The Grand Tour

We closed on our new, less humble abode mid April 2012 and we’ve been working on it since.  Let’s get started.

Entry Before:  The previous owner installed beige marble tile and a Tiffany style light, neither of which are our style.  Oh, and lovely red curtains.

New-House-Entry April 13 2012

Entry 3 Years Later:  After replacing the door, lighting, railing, adding a tongue and groove accent wall, we have an entry that is light, bright, and welcoming.



Living Room Before:  After climbing the stairs, you’re greeted by the living and dining rooms, complete with inlaid hardwood floors and stunning views.


Living Room 3 Years Later:  Replacing the windows lightened the feel, new trim and paint brighten up the space.  Grass green curtains add lively color along with a camel leather sofa for warmth.


A refinished and upholstered sofa lends vintage charm to the room, across from the leather sofa.


Peek out the windows on the front of the house and you’ll see something like this:


Or this:


See, cool views, huh?  But back to the house.

Dining Room Before:  The bay window, super low light, and 8 foot French door in a room with 8 foot ceilings isn’t working for us.


Dining Room 3 Years Later:  After moving the doors to the entry, we put a window in place, moving the door to the old window placement.  A rectangular light fixture hangs above a Craigslist table set.


Kitchen Before:  The kitchen is massive, especially compared to our first kitchen.  Ben measured the island.  It’s nine feet long.  That’s just a foot or so shorter than the stove side at our first house.  And we’ve got a little breakfast nook at the end.



Kitchen 3 Years Later: A down-to-the-studs gut gave us a clean starting point for slate tile floors, DIY white cabinetry, soapstone counter tops, a walnut island, and a more functional layout for our needs.



Office Before:  My new office is right off the kitchen.  Which I love, but the ugly wallpaper was in there, too.


Office 3 Years Later:  While remodeling the kitchen, we also upgraded my office space.  The seating space moved from the side to the center of the window, flanked by two drawer stacks for functional storage space.   


Pool Room Before:  The glass door to the right leads to the indoor pool.  Yes, I feel like an over-privileged brat just typing that.  But, you can see the space needs plenty of work.  The roof is leaking, the pool isn’t functional, and we have industrial grade carpet on the deck.  So much light pours in thanks to tons of sky lights, doors, and southern exposure.  Hot tub anyone?  Well, it doesn’t work and is currently collecting bugs.

New-House-Pool-Room April 13 2012


Next to the entrance is a half bathroom and the three stairs go up to a wet bar.


For some reason, the cabinets are insanely high, but the sliding door leads out to a patio and the rest of the back yard.


Pool Room Progress:  Progress in here = piles of insulation.  This room is not a priority, but we dream of a cedar ceiling and soft gray walls with pretty tile on the floors.


Family Room Before:  Large windows flank a sliding door.  A moss rock fireplace is the center of the room.


Family Room 3 Years Later:  New windows, larger trim, and a refaced fireplace are more modern, but also brighten up the space.  A pair of spruced up thrifted chairs sit near an oversized stump coffee table.  For a burst of color, I painted a large landscape piece for the mantle.



Main Bathroom Before:  Although this was the most updated bathroom, the large vanity and clawfoot tub weren’t functional for our family.

New-House-Main-Bathroom April 13 2012

Main Bathroom 3 Years Later:  Because this was the only bathroom with a tub, we decided to work on it first, adding a tub/shower combo, a small linen closet, leggy vanity, and pendants.

Our Humble Abode Blog Main Bathroom Vanity


For added storage, we built an open shelving stack to hold the necessities.


Guest Bedroom Before:  The smallest of the bedrooms, the guest bedroom boasts courtyard-esque views and built-in book shelves.

New-House-Guest-Bedroom April 13 2012

Guest Bedroom 3 Years Later:  A queen sized bed fits nicely, and the book shelves hold everything I had in my first office.  Making a nook in the shelves gives more floor space to the room and creates a cozy nook at the bed.




Boys’ Bedroom Before:  Oddly enough, the layout of the boys’ bedroom is a slightly larger version of their bedroom at our first house.



Boys’ Bedroom 3 Years Later:  Placing the custom built twin beds against the walls leaves plenty of open floor space for playing, a refinished Drexel dresser tucked below the window rounds out the grouping.



Master Bedroom Before:  Yikes.  The electric blue paint is not close to a favorite color of ours.  But the room is huge compared to our small master bedroom before.



Master Bedroom 3 Years Later: When we replaced the old cedar siding, we decided to reuse some of it to create a shiplap accent wall and painted it white.  Then we built a beautiful wood and upholstered bed frame and headboard, floating wood nightstands, and leather tab top curtains to layer the room.


We use a DIY wooden ladder to store extra blankets near the bed.


A large framed mirror fills in the space between the doors, adding function.


Master Closet Before:  A walk in closet feels like such a luxury.  We’ve got plenty of space to store every clothing item Ben and I own.


Master Closet 3 Years Later:  A coat of Dragonfly paint on the walls and crisp white shelving makes for a fun mini room.


Master Bathroom Before:  Red walls + yellow sinks + dingy tile = a mess made in the 70s.  Add in a leaking shower and it was high time to remodel the room.



Master Bathroom 3 Years Later:  We decided to reuse the clawfoot tub from the main bathroom, but to make space for it, we had to eliminate one of the sinks.  In place, we created a five foot walnut vanity topped with a stainless steel counter and vessel sink.


White tongue and groove wraps the lower third of the bathroom, balancing the nearly black painted upper.


For the shower, we took a less conventional approach with an open stainless steel shower pan and two curtains to prevent the space from feeling closed in and cramped.


Basement Before:  Although ugly, this large open area gets a lot of light thanks to two south-facing windows.


The space makes an L around into a dark, windowless space.


Basement 3 Years Later:  This is our current project and has been completely gutted.  We’re reconfiguring the layout to create two rooms, a bedroom as well as a theater space.



Laundry Room Before:  Um, the Brady family called.  They want their countertops back.  But we are thankful for the large space with plenty of storage.


Laundry Room Progress:  Washer and dryer from our last house work well side by side in here.  A left over rug covers the ugly glue covered floor.


Basement Bathroom Before:  More yellow fixtures, orange counters, and glue covered floors.  This room will get a complete facelift along with the rest of the basement update.


Back Yard Before:  A stone patio complete with non-functional fountain with a few trees.  Even better, we’ve got a steep lot with privacy beyond.


New-House-Back-Yard April 13 2012

New-House-Back-Yard-Stairs April 13 2012

Back Yard 3 Years Later: Oh man, this was a lot of back breaking work.  When a local commercial building was demolished, we saved the structural beams and created a beefy deck.  Every window has been replaced with new energy efficient ones and the siding is all new as well.  Since we’re in Montana, we went with a material that is becoming more popular around here, CorTen steel and traditional lap siding.


Back-Deck-from-HillBack-Deck-Toward-Waterfall-with-House-EndTo get an even better idea of the layout, here’s a house tour and a separate tour of the pool room.

19 thoughts on “The Grand Tour

  1. Looking forward to seeing where you head with this one! I’m not convinced about the washer/dryer being placed in the walk-in dresser! These spaces usually lack ventilation and are also incredibly noisy and invasive. Why not reinvent the laundry downstairs and have a laundry chute upstairs directed into it to eliminate carting your clothing basket downstairs every day? it’s a great house, with plenty of potential. I think a contemporary/Danish look would work really well with this 70s style property. It certainly lends itself to lots of directions. Good luck and much happiness in your lovely new home!

  2. Just stumbled upon your blog and signed up! Can’t wait to see the changes you’re going to make!

    Greetings from Germany!:-)

  3. I just found your blog and I’m so excited to find a Montana blogger! We just don’t have the same stores that many bloggers have access too so I am excited to see how you make it work. Congrats on your new home!

  4. It’s HUGE. You have already done a lot but I’m tired (and much older than you!!!) just thinking about what you have a head of you! But…it will be fun and you will have a tremendous feeling of accomplishment; not to mention an amazing home! Good luck to you and enjoy the journey! Lucy Beliveau in Dallas!

  5. This is a gorgeous house! But wait… why are you getting rid of those gorgeous french doors and bay window in the dining room!? Those are features you already have that people would spend thousands to upgrade to… And they up the value of the home!

    1. Hi Lauren!

      I completely understand where you’re coming from, but our grand plan includes some changes for those. The French door is 8 feet tall in a room with 8 foot ceilings, so it’s strange. And the bay window and door plan is changing to accommodate a fireplace. :)


  6. I so love the newly remodeled home. Wide open floor plan design makes the house look more bigger. I so envy you your Family room and the wet bar.. Now I can’t wait to see what will happen to the backyard as well the patio.. Thank you for sharing photos of your beautiful home, this just gives me the idea of what I will be doing with my den.

  7. Hi Amanda:) I am clicking through pics of the new house (huge!) but I can’t seem to get the link to look at your first house (the one in the ‘about us’ section is bringing me to the tour of the new house — can you help? Thanks:) Elizabeth

  8. Thanks for sharing the grand tour! I love your house. Your blog has given me so many good tips I had to share this giveaway with you right when I found it. I couldn’t pass up the prize! Sarabella Giveaway

  9. Hello! I happened to see you in the BHG issue and saw you are in my hometown – Billings, MT. I live outside of Syracuse, NY now, but looking at the views out your windows makes me miss home a little less. Happy DIYing!

  10. Hi Amanda,
    I also reside in Billings, and am considering buying a fixer-upper. I was very pleased to find your blog on Pintrest, and surprise! Pictures of my city:). I was wondering if you had any experience with converting small basement windows into egress windows?
    Thank you! Your blog is very inspiring.

  11. Hi! I love the lights you have hanging in your master bedroom next to your bed – could you tell me where you found those? Thanks!!:)

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