door we'll use every day.
Dining Room: 
I've gone back and forth about even using this space as a dining room, or having it set up as an office/eventual playroom when we need it. We have an eat-in kitchen area, so we don't really need 2 dining spaces, but for now, I think I'm going to have it as a dining room and tweak down the road depending on how we live in the house. 

Here's my inspiration for this room: 

I feel like this room will be really easy to transform,  and have such a big impact since you'll see  it right when you walk in. I'm thinking this will be one of the first spaces I tackle, since we are planning to host my entire family for Thanksgiving a little over a month after we move in. 

Dining room to do: 
  1. Replace carpet with hardwood floors 
  2. Add wainscoting 
  3. Replace light with something more stylish 
  4. Paint room 
  5. Get an indoor/outdoor rug for easy cleaning
  6. Remove popcorn ceilings (this house has *some* rooms with popcorn ceilings, and some that have been scraped.  It doesn't annoy me too much,  but I'd prefer it to be consistent throughout  instead of randomly smooth vs. sprayed  room to room! 
Living Room: 
I can already tell that this room is going to constantly evolve as we live in it. It's the biggest room in the house, and connects to the kitchen,  deck, and front entry, so it will serve a lot of purposes. I think it will take me some time to get this space feeling right since it's such a long, narrow room, but here's some inspiration of what we want to do: 

Isn't it amazing when you can find inspiration that's almost exactly what your space looks like!? Makes my day and gets my brain turning with ideas.

Living Room To  Do: 
  1. Remove carpet and replace with hardwoods 
  2. Paint walls 
  3. Remove the curtains
  4. Replace back door (this is something we actually negotiated for the seller to take care of)
  5. Add a screen door
  6. Hang curtains around back door
  7. Add decorative TV mount above fireplace (like the board & batten we did at our current house)
  8. Add blinds to windows
  9. Add built in bookshelves with cabinet storage around fireplace

We'd love to take this from this boring situation, 

to something like this, or this: 

The Kitchen: 
The kitchen.... this is one area where I feel the most sympathy for the current sellers.  Kitchen renovations are no joke. They're expensive,  destructive,  and did I mention expensive? They completely re-did this kitchen last year in anticipation of selling the home, but the finishes they chose do.not.flatter.this.house.  The counter top is a yellow-y granite, the backsplash is a smooth, beige,  tile, and while the cabinets they chose are decent, they clash with the counters. Also, why they didn't raise the cabinet height when they did this project  I'll *never* understand.  We've decided to follow the  advice of all other home reno peeps and not touch the kitchen until we've lived with it for a bit. We're going to leave this area alone for at least a year before we make any adjustments to the layout or style. That way, we can have a clear vision of where the sore spots are, and what our priorities will be when we do want to make changes.  We'd love to replace the floors  and make the pantry bigger, but I don't want to do that work and then decide in 18 months that we want to change the cabinet configuration.  So, we're just going to live with it for a bit and daydream about what it can be!

I don't have a to-do list yet for this space, but here's a kitchen with almost the same exact footprint that I looooooove. This is serving as definite inspiration if we don't make any major changes! 

Breakfast Nook: 
I couldn't explain the little stair railing window if I tried, so I'll just say we're going to leave it for now while we decide how we want to change the kitchen. We may  decide to close that in, or open it up to widen the doorway into the living room. Time will tell! In that little window, however, I'm picturing  a little breakfast nook, like some of these below: 

The bedrooms are pretty boring improvements, so I'll skip over those for now, but the  same improvements apply:  

  1. Bedroom To Do's 
  2. Add ceiling fans 
  3. Replace carpet
  4. Paint  &  decorate

 Master bathroom:

By no means is this the bathroom of my  dreams, but it's totally workable. I don't really spend much time in the bathroom, so I've never prioritized having a lot of space.  We've had one bathroom drawer to share for the last 3 years, so just having our own cabinets is going to feel like a new lease on life!  

Interestingly, there is plumbing under the other cabinet for a second sink. I'm not sure why the owners got rid of it, but we like the idea of having double sinks so we're not fighting for sink space when we brush our teeth. This room will get some attention, but we're going to try some more creative,  cosmetic, improvements instead of anything major in here. 
Some inspiration  for what I'm envisioning: 

Master Bath To Do: 
  1. Paint shower surround (the internet says I can do it with this!) to match the white basin 
  2. Paint tile floors 
  3. Replace counter tops with double sink 
  4. Paint cabinets 
  5. Replace mirror with double mirrors 
  6. Remove curtain (where did  they find so many matching beige curtains??)
Guest Bathroom: 
Having double vision?  That's because this bathroom is an exact, just reverse, copy of the master bathroom. The biggest issue with this bathroom whyyyyy they removed the only bathtub from the house when they re-did this room last year. Another one of those "didn't consider for re-sale"  things that hurt this house on the market. Thankfully, we factored this fix into our offer price, so we plan to remove the fiberglass shower and replace it with the tub that was once there. It's not inexpensive,  but we need a bathtub, so it is what it is.

Our inspiration for this space: 

Guest Bath To Do: 
  1. Paint floor tile 
  2. Paint cabinet 
  3. Makeover/Replace counter top 
  4. Replace mirror/frame mirror
  5. Remove shower and replace with bath tub 
Bonus  Room:
Above the garage is a huge bonus room with about a million closets. The previous owners had a  lot of kids, so they had the room split into two rooms with a temporary wall. We're going to leave this area as it is for now. We're not changing the carpet, or touching the wall until we have a need for this space. We plan to have  kids in this house,  so I'm not sure if we want this to be a play room, a  guest room, or something else. We've talked about the idea of bringing the laundry up out of  the garage and into this part of the house, but we're just going to leave it alone until we know what we want to do with it.

There's a lot this space could turn into, so I'm not even touching a to do list for now. 

The back deck:
Buying this house came with some compromises on "must haves" with my husband. My must have was the wood floors - I can't deal with that narsty carpet and really wanted real hardwood floors. His must have, however, is a screened in  porch. We're both big wussies when it comes to heat, humidity, and mosquitos, which pretty much makes us hermits during the summer months in North Carolina. So,  we agreed that once we had the floors done, we'd save to do the screened in porch so we can enjoy the backyard during the next summer.

I've had about a million quotes on this project, and the quotes were alllllll over the place (more about that experience here), but here's the back deck currently, and the inspiration we showed our contractor for pricing.

The Backyard:
Funny enough,  in the neighborhood we've bought in, it is actually fairly unusual to have a flat, sunny, grassy, backyard.  Most of the yards here are heavily wooded, heavily sloped, or... prone to water. Yeesh. This yard gets just the right  amount of sun  to have healthy  grass, but we still have  some plans for landscaping.  We plan to redo the walk way from the garage to the deck - right now it's brick pavers sloppily tossed into sand-  and re do some of the shrubbery to make it a bit more lush.  The seller also cut down a row of privacy trees between this house and the neighbors (whyyyy?)  so we're  going to put something back to give us back a little privacy.

Thanks for reading along with this novel of a post - we're so excited to get started. I want to try and share a updates every few months to share our progress in certain spaces, so stay tuned. 


  1. I love this and will be reading your adventures! Wish you were in TN market. We plan to build or buy next year. So happy for you - you look so happy!

    1. Thank you so much! We're really excited and life is pretty darn amazing right now! <3


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