Mini Before and Afters

I love a good "before and after" story. Who doesn't? The stage is always set with the disastrous "before" pictures...the ones that have horrific paint colors, bad lighting or terrible furniture in the shot. "Those poor homeowners...," you think to yourself.  Then comes the "after" pictures. You can almost hear angels singing in the background. You smile to yourself and think, "Great job!" It's a feel good moment that brightens your day--even if just for a split second.

So, today I am bringing you a few mini-before and after stories. Most of these were summer projects that I was trying to check off my to-do list, before another three years passed by in our home:)


I love natural wood front doors. In fact, our last home had a beautiful solid oak door (original to the home), that had been proudly hanging in front since the house was built (1920's). Our current home also had a natural wood door. Although, it was not my favorite style and I am pretty sure it was not original to the house. In addition, there was a terrible varnish job done to the wood, and the result was a super dark tint. If my house had been painted a lighter color, or if the brick was a lighter color, I wouldn't have minded the hardwood door so much. But combining a dark stained door with dark brick and being covered by an overhang that prevented any natural light from shining on the door, you ended up not being able to see the door at all! This drove me NUTS.

The door was also in bad shape, scratched up to a hideous degree from years of four-footed furry friends wanting to get in the house. 

So, I decided to paint the door, as this was a lot easier than stripping, resanding and revarnishing it to a lighter stain. Because the house as a whole was already aesthetically busy with many colors in the brick, I didn't need to overwhelm the overall look with a busy paint color for the door. So, I painted the door the same color as the house trim. (Sherwin Williams Panda White) The result? A gorgeous, classic (and visible) front door that blended beautifully!



My living room has an enormous wall that stretches almost 15 feet in length. Since we've lived in our home (over two years), that wall has remained empty. It is a huge space that needed something substantial to fill it. I had thought about a gallery wall...but there was so much else going on in the room, I thought it would be too busy for the space. I then thought about getting a really large painting, but unless I was going to paint it myself, I didn't have several thousand dollars to shell out for anything that size worth buying.  So, my dad gave me a great idea. He had salvaged several windows from a dumpster, in addition to one antique one he'd bought many years ago. (Great minds think alike). He offered to add mirrors to them (he's good like that) and sand/varnish in a similar finish so that they'd all work together into one big masterpiece for the wall. I loved the idea immediately. 

So, here is the before (where you can imagine the blank wall to your right). I think I hated that wall so much, I never took a picture of it!

And, here is the after, with the amazing mirrored window masterpiece now hanging on the large wall! Thanks dad!



The right side of our house is visible from the street. For some reason, this side was never landscaped...AT ALL. In addition, the right side of our house is also where ALL of our utility connections and AC units are. The result? Very ugly. It would be like walking around with your underwear showing. Who wants to see that??

First problem that needed addressing was the utility connections themselves. All metal, these stuck out like sore thumbs against our dark brick.

Solution? Paint them a color that would literally make them disappear.

Mission accomplished! 

Next up, hiding the AC units (all FOUR of them!). We knew landscaping would need to happen, to naturally hide these metal beasts.

Schip laurels were a great solution. Fast growing, evergreen and sun loving--these would be perfect for hiding our units once and for all, while growing taller and wider to ultimately provide a great hedge. In addition, we transplanted a mass of rose bushes (already in another part of the yard) and staggered them down the side of the hill, softening the exposed stone wall and rounding out the otherwise flat and stark look to this side of the house.



I was delighted to finally have a mudroom in our new home. After years of living in old houses with makeshift solutions to the endless piles of shoes and jackets, it was nice to now finally have a room dedicated to the mess. However, I soon realized that I was wasting a lot of space in here. There was so much potential that could be used for additional seating area, a home office and more! 

Here are the before pics: (facing in each direction of the room)


The painted brick was pretty against the stone, but because this room faced away from the sun, the gray paint made the room very dark. In addition, the tile floor was ugly. Although it did hold up well to the muddy or wet feet entering the house. Since I didn't have the budget to replace the floor for slate (ha ha), I opted to look for an indoor/outdoor rug that would at least cover up most of the tile and make the overall look of the room a little prettier.

My plan was to repaint, add new furniture and look for a durable yet pretty rug. 

I started off by enlisting my painting squad. Aren't they cute?

After several days of cheap labor, the end result was nothing short of amazing!

Now I had a place to throw everyone's jackets and shoes, but also an entire extra space for desk work, reading a book, having a glass of wine with friends -- the options were limitless!


So at the end of the day, keep in mind that you don't have to spend a fortune or knock down walls with a sledgehammer to obtain very dramatic "before and after" results. These were all simple and relatively inexpensive fixes that improved my happiness and my home's overall appeal.