House-Proud: where it all began

Over the past couple weeks, Tall Guy and I have reignited our efforts at sprucing up our space. I was excited to write about the updates we’ve made – things we’ve added, things we’ve hauled away and changes we’ve made.

But something stopped me.

You see, I love our home, but it is very much a work in progress. The changes we’ve made thus far are vast improvements, but there is a long way to go before the results begin looking as fully coordinated and spectacular as the homes you see in magazines, or on style blogs. We’ve come so far, but without an understanding of exactly where we started, it’s hard to comprehend the accomplishments.

Where did we start? With the phrase, “the house has really great bones.”

Translation: We’re going to need to strip everything down to the walls and concrete block it was built on.

Perhaps the best way to explain is through pictures. A look back at where it all began. These photos were all taken before we purchased and/or moved into the house.

Front Exterior

Front Exterior BeforeNote the half-dead lawn and the 4′ high stump on the far left. I know that it’s a little tough to see the house, at all, thanks to that ginormous tree. Ginormous, dying tree.

Front Exterior LandscapingHere you can see the front door, one of the front windows (complete with stick-on “frosted” heron decal), entry tile straight from the 70s (literally) and the stellar landscaping.

Entry/Front Hall

Entry Front Hall BeforeIn order to properly set the scene, you must imagine the wall of odor that hits as soon as that front doorway was opened. A blend (in order of strength) of body odor, cigarette smoke, cat pee and garbage.

Why, yes, that IS parquet flooring in the entryway! Although that’s only the entryway (above, right). The room straight ahead has blue-gray carpet. A hallway on the left (right photo, above) has blue carpet. To the right is the kitchen, which has vinyl. All of the front hallway (entry and off to the left, which leads to two bedrooms and a full bath) has waist-high wood paneling. And you eagle-eyed viewers may be wondering about the reflective glass surface in the center of the entry photo. That is not a window. That is an aquarium. Built into the wall. Between two rooms. More on that later. First, let’s head down left down the hall.

Office Bedroom

Office Bedroom BeforeI’m calling it the Office Bedroom because it is, technically, a bedroom, but we currently use it as an office. More blue carpet. A full wall of wood panelling. A nice 70s ceiling fan. Also worth mention, there was someone using this as a bedroom when we visited. The hallway photo above showed a litter box. This room was apparently where the cat spent most of its time. It was an elderly cat and I have a feeling that it used this room and the litter box interchangeably.

Guest Bathroom

Guest Bathroom BeforeStrangely, in that exceptionally long banquette of cabinets, there is only one sink. The cabinets and light fixture are two more relics from the 70s.

Guest Bedroom

Guest Bedroom BeforeBecause what goes better with blue carpet than bright, pastel yellow? There is one window on the wall opposite the closets and a hole punched in the door. My apologies for not getting the hole in the photo.

Okay! Back through the hallway, let’s go into the kitchen.


Kitchen from doorway BeforeHellooooo, 1970! Don’t you love the drop ceiling? And the hardware on the doors and drawers? We were focused on how much space there was in the kitchen. And the GAS stovetop (I’d been suffering through electric stovetops for years and was dying for a gas stovetop). We loved all the cabinets, but couldn’t understand the row on the upper left of the photo. You see, there is a passthrough between the uppers and lowers, but it’s only about a foot high. We agreed that those upper cabinets would be the first thing to go when we got in the house.

Kitchen towards window BeforeThe appliances you see here are a trash compactor (left) and a washing machine (right). The washing machine does have blue paint its side.

Kitchen by oven BeforeThe kitchen curves around a corner. Funny, I had completely forgotten about the chair rail in the kitchen. And while I remember removing wallpaper, I’d forgotten what it looked like until I resurrected this photo.

Of note is that these photos do not accurately depict the layer of grime that covered everything in the kitchen. And I mean everything. Walls, ceiling, floor, every inch of every appliance. My best description is that someone put worcestershire sauce and maple syrup in a blender, placed the blender in the center of the kitchen (sans lid, natch) and let it rip. Then, once everything was covered with dark, sticky goo, left the concoction there for about a decade.

Dining Room

Dining Room south wall BeforeThere it is! On the left side of the photo you can see the “passthrough” from the kitchen. Fabulous blue-gray carpet and another wood-paneled wall.

Dining Room toward living room BeforeAnd there’s that multi-room fish tank! It’s a little tough to see, but the walls in the dining room are painted light blue. Plus, you’re getting a glimpse into the living room. Are you ready for this?

Living Room

Living Room south BeforeOn the left you can see the other side of the aquarium. You can also see that the tenants had an affinity for leather couches. We’re at a total of four, now, folks. Looking along fully wood-paneled walls toward an exposed brick wall.

Living Room north BeforeLooking back in the opposite direction, you can now see the porthole windows that were installed on the back of the house. They were real porthole windows, meant for a real ship. They were installed poorly, in my opinion, although perhaps it’s standard for portholes to be installed that way. They were functional, in that you could open them, but the hinges were at the top, so there wasn’t really any way to keep them open. But I digress. On the far wall were two lighted display cases. On display? Plastic miniature baseball caps. Very valuable and impressive.

Master Bedroom

Master Bedroom west BeforeMore blue walls. And a blue door! The blue-gray carpet from the dining room, and the living room, continued into the master bedroom.

Master Bedroom east BeforeThe opposite side of the bedroom, doorways into the walk-in closet and master bathroom. There was/is an additional closet on the wall not shown in the last two photos.

Master Bathroom

Master Bathroom BeforeOff to the left is a laundry room. The bathroom has been partially updated, although the long-term plan is to completely start over. See previous updates here.

Master Bathroom side Before

Pool Area

Pool Area BeforeOff-camera, on the right, was/is a built-in bar.

Fun fact: The woman in the right of the photo was not with us, nor was she living in the home. In fact, despite the fact that tenants were living in the house, no-one was supposed to be home during our visit. Unfortunately, one of the tenants forgot to inform his overnight guest. Our arrival woke her up. And then she decided the best thing to do was talk on the phone, chain-smoking cigarettes, while we toured the house. Fun.


Back Deck from yard pre-move inWhat had, at some point, been extensive landscaping, had become overgrown. Well, what was still alive, anyway. Not so much the grass. Hot tub on the left. We never did get to use the hot tub, despite our attempts to bring it back to functioning, sanitary conditions. Not only was it generally unclean, over the years rust had built up in, and coated, the pipes. We initially tried to clean it. Some of the jets ended up needing to be replaced. We did that. Then we realized that the heater had to be repaired. Tall Guy did that. Jet pump wasn’t working. Tall Guy fixed that. Just as everything was functional and we were plotting the master clean-up, the shell of the tub cracked. In two places. Of course.

Although we’ve done some more work in the backyard, just in the last week, you can see previous updates here.


So there you have it. A visual reference for where everything began. As I mentioned when discussing the kitchen, the photos show how outdated things were, but they don’t do properly show how disgustingly dirty everything was. And smelly.

The good news is that things have improved! Keep your eyes peeled for details on the updates we’ve been able to make!





  • thequirklife
    November 12, 2015

    This may be a risky thing to say, BUT I really like that diamond wall in the dining room. Ha! And ok, maybe the house needs a bit of work but I can actually see how it can be transformed into a great space! Good luck to you as you continue making this house into a home.

    • Jeans and a Tank Top
      November 13, 2015

      It’s only risky in certain company! Tall Guy HATED it. I went back and forth about it, and actually argued to keep it, for a little while. But in the end, the house has a slight Spanish style (outside) and so we decided we’d try to incorporate that throughout. The diamond wall definitely wasn’t Spanish in style!

Let me know your thoughts on this

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