The 8 Month Difference…

After yesterdays first house vs. current house comparison, this comment from Jess definitely got our wheels turning: “I think its an unfair comparison to put 8 months of work at the current place up against 4 + years at the old. You should have compared current photos from this house to what your old house looked like 8 months after you moved in there!!” Well, that’s probably not quite fair either, since we’ve definitely learned a ton in the last five years of homeownership (and also spend a lot more time doing house stuff these days since this DIY diary of ours is our job)… but we’re game! It’s Friday. But oh boy is this walk down memory lane going to amuse you. Just picture us quietly cringing over here as we bare all.

See, eight months into owning our first house, we still didn’t even know how to properly paint trim (I painted all of it in the entire house with flat paint only to learn it should be semi-gloss and then had to redo it all – and yes, it was torture). But the beauty of this post is that it’s a good reminder that houses take time. And sometimes they look crazy. Which is probably why some of the completely unfinished rooms in this house don’t make us want to cry as much as they did in our first house (back when we thought homes were supposed to be done the week after you moved in). Now we know better. So just for fun, here’s how our first house looked around eight months in (which was only about eight months before we started this ol’ blog to track the progress of our big kitchen renovation for friends & family members). Oh and you can scroll back to yesterday’s post if you want to peep the final first house pics (or compare this roundup to our current house’s eight-months-in progress). Just didn’t want to bog this post down with 50 more pics and crash the site like I did yesterday. Oops.

Front Yard, First House (8 Months In):

Our front yard was kind of just a forest when we moved in. But in eight months I did manage to clip all the trees that completely blocked the view of the house from the curb so neighbors could sneak a peek (yes, there really was a house back there). Project Tree Trimming was one of those let’s-surprise-John-when-he-comes-home-from-work projects that I did with a lawn chair and a branch cutter. And yes, the mister was shocked to actually see the front porch from the street.

Front Porch, First House (8 Months In):

This was a few weeks after I clipped up the branches. I took a saw to the fully slatted wood screen door and cut a big “window” in it just to break things up. Then I painted it yellow and hung an embarrassingly lame twig and faux lemon wreath from Target. Oh yeah and that thing hanging next to the door was left by the previous owner. It was a wood plaque that looked like a cutting board with a pineapple and the word “Welcome” painted on it. Very country cottage-y. But I loved that thing for a good year.

Living Room, First House (8 Months In):

Oy. That’s really all I can say. The sofa was a hand me down from a family member. The iconic college dorm coffee table was an Ikea find. Everything is way too small and way too far apart. There’s a square of faux-stone linoleum in front of the door. It’s all sorts of horrible. Living with this room for a few years taught us that creating two zones in the long-ish space (a dining area and a living area along with a console by the entryway) filled the space in a more functional and not-crazy-sparse way.

Kitchen, First House (8 Months In):

We were pretty active in the kitchen within eight months of moving in. We got all new appliances (Frigidaire from Lowe’s, which we carried over into our big remodel about eight months later) and painted the cabinets (Brown Bag by Glidden), replaced the hardware (with cheap Ikea stuff) and painted the faux brick backplash (Wishes by Glidden). It still looked like a hot mess in there, but it was our mess. Come on, you know you like those awkward serving spoons hanging from the metal range hood that’s not actually over the stove.

Dining Room (Future Bedroom/Nursery), First House (8 Months In):

We had lots of fun with this room, even though it wasn’t very functional (a room that barely accommodates four people does not a dining space make). We actually built that table ourselves (using a thrift store pedestal base and a giant piece of wood screwed in from below and then painted glossy black). I also spray primed and painted the old chandelier white (it used to be brass) and replaced the long pointy fire-shaped bulbs with modern round ones. But my favorite little adventure in there was painting the area over the chair rail with tiffany-box blue paint, and then using chalk to draw subtle leafy branches on the wall. Crazy yes, but lots of fun (I even used a spray fixative from the craft store to keep it from rubbing off). More on that project here.

Master Bedroom, First House (8 Months In):

Yikes, this room was baaad. Much like the living room everything looked really sparse. And yes, that’s a printer/fax machine hiding on the floor in the corner. Freelance copywriter from home = actually faxing things pretty regularly. But there’s no excuse for having it on the floor in the bedroom. And the too small art and too low bed with nothing else going on to fill things in around them kind of kills me. Thank goodness for living and learning.

Oh yeah, this bathroom phase is like looking back at photos of a really bad haircut in ninth grade. I thought painting the trim black around the window could look really cool and Domino-ish… but no. Not happening. So I painted it white again and removed the swag (which was actually a pashmina that I still wear to this day – and giggle when I remember its past life). Ah, much better.

Guest Room, First House (8 Months In):

So… eight months in meant we painted the room but that’s it. Still no bed for guests. We were saving our pennies and focusing on other areas, but we eventually got a full sized bed as a hand-me-down a few months later. Hooray for sleepovers.

Den, First House (8 Months In):

Bad news bears. Seriously, everything from the white bedsheet that I actually stapled to the underside of the desk in the corner to the crooked-looking painted paneling but unpainted brick makes me cringe. About a month later we painted the two brick walls the same color as the two paneled ones and it started to move towards the room that we know and love (but it still took a while to work up the energy to tackle those beams).

Laundry Nook, First House (8 Months In):

This is a terrible shot of the space that would someday become the laundry nook because it’s aimed at the floor, but I was terribly proud of the peel & stick vinyl tile that I laid down over grody old yellow sheet linoleum (that always looked dirty no matter how hard I scrubbed). Of course about a year later we’d remove those bifold doors to open the laundry area up (and to avoid door wars between the bifolds and the door to the sunroom) and add wood flooring throughout the entire hall, half bath, den, and kitchen. Oh but you might notice that I put little glass knobs on the bifolds to make them more palatable until those later phases. It’s the little things.

Half Bathroom, First House (8 Months In):

We knew that giant boxy sink vanity needed to be switched out for a smaller pedestal sink to make the tiny room feel a lot less crowded, but eight months in we were pretty scared to take that on (a little googling revealed that we had to cut into drywall to find studs to secure the back of the sink basin) so we put it off a few months longer. But we did paint the walls the same tiffany box blue that we had in the dining room (with flat paint, which was a bad call, btw- now I always use semi-gloss in bathrooms & kitchens) and replaced the toilet (it was avocado green when we moved in). And I replaced the knobs and the grungy old fabric on the window shutters (but later removed them entirely because natural light was much needed).

Sunroom, First House (8 Months In):

We actually did a fair amount of work in eight months in here. We got that wicker daybed as a hand-me-down and then got a hand-me-down twin mattress for it (and used regular old twin sheets from Target to cover the mattress and make that odd little skirt in the front). We also used a cheap-o lack table from Ikea to create the scrabble table (we just topped it with a larger tabletop that came with the thrift store pedestal that we used to make the dining table). We also stained the concrete floors a color called “tuscan gold” – which I later grew to hate because it was a bit too orange-y in direct sunlight (so we painted it a glossy chocolate color to tie it into the hardwood flooring throughout the house).

Patio, First House (8 Months In):

This patio was labeled as “needs replacing” during our inspection, so we knew it was on its last leg but thought we could live with it for a little while. But when my mom visited a few weeks before our backyard wedding and said she feared for guests’ safety (and pictured them all breaking their ankles on it) we decided to spend some of our saved-up “house fixing fund” to pay a pro to redo the whole thing over the course of three days (since it was just a few weeks before the wedding and we feared a giant half-finished disaster if we took it on ourselves). Knowing just how hard laying a patio is from doing the one at our current house, we’re still very happy we hired that one out so we could plan the rest of our wedding without that monkey on our back.

Back Yard, First House (8 Months In):

During our walk-through I glanced through the window in the old dated dining room and saw this. And I nearly lost my breath. I remember thinking “all this could be ours?” – I just thought having all this space would be awesome (the deep woods beyond the planted part was also part of the acreage). At first we loved the park-like setup above (and kept it pretty much exactly like this for the wedding (you can see how we set things up here), but eventually we grew tired of weeding the long pea gravel path and pruning the bushes and trying to use the tiny patches of segmented grass for incredibly mature things like extreme frisbee and chasing the dog, so we eventually craigslisted the gravel & bushes (folks dug them all up and hauled them for us in exchange for them being free) and we laid down some grass seed for a nice flat grassy yard in front of those deep woods. And Burger thanked us repeatedly for the trouble.

So there you have it. The state of our first house around eight months in. Thank goodness for the whole learn as you go, trial and error thing. It might not be the quickest way to a complete makeover, but I’m telling you – there’s something to it. Eventually you get there. Heck, it’s still the exact method that we use today (we just know a bit more about what we like and what type of paint should be used on trim and in bathrooms). So rejoice if your house is only a shadow of what you long for it to be. That stuff takes years, at least it does for us. So just keep trying things and learning about what floats your boat and eventually you’ll get there. Oh and don’t forget to enjoy the ride.


  1. says

    This is a much better comparison. I think it shows how much your style has grown and it really helps get across that these things don’t happen over night. Turning a house into a home takes some time.

    Stay safe this weekend with Irene!

  2. Amber Kanady says

    What a difference.. Yalls (im from Texas, yalls is really a word.. : ) ) house went from very cute and cozy to WOWZA within just a few years you guys are amazing and are an inspiration to all.

  3. Sugar Cookie says

    Great post! My husband and I bought our first house eight months ago after almost a decade of college, grad school, and law school, which meant we had money for the house, but didn’t have much furniture to put in it. We’ve slowly bought a few things – a nice king size bed, Pier 1 sofa, bedside tables, and barstools – but are still living with a lot of college furniture and hand-me-downs. It’s nice to know that this is the norm, that a house doesn’t become “finished” after all of the unpacking is done. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Natalie says

    I love that you still wear the pashmina! And I love the chalk drawings on paint idea! I have to say your current house seems more put together in only 8 months than your first did. Probably because you’re more experienced now! I can’t wait to see how it all turns our and get the 4 year comparison!

  5. Alissa says

    Well, it could also be argued that eight months in on both houses isn’t fair because this time around home improvement (and writing about it) is your full time job – instead of advertising and copywriting with white paint on the side. That’s gotta be giving you a subtle nudge – keep doing stuff for the blog, right? :)

    • says

      Haha, yup I mentioned that in the first paragraph. We have a lot more experience after five years of doing it and definitely spend a lot more time on house projects these days!


    • Alissa says

      Oh, I was thinking just the TIME factor beyond the experience factor. You probably have much more time to work on projects now than you did when you were both holding down non-home-improvement jobs. :)

    • says

      Oh yes, of course! Didja see how we said we spend more time doing home improvements these days since this DIY diary is our job? Although 98% of our projects are still done during nights & weekends (during the day one of us is a stay-at-home parent to Clara and the other one has a desk job – writing posts, answering comments, uploading and editing pics, organizing giveaways, etc). At night when Clara is sleeping we can finally tackle projects together. And on weekends when the blog is calmer we can get other DIY stuff done for the upcoming week during Clara naps (or when Grammy babysits- haha). Not that we’re complaining- we love what we do! But we still find ourselves at Home Depot at 7:30 at night just like the rest of the world. Wish we could get our act together and do that stuff during off-hours like 11am, but we haven’t quite cracked the code!


  6. says

    Wow, the comparison is huge! I love seeing how your style has changed- it definitely happens with age! (Not that any of us are old :) ) Some of the things you had done remind me of how I have decorated in the past.. or how some things are done in our current apartment. (Long comforter hanging over the daybed as a makeshift bed skirt, anyone?) We still rent, but hopefully someday soon I will be able to develop a cozy and stylish home like yours!

  7. Barb says

    As the old saying goes…YOU’VE COME A LONG WAY, BABY!!! What a great post. I still love your first house too. So quaint and charming. By the time you moved out…it was FABULOUS!!!

    Your new house is getting that way too…FABULOUS!! Keep up the good work.

    Marvelous postings this week. So many pictures and trips down memory lane. Thanks for a great week of fun and have a great weekend.

    Are you gearing up for a hurricane? We in New Hampshire are ready for it. Stay safe and batten down the hatches.


    • says

      We’re getting ready over here! Just bringing in all of our patio furniture and planters and stocking up on some food. Hoping we don’t lose power for a week or something- since that would make blogging pretty impossible. Cross your fingers for us Barb!


    • Sarah says

      Have you considered getting a generator for things like this down the road? Not just for blogging purposes, but for overall needs in emergencies like this?

    • says

      We actually talked about it yesterday but weren’t sure that we’re ready to spend $500-800 for something that we might not use very often (especially with so many other DIY-related materials on our to-buy list). Might eat those words if we’re without power for a week though! Yikes.


    • says

      We lost power for a week in 2008 after Hurricane Ike–in SOUTHERN INDIANA. It wasn’t as bad as you might think–and it makes for a great story to tell. My husband was out of town for most of, and I ended up rotating to friends with power. BUT, I’ll definitely keep my fingers crossed for you all–it wouldn’t be quite as much of an adventure with a baby and a business that runs on the internet :)

    • says

      Yeah- we’re thinking the baby and the blog might make it a little more complicated than we’d like. But we have our fingers crossed that the lights (and internet) will stay on!


  8. rachael says

    Oooo! Love the comparison! Why on earth would there be a metal range hood not over the stove? What were they thinking when they did that? But this post has me wanting it to be 4.5 years in the future so we can do another comparison of the houses!! Although I’m very happy to watch the journey from here to there. Happy Weekend!

  9. Karen says

    Ya know…. when you compare it like that, the new house wins hands down. You guys have accomplished a lot in 8 months.

    I guess all that experience, not to mention confidence in your abilities, is paying off.

  10. Audrey says

    all i can say is WOW!!!! you really have done so much more with your current house in that time span than the previous one.

  11. says

    This is my favoritist post here ever. It’s show-and-tell like this that puts the heart into showing off finished rooms. That’s why I keep coming back – besides your geeky fun sense of humor! – because you show the sweat and tears behind the changes and that makes the reveals that much more fun! And you have soooo motivated me to start my own trial-and-errors.

    One question – when you look back at the first house, are there things you would change or would you have made the same decorating decisions? To me your first house looks more “formal” (if that’s the right word) and your second house seems more colorful and energetic. I like them both but it’s interesting to see the difference now.

    • says

      It’s so funny because we have such a special place in our heart for our first house I don’t think we’d change a thing! We definitely notice that we’re making more living-friendly choices in the second house (this place is a lot more stain-resistant and break-proof for kiddos, haha) and we definitely love the color and casual welcoming thing we have going on now… but we’ll always love the light and airy feeling of our little ol’ first house!


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