The story of our house from the beginning: learn how the house behind the lifestyle blog, On Sutton Place, became a home, one DIY project at a time.
Back when my blog was very new, I published a post that told the story of our house. That post is buried so deep in my archives that even I had a hard time finding it. So…I thought I would share the story again from my perspective now. As a self-employed blogger and photographer, a reluctant empty-nester, and as someone who sees the glass as half-full and not half-empty. There are so many things about this house that I would still love to change or update. But at the end of the day, it’s our home…and it was a wonderful place to raise our family. We now welcome our adult children, their spouses, and grandchildren to a home with history. Each room has a story to tell, and a history all its own.
We moved to Sutton Place in the spring of 1993. It looked vastly different then. Our yard was full of trees both in front and in back. We had no grass, no thriving landscaping, and absolutely no curb appeal. We bought it mostly for the location and size…and at the time, we thought we could afford it. Shortly after we got the keys, I came down with the most dreadful case of buyer’s remorse. There was so much more to fix and update than we realized. The amount of money it was going to take to do everything was overwhelming.
I couldn’t look at the big picture without wanting to cry…so I did the only thing I could. I tackled things one at a time.
Slowly projects were completed and improvements were made. By slowly I mean at a snail’s pace. A great deal of thought and budgeting went into every project that we completed. I love to DIY, but there were limits to what I could do on my own. I’m just not a girl who loves power tools! My husband has many gifts, but being handy is not one of them.
So with the help of various contractors and handy-men over the years, this is what our house looks like now. It was built in 1964, and still has the original windows and siding. (Believe me, I would love new windows!) Even though the footprint has stayed the same, the house looks nothing like it did when we bought it.
We have, by necessity, removed most of the trees from the lot. Our plumbing was compromised by tree roots. Our foundation was cracking. Our patio, porch floor and garage floor were cracking as well. I wish I had pictures of our yard before the trees were removed. It was literally a forest!
We have pretty much replaced or fixed everything over the past 27 years. Here is a rundown of our home improvements:
- New roof.
- Painted siding and trim (3 times.)
- Replaced every exterior door.
- New landscaping (Including a garden in the back.)
- New lawn.
- New lights (twice.)
- New deck.
- Added front porch railing.
- New soffits and gutters.
- New garage door.
- New hardwood flooring.
- Board and batten in dining room.
- New asphalt driveway.
- New patio Part 1.
- New Patio Part 2.
- Hallway bathroom renovation.
My very favorite project has been painting the front door navy blue. I first used this color on a bank of cabinets in the kitchen, and loved it so much I put it on the front door.
Check this link for the scoop on the color. My most frequently asked question, hands down, is “What is the color of your front door?” It’s been several years, and I love it as much today as when we first painted it.
Outdoor projects were at the top of the list during the spring and summer months, and the inside projects took place during the winter. The biggest project we have completed on the inside is definitely installing hardwood floors on the first floor. A close second was when we renovated our entry. We removed old wallpaper, painted, tore up old carpet, refinished the stairway treads & banisters, and painted the stairway risers.
- Read about the living & dining room makeover (includes the hardwood floors.)
- Read about the entry & stairway renovation.
We’ve painted every room in the house, most more than once. Every room is decorated with family heirlooms and things we love. This house tells the story of our family, and I think that is what I am most proud of.
When we bought this house, I felt like I was a visitor, and I just wanted to go home. It wasn’t until we began to slowly make changes and improvements that it started to feel like ours. Now I can’t imagine living anyplace else.
Owning this home has been a character-building experience. I have had to learn patience and perseverance. I’ve learned that hard work really does pay off. Most importantly, I’ve learned to never, ever under-estimate the value of a good handy man!
Now that I’m self-employed, after years of leaving here every day, I can stay home. To say I am thankful is an understatement. This house has become so much more than just a place to live. It’s really become my whole life. Focusing my blog around my home has been life-changing. The two together saved me from a terrible case of empty nest syndrome, and for that I will be forever grateful.
This house is many things. It holds our memories, both good and bad. Most importantly, it’s a safe place for my family. At the end of the day, this is where we return. It’s where my heart lives.