This Wednesday, we celebrated the first anniversary of our ranch.
Can you believe it has been a year since we signed the papers and drove the U-haul into the garage? This little ranch checked everything on our list, and was truly a “diamond in the rough”. Although it required intense updates, we did not mind one bit. It was a blank canvas for two first-time home owners to learn and create.
It felt like that I just gave you the six-month house tour, and here we are, six months later. Unlike the first half-a-year, during which we focused on making our house sturdier, this recent six months were dedicated to make our living space more comfortable. Here is the video after the first six months, and click here to see our house today!
Improving our living space: before and afters
This was the living room two weeks after moving-in:
And this is the living room today. We added a sofa, window treatment, and some art and plants:
We also made our bedroom more comfortable and functional. This was the bedroom shortly after we moved in and bought a storage bed:
And this is our bedroom today:
We stole a closet from the spare bedroom to create his-and-her closets, and I DIY-ed the headboard and the floating nightstands to make the bedroom super cozy. Charlie loves to sleep here.
Slav uses the spare bedroom as his office. This was what it looked like a month shortly after we moved in and removed the carpet:
We converted this bedroom into Slav’s office/library during the last a few months:
The wall separating the office from the living room was opened up, and the original doorway opening to the hallway was closed off. These changes gave us the opportunity for a built-in library wall. You can read about all the office renovation here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here; and how we build the library bookcases here, here, here, and here.
We love having the office open to the living room. They two make a grand space for evening hangouts with books and music:
Cleaning up the backyard: before and afters
Our 2018 goals did not include any yard work. But Spring came around and we just had to do some landscaping. The backyard was neglected for decades and overrun by weeds and random bushes:
The back fence was falling over and the garden shed was rotting away:
Our work here during the first summer was just getting rid of eyesores – we trimmed away dead trees, weeded the yard many, many times, power-washed the fence, and completely rebuilt the garden shed (here, here, here, here, here, and here).
This Spring, we started to build a more permanent garden with fruit trees, perennial flowers, and vegetable beds and a drip irrigation system.
We planted the perennial garden early May:
All the plants grew like crazy during the past 6 weeks:
There are still a long list of to-dos to build a decent garden. I am a newbie at landscaping but have enjoyed very much figuring what looks good where and learning from experience. I will be happy just to get big anchor pieces such as trees and veggie beds into the ground this year, and I can fuss about the ornamental plants later.
Adding curb appeal
Last night, we celebrated the first birthday of #thePolskiRanch curling up in the newly finished outdoor chairs, next to a bonfire, on our beloved back patio.
Literally looking back at our house from our chair, we certainly noticed the impact of our hard work. For one, we definitely changed the appearance of the ranch. It feels good to not be the ugliest house i the neighborhood anymore.
This was the front of the house when we moved in:
This was the back of the house, on move-in day:
To add curb appeal , we have replaced the 20-year-old roof and installed new gutters, painted the soffit and fascia to match the new gutter, demoed the porch awning, replaced the front screen door, painted the old front door and added trims around it, and planting under the mailbox.
Around the mail box on move-in day:
New plants under the mailbox:
Making it stronger and safer
Replacing the 20-year-old roof and installed new gutters not only improved the look of the house, but also made sure that water drains ways from the house. On the same note, we tackled a series of projects to improve drainage around the foundations, such as removing vegetation against the foundation, replacing sinking patios and rusty window wells, sealing all the foundation cracks, and grading around the foundation. We also upgraded the electrical panel, a fire hazard identified by our inspector.
Reducing its energy footprint
We also made upgrades to make sure that our house run more efficiently. We brought attic insulation from R19 to R50, installed high-efficiency HVAC and replaced our 50 gallon water tank with a tankless model, and added weather stripping to all the exterior doors. In the utility room, we brought in high-efficiency washer and dryer and sealed all the leaky ducts. We also upgraded all the lights , including garage work lights to LED.
Creating enjoyable work spaces for future renovation
The ranch will surely see a lot of projects in the future. To better complete our work, we have overhauled our garage and garden shed and made them workhorses for us. I cannot tell you how much I love these two places! I am really proud of our organization in these two places – everything has its place and is easy to find, and the places stay clean. Since we finished these two spaces, we have not needed to tweak the organization one bit. The joy walking into them makes days-long and physical projects less of a work and more of a play.
Crossing off the first year to-dos
In the process of writing this post, I came cross the first ranch to-do list from last summer, shortly after we moved in. It was more of a must-do list, as we were mostly correcting safety and structure related issues. We have since accomplished nearly everything on this must-do list, and a lot more:
1. Replace the roof and gutters; trim the tree branches over the roof.
2. Remove the flower bed; mud-jack/replace front and back patio; grading the soil around the house.
3. Seal the corner foundation cracks; level the corner of the garage pad; install new weather strip around the garage door. (We also added weather stripping around our exterior doors and storm doors)
4. Inspect/fix all the exposed plumbing; high pressure cleaning/realign/replace the sewer line from our house to the street. (Our sewage line is in decent shape so we will upgrade it to PVC when necessary.)
Upgrade electrical panel; adding proper ground wire; adding an outdoor outlet; bring power to the shed.
6. Add central AC and replace the old furnace; upgrade the old water heater with a tankless heater. (We also fixed leaky ducts, brought in new washer/dryer combo, and upgraded our utility room)
7. Radon mitigation. (Adding radon pipe requires drilling the floor of the basement. We are researching the DIY options and will tackle it during basement renovation.)
At the mean time, we also completed some extra work:
Renovating and organizing the garage
Renovating the shed10.
Powerwash and seal the existing fence
Adding insulation into the attic
We even knocked half of our 2018 goals already:
Converting the 2nd bedroom to Slav’s Office
3. Replacing the chain link fence
4. Basement Guest Suite
And tackled a few extra:
Planting fruit t rees
Planting bee-friendly perennial gardens
Laying out a vegetable garden
We could not have done so much without you guys cheering along us. Thank you for being here, and thank you for sending good vibes. I hope you enjoy reading about our renovation as much as I enjoy documenting it. With the pups on our side and power tools in our hands, we feel confident and ready to dive in the second year of renovation. Fence and basement, I am looking at you two!