We moved into our house in April 2017 with big plans to do a ton of updates and renovations to both the interior and exterior. I had even created a schedule as to when each project should be done by. After the stress of moving and trying to figure out our new budget with new jobs and a mortgage it became a lot more appealing to sit on our porch enjoying summer nights than to do any of the projects we had planned. So, we spent the summer sitting on the porch, the fall prepping for our Halloween party, and the rest of 2017 celebrating the holidays. Then in January we got to work on the house and started with our living room renovation on a budget!
We made a list of the what was most important to us to start fixing up first, keeping in mind that we wanted to do as much work as possible ourselves and keep it to a limited budget. We decided to renovate the two rooms we use the most first, the living room and then the bedroom, and also update the hallway in the center of the house.
We started our living room renovation on a budget a couple weekends ago. Mike and I are complete novices when it comes to home repairs and improvements, so everything detailed below is what we figured out along the way. We also got a little bit of guidance from our contractor brother-in-law. Here’s what we’ve done so far:
Cleared the Walls
Since we moved in there has been a big mirror hung up on the wall behind the television, with two matching side mirrors (omg so 80’s) and a giant mirror secured to the length of the wall above the fireplace. We took both mirrors down. The mirror behind the tv was about 4.5 feet long and was bracketed using a small shelf. That was relatively easy to unscrew and take down. The mirror above the fireplace was a little more complicated. It is 7.5 feet long and a solid piece of glass, so there wasn’t much to grip when we were trying to remove it. It had likely been up there for several decades. When we finally got it off the giant brackets we could feel just how heavy it was and it took some manuevering to get it down onto the floor.
It turns out there had been water damage at some point so when we took the fireplace mirror down it removed a chunk of the drywall with it exposing the cement underneath. We bought some joint compound from Lowe’s to patch the space. It took a few coats over several days to get it even and we sanded the wall with a sanding sponge between each coat.
We used a drill to unscrew the mirror brackets from the walls. We also removed any other screws or nails from the walls that had been placed by previous owners and spackled over all of them. We unscrewed all of the light switch covers too. It takes a couple hours for the spackling to dry, so we used that time to get the paint and painting supplies from Lowe’s. I love this spackling because it goes on pink and then dries to white so you know when you can sand and paint over it.
Our vision for the room is to have neutral walls and furniture, but with brighter accents in the form of pillows, decor, and framed images for the walls. We painted the entire room Greek Villa by Sherwin Williams. The walls had previously been a super light blue color, but was dirty and dingy looking. We bought the paint with primer in an eggshell finish and most of the walls only needed one coat. We had to do some touch-ups along the trim and on two spots of the wall where we had tested out light grey paint for the hallway.
We had to wait until the following weekend to paint above the fireplace due to the drywall issue. The wall isn’t completely flat, you can definitely see some of the areas where we had to spackle and fill in, but it still looks way better than it did with the big 80’s mirror taking up all that space.
Since the moment I first walked into our house I have wanted to rip up the carpet. It’s a cushy wall to wall carpet, but it’s a terrible blue/green color, super dirty in spots despite using a rug doctor on it before we moved in, and is very dated. Our realtor pointed out to us before we bought the house that there is hardwood underneath the living room carpet. I would never have thought of this, but she lifted the vent to peak under the carpet and take a look. Now that I knew hardwood was alive and well underneath that heinous carpet I was even more excited to get the carpet ripped up.
We did our research ahead of time, bought duct tape, work gloves, and utility knives, and figured out the best way to go about it. We started in the corner of the living room and pulled up the carpet along one wall. We folded about 2-3 feet of the carpet over and cut it from underneath…it cuts way easier from underneath than the top. Then we rolled each strip up and duct taped it for easy disposal. We did this all the way across the room.
The carpet pad underneath came up easily just by pulling on it with our gloved hands and we stuffed it all in contractor bags. After that Mike went along the perimeter and used a putty knife and pry bar to get the wooden tack strips up. While he was doing that I used needle nose priors to pull up the individual staples down the center of the floor and along the perimeter.
This is the part where we’re a little stumped. We’re able to use rubbing alcohol, a rag, and good old fashioned elbow grease to get the carpet pad adhesive off the hardwood floor. There are multiple little spots of adhesive, smaller than a dime, that we started to work on removing. However, there is also some old paint splatters. We bought Goof Off and Goo Gone to try and remove the paint, but so far neither has worked. We don’t want to have to pay someone to refinish the floors, so our plan is to keep trying different things until something works.
Overall the floors are in pretty good shape underneath. They’re nice thin board oak. Between the white walls and the hardwood floor our living room is already 10x brighter than it was before.
Now, we knew there was hardwood in the living room, but had no idea if there was hardwood anywhere else on the first floor of the house. We cut the carpet to the hallway and when we peaked underneath could see that there was hardwood in the hallway to. Hallelujah! We ripped up the carpet in the hallway too, following the same steps, and we were able to see that each of the bedrooms has hardwood under the carpet also. We plan to remove all the carpet from the first floor over the course of the next couple months!
I was nervous to start any home projects on our own because I was worried we would get stuck and not know how to complete a project or we would make it look worse than it already did. But, if I’ve learned any thing from Chip and Joanna Gaines more often than not it’s worth the risk. Sure we now have to figure out how to refinish them ourselves, but the whole space already looks so much better and more modern. Doing this project has given us more confidence in our ability to renovate the house the way we want and we can’t wait to do more. Our next steps will be refinishing the floors ourselves, painting the walls, trim, and built in hutch in the hallway, and working on updating our living room furniture to make the space really feel like our own.
Questions about our renovation experience so far? Tips on how to remove the paint from our floors? Share in the comments!