In 2004, Scott and I moved into a classic southwest Minneapolis story and a half house on Penn Avenue. Over the next eight years we tackled projects large and small and I'm quite proud of what we accomplished. As we approach our moving day, it was fun to look back on all the blood, sweat, tears and MONEY we put into it.
One of the first improvements we made was to the exterior. While you can't fully appreciate it in the above photo, the home was pink stucco. I am sure you all assume that Scott bought the house FOR that color, right? Wrong. We selected a green from the historic colors at Hirschfields, and enlisted the help of our family to paint the house. The house felt more like my home the moment that paint dried. It is still mind boggling to me that one of our neighbors repeatedly told us that she preferred the pink. I told her that she could paint her own house that color if she liked it so much!
We also discovered there were bigger problems below the surface - the overhang above our front door was rotting and the front steps were crumbling (both issues were disguised by the previous owners). We added a new roof, overhang, columns, gutters and downspouts, and new concrete steps. We also added an updated mailbox and house numbers.
BASEMENT LAUNDRY & BATHROOM
Scott and I quickly realized that sharing the one bathroom in our home was not going to work for us. It is on the main floor and definitely on the small side. We decided to add a bathroom to our basement which was the most expensive projects we completed because it required a substantial amount of plumbing since it was brand new. It made a huge difference in our satisfaction with the home though so it was worth every penny.
This bathroom has heated floors, under the stairs cabinets, an electrical outlet under the sink for electric toothbrushes and a pocket door to make most of the space. I though of most of the features in this room and am proud of how it turned out. The next time I take bathroom photos, I will remember to put down the toilet seats!
We moved the new washer, dryer and laundry sink to the opposite side of the wall outside of the sliding door but I didn't take a photo of it since we didn't finish the rest of the basement it doesn't look all that impressive. Oh, another lesson is that when you have the appliance company remove your old washer and dryer - make sure they are empty! We lost almost all of the towels we received as wedding gifts.
One great feature of our house is a decent sized backyard for Minneapolis. Even better, it was fenced in which is a must for Stewie, our dog. The original fence was deceptive in appearance- if you were to look closely you'd see the wood was fastened together by staples! This was one of many examples of my preference for investing in quality even if it takes longer to acquire. It turns out that the previous owners were bit by the DIY HGTV virus that plagues our nation. Our mended fence made it until July 2008 when a thunderstorm knocked a portion of it to the ground. Midwest Fence installed a solidly built cedar fence which has received many compliments by numerous neighbors.
MAIN FLOOR BATHROOM
I'll confess to something now that we are moving - the before, part I image is my attempt to replicate the way the previous owner decorated this bathroom. It seems a little odd to me now because it wasn't really my taste - I guess it took a few years for me to be empowered to find my own style.
Before, part II was a bit more my style but still not quite right. The walls were plaster and horribly done. The big basement bathroom must have given me the courage to make a more dramatic change because one day without too much thought, I took a hammer to that ugly plaster and the rest is history.
After gutting the bathroom, I basically set out to create a mini version of the basement bathroom. We used the left over hex tile for the floor and thankfully had enough paint for the walls. We replaced the disgusting plastic shower surround with subway tile and created tile corner shelves. The bath stopper never worked so it was nice to get rid of the replacement rubber plug with quality fixtures. Because the bathroom is small, we repurposed the petite pedestal sink and just replaced the faucet. We also swapped out the light fixture and added a bath exhaust fan/vent thingy.
The kitchen remodel helped me stay happy in my home for an extra four years. Before, it was cramped and had an awkward layout with very little work surface. In order to add counter space and a built-in dishwasher, we redesigned the layout and replaced a window with a shorter one. We also increased the door opening as much as possible to create more of an open feel. We used marmoleum flooring - a choice I am still happy with today. This room was on a tight budget since we completed it on the heels of the basement bathroom addition. I think we spent our money wisely.
MAIN FLOOR BEDROOM
The main floor bedroom had horrible sponge paint and ugly valances. We used the same buttery yellow that the previous owners smartly used in the hallway on the second level. It is such a cheery color. We never really furnished this room and I still have that Target dresser pictured in the before shot.
We did not do much to change the living and dining room other than new paint (tried to cover up the sand texture paint) and invested in new living room furniture. We discovered that what we call our living room was originally a bedroom and our dining area was the living room!
Before putting our house on the market, we installed linoleum flooring. It came in 12 foot sheets and didn't require any adhesive. It made a huge difference for a reasonable price.
This bedroom was used as ours for most of our eight years. It used to have sponge painting and cheap blinds. We repainted it and put up better looking window treatments (though still cheap!).
This is the smaller of the two bedrooms upstairs which Scott used as his "man cave". We recently changed the desk but I didn't take any photos of it. The only change we made to this room was to give it a fresh coat of paint and use the same window treatment as in the bedroom.
Around the time of the basement bathroom project, we carpeted the basement stairs since we were going to be using them several times a day. We also installed a clever shoe rack on the wall to help keep our dirty/wet shoes out of the way.
We replaced the wood non-adjustable shelves with Elfa from the Container Store. This allowed me to store coats as well as linens and other household supplies.
SUMMARY OF IMPROVEMENTS
The Nivens Family