First Projects

A roundup of some of the renovation projects we decided to tackle first.

First Projects

It’s been a busy first month at the new house!

At the beginning, I was adamant that we focus on one project at a time: start it, finish it, move to the next. Turns out, it’s not that simple, especially with a needy old house.

So, instead of a lot of one thing, we’ve done a little of everything. We’re methodical in priority, but the scope got a lot bigger. The nice thing is that the whole house improves a little all the time, not just one room!

For the purposes of this post, and your attention, we’ll start with a few of our bigger works-in-progress.

Master Bedroom

We began with this room first, before we even moved in. It only needed a fresh coat of paint, we thought. What could be easier?

Before: The beige monster yet to be awakened.

As you glimpsed in our first post, every room in the house has these beautiful redwood ceiling beams. In this one room (and a half, but who’s counting), someone decided to coat them in paint. We wanted badly to sand and restore them, but there was just too little time, and we had to finish painting before the move. We decided to leave it—until our friend Joe staged an intervention.

Between the three of us, we managed to get all of it done just in time to move in. It was awful! I don’t even want to know how much sawdust we inhaled. But it was absolutely worth it.

Final step is to finish the beams with Danish oil, once some of the more urgent jobs are out of the way.

After the beams, the worst part was trying to repair shoddy work from previous owners. I scraped, repaired holes, re-taped peeling seams, trued corners, learning as I went.

Before: Molding that hid gaps from badly hung drywall. After: my corner bead fix.
Finally painting, after many, many days of unplanned prep work.
Replacing outdated fixtures with new lighting that better suits the house’s mid-century roots. (And a corner I fixed!)

There’s still so much to do: we haven’t yet installed new trim, and our furniture is in the middle of the room until I repaint the existing window trim. But it’s so much better already, with that white and mint and wood altogether.

Once the furniture is in place, I’ll share a photo of the whole room—and closets, which were a big part of the process.

The Grounds

I made myself wait on this until we’d made the interior live-able (and until it stopped being 100º+ outside), but it’s easily my favorite project.

We’ve focused first on the front of the house, where we’re cleaning up the mess of overgrown landscaping and a surprising amount of trash, including an endless supply of Nerf darts.

Chinese privet, before my dad took a chainsaw to it. This stuff is one of the worst invasive species in the South and is tough to kill.
Big improvement with small effort: removing iron railings and shutters, adding plants, pruning existing ones. Next: replace door, repaint trim, plant more stuff.

One problem we’re working to solve here is erosion from runoff, which we're hoping gutters will reduce. We’ve also set up rain barrels to catch some for watering plants.

At the back, we’re working to control some of the invasive species taking over, like Japanese stiltgrass. Deer won't eat it, so they have to pick around it.

Our little half-acre of land feels surprisingly wild for its size and location, and with a little restoration work, I think we'll make it an even nicer habitat than it already is.


Simultaneously the slowest and most urgent of our projects, the kitchen remains almost unchanged—despite our best efforts.

We’ve got everything ready to go: countertops, sink, backsplash tile, cabinet hardware, even appliances we unexpectedly had to replace. It’s all just waiting on one step that requires a contractor, who promises to show up every week but doesn’t.

So meanwhile, we’re just working around all the boxes and admiring the tiny samples of how much better it will look someday.

What’s Next

We’ve been prepping a few projects to paint at once, and the last remaining is the pantry. Once that’s finished, we can finally install our fridge properly and take our food out of boxes: small victories that feel huge!

We also have a few other contractor jobs supposedly in the works (electrical, fencing, tree service, etc.), though we’ve learned how that goes. More motivation to DIY, I guess?

Finally, I’ve been doing some research into the history of our land and the house, so that’s for a future post!