The Grand Reveal on the Fixer Upper

before and after renovation

We last left you midway through our fixer upper, the Little House. As you might remember, Natalie and I had taken on the task of rehabbing a historic fixer upper that had fallen into disrepair. Time now to finish the story and let you take a look at the grand reveal.

The Little House from the front. We purchased this fixer upper and renovated it in two months.
The Little House with a new roof, new windows and fresh paint.

As of the last writing, we’d cleaned out all of the debris, repaired and replaced the roof and ordered new windows. Natalie, with the help of her dad, had removed, reframed and replaced the kitchen window to ready it for our new kitchen design.

Our Fixer Upper Taking Time and Patience

The Little House had pretty much taken over our lives. I was working my full time job and Natalie was working part-time and was going to school as well. Every minute spent outside of work or the classroom, we were working on the Little House. Our initial excitement had faded and it was just sheer discipline pushing us through at this point.

We measured the kitchen area and plugged the numbers into a kitchen design tool on Menards website. We decided on fairly basic white cabinets to go with the gray and white theme we’d established. We held our breath, a little nervous of our design, put in the credit card number and hit order. Shortly after we lucked into an appliance package deal at Home Depot and ordered those as well.

The kitchen of our fixer upper prior to the grand reveal.
The kitchen before. Those rugs were adhered to the linoleum flooring. The window had to be removed and reframed, cabinets and appliances replaced, new appliances, plumbing moved and more.

We turned our attention to the living area which extended into the bedroom. The carpet was both old and exceptionally dirty. Beneath it was linoleum dating back to the fifties and under that were the original hardwood floors painted with red and brown paint.

Demo Day(s)

On one side of the living room, a chimney rose out of the basement carrying the flu through to the roof. The chimney, it turned out, was less chimney and more a neat pile of loosely stacked bricks. 

Demolition day at the Little House. Natalie using a sledge hammer in the kitchen and taking out the chimney in the living room.
Natalie enjoyed most of demo day, but removing the chimney was a lot of work. You can see the water damage on the ceiling.

We cut and removed the carpet, padding and linoleum. We cleaned the floors and then cleaned them again. I started to wonder if I’d ever feel clean leaving the Little House.

Natalie removed the old chimney. Starting at the roof she began removing the bricks one by one. She moved down through the attic, the first floor and, finally, into the basement. Our fixer upper was both dirty and exhausting work.

Meanwhile, I began painting at the back of the house. I painted ceilings, trim and walls. And as I finished a room, Natalie would move in and begin installing the flooring. We purchased the luxury vinyl planks. The color wasn’t our first choice, but we found a enough to finish the entire house on clearance and saved about one thousand dollars.

Young woman reframing a window in a fixer upper.
Natalie cut out and reframed the kitchen window to fit with our new cabinet design. We finished the flooring in the bedroom first and then used it as a staging area for the materials in the remainder of the house.

Hiring Help for the Fixer Upper

We knew we would need to hire a contractor for the drywall. Drywall, it seems, is more of an art than a science and we knew it was a bit much for us to tackle. It also seems that good drywall contractors are almost impossible to hire.

We tried several times and it seemed as if everyone we called was booked up for months in advance. Five times we got a quote, agreed to the price and waited for workers to show up. Each time we were left waiting.

Finally, though a serendipitous encounter at Menards, I got the name and phone number of a local handyman that was experienced with drywall and had an opening. I was so excited the next morning to see his truck in front of the Little House. He had actually shown up!

A bathroom ready for home renovations.
The bathroom before was rough. We planned to replace the sink but ended up replacing the tub, sink, toilet and most of the walls.

As our handyman and his helper busied themselves inside repairing holes in walls and ceilings, I turned my attention to the outside. The entire house needed scraped and painted. The screened in porch needed painted and rescreened. Both of the doors to the outside would need replaced. One was being held shut with just a butter knife and the other was secured with a padlock.

It turned out our handyman team was a bit of saving grace. Not only did they do an excellent job on the drywall, but they were able to tackle a few of the other jobs we had including the bathroom. He did such a good job that we had him back on punch out day to help us tie up some loose ends.

Finding Time for Renovations

Meanwhile, Natalie continued to soldier on with the flooring in between her work as a realtor and attending classes. I got to work at deconstructing and then reconstructing the porch. I removed the lattice and spray painted it from a dingy gray to a bright white. I scraped the peeling white paint on the porch painted it a slate gray. I installed screen and gave the ceiling a fresh coat of white paint.

A gray and white bathroom after home renovations.
Since the house is just a one bedroom, one bath, we decided to install a walk-in shower instead of a tub. We replaced the old seashell sink and cabinet with a sleek modern one.

As Natalie finished up the flooring inside, our cabinets arrived. At that point, she decided to enlist her dad’s help on the project once again. He had previous experience, having completed a kitchen remodel at our house a few years before. They worked together for a few days, mostly late into the night, measuring and installing cabinets and counters. Things were starting to come together.

A House of a Different Color

In the meantime, I stayed outside scraping all four sides of the Little House. It was time consuming and dirty and the hottest part of summer. At one point, there was some tricky painting around some electric lines. I called the electric company and they came out and put orange protective plastic over the lines, making it safe for me to paint. 

A screened in porch before home renovations.
The porch when we bought the Little House. Everything got a coat a paint – white went to gray and gray to white. We replaced the screen that was tattered in places.

I tried to start early in the morning, but inevitably painted through the heat of the day and into the evening when the mosquitos would come out in full force.
We hit a few snags with the delivery of our appliance, but eventually they were delivered and installed. The kitchen aesthetic went from ramshackle cabin to sleek, modern kitchen.  Everything was starting to fall into place.

Two doors on a renovated porch.
Everything has a fresh coat of paint and the two doors are brand new.

Our October 1 deadline was rapidly approaching. For our final push, we spent a few exhausting nights working on finishing touches. Natalie and David installed the cabinet hardware on the kitchen cabinets. I was in charge of job site cleanup. It seemed like there were a hundred different last minute loose ends.

The End is In Sight

But finally, we finished. Our months of hard work on the fixer upper was finally over. Our renters moved in, which should have been our happily every after. (Keep your eyes open for another article as we hit yet another snag.)

As we finished up, absolutely exhausted, we asked ourselves one question: “would we do it again?” With some hesitation, we decided that we would. But we’ve learned a few things for next time around. (1) Purchase a home that needs more minor or cosmetic fixes. (2) Don’t try to do everything. Know what we want to do and what we can hire out. (3) Give ourselves more time to complete the project so that we don’t have to spend every waking moment working.

A modern stainless and white kitchen following a home renovation.
The kitchen was completely transformed into a modern space with white cabinets and stainless appliances. The fan is actually the same one. We took down the motor housing and blades, spray painted them and reassembled.

Have you done a rehab or fixer upper in Ohio? What was your experience? Would you do it again? I would love to hear experiences or tips from readers who have had success or even failures with investment property.

If you haven’t already, click through to read the first leg of our journey with the Little House. Our inspiration came from watching too many episodes of Chip and Joanna Gaines on their Fixer Upper program. If you’re looking for similar motivation, check out their website.


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Would we do in again? We’ve put some thought into it. We have decided that if we find the right property we will indeed do it again. We have decided next time to find a property that is in need of more cosmetic fixes.