House Tour Begun

We have lived in the house with the red door for two years now – having moved in partially on Josiah’s first birthday, in 2006.  Before buying this house, we watched the neighborhood for a couple of years (someone, and I’m not saying who, has a little realtor bug in her!), so we had a sense of what houses were worth. Spring Creek offered reasonably sized 3 and 4 bedroom ranch-style homes (22-2800 square feet in general) on flat, generous lots, beautiful trees and an active, involved neighborhood with more of a small-town feel than one usually finds in Dallas city limits.

However, as is usually the case with good value, lots more folks than just ourselves recognized the appeal, and we soon learned that houses available for purchase in this area were a rare commodity, and in some cases, even passed from parent to child (many folks living here now grew up in the neighborhood back in the 70’s and 80’s). Prices were also increasing well above our budget ceiling, so we waited patiently for a “deal” that was the right situation. And, while the acquisition of this house was more of a saga than we’d have wanted, we are very thankful to be living here. The process of fixing this place up has been fun (mostly) and very educational.  Our neighbors are truly the nicest we’ve ever had – we feel so blessed to be in such a friendly place. I have even taken the plunge and signed up to be a block captain this year, and am happy to be involved just a little bit in the runnings around here.

Buuuuuuuut. I digress, for my true intention in this post is to begin what I have wanted to do for sometime: post some before and after shots of our home remodel in progress. I have waited to do this for so long mostly because as you well know, no project ever seems to get completely finished.  There is always something still left to do and I hate to post a picture without the truly finished product.

Now, before we get into “after photos”, please understand this is not a drastic home remodel such as you would get if you hired a contractor to gut a room or two in order to achieve what is virtually a brand new space. Nor are we the types who are brave enough to tear out kitchen cabinets, floors, counters ourselves and build a new room out from the studs.  It might be nice to fantasize about, but it’s not happening.

Personally, I think Jay could TOTALLY do this type of thing and I would be a happy and willing assistant, but in actuality his schedule is so packed with work these days that what little time is left would never suffice for such major projects. Despite being a busy guy on top of daddy to four busy kids, he has made time for being pretty handy around here, has learned to rewire electrical sockets, change toilets, replace plumbing (both pipes and fixtures), install and repair major appliances.  But, so far we have not been brave enough (or stupid enough, depending on your point of view) to undertake a project which is truly massive in scope.

That said, we will begin our tour of House of Horne at the beginning, as in, we are going to show a few of the scenes we saw on that first evening we ever toured it ourselves (accompanied by some family, who were admittedly not so crazy about the place, right Jamison!!?!!). Next time we come back I plan to have photos of the front and we’ll proceed through the house in a somewhat logical manner.  Ok, here goes…

This is what we saw as we drove up. Good bones, simple ranch style, pretty trees (in back) but obvious signs of neglect: rotted wood shutters hanging askew, or in some cases completely fallen off and never put back up, rusted out light fixtures, landscaping gone absolutely wild, including vines all over the front of the house, grass beginning to die due to lack of watering.

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Here you can see the butchering done on the two front elm trees. So sad, little stumps for branches.

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Entering the house, you can see the lovely shade of brown that greeted us.

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Stepping into the main living room. For whatever reason this area really bothered me: it was ALL beige: ceiling, trim, walls, built-ins, fireplace, and carpet. And while the pictures don’t convey it well, it was all very dingy and sad, not your calm soothing sort of beige. I kept thinking to myself: what could we do to possibly help this room?

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Turning to the other side of the room:

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From the living room were two sets of french doors leading to the deck, which could sound romantic if it hadn’t looked like this:

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And this. Three layers of paint were peeling off the deck, a tree was dying in the back corner of the yard, and the brick around the deck area was filthy, courtesy of the previous owners’ dogs who lived out here:

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But in my mind I could see the possibilities of this indoor to outdoor living space, if only….

Back inside for now, and heading down the hall on one side of the house to the secondary bedrooms, here is the first, in a bilious shade of yellow:

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Other secondary bedroom on this side of the house, with um, artistically decorated wall?

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The bathroom between the two rooms, its wall and ceiling paint adding to the slate of how shall we say it, vibrant colors?

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I love this shot: it shows the full color palette in all its awfulness:

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Traveling across the hall to the master we were greeted by walls and ceilings the color of silly putty (hat tip to Katie) and blue carpet that was very old and stained.

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Stepping into the master bath we saw what was probably the most updated space in the entire house, complete with flashing strobe lights in the soaking tub – YEAH! Yet even here the blazing red walls, dark brown ceiling and absence of lighting needed attention.

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Back to the kitchen, which was a pretty good space and layout for a house of this size and build era. But there was no oven/stovetop. It appears that a previous owner converted the space which had housed a double wall oven, to a large cabinet, and stuck a freestanding range in a slot they literally sawed out of the cabinets and countertop. And then took that range with them when they moved. How ’bout that?

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You may recognize the shade of brown again.

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And again here, in the third little bathroom off of the laundry area and 4th split bedroom (they must have really LOVED this color):

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Inside the shower stall, more evidence of basic work needing to be done before things could run properly, let alone be cosmetically pretty:

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Much of what I have shown you may look like a decent enough home which someone just painted with less than pleasing paint colors. But there was work to be done besides paint: all the carpet was in very bad shape: dirty, stained, matted, and worn – it would eventually have to go. The gas lines beneath the house were made of copper, not up to code, and needed to be replaced. There was no insulation whatsoever in the attic.  There was no electrical grounding anywhere and the circuit box was so old and deemed a fire hazard by inspectors, so it could no longer be used. The grass around the house, after three months of no watering, was largely dead, especially in the back yard. The picket fence in back, while charming-looking, was rotting like the shutters on the front of the house.  One of the toilets was completely unusable, another went out just after we closed on the house. There was no vanity lighting of any kind in any bathroom, and two had hardly any light to speak of. There were bad cracks in the walls of every room, not unusual for Texas but nonetheless unsightly. Miraculously, both inspections showed no foundation concerns.

After re-reading the above laundry list of issues, I am feeling daunted even though most of those problems listed have been resolved by now. I hope to return soon with evidence for you of the improvements in the form of photos, and then little by little continue to show you some of what we have done and are still doing to make this house our home. Hope you enjoy the tour!

4 Comments

  1. Mom/Ruth
    Oct 19, 2008

    It’s a good thing you took these pictures, ’cause without them it would be hard to convince anyone how bad it was — not that I ever doubted your abilities to turn the house into a showcase!

  2. Uncle Andrew
    Oct 20, 2008

    The tour was informative, but it lacked something to really make it shine…maybe a 6-foot cutout of Lorenzo Lamas as your tour guide?

    Seriously, I am blown away at how much good you have done inside your home. It gives us hope to know that maybe buying a house without floors wouldn’t be the worst idea in the world!

  3. Angie
    Oct 21, 2008

    “RETURN SOON”? RETURN NOW, Woman!! It’s been 3 whole days! Please assure us that you don’t still live in this decorator’s nightmare! :)

    In truth, I am patiently awaiting the shots of the recently renovated fabuloso master bath! Show thyself!!

    This is a great post to show your house progress. Good idea! And I can appreciate the fact that you are a great visionary for this kind of thing. Seriously. :)

  4. Aunt Jamison
    Oct 21, 2008

    HEY!!!! In my defense, I was a silly apartment dweller who had never even thought about buying a home when I saw that house!! Blame it on my inexperience!
    And also in my defense, that carpet was SO scary. LOL
    But now everything looks amazing and you were RIGHT. there. I said it.
    =)