The “Before” Pictures

Grab a glass of wine, and use the restroom now, because this post is  A LONG ONE.

I have been meaning to post all of these pictures for quite some time, and now is as good a time as ever, right??

As you know, we just moved into our first home after the new year, and so before posting about any progress we’ve made, I want to document all the “before” pictures, so that you can see what we’re working with, and so that as we update each space, there is a good point of reference… so let’s get to it!!



Above is the exterior of our new place, which we love.  Like LOVE.  I am still in awe that we are living in a historical old Victorian in San Francisco, and that this place will be so incredibly different from anywhere else we ever get to live.

All the detail of the Victorian facade is accentuated by the various colors used – there are probably 6-7 different paint colors on the exterior – white, cream, several shades of light yellow, periwinkle, dusty blue, and then the gold leaf. The gold makes all the pretty scrolled details pop, and its such a special touch.


That’s the thing about these old San Francisco houses – you can get away with some really crazy color combinations and it’s charming (for the record, I do not consider our house’s exterior to be one of the “crazy” ones… but some of these houses are really elaborate, and use really unique color combinations).

The thing with our house is, while the outside is colorful and cheery, and inside is just as colorful… but in a very different way. The best word I can think of to describe it is “manic.”  The definition I found could not be more spot on: “showing wild and apparently deranged excitement and energy.”

Let me elaborate…


When you walk in, the first thing you see is this…


There is A LOT going on…

There is wallpaper… lots of it… and lots of different kinds.  We’ve got the pale blue and gold trellis paper (which I happen to love), a faux finish wallpaper meant to resemble Italian plaster walls (you can see it a little better in the photo below), the art deco inspired teal and burgundy scallop trim, and lets not forget the starry night  wallpaper in the alcove.

To add to the crazy color scheme, all of these different wallpapers are accented with some really interesting paint colors… cranberry picture rail moulding, hunter green and gold corbels, a fleshy / nude paint on the casings around the doorways, and tan and mint green paneled waist-high wainscoting.


I get what they were going for here – it’s certainly funky and full of character, and while I have a real appreciation for the Victorian authenticity of some of the patterns of the wallpaper, it’s just not my jam.

The starry night looks like it could be cool in the pictures, but just trust me when I say, it’s a bit much in real life.

The blue is not a deep and subtle navy, but more of a cobalt… and right next to the hunter green and bright cranberry trim. I actually feel like all these colors and patterns take away from the beautiful moulding and paneled wainscoting.  My goal is to make the trim and all it’s details really stand out as opposed to having this space be so busy, and colorful, and well… manic.


Anyway, moving on… directly to the right of the entry, is a doorway into the “parlor” – yes we have a parlor!

Right now it’s being used as a formal dining room – eventually it may become an office / guest-room / playroom, but before we moved in it looked like this:


Pretty amazing right??

In real life, the wallpaper is very gold – I don’t love the pattern, and I don’t love the colors, but let’s talk about what I do love though.

The crowning jewel of the room… the original chandelier.  It is so big and gorgeous in real life.  Also, look at the original fireplace ! The carved details are so pretty and unique.  The stained glass above the bay windows is my favorite in the whole house, and with the detailed plaster detail framing the windows… it makes my heart skip a beat.

In this below picture, you can really see the detail in the windows, and also you can see the stained glass in the entry hall (right hand side of the picture) which is so sooo pretty.


I don’t have current pictures of this room now that we’ve moved in, but trust me when I say that it looks like a HOT MESS.

Don’t be fooled by how pretty it looks in these photos from the listing… this is what it looks like today:


We are using it as our dining room / storage room, and it’s full of boxes, and a too-big dining room table.  It went like this… the movers dropped our stuff off, and it stayed exactly how they left it ever since. Ha!  That said, I love dreaming about what it could look like eventually.

Building a window seat in the bay window is an ultimate goal – it’s a great spot for people watching in the park, and it gets such nice late afternoon sun – even in the winter.

I also envision built-ins flanking the fireplace, for additional storage… or maybe even building desks into the built-ins…


What a showstopper – of all the lighting left in this place, this is perhaps the only fixture that we will ultimately keep. Once it’s cleaned, it will really sparkle!

Also, now that I’ve completely hated on the starry night wallpaper in the hallway, I have a little secret…


The alcove above the bay windows has the same paper, but I happen to LOVE it up there.

It looks like a deep navy instead of how it reads as “cobalt blue” in the hallway. It’s still funky for sure, but I love how it’s like a little secret, the way it’s tucked up there.  I envision it being a favorite spot for little ones (eventually) to play and daydream.


Right off this front parlor is the first bedroom – there are old pocket doors that close the two rooms off, which are so charming and pretty.  Right now, the room is dedicated to storage… it’s all boxes, but eventually it will be the guest room… or a nursery.

In the below picture, you are looking back at the front parlor, through the pocket doors.


And here they are closed off.IS9xjiklgxn7y80000000000

This picture below, shows the room from the other direction – standing in the pocket doors looking towards the back wall and window.ISh3mu2sk5w4y80000000000

As of this week, here’s how the baby / guest room looks:


It’s a disaster.  And the mess gives me total anxiety.

Let’s pretend it doesn’t exist!


Moving down the hall, there is a bathroom that is very cramped and VERY 90’s right now.

The photo below IS NOT AN ACCURATE DEPICTION of how this looks in real life.

At all.


This photo really makes it look so much bigger, brighter, and nicer than it is.

In real life, it’s dark… like really dark… and you walk straight into the sink as you come through the doorway. And, I don’t believe that the shower was built to code.  It also seems odd to me that the ceiling is 15 feet high like the rest of the house, but the shower, tile, cabinets, and everything else stops at about 7 feet.  It just makes it all feel so closed in.

This is on the list for a renovation down the line, but for now, it functions, and it’s livable.


Next up is our bedroom..

The staging for this struck me as so odd (most of the staging was terrible, but this room really confused me).

It’s a massive bedroom (around 17’x17′) with an en suite bathroom, so it’s clearly the master, but it was staged as a kids bedroom with a double bed, plaid bedding, and a stuffed husky.  So bizarre.


It looks SO DIFFERENT now (and so much better) with our furniture.

Ugly staging aside, we really like most things about this room – the medallion wallpaper is really pretty in real life, and the corner windows are SO BIG.  They’re nearly 10′ tall, but it’s hard to even tell in photographs how tall the ceilings and windows really are.  Trust me when I say, they’re massive.IStkfuj88h7dy80000000000

We just got a new chandelier that will replace the old light fixture, but other than that, the room hasn’t changed much since moving in, aside from moving our own furniture from our old bedroom in.


The bathroom attached to the master, is similar to the hall bathroom – a bit dated, and a bit cramped the way it was planned, but livable.


I secretly love using the Jacuzzi soaking tub, but it’s such a pain in the butt – it’s hard to climb in and out of it since it’s so tall, and it stops about a foot and a half from the wall, so it doesn’t make the most of the space.

The dual height counters also make it feel more cramped, there is nowhere for us to hang our towels, and like the other bathroom, all the cabinets, and tile end at around 7 feet, so with the high ceilings, it feels sort of dwarfed.

I’ve been doing a lot of brainstorming on how we could change this to make it more functional, and visually open up the space, but of course this renovation is not in the immediate future.


The next room is actually the first one that we decided to tackle – “the red room”.

It was staged here as the dining room, but we are using it as our living room.  It is the largest space in the house, measuring about 20 feet long by 16 feet wide, so it seemed like a huge waste to use it as a dining room.


It’s also adjacent to the kitchen so from an entertaining standpoint, we like having all the social areas together, instead of having people split up at a party – half in the living room at the front of the house, and the other half mingling in the kitchen or outside at the back of the house.

We’re still working out what room will ultimately be the dining room, but this room will continue to be the main living room.

So anyway, back to our living room… I call it the red room, Kris refers to it as the Christmas room, and it’s pretty clear why.  These pictures do not paint the picture of how dark and drab and heavy this room felt.


Holy cow – there was so much red damask wallpaper in here, and it just felt SO DARK!

Had it just been the dark red, it would have been dark, but less offensive… it was the green accents that made me really dislike the whole thing.  The green trim ran around the picture frame railing, and the pillars were also green – a Victorian era Santa and Mrs. Claus would have loved this room.

I should also point out, the pillars are wood – they were just painted to look like green marble or malachite.



There were also the ruffled curtains, heavy tapestries, scalloped red (of course, more red) valances, with balloon shades.IS1rdjlvebix770000000000

And let’s not forget about the hunter green ceiling medallion.


I can not stress how dark and sad it felt.  I know it doesn’t look it from some of these pictures, and after showing friends and family the photos before they saw it, we heard a lot of “it’s not bad!” or “I kind of like it”… but in real life, the response was more, “oh… yeah… it IS dark.”

Keep in mind that those photos were taken by professionals, who made sure that they were well lit and edited so that the real estate listing would shine.

Here’s how it actually looked and felt before we moved in…




I snapped all of those photos in the middle of the day, with the shades up, and the lights on.

The problem here was the dark colors – the dark wallpaper just swallowed all the light up, When I am able to post a few photos of how the room looks and feels now, you will definitely be surprised at the difference. You would never know it from these photos, but the room actually gets really good light.

To also put this in perspective, in these photos, the trim looks like it’s an off white.

It is NOT off white.

It’s a dark, DARK tan – like darker-than-my-skin tan.  That hopefully illustrates how much lighter it feels now with crisp white trim… but I digress.  Let’s get back to the house tour.


Before we even saw the house, I was shown a single photo of the kitchen, and I was smitten. The kitchen has a few cosmetic updates we’d like to do down the road, but overall, it’s pretty incredible…


The floor to ceiling cabinets… the entire wall of windows… the french doors out to the deck…ISlywimo5a1rx80000000000

The LADDER!!  I mean we have a ladder in our kitchen.ISp9o6lyod42y80000000000

Those things aside, here’s a quick list of updates we’d like to get to… after the bathrooms… after the wallpaper stripping… after the trim is painted…

Updates to the countertops, upgrades to some appliances, updates to several fixtures and lighting, fixing chips and nicks in the cabinets, updates to the window treatments, and updates to the cabinet interiors.

Don’t think that I am complaining though.  Quite the opposite.  This is the Taj Mahal compared to the kitchens I’ve lived in my entire adult life.  Just even having counter-space is such a luxury coming from apartment living.ISle9vki6v13870000000000ISxfqi35tlczx80000000000ISxv2v1zt6db870000000000And in the kitchen you’ll also notice a breakfast nook… nook is the wrong word.  Breakfast room?  When it was staged, it held a good sized dining room table, certainly large enough to seat six.

This is where we currently have Kris’ office set up which has worked out well so far, but I still toy with the idea of making it into our dining room, and using that front room (where our dining table currently is) into a office guest room combo.

Eh, plenty of time to mull that idea over.

Last but not least…


ISledi1249zfy80000000000IS9dwuifhioj870000000000Currently, we have a mish mash of deck furniture out here, along with my tools, and a few boxes.  It is not the cute urban escape I envision, but it WILL be.  That’s the thing.  Eventually, this will be our little oasis, and it starts with a BBQ.

Once that BBQ is here, I’m certain I’ll want to get the rest of it whipped into shape… a pretty outdoor sofa or sectional, some new plants, umbrella, and eventually, maybe even a heat lamp for lingering late into the evening.

So, there you have it!

The full tour of our house, as it was before we moved in.  As you can see, there are areas that will need more work than others, but my wheels are turning, and we’ve already made some significant headway in a few spaces!

Can’t wait to share as we move along!!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s