• Our First Home

    In 2010, Phil and I were still dating when he moved to North Carolina for a teaching job. And he bought us our first home! It was just 900 sq. ft, but a great space for us to start our life together. I was still in college in Pennsylvania, but after my graduation and our wedding (!), I moved down too and we started making the house “ours”. We were pretty broke, and starting from scratch, but I enjoyed the challenge of creatively updating our house on a tight budget.

    Front Yard

    This is the exterior from when Phil first bought the house –

    Our First Home | Beautiful Matters

    Since then, we added some landscaping, removed the storm door, and painted the front door and shutters in a happy yellow and gray color scheme.

    Our First Home | Beautiful Matters

    The front porch “before” had some very sad carpeting and a mailbox that was well past it’s prime –

    Our First Home | Beautiful Matters

    I painted the mailbox and made some plywood house numbers, Phil removed the carpeting and all of the remaining glue, and we added some happy plants for a much more welcoming entry.

    Our First Home | Beautiful Matters

    Living Room

    All that Phil had when he moved in was a single bed, a futon, a little bench, and his TV, haha. In the living room, we also added a $50 craigslist sofa, a rug, and I refinished a craigslist buffet into a TV console. He was a smart man and knew not to make any other decorating decisions until I moved in πŸ™‚

    Our First Home | Beautiful Matters

    Slowly we turned this room into a fun yet cozy space for watching TV and hanging out with friends. We removed the wallpaper and painted the walls a light aqua (during a hurricane, I might add), added a gallery wall around the TV (and I changed it once…and then again!)

    Our First Home | Beautiful Matters
    Our First Home | Beautiful Matters

    I distressed some faux leather club chairs to replace the futon, painted the inside of the front door glossy black, and we replaced the old rug with a larger natural fiber rug.

    Our First Home | Beautiful Matters


    The hallway had a pretty bland “before” –

    Our First Home | Beautiful Matters

    I painted the walls a dramatic charcoal gray to disguise the air vent.

    Our First Home | Beautiful Matters

    On the other side was the linen closet and coat closet, and weird cut-out in the floor where an old floor radiator once was.

    Our First Home | Beautiful Matters

    I removed the door to the linen closet to allow for open shelving instead, and added a rug to hide the flooring imperfections.

    Our First Home | Beautiful Matters

    Master Bedroom

    We ran out of time and I wasn’t able to bring this room anywhere close to my vision for the space before we moved. This was the room when Phil first moved in (I added the dead plant to for an extra gloomy effect).

    Our First Home | Beautiful Matters

    We removed the old carpet to expose the original hardwoods underneath (wohoo!), brought in some craigslist and hand-me-down furnishings, hung some thrifted sheet curtains, and mounted some wedding photos on the walls.

    Our First Home | Beautiful Matters
    Our First Home | Beautiful Matters
    Our First Home | Beautiful Matters


    When Phil bought the house, we knew that renovating the bathroom would be a top priority. Everything was in poor shape, and to top it off, it was decked out in a palm tree theme!

    Our First Home | Beautiful Matters

    We removed the wallpaper, painted the walls white for a fresh look, removed the old linoleum and refinished the original pine subfloor, and installed new trim.

    Our First Home | Beautiful Matters

    I turned a metal cabinet into our new vanity (you can read parts 1, 2, 3), updated the mirror and light fixture, applied frosted window film, and made some simple abstract art.

    Our First Home | Beautiful Matters

    The old shower tile was dated and falling off the wall, and the finish on the tub was completely worn off so it always looked stained.

    Our First Home | Beautiful Matters

    We re-tiled the shower in white subway tile with gray grout, I used a DIY kit to refinish the old tub, and made a double shower curtain.

    Our First Home | Beautiful Matters

    This was our very first renovation project, and we were able to complete it for under $1,000. It’s kind of my pride and joy. You can see the whole reveal here.


    After I moved in, this room’s sole purpose was to store our stuff that we didn’t know what to do with yet. And it lived this way for probably a year (shamefully) while we worked on other parts of the house.

    Our First Home | Beautiful Matters

    But I finally got my act together and made this junk room into a space that actually had a useful purpose as a creative workspace, and a home for my house portrait business! I painted the room a medium gray, removed the old blinds, and brought in a work table (my dad actually built it for my sisters and I when we were little!). The skirt on the table is definitely not attractive, but it hid the messy storage underneath.

    Our First Home | Beautiful Matters
    Our First Home | Beautiful Matters

    We hung shelves on the wall for some very necessary art supply storage, and built a custom desk for two using thrift store filing cabinet bases.

    Our First Home | Beautiful Matters

    Having this studio space made my life about 100 times better. It was really functional and SO nice to have a designated room for working on projects. I could just shut the door and contain the craziness, rather than turning the entire house into a war-zone.


    The kitchen was pretty dated, but it was fairly big for the size of our house. We knew that the old linoleum floors and dated 50’s cabinetry needed a new look.

    Our First Home | Beautiful Matters

    We started by ripping out the old linoleum, refinishing the original pine subfloor, and adding new trim. We also removed the old swirly header over the sink and added a new pendant fixture, painted the back door a bright red, and added a speckled window film. My sweet family helped us update the cabinets by adding trim to the doors, paint, and create open shelving for dishes.

    Our First Home | Beautiful Matters

    We also removed the wallpaper and chair rail, and painted the walls white.

    Our First Home | Beautiful Matters

    The other side of the room had a dining space and a pantry (which actually housed the washing machine).

    Our First Home | Beautiful Matters

    I painted the pantry door glossy black, made some floral curtains using a vintage sheet, added art and plate collection. We also brought in a new jute rug and some refinished craigslist chairs to go with the table we already had.

    Our First Home | Beautiful Matters

    We did the entire kitchen transformation for about $500! You can see the full reveal here.

    Utility Room

    There’s a little room off of the kitchen that was once a small back porch, but it was enclosed at one point. I called this room the utility room because it has the electrical panel, but it also had our dryer and was basically our mini garage.

    Our First Home | Beautiful Matters

    I painted all the paneling white to brighten the space, refinished the shelves, and added coordinating storage containers from the Dollar Store.

    Our First Home | Beautiful Matters

    Here’s the other side –

    Our First Home | Beautiful Matters

    I also removed the old ripped linoleum and left the floor as the exposed concrete.

    Our First Home | Beautiful Matters


    Though it wasn’t all that attractive, we knew the fenced backyard would be perfect for dogs someday (and it was perfect once we adopted Leo and Jaida!). There was also a large storage shed with electric, which I would’ve loved to paint, but I never got around to it.

    Our First Home | Beautiful Matters

    Phil dug out the old rusted clothesline (and then, true story – someone stole them out of our yard. They actually did us a favor by getting rid of them, haha). We added the stone border around the patio, which we dug up out of the front yard & repurposed here. I painted the patio set I bought from craigslist for a new look. This space got a lot of use, especially in the beautiful North Carolina spring & fall seasons!

    Our First Home | Beautiful Matters
    Our First Home | Beautiful Matters

    That’s the tour of our first home! I really loved the space it came to be, and the memories made there in our first few years of marriage. The house is now up for sale and we moved to the Montgomery, Alabama area as Phil is now a Public Health Officer at Maxwell Air Force Base.

    32 Responses to Our First Home

    1. Pingback: Catch-up House Tour | Beautiful Matters

    2. September 10, 2013 at 1:21 pm

      You did an amazing job!

    3. September 17, 2013 at 10:27 am

      This is really really amazing! We bought a house last October, in Charlotte, and it’s SO SO similar to yours! Seeing lots more potential now, and lots of projects in our future! Thanks for the inspiration. Best of luck in Montgomery!

    4. September 17, 2013 at 4:28 pm

      Wow that’s amazing! Especially that you were able to do this on a budget! Kudos to you. πŸ™‚

    5. September 20, 2013 at 11:06 am

      AMAZING!!! What color is on the walls in your master bedroom?

    6. Lindsay
      October 11, 2013 at 12:00 am

      What a lovely space you created!

    7. Gillian
      October 12, 2013 at 11:16 am

      I love your house! I stumbled upon your blog when googling how to add molding to kitchen cabinets. You really have done a fantastic job at everything!

    8. October 21, 2013 at 1:31 pm

      Wow! Love all of it!

    9. Christina Rivera
      December 27, 2013 at 12:19 pm

      What an amazing transformation! I wish I could figure out what to do to my space. I’m just not as creative…

    10. Emma
      January 18, 2014 at 7:28 pm

      Where did you get your shower curtain?

      • Emma
        January 18, 2014 at 7:31 pm

        Nevermind…I just noticed the other link to how you did them/what material, etc.!!

    11. Jeanie
      February 17, 2014 at 8:19 am

      Beautiful! Amazing what you have done on a limited budget. You should have your own show.

    12. March 5, 2014 at 1:42 am

      Hi there. I stumbled upon your blog as I was looking up how to revamp 1950s cabinetry and Im so glad I did. I know you’ve since moved from this house, but it was just gorgeous. I love all the color and wonderful touches you added to it. So cozy and just perfect. I’m an Air Force veteran and Id like to thank both you and your husband for your service. I love your watercolor prints and when we find our new home (soon, fingers crossed) Id love to commission one. So happy to be a new reader.

    13. March 26, 2014 at 1:07 pm

      I am absolutely in love with your blog. I have pinned 10,000,000 of your posts in the last hour. You’re super creative! Thank you so much for these frugal projects + awesome inspiration.

      • March 27, 2014 at 12:23 pm

        Aw thank you Ashley! Glad I could offer some inspiration!

    14. Pingback: Goodbye to Our First Home | Beautiful Matters

    15. regiandpeggy
      March 27, 2014 at 9:55 pm

      900 sq ft of love πŸ™‚

    16. Laura
      April 2, 2014 at 11:43 am

      I’m about to buy one of two older houses, both of which need considerable hands-on updating in every room. Thanks so much for the inspiration, Shauna!!

    17. katie
      March 27, 2015 at 1:21 pm

      Amazing! I am in the midst of purchasing a home about the same size, you have given me so many good storage ideas! Goof work!

    18. stacy
      May 1, 2015 at 2:31 pm

      Hi there,
      I love what you did to this home! I have been searching for homes just like ours. My husband bought a place right before we met and remodeled it. Since then we got married and have been doing little by little to it. ( So many people have remolded it over the years and I would love to bring it back to what it was built to be) So I have to say I am so glad to have found someone with what seems to be the same House!! I believe it is a prefab home from the 50’s, but I just want to know more about our cute little cottage. πŸ™‚

    19. Dani
      May 14, 2015 at 10:39 am

      My husband and I may be purchasing his grandparents house. The house is this size or maybe smaller and older, but youve given me so many ideas and have made me feel more comfortable with the idea. Thank you! – Dani

      • September 14, 2015 at 9:59 pm

        That’s so great! Congratulations! We really loved our first house and learned so much from it. Good luck with your next adventure!

    20. hope
      June 30, 2015 at 5:19 pm

      wow’….great job. You are very talented. Enjoyed looking at your pics.

    21. jole43
      September 27, 2015 at 7:21 am

      Perfecto Cozi!

    22. January 10, 2016 at 9:31 am

      Thanks for posting and leaving up your pics all this time. We have the 1950’3 cupboards and I’m busting to try your update on them. Wow! You have me so motivated for other rooms to.

    23. Lesley
      January 19, 2016 at 2:08 pm

      What paint did you use for your front door? I couldn’t seem to find that, just the shutter color. It looks great!

    24. Kim
      February 24, 2016 at 9:48 pm

      Gorgeous! You are an inspiration!!!!!

    25. DEB SLATE
      August 13, 2016 at 11:04 am


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    27. Mandy
      May 18, 2017 at 4:14 am

      You should be very proud of this transformation. Just a hint: don’t let your wallpaper removal skills get rusty. I have sworn to the very heavens at least five times over the last 15 years that I would never strip another inch of wallpaper. Guess what I am doing today. Taking down wallpaper that was lurking behind a giant bathroom mirror. Who knew?

    28. Linda
      November 12, 2017 at 12:43 pm

      Found this by searching for magnolia seed pod crafts, and I am thoroughly enjoying reading about your projects.

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