This house was ROUGH when we bought it, and we had so much fun (and learned SO MUCH STUFF) throughout the process of putting it back together (you can read all the posts about the renovation here). And remember you can always visit our Beach House page for the paint colors and source info of each room. But let’s get to the fun stuff: the before & after pics!
Before we head into the downstairs, let’s look at the outside. This is a shot of it from the sidewalk back when we bought it. Did you even remember that “the pink house” was once “the greenish-gray house?” Complete with cream trim, mismatched windows (some of which were boarded up), and cinderblock steps.
And here it is from a similar angle (a little closer up). We snapped this photo this summer:
Here’s another before shot. The cinderblock steps and the sad rotting siding weren’t gorgeous… but we loved the old bones.
Thanks to a new roof, new siding, new windows, new steps, and a repointed brick foundation, we got the house looking a lot happier. After much debate, a takeout coffee cup helped us choose pink for its new color scheme (Sherwin William’s Mellow Coral, with SW Snowbound for the trim).
Here’s another angle of the front of the house. Fun fact: that vine had snaked its way into the house and was growing in there as well as on the porch. For real.
We actually repainted both the porch ceiling and the floor their original colors, or at least the best we could match. The ceiling is Sherwin William’s Breaktime and the floor is Behr’s Pacific Fog. The ceiling also already had hooks in it for a porch swing, so we ordered one, popped it up, and called it done.
We still haven’t done most of the landscaping or hardscaping that we have planned for the side and backyard yet, but we could resist sharing one last angle. Remember how rotten this side of the house was??? This was a former porch that someone enclosed with interior wood floorboards instead of actual weather-proof siding (they had rotted so badly that you could stick your fist through the siding and into the house in a bunch of places). So yeah, it had nowhere to go but up.
This was the side of the house that had to be completely torn off and rebuilt due to a sinking foundation and a ton of weather damage to the support beams. So at one point this whole section was completely missing! This is where the mudroom, pantry, bathrooms, and bunk room now are. So, for reference, that exposed wall on the second floor that’s all black is where the bunk beds now hang. Crazy!
Now it’s looking more like this (minus that giant bush in the front that we learned is actually a tree that would grow taller than our house – so we had to get it outta there before it wrecked our freshly fixed foundation).
Despite the crumbling plaster, unfinished drywall, and water damage – this view into the foyer was immediately charming to us. That fireplace mantle was not original, it was just one of many items that the previous owner had collected over the years (there were also two old stoves, various rolls of paintable wallpaper, and even an old boat in the shed out back).
This is the entry now. It, like the rest of the house, got fresh drywall and paint, refinished floors, and a whole lot more. We were able to salvage enough of the home’s original trim to use it throughout the first floor – and the original color of it in this foyer (see it in that photo above around the doorway?) is what inspired us to use non-white trim throughout the downstairs. The color is Sherwin William’s Stone Isle. The walls in the entire house are painted Sherwin Willaim’s White Heron and the floors – OH THE FLOORS! They’re the original heart pine that we had refinished and clear sealed with water based sealer (extremely durable but it won’t yellow over time like poly). It’s so hard to believe they’re the same floors in some of these photos because they were looking so rough when we bought this house.
It’s worth noting that we attempted to keep the railing wood (but stain it to match the floors since it was much redder than they were), but it proved impossible since it’s not heart pine like the floors and steps are. So we painted it a slightly deeper gray color than the trim, which allows the floors to sing instead of competing with a different tone of wood all the way up the stairs.
THE KITCHEN, DINING ROOM, & PANTRY
Through the foyer is the largest room of the house, which we turned into a kitchen/dining space. It was a giant mess when we first bought it, but have no fear, that beautiful original light fixture is the one we had rewired that now hangs in the pantry!
Before jumping to the after on this one, I’m actually going to take you through the progression of this angle, since it tells a nice story about the journey this house went through. Below is what it looked like during demo. The mess was cleared (mostly) but there was still a long way to go.
Then here it is being rebuilt. That area to the left that’s all new wood is the side that had to be completely torn down and rebuilt – and a lot of the ceiling joists in the kitchen had to be reinforced with new boards.
I won’t bore you with photos of all of the new plumbing and electrical that got added (we redid those systems as well as installing new HVAC throughout the house), so let’s jump to drywall. It’s starting to look like a house again.
And now another big jump forward to present day. After some debate about the floor plan, we actually ended up with both the dining and the kitchen functions in relatively the same spot as they originally were. Let the record state that we love this downstairs layout so much that if we could blink our eyes and have our Richmond house laid out this way – complete with the back staircase – we would in a heartbeat. It’s not huge but it feels nice and open, and when we spend time downstairs we all feel close and connected but not cramped.
Here’s the before photo again for comparison:
Here’s another view of this space. You can see the previous stove there next to the back door. And note that pink beadboard that runs along the back wall. We didn’t even register that it was there until way after we painted the house pink and it caught our eye in old photos from our initial walk-throughs. Sherry swears the house wanted to be pink all along and it was trying to send us signals (all of which we missed until after the fact).
Here’s that same view now. Even though it made floor planning a little more challenging, we were intent on keeping the placement of the original back door and that back staircase (some of our neighbors with similar houses don’t have them anymore) and we’re SO GLAD we did. They limited the useable wall space for the kitchen itself, but we ended up shifting that doorway on the left that you see above (which used to lead to the rotted side porch) to give us room for the wall that hosts the vintage pink stove now.
It basically just got moved about 5? further down the wall towards the dining area and it now leads to the laundry room/mudroom (which you enter through the house’s side door) as well as a full downstairs bathroom.
And that doorway that you see in the back left corner of the kitchen leads into our pantry, but that room used to be a full bathroom…. complete with pink trim. See it’s like this house wanted to be pink! There was a plastic shower stall between those exposed studs and a toilet tucked behind it.
You saw that the full bathroom downstairs shifted over by the mudroom, which freed up this space for another super functional area that took some trial-and-error to figure out: our walk-in pantry. We’ve got a full tutorial on building pantry shelves like these if you’re interested. Also, there’s the original light fixture that used to hang in the kitchen – we had it rewired so it’s safe.
Sherry often declares the pantry to be her favorite room in the house (especially this time of year because she stands on the floor vent to heat her feet while snacking). As weird as it sounds to declare a pantry your favorite, I’m going to top that. My favorite = the back stairs… which I know isn’t really a room… but hear me out! This is what they looked like before:
The old door on the third step up from the floor wasn’t to code anymore (you’d need a landing to stand on when opening a door) and we knew the stairs would look much better being open. So now we’ve got doors at the top of the stairs instead – which provide some nice privacy to anyone sleeping in that bedroom without blocking the view of the stairs from the kitchen.
I know this is a downstairs tour, but this photo will help to explain what I mean. Now when you reach the top of the stairs there’s a landing with a built-in dresser and these pocket doors can be closed for privacy.
Ok, back to the downstairs tour. I love these old stairs because (1) they’re such a cool quirky original detail and (2) they’re crazy functional. We weren’t even sure if we’d use them much (we thought maybe just the kids would love sneaking up them) but they act kind of like a private entry into the upstairs master bedroom for us, and I’m now so spoiled that I wish we had them in our Richmond house too.
Here is a view from the stairs themselves. It’s a “before” angle you probably haven’t seen before (probably because it’s blurry – ha!) but it’s looking towards where the pink stove now sits. The main thing to notice here is the blue door….
…that’s the one we kept as is (well, after carefully removing the flaking paint and clear sealing it with Safecoat Acrylacq so any old lead paint is completely encapsulated – you can read how to deal with lead here – BE SAFE GUYS). So that’s the very same door, it just got rehung in the doorway to the mudroom. We leave it open 95% of the time, only closing it while laundry is running, because it adds a nice dose of age and color to the room. This photo is from before we finished the backsplash, hence no finish piece across the top, but you get the idea:
If you’re wondering in all of this: “Well, where was the kitchen before?” allow me to show it to you. Since we bought the house in the midst of some stage of demo, we’re not entirely sure where appliances went (remember there was no working water meter that led to this house when we bought it, so it’s very possible it hadn’t had a functional kitchen in decades), and these clearly aren’t the original cabinets from 1920, but they were cornered against this wall that the previous owner was in the process of taking down. Btw, we donated all of the cabinets and appliances to the local Habitat ReStore, which was an easy way to dispose of them without them going to waste. They even came and picked them up, so that’s an option if you’re renovating – just call to schedule a pickup!
This is that same view now. I almost laughed out loud looking at this photo because it feels like the sink ended up in almost exactly the same spot.
Stepping forward in this room, here’s another view of the previous dining area. There’s a lot to take in here – the giant hole in the floor (lower right), the vine creeping through the window (lower left), that hit of bright green trim (?!), and that second stove sitting in the living room.
But here we are today. At some point the secondhand table needs to be refinished (the leaf is a darker color than the rest of it) and we sometimes think we’d like to add a rug under the table (although we love the ease of cleaning the room just like this – so maybe not). Either way – still a big improvement over the before!
THE LIVING ROOM
If you step forward through the dining room doorway, this is the view you see – well, or would’ve seen two years ago. Again, there’s a lot to take in: the always-damp couch, maroon trim, that second stove. Not pictured are the new rolls of paintable wallpaper piled in the corner. The funny thing is that by the time we bought the house, no amount of paintable wallpaper was gonna save it.
Here’s how that same angle is looking lately. The fireplace mantel in the before photo wasn’t original and actually didn’t even fit on the wall (it overhung the far corner by an inch or two). So we donated the mantle and exposed the cool old brick chimney that had been hiding behind the plaster.
In this before photo you can sort of see better how the fireplace mantel didn’t fit on the wall (it was too wide on that left side). And while we didn’t rehang that door in that exact spot, this is one of the many original wood doors we had stripped down to the original pine, clear sealed, and then rehung throughout the house. I can’t say where this exact door ended up, but you’ll see one of them in a minute on the downstairs bathroom. All of the interior doors on the house are original (and all of the exterior ones except for the side door – which was a dinged up 50’s metal one – are too!).
Looking at this area today, you can better see how the exposed brick chimney adds a little bit of age and interest to the room. The warm tones of the brick also look great with the warm pine floors, which are balanced by the gray trim and some of the cooler colors we worked into the space, like the rug and the media cabinet.
And if you thought a second stove in the living room was weird, I dug up this before photo from another angle that featured a doorless fridge in there too. And there’s all that paintable wallpaper I mentioned.
Here’s that same angle now – taken from standing in that doorway that used to have the wood door on it. This is one of the first views you see when you walk into the foyer (when you step into the house, this is immediately on your right) and we love how light and bright this room has become.
Here’s a similar vantage point, just looking slightly back toward the dining room. This must’ve been after closing since the doorless fridge is gone (the seller took that out before we closed), but at least now you can see the open bag of concrete left on the floor… WHICH HAD COMPLETELY HARDENED. I guess I shouldn’t be mad at that though, since it made it less messy to clean up.
Here’s an after from a similar POV. This room actually didn’t have an overhead fixture before, so we had one wired and added a decorative medallion to balance out the modern chandelier. We’re planning to swap out our 7-year-old Ikea sectional for the Mellow sofa from our own furniture line whenever we bring a moving truck out for the duplex. Can’t wait!
Okay, one last angle of the stove, I mean, living room. This is standing in the living room looking back through into the dining and kitchen area.
And here’s a similar view now, which shows you how the dining table helps act as overflow seating for the living room, since someone can easily sit on the bench and face into the living room to chat. We love how flexible it is, and we’ve had big groups over for a casual meal and it works so well.
THE MUDROOM & BATHROOM
The last two rooms to show you downstairs are some of our hardest working spaces in the house. The mudroom and the downstairs bathroom, (along with the pantry) were located in the section of the house that had to be completely torn off and rebuilt. Remember that rotted exterior side of the house that we showed you with fist-sized holes? Well, this is the room behind it (note the sunlight streaming in between the gaps in the “siding”).
I can’t get quite far back enough to take that same angle now, because we added a wall to split the space into two rooms: the mudroom and the bathroom. But the wall seen above is now home to our laundry area and – since this is the room you enter from the side door – it acts as a mudroom of sorts too, complete with an oversized wall hook rail, a bench, and baskets for shoes. That tall Ikea cabinet also hides our tankless water heater while storing brooms, a vacuum, and other cleaning supplies.
Turning around, this was the view of the other side of that room when we first bought it (standing where the washer & dryer are now). It’s a little hard to orient yourself since we changed the layout, but just note the location of the door and window on the left side.
Now, looking from the washer and dryer today, the door and window stayed in the same spot – but there’s a wall between them to create the downstairs bathroom (which now has that window in it). And in this photo you can see one of the original wood doors after it was stripped and resealed. Plus, see that trio of photos? Those are “before” photos that we had framed so anyone who visits can appreciate how far this house has come.
Now I’ll show you the bathroom up close. I don’t really have comparable “before” photos because this didn’t exist as a separate room before, but in many ways it matches the layout of the original downstairs bathroom (which is now the pantry).
And here’s the view of the other side of that wall, where you can see the vanity area. Just like the picture frames above the toilet, we chose a mirror with wood accents to pick up on the original wood doors. This one was actually a more recent swap (we had a larger rectangular one there before) and this suits the space much better.
So now that you’ve seen the entire downstairs, let’s pop upstairs & look around, shall we? Because the transformations were just as big up there!
UPSTAIRS HALL & OFFICE
Here’s the upstairs hall as you face the front room that we converted into a mini storage room & office. There was tons of water damage, mold, and termite damage throughout the entire top floor.
This is the same angle now, with smooth walls and a non cracking ceiling! Makes all the difference, eh?!
If you take a few steps towards that doorway, this is what the room looked like when we bought the house:
And here it is now that we converted it into an office with the addition of some really simple shelves that rest on brackets (and a very basic desktop that we hung in a similar way). It adds SO MUCH FUNCTION to such a small space (when in doubt, go vertical whenever you can!).
This is what the front bedroom looked like when we got the house – we could see potential in that beautiful floor that we refinished, but it was pretty much a blank slate.
Here’s that room now, all furnished & welcoming for guests. This room gets such great light, so we love putting up friends & family who come to stay. It’s so lovely sometimes I wish it was our master bedroom – but there’s no attached bath. So we have the smaller bedroom in the back & leave this loveliness for anyone who comes to stay with us.
Without a doubt my favorite part is this original chimney that we exposed (it used to be hiding in the wall behind drywall) and this dresser, sconce, and mirror setup that we created (the inlay dresser was my best craigslist score to date!).
To give you more of an idea about how far back we stripped things at this house, here’s a photo that was taken from a similar angle back before the walls went back up. In order to address all the water damage & ensure everything was structurally sound, we had to go all the way back to the studs – and we patched that hole in the brick while we were putting everything back together.
There was also a middle bedroom that you used to have to walk through to get to the back bedroom (so… zero privacy). We opted to add a central hallway to change that middle bedroom into a fully private room (now people could take the hallway to get to the back bedroom instead of passing through this one. Oh and it came with a very rotten foosball table full of roaches and a ceiling that was literally crumbling onto the floor in a few spots. Not pictured: giant hornet’s nest.
Here’s the central hall we added, so you can see how it totally changed the entire upstairs for the better! We kept everything light in color, so it didn’t feel closed in, and we love how functional it all became with the addition of a few added walls and doorways. And if you’re looking for affordable hallway or bathroom or closet lights, these small industrial guys are such a great price and look really clean. The putty color on top is perfect.
This is the small but cozy middle bedroom that we furnished simply with some soft upholstered items, wood tones, and then some nice brass and oil-rubbed bronze touches.
If you spin around in the doorway of the middle bedroom above, you’ll face the doorway to the bunk room, which was one of the worst areas in the house when we bought it. The walls were so damaged & rotten, that’s light from outside that’s shining in (and yes, if light can come in, every time it rained this room rotted more – we couldn’t even stand in a few parts of it because the floor was so badly damaged it could have collapsed).
There were also some animals living in here – hence all that debris on the floor. It was a mess.
Here’s that room now, after completely removing that side of the house and rebuilding it from scratch. We love to save what we can, but it just wasn’t secure or salvageable – but it was worth all that work because now it’s clean, and cozy, and free of animal excrement! HOORAY!
We built the bunk beds above that you see from scratch (here’s the tutorial for you) and had fun trying to get the wood ladder to tie into the original heart pine floors. That’s right, we saved them and put them back in when this portion of the house was rebuilt!
Here’s another shot of the bunk room, this one is if you have your back to the bunks. You can see that totally open area in the ceiling at the corner where every animal was slipping in with all of their friends.
We actually realized that we didn’t need such a long skinny room for the bunks when we were rebuilding, so somehow we squeezed a full bathroom, complete with a shower, into this space as well as the bunk room! It was another super functional update that we’re so glad we made.
You access this bathroom from the same hallway you get to the bunk room and the middle bedroom, and we loved adding a lot of personality with that blue patterned tile on the wall.
Oh and I should mention that every single wood door upstairs is original to the house. We stripped and waxed them so they’re completely refreshed looking, but they still have great old details like the original latches and knobs (this one has a tiny ceramic knob, but many others have larger turned wood ones – they’re all so full of wonderful character and still work well for us).
This was the view when we bought the house if you walked up the back stairs and looking into the back bedroom, which used to open right up to the stairs themselves.
We didn’t do much reconfiguring of that wall you see above, but boy did it transform when we redid the walls and refinished the floors! There’s another original door and you can see what I mean about the wooden doorknobs that a lot of them have! They’re so unique and feel so solid in your hands.
If you spin around and stand with your back to the doorway above, this was the view when we bought the house. See how the stairs just popped you up into the room without much privacy for anyone sleeping in the back bedroom (which we turned into the master bedroom).
Well, after A TON of brainstorming, we came up with the idea of pocket doors that could be open so the light from that window would still pass into the bedroom, but at night (when there’s no light to enjoy anyway) they can be closed for privacy – so we can sleep in the bedroom and not feel like anyone in the kitchen can just pop up into our space. They create such nice privacy and also feel extremely original. Whenever anyone tours the house they can’t believe they weren’t there before.
Also, a quick chat about fans. They’re so nice in vacation house bedrooms – many people prefer to sleep with one on for a gentle breeze and we didn’t get it until we added them to all of the bedrooms here at the beach house & NOW WE GET IT! They’re also hard to find attractive ones that are quiet and work well and don’t look awful – but we got these and think they’re just beautiful. In two years of using them, we have had zero issues and really love them. So much that we added fans to the duplex bedrooms too!
The master bathroom was arguably one of the worst rooms that we inherited. The floors were so brittle we couldn’t walk on them and the tub was extremely close to falling through to the first floor. Oh and the ceiling was collapsing above it. Generally: everything was falling apart.
This room also had to be completely removed from the house and rebuilt from scratch since none of the studs or structure was stable – but again it was completely worth it because we earned a lovely master bathroom that doesn’t have holes in the ceiling or a floor that’s about to give way. SCORE!
This was the view as you faced the tub (while standing in the bathroom doorway)…
… and this is that same view now that everything is rebuilt. You can see that we reconfigured the tub to be off to the right, centered under another lovely and large window. That move meant that we could add a freestanding shower to the left of the room. We also laid this small hex floor by hand, making the little blue flowers one by one, tile by tile (more on that here). It took forever but it feels so charming and original and beachy. We are so glad we did it! It’s one of our favorite details in the entire house.
We inherited a pretty overgrown and lackluster yard thanks to it being really small and full of poison ivy and not much else…
… but the after might be one of our favorite updates to date!
That before shot was from October 2016 and the next one was taken just a few weeks later, right after we cleared some of the brush and weeds. It’s also the project that gave John the worst case of poison ivy of his life. #memories
So yes, this backyard and I got off to a rocky start. But all is forgiven now because it has become one of our absolute favorite places in the world. No joke. We are out here basically every night that we are in Cape Charles.
The end result is also made sweeter by the fact that we had to wait for it longer than originally planned. Our original schedule was to tackle this in the fall of 2017, once our contractor Sean finished the inside of the house. But a new little project distracted all of us (ahem, the duplex!) and we back-burnered the beach house backyard. So for our first few months of staying in the otherwise finished beach house, this was our view out the back door:
Slowly but surely we got moving back there – getting a hot tub, adding a paver patio, and getting a shed built in a spot that would make the most of the layout and give us a nice nestled feeling. And thanks to a few strategic furnishings and a lot of greenery, here we are today! Our little backyard beach house oasis…
The before shot below was the red rusted out shed we got with the house:
And here’s our new setup, which allows us to enter the shed from the left side (that path leads to two double doors that swing out without disrupting the dining area to the right – plus we got to add a charming planter box on the front).
Right across from the hot tub is our outdoor shower. Our contractor installed the same vinyl outdoor shower kit that he put in over at the duplex and it’s quickly becoming the most used shower in the entire house.
Oh, and this is what that same area looked like when we bought the house – complete with a not-so-safe-looking awning that we tore off ourselves. But the back door is still the same one, we just repainted it a cheerful new color (SW Pale Patina – the same color as the duplex shutters and the doors to our pink shed).
And I’ll leave you with one last before & after. This was the view down our side yard when we bought the house (ours was the tree-covered one on the right side).
And here’s that view today. The fence is also new and matches the ones that both of our neighbors already have in their side yards. It gives us some privacy, allows our dog Burger to be loose in the backyard, and offers a sweet little peek down towards the shed when it’s open. It also swings to be double-wide when needed (future planning for parking a golf cart back there). We love that our neighbors on both sides have the same one so from the street it all looks nicely cohesive – once ours weathers to be that darker brown/gray color it’ll be great.
So we hope you guys enjoyed that beach house before & after fest. And remember you can find all the paint colors & furniture/accessory links on our Beach House page – there are just some linked here – but that post is much more exhaustive. And you can browse all of our beach house posts & projects here.
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