Yep, you read that right, I’ve got a new house! In case you missed some of the chatter up until now, we decided this summer to move closer to family (a decision I think most people with little kids can understand!) and come back to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where I grew up. It was kind of an unexpected decision and a lot of factors went into it, but we found a mid-century home really close to my parents’ house and we are really excited to make the place our own, even though we already miss Nashville so much. This older home has a lot of issues (due to combination of age, neglect, and some DIY projects gone very wrong over the decades), so we have our hands full deciding where to start and how far our budget can take us, but I think it’s going to be great overall when we are done.
The last year or so in our previous house I was getting really into all the warm tones for a color scheme and I’m still “team pink” all day long, so get ready for more pink in this house. Like maybe a lot more. I also am shifting a little more from mostly ’60s-inspired decor to some ’70s items and I think it will be fun to find little ways to add some ’70s glam to the house in any way I can. You can see we’ve got our stuff moved in above, but here’s some of the “before” photos so you can see what we are starting with!
I’m excited to have a real entryway into a house, as that’s new for me and I want to have a little organization wall where we can hang purses, put our mail, store our shoes, and all that kind of little stuff that usually gets scattered on the kitchen counters instead.
The giant fireplace in the living room that goes all the way outside is one of my favorite features of the house, and I love that it gives off a Frank Lloyd Wright vibe when paired next to such big plate windows in the space. I don’t think the fireplace is working properly right now, but that’s a big wish on my list for this winter, so we’ll see if we can make it happen in time. We love natural light and the living room and kitchen have a ton of that with their big windows, and there are lots of trees around so it’s been perfect for watching the leaves change this month—I can’t wait for the first snowfall so I can watch that through the windows too!
The wood-looking tile floors here were improperly installed, so they are coming up all over the place and the grout disappears in huge sections every time I vacuum, so that’s a bit of a problem. I think they didn’t use backer board under certain areas and applied the grout too dry and too lumpy, so the tile crunches and moves under your feet and you constantly step on chucks of loose grout. It’s not great. Ideally, we would like to put in lighter hardwood floors, so that’s a big house goal we are working towards. Also, if you’re wondering if the ceiling is checkered, it is! They are painted wooden tiles, but there has been some water damage. We’ll have to figure out if they can be repaired or if the ceilings will have to be replaced with drywall.
I’ve actually never had a dedicated dining room in any of the other three homes I’ve lived in as an adult (they’ve all been more open concept), so I’m super excited to try having a separate space that’s away from the kitchen (so you can’t see dirty dishes during a dinner party for once). I’d love to do some sort of pattern or wallpaper in here and this room is sunken down from the main living area so you get some taller ceilings in here too, which is nice.
In addition to having a separate dining room, I love that the kitchen is also separate for the same reason. At our last house, the kitchen was the only throughway between our two hangout zones, so we always had people standing right where I needed to be when making food or getting refills. So it will be great to have a food zone and a hangout zone when people are over. The natural light is amazing in the kitchen, and while the overall kitchen layout needs some help (the dishwasher hits the oven door every time you open/close it) and the cabinets and countertops aren’t in good shape (I’ll let you guess which one has a section that’s purely held together by scotch tape), I think replacing those and changing up the layout a bit would make the room really sparkle. They also installed a dropped ceiling in this room and we don’t know why, so we’d also love to open that up and get some of that height back in the space.
Our main bedroom has a few … uh … quirks to it that we’ll have to work on a bit. For example, there’s this big wooden valance above the bed that holds some shades and a big florescent light tube that needs to come down. and there’s a large section of one wall that’s just a big frame over a section of brick wall. SO weird!
Lola’s room is in decent shape, so she mostly just needs some paint and new hardware! I’m sure it’s the mom in me, but it felt really important to start in her room and make that nice first and I’m really happy with how it’s been coming along so far.
There’s a third bedroom that used to be an attached porch that I’m using as my office and it has a few steps down into the room so it has really tall ceilings compared to the rest of the house. I’d love to put another window in there someday (it’s the darkest room in the house, which isn’t super great for photography), but it’s a nice size to work out of and being on one end of the house and a little lower makes it feel a little more separate for me. I’d love to have a nice-sized desk and a wall of built-in cabinets for all my supplies (there’s not one shelf or closet in the room so storage is a challenge) and a cool light fixture for that taller ceiling would be great.
The only bathroom upstairs has a pink vintage tub which I think is cute, but they also did this weird stucco thing on the wall that I’m not sure how to smooth out, and they embedded a mirror and theatre-like makeup lighting into one wall, so getting rid of that is top of the priority list. Overall, this bathroom should probably be gutted with the walls and improperly installed floor and bath tile, but in the meantime we’ll probably just paint some things and add a cabinet for storage and see how long we can deal with it.
The basement is what I would call semi-finished in that it has a bathroom and some walls. But a lot of the walls are just thin particle board that aren’t “real” walls and the bathroom kind of feels like an RV camper bathroom (it’s got a plastic sliding accordion curtain instead of a door). The dropped ceilings down here were hiding a lot of mold since they improperly vented their A/C system into the space between the ceiling and the floor joists of the first floor, so we had to have all that cleaned and removed before we moved in so there’s actually no ceilings down here at all now—just looking at some floor joists and a lot of pipes and wires!
We’d love to eventually someday finish out the space with drywall walls, flooring, (and gasp) a ceiling, to create a TV den, a guest room, a nice bathroom, and a nice laundry room down here. But it’s a pretty big task (and expensive), so it may or may not get done while we are here. But hey, a girl can dream! Oh, and it has a bar down here as well! We laughed that almost every home we looked at in Pittsburgh had a bar in the basement, but I guess that’s just how we do things underground …
This is definitely one of those houses that tricks you a bit in photos where you think “that doesn’t look so bad!” but when you get up close you realize most things are broken/loose/improperly installed/weird/dangerous, etc., so I promise that there really is a lot to do even if it doesn’t look like it in some rooms—haha! Some days the list around here feels very overwhelming at times, to be honest. We have already made some really good progress and I know it will get better and better as we chip away at it. Hoping by the holiday season we hit a sweet spot that feels cozy and I can’t wait to put up our Christmas tree and see it through the big windows as we drive up to the house. Can’t wait to show you our progress as we make this house our home! xo. Laura
Cannot wait to see this project home together Laura and I am in love with the vintage pink tub i am envisaging an art deco super luxe vibe and all the bubble baths
That house looks sooo interesting and cute ! x
I love this house! Those checkered ceilings have so much personality, and the basement has so much potential! Can’t wait to see what you do with it all. Even the weird brick wall will probably turn into something very cool with your creativity.
Is it two full bedrooms and the office space?
I also am moving into a home with a dropped ceiling like that which I do not care for and will be removing. However, I did want to share that I found the 2 most common reasons they were installed is for extra insulation/warmth in cold climates and also to access plumbing easier. Just interesting to know!
I always enjoy looking at photo’s like this, the end result will be SO satisfying to watch! It sure will have its challenges, but it will be such a more beautiful home for it. I’m looking forward to the after photos!
I’m so excited for you, Laura! Can’t wait to see what you come up with 🙂
Wow, that looks like a lot of work! but I love the fireplace and all those windows in the living room 🙂
Isn’t it fascinating to discover all the quirks of a previous owner? When I bought my condo 9 years ago (just sold it so I’ll get to see quirks on a new house soon), it was perfect for myself size wise and location wise. But there were some colour choices…..I just didn’t get. The stairwell (which went from the front door up to the actual condo) was this neon baby blue colour. The kitchen had white (yellowish really) cabinet doors but the skeleton of the cabinets (the parts peeking around the doors) was salmon pink. The bathroom shower tiles, perfectly normal white tiles……….dark red grout. And I discovered when I did some renos that the bathroom walls used to be lavender purple (bright yellow when I bought). So yeah, I’ll echo what someone else said, people’s choices can be quite interesting. looking forward to seeing your space come along.
Our 1957 house had the same owners since it was built (!!) and is chock-full of quirks! The owner thought himself quite the tinkerer. There is custom-made storage everywhere – pegboards, hanging shelves, custom ultra-thin bookcases that must have had some function – you name it! But the best find? The house has a basement apartment that was added around 1990. We tore up the gross, super thin carpet and decided just to polish the cement floors…that’s when we found a shuffleboard court painted on the floors! It goes from the apartment bathroom all the way to living room wall. It’s such a fun thing when you notice it. I can just imagine this sweet couple with their friends over for dinner and drinks in the ’60s heading to the basement for shuffleboard!
Wow!! There’s so many things that must be done in this place but it has so much potential. I’m so looking forward to seeing the result!
Eli | Curly Style
Laura, your house is amazing! I realise there’s a lot of work to be done but I have absolutely loved it! Best wishes for making great memories in it! xx
It’s really exciting to see all that you will be planning to do with this house. It looks like there are so many things you can do with it. Even the basement looks like it has a lot of potential.
This is going to be SO epic. This house got so lucky when you all came into its life. 🙂
Aw, thanks Emma!
This house looks like a serious fixer-upper – there is a LOT going on! (The framed brick section…what?!) But selfishly I’m excited it has a long way to go, because then we’ll get more before-and-afters! Maybe someone will sponsor part of the basement reno because I feel like you could do something so fun with the bar area. It looks like there is a cute deck too! I hope you and your family love your new home, and I look forward to your updates!
I can’t wait to see what you do with this house! My house is around the same age and I have the same wood valance with a florescent light. Please give me the inspiration to take it down!!!
Haha, I’ll do my best!!
Laura, I love your new house! So much potential!
Its going to be fun to watch the evolution of your already cute house. Thank you!
Also, my mom had those pink tubs in the house we grew up in. She never changed them, so seeing yours brings back happy memories! Such a fun quirk.
Aw, it is such a cute tub! We aren’t sure how good of shape it’s really in though (keep having to deal with leaks and what not) so it may not get to stay forever but I’ll enjoy it while it lasts!
I’ve been dying to see a tour of your new house! I can’t wait to see everything you do.
Will your husband have his own studio in this house as well?
He will! We thought he would use the garage again like he did in our last house, but that may be a bit since it doesn’t have heat/cooling or real walls in there so he’s going to do the best he can in the basement den area for a bit until we can figure that one out!
These are such good before photos!! Clearly a house that has so much potential and I have no doubt that you will transform it into something so magical!! You are so talented laura! Thanks for sharing!
I’m so happy you love the pink tub because that is really special.
LOL at the brick section of wall in your bedrooom.
I can’t wait to see you do all your magic!!!
Ohhhhhhhh that brick wall!!!
My friend just bought a house that has the same “semi-finished church basement” vibes as this one, with the funny finishes and stuff. Absolutely cannot wait to see what you do with it and the rest of this house!! So excited for you (and for us, your fangirls)!
Haha, yes, it does have a church basement vibe! Hope we can eventually make it cozy but it is a big job for sure!