We Bought a House, Part 2

So now that I’ve disclosed that we bought a house in our New Jersey hometown directly across the street from my mom and dad, it’s time for a bit of a house tour don’t you think?

My dad has always seen the potential in the ranch house across the street, but my mom on the other hand was aghast. “IT’S SO UGLY INSIDE!”  It’s true, the house was sorely dated having been built by Mr. and Mrs. STK in the 1960s and, as far as we could tell, not updated since then.  I have vague memories as a young child visiting Mr. and Mrs. STK on Easter Sunday to deliver some cookies or cake and even then thinking to myself, “This house smells funny.  It smells old.  I’d like to leave now.”  I remembered it was dark with wood paneling and heavy window treatments, but I’ve watched enough HGTV to know that type of stuff is easily changed and a fresh coat of paint and some new furniture can do wonders for a space.  So I didn’t let my recollections deter me from considering the house.

This is the house as we purchased it.

Curb appeal. This is the view from my parents’ front lawn. Directly. Across. The street. The aluminum awning and the grated storm door were a few of the first things to go once our purchase was official. Someday I’d like to remove the gigantic tree, not only for aesthetics, but also for practical purposes. There have been a few fallen trees/tree branches during recent heavy storms and this one is precariously close to our roof.


Living room. A view from the front door to the living room, with lots of windows and sunlight.  Back and to the left is a hallway to the bedrooms. Some of the furniture in the house was offered to us, but Mrs. STK kept most of the living room furniture.


Dining room. An arched opening connected the living and dining room areas.  From the dining room, there was a narrow doorway to the kitchen with an actual door – bizzare, no?


Kitchen. Oh boy this kitchen – the worst offender in terms of dated decor. It felt small for several reasons I think: 1) dark cabinets and color scheme, 2) completely closed off from the rest of the house (with actual doors at the entry ways), and 3) gigantic refrigerator in the middle of the kitchen.  I did, however, love the window above the sink looking into the sunroom.


Hallway.  Again, dark, but quite spacious for a hallway and the closet is very convenient.  There was an actual door in this entry way as well which confused me to no end until my mom explained that in the olden days it was common to close off the formal living area from the rest of the house when entertaining.


Master bedroom. Not the biggest master bedroom you ever did see, but it does get lots of natural light.


Guest rooms.  The larger of the two other bedrooms was set up as a den, and the other with a twin bed.  Our plan is to turn the smaller room into an office.



Bathroom.  It must be my lot in life to live with ugly bathrooms.  The bathroom in our NYC studio is floor to ceiling covered in pastel pink and yellow tile.  In our NJ home, at least just half the wall is tiled, but it’s still a jarring combo of orchid and yellow.  I actually wouldn’t mind just the orchid (maybe with black trim), but the combination of the two colors leaves me wanting to camouflage it all for now.


Basement.  The basement is unfinished and spans the whole length and width of the house.  There is an existing bathroom (shower and toilet), but no walls – just a few shower curtains hung up for “privacy.”  The house came equipped with a washer but no dryer.  Mrs. STK used to line dry everything outside, or in the basement on rainy days.  There’s lots of potential here for a laundry room, man cave, and/or guest bedroom, but not sure that we’ll ever get to those projects during our time here.


Sunroom.  A back door from the kitchen leads to the sunroom.  It needs a bit of TLC, but is a nice little perk to the house.  My dream would be to turn this into an art studio.  One day, one day…


Garden.  The backyard is HUGE.  Too huge.  Mr. and Mrs. STK were avid gardeners, but Mr. S and I are completely intimidated by the upkeep of all the nature out there.  We need to add a fence to the front of the house at some point so that Chunk can roam free in his new grass heaven.  And I do believe there is plenty of space for my dream teepee.

Floor plan. This is definitely not to scale, but gives a good idea of the overall layout of the house. The blue rectangles are doors and the unfilled brown rectangles are windows.


Obviously it took a bit of imagination to see past the closed off floor plan, wall-less basement bathroom, and yellow and orange kitchen, but that wasn’t what concerned us the most.  It was the pitch in the floors.  Our house had a severe slant to the floors when we bought it – so much so that the inspector called it out in his review, noting that it wasn’t a structural issue, but it was noticeable and would probably deter future buyers.  Uneven floors are quite common in older homes (as the house settles into the land over time) and most of the time it’s slight enough that one can just live with.  But in our house, Mr. S claimed to suffer from vertigo every time he walked from the master bedroom to the bathroom.  So the purchase price we settled on took into account our projected extra expense for having the house leveled (we got some estimates prior to agreeing to the final price), and that became our first order of business when we officially took possession.

Once we had the floors leveled (a story for another day), the renovations snow balled from there.  We removed the wall between the kitchen and living room, gutted the kitchen, and gave the whole house a face lift with a more current color palette.  I’ll save the war stories about our renovations for some future blog fodder, but I won’t leave you completely hanging – here are some sneak peeks:




  1. says

    I feel like I have a friend in the “we bought a dated house” club. It seems like so many people (and bloggers) are buying new construction and they are just slapping paint on the walls and moving on the decorating. Sometimes, I get discouraged because we have major projects to do.

    BTW, I think starting with a hideous bathroom is awesome. It’ll make the new one so much more amazing and special. 🙂

    • says

      Yesssss!! I was getting discouraged with our projects too, mostly because while they were necessary, they didn’t actually change anything aesthetically in the house – i.e., leveling the floors, changing from oil heat to gas, etc. The fun renovations could only happen once those types of projects were done. I’ve spent the last half hour at your blog – can’t wait to see what you do with your house!

  2. says

    We’re coming up to the 1-year mark of home ownership and I feel like our house is STILL in the triage stage, starting that first weekend with a broken pipe and up (down?) hill from there! But, then, we went into it knowing we’ll spend the next 10 years (at least) rehabbing our home, so we were at least prepared for the slow and steady. (Though I’d held out what amounts to false hope we’d get at least one room done our first year, but the ugly necessities keep popping up instead.)

  3. says

    Haha, yeah I always wonder who decides these ugly bathroom color schemes? When will people learn that classic white can never go wrong in a bathroom?? 🙂

    Lovely sun room! What a cool artist studio that might make some day. And whoa, wow that is a lot of construction and renovation to deal with at the start! Leveling the house and gutting so many things! I can’t wait to read about it. 🙂

    • says

      I have no idea on the bathroom…were complementary pastel colors in at some point in time? Yeah, the sunroom is a fun bonus. I’m hoping to turn it into the art studio before it becomes more of a storage and mud room…

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