Progress on the Fixer Upper

A look at the progress that is being made in the restoration of my grandparent's 1900s home.

It has been quite awhile since I let you in on the progress at my fixer upper, but I thought that it was finally time to catch you up on what I've been doing.  Today I'm going to share what has gone on in the living room and for the sake of keeping this post at a reasonable length, next week I'll have some things to share about the outside!

As the person who is doing the work and seeing the house on a regular basis, it feels like nothing has really changed at all, so I haven't felt like there was much to share.  But all of my family members who have seen the house in person see a lot that has been done.  So I guess it is all a matter of perspective.  While I may be looking at the time invested and all that is still left to do, those who are seeing it from the outside are able to observe a transformation taking place.

The last time I shared the house with you, I had mentioned that for various reasons, I had to leave the dining room "in-progress" and moved to the living room.  My belief was that I was now choosing a room that I could finish quickly and feel good about getting something done.  Obviously as you can see from the picture below, I was wrong!

Affiliate links are provided in this post for your convenience.  For more information, you can view my disclosure policy.

Those of you who have had the experience of restoring an old house will likely understand my dilemma quite well.

Old homes have lots of layers.  Wallpaper.  Paint.  Paneling.  As I work on this house, my mind keeps going back to the idea of putting a new roof on a house.  To save money, a new roof can be installed over the old roof saving time and work.  Eventually, though, all of that has to come off.  You can't just keep adding layers to the top of the house.

That is the point that I feel I'm at with this house.  A lot has been layered on to freshen things up over the years, but it is time to be stripped back and find the original old base.  And that can be a time-consuming process.

The hardest part for an impatient person like myself is that there is so much to get done before moving to the next step.  Can't paint until the wallpaper is removed and the floors are sanded because of the dust.  Can't repair the plaster until all the wallpaper is down.

So what have I done. you ask?


Let's start with the biggest improvement and that is that the windows were installed a few months ago.  It is so nice to see everything match and open properly.  And the white looks clean and fresh.

I had originally hoped to enlarge the windows back to their original size, but it was going to cost a lot more so for the most part I stuck with the openings as they were.  One of the exceptions to that is the window on the right wall here in the living room.  It was actually supposed to be a bigger window in the dining room, but there was a misunderstanding, so while I still wish for a bigger window in the dining room, I absolutely love having a larger window on this wall in the living room because it was quite small.

Bare plaster ceiling in fixer upper


The plaster ceiling had three layers of wallpaper on it.  That has all been removed.

There are a few places where the plaster needs to be reattached, a few cracks to repair, and the holes need filled from the nails that held the furring strips in place.  Then the plaster needs primed and painted.  Overall the ceiling is in great condition.


While you can see the carpet is still down, I have pulled it back and removed the carpet strips around the room.  Right now, it is just serving as a very large drop cloth to protect the wood floors underneath.  I'm hoping to get those sanded and stained soon.


I'm leaving the paneling up on the walls right now and will just be painting it, partly to get the project moving along and partly because the paneling is hiding the wiring to the newer receptacles in the room.  But, I made the decision to remove the paneling on the staircase wall and up the stairs, exposing of course, three more layers of wallpaper.

Restoring original wood staircase


The staircase was covered in seven coats of paint and stain.  The top few layers were water-based paint, but everything underneath was oil based and the stripper would work to only remove one layer at a time.  After stripping many layers off, my mom took over this job and has pretty much sanded the railing and newel post down to the original wood.  I've got a little more work to smooth out the spindles, but this is finally nearing completion as well.

The carpeting was removed from the stairs and I'm working on striping the (thankfully) two layers of stain on the stair treads, and then they will be stained along with the newel post and railing, while everything else will be painted.

It was soooo close to be done, anxiously anticipating finally being able to pop open the cans of paint and primer to freshen up the room.  As I was scraping what I thought was the last little bit of wallpaper off the walls in the stairway, I made the comment to my mom that although it would be fantastic if the ceiling was higher in the staircase, it was actually nice that in an old home they had low ceilings here because I was able to remove the wallpaper and paint right from the steps.  No ladder or stretching necessary.

My next step after making that comment was to remove the ceiling tile from the stairway.  And do you know what I found under the ceiling tile?  A cardboard ceiling.  And no, I'm not kidding.

Fixer upper staircase ceiling

Obviously, I didn't want a cardboard ceiling so I started taking it down.

And you know what I found under the cardboard ceiling?  That the previous homeowners had dropped the ceiling and that I really did have a normal 15-foot-tall-at-the-base-of-the-steps ceiling.  And yes, there was three layers of wallpaper to take down here, too.

Fixer Upper Stairway Ceiling

That discovery slowed me down a bit because I then needed to get to Lowes to buy a ladder that I could use on the steps.  I probably have a few more hours to spend on the top portion before I can officially claim the wallpaper removal to be the living room.

Little Giant 22 Foot Ladder

The exciting part of this find (aside from the fact that exposing this really opens up the stairway) was that the old wood beams attached to the wall are actually the perfect rustic boards that I've been looking for to construct a mantel for my future fireplace.  Silver lining, I suppose.

So that catches you up a bit on what has been going on in the living room.  In addition to the windows, I had two doors replaced and the siding is being installed as we speak.  I've also done a little work on the porch and trimmed bushes, so hopefully I'll touch base with you again next week to share some updates outside.


Ham, Bacon, and Green Onion Club Sandwich

Give an ordinary ham club sandwich an extra punch of flavor with sliced green onion cheese.  It is a great recipe for a delicious lunch, as well as one you can serve at a picnic, party, and wedding or baby shower!

How to Create a Stunning Peony Arrangement with Artificial Flowers

Walk through this step-by-step tutorial for creating a beautiful peony centerpiece for your summer table or entryway using silk flowers and greenery.

Summer Garden Party with Peony Inspired Tablescape

Be inspired to throw an intimate summer garden party for friends or family this season.  This post has everything you need from a beautiful peony inspired tablescape to menu ideas and free printable invitations.

Bacon, Ranch, and Sour Cream Potato Salad Recipe

A creamy and flavorful potato salad recipe filled with freshly cooked bacon, ranch dressing mix, green onions, and sour cream.  It's the perfect combination for a summertime side dish to take to picnics and BBQs!

Plant in Faith Free Summer Printable

Add a touch of summer to your home decor with these free watercolor peony prints and an inspirational quote.  

The Best Way to Make Crispy Homemade Potato Chips

Have you ever tried making potato chips at home?  The process is so easy and not only are they cheaper and healthier than the bagged store version, but the flavor can't be beat.  Continue reading for everything you need to know to make crispy homemade potato chips for a snack tonight.

Zesty Salad Supreme Pasta Salad

This flavorful pasta salad combines tri-colored rotini with fresh vegetables, Italian dressing, and Salad Supreme Seasoning.  It is an ideal side to serve to a crowd at a summer picnic or for a weeknight dinner with your family.

How to Make a Plant Seed Storage Box + Free Printable Dividers

A wood recipe box can be easily repurposed into a place to store and organize garden seed packets.  Keep reading for the modern farmhouse style DIY transformation and download some free labels to categorize your seeds.

Crispy Buffalo Chicken Wings

Just four ingredients are needed to make a mild buffalo hot sauce that adds some heat to chicken wings or ribs and develops a crispy coating as the meat continues to cook.

Kitchen Conversions Chart for Successful Baking | Free Printables

This handy free printable kitchen measurements conversion chart is a life-saver when baking.  Whether you are cutting a recipe in half, doubling it for a larger crowd, or just don't have the right measurement tool available, this cheat sheet will guide you find the correct amount each and every time....and  looks pretty hanging in your kitchen, too!

How to Make DIY Kitchen Decor from Vintage Cutting Boards

Do you have any used wood cutting boards that you don't know what to do with?  This tutorial will show you how to easily repurpose them into decorative DIY word art for your kitchen!

Banana Bread with Streusel Topping Recipe for Breakfast

This recipe for Banana Bread is irresistible with the addition of an unexpected streusel topping over the ordinary bread made with overripe bananas.  A perfect recipe for breakfast or dessert.

Vintage Inspired Spring Mantel

A spring mantel is decorated using vintage inspired finds and white tulips.   Learn how to create your own cohesive seasonal vignette with tips from this post.

Creamy Broccoli and Cheese Soup

This delicious Broccoli Cheddar Soup is one of my favorite homemade soups to prepare.  It is creamy, packed with flavor, and so easy to make for lunch or dinner.  

Favorite Spring Decor for Your Home

A curated collection of some of my favorite florals and greenery, home accessories, and seasonal decor for spring and Easter.  Find something pretty to freshen up your own home!

Simple Spring Vignette

Decorating for spring doesn't have to be hard.   Creating a few small vignettes help to make your home look seasonally appropriate without feeling overwhelmed by having to decorate the entire house.  Read on to learn how to make a simple spring vignette in your own house.

Bacon and Ranch Cheese Ball

This creamy cheese ball made with fresh crumbled bacon and ranch seasoning makes a quick, easy, and delicious appetizer your guests are sure to enjoy.

My New Modern Farmhouse Kitchen Canisters

Sharing my new modern farmhouse kitchen canisters along with twenty other pretty versions to decorate your kitchen counters in your own home.

Believing in Spring Free Printable

Spring is here, and decorating your home for the season can't be any easier with this collection of over 25 free printables and pretty vignettes, including this one of a watercolor sparrow and inspiring poem.

Choosing the Right Dining Room Rug for Your Home

Everything you need to know about choosing the correct area rug for your dining room - from measuring for the right size, to picking the best colors, patterns, and materials, and even where to shop for a new rug for your own home.

What's New with my Fixer Upper

Work has been continuing at my 1900's fixer upper and I've started to expose some of the original character hidden in the living room.

8 Tips to Make Cleaning Your House Fast and Easy

Cleaning the house is not what most people consider fun. But with these eight simple tips, keeping your home spotless will become a fast and easy job that you might even grown to enjoy!

Peanut Butter Rice Krispie Treats

As a delicious twist to an ordinary bar cookie, these easy Peanut Butter Rice Krispie Treats are sure to be your next family favorite.

DIY Chalkboard Message Center

Create a useful home message center chalkboard for your mudroom or kitchen using a wood frame and other repurposed thrift store finds.

Fixer Upper Dining Room Design Plans

Combining my favorite vintage, industrial, and farmhouse elements together to create a unique dining room design for my 1900's fixer upper.

Designing a room completely from scratch as I'm doing at my project house can be such a fun process.  Guided by the cohesive plan that I came up with for the look of the whole home, I now get to kick back with my laptop and shop for exactly what I need.

The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up

Declutter your home and life once and for all  with this series that focuses on guidance from the book "The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up" by Marie Kondo.

KonMari Method

Affiliate links are provided in this post for your convenience.  For more information, you can view my disclosure policy.

One of my favorite tasks is cleaning and organizing.  I like getting rid of things.   A good before and after picture makes my heart beat fast.  And I whole-heartedly believe that my life would be easier and more enjoyable if I had fewer possessions.

Fixer Upper Dining Room Progress

Progress is moving along in my 1900s fixer upper and it has been exciting to find some original character in the dining room.

Work is moving along at my "project" house.  It may be moving slowly, but progress has been made.  At the same time, my plans for how this was all going to progress so that I could quickly show you a few finished rooms isn't going as planned.  But isn't that the way with any fixer upper or home renovation in general?

Today I wanted to catch you up on how the dining room is working out and my altered plans for moving forward.

Potato Corn Chowder for a Homemade Winter Dinner

Winter is the perfect season for enjoying a steaming bowl of homemade soup.  This recipe for Potato Corn Chowder is my go-to recipe for a quick and delicious supper.

Perfect Antique Dining Room Table

One of the most important pieces of furniture in a home is a dining room table where friends and family can gather around together.  This set is the perfect antique table and chairs for my 1900s fixer upper.

I had every intention of today's renovation post being all about the progress that I've made at the project house, but.....instead I'm going to show you my first actual purchase for the dining room.

On Tuesday, I was spending the day tearing into things and as I was stopping work for the day to get things cleaned up and presentable enough to snap a few pictures, I found out that the dining room table and chairs I had purchased were being like, 15 minutes.  Literally.

So the perfectly empty room had to have the rug laid back down to protect the bare wood floors from snowy delivery men boots and was filled with furniture before I could get my camera out.  I shot these few quick pictures just so you could see the pretty table.

Friday Favorites | No. 4

As the month of January is drawing to a close soon (isn't that almost hard to believe!?!), I can honestly say that the year has gotten off to a good start.  I hope that you can feel the same.  Winter is never a good season for most people in terms of mood and motivation, but I'm trying my best to push through that and actually get some things accomplished and move forward.

Creating a Basket out of an Old Kitchen Pot

A metal kitchen pot from the thrift store becomes a unique  DIY storage basket with a little glue and sisal twine from the craft store.

Winter Reading List | On the Bookshelf

As the snow falls outside, you need something enjoyable to do indoors. And nothing is better on a cold winter day that curling up with a great book.  Here are five of my favorites that I'm reading right now.

Winter reading list

As I'm typing this, the snow is falling outside my window.  And not just a few flakes.  It's the snow that makes you want to stay home, cuddled under your warmest throw, sipping a hot mug of cappuccino reflecting on how grateful you are that you get to stay indoors.  Do you know those days?

Raisin Oatmeal Cookies Recipe

A delicious recipe for one of the most basic types of drop cookies, the Oatmeal Raisin Cookie, along with tips for getting them to turn out perfectly every time.

Secret to Decorating Like a Pro While Saving Time and Money

We all want a home that looks as pretty and put together as our favorite magazines, yet it seems so impossible to achieve for the average homeowner.  The secret behind creating those picture perfect houses is understanding how to create a cohesive design and it is easier than you might think....and will even save you time and money when redecorating!

Decorate like a pro

Have you ever walked into a house where it feels like one room flows right into the next?  Or come across photos of homes on Pinterest where everything just seems to go together?  Rather than seeing individual rooms, you are able to look at the house as a whole with each room connecting to the next.

And in these instances, you likely assume that the person who did the decorating really knew what they were doing or had a large budget that allowed them to hire a designer who bought the best of everything.  I mean, the average person can't possibly create a cohesive design all on their own and do it on a budget, can they?

Friday Favorites | No. 3

Happy Friday to you my friend!  I hope you have been enjoying a very good week wherever you are.

It has been quite a few weeks since I shared my last Friday Favorites post with you.....the holiday blogging season kind of consumed my time and while there were many bloggers that were inspiring me to want to share, there just wasn't time to put those posts together.  But the winter is my time to regroup and catch my breath and so this weekly series is back.

Labeling Your Pantry + Free Labels and Organizing Tips

Free printable pantry labels to organize your kitchen cupboards and spices plus even more free printables to help you stay organized in the new year.

Kitchen Canister Labels

In my opinion, there are three types of people in the world.....

  • Those that could care less about adding a descriptive label to anything and get along just fine without the guidance that a pretty label supplies.

  • Then there are those that use some sort of label where necessary to make finding certain items easier.....and these labels vary from printables online, purchased in the store, or just a piece of masking tape with writing done in a Sharpie.

  • And finally, there is a group who is willing to stick a beautifully created label on just about everything they own.....just because they can.

My 1900's Fixer Upper House | The Before Tour

A before tour of my 1900s fixer upper before it gets a modern farmhouse makeover.

1900s Fixer Upper House

It has been quite awhile since I first announced that I had plans to renovate my grandparent's old house.  And while I'd love to say that the house is done and just hasn't been shown yet on the blog, I'm afraid that I can't.  Nothing has been done yet.

But the good news is that the renovation is finally starting and I wanted to let you get a glimpse of the fixer upper house in all its before glory before I touch a single thing.

Best of 2018

Taking a look back at the best decorating ideas, DIY projects, homekeeping tips, recipes, and more from the blog in 2018.

Before I dive headfirst into getting things started her for 2019, I wanted to begin by taking a lookback at what was most popular around anderson + grant in 2018.  Surprisingly, many of the most popular posts were from just recently in the fall and Christmas seasons.

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