Liberty House: One Year of Progress (and Swearing)

This week marks a big milestone at the Liberty House. It’s been one year since I first laid eyes on this beauty, and then bought her five hours later. Online. While sitting in a bar.


That’s crazy, right? Not the fact that I bought the house five hours after I first saw it without ever walking inside (although, yeah, that wasn’t the least crazy thing I’ve ever done, either) but the fact that I’ve been here a whole year. I mean, judging by the amount of progress I’ve made, I would say feels like it’s only been a few months. Judging by the number of new gray hairs on my head? Eons.

Nevertheless twelve months, four seasons, and dozens of projects have gone by, so this week is going to be a little celebration of the journey I’ve been on with this house, and what kind of trouble I’m planning to get into in the near future.


If you’ve been following along for the last year, you’ve seen some of the progress I’ve made, some of the injuries I’ve sustained, and some of the amazingly smart things I’ve done that luckily didn’t result in a broken neck (napping on top of the barn roof, anyone?) But I thought I’d kick this week off with a little look at how things have changed since I started working on this place.

Really, the first three months of work were focused solely on just taking care of the immediate “please don’t fall down or flood” kind of issues that come with an old house sitting empty for some time.

The basics included replacing the roof (in the middle of a tornado):


Replacing all of the faucets in the house:


Fixing all of the pipe in the radiators that burst:


These things don’t make for great “before and after” pictures, but dammed if they don’t make it easier to take a shower. Or have heat in the house.

I also had some high priority items that needed to be taken care of on the outbuildings, namely a new roof on the future-donkey barn:


And actual siding and garage doors on the workshop/garage.


Yeah, maybe needed a little help…


There was a time in my life when that amount of work would have been grounds for a two-week nap, but I was under a deadline both from the bank (who gave me 6 months to make a long list of repairs to the house and property) and because there was a lot of exterior work that needed to get done before the weather turned.

So instead of napping I moved the better part of a barn into a dumpster. By hand.



And I feel like I owe a big Thank You to all of you who stuck with me through six months of throwing verbal darts at my bank and appraiser so that we could finally, finally get to some pretty “before and after” pictures of the house.

Except right now it’s more like “before and still a big effing mess” but even though there are currently six sanders in the middle of my living room floor, there’s still some actual progress to be seen on the house.

For example, the front porch started out with a little peeling paint and a lot of wood painted hunter green:


And even though thinking about painting this porch and its 101 spindles make my eyeball twitch in an unsightly manner…


The new coat of paint really makes the place feel less run-down and more “I need a porch swing and a beer, stat.”

Eventually I’m actually going to need to rebuild the entire front porch, since the wood on the deck and supports isn’t in great shape, but that’s a project for another summer.

And, speaking of things I’m going to have to rebuild (but sooner rather than later for this one) the deck on the back? Not in great shape.


Nor was the peeling paint, hunter green accents, or big old holes in the siding.


Continuing on the theme of “things I did because the bank told me to but but will have to be done again the right” way eventually” basically everything on the back of the house got a coat of paint, instead of being rebuilt and re-sided.

Still, she’s looking a little refreshed…



And, at long last, I finally made my inside. To what is maybe the pinkest room that ever existed. Pink walls, pink chandelier, pink brick.


This room isn’t finished, but it’s significantly less pink thanks to a lot of paint on the walls, the trim, and the ceiling.


I also spent an ungodly number of hours sanding down and re-finishing the floors.


And painted the brick.


There’s still a few things to do in this room. I’ve got an idea for a chandelier I want to build and I need to get actual real furniture that fits in here, and then there’s the great big glass-block door that needs to be… something.

But, still, the Parlor is the most finished room in the house (which means I spend almost none of my time there, since I go where the projects are.)

Adjoining the Parlor is a room that 1.) I still don’t know what the hell to do with, and 2.) still needs some work. Granted, it started out maroon, with some bare-bulb light fixtures, and a lot of oak. Loooots of oak.



And now, much less oak.


I’ve also started “decorating” with a little wall art I created, like this extra large bird painting


And the board above the office/workshop that contains lots. of. little. nails.


So while the walls are all fun and good, the big work in this room is still the floor. It’s going to be a another long, grueling weekend with the sander… something I’ve been putting off for a month or two, but will probably work my way up to tackling after I get my ass kicked in the Dueling DIY stair challenge.

However, let’s talk about things that are actually pretty and somewhat finished and don’t require any more sanding. Like my Room of Many Messes (also sometimes called the Office, the Indoor Workshop, or the Study, because I am incapable of being consistent. Ever.)


Yes, those flesh colored walls, palm-tree-esq wall paper, and more oak were going to be really hard to improve upon. I started by refinishing the floor before I even moved into my house (this room was actually my bedroom for several months at the very beginning.)


And then… more paint. Seriously? I feel like I’ve done a lot more work than just painting in this house, but when you look back at it… nope. Pretty much I’ve just covered most of the interior and exterior in a thin coat of Latex.

Yes. I just said that. Go ahead with your condom jokes while I stand over here and admire my new desk.


Built with $50, some 2×10’s and– you guessed it– more paint.

I’ve also got a little inspiration going on in the form of this wall art made from printed Instagram photos.


And, let’s not forget the star of the room. The big indoor workbench I built out of some old barn beams.


It almost makes up for the fact that I haven’t done anything with the light fixtures or closet doors yet. I’m working on it.

I’m also working (albeit slowly) on the upstairs. I knew when I moved in that there were a lot of effing rooms in this house, but as a person who has spent a lot of quality time with a paintbrush in the last six months, let me just restate for the record… there are a lot of effing rooms in this house.

The upstairs hallway is still in the “holy hell I’ve made a mess up here” stage of progress. But it no longer looks like this…


Because I basically tore 98% of the wallpaper off the walls and then got distracted by sanding down the Parlor floor for all of eternity.

Still, even this is better than wallpaper-walls, in my opinion.


I’ve made the most significant progress upstairs on the full bath, which used to be very yellow and… unfortunate.


I replaced the sinks and faucets, decided not to put mirrors in this bathroom (which basically only show me that I look like a zombie most days) so instead I did this


Moral: Never leave an insomniac alone with a sharpie marker. For reals.

The rest of the upstairs is kind of… eh.

It needs some help, but I’m trying to focus my energy on a couple of final projects downstairs. I actually made some progress in this tiny hallway in between the kitchen and the mudroom.


A little paint, a new light fixture, and the focal point… a new basement door that I pieced together from a thrift-shop find and some old barn wood from my wood pile.


That floor still needs to go. Quickly.

And while that isn’t all of the progress I’ve made in the last year… it’s a lot of it. There are still enough projects that my eyes cross a little when I look at the list, but it’s good to look back and see how far I’ve come.

The two really big projects yet to tackle are a kitchen overhaul and a complete redo of the master suite. Jury is still out on which will come first, but I know before I get to dive into either of those projects, there will be a lot more painting and sanding in my future.

Bring it on, year two.

32 Responses

  1. You’ve done a shit-ton more things by yourself in the past year than me & Aaron and our special helpers. I’d like you to please share the magic substance you are on which enables you to accomplish this much. Then send it my way. I will pay the price. Kthx 🙂

    1. Thank you ma’am… no magic here, I just don’t have a TV or the ability to fall asleep ever. I’m highly motivated by the idea that when the house is “done” I’ll be able to take a nap.

  2. Hi Kit,

    I first found you when Sarah challenged you on the staircase. Then I went back to where you bought Liberty House and read forward. Then I went all the way back and read every single page. I wish I had started DIY as early as you did but I had two non-DIY parents and it wasn’t until I got a husband (first of two and now happily single again) that I started to find out that I could do DIY and I LOVE it. Suffice it to say that I temporarily wanted to bring my cats and come live with you in Liberty House so I could apprentice and learn SO much from you. Anyway, love your blog, am learning so much, and now that it is February when are you getting the donkeys?

    1. Carla – I think it’s awesome when people find my story compelling enough to read forward (much less read back). You can see it has been quite a journey! I love it when I hear stories from people who’ve caught the DIY bug, no matter when it happens in life! I am always here for questions as you continue to take on new, bigger projects.

  3. Holy hell girl. I’ve been in my place two years and I haven’t done nearly the ambitious shit you’ve done in one. I think you have forgotten that you are a major overachiever in the DIY department. Seriously, pat yourself on the back. You deserve it.

    Go year 2!

  4. Kit, you are amazing. I should just leave it at that because I can’t describe how awesome I think you are! I second Carla-an apprenticeship would be so much fun! Oh well, I’ll just learn through the blog 🙂

    Congrats on such a productive year one!

  5. Congrats on surviving your 1st year and having so much to show for it! I just started reading less than a month ago and read most of it novel style via two nights of insomnia. I’m super impressed with you and your fierce independence. Can’t wait to see what’s next, including the donkeys! We actually were offered (free) 4 mini donkeys last summer and had to turn then down. I might see if she’s still looking for homes for them and try and connect you if you’re interested. She’s a reputable breeder who shows.

    1. Insomnia sisters unite! (I can’t imagine what kind of an unholy mess my life looks like when you read it all in a couple of nights… but I suspect it’s best viewed through a haze of insomnia. And alcohol.)

      I actually have a line on a couple of mini’s that have been rescued from a petting zoo and are up for adoption… more on that soon! (But would still love more info from your contact if she’s not too far.)

  6. I’ve been reading for years now…back when you were onceblueliz, through the house in Toledo, etc. I actually refer to you as my “friend in OH”….stalker much?! LOL.
    I have been so thrilled watching you stretch and grow in this new house. You keep on keeping on, girl!

    1. Ha. Seriously… you and Patti are the only people still around from the Xanga days, and I love it. There is nothing like old friends, internet or otherwise. I’m so glad that things are going well for you and your big family these days!

  7. Happy Anniversary! You and the Liberty House are a good match – looking forward to watching you rock year number two.

  8. What a journey it’s been following you the past few years. What you have accomplished this past year is nothing short of amazing regardless of what’s left to do! Though I have a newer home (6.5 y/o), it almost makes me want to trade it for an 1800s farmhouse…almost! Congratulations, Kit, on one year in Liberty House!

  9. Happy Anniversary! 🙂 It seems that I have traveled through a year of hard work and DIY projects, just by looking at your pictures. It is always a bliss to have a home, and do what you want to make it more beautiful.

  10. Wow! I’m really impressed. I’ve loved looking back through your projects! You remind me that I need to stop procrastinating and pick my drill and paintbrush back up… so thanks for that! Congrats on one year with the house!

  11. this is fantastic Kit. and sorry to get on board so late with it. I too took on, what I assume for you also, an abandoned house. The sight of all that burst out tubing brings back memories (if I too only got them together for a group shot. ha!). Great progress and I wish you another year of, let’s say, net +. cheers. jb @BuildingMoxie

  12. I can’t believe how much you’ve gotten accomplished in a year. That’s amazing. How did I miss what you did to the back deck? That is the most charming place ever and I adore the door color. My favorite thing you’ve done so far, hands down.

  13. I’m on the one project a year plan and I think I’ve said it before but I am vicariously living through you so thanks for buying and fixing the liberty house.

  14. What color of white did you use in the pink room? Everything you have done is amazing!

    1. Thank you! I’ve used Valspar Signature for all of the paint in the house. The parlor is colormatched to BenMoore’s Moonlight White (OC-125) reduced to 50% in Eggshell. All the trim in the house is the same color reduced to 25% in satin.

  15. Happy Anniversary, Kit, and congratulations. What a great retrospective of everything you’ve accomplished. Your love for Liberty House is obvious. We can plan and dream, but often the universe just comes together and we end up in the exact right place.

  16. What? I mean: WHAT?!!
    I am quite sure it has only been three months since you bought your house and your math is way off. I mean seriously, way off. There is no feasible way a year has passed. I mean, a year. Unless… I missed it? I’m going to have to consult a calendar. What the hell is the date???

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I'm not interested in a mediocre life. I'm here to kick ass or die.