Thursday, September 4, 2014

The Complete Renovation: Before & After Photos


There's been something therapeutic about writing this blog.

Official "before" and "after" pictures.

Of the 99 year old house in Due West.

The Robert Milton Stevenson House.

Built in 1915.

It's finally sinking in with me & Scott.



This blog pays tribute.

To people that invested in the house with us.

And to the house itself.

It's been quite a journey.

But you sure look amazing for your age!

"Before" of 8 Bonner Street
Terri Stone first showed us the house.

In June 2013.

"It hasn't gone on the market yet," she said.

"And it's been empty for a couple of years."

I stepped out of my car that afternoon.

Onto this sidewalk on Bonner Street in Due West.

And almost immediately.

The rain started to fall.

There's a story there.

About the rain.

(and I don't want to leave this part out.)

God speaks to me sometimes in themes.

I'll go through a period of time.

And a particular theme seems to crop up.

Time and time again.

At that was rain.

It was uncanny.

When I picked up my bible.

Rain consistently showed up in scripture.

And in speakers I listened to.

And sermons I heard.

Even my devotionals.

Rain.....was described as......blessings poured out.


On that June afternoon of last summer.

I stepped out of my car and walked up to this old house for the very first time.

And the skies opened up.

And it rained.

And I got drenched.


I don't think so.

Now that the renovation is behind us.

And I'm this side of being done.

I can see that blessings rained down on us....the whole time.

So before I get to the "before" & "after" pictures you came to see,

I want to share those blessings for just a minute.


Terri Stone.

She not only showed us the house before it went on the market,

She's the one that planted the "renovation" thought in my mind.

On one of our first walks through the house.

And when she did.

The light went on for me.

And I couldn't imagine turning back.


Cliff Arnold.

a.k.a . "The House Whisperer."

We asked around for the best home inspector.

And his name kept coming up.

Cliff inspected the 98 years old house.

Poured over it for several hours before we made an offer.

With me jotting down on paper.

Every word that came out of his mouth.

He used so many wonderful adjectives that day.

I knew we had something special.


John McDill.

of McDill Realty.

John didn't give up on the sale of the house.

Even when our offer hung in limbo for over a month.

Even when it looked like the deal was dead.

John's persistence made the difference.

And without him.

We likely would not be living here today.

But one of the biggest blessing?

Meeting and working with our general contractor.

Greg Graber of G.T.Building & Remoldeling.

Greg was recommended to us too.

By our friends, Don & Kathy Reese.

He and his team worked for 8 full months on this house.

Every detail had Greg's hand on it.

His work was impeccable.

And his friendship has been a blessing to our family.

Greg Graber & his beautiful wife, Sharla.


With the home inspection done.

And a clean report.

With a contractor hired and ready to work.

We closed on the house in September of last year.

And the renovation officially began.

The house was still full of personal belongings.

Everything had to be cleared out before work could begin.

And we did.

We kept a few things.

And sold the rest in an estate sale last fall.

When the sale was done,

We shifted immediately to the next phase.

The deep and dirty job of demolition!

We wanted to take down as many walls & ceilings as we could.

Anybody can swing a hammer and take down walls, right?

Yes we did.

Weeks and weeks and weeks of demolition!

Friends came to help.

(You will never be forgotten!)

Scott's sister, Vicky and her friends took a whack at the guest bedroom walls.

Good friends from NewSpring were champs! Alan & Joanne Burkett & adorable Catina Rice.

And the entire Ronnie & Denise Mock crew teamed up and killed several rooms in the house!

And other NewSpring friends-- Jordon Green & Tyler Smith:)

We had another young friend that helped during demo.
Tyler Hansen, a student at Erskine.
My Kenya teammate Amy Hansen's terrific son!
(Somehow I managed never to get a photo of Tyler during demo,
but he hung in there with us several Saturdays last fall!)

Family joined in too - our youngest, Taylor & our might as well be adopted son, James.

and my brother, Greg who pretty much brought the dining room walls down in one morning.

my dad also came & helped take down some lathe.

and this good woman (my sister-in-law, Pat & Scott's brother Buddy, who was wondering
away when this picture was taken :)


Every bit of plaster & lathe.

Every ceiling.

Buckets and wheelbarrow's full of plaster and lathe.

Original door and window trim were carefully removed.

 And labeled.

Mantels were pulled off.

Doors and door hardware too.

Five HUGE commercial dumpsters were filled.

Or was it six?

It was tons.

You could almost hear the house breath easier.

It was definitely lighter.

We found some cool things along the way.

No bundles of cash hidden in the walls or floors.


But a few things to remind us of the time the house has stood.

This delicate piece of needlework was found in the plaster that fell from a wall.

This report card from 1911 from one of the Stevenson girls attending Women's College of Due West.

And this certificate from one of the  Stevenson grandchildren dating back to 1934.

Yeah.....this was an Erskine dormitory at one time. 

But one of the best finds.
This photo found behind a mantle.
Maybe a school portrait from Erskine.
The subject?
Still unknown.
We finished the demolition.


Without incident.



There was that five stitches in the scalp that Scott had one Saturday morning.

His head met up with a falling window.

But thankfully.......he came out just fine.

Greg officially took over the work in November 2013.

I photographed the progress every weekend.

Floors were leveled.

New windows replaced old.

A few key doorways were widened.

A wall or two came down.

New electrical wiring replaced old.

And new plumbing replaced what was there.

We got our first peak at the original brick fireplaces.

Once discovered.......we knew they would never be covered again.

Sheetrock replaced plaster.  

Insulation was added where there was none.

Greg and his team did their part.

And we did ours.

Scott & I scoured over consignment shops for vintage light fixtures.

Took some of the very old light fixtures in the house &
had them cleaned & rewired.

We picked out kitchen & bathroom sinks.

And just the right hardware to go with each one.

We settled on paint colors.

Sea Salt......Svelte Sage.....Churchill Ivory......Pecan......Ancient Mariner.......Craft White.

Planned ideas for built ins.

Chose the layout for the kitchen cabinets and appliances.

And counter tops (a dark brown quartz from our friends at Elberton Granite.)

We suggested spaces for extra storage.   And included it as we could.

During the time Greg's work was going on.

Scott & I spent many weekends hunting.

Antique stores.

Consignment shops.

Picking up special pieces as we found them.

A buffet from "Farmhouse Furniture" in Powdersville
that would become a bathroom vanity with two drop in sinks.

A spiffy yellow settee for Taylor's yellow bedroom from our friends at
Home Consignment of Greenwood.

And my personal favorite.    An old cotton mill cart from an antique store we stumbled on
in Lexington......would be used as a coffee table.

May and June rolled around.

The work was finishing up.

The incredible maple hardwood floors.

Some of them painted or covered through the years.

Were meticulously sanded & restored by local contracor, Rick Harrison.

We were wowed by the work that Rick did on these near century old floors.


Over seven of these drums were filled with the fine wood powder sanded during his work.

In addition to the floors.

New back steps replaced old ones.

And a new railing was added to the front porch.

Little by little.

The work came to a close.

And we prepared for the move.

Moving day was July 14th 2014.

Finally here.

Here's a look.

Room by room.

The Front Door

At some point over the years, the front door to # 8 Bonner Street lost it's radius top.

A simple piece of plywood flattened out the radius frame when we first saw the house.

The front door was the heart of the renovation, so a search was one for someone that could
make us one.

On a antique shopping trip to Ridge Springs, SC, we met a local craftsman.

Russell Waters.

The original front entrance to # 8 Bonner Street.

Finished front door.

Interior shot of the front door when we bought the house.

Interior side of the new heart pine radius top door.

Russell made the door and threshold from very old heart pine.

Dating back to the mid-1800's.

Heavy.   Beautiful.     The heart of the house.

Front Porch

This was my first look at the front porch in the summer of 2013.  
The landscaping was taking over the front of the house.
The porch itself was in pretty sad shape.
Long neglected.

At the end of the project, Greg built and installed beautiful handrails
around the exterior of the front porch and Scott & I tackled the porch painting.

The old concrete is still bumpy and flawed.
But looking much better.

Exterior Painting

Surprisingly, our house painter told us that in 99 years, it appeared the house had only been
painted three times!  

I'm guessing that's one of the few benefits of lead based paint -- it's longevity!

Sherwin Williams "Svelte Sage"  was the right choice!  Black shutters were painted & re-installed.

Front Entrance

The original front entrance way with a wall hiding the stairs from view.

That wall was removed early on in the project and really opened up this space.

The stair treads and banister were also refinished  &
an interesting and personal mix of art
makes this a fun walk upstairs.

The Living Room

The original living room.

Once the room was taken down to the studs we found not a trace of insulation.

The living room today.

The black marble surround was added to the fireplace in recent years.

The living room during demo.

Built in bookcases were added to each side of the fireplace & the brick was left exposed.

The Study

This room was originally used as a formal dining room.
We planned to use it as Scott's study.

Once all the plaster & lathe was done, another beautiful fireplace was uncovered.

Our study today.

The Dining Room

The original sitting room.  We planned to use it as a dining room.

The dining room after demo.

The dining room today.

The Kitchen

That small door is the original entrance to the kitchen from our dining room.

The kitchen had been updated back in the 50's or 60's.
Linoleum covered original maple hardwood floors.

After all the cabinets were out.

The kitchen doorway was opened up to the dining room.

Sheet rock goes back in.

The kitchen floors were in the worst shape, but after refinishing, they
had a lot of character.    I liked the way the kitchen looked at this point, but
that back wall needed something.....

And this is what the back wall needed.
We found these old bricks stuffed in an upstairs fireplace.
We washed & Scott individually sawed these bricks into a thin veneer,
so they could be glued to the kitchen wall with liquid nails
(courtesy of me & Taylor Dublin :)

Rope, dowels & liquid nails = a cool brick wall.

Yep....that's what it needed.
It took two full days, but it was worth it.
Dark brown quartz counter tops, stainless appliances & the brick wall finished up our kitchen.

The Mud Room

Once a rickety screened in porch, the back porch area may have been in the worst
shape of all the other areas in of the house.

The painted floors were too far gone to save.
The elements had taken a toll on the joist underneath.
You could feel the floor give when you walked over it last summer.
Our plan was to frame this all in and create a proper back door and mudroom.

The back porch during the summer of 2013.

Enclosed & framed in.

The mudroom today.
Tile floor.  Bead board ceiling.  Room for washer & dryer
& built in ironing board.

Open to the elements for many years, there was little left to salvage to the back steps & porch.

The back steps today.

The Screened In Side Porch

The screened in porch on the side of the house was in remarkably good shape;
not even a tear in the screen.

The Master Bedroom

Rippling & Painted Floors; a door to the porch & only one closet in the master bedroom originally.

We got creative with space.  Framed up the door to the porch to create a second closet to the left
of the fireplace; also added additional storage above the closets.

Greg cut an old door into to use on the openings above the closets.
We created extra storage wherever we could  find. it.

Master Bathroom

When we bought the house, the master bathroom was small,
but had been updated in recent years.

We knocked out the back wall to this space (originally a
hallway to the back porch) to enlarge and lengthen the master bathroom space.

The view into the master bathroom is much different now.
Dale Sherwood made the six foot vanity out of heart pine.
Added two vessel sinks & mirrors from Hobby Lobby (that I stained a darker finish.)

The best part - the oversized glassed in shower.
Scott & I picked out all the tile from Lowes,
including the mosaic striping.


The stairs were painted a dark brown at some point during the years.

They were amazingly solid after 99 years!

During demo many of the pickets were taken down and numbered.

Once the banisters were refinished too,
the pickets were re-installed.

Rick Harrison did a beautiful job refinishing the heart pine stair treads,
banisters and post tops.

I actually got to paint the kick plates....all three or four coats!

Upstairs Landing

Our first look at the upstairs landing.

The landing as work got underway.

All the walls down.

The landing today.
Added vintage style sconce lighting by each doorway.
Hung one of the original light fixtures above with the cool Edison bulbs.
Featured Miss Peggy's beautiful quilt on the banister.

Guest Bedroom

Original Guest Bedroom Space.

The windows were in rough shape, but the floor looked pretty good.

Guest Bedroom during demolition.

Guest Bedroom today.

The light fixture is a consignment store find.
The blue pine furniture once belonged to my mom.

Taylor's Room

Original bedroom with a vintage style wall paper.

During demolition.

Taylor's room today.

Claw Foot Tub Bathroom

Once used as an Erskine dorm (the double sinks give it away.)

We found maple hardwood floors under the vinyl flooring.

This space was also cleared out & taken down to the studs.

The claw foot tub bathroom today.

Kate & Josh's Room

Painted & beat up floors & rough plaster walls in this original space.
The fireplace completely covered up.

This stash of very old brick was found inside the fireplace.
The sloping angle of the fireplace brick would make a cool feature in the upstairs rooms.

Kate & Josh's room today.


The original room had painted brown floors and a built in sink & shelves.

My studio during demolition.

My studio today.

Small Upstairs Bath

The small upstairs bath had also been renovated during recent years.

We decided to keep the cast iron tub.

During total demo.

The small upstairs bath today.

As thank you's finish up.

I'd like to thank Tracey & Kim & Donna.

Two of the three are my co-workers.

We hired them to paint the interior of the house.

And they took a week of vacation time to do it for us.

Great, great job, ladies.

I thank my mama for her encouragement.

She was a huge doubter of my judgement when we bought the house.

But she came around.

Thank you for the beautiful draperies.

And the hours it took to sew them up.

I'd also like to thank my dad for his support.

He took a lot of pleasure seeing how this house turned out.

Thanks mostly to Scottie.

He worked incredibly hard.

Through dust.
And sweat.
Countless weekends.
And overwhelming moments of doubt.

We did it!

Mostly, I'm thanking Jesus.
It's been His generosity and complete provision.
And none of this would ever have happened.    Period.
Without  Him.

Even as I finish up this blog tonight and get it ready to post and share.

The rain is falling in Due West.

Evidence again.

Of the blessings I feel poured out on me.

Just the right ending.  

To this renovation.

The End.
Of this Renovation.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks so much for this information. I have to let you know I concur on several of the points you make here and others may require some further review, but I can see your viewpoint.
    Kitchen Faucets