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


Angled Wall Storage

Here’s more Before & After pictures of one of the previously unheated bedrooms:

North Bedroom Before

Built-in cabinets in North Bedroom

Note: Can you believe how beautiful those floors are? Just sanded them and put on three coats of polyurethane. I love uncovering beauty.
Transformation Thursday

I Can See My Breath

When I saw this bedroom for the first time…

I pictured Laura and Mary Ingalls… nightcaps on and snuggled under heavy quilts.

This is Minnesota. It gets cold here in the winter, and this rehab project house had no heat in the upper level. Really. The kids who slept in these bedrooms (Hi, Flo & Arlyne!) were hearty souls.

Venting went through the dining room to reach upstairs

The furnace in this home needed to be replaced anyway, so we asked the HVAC guys to add vents to the upstairs.

Dining room after HVAC addition

North Bedroom during HVAC

There are so many angles to the upstairs bedrooms that the new venting additions are barely noticeable.

North Bedroom After

Now it’s nice and toasty. Even after yesterday’s foot of snow.

UPDATE: If you’d like some insight into what life was like in this home, you should read comments from previous posts about this house. Some kids, grandkids, and even a great-grandchild of the original owners of this home have left some fun comments.

Closet Switcheroo

Inexpensive tweaks here and there can improve the use of space in a house. This upstairs hallway had a closet.

Closet door before rehab

The bedroom next to the hall closet did not have its own closet. While you can use a wardrobe for clothing in a closet-less room, this attic bedroom is fairly small (made even smaller by angled ceilings). We decided to give the room more potential space by switching access to the closet from the hall to the bedroom.

Entrance to closet changed from hall to bedroom.

We took out the old door and replaced the baseboard with what was inside the closet.

Hall without closet door.

To save money we could have reused the old door in the bedroom, but it was really just thin, painted plywood. Instead we spent $60 on a new, solid wood door (thank you, Menard’s) and replaced the interior closet baseboard.

New closet access for bedroom

Inexpensive, quick, and easy. Now the new occupant of the bedroom will have a place to hang their clothes without dodging a wardrobe and the angled ceilings.

Just for fun, here are Before/After pictures of the rest of this attic bedroom:



Joined this post in the Frugal Friday linky party at The Shabby Nest.

Paint vs. Stain

I have three kids.  I totally understand how this could happen…

Wall art

Someone’s offspring used a pen to carve words into wood paneling and then attempted to scratch out the graffiti.  The words may have still been legible because the child then used permanent marker to make them harder to read.  I’m estimating the artist was about 2 or 3 years of age based on masterpieces my children have scribbled on walls at my house.  Usually behind their bed, oddly enough.

Knotted pine and permanent marker

It happened randomly throughout this attic bedroom.

This house is a great example of when painting wood is waaaaay easier (and more fun) than restoring and staining wood.

Wood purists will still be mad at me.

Ignore the missing pull... Craig made a replacement knob after I took the picture.

It’s ok.  I understand.

Soon I’ll post pictures of a bedroom where we restored painted wood. It will make a wood-lovin’ heart sing.

I Love Ugly Carpet

Green Knight

Ugly carpet is like a battle weary Medieval Knight who gives all he has to protect his Lady in Waiting.

Lady in Waiting

Must. Stop. Watching. Ladyhawke.