How it all began

We were loving life in our nice cozy neighborhood with great friends, a newer house that didn’t need any renovating, and had no intention to move…until we discovered this little gem of an area.  Rolling hills, Ponderosa pines and deer around every corner making you feel like you’re in the mountains, but the biggest bonus, it’s only 7 minutes from Costco! We knew this place was for us.

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It’s been 3 1/2 yrs since we moved in.  Thinking back on all the hours we’ve put into this house makes my head spin.  So many weekends and late nights jamming to music as we knock it out together.  It’ll always bring a smile remembering these years of projects and endless painting.

Our kids thought we were crazy to leave a new house for an old, stinky, “scary” one.

Back to the beginning….we bought the olde homestead before we even put our old house on the market, so we had a good 3 months to do some serious renovations before moving in.

We needed to make the house move-in ready, and to us that meant removing wallpaper, popcorn ceiling, all the bad smells, priming and painting every surface, and replacing flooring and baseboards.  Our logic was to do all the projects that would require moving furniture BEFORE we moved in to eliminate the complexities furniture creates.  Knowing we’d be ripping up and throwing out all carpet in the home, we started with the messiest jobs. This way all the debris would fall on the carpet making clean up as simple as rolling up the carpet with all the mess inside.

First up on the docket, removing wallpaper from all the bedrooms upstairs.  Oh wallpaper, how I loathe removing you and your under layer!  We’d come up on the weekends with the kids and get so much less accomplished than we’d hoped each time.  Ryan was a trooper and would come to the new house during the week straight from work, working through the evening and late into the night, sleeping on a cot, with no heat, and only the creaking sounds of an old, unfamiliar house as company.

Wallpaper is tricky in that it’s all different! Every room came off a little differently, but our go to method came down to filling a squirt bottle with hot soapy water and spraying the heck out of the wallpaper in small sections.  Let that sit for 5-10 minutes, then gently, (gently is the key!) pulling the wallpaper trying to pull the largest piece possible before it rips.  In all cases, the top layer of wallpaper came off first, leaving the backing to be pulled off separately.  Spray the backing and pull off using the same method as the top layer.  Gather all the free laborers you can find for this one.


Sadie’s face pretty much sums up how we all felt about a day of wallpaper removal.

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Once we were wallpaper free we moved onto popcorn ceilings.  The keys to this stage were: pump sprayer, extra wide putty knife, mask and poncho. I wish we had a picture of the mess this creates.  The poncho is a must!  After a day’s work of scraping popcorn ceilings, Ryan would be covered from head to toe in wet popcorn ceiling mess.


In half of the house we had super thick texturing that had the appearance of popcorn ceiling, the other half was traditional popcorn ceiling. In both scenarios we used the same method of completely soaking the ceiling (to the point of water falling like rain) then scraping it off with the putty knife.  This was a messy forearm burning job!  The traditional popcorn ceiling came off quite easy because it absorbed the water, allowing us to scrape it off smoothly to the dry wall.  The thick textured ceiling was the same process, but a way bigger pain because it didn’t absorb the water and you could only scrape off the tips.  We were nervous at first we’d have to apply a skim coat to smooth the ceiling, but scraping just the tips magically gave it the appearance of new home ceiling texturing!

Before: Popcorn ceiling

Popcorn Ceiling

After: Popcorn ceiling removed


Here’s a picture of the textured ceiling after scraping off the tips


Next was the clean up stage.  Wiping wallpaper slime from the walls and any ceiling residue to prep it for painting.  Part of the clean up stage involved tearing out carpets and baseboards.  Easy peasy right?! Kind of…..but NOT! Once the carpets were out, there were about a gazillion staples to be removed.  That’s right.  A GAZILLION.  The staples are used to hold down the carpet pad.  That carpet pad wasn’t going anywhere with the amount of staples they used.  Fortunately staples aren’t difficult to remove with needle nose pliers and a straight edge screw driver, just time consuming and hand cramping.

Remember the Scottish kilt carpet?? In true Scottish form, it wasn’t coming out without a fight.  It was installed using glue instead of staples since it was applied to concrete.  We painstakingly scraped it with a narrow putty knife one tiny piece at a time.  Oh the beauty of that carpet.  This picture almost makes me miss it.  Almost.


The house is now devoid of wallpaper, popcorn ceiling, carpeting and baseboards and is ready to prime.  Our biggest concern when we bought the house was the smell.  Old house smell mixed with years of pets, and a few lovely gems of dog business.  We researched how to remove odor from homes and found the best method to be priming with a stain blocker.  The most common and cheapest is KILZ, but we read that BIN would guarantee the results.


BIN is the Rolex of stain blocker primers and is 3 times more expensive than KILZ.  Being on a budget we took pause before pulling the trigger on BIN, especially knowing we had to cover LITERALLY every surface of our home – floors, walls, and ceilings.  Since this was our one and only chance to eliminate the odor for good, we went with BIN.  We haven’t regretted that decision once!  It did, what I thought at times to be impossible, removed all old man and pet smells from our house. It’s much thinner than paint and goes a long way using a paint roller attached to a long stick.

It was refreshing seeing the whole house sterile white after the mess of the earlier stages.  {Pictured is the staircase after carpet removal and priming}


Painting.  If we added up all the hours of house painting we’ve done on all three of our houses, I’m pretty sure we’d gain an extra year of our lives back.  After priming, we painted all walls and ceilings with Behr Antique White.  Sounds a little plain, right? There’s a grand plan behind the white, we’ll delve deeper into our color choices in a future post.


Next up, wood floors! By far the most exciting part yet.  1. Because we were hiring someone else to install them!! 2. We’d searched for the perfect old world wood flooring and found one we loved within our budget.  Being on a property with endless amounts of dirt it was important for us to have wood floors throughout the whole house so we weren’t stressing about the kids and dog tracking in dirt.  Plus, in keeping it authentic to the old homestead feel, we had to go with an aged looking hardwood throughout.

{Kentwood Originals Oak Coal Harbor 5″ x 3/4″ Solid Hardwood Flooring}


This was a magical day for us, seeing the floors installed and finally seeing portions of our vision come to life.  I’ll be honest, up until this point we had reservations on our decision to sell our nice newer home and buy a much more expensive house that needed loads and loads of work – all the while hoping it’d turn out how we imagined it, but not totally sure we could pull it off.  Those thoughts and others running through our heads, making us doubt our decision with every paint stroke, scrape, and staple pull.  This was it, all those doubts were washed away instantly in the sea of those beautiful wood floors.  We’d left our mark on it, and it felt like home for the first time.

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