Many moons ago John shared the beach house before & after photos from downstairs (tons of never before seen angles!) right here in this post. And it has taken us a while (how has it been eight months?!) to get the upstairs before & afters all together so you can see all of those comparisons, and browse the entire second floor of our project, which we are thrilled came together (it was looking ROUGH at the start). So 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 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 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 attached 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 attached 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. You can also see the downstairs before & afters of the beach house here on our finally finished (it’s only a year overdue ;) Beach House Before & After page, which you can find from now on under the blog header in the dropdown menu that says Before & After. And you can browse all of our beach house posts & projects here.
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