Saturday, May 29, 2021

Another Whole-House Refresh Done, Here Come The Before-And-After Photos!

Whew. That was an unexpected marathon. What I thought would be a quick 2-week refresh on a dated rental house turned into more of a 5-week deep dive, and worse, most of our work barely even shows. There were so many little repairs: removing an old security system, moving A/C vents around, running new wiring, installing new exhaust vents, painting closet shelves, etc, that just don't show up in before-and-after pics.

But of course all the new paint and fixtures still make quite a difference, so I still have some fun stuff to share. C'mon, I'll give you the official "B&A" Tour.


That A/C closet on the left got a complete overhaul, then we painted all the walls, trim, and doors, refinished the chandelier, and added some pretty light-blocking curtains to the sliders:


How 'bout those black doors, eh? I love them so much, y'all. As a nice bonus, they pick up the black window frames throughout the house, so everything flows a little better. We also changed to daylight bulbs, which helps neutralize some of the warm pink tones in the tile and makes everything look all cool and de-saturated.

Thanks to the new A/C return vents on the left there's no more air coming in at ground level, taking in all the dust with it. Should keep the closet and whole system much cleaner.

Same space from the other side:

Remember that chandelier?

It's like new again!

I was surprised how many of you were intensely interested in a grout-cleaning update, so here's my long awaited review: baking soda & peroxide - the combo the entire interweb recommends -  didn't mix well, is a HUGE pain to clean up since it's so gritty, and made very little difference for us.

A $7 bottle of ZEP from Home Depot, on the other hand, only took a few swipes with a toothbrush and made a huge difference for most of the grout:

(Sorry, filthy floor - this was before mopping.)

Some grout lines were too stained to lighten up completely, but most of the floors throughout the house looked significantly better, going from solid black back to a midtone gray. Here's a closeup where the Dep spilled into a dirty area - this was just the cleaner hitting it, no scrubbing!

The Zep bubbles up and foams like peroxide, which is fun, and the smell wasn't terrible, kinda minty:

So yeah, from our experience, skip the homemade recipe and grab some Zep instead; it's well worth it.

K, enough dirty floor photos, back to the house!

The kitchen was perfectly fine before - it's only about 10 years old -  except for some wall repairs and all the cabinet hardware, which was starting to corrode. So we replaced the knobs, refinished the handles, patched up the walls, painted, and updated the faucet:

Again, I'm loving how the black doors & fixtures pick up the window frames. It all feels so cohesive now! Plus the cooler gray tone on the walls feels more modern.

Other side before:

The fridge was a lot of work: mostly cleaning, but also touching up a hundred tiny scratches and scrapes with epoxy paint.

Again, not a huge difference, but nice.

I know you're going to ask about this next Before shot, so let me start by saying yes, that IS a live lizard on the toilet seat.

Welcome to Florida.

Both bathrooms in this house didn't have exhaust vents, so EVERYTHING was rusted. All the fixtures had to go, and the rusted out mirror, but I managed to salvage the light fixture.

(Rest assured both baths have shiny new exhaust fans and dedicated switches now.)

This After turned out extra pretty. Ready?


Now Lizard-Free! I think. Probably. Maybe.

We found the mirror on FB Marketplace for $10, like new from a remodel. Always check your local Marketplace or Craig's List for things like ceiling fans, lights, mirrors, and even vanities and cabinetry; you can really save a bundle.

In fact we scored some gorgeous brand new wall cabinetry for the laundry room, all leftovers from a custom cabinetry shop and going cheap on Marketplace.

So we got to replace this nastiness that's been there since 1963:


With these!

Plus there are more on the other side. ::happy dance::

Here's an example of one of the bedrooms before; the doggos had done a number on the lower walls:

Fresh paint and twice-shampooed carpets later:

Ahhh. That's the stuff.

Here's another room with double closets, so I can show off those fabulous doors again:

I also love the hallway view:

Last thing, the tiny en suite bathroom:

In addition to being a swampy green, it had more rusted out fixtures and a disintegrating medicine cabinet.

The cabinet was another like-new Marketplace score for just $20. All the fixtures, faucets, and door hardware throughout the house came from Amazon.

Last thing, we did a mini makeover on an old backyard shed that desperately needed one:

The last owners screwed scrap plywood to a screen door and called it a day. Oy.

After a little brainstorming, we decided to salvage the metal frame and build a slatted wood door around it. We also added decorative lattice panels, so now the shed looks about a thousand percent better:

You can't really see the door slats, and it needs another coat of paint... but trust me, MUCH BETTER.

And now the urge to add a wreath... is strong.

Hopefully the next people to live here will add some pretty climbing plants. And a wreath.

 I hope you had fun taking my Before & After Tour! John and I are so happy to be done, and super excited to get back to working on all the other projects for friends and FOE that have been building up in the meantime. It'll be nice to tackle a few smaller projects for a while, methinks.

Let me know if you have any questions; you know John and I love talking about house projects!

[Update: The house color is "Accessible Beige" from Sherwin Williams, which we color-matched in Valspar Signature from Lowe's. It's a true neutral greige, right between gray and beige, and it's the same color in every room in my pics except the laundry room.]


P.S. It's almost the end of the month, have you entered the Squeegineer Give-Away yet? 'Cuz I want to give you stuff! Help me to help you.

Also that reminds me to go clean out some more goodies from the office closet to list in the prize galleries. Stand by, and remember to check back!


  1. The house refresh looks great. All the hard work you and John put in really paid off!

  2. Daylight bulbs make SUCH a difference. Never going back to that horrible yellow hue on everything!
    I wasn't sure about the black doors when you shared in your story, but they definitely break things up and add some interest. It works! And it's a rental, so why not experiment? Looks great!

    1. I've heard several people say that daylight bulbs are better for paint colors and whatnot, but I just can't handle that bright light. I love my soft white!

    2. I'm with you on the soft white; the daylight is a little glaring to me. Fortunately it's getting easier to get LEDs in that color temperature. They used to _say_ they were "soft white", but now some actually are.

  3. Good call on the black, not just nice to look at but gives it a much more modern feel. Well done!

  4. Oh em squee I love it all!! You two do amazing work. Two major questions: 1. What color is the new paint on the wall? I want to repaint my house and I think that's the color I'm looking for! 2. Soo...what did you do with the toilet lizard? I'm in a major city in CA so I've thankfully have never needed to deal with a reptile on the toilet - I don't think I would know what to do! Do you just hope he goes away? Ask nicely? Close the door and never use the bathroom again?

    1. I'll get back to you on the color (have to ask John) but as for the lizard, we usually catch them in a glass and relocate outside. I don't think I saw that particular one again, though, so it's possible he's still kicking around in there, ha.

    2. The color is "Accessible Beige" from Sherwin Williams. You don't have to buy it at SW, though; most hardware stores have all the colors in their computers and can match it in any paint.

    3. If you like that color you should check out "Alpaca" (a Sherwin Williams color, but they all will match it). It's a little more cool then the color Jen/John picked, but also awesome. We were debating between these two when we painted and went with Alpaca (because, hello, alpacas) and we love it

    4. Okay, "Accessible Beige" sounds straight out of the Stongbad Email where he is trying to pick a new laptop. One of the color options is "Italian Same"-- Ha!

  5. It looks great and so fresh and updated. LOVE black doors. I did all of mine during Cornovirus2020 home projects!

  6. I think you can definitely tell you worked it all over! It's possibly mostly the lighting, but those walls and doors look very spiffy now, and all the other visual work!

  7. I noticed that you removed the phone jack in the kitchen. So smart! We are renting and I would love to have someone so committed to details to renovate our current place. It needs so much help. But since we rent it feels like that’s all we deserve.

    1. Oh yes, we had to remove SO MANY wall things! All the phone jacks, an old security system, and then there were like 3 times too many smoke alarms and CO2 detectors randomly sprinkled though the house - most broken. Just getting all those extras off teh walls made such a difference!

  8. Ugh. I've moved onto my very first house. There is some cosmetic work to do, and some personal touches, but I'm so overwhelmed! You need a working vacation in Canada ;-)

  9. These are gorgeous and so satisfying! We’re doing a big remodel, and I’ve been very concerned about wall color. Thanks so much for the tip! I’ll be pestering you in about 3 months for math room remodel tips!

  10. It looks amazing. We just bought a house in January and are slowly working on little improvements. My biggest question - perhaps you can answer - is the fan in the master bathroom appears to work but I don't think it's really doing anything - even though we run the fan during showers, there are literally streaks from water droplets starting to stain all the walls. I've noticed the bolts on the light fixture are rusting too.

    Eventually, we're thinking we'd like to replace the masterbath door with a sliding door (it swings in and hits the toilet currently) and we'd like to create a built-in TP holder on the wall. And then I have to figure out what to do with our odd semi-walk-in square closet. It's not very functional.

    I'm really curious how you did the a/c returns. Looks interesting and a lot better than the low ones.

    1. Hmm, you may need a stronger vent fan - which is a pain, since they have to be installed from the attic side. OR, take a look, maybe your current one is just clogged with sticky dust? That's pretty common, and an easier fix, ha.

      Keep in mind even a good fan won't keep the walls from getting some condensation during a long shower, but if your fixtures are rusting (and aren't super old), that's definitely a sign something's not right.

    2. Yes, my hubby (who doesn't think he is very handy, but has saved us thousands in repair bills over 40years of marriage), did some magic cleaning of the fan and it's housing. Made a huge difference

  11. Black appliances would look awesome in the kitchen (for when you get to the point of needing to replace them and you don't do another update of the kitchen).

    Also, I started to wonder why you would be running cables in the attic at 3am. Then I remembered that one time when we lived near Atlanta, GA and we decided to run ethernet to the 2nd floor rooms and husbot was crawling around in the attic on a 95 degree afternoon/evening. So, yeah. *That's* why y'all ran the cables at 3am.

    1. Haha, exactly this! It was "only" 80 degrees in the attic at 3AM, unlike the sweltering 120 or so during the day.

  12. WOW! Everything looks amazing, especially the room with the dog marks on the walls and the filthy carpet. Love the way the paint looks with the black doors, very chic.

  13. That looks amazing, you always do such great work! I'm in a new house so have no need for renovation tips etc., but still love looking at and reading about what you do :-)

  14. The black doors look amazing. I've been trying to convince my partner that we should do the same in the house we just bought. He doesn't think they'll look good so I'm planning to use your pics as an example.
    Did you just paint the existing ones, did you have to do any special prep? Ours are ugly wood-look, hollow-core and I hope they can be painted.

    1. Yours can definitely be painted! If they're wood you'll need to prime first, though, so the water-based paint will stick. Use a non-water-based primer, since you're going over a lacquer. Then you're good to go!

  15. Did the lizard try to sell you insurance?

  16. I love how clean the grout is! I checked and I can't find that Zep grout cleaner here in Canada :(

    Amazing job with the reno, guys!

  17. Well done! It definitely looks better in 'after' pictures.

  18. You did an amazing job! It looks so fresh and inviting now. And I appreciate the ZEP recommendation!

  19. Wow, that looks amazing. I never liked Builder Beige and your new paint looks very pleasing to my eye. I hope you get to rent it out soon!

  20. Hello! Which Zep cleaner is it? In our Home Depot there wasn't a specific grout cleaner in the Zep brand. The house looks amazing!


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