Breathing Life into an Old Home - My 2022 Fixer Upper

Real Estate Agent with Front Gate Real Estate Broker 11085

Earlier this year, I bought a four bedroom fixer upper in my neighborhood that needed love and attention, and I was determined to make it shine again.

The owner was referred to me by a past client. When I saw the house, I knew it had potential. The owner didn't want to make any improvements and wanted to sell the house "as is". We discussed the possibility of me buying the house. After a few days, we reached an agreement and I closed on the property.

I documented a lot of "Before and After" photos on my Facebook page, but never got around to posting them here... until now.

One of the biggest projects my contractor and I had to deal with was the foyer. It should have been a stunning entrance; instead the walls were lined with brown paper grocery bags, torn randomly into smaller bits and decoupaged on the walls. (This was a trend in the early 80's.) Our challenge was to remove the paper without shredding the sheetrock wall underneath. I ultimately decided on a Board and Batten application that turned the entry into the showcase it should have been all along. The Board and Batten was painted with Sherwin Williams Revere Pewter.

Before paper bag wallpaperBoard and Batten Foyer

Another of my favorite projects was whitewashing the brick fireplace and adding a cypress mantle. The brick floor already had a paint technique, but the bricks on the fireplace were dull and discolored, and needed some oomph!  Whitewashing brick is one of the easiest tasks I've ever done but provides a big improvement, don't you think? I also added a custom cypress mantle and shiplap above the fireplace.

Fireplace before updatingFireplace after remodel whitewash and shiplap

The last improvement I want to share is the staircase remodel. When I bought the house, the carpet had been removed but the nails, staples and paint spatters remained. After hours of pulling staples and sanding the stairs, I stained the treads and painted the risers; the stair rail was painted black for a dramatic look. You can see the results in the before and after photo.

Stairs before updatingstairs after staining Newcastle

Although there were other improvements made, I've highlighted just a few of my favorites. It is extremely gratifying to bring a home like this back to life. The house was listed last week and quickly went under contract. I'm sure the new family will love this house as much as I do.

If you'd like to see the finished product, click the link below.

Professional photos can be viewed here.

Comments (19)

Kathy Streib
Cypress, TX
Home Stager/Redesign

Wow Pat- there's nothing I love more than Before and After photos and these are great. We whitewashed one of our mantels years ago and loved the end product. Congratulations on the house going under contract!!!! 

Jul 02, 2022 12:46 PM
Pat Starnes-Front Gate Realty

The whitewashing process is so easy; I love it, too! Kathy Streib 

Jul 02, 2022 03:00 PM
Joan Cox
House to Home, Inc. - Denver Real Estate - 720-231-6373 - Denver, CO
Denver Real Estate - Selling One Home at a Time

Pat, you have you really transformed this home that definitely needed some love.  GREAT job!

Jul 02, 2022 01:03 PM
Pat Starnes-Front Gate Realty

Thank you Joan Cox . I appreciate it!

Jul 02, 2022 03:18 PM
Nina Hollander, Broker
Coldwell Banker Realty - Charlotte, NC
Your Greater Charlotte Realtor

Hi Pat.. what an amazing job you did! I'm so impressed. I've one ever done one renovation of that magnitude -- a 1939 Park Avenue coop in New York City that had never been touched from 1939 until I purchased it in 1994. I did that renovation to live in and it was a labor of love, but I've chosen not to repeat it. Once in a lifetime was enough.

Jul 02, 2022 02:07 PM
Pat Starnes-Front Gate Realty

I cannot imagine the work involved in a 1939 Park Avenue Co-op. This property was mostly cosmetic; I didn't have to touch plumbing or electrical. I really enjoy the renovation process, but try to limit the work to once a year or every other year. Nina Hollander, Broker 

Jul 02, 2022 02:57 PM
George Souto
George Souto NMLS #65149 FHA, CHFA, VA Mortgages - Middletown, CT
Your Connecticut Mortgage Expert

Pat you did an amazing job.  You may have a second career doing this.

Jul 02, 2022 02:35 PM
Pat Starnes-Front Gate Realty

If only I had started this 20 years ago... George Souto 

I truly enjoy doing it.

Jul 02, 2022 02:58 PM
Kathleen Daniels, Probate & Trust Specialist
KD Realty - 408.972.1822 - San Jose, CA
Probate Real Estate Services

Congratulations.  Well Done!

The before and after photos speak volumes.  

Jul 02, 2022 03:15 PM
Pat Starnes-Front Gate Realty

Thank you! It was a labor of love.

Jul 02, 2022 03:19 PM
Grant Schneider
Performance Development Strategies - Armonk, NY
Your Coach Helping You Create Successful Outcomes

Good morning Pat - that really shows a dramatic difference.  A house with "good bones" can be refreshed so nicely.

Jul 03, 2022 03:22 AM
Kat Palmiotti
406-270-3667,, Broker/REALTOR® - Kalispell, MT
Helping your Montana dreams take root

Great job! The before and after photos clearly show all the work that went into this project. Beautiful!

Jul 03, 2022 04:47 AM
Myrl Jeffcoat
Sacramento, CA
Greater Sacramento Realtor - Retired

What an amazing transformation that is Pat.  It is always rewarding to see the rewards of your labor.

Jul 03, 2022 04:54 AM
Myrl Jeffcoat
Sacramento, CA
Greater Sacramento Realtor - Retired

CONGRATULATIONS Pat, on having this blog FEATURED in the Old Farts Club group!  

Jul 03, 2022 04:54 AM
Pat Starnes-Front Gate Realty

Thank you Myrl Jeffcoat 

Jul 04, 2022 12:02 PM
Brian England
Ambrose Realty Management LLC - Gilbert, AZ
MBA, GRI, REALTOR® Real Estate in East Valley AZ

I love these types of projects and seeing the before and after pictures!  Such a nice renovation!

Jul 03, 2022 05:48 AM
Richard Weeks
Dallas, TX
REALTOR®, Broker

Great information, thanks for sharing.  I hope you have a great day.

Jul 04, 2022 03:49 AM
Carla Freund
Keller Williams Preferred Realty - Raleigh, NC
NC Real Estate Transition & Relocation 919-602-848

Pat, what a lovely job! I hope it brings much joy to the new owners!

Jul 04, 2022 06:55 AM
Dorte Engel
RE/MAX Leading Edge - Bowie, MD
ABC - Annapolis, Bowie, Crofton & rest of Maryland

Dear Pat,

Great job! Gotta make sure to keep up the values around your own neighborhood. Clearly the home was nice. It was just not showing itself from its best side.

Jul 07, 2022 05:59 AM
Pat Starnes-Front Gate Realty

I hadn't thought about it that way, Dorte Engel , but it's a valid point. The fact that the commute was less than 5 minutes was indeed a bonus.

Jul 07, 2022 07:23 PM
Eileen Burns 954.483.3912
Trans State Commercial RE Ft. Lauderdale/Miami/Palm Beach - Fort Lauderdale, FL
FLorida Real Estate Connector

what a lovely transformation Pat Starnes-Front Gate Realty 😎

Jul 12, 2022 09:22 AM
Pat Starnes-Front Gate Realty

Thank you Eileen Burns ! This was a fun project.

Jul 12, 2022 10:37 AM
Debe Maxwell, CRS
Savvy + Company (704) 491-3310 - Charlotte, NC

Oh my gosh, how did I miss this post! You know this is my 'thing' and I could not be more impressed, girlfriend! WOWZA! 

I must visit your FB page and see other improvements. 

BTW, we have very similar tastes - so far, everything I see here is the direction I would have gone. Great job, gf!

Jul 31, 2022 07:32 PM
Pat Starnes-Front Gate Realty

Thank you so much Debe Maxwell, CRS. I loved solving the issues this house had, and happy that the new buyers are moving in soon. I agree you and I have so many similarities; I wish we lived closer, and although I didn't use my "AR Bonus Points" to visit you, I definitely would love to come see you sometime. :)

Aug 01, 2022 10:25 AM
Pete Xavier
Investments to Luxury - Pacific Palisades, CA
Outstanding Agent Referrals-Nationwide

Just WOW! (seen the refurbished blue front door on another post)

Sep 01, 2022 12:04 PM
Patricia Feager, MBA, CRS, GRI,MRP
Selling Homes Changing Lives

Pat Starnes-Front Gate Realty - Congratulations on buying the property, renovating and breathing new life into something old and outdated; then selling it successfully for a profit. WOW! You did a wonderful job. It is obvious to me that when you have a vision, you bring it to fruition and succeed. The before and after photos are amazing. Truly, your passion for houses is much deeper than the average sales agent who simply lists and helps buyers to buy. I applaud you!!! If there was an award for REALTOR of the Year, I would vote for you!

Sep 06, 2022 04:45 AM
Pat Starnes-Front Gate Realty
Front Gate Real Estate - Brandon, MS
601-991-2900 Office; 601-278-4513 Cell

Patricia Feager, MBA, CRS, GRI,MRP you are so precious! Thank you for all the compliments. I hate you missed the Zoom presentation, but Ed's summary covered just about everything. I am looking for another house to work on, but I don't mind taking a bit of a break and doing a few projects around my own house. Thank you again for your kindness and friendship.

Sep 06, 2022 06:34 PM
Patricia Feager, MBA, CRS, GRI,MRP
Selling Homes Changing Lives

Pat Starnes-Front Gate Realty - you are amazing and precious too. I commend you for combining your talent, passion, and ability to give back to your community. You're a very special lady and someone who is making a difference, one house at a time. 

Friends always,

Sep 07, 2022 04:40 AM