Monday, April 27, 2020

DIY Condo Renovations {Before & After}

I feel like I've been putting off this post for as long as it took us to do the renovations, but I know it hasn't been that long ;)

Welcome to the newly renovated McDot Spot ;) 

If you follow me on social media, then you probably are aware that this past summer the hubby and I started a MAJOR update on our condo. We bought the place back in 2010 and since it was move-in ready, all we did at the time was add some {bright} paint to a few of the walls and called it a day. It was never really "our" style, but it was hard to justify spending more money when everything was new and in great conditions. Well, nine years later and we started to contemplate whether or not we wanted to sell the condo and buy a stand-alone home or do a major renovation. After much debate (months of back and forth) we finally decided on staying put and redoing what we already owned.

Whenever I would share on my IG stories about the progress, I'd get a ton of questions, so I thought I'd not only share some before and after pictures of the renovation, but also a list of the products and costs of some of the things we used.

Before we get into the nitty gritty of everything, let's go over some of the game plan. Our condo is approximately 900 square feet (2 bedroom, 2 bath). We were hoping to redo just about everything - this includes buying new furniture, swapping out all light fixtures (and adding recessed lighting), upgrading our bathroom shower/ tub stalls, removing all of the carpet and replacing it with hardwood, painting the whole place (including cabinets), changing out the countertops and sinks, etc. I think the only thing that wasn't updated were the appliances and crown-molding. Like I said it was a HUGE undertaking. We were hoping to do as much of it ourselves to try and keep the costs low. A 'framily' (friend who has become family) member of ours does remodels for a living, so before we started we had her come over and give us her thoughts. She thought realistically it would cost between $15,000 and $20,000 and take approximately 3 months. In the end it cost us approximately $22,000 and took about five months to complete everything (but we will get to that in a bit).


Like I mentioned, when we moved in, it wasn't our jam but we made it work. We did our best to brighten it up (as you can see from the before photos - we were not afraid of color), but the cabinets and countertops were just pretty dark.

The "entryway" and living room.

We put a futon on our balcony to add some extra living space (normally Walt uses it to sunbathe ;)).

The kitchen.

#RealTalk - We sold our dining room table a few years before
and normally just ate on the ground in the living room... 

Our master bedroom was definitely bright and sunshine-y ;)

Our master bath isn't huge, but it gets the job done.

We also have a walk-in closet behind the closed door.

Originally this room was a spare bedroom, but it has since been updated to an office.

When the hubby or I are working in here, normally Walt will come join us on the futon.

The hall bathroom. 

We ended up deciding that instead of having individual rooms different colors, we would paint the whole place one neutral color and then add in pops of color from the rugs, furniture, accessories, etc. After quite a few trips to Lowe's, we finally decided on a color for the house. Friends of ours helped us paint and we were able to knock it all out in about two days.

We left in the old flooring while we were painting so that we didn't have to worry about protecting it (although we did remove the baseboards so we were sure to paint low enough). We went back and forth as to whether we wanted to paint first (and then be careful not to muck it up when we were doing everything else) or to do the floors first (and then be careful not to muck THEM up when we were painting). In the end we felt like we did it in the proper order for us.

I didn't snap any pictures of the painting process, but we went with a light gray. You can see at this point we
had the new recessed lighting installed (before the only light in this room came from the windows or lamps).

Once the painting was complete, it was time to get rid of the flooring. We removed all of the carpet (in the living room and bedrooms) and crappy laminate. You would think that "demo day" would've been all fun and games (at least, that's how Chip Gaines makes it seem), but it's hard work! It took us quite a while to get all of the old stuff out of the house.

We definitely put in our sweat equity on this renovation!

Oh yeah, and let me stop right there to mention a few fairly important things. First, I'm not sure who built these condos in the first place, but let's just say that they seemed to have taken as many short cuts as possible. For example, when we started taking off the countertops we would find boxes of trash just thrown in the open spaces. With that said, the floors were NOT level and things seem to have been jimmy rigged together. Second, because these are condos, we have an HOA to deal with. Three of the board members live within a stones throw of our unit, so there is no way we would be getting around any of the rules and regulations (nor would we want to), but more to come that very soon.

Walt wasn't really sure how to feel about all of the activity... he banished himself to the porch for most of the time.

We decided to try and tackle the floors over the Fourth of July weekend because the hubby would have an extra day off work for the holiday. We were hoping to be able to knock it all out over the long weekend... Obviously we bit off more than we could chew (although we eventually got the hang of installing the floors, we were still having to measure everything we needed up in the condo, then go down to the garage and cut the boards and back and forth), but at least we got it started.

We started with the dining room/ kitchen first and worked our way out to the rest of the house.

Started is the operative word, because on Tuesday (once the mail was delivered) we receive a cease and desist letter from the HOA. For someone who hates "getting in trouble" this freaked me out. We had no idea what we were doing wrong, especially since we had been in constant communication with the board members and they hadn't said anything.


Well, come to find out the HOA had a couple of issues with our renovations. First, because we were on the second floor, we were told we were unable to have hardwood in any of the "living" areas (meaning the living room and bedrooms). Second, although we had submitted our plans to the HOA months before, we did not include the exact product (because we hadn't made a decision at that time) and they needed specifics before they would give us the green light. Let's just say the hubby and I spent many frustrating hours with this situation. In the end we were given the approval to do hardwood throughout but the process left a very sour taste in our mouths (so much so that if and when we get another place, we will NOT buy anything that has any type of association that holds any sort of deciding power over something we own). I would say we probably lost 3-4 weeks during this delay (again, because we are rule followers, we stopped work entirely).

We were NOT smiling at the time... The above pictures were when we finally got the green light and finished the living room...

Eventually we were able to get back to work and finish the floors. For a project that should've only taken maybe 3 days, it literally took us a month and a half. (Oh yeah, I forgot to mention, one of the HOA stipulations is you can work Monday through Saturday from 8am until 6pm, nothing on Sundays... so since the hubby was working a full time job and we were doing everything ourselves, we'd have Saturday {and maybe a few hours on Friday} to do projects - not very convenient!)

Once we finished the living room, we "moved out" of our bedroom and into the living room...
sleeping on the futon mattress... It was literally like camping for four months last year...

Some of the progress shots from our bedroom floor install.

During this time we also swapped out all of our light fixtures. In the bedrooms we changed both of the overhead lights/ fans, as well as the lights in the closets. In the bathrooms we swapped out the vanity lights and overhead lights as well.

Instead of doing recessed lighting throughout the house, we did some "low profile" lights in less conspicuous areas (like the closets).

Another one of the large undertakings, besides the floors, were the countertops. You see, the original courter had a bar-height ledge in the kitchen that neither of us loved. I decided that one of the "musts" for the renovation was to lower the countertop to all one height, as well as change them away from the dark granite. We were originally thinking of going with a cement countertop, but eventually landed on a gray quartz (from IKEA). {#RealTalk - The hubby was the one who liked the countertops we finally got... if I were to redo anything we did, the countertops and baseboards would be my two things I'm not 100% happy with. I just feel like we haven't found a product yet that leaves them looking "clean" and not streaky.}

This picture shows off the new pendant lights we added over the "bar" and dining room... as well as the awkward countertop.

Again, demolition was more of a beast that we were expecting (originally we were hoping we would be able to potentially resell some of the large slabs of granite, but in the end we had to break the granite into such small pieces because it was so crap-ily installed). And let me say that once we removed the countertops, we had to remove the sinks (which we would also be changing)... which meant we were having to do our dishes/ brush our teeth/ etc in the bathtub! I guess I didn't realize how many steps would be involved in changing the countertops, because once we removed the old ones, we had to have a contractor come in to lower and level everything, then have the countertop folks come out to measure and cut everything, and finally come to install everything. Again, this was a process that took much longer than we would've liked (I know, I know, everyone tells you that construction timetables are never really set in stone, but man alive it was crazy how often we would get bumped back or things would be delayed during the process... and since step one has to be done before step two, three and four, when there is any type of hang-up along the way, that will impact EVERYTHING!).

In the shot on the left you can see the bar was lowered, but in both rooms we were missing sinks and countertops!

After what felt like months (but, really, I think from start to finish with the countertop saga it was legit like 7 or 8 weeks with no sinks/ countertops in our kitchen and bathrooms!), we finally had everything installed! PRAISE THE LORD! 

Master bathroom counter shots.

Kitchen pre- and post countertop install.

The next thing on the to-do list (and what we were putting off for as long as we could) were the bathrooms. Not only were we replacing the tile flooring, but we were also getting rid of the tile in the shower (in the master) and tub (in the hall bath).

We had to do the bathrooms one at a time so we still had somewhere to shower...

First up were the floors. I've gotta say, I love them! It took a bit of convincing to get the hubby on board with such a "wild" pattern, but I felt like since everything else was so subdued (either white or gray), it was great to be able to bring in some fun on the bathroom floors (not to mention, when you put rugs down it doesn't seem as bang-a-rang and overwhelming).

I got quite a bit of push back when I said I wanted to use black grout, but I love the way it turned out!

As far as the stalls, we both love the way subway tile looks, but didn't love the length of time it was going to take to have it installed. Eventually we found a tub surround we both could agree on that looked like subway tile. (If you couldn't tell, we were trying to keep everything matching, which was difficult when rooms weren't the exact same. This came into play with the surrounds - since the bathtub needed three walls but our shower only needed two. We ended up making it work by using the two end pieces from a full tub surround kit in the shower and donating the back wall portion we didn't need.)

The master bathroom is a small box, so it was hard to get decent pictures of the process.

Another big task was painting the cabinets. Originally I wanted to get new cabinets (especially in the kitchen, because I dislike how there is a gap between the top of the cabinet and the ceiling), but since our place doesn't seem to have a standard size anywhere in it, custom cabinets just weren't in the budget. I'll be the first to admit, they aren't professionally done... you can see some brush strokes here or there, but even still I'm proud of what we were able to accomplish!

While the hubby was at work, I'd make my way down to the sweatbox that was the
garage and add a layer or two of primer and paint to the cabinets doors and drawers.

The remaining updates were cosmetic (changing out all of the door handles, cabinet hardware, outlet covers, bedding, etc) or furniture purchases (a new couch, dining room table, bed, entertainment center, book shelf, etc).

We changed everything from a "chrome" look to a matte black finish.

If I couldn't go bang-a-rang with the paint, then I would bring in some pops of color and personality with the accessories. 

Well, I guess I misspoke... The FINAL piece of the puzzle was our master shower enclosure. Apparently the dimensions of the shower are not standard (NOT a shocker, seeing as everything in this place seemed to be off an inch here, a degree there), so we ended up having to get a custom shower built. We went through Arizona Tile at Lowe's. The experience wasn't the best (they ended up having to come out to our place on FOUR SEPARATE OCCASIONS because things were cut improperly, not everything was shipped in the package, etc), but we were happy with the final product.

And, in case any of you are still there (or at least scrolling), you've finally reached the main event - THE AFTER SHOTS! 

HI! Welcome to our home!

Our living space.

The living room and kitchen/ dining room. 

The new kitchen and dining room area.

The hall bathroom.

The office (space bedroom).

Another couple angles of the office.

Our master bedroom.

The master bathroom.

A picture of the porch at dusk.

Now that you've seen the "official after photos" (sorry, obviously none of this was professionally done... I mean, we aren't a HGTV show over here for goodness sake ;)), I thought I'd do a quick breakdown of the products seen throughout the house in case anything caught your eye and you wanted to know where exactly we got anything. {SPOILER ALERT - The majority of things either came from Amazon, Lowe's or Target. We had a contractor help with lowering the countertops,  replacing the tub surrounds (changing the backer boards, making sure everything was mold-free and water-tight) and laying the bathroom tile. The company we bought the new countertops from installed them (as well as the sinks) for us. We also used an electrician for the new recessed lighting (not only because we didn't feel comfortable with the electrical, but also because our HOA requires a licensed electrician to do the work and certify the job). Everything else was a DIY with YouTube and other "professionals" (like my daddy-o, the hubby's friends, etc) offering their help or two cents.}

Renovations can make you cray-cray ;) 

List of What We Purchased/ Installed During the Renovation

Living Room:

          Couch - Jerome's Allie Sectional Couch
          Throw Pillows - Target Oversized Gray Threshold Pillows,
          Real Simple Gray Knotted Pillows {purchased at TJ Maxx}
          Rug - Amazon Summit 46 Black White Diamond Area Rug Modern Abstract
          Recessed Lighting - Amazon TORCHSTAR 18W 8 Inch Ultra-Thin Recessed Ceiling Light with J-Box
          Entertainment Center - IKEA KALLAX Shelf unit / IKEA DRĂ–NA Dark Blue Box
          Cover for Walt's House - Amazon MidWest Dog Crate Cover, Privacy Dog Crate Cover Fits MidWest Dog Crates
          Front Door Handle - Wayfair Greenwich Exterior Portion Handleset with Single Cylinder Deadbolt /
          Wayfair Latitude Single Cylinder Interior Lever Set

Dining Room:

          Table and Benches - Amazon WLIVE Steel Frame Dining Table with 2 Benches
          Dinnerware - IKEA FLITIGHET 18-piece Dinnerware Set
          Pendant Light - Amazon LANROS Industrial Mini Pendant Lighting with Handblown Clear Seeded Glass Shade


          Countertops - IKEA Gray Quartz 
          Pendant Lights - Amazon LANROS Industrial Mini Pendant Lighting with Handblown Clear Seeded Glass Shade
          Sink - Wayfair Precis Silgranit 30" L x 18" W Double Basin Undermount Kitchen Sink
          Faucet - Amazon Delta Faucet Essa Single-Handle with Pull Down Sprayer and Magnetic Docking Spray Head /
          Amazon Delta Faucet 72020-BL Delta Faucet Kitchen Air Gap
          Soap Dispenser - Amazon Cornucopia Brands Black Coated 8-Ounce Glass Pump Bottles
          Rug - Amazon Gray and White Maples Rugs Rebecca Contemporary Kitchen Rugs Non Skid Accent Area Carpet
          Counter Stools - Amazon Winsome 20084 Satori Stool 24"

Master Bedroom: 

          Bed - IKEA MALM Storage Bed
          Rug - Amazon Summit S27 New Moroccan Gray Trellis Rug Modern Abstract Rug 
          Ceiling Fan - Amazon Hunter Hunter 36" Aker Ceiling Fan with Light
          Side Tables - IKEA HEMNES Nightstand
          Quilt - Target Pillowfort Triangle Stitch Microfiber Quilt
          Throw Pillows - Target Aqua Ogee Printed Pillows, Target Gray Threshold Lumbar Pillow
          Accent Lamps - Mid Century Modern Accent Table Lamps 14 3/4" High, Teal Blue Steel White Drum Shade

Master Bathroom:

          Countertops - IKEA Gray Quartz
          Floor Tile - Lowe's DELLA TORRE Cementina Black and White 8-in x 8-in Glazed Ceramic Encaustic Tile
          Shower Surround - Home Depot Passage 32 in. x 60 in. x 72 in. 4-Piece Glue-Up Alcove Shower Wall
          Shower Frame - Arizona Shower Doors (custom via Lowe's)
          Vanity Light - Amazon Capital Lighting 119841BI-435 Four Light Vanity
          Overhead Light - Amazon Lanros Modern Black Round Flush Mount LED Ceiling Light Fixture 13.8-inch
          Sink - Lowe's Superior Sinks White/Glazed Porcelain Undermount Rectangular Bathroom Sink with Overflow Drain
          Sink Faucet - Amazon Phiestina 3-Hole Low-Arch 2-Handle Bathroom Faucet with Valve And Pop-Up Drain
          Shower Faucet - Amazon Delta Faucet Trinsic Shower Kit with Single-Spray H2Okinetic Shower Head
          Shower Arm Extender - Burginwin Adjustable Shower Arm, Matte Black
          Soap Dispenser - Amazon Cornucopia Brands Black Coated 8-Ounce Glass Pump Bottles
          Rug - Target Opalhouse Contour RugTarget Opalhouse Rug
          Towels - Target Project 62 + Nate Berkus Solid Black Hand and Bath Towels
          Towel Racks - Nolimas 3-Pieces Set Matte Black Bathroom Hardware Accessories Kit
          Trash Can - Amazon simplehuman 1.6 Gallon Compact Plastic Round Bathroom Step Trash Can


          Futon - Amazon DHP Emily Futon Couch with Sturdy Chrome Legs and Rich Linen Upholstery, Grey
          Rug - Amazon Summit 26 Trellis Turquoise White Area Rug Modern Abstract Rug
          Ceiling Fan - Amazon Hunter Hunter 36" Aker Ceiling Fan with Light
          Desk - IKEA THYGE Desk
          Book Shelf - Amazon Homfa Bookcase, TV Stand 8-Cube Bookshelf, Free Standing Display Shelves
          Throw Pillows - Target Gray Ogee Printed Pillows

Hall Bathroom:

          Countertops - IKEA Gray Quartz
          Floor Tile - Lowe's DELLA TORRE Cementina Black and White 8-in x 8-in Glazed Ceramic Encaustic Tile
          Tub Surround - Home Depot Passage 32 in. x 60 in. x 72 in. 4-Piece Glue-Up Shower Wall in White Subway Tile
          Vanity Light - Amazon Capital Lighting 119841BI-435 Four Light Vanity
          Sink - Lowe's Superior Sinks White/Glazed Porcelain Undermount Rectangular Bathroom Sink with Overflow Drain
          Sink Faucet - Amazon Phiestina 3-Hole Low-Arch 2-Handle Bathroom Faucets with Valve And Pop-Up Drain
          Tub Faucet - Amazon Delta Faucet Trinsic Tub and Shower Kit with Single-Spray H2Okinetic Shower Head
          Soap Dispenser - Amazon Cornucopia Brands Black Coated 8-Ounce Glass Pump Bottles
          Shower Curtain - Target Textured Black Stripe Shower Curtain
          Rug - Target Opalhouse Contour Rug, Target Opalhouse Rug
          Towels - Target Project 62 + Nate Berkus Solid Black Hand and Bath Towels
          Towel Racks - Nolimas 3-Pieces Set Matte Black Bathroom Hardware Accessories Kit
          Trash Can - Amazon simplehuman1.6 Gallon Compact Plastic Round Bathroom Step Trash Can

Home (not room specific):

          Paint - Valspar Paint (from Lowe's) in the color Bay Waves 
          Flooring - Lowe's Pergo Portfolio + WetProtect Waterproof Trenton Oak Embossed Wood Plank Laminate Flooring
          Baseboards - Lowe's 5 1/4-in x 8-ft Painted MDF Baseboard Moulding
          Cabinet/ Drawer Pulls - D. Lawless Hardware 3-3/4" Flat Black Steel Wire Pull
          Dimmer Light Switches - BESTTEN Rocker Dimmer Switch
          Door Handles - AmazonBasics Contemporary Madison Door Lever, Passage, Matte Black
          Door Stops - Hinge Pin Black Door Stops

Hopefully you enjoyed this little behind-the-scenes of our condo makeover. As I'm sure you expected, doing it yourself normally means it takes twice as long (and costs twice as much) as you originally expect, but we're happy with how our humble abode turned out (and now know a thing or two about renovations for if and when we tackle them in the future).

What is the biggest home improvement project you've tackled?

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