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Our First Fixer Upper: Before and After Home Renovations (Picture Tour)

You’re not going to believe this transformation! We’re taking a little trip down memory lane and looking back at all of the before and after home renovations from our first fixer-upper. You’re going to love this picture tour!

A few months ago we moved into our 2nd fixer-upper and we’ve been digging out the moving madness since. We’ve already started some renovation projects over here – like adding privacy to our bathroom window and installing a garbage disposal.

There are tons more projects coming up, but I felt like I left our first fixer-upper a little “unfinished” here on the blog.

Before we completely moved on talking about the new house, I wanted to take a look back at all of our before and after home renovations because there are A LOT of things you guys never got to see (P.S. I promise to be way better about sharing all of our projects on this house, mmkay?)

A couple of weeks ago, we looked closely at the exterior of the house and the backyard, which changed a TON while we were living there. You can check out the full details on the exterior house makeover here.

Our first fixer-upper looked like a completely different house when we moved out, so you’re in for a treat today! Come take a look at all of the big transformations we made on the interior of our first home.

This before and after home renovations post contains affiliate links, but nothing that I wouldn’t wholeheartedly recommend anyway! Read my full disclosure here.

Before and After Home Renovations – Photo Tour of Projects Throughout Our First Home

Before we hop into taking a look at the rooms one by one, I wanted to talk about some renovations that we made throughout the entire house so you guys have all the details.

Skim Coating Walls

A man applies a layer of skim coating to the ceiling of a white room. He's wearing a white shirt and brown shorts that are splattered with paint.
We skim-coated all of the walls to smooth the texture.

The most obvious changes we make throughout the whole home are the nice smooth walls. This was done by a process called skim coating and let me tell you…it was NOT EASY.

Logan spent nearly 9 months skim-coating the whole home while we were living there.

That horrible rough texture was something that was really important for us to change because we hated it. But we had no idea how much work the skim coating would actually be.

Logan did it all himself. It was hard work, time-consuming, and very laborious.

But when it was all done, we had nice smooth walls. The texture on the walls was so thick that it required multiple layers of drywall mud to be added and smoothed.

Two stacked photos show a close up section of a wall before and after skim coating. The top photos shows a textured wall, and the bottom photo shows the smooth surface of the wall.
Before and after skim coating on the walls.

Looking back on this DIY, if we had known how intense this project was, we would have saved up and paid to have it done.


Painting Interior Walls

A man paints a wall using a large paint roller. The room is filled with bright light from a construction spotlight, and is filled with home renovation supplies.
We painted all of the walls throughout the home.

After the walls were smoothed, we painted every room. And we’ve summed up everything you need to know about how to paint a room for beginners here!

Our Favorite Fixer-Upper Paint Colors


Replacing Flooring

A strip of red flooring padding sits on top of plywood flooring in a gray-painted room.
We replaced the flooring throughout the home.
A man installs laminate hardwood flooring over red flooring padding in a large room.
This light wood laminate hardwood was used throughout the fixer-upper to replace carpeting.

We also replaced the floors throughout the home with laminate hardwood.

It felt so good ripping out that gross carpet! As soon as I got pregnant with our first little one, I knew that it was something that we were going to have to do before the baby came.

I just couldn’t imagine letting a little baby crawl around on the gross carpet that had been there for years before we purchased the home.

We got the laminate hardwood on sale at Costco. It’s the brand Harmonics and the color is Camden Oak. Although it is not sold online, you may be able to find it in stock at your local store. Here’s another very similar option sold at Home Depot.

For a step-by-step, learn how to install laminate flooring here.

A large dog sits on newly installed laminate flooring in a large room with gray walls.
Finished dining room with new laminate flooring and paint.

Replacing Lighting and Adding Ceiling Fans

We knew we wanted to add ceiling fans in the bedrooms and living room.

When we were looking for ceiling fans, we were surprised to have trouble finding fans in the same style/model that were sold in two different sizes (for larger rooms and smaller bedrooms).

We wanted the fans to match throughout. We ended up with fans from Hampton Bay. This exact model is no longer sold, but a lot of the other styles of ceiling fans that Hampton Bay makes in both large and small sizes.

A newly installed ceiling fan on a white ceiling. The fan blades are a deep brown color, and the ceiling fan has three light fixtures. There's a gallery wall filled with rustic style nursery decor.
Newly added ceiling fan in the nursery.

We also replaced ugly “boob” lights with these awesome budget-friendly flush mount lights in the hallway and entryway. We also found matching pendants for our kitchen.

For more inspiration, check out these flush mount light options!


Replacing Door Hardware

Something that made a big difference during our fixer-upper renovation was replacing all of the interior door handles and hinges. It seemed like something so simple, but it was shocking.

We went with something classic with this oil-rubbed bronze knob.

An empty room with gray walls and two white doors -- one entry door, and two folding closet doors. The image also shows the ceiling fan and lights installed on a white ceiling.
The door hardware and hinges were replaced throughout the home.

Adding Tamper Resistant Outlets and Light switches

A very subtle change that we made was bringing in new light switches and adding tamper-resistant outlets (a no-brainer if you’ve got little ones).

I was surprised how it instantly made the room feel “new” with fresh white switches.

This is something that can easily be done yourself. There’s not much electrical work involved. Here’s a simple tutorial for how to change an outlet.


Replacing Blinds

The blinds were so gross when we moved in, we ripped them out instantly. We decided to go with a cellular shade from Blinds.com and loved them! We had blackout shades in the bedrooms and light filtering everywhere else.


Adding Vapor Barrier In Crawl Space

One kind of “not fun” project we had to do was add a vapor barrier in our crawl space.

When we were buying the home, we learned in the home inspection that there were some issues with drainage around the house, which had inevitably led to some moisture issues under the home.

We remedied the drainage issues by installing a french drain around the house and then adding vent wells.

Luckily the moisture issue under the home wasn’t too bad, but we had to cut a huge hole in our floor.

Then we cleaned it up, aired it out for days with commercial-grade dehumidifiers, and once it was all dry, we added a HUGE vapor barrier (which is essentially a plastic sheet that you lay on the ground to prevent any moisture coming from the ground to get in crawl space and/or home).

It wasn’t a fun job, but we were lucky that Logan’s dad was in town to help out.

A man dressed in a white protective suit ready to install a vapor barrier under our house in the crawl space. He's wearing eye protection, a respirator mask, and giving two thumbs up to the camera.
All suited up to work in the crawl space under the home.
A large hole cut into the floor gives access to a crawl space under the home. There are large bricks stacked next to the hole, surrounded by other construction and home renovation supplies.
We had to make this hole in the floor of our dining room to work on installing the vapor barrier.
A giant yellow plastic vapor barrier sheet extends through a kitchen into a living room. The vapor barrier will be installed in a crawl space under the home.
This large yellow sheet was the vapor barrier we installed in the crawl space underneath the home.

Before and After Home Renovations Room By Room


The Entryway Before & After

A before photo of a simple home entry way shows a front door and wall dividing the kitchen from the entryway and living room.
Entryway before we removed the small diagonal wall near the front door.

When we moved into this home, the first thing you saw when you opened the front door was this awkward diagonal wall. To the right of the front door is the large living room with an awesome huge window, and to the left is the kitchen.

All the weird wall did was make the entryway feel closed off and small and broke the line of sight from the kitchen into the living room.

We knocked this wall down within the first few weeks of living here. It just HAD to go!

A collage of photos showing the process of knocking down an awkward diagonal wall in the entry way of our old home.
The process of removing the awkward dividing wall in our fixer-upper’s entryway.

What a big difference that made, right?!

A pair of two images shows the same entry way before and after removing an awkward dividing wall. Other changes include painted walls, new light fixtures, and decor.
The final before and after of our entryway makeover.

We also swapped the ugly “boob” light out for this oil-rubbed bronze semi-flush light in the entryway.


The Living Room Before & After

A plain living room with tan walls, tan carpets with an area run, seating, and an entertainment center. A large window in the middle of a wall is covered with accordion blinds.
Our old living room before the home renovation.

This is what the living room looked like when we purchased the house. We loved that the living room is large and open to the entryway and kitchen.

An empty living room with dirty brown carpet and tan walls, a ceiling fan, and large window with no curtains.
Our empty living room, before any renovations were done.

Of course, the walls got smoothed and painted this gray color and the gross carpet was pulled out and replaced with laminate hardwood.

I wanted a little more farmhouse in this living room, so we added this awesome accent wall with shiplap that we made from plywood (and got a new awesome gray sectional – check out these awesome gray sectionals under $1000 for some ideas if you’re wanting something like this).

Two stacked images show the before and after of a living room renovation. The top image is a cluttered living room that dark and full of furniture and decor. The bottom image features a bright living room with hardwood floors, a sectional couch, and simple Christmas decorations.
Before and after home renovations in our living room!
The renovated living room looking into the kitchen -- the room now has hardwood floors, gray walls, and a new reading nook against the far wall.
Our renovated living room with hardwood floors, new paint, and a new reading nook!

The weird little “cubby” you see pictured here was where a fireplace used to be that was removed some years ago. We transformed this alcove into a farmhouse-style reading nook with storage.

Two before and after photos of a small wall alcove renovated into a white shiplap covered reading nook.
Before and after photos of the wall alcove turned reading nook in our living room.

The Kitchen Before & After

A small, dimly lit kitchen with a breakfast bar, wall of cabinets, and standard kitchen appliances.
The dark kitchen before home renovations.
A view inside the kitchen, looking at the small cooking area with countertops, a double sink, oven, and fridge. There are wall-mounted cabinets and a small window.
The small galley-style kitchen, before home renovations.

For being an old 70’s fixer-upper, the kitchen was in decent shape when we moved in. Cabinets are nearly spotless and the appliances were all in decent shape.

The kitchen countertops were a bit bland and not necessarily my style, but they are in great shape, so we didn’t touch them!

After we knocked out the wall near the front door (see above), we ripped out the upper corner cabinet. It wasn’t very efficient. Those deep corner cabinets never are!

And it really made the area feel a lot smaller. We got it out of there and added this hanging pot rack, which I LOVE!

The vintage bread box is the perfect touch for some extra countertop storage. and Yes, we actually store bread in here!

A corner of the kitchen after renovations -- the walls have been painted a light gray, there's a new black metal sink installed, a pot rack, and decor on the countertops.
A corner of our renovated kitchens with painted walls, a new sink, and cabinets removed for more space.

We replaced the kitchen sink with a black matte style and added this show-stopping faucet. We also installed a microwave above the oven.

Kitchens can be EXPENSIVE to renovate, so we were happy that we didn’t need to do much in the kitchen.

Our newly renovated kitchen and entry way with new lighting fixtures, wall color, and cleaned-off countertops.
The bright and airy renovated kitchen and entryway.
A collage of two images showing the before and after kitchen renovations. The top image is the dark old kitchen. The bottom image shows a brightly lit kitchen with newly painted walls, new light fixtures, and a small section of cabinets removed.
Before and after our kitchen renovations! With new lighting, less cabinets, and an open entryway — the kitchen is bright and airy!
A before and after image showing the view from the kitchen into the living room. The top image is dark, with a sectioned-off entry way and carpeted floors. The bottom image shows a bright room with new lights, hardwood flooring, and an opened-up entryway.
Before and after photos of the kitchen looking into the renovated living room!

The Dining Room Before & After

An old dining room before our home renovations. There's vinyl flooring, and old dining room table, and a dim kitchen in the background
Our old fixer-upper dining room before home renovations.

The kitchen opens up directly into the dining area, which has a door to the garage (and provides the only access to the backyard).

The small dining room during renovations. The room has white walls and is filled renovation supplies.
Our dining room in progress, filled with home renovation supplies.

The main projects we did in the dining room were smoothing and painting the walls and replacing the flooring.

Our new dining room table is a farmhouse style whitewashed wood table with benches and chairs. It's decorated with a coastal style tablescape.
Our renovated dining room featuring a farmhouse style dining room table.
Another view of the updated dining room featuring farmhouse decor, a large dining table and benches, hardwood floors and gray painted walls.

I scored the farmhouse-style table at a thrift store for only $185, and it was already painted like that, which I loved. Logan built the farmhouse benches.

Our updated dining room as seen from the living room. The whole space is empty of furniture and has new hardwood flooring, painted walls, and new lighting.
The view of the renovated dining room from the living room before we redecorated.
A farmhouse style coffee display featuring a coffee maker and jars, and wall-mounted shelves holding mugs and farmhouse decor.
The coffee corner in our newly renovated dining room.

We made this vintage dresser into a coffee bar, which I loved!! Read more about how this DIY coffee station came together here.

This photo is really more of a “during” and after, rather than a before and after pic!

A during and after photo showing our dining room renovations. The top photo shows the renovations in progress, with a room filled with renovation supplies. The bottom image is a renovated dining room decorated with coastal farmhouse style decor, painted walls, and a new dining table.
A “during” and after comparison of our dining room renovations.

The Hallway Before & After

A narrow hallway with white walls and soft lighting. Multiple doors on either side of the hallway are open, leading into branching off rooms. There's a man at the end of the hallway rolling protective covering over the brown carpet.
Our fixer-upper’s long main hallway before renovations started.

From the dining room, if you turn to your right, you’ll be walking down the hallway.

This is the only photo I have of the hallway before things started getting crazy with the renovations.

The newly renovated hallway in our home has hardwood flooring, painted walls filled with rustic framed family photos, and updated farmhouse-industrial style light fixtures.
The hallway after renovations with new flooring, wall color, decorations, and lights!

The hallway has new lights, flooring, and nice smooth walls.

We also swapped out the old wooden shelving in the closets and laundry for wire shelves.

The linen closet in our hallway, updated with a new modern look. The door is removed, the interior is painted white with shiplap walls, and there are three wire shelves hung in the top half of the closet.
Our updated hallway closet with faux brick and shelving.
A close up look at the newly installed wire shelving and white faux brick in our home's hallway closet.
A detailed look at the shelving and faux brick wall in the new hallway closet.

We turned one of the hallway cabinets into a cleaning closet.

After removing the door fronts, we added a faux brick panel to the wall painted white and added wire shelving.

It was the perfect little spot for our cleaning supplies and our vacuum.

This stayed open the entire time we lived there, but we ended up building a wood door for the cleaning closet when we moved out.

The updated hallway closet, now covered with a wooden farmhouse-style door that's been stained a deep chestnut brown color.
The rustic wooden door we DIY’d for the hallway cleaning closet.

Also in the hallway is our laundry room. We added the wire shelving and painted the colorful accent wall.

Another hallway closet space, made over into a laundry room with wall-mounted wire shelving and a colorful brown, green, black, and white geometric pattern painted on the wall.
Our new laundry room closet with updated shelving and a colorful accent wall.
The view looking down the renovated hallway from our living room -- room has updated flooring, painted walls, and new lighting.
A view of the empty hallway and living room after renovations.

Here’s a little before and after of the hallway.

Side by side images show the hallway renovations before and after. The updated hallway has new hardwood flooring, wall color, and new lighting.
Before and after our hallway renovations!

First Bathroom Before & After

Our old front of the house bathroom, before renovations, features an outdated shower, vanity, mirror, and wall art.
Our front bathroom before renovations began.

As you start walking down the hallway from the dining room, you’ll first approach the front bathroom, which is the first door on your left.

This was the only room in the house that did not get skim-coated. We were SO TIRED of it by the end, and we had learned that small spaces were the hardest for skim coating.

Since we eventually planned some bigger renovations in this bathroom, we left the texture on the walls and just painted it.

The guest bathroom vanity - wooden drawers and a white resin marble countertop and sink with silver faucet.
The vanity in the guest bathroom of our fixer-upper home.

We really didn’t do anything to this bathroom until shortly after we moved out,

Logan painted the mirror and the vanity, which needed some love. He used a Behr Premium Plus Interior paint in semi-gloss sheen for this.

We also gave the light in here a little farmhouse makeover with some simple spray paint and new light bulbs. Read more about that easy DIY light makeover here.

A complete view of our small guest bathroom with an updated look - textured painted walls, painted mirror, and painted vanity.
The guest bathroom with a newly painted mirror, walls, and vanity.

Home Office (First Bedroom) Before & After

An image of a cluttered corner of a bedroom, where a small TV rests on a makeshift tv stand next to a clothing hamper and stacked plastic drawers, under a large window.
The front bedroom clutter, soon to be turned into a home office.

This is the only photo I have of the front bedroom because we had to start renovating in there immediately!

We had about 2 weeks of overlap until we needed to move in and I needed to have a move-in ready office because I work from home.

The same room corner, name over into a home office! Painted walls, a new armoire, desk chair, curtains, and flooring turn the room into an office space.
A corner of my home office in our fixer-upper.
A home office workstation featuring a desk with two computer monitors and various office supplies. Floating shelves installed on the walls hold teal and gold themed decor and wall art.
The home office set up with a marble, teal, and gold color scheme.

The room eventually got a big makeover when I turned it into this modern marble & gold home office. You can check out the full details on this modern marble and gold office here.


Nursery (Second Bedroom) Before & After

The view from the door of our second bedroom shows a large TV on a chest of drawers in front of a bright window, and the foot of a queen sized bed, covered in a quilted comforter.
Our second bedroom before renovations.

This bedroom is essentially the same as the front bedroom but flip-flopped.

This room was a “holding ground” during the major renovations of the house. At one point, this little room served as our bedroom (while we were working on the master) and then also served as our living room (while we were working on that).

Can you believe we were able to fit 2 recliners, an entertainment center, a TV, and even a small table where we put a mini Christmas tree for our first Christmas in this house?!

Our second bedroom renovated into a nursery. This corner of the nursery features olive green walls and a changing station. A gallery wall of fun farmhouse-style baby decorations hang on the newly painted walls.
The changing station in our newly renovated nursery.
The baby's crib -- a dark wooden crib with blue sheets -- in the corner of his nursery.
The crib in our rustic woodland nursery.

Eventually, though, this room was completely transformed into an adorable little rustic woodland nursery for our son.


Master Bedroom Before & After

One corner of the master bedroom before renovations, featuring a large bed in front of a window, and the entrance to the master bedroom on the right.
The unexciting master bedroom and bathroom before renovations.

This is what the master bedroom looked like when we were purchasing the home. This room has so many weird angles.

The door on the other side of the bed shown here leads to an uber-small bathroom (more to come on that next).

This room got smooth-painted walls and new flooring, and we positioned our bed to go on the opposite wall, which I think made a big difference in the overall layout.

The updated master bedroom features painted walls, a brand-new rustic wooden bed and headboard, hardwood flooring, and a new ceiling fan.
The master bedroom looks spacious and refreshing after new floors, painted walls, and new furniture!
Another view of the updated master bedroom with a new king-size bed, hardwood floors, and large closet space.
Another view of the updated master bedroom.

We also installed new closet systems in the bedrooms, which helped make the small master closet more efficient.

A look into the organized closet system in our master bedroom closet -- two separate spaces for hanging clothes, with a third section of shelving in the middle for folding and storage.
The new closet organization system in our master bedroom closet.

Master Bathroom Before & After

A look at the entrance of our master bathroom shows a small room with stucco walls, dim lighting, and tile floors.
The entrance to the small master bathroom before renovations.
A small walk-in shower, covered with a black and white plastic shower curtain, and small vanity in the master bedroom before renovations.
The small shower and vanity area in our master bathroom before renovations.
A look inside the entrance to the small master bedroom reveals plain white stucco walls, dim lighting, and a small sink and mirror bathroom vanity.
The small bathroom vanity and mirror before renovations.
The toilet alcove before renovations was just plain white walls and a plain white toilet, with tile flooring.
The small, plain toilet alcove before renovations.

Smakward… it’s the perfect new word to describe this master bathroom. A subtle blend of all things SMALL and AWKWARD. Update: Check out our farmhouse master bathroom reveal!

This room got the most “iconic” renovation in the entire house due to a video that went viral on Facebook (over 20M views, what!!?!).

The bathroom was also featured on Apartment Therapy. The renovations in here continue to be some of my most popular posts, so I know you guys love this renovation.

Faux white shiplap walls installed in our fixer-upper's master bathroom.
Faux white shiplap walls.

We started the bathroom renovation by installing this easy faux shiplap wall. Read the full shiplap wall tutorial here.

Faux white shiplap walls with three large wooden floating shelves installed above a white toilet.
Rustic wooden shelving installed above our master bathroom toilet.

Then we built these fun floating shelves to add some extra bathroom storage space (and, of course, a cute place to decorate!). Read how to build bathroom floating shelves here.

A vintage medicine cabinet mirror painted a soft pastel blue installed in our master bathroom after renovations.
The vintage medicine cabinet added to our master bathroom’s farmhouse vibes.

We installed a vintage medicine cabinet to give the room some major farmhouse charm.

A blue and teal ombre painted sign has metal wire twisted to read
DIY wall decor created for our master bathroom makeover.

I had fun making some smaller DIY projects for the bathroom, like this ombre painted wood sign

A close-up angled look at a rustic wood sign that says
Farmhouse-style decorations added charm to the master bathroom makeover.

…and this adorable chippy paint rub-a-dub-dub sign.

The completed toilet alcove renovation, with white shiplap walls and rustic wood shelving decorated with teal and white farmhouse style decor.
The finished toilet alcove, with rustic shelving, shiplap walls, and farmhouse decorations.

If you’re looking for tons more details on the farmhouse master bathroom renovation, check out the full bathroom reveal here.

Shortly after we moved out, Logan painted the wood vanity white, which was a long time coming.

I was totally saying…man, why didn’t we just do that earlier!? It looks great and fits in better with the farmhouse feel of the bathroom. He also did some painting in the shower and made it a nice bright white – looks so fresh!

The master bedroom vanity and shower stall, with new wright paint to brighten up the room.
A refreshed shower stall and bathroom vanity after some bright, white paint.

I was so sad to leave behind this bathroom, which I ended up falling in love with.

Two side by side images show the transformation of a master bathroom toilet alcove from plain to modern farmhouse style.
The before and after look at the toilet alcove in our master bathroom.
Two stacked images showing the comparison of the shower and vanity area in the master bathroom before and after renovations.
The before and after comparison of the shower stall and vanity in the master bathroom.

Whew….I know that was A LOT of information and A LOT of photos. But this before and after home renovations post was about three years in the making.

Taking a look back and really how far we came in our first fixer-upper makes me so happy and proud. A lot of people thought we were crazy for taking on a big project like this, but we’re so glad we did!

By DIYing almost every improvement, we saved THOUSANDS upon THOUSANDS of dollars and built a ton of equity in the home as well (since the market has gone up considerably here since we purchased).

With the improvements we made and the rise of the market, we were able to retain this home and turn it into a cash-flowing rental property before buying our 2nd fixer-upper.

We were very blessed to be able to do this, but a lot of it was due to the hard work, blood, sweat, and tears that we poured into this home over the past three years.

I’m so glad we decided to take one last look back at the before and after home renovations because I feel like I have a little closure now! It’s safe to say that we’ve closed the chapter on our first fixer-upper and can’t wait to get going on the renovations for our next place, which has already started!


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