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. Kelsey says

    Thank you for posting these old pics, it’s a great inspiration! My husband and I just bought our first house one month ago and we both read your blog everyday. I was getting discouraged and beginning to feel like we’ll never get there, seeing how beautiful your house was. But it’s good to see the difference from move-in to move-out. Thanks for sharing, it was very encouraging!

  2. Heather W says

    Thank you for this post!
    I always feel like “why is this taking me so long?” and “why does everyone else seem to know exactly what they want and it looks great!”
    It can be so frustrating. I have changed paint colors and furniture many times and from your blog have learned ways to diy things myself and to take my time!
    Thank you so much for reassuring me that I am doing things just right! I hope my house turns out just as lovely in the end.

  3. says

    Wow, such a cool post! Love seeing how it took time to get the house to where you wanted it to be. Also, you painted the faux brick paneling in the kitchen?? Was it really faux brick and not real? We’re buying a house with hideous wood panel in the basement (which I know we can paint) and a section of faux brick panel in the corner (where a wood burning thing used to be). The faux brick is even uglier than the dark wood panel, believe it or not. I’ve been stressing about what do with it, because we can’t afford to tear it all down and drywall right way. Do you think I could actually paint the faux brick stuff? It’s got a slightly “plastic-y” texture, and I wasn’t sure if paint would actually stick on it, so to speak.

    • says

      Oh yeah- it was so gross but definitely not real brick (it felt spongy to the touch). But it soaked up paint really well! Use semi-gloss so it’s wipe-able. And if yours is a little plastic-y maybe use primer first and even sand it a little so you get better adhesion? Good luck!


  4. Sarah says

    ahhhhhhhh- THANK YOU FOR THIS post! I was feeling so depressed as we have been in our new house for 3months and its a mess. Still have boxes to unpack. Haven’t hung any pictures up. The house feels empty, cold. I have a million ideas of things I want to do- just need time and money. It was so nice to also see pics of your old house looking similar to ours to remind me it takes time.

  5. ruthie says

    Those pics give me hope that my house will come together one day! For some reason I hadn’t see those before pics. You all have come along way. Am I the only one who is impressed that you knew exactly where to find the “8 month” progress pictures?! So organized!

    • says

      Haha, the sad thing is that before the blog (and after the blog while owning the first house) I was crazy organized (I took monthly pics of the house as it evolved and labeled them by month in a master folder that said “our house.” Since moving into the new house (with a one year old, which I think might be the difference) I’m so scattered I no longer have my monthly labeled house pics. Just a million before pics snatched on move in day and another folder that says progress with everything stuffed in there (so I’d have to look at the date of each pic to find certain stages). Better get my act together soon!


    • LauraC says

      So glad to know I’m not the only one who saw her organization and discipline disappear after kids. Wasn’t so bad with one, but where I really lost it was last year when #2 joined us. I always envy you, Sherry, with John there to help. I’m home with the kids, but it’s really hard to get much done with two little ones (who are rarely napping/resting at the same time). However, I’m sure it’s just a grass-is-greener thing, because I know you are super busy!

    • says

      Oh yeah, babies will getcha. I can’t even imagine juggling a second one yet! Especially since Clara has decided not to nap much at all lately (an hour total if we’re lucky)! If it helps, we find that we get a lot done after 7:30 at night when Clara’s in bed. Nights and weekends are actually when we do almost everything – thankfully Clara can sleep through hammering like you wouldn’t believe!


    • LauraC says

      Don’t worry, Sophia was 2 years, 9 months exactly when Jonathan was born. It’s a really good difference in age (potty trained, no paci, high chair or crib necessary). I say that because I know Clara will be 2 before you start hmmm, planning, for #2. So she’ll be 3 or almost so, and a very big help! Love my two!! (and love having a girl and a boy) Oops, sorry for changing the topic of this thread.

    • says

      Aw thanks LauraC! That’s so good to hear. My brother and I were three years apart so I hope it works out nicely, although I know it’ll be chaos at times. Haha.


  6. Shaina says

    I love this…is it weird that it brings me comfort to see that you guys started off with just a mish-mash of things too? We bought our house almost 2 years ago knowing we had so much we wanted to change, and it’s been quite a journey. Sometimes it gets a little discouraging (and embarrasing to have people over when the wallpaper in the kitchen is half torn down…), but you guys really are so helpful and inspiring! Keep it up! :)

  7. Amy says

    :) I feel soooooooooo much better now about not having my curtains finished yet. Or any of the rooms painted (except the living room). Or any shelving in the bathroom. Or the light fixtures changed out. Or the front door refinished. Or the attic insulated…

    No really, I’m going to finish those curtains this weekend… and maybe finish unpacking.

  8. mariela says

    Thank you Sherry! I needed to hear that! My fiance and I have been at our house for about a month now and I just have to remind myself that it will take time and I have to enjoy the ride instead of worrying.

  9. Mandy says

    I have loved the last 2 posts. You guys have come such a long way, and have inspired so many people. Right now, Michael’s is doing a buy one gallery wrapped canvas get the next for a penny, so I got 2 black 8×10’s with some Mod Podge and foam brushes, and plan on printing out some pictures and making my own canvas prints ala your horse pics in the bedroom. I can’t wait!!

    I do have a question though. What do you think would be the best thing to print on? Regular copy paper, card stock, photo paper? I’m thinking copy paper or card stock might not work, but I’m wondering if it will hold down the photo paper…

    Thoughts on this would be great! Thanks so much :)

    • says

      Holy cow- that’s an amazing sale! Thanks for the heads up! Hmm, as for Mod Podge I’m nervous for you (just because the first adhesive stuff we used didn’t work, so I truly believe acrylic medium might be the only way to go for long-lasting adhesion since canvas fabric is hard to “grip” longterm. I think I’d try cardstock over copy paper though, because I worry copy paper might be too thin and it’ll look wiggly. But I worry card stock might need acrylic medium to hold it in place since it’s thicker (I got that at Michael’s btw). Good luck!


    • ruthie says

      Just happened to see this. I used to love using modge podge, but found that the colors will tend to bleed when I applied it?? Or maybe I’m the only one that has happened to. I’m checking out Michael’s as we speak!!

    • Mandy says

      Yes, it is an amazing sale!! They also have the same sale for all their poster frames as well, fyi. Hmmm, acrylic medium?? Maybe I will go and return the Mod Podge and get that instead, and also get 2 more canvases just in case I mess up. I agree, copy paper would be too thin. I’ll also check out their paper options as well. Thanks Sherry!

    • Mandy says

      Ok, I was doing a Google search and found this. What do you think of this? (Sorry, don’t mean to take up more of your time)

      “I would use matte gel to embed the photos in the background, it dries clear and covers everything (plastic coat;, but if the photographs are inkjet prints, they will probably smudge.
      A better choice would be photo transfer: coat an injet print of your photo with 4-5 generous coats of matte gel; wait for it to dry; moisten the paper on the back of the print and gently rub the paper off; the image will be transferred into the clear hardened gel and the white paper will rub off. Your image will keep its properties and its now sitting on a clear support. Apply it to your desired support and coat-seal with gel again.”

    • Mandy says

      Thanks so much for the help!! I truly appreciate it :)

      Wishing you guys luck throughout the hurricane. I think I will take the trip to Michael’s then come home and start bringing stuff in from outside (we are in Maryland). Hope all is well with you guys :)

  10. Lisa says

    I never really comment but I have to say thank you for posting this!! I was very intimidated when I started following your blog this spring and jealous that I couldn’t figure out my style right away but now I know we just need to take our time and make changes as we go and the house will come together. It’s been a year and when I look back, I am really proud of the changes we made.

    Thank you for keeping it real!

  11. Misty says

    Do you have a post about how you made the table? I can’t find exactly what I’m looking for and was thinking of doing the same.

  12. says

    This comparisoin is much better. It’s also so nice to see that you didn’t start out with everything you needed in your first house. Seeing the finished pictures yesterday and the eighth month ones today you can tell a lot of time and effort was put into it.

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