Getting Real, Getting Ugly

Blogland is overwhelmed by beautiful images of perfect houses, so I thought I would bring some balance into our pristine world and show you the UGLY.  When it comes to home renovation we all love to see before and after pictures, but those before photos are fleeting.  They don’t give us the credit we deserve for living in chaos, scrubbing until our knuckles bleed, and painting until our arms feel like falling off.  It’s all about the ‘after’ in those photos, but in real life, it’s about work and making do with the mess.

So today I am going to show you the before.  By the end of this post, you’ll be feeling pretty darn good about where you live.

Let’s start in the kitchen.  About a month ago, I wrote a post showcasing my kitchen and all the work we had done, but I neglected to show you the other side – the dark side – the ugly side.  The side that needs more money, more materials, more time.

The scary side of the kitchen

It’s downright disturbing, isn’t it? It needs a refrigerator in that right corner, a dishwasher and countertop with a cabinet above, another cabinet to be built around that sink, etc.

We hauled that sink out of the basement and when I say we, I don’t mean me.  It weighs about 500 pounds and is cast iron covered in porcelain.  It is also so big and deep that I can dirty every dish at once and fit them all into the sink.  I haven’t decided if that’s good or bad.

Don’t even ask about the mirror.  Lest you think we are a total lost cause, you can see pictures of the other side, the good side, by clicking on the ‘kitchen’ photo in my right hand sidebar.

Here’s another ugly space. The walls need repair, the chimney needs repair, a new surround needs to be built for the woodstove and our bathroom pedestal sink is in two pieces.  It’s also NOT in the bathroom.

That wooden sign with the aqua paint is my very lame and failed attempt at creativity.  I thought I would salvage some very old wainscoting from the bathroom and make my own art.  FringeMan is still shaking his head.  Those mirrors behind the stove are projects waiting to happen.

Can you handle more?

Ugly in the Bathroom

Don’t even make me explain this one!  Let’s just say that everything you see is going to be destroyed.  We moved the bathroom door and caused chaos.  Now all that plumbing needs to move to the opposite wall in order to put our sink back in.

Please don’t ask what is hanging in the window, but yes, that is a moth living on it.  I guess I can be happy that the toilet is flushing, we have calamine lotion, and no room is complete without a hair clip lying around.

So many projects, so little money.  I’m sure you thought I was going to say something about time, but I assure you, if there was money, we’d make time.

Last, but not least, I give you the partially finished hallway.

This space is ‘in progress’.  We did put in that shelf and all those coat hooks, twenty-four to be exact; however, this space needs new flooring.  The paint around the ceiling also needs to be touched-up and all those frames need to be hung.  I don’t want them just sitting on the shelf, because I remember what happened to Humpty-Dumpty.

We did add the new light and Roman Shade to the front door.  I am going to paint that front door, but I’m not sure what color to paint it.  Any suggestions?

I framed sheets of scrapbook paper and I really love the look.  It’s a very cheap way to hang ‘art’.  Yes, I use the term art loosely.

So there you have it – The UGLY.

No cleaning for these photos and you can forget staging.  This is real life mess from my camera to your computer.  One day I’ll show you the ‘afters’, but until then, remember not to ever buy an old house.



If you’d like to see finished or semi-finished rooms, you can click on any of the photos in my sidebar.  Have a great weekend!!!

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18 thoughts on “Getting Real, Getting Ugly

  1. Pingback: I said THAT? 2010 Blog Recap | the domestic fringe

  2. langela

    Just found your site. I love your idea with the framed paper “art”. I have found some that I love and I hate the thought of actually cutting them up to use them. Your idea is a great solution. As far as door color,it depends on what the color of your walls will be. If they stay white or cream, I would pull a color out of one of your “art” papers. Like a sage green or pale blue. I love red. I have many red rooms in my house, but I wonder if it would be too stark with everything else white. But if there were red in the flooring or rug or other accessories throughout the hallway, red might look really nice. Hmmmmm. I love red. If you are good with paint, you could paint the door light blue or green and paint some kind of flower similar to one in your “art” in cream on the door. Or stencil it. I love adding personal touches like that to make our home unique.

  3. robinaltman

    I can’t express how much I admire you!!! You have done such an awesome job on the rooms you’ve finished. I know the rest of your house will look just as wonderful. We are such complete spastics around here. If I moved into an old house, it would stay just like that until doomsday. Yet, I love the charm. Your house is gorgeous.

  4. caprik

    I have come to believe that it’s all in the STAGING! There are probably not as many perfect houses as we think. They pictures are carefully cropped and edited!

    I have lived in and through the ugly many, many times. It never gets easier!

    I love before and after shots! I took before shots of our basement, but unfortunately, we have never gotten around to any after work! Sigh, maybe someday.

    I really like your idea of framing the scrapbook paper! What a great way to get the colors you want into the room!

  5. Marytoo

    You are inspiring! Old houses are beautiful. They have character and personality. We once remodeled an old house, such an adventure. But that was another life.

    Now we are in the process of moving into a plain vanilla everyday-looking house that we have bought. It is…nothing special, and I would put pictures of this horrible mess, but I don’t know how. Really.

    I have been feeling soooo discouraged with the whole mess, but thank you for the encouragement to keep on working on it. Tomorrow our friend is coming to hook up the hot water on the washer~I can’t wait!

  6. Julie McGoldrick

    Hi, new to commenting! I love your blog (I’m a regular reader)- and I love your house. Old houses have charm! We lived with a toilet and a refrigerator in our dining room for 6 months, so I have lived the “before” too. But it’s so much fun to let those creative juices flow! Love the framed papers- great idea which I am promptly stealing, thanks!- and I think you should paint your front door a sage green. Just a thought.

  7. Laura

    Thanks for the reality check. I live in a little one bedroom apartment with stuff constantly pilled everywhere. I try to accept the fact that we all can’t live in magazine spreads…I am jealous of your kitchen though 🙂

  8. Debra

    Hey, I’m with LeAnn. Maybe we should all do an “ugly parts of my house” blog or something. I always said nobody was going to see the upstairs of this place but it could be fun. (or depressing) 😉

    1. jeannine--Ocie's YaYa

      thanks soooo much for having the courage to show the real average home does NOT look to be out of a magazine!! I can so relate to the projects awaiting attention. I have a theory that when we have to wait, it makes us appreciate the end result even more!! At least that is what I keep telling myself-ha! Those of us who love old houses can relate to your blog today!

  9. LeAnn

    Well, it’s true life isn’t it. I have the same ugly going on here in my upstairs hallway, my family room and the upstairs bathroom. Ok, I might have to post about it…darn you fringe girl….LOL!


  10. Sarah@ Life in the Parsonage

    I love me some hooks…and that hallway FULL of them, AWESOMENESS.

    If it were my house, they’d all be full of at least 2 coats and junk and after awhile we wouldn’t even be able to fit down the hall…speaking of that, I’m off to clear off my hooks…

  11. Jill

    Everyone lives with ugly. You’re the only one with guts to show it. Until you get some more money, hang out in the finished places of your house and congratulate yourself on what a good job you did. It helps. : )

  12. Debra

    I love you too, FringeGirl. Never again will I complain about having no bathroom sink hooked up for nearly a year! If you can deal, I can deal too. 🙂 I love your kitchen sink by the way. If you want to house swap let me know. Maybe your hubby can do some electrification at my place and my hubs can plumbify or something. 😉

  13. DJ

    FringeGirl, I love you.
    I’m such a big chicken. I haven’t entertained in years. Yep, bought an OLD house too. No Bob Vila around anywhere to do anything, so here it sits.
    Why do we think others’ judgments matter?
    Are they going to tell the world that we are BAD women because our house needs new plumbing and wiring and drywall and molding and ….?
    We’ve finally found a contractor who didn’t run from the place screaming. So, hopefully, we’ll get moving on a new kitchen and bathroom.
    Love your honesty.
    And you’re a wonderful woman!

  14. carolyn

    Best blog post ever. Seriously. It’s true – you’d think by bouncing around blogland that everyone’s house is perfect. I just don’t have the guts to show all my rooms that are in a state of disarray. In fact, I haven’t even done an after of my beautiful kitchen renovation because the three connected rooms are never clean enough at the same time. Oh, and I love the hooks in your hall and that kitchen sink is fantastic!

  15. Emily@remodelingthislife

    I love this and wish more was emphasized on the ugly process of getting to the beautiful after photos. Because it does take a lot of work to go from truly ugly to beautiful. I love seeing someone else in blogland that is taking a home that isn’t already really nice and just doing projects for fun. And being real about the time and money that it takes to really renovate and not just the slap up paint kind of stuff. I am in love with your hallway. And I can actually see how lovely everything will be when the time and money make their appearance.


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