Seward Project Dining Room Transformation

Seward Project Dining Room Transformation

The Seward Project is our restoration of a Minneapolis two story home built in the 1800s. This is the dining room when we purchased the property…

Seward Project Dining Room BEFORE

We removed the wall separating the original dining room and kitchen.

Kitchen Demo

The original floors sloped dramatically toward the kitchen, so we removed the wood floors and replaced the subfloor as well.

Removing the uneven floors.

Not all of the original floors survived the removal process, so we mixed them with flooring from our Chaska Project as well as remnants from an old Junior High basketball court. Here is the completed dining room…

Seward Dining Room AFTER

Dale Project Bathroom

Dale Project Bathroom

Occasionally, a project will have vintage bathroom fixtures that we can incorporate into our remodel. If not, there is always the option of donating the items to a worthwhile organization like Habitat For Humanity’s ReStore. Unfortunately, the Dale Project bathroom’s blue porcelain vanity and bathtub were too damaged for either of those options.

Dale Bath Before

Sometimes a room just needs a fresh start…

Dale Bath

Ixnay on Carpet in the Kitchen

Ixnay on Carpet in the Kitchen

Every now and then we find carpet in a kitchen.

Dale Kitchen Carpet

I suppose there are fewer plates broken when they are dropped on the floor. Plus, your toes stay warmer in winter.

Dale Kitchen & Nook Before

But it is easier to clean spaghetti sauce off of tile…

Dale Kitchen & Nook

Transformed Kitchen

Transformed Kitchen

Love a good Before/After transformation…





What’s Behind Your Walls?

What’s Behind Your Walls?

The Seward Property was built in the 1800’s and had Knob & Tube electrical wiring. Some experts suggest that if this older method of wiring has not been abused (modified) then it is probably safe. Heh. It would be unusual to find an older home that hasn’t had its electrical wiring modified. This picture from behind the kitchen drywall illustrates why it is always best to re-wire the entire house when you find Knob & Tube.

Seward knob & tube long

You might be surprised to find what is behind your walls. Here is a closer picture of the same section of wire. The electrical wire throughout this property was in similar shape.

Seward knob & tube

We will completely re-wire the house. Goodbye, fire hazard!

Monday Metamorphosis

Monday Metamorphosis

Monday Metamorphosis

These are Before and After pictures from the lower unit of a property that our kids have named, “The Madison Mansion.”

Madison Bath Before

Madison Bath Before

Madison Bath After

Madison Bath After

Fatigue is the Best Pillow

Fatigue is the best pillow.
– Benjamin Franklin

We are in the midst of remodeling 4 different properties. Here’s a sneak peek.

We’re doing a Ronald Reagan (“Tear Down That Wall”) in the first property:

We are still in the middle of the remodel, so I don’t have an After picture yet. Here is a glimpse mid-construction:

Another property is in need of some major concrete repair work:

My favorite new project is a house that is over 100 years old. There are FOUR leaded glass windows. Be. Still. My. Heart. Here’s a before shot of the entry hall:

Benjamin Franklin was right. I’ve been sleeping like a baby lately.


Nancy Drew is a Verb

Craig and I thoroughly enjoy remodeling homes for resale. The properties we choose are loaded with potential especially if they have been neglected. It is tempting to pull out all the stops and transform each home into a dream house. Budget? Pshaw!

HGTV Dream Home 2009

Thankfully, we have a system in place to keep from overdoing it. Before we purchase a property to remodel, we have already decided 1) what rooms to rehab and 2) the extent of the rehab.

Rooms to Rehab:

The process of deciding whether or not to remodel a specific room depends largely its current condition. We ask questions like:

Are there wood floors under that carpet?

Will paint alone be enough?

Are the kitchen cabinets salvageable?

Is that a load bearing wall?

Extent of Rehab

The extent to which we rehab a home depends largely on its neighborhood. We always plan to be the nicest house in our price range but not excessively so. The MLS has a wealth of information about real estate neighborhoods. So we put on our sleuthing hats and scope out River Heights.

We investigate similar homes that have sold recently as well as homes currently on the market in the neighborhood. Pictures on the MLS listings offer information such as:

What type of countertops are in the kitchens of this neighborhood?

Are the shower walls tile or a plastic surround?


Does it have a garage?

That's our daughter #2!

After we “Nancy Drew” the remodel project, we practice self-control. A kitchen can still be beautiful without granite counters. It allows us to keep the price of certain homes within reach of more families.

Sleuth and budget. Works every time.

Linked to:
Frugal Friday at The Shabby Nest
Metamorphosis Monday at Between Naps on the Porch
Transformation Thursday at The Shabby Chic Cottage


The Power of (Proper) Paint

Paint can be a valuable tool for restoring a room. This attic loft we remodeled last summer had nicotine stained walls.

Here’s what a fresh coat of paint can do…

Loft After

Paint, however, can be quite fickle. Many people have found the perfect paint swatch only to discover, once it was on the walls, that it was NOT the perfect color. Paint can “turn” when it is exposed to different light. It’s almost like it has a mind of its own.

The worst example of unfortunate paint choices for me was during our latest rehab. We had a very dark, upstairs hallway that we wanted to lighten and brighten. The photo below was taken with a flash, so you don’t get a feel for how dark the hall was. Trust me, it was dimly lit.

Hall Closet door before rehab

My paint consultant from Sherwin Williams and I thought a soft, cheerful yellow would work well. However, the 2”x3” paint swatch we used to choose the color was NOT a big enough paint sample to accurately preview the color. When we painted it on the walls, it looked like a Preschool playroom. The kind of playroom where the kids scream all day long.

I rushed to the Sherwin Williams nearest the property. I grabbed a bunch of paint chips, went back to the house, and narrowed down my choices. Then I went back to the paint store and bought a quart of the color I thought might work. I painted a wide swath of color on the wall to make sure I really liked the paint. Here is the result…

Hall without closet door.

I have been working with Heather, my Sherwin Williams consultant, for years and have never needed to repaint a room. Normally, I love our paint choices. Wrangling the colors in this hall, however, taught me a good lesson. I need to preview a large sample of paint on the walls of a room before I make a final color decision. One quart of paint is waaaaaaay less expensive that having painters re-paint a property.

Linked to:

Transformation Thursday at The Shabby Chic Cottage
Before/After Party at Thrifty Decor Chic
Power of Paint at Domestically Speaking
Frugal Friday at The Shabby Nest

New Beginings

There is something magical about a fresh start. New Year’s Day, Sundays, and mornings. Love them all.  There’s a reason why I get chills when Annie belts out “Tomorrow.”

Hope may be part of my infatuation with Before & After pictures. They remind me that it doesn’t matter where I am right now. I can always give myself a new beginning.