Our Colonial Fixer-Upper

Cedar Tree Lane | Our First House: A look back at our first year as homeowners. | www.cedartreelane.com

We bought our house just a little over a year ago and have been working on it non-stop ever since. We both loved the house from the moment we walked through the front door, but the listing photos were a little deceiving. What looked like a dated-but-move-in-ready-house in the pictures, turned out to be more of a fixer-upper IRL.

I actually thought about starting this blog during those first few weeks after we bought our house but things were so hectic. I just never found the time to get the ball rolling.

As first-time homeowners, we learned so many lessons that I would have loved to share in real time. Not to mention, your suggestions and advice would probably have saved us time and money! Luckily, we took a ton of progress pictures so getting you caught up will be just as fun, and hopefully we’ll get to help someone else in the process.

Speaking of which, we put together our top 5 house hunting tips for any of you first-time buyers out there that are still looking. There’s also a handy printable you can use to keep track of all the houses you tour. You can check out that post here!

Now! A trip down (Cedar Tree) memory lane…


There was a ton of work that needed to be done before we could move in. So, we got our keys and immediately went to work tearing the house apart.

In the two months before we moved in, we tried to tackle the larger/messier projects. We didn’t want to worry about juggling our furniture from room to room. We also didn’t want our then 4-month old living through a dusty renovation.

Our to-do list was short but daunting.

  • Replace the flooring on the first and second floors.
  • Do something about the popcorn ceilings.
  • Get rid of the 50 shades of brown.
  • Gut the grimy kitchen.
  • Gut the leaky master bathroom.
  • Survive.

There was a lot of making-it-worse before it got better

Brian went right to work pulling up the flooring throughout the first and second floor. The carpet in the bedrooms were all different colors and the previous homeowners were smokers. So, we knew the carpets had to go. The laminate in the family room was also in pretty bad condition. Then there was the tile in the living room, family room, and kitchen that didn’t flow. It took us about 2 weeks to get all of the flooring up.

Our popcorn ceilings were painted, so scraping would have taken us way too long and the quotes we got from contractors were over budget. We decided it would be more cost effective to cover the ceilings altogether but didn’t have the skill-set to make that happen. Luckily, a family friend referred an affordable drywall guy. All we had to do was purchase the materials for delivery and they were able to knock the job out in about a week. We were only able to work on the house on weekends so hiring out the drywall was definitely worth the time and energy saved.

The drywall contractors were kind enough to patch (“point-up”, as they call it) all of the walls on the first and second floor, so we tried to take down anything we weren’t planning on keeping. We ended up removing all of the baseboards, chair rails and some of the not-so-kid-friendly rock wall features.

We also decided to gut the kitchen and the master bathroom during those first couple weeks while we had the debris container.

Once the demo was done and the drywall was finished, we painted. And it’s true what everyone says – painting made a huge difference. Even with all the chaos of the renovation, the house felt so much cleaner and lighter with a fresh coat of paint.

We rented a paint sprayer from Home Depot but that went horribly wrong and resulted in the drywall guys having to come back out to fix some of the walls. In the end we hired a painter for the first floor so we could stay on schedule for the hardwood installation. For the second floor, we got help from family and painted it the old-fashioned way.

Glidden Universal Grey | Cedar Tree Lane | www.cedartreelane.com

Glidden Universal Grey | Cedar Tree Lane | www.cedartreelane.com

Glidden Universal Grey | Cedar Tree Lane | www.cedartreelane.com

In the end, doing the demo ourselves on the weekends made it possible for us to afford the hardwood floors and kitchen appliances we wanted. It also saved us some money to be able to hire help for things we needed done ASAP or completely botched trying to do ourselves. Looking back, there was a lot of the latter.

I know everyone loves a good before-and-after so there will be tons of those to come…once we get this place cleaned up!

In the meantime, let’s be friends! My favorite part of social media and blogging is getting to creep on other peoples homes without BEING a creep so if you’ve recently purchased a house (fixer-upper or not) I’d love to follow your progress! Follow me on Instagram or link your blog in the comments below so I can find you.


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