Talkin ’bout my reno-va-tion.

When we bought our house in 2013, it had been sitting vacant for around two years.  It came with wild paint colors on the walls, poorly stretched carpet throughout, outdated light oak cabinets in the kitchen (and laundry room and bathrooms), a moldy vanity in the downstairs bathroom, an outdated master bathroom and guest bathroom upstairs, vinyl windows, and Saltillo tile that was past the point of ever looking pretty.  Our renovation budget at the time allowed us to take care of a lot of those projects before we moved into the house.  The utmost in luxury and convenience when it comes to reno work – no furniture to shift and move!  Here are some before and after photos from way back then.

The upstairs bathrooms (master and guest) are still on the list, but we earmarked some money this year for Saltillo tile replacement and to replace half of the windows.  And to destroy a random, tiny “wet bar” – which is really just a sink – in the living room.

We started with the tile which was sure to be the project to cause the most inconvenience because we needed to move out of the house while it was being completed.  Fortunately, my in-laws (who live a few blocks away) were kind enough to let us – and the cats – stay at their house.  We stayed there from Monday to Friday when the work was being completed, and it really did work out in the best possible way.  Craig and Sue were out of town so we didn’t need to worry about being in their way and the house is close to ours, so we were able to go every day to water the crops (the garden) and check on the progress of the work and even get clothes and other items as we needed them.  Sue and Craig have a cat, so Kiki and Rue needed to be sequestered upstairs.  They may disagree, but I don’t think they suffered too much.  First world cat problems – trapped in a little room when you’re used to having the run of the house.

Here are some before photos of the horrible tile:


^ Top:  The entryway.  The realtor who had the house listed when we bought it had used extra heavy duty duct tape to secure a rug to the floor (or maybe the previous owners had used the duct tape and the realtor was trying to hide it from potential buyers).  It was such a…fun surprise to find when we bought the house and tore up the rug.  Needless to say, we found a rug to cover the duct tape ourselves.  ^
^ Bottom Left:  This little stretch leads guests to our home from the entryway to the living room – with a trip hazard to boot.  Because the tile is the same in the entry way and the living room, it was really hard to see that there was a small step down into the living room.  So many people have not noticed the step and stumbled down it.  ^
^ Bottom Right:  The downstairs bathroom.  Not much to see here.  Just more bad tile and tile base work. ^


^ Top Left and Top Right:  These photos of the living room/breakfast nook area show the tile – in all its glory – really well.  Cracked, discolored, strange grout, unevenly installed, gaps between the wall and the “baseboard” tile….  It was not attractive. ^
^ Bottom Left and Bottom Right:  More of the same in the kitchen. When Kevin was cleaning out the garage a few weeks ago, he discovered some acid tile wash and grout cleaner, which really explained a lot.  I don’t think the tile was well installed to begin with, there was nothing to keep it from cracking when the foundation shifted (as it does in new houses), and someone took some heavy duty “cleaner” that was not meant for Saltillo tile to it at some point.  Also, the grout was painted white, once upon a time.  Why?  Who knows. ^


^Left:  Living room.  In slightly better light so you can see all the strange variation in color, and even the cracks and permanent discolorment. (Discolorment?  Maybe not a word.  But it works here.)  The floors always looked dirty, even immediately after they had been mopped. ^
^ Right: The laundry room.  Kevin especially didn’t like this white tile. ^

We worked with a local company for the tile replacement.  The foreman did an excellent job and they finished on schedule.  We were very impressed with him and the quality of work that the crew did.

They came in and moved all of our furniture, then immediately started jackhammering up the tile.  Saltillo is incredibly messy – it crumbles and gets dust everywhere.  Here are a few of the during pictures:


^ See?  Messy stuff. ^





And finally, the after photos.  We are so, so happy with the final result.  I’m even happier than I thought I would be with how it looks.  It’s easier to walk on barefoot, the tiles are consistent and clean, the baseboard looks sharp, and the decorative tiles in the entry way are a lovely touch.  We really think that it fits the style of the house (Southwest), which will be good for resale purposes if we go that route someday.



^ Rue likes the new tile.  Amy likes the decorative tile near the step – catches the eye well. ^



We also replaced eight windows in the house this month.  Unfortunately it did not rain on the 4th of July, so we have to pay Renewal by Anderson for these new windows, but I guess that’s the risk you take when you decide to gamble with weather and home improvement.  Our old windows were vinyl and poorly insulated.  I know we’ll notice a big difference with the new windows!


^ Window limbo as the job was in progress. ^

Last but not least, we hired the guy who re-did our kitchen cabinets before we moved into the house to replace a wet bar (which was really just a random sink and ugly cabinet) with some shelves and cabinet space.  It ties in really well with the kitchen, looks great with the new tile, and will be so much more functional than what filled the space previously.

Here is before:


And after:


We need to fill the shelves and finish the baseboard, but overall we are done done done with home improvement projects for the year.  It feels awesome.

Do you have any home improvement projects in the works?  Do you DIY this kind of stuff, or leave it to the experts? 


17 thoughts on “Talkin ’bout my reno-va-tion.

  1. The afters are just great!! I bet it feels like a whole new house! Very impressed with how much you guys have been able to get done in such a short time!

  2. I hate to say this, but I kind of like the look of the old Spanish tile in the “before” pictures. Maybe because I’m not seeing in person? (Or living with it?) But I definitely like your new tile too–it all looks very unified now! And I LOVE your built-in shelves! Are you doing any work on a baby room right now? I would love to see pictures of that, too! :-D

  3. What a huge difference the tile makes! I bet you used to walk around every day thinking “I hate you, tile.” Now you have so much more space in your brain for positive, happy thoughts!

    I freakin love the new built-in shelves. Perfect solution!

  4. It looks SO great!! Love love love it! And the pretty decorative bits to catch your eye for that stair – beautiful! I know it has to be such a relief to have these projects finally finished! Those built-in-shelves are beautiful, by the way! What a great idea to replace the unused wet bar. :)

  5. Why would anybody think this sink (aka “wetbar”) would be a good idea? I can’t quite figure out the purpose of it. Your solution is SO much better! Books=awesome investment+look pretty.
    You guys have done so much this year! You must be relieved that it’s finally over. But well worth it in the end!

  6. That looks fantastic! Although, I agree with a commenter above: I can’t tell that the before pictures look bad, but then again I’ve never been in a house with tile like that before. I can’t get over your fireplace. It’s so pretty!

  7. Love, love, LOVE!!! Wow, your home looks so amazing!!! Absolutely beautiful, warm, and inviting!
    Honestly, I haven’t done too many home improvement projects yet, because it took us so long just to get the rooms painted. ;) (I couldn’t decide on colors! Ha, ha). There is a good sized hill at the side of our house though that is extremely difficult to mow. I’m thinking of maybe creating a large flower garden so that we won’t have to worry about that. I’m in the Pinterest / planning stage of that right now. ;)

  8. most people dread it, but i so look forward to having our own home that i can renovate and fix-up and add touches that feel like us. i love our apartment, but it feels very… commercial. you have such a beautiful house, and your babe is lucky to be coming home to such a happy place :)

  9. Wowie, that is an absolutely amazing update! Can you come redo my home?! It amazing how much a house can change its feel just with some TLC. Love that kitty is happy! Pets are important to consider when you’re messing with what they consider their territory. We lived in one house and the cat barely left our closet, yet in our new place, he runs wild n free. We never knew what it was about the old place, but pets will definitely let you know when they don’t like something!

  10. Pingback: To-do in 2015 – final recap. | A Desert Girl

  11. Pingback: A tale of a bathroom reno. – A Desert Girl

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