It was always my intention to document the transformation of our little first house, from something that pretty much was okay to live in to something that was pretty darned fantastic. Of course, never once did I pick up a camera to get a "before" shot of any of the work. Some of the things we've done (and by "we've done" I mean paid someone to do for us) have been pretty massive--like demolish and rebuild the entire finished basement. Some things have seemed really minor, like hanging drapes or removing crappy lighting fixtures. I will always kick myself.
The basement, which was considered finished when we bought the house, was completely unusable. Within two months of moving in it had been totally gutted, new walls put up, new wiring, all of that jazz. But of course, our crappy ass builders didn't really finish basement ("that wasn't the contract we signed with you!" they insisted) and there was no trim, no flooring, no nothing. Just walls, doors, outlets, windows. Nothing to make it look nice. We finally have started putting the finishing touches on the rooms, however. The trim went up last week as well as the closet organizers. It's looking soooo purdy. There is one little wall I want to demo in the master bedroom and rebuild differently, so after that we'll put the flooring in and the baseboards and be all done! It's cool to watch it come together.
We have an amazing handy man. As my husband and I are really not that handy, have little interest in learning how to be handy, nor have tools with which to exert any handiness, the handy man is like a fifth member of our family. He's been working his ass off for us. Next up is new lighting fixtures in our dining room/open stairwell, a paint job in the dining room and kitchen and putting up some shelves and a hand rail in our stairwell. To be fair, I do know how to paint. I am only hiring him to paint because of the open stairwell and, well, I A) don't own a ladder (did I mention I wasn't handy?) and B) it's pretty freaking high up to paint the top of the walls in the stairwell.
So, there is all of that. And then last spring we did the deck. And added garden beds to the side yard and other relatively minor yard improvements. There is still a great deal more on the list, like pour an actual driveway instead of continuing to use it as a mud pit, remove one of our plum trees, re-do the bathroom, put new cupboards in the kitchen and add a pantry. Oh, you know, my ideal wish list would add a second story to our house, a second bathroom . . . but if I'm being honest, those things won't happen. We will buy our second house before the girls are old enough to start fighting over our single bathroom.
I had serious, practically crippling buyer's remorse when we moved in to this house. Some days I definitely still lament our hasty purchase, but these days it's more about it draining our finances and not as much about the house itself. I'm learning to like this house. It's taken me a long time, but I am finally getting there. As luck will likely have it, we'll be ready to move just as soon as all of the improvements are done!