Our 1870 Colonial - Before, Before Photos

We closed on our home at the end of November and have already made some changes of our own but I wanted to share the before, before photos! Our house was built in 1870 and in 2014 it was left to rot. It had been used as a duplex for years and it was a mess. I actually went through it with a realtor when it was on the market for $29,000. I wanted to buy it so bad because even through all the mess I could see it could be a beautiful home. I obviously had no business taking on such a renovation but I'm so glad someone else did!

A contractor in town bought it and worked on it for two years and I wish I had better "before" photos from when he started so you could truly see all that was done but all I have is from an old online listing. I also feel like I should say that I'm going to share things I wish he would have done differently or details/character I wish he would have left intact but overall I'm so thankful this house was saved and think that he did a great job bringing new life to this house. I'm also so grateful that everything fell into place so easily for our family to move here.

OK, here we go! 


The exterior is my favorite transformation of the entire house. New windows and trim were installed and he replaced the vinyl siding with cement siding. The front door and trim also got a face lift. I remember the first time I drove by and noticed all that had been done (before living here was even a blip on our radar) and I was shocked. It was beautiful and caught my immediately. I do wish he would have left the shutters or replace them but I'm assuming this was for cost reasons since he was rehabbing to sell. Down the road we will add some ourselves.


This room got all new trim and instead of the little cut out he added a slanted wall and wired it for a mounted TV. I'm not a fan of that (and our TV is too big to fit in the space anyway) so one day I'd like to take it back to this and add some built in shelving. The accordion style french doors were removed and I wish they were still here. I doubt we'll add french doors in the future because I do like the open flow we have and since they wouldn't be original I think we'll just go without.


This room is right off the living room and now opens right up into the kitchen as well. The wall with the closet in the first photo below was partially removed and it makes the whole space feel larger. The hardwood floors, windows, door, and staircase railing were all removed and you can guess how I feel about that... I'm sure they had their reasoning for all of the above but those are all details I wish were still here. The stairwell is now completely enclosed and there is a door that leads up to the one room up there. (It's actually in between our first and second floor and that's where Jeremy's office is.) I'm assuming this was done so the room could be considered an actual bedroom but one day I hope to knock that all down and have a beautiful spindle handrail up the stairs.


I don't remember much about this kitchen from when I walked through it before it was renovated but I do remember it felt like an afterthought. Almost like a closed in porch. The ceilings were vaulted in here and  it really makes such a difference. The window on the left was removed and while for practical and storage reasons I understand why it was removed but this natural light loving girl is kind of wishing it was still there!


Off the dining room there is a door that leads to a full bath and the hallway that leads to the other half of the house. You also used to be able to get to this hallway from the entryway (it was a classic center hall colonial) but they put a full bath in the entryway under the stairs (which is actually my favorite bathroom in the entire house, or it will be once I'm done with it!). The hallway deadends into a linen closet and to the left is our laundry room and to the right is our master bathroom.


Because this was used as a duplex for a number of years this half of the house was a second unit and this was the kitchen. The layout is the same but the sink (wish there was still a sink in here!) and all appliances were removed. There is a ton of cabinet space and lots of counter space which is awesome. The cabinets were painted white and blonde hardwood floors were installed.


This used to be the second unit's living room. It's to the right of the entryway and the living space moved right into the dining room through an arched doorway. The contractors made this space the master suite and while it's so nice to have a master on the first floor and near the laundry, I wish I would have had a say in the layout and details. First, the fireplace was removed, as were the hardwoods and the door that led to a covered porch (it was in terrible shape and removed). I wish the door would have been turned into a window because you can never have enough natural light. The hardwoods are a little different than others in the home and I'm assuming they were removed so the flooring could be more cohesive throughout but this home is 147 years old. Part of the charm of owning a home this old is all the quirky details and elements from the past.

His and her closets were put in where the fireplace was. They're decent size but I would have had a larger walk in closet off of the master bath. This wall, in my opinion, is perfect for the bed to go and I would sacrifice a little space in the room (it's pretty decent size) for a larger closet space.

This window is now in our master bath and just to the left of the shower. I'm not crazy about the bathroom layout and in a few years we'd like to reconfigure the master suite to work better for our needs.

That closet is no longer there and this space is the master bath and hall.

In this photo you can see a third staircase that led up to the third bedroom upstairs. They took it out or covered it up (not sure which) and I'm so glad they did. The bedroom the stairs led up to seemed so small because the stairs took up the entire corner.


This is the bedroom that the stairs in the dining room lead up to. There used to be a full bath in here and there was actually a door and some steps that would take you up to one of the bedrooms on the second floor. From the upstairs bedroom the door was a miniature door and it was so random and had been added to the unit on the left so you could get upstairs. So strange and I'm so happy the contractor remedied this!


This is the bedroom that Jeremy's office used to lead too. You can see the miniature doorway in this photo - so strange right? This room is now one of my favorites. Natural light pours in almost all day and it has the best view of our historic downtown. We haven't decorated or organized this space yet but I'm excited to make it work as an office/guest room.

This door on the left leads to the landing (you can either go down the main staircase or into the playroom and Tucker's nursery) but when it was a duplex someone put a full bath in this space which made the main staircase completely unusable (it led to nowhere). I know I keep saying this but this is probably one of my favorite renovations made. I'm so happy it was put back the way it was originally.


When we first moved in we put Tucker in here but a couple of weeks ago I moved him to the back bedroom (you have to walk through this one to get to it) because I felt like as our family grows this is the best room for him. In the photo below, the door on the right leads to that full bath on the landing. I'm not sure which unit it belonged to but you could get to it from both sides. Also very strange. Anyway, now it leads to the landing as it should!

Like I said above, you have to go through the playroom to get to Tucker's nursery. Not my favorite flow but it's very popular in older homes.


This is the first room in the house that is "done". There of course are a few things left I'd like to do but it's adorable and it's a room that will grow with him. I love it so much and hope to share it here in the next couple of weeks. But, this is what it looked like before it was renovated. See how much of the room was taken up by the stairs? The chimney was removed and a closet was added back to the left of the window. And, now that I'm looking at these photos there used to be a window to the left. That shocks me.. I'm assuming it was removed because the view would just be another exterior wall of the house. There's another window out of frame to the right so this room gets plenty of natural light but I did not remember there was a third window!


This home now has three full baths (all on the first floor - not ideal but at the moment there's not really a good place to add one upstairs) but these are the only before, before photos I have of the bathrooms in this house and I'm not even sure which ones they are. I'm thinking one of them might be one that was removed. But anyway, you can see that they were in a disgusting, non-working state. The one bathroom did have hardwoods, which now every bathroom has builder grade tile.

Alright! That's all the before, before photos I have! As you can see the house was a disaster and it's pretty incredible someone was willing to step in and save it! There was a ton of work (foundation issues, new roof, new windows, updated electric, etc. etc. etc.) and while I've listed things I wish would have been done differently the house really was beautiful the day we moved in. Some (most) people wouldn't have done a thing to it because it really looked great. But, that's not how I operate - a blessing and a curse! I'm constantly thinking of ways to make things look better and work better for our family and I'm blessed with a pretty handy husband who understand that house projects are my love language. ;) I'll be back to share updates we've made of our own as projects get wrapped up!

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