If you’re new here, hi! A little summary of our house adventures: in August 2017, my husband and I bought our first house, a duplex in the northwest section of Philadelphia. We currently live there and are hoping to move out by the end of the year. We’ll likely rent it out to longterm tenants, but we’re also toying with the idea of turning it into an Airbnb (since we plan on renting it out furnished), that way it can also serve as a pied-à-terre for us.
In August of this year, we bought a house in Montgomery County. If you aren’t around the Philadelphia-area, Montgomery County is basically the county to the northwest of the city, and it’s mostly comprised of small, suburban towns. The main reason we’re moving is because of Ian’s commute. Although our current house is only around 15 miles to his work, it can take up to 90 minutes to drive one-way (darn you I-76!). Our new house is 1 mile away from his work, and it shortens his commute to 5 minutes. Hooray!
This new house is also huge (to us, anyway). Our Philadelphia home is around 1,200 sq ft (1,500 if you include the finished basement), and it is more than enough room for the two of us and our large dog. The new house is 2,000 sq ft (2,600 sq ft including the basement), and it’s gargantuan. We lovingly named our old house Squirrel House, because we lived on a street that had a nature-themed name and we had a lot of squirrels running around. Our new house is situated on the edge of a forest, so we also have lots of squirrels. Hence, we decided to name the new place Squirrel Estate. I know, I know, our house is probably not big enough to be considered an estate. But it feels like one to us!
We feel very lucky because the last owner (also the only owner) took really good care of the house. It truly has good bones and he took care of all the important stuff you don’t notice first (new furnace, water heater, windows, roof). The last owner was a single guy who lived in the house for 20 years by himself. So it makes total sense why he didn’t feel the need to update anything aesthetic. As long as it worked for him, why did it matter? It’s interesting, some rooms feel like it’s frozen in the 90s, in mint condition.
Anyway, it’s been 3 months since we got the keys to Squirrel Estate, and we’ve been slowly and painstakingly transforming it to a house that we can call home. It’s not easy since we both work, so the majority of the renovations are done on weekends. By the time we move in, we won’t be anywhere close to being done either, but hopefully, the house won’t be in complete disarray. We estimate it’ll probably take us anywhere from 3-5 years to get this house to a point where we’ve put some DIY touches on everything. Without further ado, here’s the first look of Squirrel Estate (apologies in advance for dog photobomb).
One thing we really don’t like about the first floor is that it has 3 types of flooring. Hardwood in the entry/coat closet (door to the left), carpet in the living area, and ceramic tile in the powder room (door to the right) and kitchen. These transitions make the overall house feel smaller than it actually is. The plan is to make this entryway, coat closet, and powder room all the same flooring (we chose a porcelain tile, more on that in another post), and the rest of the house will be one flooring. Additionally, the entire first floor was painted a peachy color, which did it no favors at all. I painted it a really pretty soft white that brightens up the entire space. I also plan on giving the door some TLC with a sleek black color.
The powder room wasn’t bad, it’s just extremely dated. This house was built in 1998, and everything just feels very 90’s. Since we’re re-doing the floors of the entire first floor, this powder room will get new floors, new vanity, new toilet, new mirror, new lighting. It’ll have the same layout but will feel like a totally different room.
living room/formal dining room
One of the reasons we were so drawn to his house was the open-concept of the living room/formal dining room. We plan on making this my future piano studio space, leaving it pretty empty so we can easily set chairs up for recitals and baby & me classes.
I feel like today’s families don’t typically need 2 dining rooms. Luckily, we have an eat-in kitchen sort of situation, so we plan on just using that as our dining room. If we ever host a large party, we can always set up folding tables in the “piano room”. Along with the rest of the first floor, all the flooring will be replaced. Like our last house, we’ll be building our own dining table!
We really loved our IKEA kitchen in the last house, and we plan on doing it again. This kitchen layout will probably stay the same (since we don’t want to move windows, we probably will still do the corner sink). But the huge change here will be knocking down the pantry closet. I think that’ll really open up space, and I want to install floor to ceiling cabinets that will serve as the pantry. I think it’ll look really cohesive.
So one of the first projects I tackled was painting the stair railing. In my opinion, this particular oaky color just looks really dated. I painted it a really pretty black color and painted the spindles a smooth white to bring the railing to the 21st century.
I think there’s a lot of potential here. I might do some fun wall treatment. It looks really dark all the time because of the peachy color that is painted in the main living area. A new lighting fixture will also update this space drastically.
The smallest bedroom in the house and is painted the darkest color in the house *facepalm*. For all the upstairs bedrooms, we will swap out the carpet for an LVP flooring, get new baseboards, and paint all the walls. Since we think this room will be the future nursery, we plan on just doing the aforementioned swaps and then leaving it empty until the time comes for when we need the space.
This will serve as the guest room. New floor, new baseboards, new wall color, and maybe a fun wall treatment?
This room is the largest of the 3 bedrooms (besides the master), and it has a mini walk-in closet. We figured this could be the perfect office for both Ian and myself, as well as a general lounge area.
I think the master suite has so much potential to be so cozy and perfect. But it does need a ton of work. Besides the flooring, baseboards, and paint, we plan on removing the popcorn ceiling in the bedroom. Also, where the media stuff is set up, we think it could look really sweet if we did some sort of built-in electric fireplace/tv combo. We’re lucky enough to have 2 (!) closets. I think these wire shelving systems are just very inefficient and don’t use the space to its full advantage. We plan on doing different wardrobe systems to maximize the space that we have. The bathroom is just not my style, it’s very dated. Some day, we’ll probably gut the entire thing. But until then, we’ll do a budget refresh so it can still feel luxurious.
Along with the master bath, we will do a budget refresh to this space and gut it at a later date. Everything here is in pristine condition since the previous owner obviously used the master bath instead of the hall bath. So it also feels like a waste to just gut it when it’s still in great condition. The main thing we don’t like about this bathroom is how low the vanity, toilet, and tub are. BUT, when we have children, it’ll be the perfect height for them. So the plan here is to do a budget refresh and let our future kids use it. That way, we won’t feel bad if they destroy anything. And somewhere down the road, we’ll probably do a full gut job.
I actually really enjoy doing laundry, so this sad laundry space makes me really discouraged. We’ll get new flooring put in, and I’ll come up with some clever storage solution in lieu of the wire racks. I want to make this space look really fun and modern. Also, the laundry closet has two doors that just knock into each other (and block the hallway), so I also need to figure out a clever solution for that.
The basement, again, has so much potential. We’re so glad the previous owner finished it as a large, open space (it’s an L-shaped basement). We’ll paint the walls, swap out the carpet for something that’s more pet-friendly, and swap out the ceiling tiles to something more aesthetically pleasing. The wet bar looks super cool, and we plan on keeping it and just updating it so it’s more our style. The future basement will have 3 zones – a board game zone with a large table, a movie theater zone with a cushy sectional, and the coffee bar zone. The basement also has a half bath … that is also very dated which we’ll fix.
An amazing draw of our house is that even though it is in a community of other homes, it really doesn’t feel like it once you step out into the backyard. Our house is at the end of the cul-de-sac, and it’s just on the edge of a forest. We have lots of mature trees (one of our must-haves). The previous owner landscaped it to be pretty low-maintenance, so the backyard is mostly trees and moss. We plan on laying down sod at some point and maybe moving some trees around. But we get a ~jacuzzi~.