Welcome to The Aqua Cottage where we dream in colors borrowed from the sea!
Purchasing My First Fixer Upper
I purchased my first home in April 2020, a 1947 ranch that needed a huge renovation. I always knew I wanted a fixer-upper. After years of dreaming and watching my favorite HGTV home improvement shows, I was ready for the challenge. Fixer-uppers are not for everyone, but I loved the idea that I could transform my ugly house into something that I would love and be proud of. Keep in mind this was a three-year renovation project, so there will be lots of pictures.
As a single woman who battles chronic illness daily, (Severe Rheumatoid Arthritis) I am used to facing life’s challenges. My realtor showed me several move-in ready homes, but when I chose this one my realtor was shocked. I believe she was afraid, in fact, my neighbors admitted that they were also afraid for me! (HaHa)
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The Beach Inspires Me
I absolutely love coastal colors and anything that reminds me of the beach! It is my happy place and my favorite color is Aqua. Aqua is Latin for water, which reminds me of the water in the Caribbean sea. The color Aqua soothes your soul and creates an instant sense of home and belonging, so I knew I wanted to use several shades of Aqua throughout my home.
The biggest challenge of them all was staying on budget. I’m a dreamer who constantly compared myself to the gorgeous home renovations that you see on Instagram. I also wanted to prove that with the right paint colors, a little DIY, and a budget you can achieve creating the home of your dreams.
The Best Paint
I always recommend Sherwin Williams paint because My home has some older plaster walls and new drywall. Their paint and primer smooth the walls and hide tiny imperfections making the walls look cohesive so that you can’t see the difference between the two. It is a little more expensive, but totally worth it when you see the transformation of your walls, plus you won’t have to paint for another fifteen-twenty years.
Here Are The Colors I Chose For My Home
My Before & After Realistic Home Renovation With Photos
My First Project
The first thing I replaced was the front entry door. It was the original door from 1947 and had lead paint, so it absolutely had to be removed. Once the new door was installed I painted it in Sherwin Williams Festoon Aqua. See the full door renovation post here: New Front Door Makeover
The kitchen is the first room you see when you walk through the front door, so I knew it had to be filled with bright & welcoming colors.
The hideous pink and brown colors made the kitchen feel dark, dirty, and cramped. As you can see in the before photos there was mold, so all of the walls and cabinets were ripped out down to the studs to create a fresh clean canvas. Then new mold-resistant drywall was installed along with new plumbing to prevent any leaks.
The ceiling fan was also too large and heavy for the beam to support it and it wobbled. I replaced it with a compact white ceiling fan.
The upper kitchen cabinets are Pottery Barn beadboard cottage-style cabinets and the lower cabinets are from Home Depot. There were no upper white kitchen cabinets in stock within a one-hundred-mile radius in any home improvement store in my area so I needed to improvise. I also ordered nickel cabinet pulls from Amazon.
I purchased all new appliances and only used the refrigerator. The rest of the appliances remained in their boxes for one year because I could not get a decent contractor in my area thanks to the pandemic. I relied on my local Lowe’s, Home Depot, and Amazon for home improvement supplies. There were many shipping delays and many items were completely out of stock for months.
I hired a handyman, contractor, plumber, and electrician to do the scary work. Then took my time and installed the kitchen cabinets myself to save money. Once the cabinets were in place I had granite countertops installed, and then new flooring. Unfortunately, I did not save those pictures.
The kitchen is painted Sherwin Willams Topsail, and then I built these cute wall shelves to display my favorite aqua coffee mug collection. I purchased the corbels online, then bought the shelves from Home Depot and had them cut to the right size.
My Dream Kitchen Completed
The living room was dark, painted with a Pepto Bismol Pink color and brown trim. Even the baseboards were painted the same color!
I had lots of fun decorating the living room once painted. I added this decorative wrought iron metal wall plaque above the tv, then hung the lanterns on the side. The white table, lantern wall hooks, beachy aqua lamp, and wicker storage trunk were all ordered on Amazon.
The first thing I did was prime the walls white and then paint them Sherwin William Watery. Next, I applied paintable Beadboard Wallpaper to the bottom half of the wall. Then I primed and painted the baseboard heaters with Rustoleum Enamel Paint in Gloss White.
The next project was to build the TV mantle. I purchased the same corbels online that I used in the kitchen but bigger. I wanted them to match. I had the shelf cut to 60 inches from wood purchased at Home Depot. Then I painted the shelf white and hung the TV by myself almost dropping it a couple of times!
I had new carpet installed recently in a sandy dark color to match the kitchen floor pattern.
My Before & After Realistic Home Renovation
The main bedroom almost made me run away from the house when I came to see it with my realtor! (HaHa)
Once the new walls and closet were built it wasn’t so scary, it was just a blank white canvas. I painted the bedroom Sherwin Williams Serenely and added carpet to make it feel warm and cozy. Then I removed the closet doors and added curtains instead for a dreamy feel. Read more on the amazing color here: Sherwin Williams Serenely Paint Color
This was the biggest challenge of them all because it took me more than three months to complete this room. It was lots of work because the baseboard heater was also painted the same purple-ish blue! You can see the full post here: Before & After Guest Bedroom Makeover
The bathroom color is painted also painted in Sherwin Williams Topsail same as the kitchen. I removed the hideous brown sink and luckily found the exact same one at Home Depot!
I added a new toilet, and all new plumbing. The old bathroom floors were ripped out and color flooring was added to match the kitchen. I bought this cute Cottage Style Bathroom Cabinet and hung it myself. I hot-glued starfish to the baskets for a beachy look.
I also replaced the original bathroom door with a new one that I hung myself.
My amazing neighbors were also updating their home and gave me their old (real wood) closet doors. I painted them Sherwin Williams Watery to match the living room and family room custom-painted table. Then added the same carpet from the bedroom to match. I am obsessed with everything matching because I wanted all of the colors in my home to flow well together.
Then I had this amazing Caged Lighting installed to brighten up the space replacing the old-fashioned boob-style lighting.
The family room was a huge challenge because it was covered in old 70’s brown paneling. The walls took two days to clean, then I applied the paintable beadboard wallpaper over the panels which instantly brightened the space making it appear larger.
There were so many ideas on what to do with the fireplace and wood stove. I couldn’t decide if I wanted to paint the brick surface white and remove the wood stove, or have built-in shelves attached to the stand-alone Ikea shelves. My wonderful neighbor advised me not to remove it because it was a very valuable part of the home, and the next homeowner may want to use it.
The truth is I was afraid of it and never used it at all!
I took a total of three years to renovate my home and there are many more projects that I would love to complete. Much of my home is DIY from painting to installing the shelves. I left the scary things like plumbing, flooring, and electricity to the hired professionals. My home is also a labor of love because it taught me so much about myself and my capabilities.
I wanted to keep some of the home’s original features and flooring in neutral colors because I wanted to be able to sell it. There are lots of people who don’t like the beach theme, but this post isn’t for them!
I knew in my heart that this wasn’t my forever home, but more of an investment. I totally gave up on the fireplace as you can see! (lol)
Don’t Be Afraid To Make Mistakes
There were many mistakes made along the way as this is my first home. For example, when I first purchased the new front door, I didn’t realize that the old door was two inches shorter despite measuring it several times. The good thing is that I had it installed in the garage and it fit perfectly so I didn’t completely waste the money spent on the door.
The garage only had one dull light fixture so I bought this industrial pendant light to brighten up the space. I added also matching semi-flush pendant lights all throughout the home.
Ten Home Renovation Tips To Save Money
- Create a vision board and make a list of items you will need.
- Create a budget and stick to it. If you come in under budget, apply those finances to the next project.
- Shop sales and clearance for big purchases.
- Shop Habitat-Restore for materials if you have one in your area.
- DIY as many simple projects as you can. There is tons of information on Youtube.
- Hire experts for plumbing, electrical, and appliance installations.
- Be smart about hiring help and always get at least three estimates. Also, make sure they are licensed.
- Reuse some of the material of the home that can be cleaned, painted, and restored.
- Pay cash when you can.
- Take your time.
Also see: How To Save On Renovation Costs
Would I buy another fixer-upper and do it all again? No way! Once is enough and my achy joints probably won’t allow it. (HaHa) I learned lots of information about home ownership and maintenance. My next home will be move-in ready.
I hope you enjoyed this post. Thank you for reading, you can find any of the items mentioned by clicking on the highlighted words & links. Have fun during your home improvement projects and remember that if you make mistakes, everything is fixable!