A Busy Week in Claremont

The White House

Kurt has been making slow-but-steady progress on the White House during this last week.

He finished cleaning all of the windows, inside and out, which took about an hour a piece because they were so incredibly disgusting. He had to scrape a ton of sloppy brown caulking off of the vinyl frames too. He also replaced the old, holey silver screens with less-noticeable black ones. The before and afters are awesome! Check out the upstairs bedroom windows.

Before After Window Washing

Since the front door is now officially Celestial Blue, we decided it was time to reinstall the 1940s Nutone door bell. (Even though the house is a 1910, I just couldn’t part with the adorable “DING-DONG” created by this vintage piece.) I also created new label for the window. I believe originally it said “Turn Handle” but I found that explanation to be incomplete, so after a trial-run using my laptop screen, I printed our new label out on paper (in matching blue letters, of course).

Kurt installed a brand new door on the back porch. Unlike the last one, this one opens and closes without rubbing on the porch floor in the process! He also changed from a left-hand opening door to a right-hand one. The location of the railing, the inside light switch and the adjacent kitchen door all made more sense with a right-hand swing. (He needs to put a little bit of metal trim around the outside before it’s officially finished, but it looks so much nicer than the old one, I just had to share.)

Over the last two days, Kurt and I have been working together to install a new garage door opener, with a nifty outdoor keypad entry and a motion-sensing reverse system.

And this afternoon, he finally reinstalled the newly painted (outer) basement windows. Now the inside and outside windows in the basement are sealed up and ready for anything Mother Nature can dish out. (And I’m still loving that dark gray paint!)

Earlier this week, the girls came over to help scrape wall paper off in the living room. I gave each of them a set of tiny work gloves (pink and green with a picture of Dora the Explorer on them!) and a Sharpie and had them write their alphabet and their names on the wall.

When they were all finished, they got to pull all their letters off the wall and throw them in the garbage! A wonderful way to get an hour of productivity from a 3.25- and 4.5-year-old.  Of course, I had to go by later and remove the upper six feet of paper, as well as the sticky layer, but it was still a lot of fun to have them participate. Here’s how the living room wall looked before, during, and after.

By the way, in case you’ve been laying awake wondering, you know that sticky yellow paper that you have to spray with water in order to get it off the walls? Well, if you let it sit (wet) too long in the garbage bag where it can’t dry out, it starts to mold. But here’s today’s fun fact… when it molds, it smells exactly like BRIE CHEESE! I’m not even kidding. It was the weirdest thing!

Smelly Cheese Garbage

Anyway, back to this week’s recap. When the girls weren’t helping inside, they were having a great time with their new-to-us playground set. The best part is that it fits (fully assembled minus the two red slides) in the back of Kurt’s pickup truck, so when we need to move it home or to the Berg, it’s super portable!

Next week, Kurt gets to move inside the house, to make big progress on the upstairs bathroom and the new walk-in closet.

Stay tuned.


A First Look Inside

The Berg

The Berg officially became ours last Thursday, so we took our girls over to get their first look inside.

Upon walking in the east side door which leads into the kitchen, I asked Maggie (age 3 1/4) what she thought. Her first words were “this house smells bad” followed almost immediately by “hey, this is the kitchen!” She was not wrong. (Just like the White House, our first job will be to open the windows and remove the very old, very dirty, very smelly carpet.)

I’ve sketched out the layout of the house, to give you some basic bearings. (Obviously not to scale, but close enough for now.)

Berg Floorplan

While the rest of the family was exploring the empty house, I snapped several million ‘before’ pictures. Here are a few to give you a sense of the house (without subjecting you to the scents of the house.)

There is so much more floral wallpaper than I remembered! The upstairs isn’t any better.

The basement is a bit of an eye-sore: crumbling walls, knob-and-tube wiring, old pipes. Kurt (and a handful of professionals) will have a lot of work to do down there before we’re through with this transformation.

Outside, the yard is large and full of nice plantings. And the garage has a ton of character, with different bricks from a century of repairs and renovations.

But let’s end this quick tour with a little natural beauty… Mr. and Mrs. Berg were avid gardeners and even though they have passed, their flower gardens are still lovely.

I can’t wait to get into there and take out that nasty carpet. The transformation begins this week!

Stay tuned.

Introducing “The Berg” in Rochester, MN

The Berg

Kurt and I are so excited! Today we bought our second project house!

It was previously owned (for the last 65 years) by an elderly couple named Mr. and Mrs. Berg, so we decided to call it “The Berg.” I also like the name because we just bought a 140 year-old house “AS-IS.” I’m sure that the problems we *know* about are just ‘the tip of the ice-BERG.’

Here are the stats… 2 bedroom, two 3/4 baths, 1,869 square feet. Built in 1880. Corner lot with large yard and an ancient carriage-house garage.

It was described on realtor.com as “Fixer upper in great location! Charming old home that needs a loving touch.” Oh boy, here we go!

We got the keys this morning, so I haven’t had a chance to take pictures yet. But here’s what I borrowed from the listing (realtor.com).

View The Berg’s transformation (in chronological order) by visiting the Archives page.




Dining Room


Living Room


Sitting Room




Stay tuned.

Introducing “The White House” in Claremont, MN

The White House

In mid-May, my husband Kurt and I purchased a charming old home in the tiny hamlet of Claremont, Minnesota. It was built in 1910. Kurt knew this house had ‘good bones’ and just needed a little TLC.

The first thing we do when we start a new project is to name it. We considered calling it “the Tall House” or “the Owl House” but we decided to call it “The White House.” Our family has been politically divided since last November, so I was hoping this house could once again connect a positive feeling to the term.

Here are the stats… 3 bedroom, 3/4 bath upstairs, half bath downstairs, 1750 square feet. Located on a double lot with several mature trees. It also has a modern garage which includes a nice (unfinished) loft and a small garden shed.

The next several posts will be trying to bring you up to date on the improvements we made during our first five weeks. But once I’ve caught up, I’ll post updates when we’ve finished a portion of the project.

And here’s what it looked like when we started. (Photos borrowed from realtor.com.) It was a foreclosure and the previous owner left a lot of stuff behind (except kitchen appliances). Thankfully it was mostly cleared out before we got the keys.




Garden Shed


Dining Room




Living Room

Stay tuned.