{the renovation}

We’ve been sloooowwwwlllllyyyyy plodding toward a final design and getting cost estimates from contractors for our little fixer-upper.  After we had to go back to the drawing board (when we found out the measurements we were working from were off by 3 feet – a lot for a 1200 sq. ft. house!), we’re happy with two possible floor plans.

But before I jump into that, I thought I’d share the very first signs of progress: the roof.

The roof is one of those “100-Year Roofs” with asbestos tile – I love how it looks, but it’s pretty tough to fix.  We think it was put on in the 1950s (after a tornado ripped through downtown Vicksburg and knocked off our chimneys!).

the pretty, old school roof

There were a few pretty big leaks that we got fixed because, luckily, they were on the edge of the roof and therefore easy to fix.  Although not an aesthetic fix, it was necessary!  We were not interested in replacing it, both for aesthetics and cost.

The front gable needed some attention since it was missing a lot of shingles, and water was starting to find its way inside.

our "100-year" roof - in need of a little love

We had the same roofers who fixed the shingles remove the remainder of the shingles and replace it with copper.  We were out of town the week they installed it, and expected to come home to something like this…

what we expected

But instead came home to this…


I mean, seriously?!  (1) the copper is just folded over – not finished, (2) it’s not even flush with the trim, (3) the bolts are not finish bolts and were really sloppily done, and (4) it’s not at all what I expected.

It’s totally my fault because I was supposed to send example pics and didn’t communicate it well to Husband to communicate to the roofer.  100% me fail.

So, needless to say, the roofer got a picture and they came back and fixed it to this…

MUCH better

from another angle

Very good first renovation lesson learned:

  • pictures are worth a thousand words (and hand motions!)

Although it’s a very small step forward, and we have a LONG way to go, it feels good to have at least one thing checked off the list and look pretty good!

now for some sanding, bondo, and paint!

Do you have any contractor lessons learned to share???


Our inherited renters in our new-to-us fixer upper finally flew the coop over the weekend, so we were finally able to go in the house and really take a good hard look (and pics!) without feeling like we were awkwardly invading their space!

To be honest, it kind of felt like the first time we were seeing it, since we really only were in the house a grand total of 5 minutes before signing our names on the dotted line.  Just a bit against my usual planning and obsessing nature, but the price was very right and we were dead set on a small fixer upper project on a good street to flex my house renovation and design muscles on a mini budget.

Here’s a reminder of the teeny tiny as-is floor plan in need of some rearranging:

the as-is

We have been working on a gazillion iterations of floorplans, trying to make the space open up, have 2 full baths, and 2 (potentially 3?) bedrooms.  We have one we were totally ready to move forward with, but knew we first needed to re-measure the house to make sure the measurements we were given were 100% correct.

Well, they weren’t.  We lost about 3 feet in that main room on the right (which we were planning on turning into a small 8 1/2 foot wide bedroom and the kitchen, so it’s back to the drawing board!  I’m really hoping we can figure something out soon!!!

Without further ado, a slew of pictures of the inside of the house!

the 3 windows that make up the "bay" at the front of the house

The windows are huge and it’s south facing so this room gets a ton of light.  We want to open it up and let it be public space (either living or dining), rather than the 2nd bedroom as it is now.

yay for 11-ft ceilings!

We plan to keep as many walls, windows, and doors in place, since reassembling the originals in new spots is what drives up the cost.

the "bay room" has an original gas fireplace

This “bay room” we plan to open up to the room on the other side of the fireplace, currently the master bedroom.  We would have the fireplace freestanding in the room since it’s double-sided.

poor painted floors

The floors in the “bay room”, current master bedroom, and entryway are painted a lovely shade of brown.  But underneath are beautiful floors in need of refinishing!

looking from the bay into the entryway (with a door to the master next to the fireplace)

I love the transom windows above several of the doors…and the thick window and door moulding.  I also love that the doors and trim in the entry and still stained and not painted…though I’m not sure whether we’ll leave them or paint everything white.

pretty fireplace!

This pretty thing is definitely staying – though it needs to get hooked up with the gas again!

i die at the sight of these doorknobs!

The doorknobs are honestly what sold me on the place…kind of like Stefanie at Brooklyn Limestone did when they decided to buy their amazing home – I can look past the icky when I reach for each door in the house!

the square footage hogging 8'x11' entryway room

This entry room may actually end up being a tiny bedroom – if we flip the front door with one of the bay windows (Photoshop abracadabra post soon to come).  But it’s kind of a strange room since it’s so big (8’x11′) in such a small house (shy of 12oo sq ft) with no purpose other than to hang out by the front door.  Plus it’s locked with a skeleton key which we don’t have.  🙂

looking from the entry room into the current living room

I just love transom windows – don’t you?

a bigger view of the current living room, looking at the powder room and kitchen

This is currently the main living room (since it has one of the two front doors – weird), and it’s the room we thought was 3 feet longer.  And which we thought we’d divide into a bedroom and the kitchen.  But it’s not.  So it may become a big kitchen or something – still working on that.

there's wood under there!

It has disgusting carpet covering what I bet is asbestos laminate tile.  Joy!  But the original floors are under there somewhere and will hopefully be able to be restored to their former glory.

ohhh the kitchen

The kitchen is currently at the back of the house and is really gross.  I mean, check it.  We think it used to be a big ol’ sleeping porch, because the floors are wavy like those trick carnival floors, and the walls and ceiling are totally clad in beadboard.  And it’s really icky.

the door to the current living room

The house has pretty bad termite and water damage back here, so it will essentially be ripped to the studs.  I mean, it needs to anyway!!!  We think this room may be the future master bedroom, with carpeted floors since these have to be totally scrapped.

the current laundry room/water heater room

This little room is in the back left corner off the current kitchen.  We think it (plus the current only full bath) will become the future master bathroom.  And have it torn to the studs too!

current "mudroom"???

This little room off the current kitchen is the access to the backyard.  The floor is currently so rotten I wouldn’t even stand on it, so it needs to be ripped apart too!  We think it would get sealed off from the future master bedroom and become the future laundry room, moving the door to the side of the house.  But it needs help.  Major!

looking from the current master bedroom into the current living room, "bay room" to the right and entryway dead ahead

Now we’re back off the main living area in the current master bedroom.  We think it will become the future living room.

it has the other side of the fireplace, which we would plan to open up and leave free-standing

Since the “bay room” and this room are attached by the double-sided fireplace, we would open up the walls on both sides so they’re open living space.  We think/hope that there is brick behind there, which we would like to expose, but we’ll see if it’s actually back there.  Can’t you imagine all that light from the bay window streaming into this space?!

the windows in the current master bedroom

This would likely become the living room, and would be opened up to the kitchen area as well (opposite these windows).  Again…I can’t get over the window trim!  And the baseboards!

icky bathroom - the only full

And I’ll leave you with a parting shot of the only full bath, off the current master bedroom.  We would likely close off this door and rip down that opposite wall to make it into a big master bathroom.  It’s really disgusting!

So there you have it, the first tour of the house!  We have some more measuring and figuring out to do…wish us luck!

So I announced the big news that we’re M O V I N G down South at the end of the month.  Things are providentially falling into place (I guess it’s the right decision then?! – thanks, God!), but I feel like we have to do things at lightning speed starting NOW!

Once we get details like…

…setting up a renter in our beloved townhouse (*tear*)…

…arranging for packers and movers (hallelujah we don’t have to do this ourselves)…

…settling on a temporary apartment (so the current tenants can move out and so the renovation can get underway)…

…and picking an actual move date (sometime the end of the month?!)…

then we can throw ourselves head first into figuring out what in the world this house is going to be transformed into!!! Here’s a reminder of what the house looks like:

a 1300 sq ft, 1920 cottage, just perfect for our first reno

Shall I share with you the chopped up, non-sensical, in-need-of-some-lovin’ current floor plan?  Here we go:

a little wonky, huh?

Yes, there are 2 front doors.

Yes, the best room in the house (front left with the big bump out bay window area) is currently a bedroom.

Yes, the 2nd bedroom inhabitants have to access the only full bath via the master bedroom.

Yes, the kitchen is way underutilized (and totally needs to be trashed).

Yes, the house is totally closed up, making it feel much smaller than it is.

We’ve got some work to do, huh?!  I have a number of reconfigurations underway, but I really want to get a pulse of what a future renter/owner would want out of this place.  I have my biases on what “must be included”, but I don’t know if I speak for the majority.

Can you help me out and answer some questions?!  Let’s remember a few things to help guide your answers:

  • We’re doing this on a shoestring budget – I mean, enough to get it done right, but it’s not going to be a super high-end renovation
  • It’s a 2 bedroom house
  • It’s only 1300 square feet (if that!)
  • We’re not sure if we plan to either rent it or sell it when we move, so it should appeal to both types of people
  • We want to open up the floor plan so it feels bigger

QUESTION 1: Is it the “kiss of death” to have a 2 bedroom house with only 1.5 bathrooms?  Or should we really try to work in a full 2 bathrooms, with a dedicated master bathroom and a 2nd bathroom to be used as a common bathroom?

QUESTION 2: In a master bathroom (or the only full bathroom), how important is it to have two sinks?

QUESTION 3: Given the small size of the house, how important is it to have a back door?  Or would it be okay to access the back of the house (potentially parking, garden, patio) by going through the front door?

QUESTION 4: If we have a back door, how awkward would it be to have it accessed through a guest bedroom/office/kid’s room?

QUESTION 5: How do you feel about eat-in kitchens?  Meaning, putting a kitchen table and chairs in the center of the kitchen in lieu of an island?  (This would replace the need to have a separate dining room area.)  Example:

a suzanne kasler masterpiece...but a trend that we'll regret?!

I would love any feedback or suggestions on those questions!!!