I didn't start off in a fixer upper! My DIY house stories

I spent my childhood overseas, but when we came back to the States we lived in this grand English Tudor that had 15 rooms and 7 bedrooms and 4 fireplaces! All five of us kids had our own bedrooms! It had all of the things a big house should have like a secret passageway and laundry chute, a front and back staircase, a fabulous linen closet and butlers pantry and a buzzer on the floor under the table in the dining room to call the servants! Loads of mahogany wood paneling and gorgeous leaded glass windows with a library full of built in mahogany bookcases and small gas fireplace. This house was built in 1922. We lived here for 18 years.

My bedroom was front right, second floor!
This is what it looked like when I lived there.
Above  is how it  looks now after a one million dollar renovation.
They did a great job.

This was the first house I bought. 
It was my mother's childhood home and I purchased it 
from my grandfather after my grandmother died. 
It was dark grey, no shutters and all covered up with screens.
 I took down the screens and a partial enclosure 
that blocked the open side areas of the porch 
and painted it pink with black trim. 

This house became known as "The Pink House". 
Many tried to copy the color.


This house had a huge foyer with beautiful woodwork, a Count Rumford Fireplace,
5 bedrooms, a grand dining room, heavy mahogany pocket doors.
 It also needed a new kitchen, a new bathroom, a complete residing and paint job.
Here it is in the finishing stages of paint..you can see the lattice is not yet done.

This was what it looked like when I fell head over heels in love and had to have it.
I could see beyond it's sad neglected facade.
I am standing on the porch on moving day holding my 2 year old son Colin.
The Count Rumford Fireplace and pocket doors in the living room,
as  movers bring in a carpet through
 the foyer as Colin and I watch.
Everyone thought I was crazy to take on this project.
I loved the thought of how gorgeous this wrap around porch was going to turn out!
My son Brandon is sitting on a wicker chair on the porch.
Multiple bay windows ran along side of the house.
Soon  this house would have all new cedar shingles
 with a painted lady combo of taupe on the shingles,
purple on the trim and lavendar rose for accents like the balusters
and the fancy fish scale shingles at the peak of the roof.
 All the screening was coming down soon!
This image shows closer detail of the porch.
It was a bridal shower for my sister Susan, here with mom.
I decorated my old wheel barrow with balloons to match the house paint.

However I missed the quiet tree lined street of my pink house, 
so after I fixed up the Victorian I bought this classic
Federal Colonial which was only two doors away from the pink house.
 It was white with platinum grey shutters. 
I painted the front door Heritage Red after failing with a yellow color first.
 The best part about this house was the cornfield behind it in the summer!
Notice the bulls eye glass on the door and 
the bead board trim inside the arched ceiling.
 Loved that detail. I liked shopping at Talbots too..
.maybe there was a connection with the red door?
This is when the door was white, and I liked that too.
Nice railings on the side reminds me of 
a whaling captains house for some reason.
 I picked up this adorable duplex after I divorced 
and moved back to my childhood town. 
 Bobby Kennedy's Harvard  roommate grew up in this house.
 He later wrote speeches for JFK!!
I brought my awnings from the federal colonial and installed them on my duplex.
 It needed the other back storm door to be fixed,
 that was in the garage waiting for me..
I had to do window boxes first, of course.
 This is the kitchen in the duplex and I have already yanked the dark green doors off!

What a difference a gallon of white paint makes, eh? 
My dad painted them for me. 
It also had original yellow formica counter tops with a stainless steel edge, 
which was ok and yellow wall tile (ugh) which was not.

Next, I ripped off the wall tile and was thrilled when I  found bead board underneath! 
So I restored it, but had to create a second molding to cover the wall 
where the tile originally was placed. 
I put a french country toile border in between 
the beadboard and the new molding--no more tile!

You can see I was impatient and had already wallpapered the top in a petite red pattern.

 Storage was an issue so I got this lovely pine secretary at a junk shop and stuck it in the corner.
I corralled bills in the drawers and put my prized transferware up top!
 French farmhouse! Kinda.
 If  I knew I was gonna blog back then, I would have taken the pic without  
my boyfriend (now hubby) and kids and his cousin ...
but you can see I added the wallpaper in a petite red pattern 
and had a border where the old tile ran. I liked the black and white linoleum 
floor which I put in, cheap and nice.
I took out the ceiling fan and put in an iron chandelier. 
This kitchen and house was TINY, but I was determined to make it charming.
 Of course the custom curtains added to the appeal.
I also gutted the attic and made two bedrooms and a jack and jill bathroom for my sons to share.

After two years I parlayed the duplex for a nice gain and bought a single family again, this time a sweet bungalow. It was the cheapest house for sale at the time in my town.
 It needed a gut job and a ton of work! 
I redid the entire second floor down to the studs 
as well as the kitchen and back of the little house. 
It came out really great.
Here I am with my mom, sister and brother showing them my soon to be new house.

 I started right away by changing the entryway to the rear instead of the side. 
My new kitchen was soon going to have a little french door to lead outside. 
My boyfriend (now hubby) and I dismantled the cobblestone wall. 
I love cobblestones! 
The ones we didn't reuse on this project I eventually dragged 
to my new home when I married Dave and they are in my garden now.

This was the hideous kitchen inside, UGLY, but I had a vision.
 My broker thought I was crazy. My dad didn't..
.he was going to be one of my biggest helpers on this project! 
He's fearless, like me.

Part of the vision included ripping out the wall over there
 so I could have an open floor plan in this tiny space. 
I had already had my dad hang my crystal chandelier! 
I am impatient.

Opened wall from dining area into kitchen with my french door I told you about in the back ground. Still a TINY house but it felt so much larger by opening this up. I painted the walls my favorite BM color Hepplewhite Ivory throughout.  My cabinets were white glazed uppers and alder wood lowers with a Boos Butcher Block island. I had pale green granite counters and I was in heaven. Here I am carving the turkey for a small family Thanksgiving in our new home.

I had chicken wire in the corner cabinet instead of glass so I could put my cool things on display and have a touch of french farmhouse. 
The under cabinet lights did not look obnoxious like that in real life!
This was a simple stylish makeover that fit this little house.

Not long after, my handsome boyfriend proposed marriage and this bunglalow hit the market! 
I moved into Dave's house that he was building and we have been working on it ever since.  
Our new plans include expanding our outdoor living space with french doors and a minor kitchen remodel, with a new backyard patio and garden area. Stay tuned.


 This is my current home. It is actually a pre-fab from Canada. Center entrance colonial 
 with black shutters and a light grey vinyl (ugh) siding. 
I want to put a french door in and make a patio area. 
It is on a small city lot, and I want to try to get in as much garden area as I can.
 Right now it is a work in progress!

It sits up on a rocky ledge.....I am in the neighbor's yard snapping this pic.

 The famous pink swing my dad made many moons ago.  
It was white. I like to paint things.
It hangs outside the entrance to the cellar apartment my son lives in.
The walkway up to the front door & the granite walls my husband makes.
A garden closeup: Nepeta, Betty Prior roses, and Boxwoods mingling happily.
There are my bungalow cobblestones!

 This is our second home, a colonial in New Hampshire right next to Pleasant Lake. 
It has a fruit orchard, 90 blueberry bushes and beautiful lake views. 
Old stone walls. So lovely. This used to be a farm long ago.
Lots of balconies and decks to capture the lake view!
 A beautiful spot in the summer.

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