June 7, 2013

Before and After Envy Series

Before & After Envy Series | Tried & Twisted

You may not be all that surprised to hear. It is a common affliction among us late twenty-somethings after all.  I have a case of house lust.

My husband and I live in a cute little rental with our very own garden and creek in the backyard, which certainly could be all we need in life, but I can't help longing for more.

It's not just because I want more space or because I want to invite more than 10 people into our house at a time without ticketing them at the entrance. I really long for the house projects.

Month-long DIY projects gone awry with floorboards torn up, drywall spackled, paint splattering everywhere! (Did I mention that some people find me odd?)

You see, I have helped family members and strangers alike to renovate, redesign, and rip the ever-loving pieces apart of their homes to remake it into the masterpiece that suits their needs and their aesthetics perfectly. Living in a rental where we aren't even allowed to paint the walls gives this level of freedom a fuzzy optimistic glow.

While I'm sure the suffering of tip-toeing through storage boxes, wading through dust, and driving to the nearest friend's house for running water aren't nearly so glamorous as they sound, renovation still has the appeal of brave trial and error, experimentation, and a side of practical, creative expression that I very easily obsess over.

So while my house lust may not be satisfied for a few more years, I can still dream and drool over what my creative friends and family have done to their homes.

Which brings us to this month's series: Before and After Envy, featuring people I know and the beautiful ways they've destroyed and recreated their homes! Join every Friday this month for a little featurette of their before and after.

Let's get to know our guests for the month...

Shannon Hemauer is a talented friend who just started her own freelance writer and editor business for photography websites. She'll be sharing about her half-bathroom makeover

April is another fantastic friend, mother, wife, lover of her adopted lab, and technical editor for a Department of Defense subcontractor, who will be sharing about her basement renovations. 

Lisa is my sister-in-law, friend, and mother of two fantastic boys, who works in Marketing and Business Development for a local Credit Union and is an independent consultant for Thirty-One. She'll be sharing her dramatic basement renovation.

Why did you decide to do home renovation on your own versus hiring a professional?

Shannon: My husband is handy and resourceful, so he felt confident he could do the half-bath remodel without issues. Cost was also a factor--we had a baby on the way and wanted to save our pennies. 
April: There was never a question that my husband was going to do all the work for our basement renovation since he's a carpenter.  The only thing we hired someone for was the carpet installation.  My husband knows how much contractors charge, and it just wouldn't have made sense for us to pay someone else to do something he's more than capable of.  We did, however, hire someone for our bathtub remodel and will do the same when we remodel our kitchen.  Unlike the basement, those rooms are used on a daily basis, so we need the work to be completed quickly so the rooms are fully functional again.

Lisa: Before getting married we were trying to decide whether we wanted to sell the house we had for a home that had everything we wanted or turn our house into our home. We quickly figured out that keeping our house to tear it apart and put it back together the way we wanted was the smartest way to go. Not only did it make sense financially, it also gave us an opportunity to work together putting our blood, sweat and tears into the house we would eventually be raising our family in. It wasn't always easy but it was worth it. Having those memories to look back on is priceless!

How much time and planning did you put in before beginning your project? How did you learn to do the DIY project or did you learn through the process?

Shannon: We knew we'd redo the half-bath when we bought the house, so the ideas had been going for a few weeks. (This was before Pintrest, though, so we only had HGTV and our imaginations for inspiration.)

Once we were ready to start, hubby made a trip to Home Depot for supplies, watched a YouTube video on laying tile, and then started!
April: My husband did all the brainstorming.  There was probably a lot of planning that went on in his head that I never knew about.  He knew how to do most of the work because of his job, but he did have to research tips for laying the ceramic tile.

Lisa: The project we are highlighting here is our basement. We turned our retro hang out into a cozy family room. We didn't have much time. In fact, we only had a few weeks. Just months after bringing our first son into this world, we received a notice from our oil company that our already brutal monthly heating bill was going to be increased significantly due to the oil spill in the gulf. Looking for a way to cut monthly expenses we realized that by changing our furnace from oil to gas we would not only save hundreds of dollars every month, we would also save space getting rid of our oil tank. If we were going to make the switch, it needed to be done within weeks! We wanted the switch to be completed before our monthly payment was increased, but also in time to take advantage of the deduction that was being offered for energy efficient renovations during tax time and that particular deduction was getting ready to expire. 

The basement was the last project we worked on in our house. We had already completed our living room, kitchen, bathroom, and 3 bedrooms. Most of what we needed to know to complete the project we learned through our previous projects. For the areas we didn't have much expertise, we relied on Google and YouTube.

What was the major advantage of doing it yourself? Did you save money or time by DIY?

Shannon: I think that sense of pride is the biggest advantage of doing the project ourselves. "Here. Look at what we did to our home." It's a good feeling to make it ours. 

To be honest, I don't know if we saved money on this project since hubby had to buy a few tools for the project. But, because he's used those tools in other projects around the house, the cost does work itself out. So, yes, I'm sure we saved money. 

As for time? I think he took just as long as a pro would.

April: We certainly DID NOT save time,  but we saved a lot of money and have such a sense of pride about our finished basement.  It's personal and a true reflection of our taste--I would have a hard time giving up our basement if we'd ever decide to move.  The basement is the only room in the house that feels like it is 100% ours from start to finish.  We have personalized other rooms, but there are things we would have done differently if starting from scratch.  I'm just so proud of my husband's hard work and hold dear all the memories we've made in the renovated space.  Also, I feel that we put more time, care, and attention to detail into the project than a contractor would have, so I think we have a better result because of that.  

Lisa: There were many advantages to doing this project ourselves. We saved thousands of dollars completing this project on our own. We didn't necessary save time. The only time we had to work on it was evenings and weekends so it took us about 6 weeks. But, it also allowed us to spend quality time with one another working toward our end product.

Would you do it again?

Shannon:  Yes!
April: Absolutely.  We just need to find the time and make the commitment!  


  1. I'm so excited!!!

    Odd? Come on now! It's like the Doctor and Craig. "Has anyone ever told you you're weird." "They never really stop."


    1. Ha! Love that quote! It's never really a bad thing to be odd. ;-)

  2. Hi Sara! Thanks so much for stopping by my blog earlier! I wanted to like you on FB but didn't see if you have a page. Here is mine if you want to like me! https://www.facebook.com/TheFirstYearBlog

    Beth @ The First Year Blog

    1. Hi Beth! I added you on G+, but I actually don't do Facebook. I know, it makes me an unusual blogger, but I just haven't bothered to set an account up for the blog.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Hi Sara!! Thanks so much for stopping by and linking up with my party this weekend!! Hope your having a good one :)

    1. Thanks Paula! It was my pleasure as always. Hope you had a great weekend!


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