“You Should be on HGTV”

My aunt’s mother passed away in 2009 and in April of 2010, my Uncle suggested I consider buying her townhome.  We had so much going on at the time, I was due to have my daughter the following month and buying a home seemed IMPOSSIBLE.  We didn’t think we had enough money or credit to even entertain it.  After viewing the townhome which was VERY rough on the eyes Ryan (my husband) and I talked about our options and thought it wouldn’t hurt to apply for the loan.  Although the townhome wasn’t “move-in” ready, my uncle assured us most of the work him or my other uncles could help with.  We loved the layout and neighborhood. It was 2 blocks from downtown Mt. Prospect and the Metra train station, we couldn’t ask for a better location.  It was 3 bedrooms, 1.5 baths with a basement.  “What’s meant to be, is meant to be” was the way the next 6 months went.  We were approved for the loan while I was on maternity leave and from that time in June it took over 5 months to actually close. On 11/9/2010, we signed on the dotted line and became first time homeowners.  We started work on the house the last week of December.

Dining & Living Area 

Dining Area (Before)

Dining Area (After)

Living Area (Before)

Living Area (After) **please excuse our move-in mess**

Dining & Living Area (What we did…)  

1. Stripped Wallpaper: Two layers of wallpaper were on the far wall in the dining area. My uncle and brother in law removed the wall paper with DIF & a Steamer. This is a smelly, long, and tedious project; however the result is worth it.  I stongly recommend asking others to help with the project, if you can DIY-it is a cheap and easy way to transform a room. There are great reference sites online  (Wallpaper Removal for Dummies) if you are not familiar with the process.  **After stripping wallpaper we spent a 1/2 day washing the walls with DIF + Hot Water + sponges to get the glue off the walls and prep them for primer**

2. Donate or Give Away Old Furniture: The owners of the house left us some vintage yet potential furniture.  We were overzealous in saying “YES” to everything and had to end up donating a good majority of the furniture to the Salvation Army. SA picked up all of our gently used/good condition items and it was a simple process.

3. Carpet: As soon as we removed all of the big items out of the front room, we tore up the carpet.  My uncle and brother in law got this done in just a couple hours.  You can save quite a bit of $$$ doing this on your own or recruiting help from your friends/family. (DIY How to Remove Old Carpet).

4.Choosing Paint Colors: Once the carpet was up we had to get in there and paint quickly because the hardwood floors were going to be installed the following week.  My husband claims he feels, “sick to his stomach” with neutral colors in a home such as beige and light tan.  I trust his judgement 95% of the time when it comes to decorating. Ryan went to the samples and grabbed “Artisan” (burnt orange) and “French Roast” (chocolate deep brown) I was caught off guard but opened one of the interior brochures to find the exact same color scheme as an example and LOVED it.  That was easy.  People were really thrown off that we picked such dark colors and chose to keep the trim white. I am so glad we stuck to Ryan’s plan because the room turned out beautiful.  The Behr website has an amazing tool for you to test out your colors.

5. Paint Party: I called my close friend and family members (who knew how to paint) and scheduled 1 day to have a “Paint Party.” There were 7 of us total (not too many, just the right amount) to tackle the front room, stairway and upstairs hallyways (pictures below). These people helped me out of the goodness of their hearts and I paid them with Beer and Pizza.*  *Side Note: I think when anyone offers a helping hand to you in any way-  always be a good host and have food and drinks for your helpers and make sure when they need help, you are there for them. We used Medium/Flat Paint, 3 coats on each wall.

6. Hardwood Floors: The first big expense we incurred was our hardwood floors. The hardwood floors were installed from scratch by a local contractor who had rave reviews by many people in our community.  He was affordable, quick, efficient and did an amazing job. The quality of his work was amazing. If you are considering hiring a professional for any work in your house, I suggest: 1) Get multiple estimates 2) Sign a Contract 3) Listen to personal referrals of friends and family.

7. Light Fixtures/Light Switches/Outlet Covers: We replaced all light fixtures, swtiches, switch plate covers, and outlet covers which was a very minimal cost.  The (new) chandelier above the dining room table was from Menards and was a VERY reasonable cost, about $100.00.  The light swtiches and plate covers were super cheap and really gave an updated look throughout the house.

Staircase (Before)

Staircase (After)

Our house is now a home. This is just a small peek of what really went down. We are just finishing up our upstairs bathroom (which is the most drastic transformation) and I will post pics of the bedrooms next.

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