Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket

Friday, September 9, 2011

My Latest Project: What The Yuck!?

A couple I worked with on a renovation a few years ago called to see if I was interested in doing a whole house renovation on an income property they own. It was built in the 1970's and they have owned it since the mid 1980's. As newlyweds, it was once their residence. My response...when can I see the place!?

If you have read my blog for some time, it's no secret how much I love renovations. This is such a unique project to be able to work on something from scratch, or nearly. Even though I won't be doing any decorating since it's going to continue as an income property and in 2 years it will serve as a first home for their college age children, still I am enthusiastic!

At first glance this seems like a really decent townhouse. It's a large end unit that has a tall side window and that means lots of natural light in the stairwell. It's almost all brick with a wide side yard that has a path next to it, and backs to a private tree lined no build area. Very promising!

The landscaping and grass need some attention and a fresh coat of paint will be in order, plus a new light.
 New windows and storm door were added the week before this photo.
Looks can be deceiving...

Shall we start in the kitchen? Come in, if you dare. Welcome to the latest episode of hoarders. The male version. Two single men, I'd say in their early 30's (yes, I met them when I came over to do the measurements) have lived here for 6 years. They both move out at the end of the month.

The purses on the counter belong to me and my client. I had to grab a paper sack and to rip sheets of paper from my notebook to put our purses on so the bottoms wouldn't become a petri dish! I was tempted to ask the husband to hold them. My measuring tape was wiped down with a Clorox wipe the minute I got home. Can I pour you a drink? There must have been over 300 bottles of liquor throughout this house. That explains a lot....must be hard to clean when you're drunk all the time.

The clients did warn me the place was in bad shape and used primarily for storage. Hmm...not exactly how I would describe it, but within 5 minutes I can envision major changes and a dramatic outcome in the kitchen and regain my enthusiasm.

Other side of the kitchen. If I get the structural okay, this wall and door are outta here!

and goodbye vertical blinds and hello beautiful tranquil view!

Shall we go downstairs?

1970's stair rail. I wanted to rip it off the wall the moment I saw it! Why is an old screen still here?

This is the basement powder room. It's the cleanest bathroom in the house.
Trust me when I say I truly wish I was kidding. It gets worse. Much worse.

This hallway between the powder room and utility room is just such a waste of space. This is the ideal
spot to add a shower, but a special contractor is required to do a foundation drill on an attached property. 

Under the basement stairs. Scruples, really??? A closet appears to be in order here.

These stupid stick-on mirrors will likely require all the drywall to be removed! There is actually a nice stone fireplace behind the skull (Jolly Roger) flag. The fence and deck are very nice, they just need a little power washing.
Let's go upstairs. Please forgive me for showing you these. Perhaps this will explain why I've had no time to blog. This past week, I have been completely immersed in coming up with plans for a new kitchen design, hopefully a bathroom addition, plus things like carpet, flooring, lighting and a whole lot of YUCK!
The master bedroom. I had to push this box out of the way the way to get to the bathroom.
Cue the Psycho  music...

Who thinks design is glamorous work? There was also plenty of mold in the hall bath too. But, I love my readers
far too much to pile on any more torture. The smell of mold was so strong the minute I reached the upstairs landing.
The mold had spread from the shower to the bathroom floor to the carpet in the bedroom!!!
 Even though I showered as soon as I got home, I ended up with a 2 day mirgraine and was feeling quite sick.
I insisted my clients get a mold abatement specialist in to do samples and testing before we go any further.
The results are due in today. 

It has rained for 8 straight days. A stream now runs through our backyard. I rush home every day to see if the basement has flooded. All this craziness makes me feel compelled to end on a pretty note. I fell in love with this gorgeous linen embroidered quatrefoil fern fabric and ordered a sample. Why is the sample so small you ask? It's $295/yd. I can not afford anything more than a few pillows at this price I could have pillows made using antique textiles pieces. If the damn leaf had been centered on the sample, I would frame it!!! Seriously. I thought about having it printed, but it's an exclusive design and can't be copied.

However, thanks to blogging and new friendships, I have found a beautiful fern alternative that can be custom made by a super talented man in the colors I love.  I plan the fern fabric in my kitchen. I look forward to sharing all the details as soon as the work is complete!


  1. A silk wood shower comes to mind. Obviously those " boys" will not be getting their security deposit back. How people can live like this is beyond me? Were they even slightly embarrassed to let you inside the house? I know it will be beautiful , I just can't picture it empty by the nd of the month??? They will prob leave everything and pack a suitcase;(

  2. Okay, I need to go wash my hands now. Yuck is right.

  3. That was hysterical...tell us how you really feel Rebecca, heehee. It was seriously nasty. Shame on those boys for not caring. I hope to God my boys (can't believe I'm about to have 2) don't ever treat their space like that. Actually I'm going to show Charlie this post when he gets home as a warning. xx Danielle

  4. I have a slight germ-a-phobia so that kitchen would have given me the willies! And storing their cereal on a kitchen chair, too funny! Great idea to open things up and knock out a wall, the living room is a nice size but lacks warmth or detail. Put in some hardwood flooring too the owners will be able to charge more money for rent in the long run. Now that the tour is over I need a shower myself I’m so grossed out but I know you’ll make it gorgeous!

    P.S. You are more then welcome anytime in my studio Rebecca but no coffee, textiles and liquid don’t mix but I have a lovely home you may enjoy coffee there with Dylan dog and me.

  5. Lizzie,
    No security deposit is being returned and these guys know it. And, you are so right, we have already discussed a call to haul from "Got Junk" is likely going to be needed and my clients will be stuck paying for that as well!

    Trust me, I was holding back and so were the clients. The upstairs was far worse than they had anticipated. I withheld posting some of the worst pictures. I felt really awful for the owners, but when you are a landlord, you have to check the property at least once a year if you hope to avoid situations like this. They actually renovated the master and hall bath 3 years ago, but you couldn't tell now! I had a moment when I thought do I really want this job?

    I am a total germaphobe and these clients know that about me. The wife didn't even go upstairs after she saw the first floor! Thanks for the invite and of course, no coffee!

  6. Ugh! You poor thing. I am dying to know how the mold test comes back!

  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

  8. Ugh, I feel like I need to go take a scalding hot shower! The fact that you even made it beyond the kitchen in itself is a miracle, when you mentioned your purse on the counter, I couldn't even find it in the picture!~ Wow, and something tells me it may have even be worse than that dispicable picture of the black mold..yuck!
    How brave of you to take this on...I have a new found respect for you, because seriously that would have had me running for the hills ( and I probably could have broken a few records with how fast I would be running) I am a serious germaphobe with too many hangups.....
    I do look forward to seeing the "after" of luck to you, make sure you bring a mask and a clothespin :)

  9. It is much easier to plan the changes for a residence than to actually DO the work, the teardown and reno. Believe it or not, hospitals can be even ickier when you are on your hands and knees. I always feel for the workers.

  10. Oh my! Just when I was wondering if it was gross enough that you felt the need to shower immediately, I got to the point where you said you did. I had a rental property once and I never want to again. When people feel no ownership care often goes right down the filthy drain. lol.

  11. Our old house up north (we moved out 9 months ago) is still....for sale. No offer yet. People ask if we have thought about renting it. Hah! I will send them over to see just what happens when you rent out your house! No, we will continue to pay what it takes until the house sells!!!

  12. this is the kind of 'BEFORE' pictures that you can only dream of!!
    just think how brilliant you will be when you take the 'AFTER' shots!!!
    hahaha good luck

  13. Looks promising! I can't wait to see it once you are done. Have a lovely weekend, Kellie xx

  14. You can start your own hoarder blogging show!! Can't wait to follow this project. It's amazing what depressing interiors some people choose to live in! Hope you had a good summer!!

  15. Knowing how neat and organized you are, you must've been twitching!!! Only good things can happen to this place, nothing worst can...clearly! Once the verticals are gone, the french windows and view will be lovely...can't wait to see the afters on this "before" nightmare!

  16. Wow, can't wait to see you work your design magic on this mess! Have a nice wknd. xx

  17. R~....ewwwwyyyy. Gives me the creepy crawlers. Like Renee said, these are outstanding 'before's, the 'after's' will be spectacular. I would adore a project like that too! ~R

    Danielle - Your two little ones will be taught better. This (to me) is a foundational parenting issue...although they could have been raised that way and have no other baseline.

  18. Gag...cough...

    I dunno....with befores like that your work will be nothing short of a miracle. Um hmm. Miracle I tell ya!

    Linda #Lime in the coconut (can only leave anon comments. sigh. cough. sputter. ( I am only getting dramatic)

  19. Okay, the afters are going to be fabulous! Isn't it awful how some people live? I just don't get it. Organization and cleanliness are two of my mottos!

  20. Pretty incredible that anyone could actually live like this. Hoping the mold test comes out ok , so we can see what you do with this place. In the's all about the challenge, and I know that you love that.

  21. Rebecca you are a miracle worker, and I cannot wait to seethe after images. How do people live like this!!


    Art by Karena

    I have a fabulous Giveaway from Interieurs I hope you will come and join!

  22. Rebecca,
    Seeing the after is clearly an art you possess. What a gift you will impart on such a neglected space. Good luck and please promise me you will share the after.

  23. It will be a triumph, once you are done with it!
    Good luck!

  24. I feel sure you are up to the challenge, but a challenge it is...hmmmm...

  25. All I can say is - you have your work cut out for you!! But of course I can't wait to see your transformation!!

  26. Oh my goodness--What the yuck is right! You have your work cut out for you but I know you will do a fabulous job as always!

  27. Oh my, good luck and I know you will perform magic -those two slobs are going to move on and do exactly the same to the next place
    Helen xx

  28. Anon,
    Not sure if your trying to be funny, but this made me laugh-out loud! I guess it could seem like I'm coming across that way, but my clients have been very accomodating landlords for 6 years fixing everything for these guys that was brought to their attention. Did you read the part in my post where I mention their 2 bathrooms were renovated 3 years ago??? And, now look at them!!!

    They did not "kindly" invite us in. My clients gave them 3 days notice to say we were coming. So "kind" of them to tidy up a bit huh? I don't know if in fact they are drunk all the time, my attempt at humor, but this house has clearly been used (and abused) as a party house.

    Currently they are being a total pain in the ass by not vacating the property when they said they would and not answering the door while we try to get contractors in for proposals. Oh, and the mold tests that were done? Came back worse than we thought, seems there is an even bigger mold problem in a corner of the basement that the mold specialist found. At least by the end of the month, they'll be out and the clean-up and renovations can begin.

  29. Oh my, thank goodness you insisted on the mold scary. I am sure you will work magic on this place.....and as to the tenants...I hope they have to pony up more than a security deposit....unbelievable!


Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a comment!