Hello! I'm Suzannah, a serious DIYer. Follow along with my DIY fixer upper house renovations, sewing and crafty projects, real food recipes, and de-stressing goals.
I co-host the Your Home Story podcast and believe you can love your home just the way it is, AND have the power to design and make big changes to make it better.
I'm also the author of DIY Wardrobe Makeovers!
Mom to Otto born April 2018 and Lucy born August 2020!

This fixer upper's 1-year anniversary: progress so far

IT HAS BEEN A KILLER YEAR. So much has happened since the beginning of last summer, it's been almost too much to handle! But now I think we're pretty much on the other side of a lot of the stress and hard work... well, some of it.

It is really satisfying to look back at the "before" pics of this house and compare how far we've come.

We moved into this house ONE year ago. We got the keys 7/2/18 and spent the next two weeks emptying trash/donations, cleaning, and painting as much as we possibly could. (Here's our first month progress and 2018 recap.)

Then we've done a ton of larger projects over the past 12 months and here we are!
Here's the full before photos post... (yikes). So, what have we changed??

1. Exterior

We actually hired out landscape demo since there was SO much work to do there and we found a great landscaper. They've pruned, cleared, removed, etc. and now we're working on some projects ourselves like building a better path and establishing some "rooms"/areas out there, and will plant grass seed in the fall when it's rainy again. We're planning to lay some bark chips soon.

Oh, we also got rid of the deck and random wooden structures by putting them up on Facebook Marketplace for free!

So it's pretty much a blank slate in the back, and pretty empty in the side and front for now. But compared with what we started with, it feels so good!

Yes, the bare dirt is the "after..." Well, the "during." I just ran outside and took this pic as I was writing this post, while Jason was working on digging up the path.

2. Living room

White paint and new window coverings did most of the work for this room, and I'm actually still struggling with decorating it since it's so long and skinny. Those two chairs (which I plan to recover) need a table or something near them, and we still need more comfy seating, I think. But, the large open rug area is great for playing with the baby.

I also painted the fireplace screen all black, and did a temporary contact paper/paint job on the brick, just for fun/

3. Dining Room

This was one of the first rooms I called "done"! It was mostly decor, plus updating electrical hardware--it's another example of the difference paint and intentional decor can make! This room is central to our home and we eat here every day, so it feels so good to have it looking nice. (We do still accumulate mail and other clutter here, but I try to keep it clean!)


As I write this I am also wrapping up the final posts for our kitchen reno. It is 99% done and I will be shooting it next weekend! But here are a couple sneak peeks from this appliances post and this open shelving post, and reminder of the before.

Here are all the posts so far I've done on our DIY kitchen reno:

5. Hall/stairs

We have a large, zig-zaggy downstairs hallway with a million doors off it, including one that goes upstairs. When we moved in the stairs were the only place with 40-year-old dirty carpet, thankfully, and as you can see painting was a big update for all of the areas in this view.

Up the stairs, dirty walls.

We are still working on updating lighting and hardware and adding a handrail, but over Jason's spring break we tackled removing the carpet and painting everything up here and it made a huge difference!

We are also still planning to upgrade those original stair balusters to a safer spacing before we let Otto upstairs. We don't really go up here at all right now and are not using the bedrooms/closets for anything but storage and sewing room.

We have painted basically all of the rooms you see in the upstairs in the "before" house tour, but that's about it up here for now.

6. Bedroom

We redid our bedroom last fall as a One Room Challenge (6 weeks). It was also lots of paint and decor, but I put a ton of thought into it, more than I ever have bedroom design before. I thought about how each piece worked with the others rather than just redoing art or pillows or an individual element like I used to do.

7. Otto's room

Otto's room is not done, but is painted and functional. Once we finish our summer and early fall projects we might remove some funky shelving in there and patch the plaster, and then I can really "finish" it.

(Yes, that is a dark silver ceiling in the "before." This room took a lot of coats of paint!!!)

8. Planning

There are so many "maybe"s on the list for the rest of 2019 and over the next year... I have been doing the prep work for a lot of projects/improvements like collecting quotes and designing.

  • I've put together a bathroom design for our downstairs bathroom and even started ordering products! 
  • I have 3 quotes for exterior painting and we're planning when we'll take old cords off the house and get a painter out here
  • We're pricing mulch, etc. for that landscaping stuff I talked about earlier
  • We got some quotes for waterproofing, electrical, seismic reinforcing, and drywalling for our basement... that's on the dream list, not sure when or if we'll get to it but it's good to know what it would entail.
  • We got our house added to our city's cultural resource inventory, because it's old and significant to the town. Homes on the list are eligible for a matching grant of up to $2k per 2 years, for eligible exterior improvements. We're hoping to apply later this summer to help with the cost of getting the house painted!

All these projects take up a lot of time in the planning stage as well as the labor, so I count all these as wins too!

So there we are, pretty darn good for 1 year into this fixer upper with a baby the whole time. (We also shared our 2019 house project goals here... we are doing pretty well on that list!!!)

(You can shop lots of the pieces in our home on my shoppable home tour page.)

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