Ranch Rambler: Before

In my last post I shared the reasoning behind our decision to sell our pretty red house and move back into the much smaller – and decidedly less pretty – ranch house we’d been renting out.  The decision continues to feel like a good one; it’s fun to be making lots of plans, both short and long term.

It’s a little terrifying to show ‘before’ photos without any palate-cleansing ‘after’ photos to follow them up.  But this is gonna be a process, folks, and you’re going to start right here at the beginning with me.  Just you, me, and that boob light that greets you right when you walk in the front door.

Red House West || Ranch Rambler BeforeHoo boy.  Just look at that marvelous ceiling texture – so three-dimensional! so tactile!  A perfect background for the mammiferous light that presides over the entrance, threatening to squirt any interlopers.  The ultimate booby trap.
Red House West || Ranch Rambler BeforeSo welcome! Welcome to our home!  Once you’ve entered that aggressively red door (painted by yours truly), you are in a room that comprises the kitchen, dining, and living areas, and makes up most of the house’s square footage.

I have got big plans for that kitchen, but we’re tackling other projects first; taking the uncharacteristically sensible approach of settling in before creating a vortex of chaos in the middle of everything.

Red House West || Ranch Rambler Before

Though it may be hard to tell, we started the process of updating this house when we lived here before. We put in the bamboo floors and we took down a wall and some hanging cupboards that used to separate the kitchen from the rest of the room.

Red House West || Ranch Rambler Before

I don’t have any of those before before photos, so I decided a quick Photoshop rendering might be the most useful way to see what we did:

Red House West || Ranch Rambler BeforeThe wall and hanging cabinets made the kitchen feel dark and closed off, and the rest of the room feel oddly shaped; I like the beam much better.  We’ve started drawing up new island configurations that will provide a little more separation of space (mostly just easing that line of sight to the sink and fridge when you walk in the door) while still keeping the open feeling.

The high ceiling is nice, and we’re really excited to have the woodstove for this winter.

Red House West || Ranch Rambler Before

This photo is taken from the kitchen looking toward the front door.  So much brown wood!

Red House West || Ranch Rambler BeforeAnd this one is taken from next to the woodstove with the front door on the right.  The door on the far left is a coat closet, and the other one leads through the laundry room and into the garage (which we’re using as a woodshop).

Red House West || Ranch Rambler BeforeMore brown wood and popcorn ceilings down the narrow hallway, with doors that open into the bedrooms and a bathroom.
Red House West || Ranch Rambler BeforeThe two doors on the left lead to two small bedrooms – 10′ x 10′ – that are mirror images.  One will be my office, and the other will be our guest room.

Red House West || Ranch Rambler Before

The color of the paint is Composition, and Pre-Red House West Katie – who strongly felt that every room should have its own personality and color – painstakingly chose it and applied it.

The master bedroom gets lovely light.  We swapped out a window for those french doors the last time we lived here (though the curtains were left by the renters) and they open to a small deck and side yard.

Red House West || Ranch Rambler Before

Looking out of the master bedroom, closet on the right and hallway on the left.

Looking out of the master bedroom, closet on the right and hallway on the left.

Are you still with me, or have I scared you off?  In the interest of time, and in an effort to not lose all our readers in one fell swoop, I’m going to leave the bathrooms for a later post.

As I consider plans – and their associated costs – I have to frequently remind myself that it’s unlikely we’ll live in this house forever.  The goal is to live here and save money toward building a house ourselves, and to meanwhile take advantage of the easy maintenance and lower expenses to do some traveling.  We’re not sure whether we’ll ultimately sell this house or keep it as a rental, so we want to make changes that can cover both of those eventualities, while also making it a nicer place for us to live in now.

Obviously this house could use a lot of updating, and we’re dialing in on what is essential and what is not.  The kitchen will definitely get redone, but I also want to focus on some of those whole-house changes that will improve its overall quality and functionality.

The essential whole-house updates:

  • Remove popcorn ceilings
  • Replace hollow core brown doors with solid white ones
  • Replace door hardware
  • Replace rounded brown trim with more substantial white trim
  • Replace light fixtures
  • Paint walls, ceilings, trim, and doors a single color
  • Update heating/cooling system

We’ve already started making progress on some of these, including the  harrowing-but-ultimately-fruitful search for flush mount light fixtures that don’t cause “lactation” to be the first word that comes to mind when you see them.

Can’t wait to share!  Any other thoughts on essential upgrades for bringing a house like this into the new century?

– Oh, and in case you were wondering about the title of this post: In reading our insurance policy, we noticed that this house is referred to as the Ranch Rambler and, since I’ve been trying to come up with a name (thanks for your help in the comments of the last post!), I thought I’d take it for a spin.  What do you think?

24 responses on “Ranch Rambler: Before

  1. Pippin Schupbach

    I think you guys are off to a great start. As for the bamboo floors we bought a house that has bamboo floors that we not installed right, thus when it gets hot and humid the wood expands causing the floor to buckle up. It’s very annoying as one trips over several areas in our living room and kitchen. The kitchen floor was so bad we had to rip them out and installed slate floors. I doubt you will have that problem as Eugene does not get as hot and humid as St. Louis, and I am certain you had a contractor who knew what they were doing. Sorry to ramble on – otherwise I can’t wait to see the transformation.

    1. Katie Post author

      Oh no – I’m sorry about your floors! We actually installed these ourselves six or seven years ago, and so far so good. We were nervous putting them in the kitchen, where there’s so much chance of water damage, but – since the kitchen is open and in the middle of the main space – we felt like it would look too choppy with something different in there. Even after years of renters we’re not seeing any damage/swelling, so fingers crossed! Thanks Pippin!

  2. Alienor

    looks like lots of fun. for those of us following, I wonder if you could think about a mini post with year of construction and some of the things you like about that time period and the style of house?

    ‘white doors’ can mean so many things that it would be good to see what you like and see as inspiration for the end point. I don’t imagine that you would want to frill-up a simple home but I don’t have images in my head of a more substantial and stylish version of the very simple place you have now…

    1. Katie Post author

      You bet Alienor! I kind of missed some of that bigger picture stuff in this post, didn’t I? The house was built in 1978 and is about 1150 square feet; I’ll definitely share more about its layout and setting in upcoming posts! As for the doors, you hit the nail on the head. It has been a struggle to find something simple enough to work in this small house that has so many doors, and the starting point is what’s here – knowing I want them white so they recede and don’t chop up the tiny space – but coming up with a style that’s substantial but simple has been tough. I think I’ve cracked the code, though, so stay tuned for details soon…

      1. Gillianne

        Ah, the fun begins! Lots of potential there.

        Re: interior doors, did you see what Dana Miller (housetweaking.com) chose for her ranch? Might not be to your taste, or in the budget for a not-forever house, but the style is clean and slightly unusual and appropriate to a ranch rambler: http://www.housetweaking.com/2012/07/05/hold-the-door/.

        P.S. It occurred to me that you and Mera are both gestating–just different forms of new life. ;D

        1. Katie Post author

          Ha, that’s hilarious (the concurrent gestation)! I have definitely checked her doors out (I’ve been doing a lot of ranch house stalking), and even went to check them out in person. I just settled on something different though – I’ll show you soon!

  3. Daria

    Actually hugely jealous of this project! It’s a dream to buy a place like this and make it my own. I am very much looking forward to your journey (and the aforementioned task to replacing the boob lights. They’re like a disease! They’re everywhere!).

  4. Carol Bryner

    This looks like a good project, and the white doors will make so much difference. And the name “Ranch Rambler” seems just right. Keep ramblin’ on, Katie! Look forward to the next update.

  5. Lea

    For flush mount lighting that’s less boob-shaped for your front room, we found some acceptable options at Rejuvenation.

    If you also want to change out the white spheres in the long hallway and are looking for something more budget-friendly, ours used to be similar to yours and we found some funky cube shaped cut glass ones second hand that have a little more je ne sais quoi than the white globes. For something like that, check Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore periodically. It’s never a sure thing because their inventory depends on what gets donated, but you can sometimes find interesting lighting there.

    1. Katie Post author

      Thanks for the tips Lea! I love our ReStore – and do check in there perodically – and Rejuvenation has a lot of really beautiful options. It’s crazy how hard it is to find affordable, non-booby lighting.

  6. jamala

    Your home is going to be just as perfect for you as you can imagine. I see great potential here and with your design skills.. It’s only going to get better. My hats off to you! My son just bought a rolled up his sleeves and celebrated his freedom from paying rent to owning his home. Its a small 2 bedroom cottage with lots of potential – too. I thought about posting it and didn’t think it would be worth it, but after seeing you post yours – you just gave me the courage. Congrats to you on your new home and best wishes

    1. Katie Post author

      Definitely post it! I always like seeing whole-house befores on blogs so I have some context for all the work that’s going on. Thanks for your kind words!

  7. Jen

    As someone who doesn’t, and is not likely to ever own a home due to various circumstances, I’d take this house in a heartbeat, boob lights, popcorn ceilings and all. I think it has a lot of potential, and is going to be just lovely once you are done with it!

    1. Katie Post author

      Thanks Jen! And I hope it’s evident – even as I lament some of its features – that I’m really grateful for this house and very excited to be living here!

  8. Audry

    I am so interested to see what becomes of the Ranch Rambler! We own a rental that is very similar and while we have carried out updates here and there, I’d love to do more.

  9. 'col

    Yup. I would kill to own this home (and I know you’re grateful for it, even though it will be a lot of work to take it to a place you’re delighted by). In my city this would probably run upwards of a million dollars. No lie. I’m super excited to see what you do with it! I think it will be great.

  10. Andrea

    You asked what to update….airseal and insulate it! We did ours, it was a lot of work but not beyond our layperson newbie homeowner skill and the house is way more comfortable and uses less than half the oil to heat. And is cooler in summer.

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