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!

Back before we moved, we sold a few pieces of furniture on Craigslist that we knew we no longer wanted nor would have room for in our new place – all proceeds going to our “man chair fund”.  In no time flat, we had saved enough cash to buy the “man chair” my husband wanted forever.

What prompted the fund was a trip we made to Farmville, VA, in December to visit Greenfront Furniture‘s warehouses of furniture.  I spied a dead-ringer copy of Restoration Hardware’s too-rich-for-our-means Buster Chair (our original man chair love), the Oscar Chair made by King Hickory:

almost a deadringer for the buster, wouldn't you say?!

At less than half the cost, the leather just as buttery and distressed, and the sit of the chair just as comfy as the RH version, we ordered it right then and there (not in the above color, but in the color “Tumbleweed Cafe”).

…and then waited 10 weeks…very impatiently…and then it arrived last week!!!

man chair!!!

I love the oversized nailhead trim along the bottom of the ottoman and chair…

yay nailheads!

…and the distressed leather is just as soft as can be…

love the distressed leather

…and the tufted back is perfection!…

so comfy

The only differences I’ve noticed so far between this chair and our many test runs in the RH chair is that it’s a little narrower and the back is a little shorter (like one row of tufts lower).  Also, the ottoman doesn’t have tufting on the top like RH’s.  But, I think those differences are worth the $1800 we saved!

husband looks pretty happy, huh?!

So now the great debate is whether we should get a second so they wear the same!  The man chair saga continues!

My parents came down for a visit this past weekend!  It was so fun to have them and “the poochie-poo” here to show them around our new town.

my parents' doggie, izzy

The visit was perfect timing: M’ssippi is a few weeks into spring, and the spring home tours are getting underway!

Saturday we drove the Natchez Trace, a 440-mile road that starts in Nashville, Tennessee, and ends in Natchez, Mississippi.  It was formerly a Native American path between the Cumberland and Mississippi Rivers, but is now a scenic route leading to some of the most beautiful antebellum homes in the South!

About halfway down the Trace from Vicksburg in Lorman, M’ssippi, is Old Country Store, visited by Alton Brown (of Food Network fame) on his Feasting on Asphalt tour back in 2007.

old country store in lorman, MS

love the front porch and faded painting on the storefront

Alton Brown claims it’s “the best fried chicken he’s ever had”.  I have to second that!!!  It was fan-freaking-tastic.  YUM.  Thank goodness it was an all-you-can-eat buffet, because we ate all we could!

i think i may have inhaled a few pieces of fried chicken

Mr. Davis, the owner of Old Country Store, came out of the kitchen periodically yelling, “Freeeesh chicken!  Freeeeeesh chicken!  Come get your fresh fried chicken!”  Then he told the story of how he bought the store, how his “mama was the Cornbread Cookin’ Queen” and he “became the Fried Chicken King”.  Then he broke out into an autobiographical song about his mama and his chicken and got a rousing round of applause!  (here’s a link to a YouTube video I found of him singing – skip to 1:15) It was awesome – we LOVED that we made this stop!

Our bellies full, we were off to Natchez!

love the leaded upper windows

Natchez is one of the US’s oldest cities, settled by the French back in 1716.

cute little porch

It’s right on the bluffs of the Mississippi River and was an important – and very rich – river city leading up to the Civil War.

beautiful B&B - especially loved the garden

The city was populated by rich planters who built beautiful town homes, many of which still exist today: spared by an almost immediate surrender to the North during the Civil War.

cute little cottage kind of like ours

The Union used many homes in Natchez as offices, so much of the integrity of these antebellum homes was spared.

love the bright white

Unlike many Southern cities, Natchez was able to almost immediately spring back to economic prosperity due to its location on the Mississippi River.

a little victorian up on a hill

Once steamboats fell out of prominence as a primary form of goods transportation, and the railroad grew, Natchez’s economy declined.

stunning victorian - check out those turrets!

Like many towns with a long history and inventory of old homes, Natchez now relies on tourism to power the economy.

another beautiful victorian

Enough of the boring history stuff.  🙂

my new house inspiration for the exterior!

Every spring and fall, Natchez holds its Natchez Pilgrimage Tour, where 20+ antebellum mansions are opened to the public for a 5-week period (before it gets blazing hot)!  Each home has tour guides on-site to tell the story of the home, its role before and during the Civil War, and its restoration.  All of the female tour guides wear hooped skirts – so cute!

We visited 3 homes: Richmond, The Burn House, and Rosalie.  We didn’t get pics of the interiors of the first two since they are private residences, but did get some good exterior pics:

RICHMOND

the front, a greek revival addition added in the early 1820s

the former front, now the middle and back, originally built in the late 1700s

really neat idea to add plantings to a front stair

pretty iron railing and love those to-the-floor windows!

THE BURN HOUSE

This private residence was immaculately restored on an amazing, camellia-filled piece of property.  Just beautiful!  They said it was the first home in Natchez of the Greek Revival style.

stunning home with an enormous live oak!

the rear of the home, showing its extensive gardens

camellia trees EVERYWHERE - dozens of varieties

beautiful copper lanterns hung on all the porches - i want!

english garden in one of the courtyards

ROSALIE

This is one of the more impressive mansions in Natchez, now owned and operated by the Daughters of the Revolution.  It contains one of the most complete and best preserved sets of Belter rosewood furniture in the US.

the rear exterior of rosalie

front parlor - showing off many of the belter pieces

the back parlor - even more of the belter furniture! my interior design prof would die to see that carpet!

one of the upstairs bedrooms

view of the Mississippi River from the backyard

Hungry after all that touring, we ate along the river at a cute place called the Magnolia Inn, where it had this view of the river:

sun setting on the river

And then the last seconds of sun before we drove the Trace home:

the mighty mississippi

If you ever get the chance to visit Natchez, I highly recommend it!  It’s a feast for your eyes and full of good ol’ Southern hospitality.

I already shared a few house projects we had to wrap up before we moved out of our townhouse back in January: painting the periwinkle bathroom, and replacing the car-sized roof antenna. Gosh it felt good to finish them!

The last lingering project we had to finally wrap up was the basement.  Husband did a huge overhaul the summer of 2008, but there were some things that needing to be finished before our renters could move in!

But , before I get to that, I realized I never shared a word about the basement, so this post will be all about what he did back in 2008!

When we moved into the house in early 2007, the basement was a blank white space.  It was freshly carpeted and painted and just bursting with possibilities!  It was also a really large room (~19’x19′).

looking at the basement from the back corner

Although it was “fine”, we wanted to spruce it up a bit.  As you can see, it had a lovely drop ceiling with those speckle-y, hole-y tiles that reminded me of high school…

the front corner

…cheap paneled walls that had been painted white…and all the outlets were old school brown…

the psychadelic "light box"

…and this totally bizarre “light box”…  I guess they thought that a clever way to add more light to the room would be to put 2 vertical fluorescent lights under the window well and cover it with opaque, yellowing plastic.  It was so weird.  SO WEIRD.

Husband had great vision for this space: a home theater.  But he couldn’t tackle it right away.  A few months after we moved in, he took a year-long jaunt in the desert, and the basement was used for storage and a walk-through to the laundry room.

But when he got back [mid-2008], he got to work!  This was the plan:

  • Cover the cheesy paneled walls with 1/4″ drywall
  • Remove the light box and turn it into a bookshelf (since it was built into the drop ceiling)
  • Change out the high school ceiling tiles with prettier, more inconspicuous tiles
  • Wire the room for a ceiling-mounted projector and a 7-point surround sound system
  • Only spend a grand total of $1500 on the whole project, including the electronics

Ironically, the weekend he got started, we had a MASSIVE rainstorm – like 2 inches per hour.  Our window well decided to fill up and start pouring into the basement!  I was out in my wellies with a pitcher bailing it out as he pulled back the carpet and started wet vac-ing the floor!

We’re actually super thankful the rainstorm happened, because though we never previously had water issues in the year and a half we’d been in the house, he decided to pull off the paneling around the window well and found this:

after pulling back the carpet and pulling off some of the paneling

ewwww

We discovered that there had been infrequent water damage over the years behind the paneling – enough to rot a lot of the furring strips and make us nervous about future mold once the drywall went up.

So Husband ripped out all the rotten wood…

what a man!

lots of gross wood

…and then did some research on how to prevent water damage in the future.  What he ended up doing was:

  • Coat the floor/wall edges, corners, and small cracks with a waterproofing basement cement to keep water from coming in.
  • Pull back the carpet more and paint the floor and cleared (and thoroughly dried) walls with vats basement water sealant paint.  He did several coats of the noxious paint, ensuring that no seepage would come in through the floor or cinder blocks.
  • Replace the wooden furring strips with rot-proof, mildew-/mold-proof, plastic composite furring strips, screwed directly into the cinder blocks.
  • Use 1/2″ greenboard (what you use in bathrooms) that is mildew- and mold-proof so that any future water would not harm the walls.  [Note: He used 1/2″ greenboard because the rest of the walls had the 1/4″ paneling covered by 1/4″ drywall (total 1/2″), so they had to meet up evenly – what a smart fella!]

The water kind of threw a wrench in things, but again we were so glad to address it before covering it up with drywall.  Once he was done with the water issue, he got to work on the rest of the basement:

…replacing the ceiling tiles…

much better

…cutting a hole in the wall for the electronics: receiver, DVD player, AppleTV, XBOX 360, TiVo, battery backup, etc….

where the electronics would go

…finish installing the 1/4″ drywall over the paneling, putting up beadboard, replacing trim and wiring the room for the projector and speakers.  [I wish I had more pics of these steps but this was pre-blog stage!!!]

Here is the basement after we painted it a deep, chocolate brown, perfect for cozying up to a movie.  Although you might think that brown in a basement would make it feel really small, the white beadboard helped lighten and brighten when we weren’t using the projector.

almost all done!

My parents very generously gave us the sectional sofa that was previously in the Bay House, and let me tell you, this thing fit PERFECTLY in the space!

the light box turned bookshelf

Husband lined the back of the former funkadelic light box with beadboard, then added shelves and trim so we could store our DVDs and whatnot…and let in a little natural light from the window well!

the movie wall

We left the “screen wall” painted a matte white.  We had wanted to do a true pull-down screen, but they can run in the range of $1000, so we decided to leave it as is, with the option of adding it in later.

The screen literally took up that whole wall: 144 diagonal inches of TV and movie viewing joy.  🙂

can you see Husband standing up on the right?

This is a terrible picture but it kind of shows the sheer scale of the screen!  It’s about 3″ above the wall register and about 3″ below the bump down in the ceiling.  Huge.  Can you say man cave?!?!

the electronics box

In the cut out he did for housing the electronics, Husband installed basic louvered brackets on which a piece of wood for each component could sit.  He made it adjustable like this so we could add or subtract components over time.

Pretty great transformation, huh?

It may look somewhat finished in these pics, but it wasn’t.  It was SO CLOSE TO BEING DONE!  But then Husband had to start up work again and other things took priority so the little things remained undone like:

  • The brown outlets needed to be switched out for white ones and the casings needed to be made flush with the addition of the 1/4″ drywall…
  • The ceiling tiles requiring special cuts needed to be cut…
  • The tiles under the “boobie lights” (HAHA) needed to be cut…
  • The crown molding needed to be done…
  • Vertical slats needed to be installed on the railing to prevent little people from falling through and to bring it up to code…
  • Some sort of trim needed to be installed going up the stairs…
  • The electronics box needed to be painted, the wood pieces cut so they were flush with the front of the box, and some sort of a “backer” needed to be installed so we weren’t looking into the storage room through the box…

Isn’t it so true that once a space becomes “liveable” that those nagging little projects get overlooked?

Well with renters moving in, we had to get someone in to finish up these projects…stay tuned for the final reveal!

What a fun first giveaway!  I learned that’s lots of people are loving various color combos involving turquoise (the Pantone color of the year, as a matter of fact), yellow, grays and khaki.  What a stylin’ group of commenters I have.  🙂

And now what I know you’re all waiting for…the winner of one of these fab pillows from AllModern.com is…

which did they pick?!

…as selected by Random.org from a total of 47 comments, tweets and blog shout outs…

…is LindsB of the blog everything LEB!

She is dying for the cute chevron pillow (but in navy blue) by Twinkle Living for her bedroom makeover:

the twinkle living zigzag pillow

The funny thing is, though, that I won Linds’ very first giveaway on her blog too!  What are the chances?!?!

Thanks to everyone who entered the giveaway – I hope to have many more in the future!!!

Don’t forget to enter my AllModern.com pillow giveaway!!!  You can choose one of the six I selected or pick a different colorway or pick one of your own in the same price range!

wouldn't you want one of these beauts on your sofa or bed?!

You have until midnight EST tomorrow, Thursday, March 11th, to enter.  And remember you can tweet it or mention it on your blog for an extra entry (just come back and post another comment)!

And while you’re at it, make sure to check out the cool stuff you can get for your home bars at AllBarstools.com, chic and modern homewares at AllModern.com, and a plethora of other things under the CSN Store network.

So I know everyone in blogland has seen a little animal printed 1940s book popping up here and there…

…like on Eddie Ross‘ coffee table in the first issue of Lonny

eddie's fab coffee table

…and on Miles Redd‘s bookshelf…

do you spy it on that top shelf?

…and in Front Porch Studio‘s office (via High Heeled Foot in the Door)…

i'd love for my desk to look that put together!

…and the Matters of Style girls have gotten their hands on an amazing number of copies for their store (plus its elusive giraffe-swathed sequel, “Four Years of Paradise”)…

on the coffee table of one of the statement-making MoS girls

Well I guess I’m a follower.  I caved.  Maybe it was peer pressure, call it what you will, but my big move to M’ssipppi deserved a little treat for myself, right?  🙂  Plus it’s hard to resist that alluring splash of animal print.

So one day I was browsing eBay and found a coveted 1st edition of “I Married Adventure” by Osa Johnson for a Buy It Now price of only $22.50.  Click click click and it was mine!  Yespleaseandthankyou!

the dust jacket is in great condition!

Check how rich the colors are on the cover!

my very own copy!

so pretty

The interior binding needs a tiny bit of help, but it sure does look good in my living room, doesn’t it?! (which we’re very slowly settling into) – see it on the left hand table?:

we're slowly breaking in the living room of our apartment

The apartment gets great afternoon sun and is surprisingly nice with great greige paint (on all the walls!) and nicer than usual fixtures!  I can’t wait to get into our little fixer upper, but this apartment is a great temporary spot for us!

Did you spy my new book?  On the table to the left of the sofa?

there it is!

So am I a total lemming, following what’s trendy?!  Perhaps.  But I’m actually really excited to read it…not just stare at it.  🙂  Have you bought anything recently just because it’s popular?

********

Have you entered my giveaway for a pillow from AllModern.com?!?!  Make sure you comment!  The giveaway closes at midnight on Thursday, March 11!