Come along on this living & dining room before and after tour, looking back at our "remuddled" farmhouse and how we worked to bring back old house character while making it light, bright, and opening it up to the wonderful view. Includes lots of amazing before and after photos and a video.
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Welcome to the first installment of the Farmhouse Renovation Before & After series!
In this series I'll be sharing our 1900 farmhouse's first floor and exterior remodels that will include:
- Living Room-Dining Room (today!)
- Hall & Laundry
- Main Bathroom
- Primary Bedroom
- Exterior (including foundation & addition)
We're still working on the upstairs rooms (four bedrooms and a bath) and will be sharing those as we get to them, so lots to look forward to!
Note on the Age of The Farmhouse: You may notice that we originally called this a 1920s farmhouse, as that was one of the dates the realtor chose even though some paperwork showed it as 1900.
As we dug further - literally finding things from the 1900's and 1910s under the house as the foundation went in, we knew it was older.
We now know it is listed as 1900 in the county paperwork that our insurance company uses and since that goes with our foundation findings, it makes sense to us. It's not unusual for older properties to be a bit wishy-washy on build dates, as things weren't formalized then.
I've had a lot of people ask to see more of the farmhouse - like a lot. Needless to say, this has been a long time coming since we did move in eight months ago (after three years of renovations...).
In all honesty, I kept thinking, "if we finish this, and this, and this, then we'll share the final before and after."
A number of things happened to push us off course - first and foremost we were totally burnt out on DIY-ing this house after months of working every day to move in by our target date.
We took some time to just be in the house and enjoy it. Then the good weather hit, which meant our time went to the outdoors and exterior:
- I planted a deer-resistant sunken garden.
- The vegetable garden needed time, of course, all through the summer (then the preserving!).
- We finished the exterior board-and-batten, and updated the porch.
- We had the exterior painted (finally!).
- We had the exterior roofed. (All of these exterior finishes were mentioned briefly in this Good Things List, but I'll go into more details in the series.)
Plus we took trips, hosted family and friends, and basically enjoyed our first summer and fall living in the farmhouse before the holidays hit.
And now no more excuses (even though a lot of those things I wanted to finish still aren't...) - here we are with a before and after of the first room you'd enter if you came to visit us.
(I just have to add a little aside as we start this series: As Brian and I were going through the before and during photos, we were laughing at what people must've thought when they saw the in-progress stage, when the rooms were torn apart and gutted - it was SO terrible!! Really a disaster. Sometimes it's a good thing you don't know what's ahead - it feels SO good to be on the other side of that, ha!)
Living-Dining Room Before and After Video
And of course we made a video for you, which shows a lot more than you'll be able to see in the photos below, so do check it out if you can:
Note: I'll provide sources to everything I can at the end of the reveal.
Farmhouse Living & Dining Room Before and After
Here's where we started - what this area looked like when we bought the property:
You walked right into one big rectangular room from an off-center front door.
Since the door was off-center, the room to the right above seemed like it should be the living room, which is what I originally said in the whole farmhouse before tour here.
But then we realized the beautiful view was on the other side, which is where we ended up putting the living room:
The floors of this large room were all unfinished cheap laminate with no floor molding, the doors, windows, and molding were all from the 1980s. The doorway to the kitchen had no molding, just raw wallboard edges.
All of the wallboard was covered in a 1980-90s looking heavy orange peel texture. (It really bugged me in this 100+ year old house and was confirmed when a couple people also remarked on it - so it was going!)
There were two tuscan-style fans that turned on and off only from remote controls - there were no switches (just one of the many "what were they thinking?" moments as we worked on this old house...).
You can read here what our original plan was for this big room, but basically it was to make it lighter, find ways to bring back the old farmhouse character, and open the east wall to the pretty view.
While we waited for the foundation to be completed (yep, that was a whole thing, too) I thought more about the big room and how old houses from this era didn't usually have that.
I also really needed an entry area for guest coat hooks, keys, and things. Plus I know how hard it is to decorate and place furniture in one big open area.
I decided we needed a wall. And in this time of HGTVs "tear down all the walls" I can tell you it felt really weird, like I was bucking a trend. Which I was. In the end you have to do things that will work for you and your life.
The New Front Door
But I'm getting ahead of myself. The very first thing we did when we the foundation was finished was to install a beautiful door with sidelights - and center it between the porch windows (off-center things really bug me).
Guess what we discovered when we tore off the 1980s vinyl siding?
This house originally had TWO DOORS. That's why the one the left was off-center!
And guess what was in between the two doors? Yep, a wall.
It was a full-circle moment and I felt vindicated - the wall was supposed to be there.
I'm sharing the two photos of the door above just to illustrate the power of beefy moldings.
On the left we just used the standard brick molding that came with the door (with some funky old-house corner moldings around that because our wood walls are thick).
On the right shows how using the same large, classic trim as the original upstairs windows (and now matching all the downstairs windows) added so much character. Now it looks like it could've been in an old house, right?
What? Yep, after adding the door, my sister-in-law and I painted all the brown walls white, strung lights, and hosted a small wedding for my nephew in this space.
Might as well make use of that space before the wall went up, right?
It was fun and I'm so glad we were able to do it - it's amazing how magical anything can seem with white lights at night.
The Wood Walls
Afterwards, we went to work on the walls. We had a crew working on our bedroom addition at the same time and realized as we tore off wallboard that underneath all of it were original wood walls.
Some of it was gorgeous (we saved it for the bath and laundry) and some of it was obviously using whatever they could find, like the wall between the living-dining room and kitchen above.
I had torn off the wallboard hoping it would be nice shiplap we could just paint over, but too many remodels (the two doors went into the kitchen at one time, too, plus a doorway to an enclosed porch that you can see below) and piecing wood together made it unusable.
Adding The Wall Back
It made my heart so happy to see the footprint of the original wall between the two front rooms when we tore out the flooring.
Do you see that little U-shape in it in the top photo? That's the original wood stove/fireplace and the chimney went up through the second floor to the middle of the roof peak.
That was the answer to the question we had (and everyone who saw the house) - where was the original heat source? And now we know that answer as well as that the hole is in the guest bedroom upstairs was where a small chimney had been.
Two mysteries solved!
The Faux Shiplap & Painting
To cover the modern texture as well as the mismatched wood walls we decided to recreate the wood walls under the wallboard with a faux shiplap look.
We used an inexpensive thin panelling cut into strips that we glued and nailed to the walls as well as the ceiling.
Then came spraying primer and lots and lots of white paint. I used Benjamin Moore 'Simply White' everywhere.
This raw wood took a lot of paint and in the end we had to roll the last few coats to get good coverage.
Before covering the ceiling, though, we ran electrical to new switches so the light fixtures can be turned on and off at the wall.
Knowing we were covering it up made installing the electrical there a lot easier.
Once the ceiling was covered, we created a mini-coffered look with inexpensive 1x2s laid in a pattern.
Finishing The Ceiling & Restoring The Original Size Trim
They not only covered all the seams, it created interest and added a lot of character - I love how it turned out!
While all the trim on the main floor had been removed, there was still original trim around the windows upstairs. We used this as our guideline to create the window and door trim throughout the main floor.
The trim was made with standard 1x6" boards and we splurged on primed finger jointed pine which was super smooth and easy to work with. We added a 1x2 to the header that the upstairs didn't have to give the first floor a little more formality.
You can see the complete tutorial on how to do this trim in this Farmhouse Window Trim DIY.
Oh, and see that floor? It was like the frosting on the cake - it made everything look better and finally like it was a real house that people could live in!
I went through dozens of samples - it was hard, no joke, when you're making a huge purchase like this that you have to live with forever (we were doing the entire main floor).
In the end I chose a 3/4" prefinished oak hardwood in a varying finish from FloorsToYourHome.com for a great clearance price.
I was worried the finish was too modern for the farmhouse, but it hides everything - like everything. It's been a great option for a house on property - I don't worry about it at all.
Farmhouse Living Room Before and After Photos
Okay, let's get to some of the amazing before and afters of how this area went from not-sure-what-it-was to definite farmhouse!
The view from the front door when we bought the property.
Another of my goals was to not have the stove be the focal point of the house, lol.
The view now.
Can you believe it's the same house?
Looking from the living room to the dining area before.
The same view after.
How do I feel about the wall now? Even after holidays and hosting large groups?
I love it!
No, we can't hold a wedding here like we did, but we still fit a couple large tables with plenty of room for people to walk around and visit.
It adds coziness, practicality, and makes it easy to clearly define the spaces. I'd do it again in a heartbeat.
Looking from the front door into the living room before.
The same view after.
One of the things that surprised me after widening all the doorways and putting in a floor that connected all the rooms was how the sight-line from the front door all the way to the back bedroom wall just make the house seem so open. I love how it flows!
The living room with it's off-center door and one window on the view-side wall.
And after. Truly one of my favorite views in the house.
The floors. The ceiling. The huge window to the lovely view. It's all so good.
(And wasn't it sweet how our dog, Jynx, posed for the photo?)
Living-Dining Room Sources
Front Door: Steves & Sons Savannah Clear 6 Lite Mahogany Stained Wood Prehung Front Door with Double Sidelights, Home Depot.
Paint: Simply White, Benjamin Moore (matched at Home Depot with Behr Premium).
Wood panelling for walls: Utility Panel, 1/8 in. x 4 ft. x 8 ft
Window & Door Trim: 1x6" primed finger jointed pine boards (applied like this tutorial for simple farmhouse trim)
Flooring: 3/4" Viking Hardwood Essence Oak 5" Wide 3/4" Thick Solid Hardwood (no longer available). Similar on this page at FloorsToYourHome.com
White Ceiling Fan: Hunter Dempsey Low Profile Ceiling Fan
Dining Room Lighting: Black 6-Light Iron Chandelier
Curtains: Ikea RITVA curtain (pair)
Curtain Rods: Umbra Cappa 36 to 66-Inch Adjustable Curtain Rod, Brushed Black
Table Lamps: Brown wood-look urn lamp with shade
Rug: Threshold Vintage Distressed Rug (Tan)
Sofa and Chairs: vintage
So, what do you think? I'd love to know - and if you know of someone who would enjoy this, I'd love it if you'd share this on Instagram, Facebook, or email. Your support means the world to me!
Stay tuned for the next room reveal - the farmhouse kitchen. It's truly amazing!
More about the 1900 farmhouse
Our New Farmhouse Fixer - The Before Tour
Exterior Farmhouse Fixer Before Tour
Farmhouse Fixer Yard Tour Before
Farmhouse Fixer Year 2 Review + Video
Farmhouse Progress Year 3 (+ Tour)Disclosure: affiliate links in this article will earn commission based on sales, but it doesn't change your price. Click here to read our full disclaimer and advertising disclosure.
Linda Practical Parsimony says
My house was built in 1902. As we tore stuff out, I discovered a second door, but it was a right angles to the first door. It was on the end of the porch and led to a formal parlor. I painted everything white, too. I love stark white. You did a great job.
Thank you, Linda!
I think I've seen doors like that with wrap-around porches - I bet your house looks great now!
Quite a transformation! It's clear that you put so much thought into each detail. The rooms look so inviting and I'm sure you are cherishing your time spent.
Can't wait to see the rest of the changes!
Happy New Year!
Thank you, Daisy!
Sylvia in Italy says
I enjoyed this video so much; what an incredible and thoughtful transformation! Brilliant ideas and both you and your husband were fabulous! Fun, fun, fun. I can't wait to see your kitchen!!!
Thanks so much, Sylvia, I'm so glad you enjoyed it!
Yes, on to the kitchen. 🙂
It is certainly a beautiful space, the rooms look so nice. I know it was a lot of hard work but as you grow old you can tell your grandchildren all you went through. There will be so many memories made in this beautiful place while enjoying the view.
Yes, you're so right Marlene - we already have a lot of memories!!
Jami, this is amazing! You and Brian have done a terrific job. Lesson to remember: Good things take time.
Thanks so much for the front door online tip. We're searching now.
Can't wait for the next video—kitchens inspire me.
Thank you so much, Trish!
And I'm so glad that door tip may help.
The kitchen change is so fun - I think you'll enjoy it!
Beautiful job!!! The way you've kept the farm house feel is amazing. Can anyone shed light as to why houses of this period had two side by side entrances? I live in a mid-west 1925ish bungalow and it originally had 2 entrances in an "L" shape, one to livingroom and the 2nd to a bedroom (this room also has 3 large windows-so ventilation wasn't an issue). I've not heard an explanation that makes sense. Thanks for sharing!
Thank you, Linda!
I'm not sure about yours, since the door went to a bedroom, but for ours, the doors were to the double front parlors. One was for family, the other was for guests (I'm not sure how they told the difference, ha!).
It is all so gorgeous and such an amount of work! I am glad you get to live in such a beautiful space. I have a newish home and the windows are trimmed out in the beefy wide trim and the 1 inch on the header and it just makes all the difference in how it looks.
Thank you, Mary! How wonderful that your new house has the lovely big trim - that must give it so much character from the get-go. 🙂