Home Renovation, Inspiration

The Mulberry House

In June of 2016, my husband and I accomplished a goal we’d dreamed about for many years.  We had gutted, renovated, and sold a house that had sat empty for 8.5 years.  The sense of achievement I felt after completing that project is indescribable.  As soon as we handed over the keys to our friends, I felt anxious to begin another transformation.  I scoured the popular websites that listed homes, praying I could find something with potential.  And then, in July 2016, we found our next task: The Mulberry House.

We had learned a great deal from our first undertaking (you can read about the Crestview Project here), and we felt excited and enthusiastic about beginning our next adventure together.  Except, for me, along with the excitement and enthusiasm, came a great deal of anxiety and worry.  I don’t know why all of the fear of the unknown didn’t creep into my thoughts on our first flip, but whatever fright was lacking on the first project, came double on the second.

If there was something to worry about, believe me, I fretted about it.  “What if this house didn’t turn out as nice?  What if we didn’t make a profit?  What if we couldn’t sell it?  I think we paid too much.”  On the first project, I just knew God was calling us to start our dream.  In my spirit, I knew we just had to take the leap of faith and He would reward us.  And He did.  In so many ways.  But for some unknown reason, I continued to create fear in my mind that this house would fall incredibly short.  Fail.  Crash and Burn.  The devil is a deceiver like that.

One of my repeated worries while lying in bed at night was that this house was going to be filled with termites.  Over and over I pictured it.  “What if there is termite damage in the house?  What if the whole house is filled with termites?  What if we have to tear the whole thing down?!?”  It’s amazing how I can let my mind wander itself into a tizzy if given enough freedom.  Many worries in life never become reality.  Buuuuuut, this worry came true-to an extent.

I’ll never forget the day I stopped by to chat with our contractor, and he was standing in a section of the house that used to be part of the main bathroom downstairs.  The whole room was gone.  It was literally eaten up.  He didn’t know how someone hadn’t fallen through the floor.  A shower had leaked for years over the crawl space, rotted, and invited termites to come hang out and stay awhile.

At first glance, we were both bummed, but then, it hit me!  This little section of the house was perfect to wall off and make a laundry room off of the kitchen!  I had never seen it before, but once he opened everything up, the floor plan became crystal clear.  I was so excited.  It turned out to be a tremendous blessing.

After discovering that hidden space, we ended up taking one giant bathroom and turning it into three separate rooms: The master bathroom, the half bathroom, and the laundry room.  It was so cool how my worst fear turned into a huge gift (Thank you, Jesus).  I never would have seen this extra area had it not been for the termite damage.  The adjoining room also had quite a bit of destruction from termites, and that’s where we will start the Mulberry house tour. 

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Backdoor guests are best, so we will begin at the back side of the house, in the mudroom.  There was not much of the original mudroom that was left in the end.  The mudroom had obviously been added on at some point after the house was first built.  When we purchased Mulberry, there was exterior siding around the door leading into the kitchen.  Once we took that siding off, it exposed some old shiplap underneath.  I thought it was too beautiful to cover back up, so, we left it be, and simply sanded and stained the wood.  I thought it added a fun and unique dimension to the room.

Our contractor pretty much rebuilt everything else on the porch because it had been gnawed on so much over the years.  Pine barn siding was added to the other three walls, and painted a bright white.  He added recessed lighting in the ceiling, and a cute little barn light at the entry.  We chose a nice neutral tile, and my friend handmade the bench.  All of the old windows in the house were replaced as well.

Next room on the Mulberry House tour is the kitchen.  As you can see from the “before” picture, the room was divided by a soffit, upper cabinets, and a bar area.  Immediately upon walking into this kitchen for the first time, I wanted to rip all of it out.  It felt so claustrophobic.  So, day two of ownership, wish granted.

The other element that divided the kitchen was the green grass carpet and layers of linoleum.  Notice I said layer(s).  In this house I discovered something I hate worse than scraping wallpaper: linoleum/tar paper removal.  I’m saying bad words right now just thinking about it.

After removing the dividing bar area, and taking off the layers of floor coverings, we noticed that there was a pretty large section of pine flooring that would need replaced.  Thankfully, we had access to some century old pine that our contractor patched back into the existing floorboards beautifully.

That patched floor leads right into the floor-to-ceiling black hutch cabinet we had specially designed to hide the ductwork we had run to the upstairs.  This old house had no heat in the top part of the house (brrrr), so we tore out the chimney, and replaced it with ductwork.  The entire right side of the cabinet has ductwork running through it, and the left side is usable space.  We thought that made way more sense than simply boxing drywall around the ductwork.

Once we ripped out the bar area, it helped to show off the gorgeous columns leading into the dining area.  I love to add architectural details in homes to make them extra special, and since the already existing columns were such a show-stopper in this kitchen, we decided to accentuate the ceilings to accompany the columns.  I believe the grid pattern on the ceiling draws your eye up to notice the height in the room, and gives it a grand, formal feel.

But we didn’t want the kitchen to feel too formal, so we threw a little contrast in there with the concrete countertops.  I like to mix and match with textures and styles in home design.  It makes it more interesting, less boring and predictable.

On the Crestview House, we were able to reuse the kitchen cabinets by simply painting them and adding new hardware, but it just wasn’t going to happen here.  They were too old and sad to paint and be ok.  We had a local business custom create the cabinets, and they did a fantastic job.

In order to hide the old, cracked plaster walls, we added some wainscoting in the breakfast area.  The chandelier over the table is from Pottery Barn.

My husband and our contractor worked for days on refinishing the floors.  We figured out why companies charge an arm and a leg to refinish floors.  It’s horrible.  But man, did they turn out pretty.

Now we move on to my favorite room in the house: The dining room.  It turned out so unbelievably pretty.  I very badly wanted to bring a giant farmhouse table in and throw tons of mismatched chairs around it and host a giant feast with all of my friends and family in this room.  (I sometimes visualize these things when I am staining woodwork or scraping wallpaper so that I don’t go crazy from doing the task at hand).

The columns, again, are obviously a huge part of the room’s beauty.  We repeated the same ceiling treatment in here as we did in the kitchen, and loaded it with recessed lighting.  I love lighting!!  Nothing steals glamour away from a room like lack of light.

Another element that brightened this room up tremendously was the white “shiplap” on the walls.  It’s actually just 4×8 sheets of plywood “ripped” down to 6″ widths and brad nailed on the walls.  There are numerous tutorials on Pinterest on how to accomplish this look.  I love it!

We stripped, sanded, and stained the door leading to the half bath.  If you want to read about an amazing stain that we used and loved, then click here.  We used that stain on numerous projects in this house, including the stairs.  After removing the 70s carpet, we sanded and stained the stairs, and painted the backs of the stairs a bright white.

We wanted to better connect the dining room to the living room, so we extended the opening, which made a tremendous difference in the house.  Another feature in this room that is worth taking notice of is the “exposed brick wall”.      

My husband and I actually built this brick wall from 4×8 sheets of hardboard.  You can find the instructions for how we did it by clicking here.  Everyone that comes through the house walks right up to it and touches the brick because they don’t believe that it’s faux.

The stairway was so incredibly dark and depressing.  Instantly I knew that we should increase the size of the window to allow more light to flood in this space.  The plaster walls were in terrible shape in the stairway, so we opted to cover them up with white wainscoting.  What a difference!

Next up, the living room.  I can’t tell you the level of excitement I experienced when pulling off the awful plastic paneling to reveal these gorgeous shiplap walls.  Aren’t they beautiful?  It’s so incredible to me to look at those boards and think about the fact that they have been there for almost 100 years.  They definitely tell a story.

These shiplap walls are underneath all of the siding on the exterior of this house.  Because this living room was an addition, the previous owners left all that woody goodness there, but hid it underneath the paneling.  Now these planks can show off their charm.

Our contractor removed the old bay window, and we framed out the new windows in the same farmhouse woodwork that is throughout the original house.

The built-in was designed to hide the line feeding the gas logs.  Our contractor ran a pvc pipe on the interior of the wall behind the built-in so that the new owners could mount their tv on the wall, run the cords down through the pipe, and then plug in their electronics on the inside of the cabinet.

The master bathroom was one of the three rooms that we created out of the one jumbo rotted room.  This area went down to the studs, so everything is brand new in this master bath.  We tried to find a tile that matched the rest of the feel of the house and we replicated the wainscoting that we applied in the kitchen and stairway.  The vanity is custom-built.

In the last three homes that we have renovated, we have added a monster chalkboard on the wall, and people seem to love it.  The chalkboard is framed out with a simple pine and we used our favorite stain once again.

This half bath was the second of the three rooms that were created from the one large bathroom/laundry area downstairs.  The floor in this room had layers and layers of flooring to dig through before we discovered the beautiful wood underneath.  Wanna see?

The upstairs bathroom was my least favorite room of the entire house, mostly because it lacked functionality tremendously.  It had a closet door that couldn’t open all the way because the bathtub blocked it.  There was no option to take a shower, only a bath.  A few simple changes, including giving the closet in the bathroom to the adjacent bedroom, and adding a built-in shelving unit to the right of the newly tiled shower added a great deal to this room.

Almost 100% of the bathroom was gutted, except for the cabinet on the left.  Just a simple update on the hardware and a coat of paint made a world of difference for it’s aesthetics.

Everything else in this bathroom is brand spankin’ new.  Except for the floors.  Again, layers of evil to remove, and then sanding and staining and polying…

The upstairs hallway just needed a little light and a little love.

All three bedrooms upstairs were really pretty basic.  Removing wallpaper, patching walls, sanding, painting, etc.  Again, my husband and our contractor refinished the floors.  We added new light fixtures, and stained the woodwork.

All in all, this project took approximately 32 weeks to complete.

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About therestoringhouse

4 thoughts on “The Mulberry House

    1. Hi Elisha. The color of the kitchen is called Tin Lizzie, and it’s by Sherwin Williams. Thank you for your comment.

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