the UGLY HOUSE PROJECT

the BEGINNING

Save for house flippers and HGTV hosts, I don’t think most people set out to live in an ugly house. I definitely didn’t, but after living in a generic, albeit nice, condo for four years, my husband was looking for something with “character”; something with low ceilings, shag carpet, and wood paneling. Basically, he was looking for the opposite of every sane house hunter’s must-haves, based on a genuine, misguided appreciation of all that the 70s got wrong. I was just looking for something within our price range that wasn’t falling apart, with a large yard for our dogs. Ultimately, the elements of our must-haves collided into what can only be called Tropical Storm WTF (never forget) and the UGLY HOUSE PROJECT was born:  We bought a 1946 post war house stuck in a 1970s time warp.

Despite a sky of endless, mismatched ceiling tiles, shag carpet, and enough wood paneling to beat to death the entire cast of Saturday Night Fever (twice), the house is in good shape. It has good bones and we’re in a prime location, tucked away on a nondescript road, but right in the middle of everything. We have just under an acre to call our own and our dogs are content to completely destroy it and bark endlessly at everything, giving us a good name as new neighbors.

Good bones aside, our house is definitely ugly:

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Let’s talk about this curb appeal. What’s more inviting than a janky palm tree and a dark, enclosed front patio with a goldfish pond frog breeding ground? Note: the chimney is just for looks as the fireplace was bricked over. The detached garage and I have a hate/love relationship. It’s 900 sq feet so we have storage space coming out of our ears, but it’s, you know, a detached garage. So when it’s pouring rain and I’m hauling in a load of groceries, the sinewy plastic slicing into my fingers, it’s. AN. EFFING. DETACHED. GARAGE. But I digress, let’s see what’s goin’ on inside.

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(Insert whistle). Oh, hey ceiling tiles yellowed by indoor chain smokers we didn’t know about until after we bought the house, panelling, pergo, shag carpet, and rustic molding. I feel like I’m stepping back in time and I don’t know how I feel about it. Onto the kitchen.

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It’s everyone’s dream kitchen! White appliances, cracked linoleum, a dysfunctional layout, and a convection microwave (not pictured) from the 1970s that I think you can get cancer just by looking at. Guess what’s under those ceiling tiles? A plank ceiling (and an extra six inches!) It’s the old wood-floors-under-carpet gag: ceiling edition.

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Based on the elegant bathroom curtains in the en suite, I can only assume this was used as the master bedroom/bath. More of that drop ceiling, shag carpet, and paneling? That’s a big 10-4. But wait, there’s a bonus: Massive amounts of wallpaper!

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This room was once a patio, as evidenced by the sliding glass doors (not pictured) that are ENCASED in a wall the previous owner built around them. Because why remove them? This ceiling is so low that we can’t install ceiling fans. It’s also made of dark, wood planks, creating that to-die-for cave atmosphere. And the Mickey Mouse shrine? The entire thing was nailed in through each frame. Say hello to more pink frilly curtains. I think the previous owners were big on making sure the design elements flowed throughout the house. Finally, those two walls in the corner (middle picture) are plastic brick paneling. Did they run out of wood paneling or decide to mix it up? I like to think the latter. I hope the previous owners were kooky.

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A guest bedroom perhaps? It’s tiny. Perfect for an office or — SPOILER ALERT — a nursery. But, I’ll save that for another post.

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The guest bathroom/the one we use because it’s close to the bedroom in the back of the house. More frilly curtains around the window INSIDE the shower…?

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Our bedroom in the back of the house. Weird layout and virtually useless closets and, you guessed it, more shag carpet and paneling.

I can’t hate on the ugly house too much, though. It’s our first venture into home ownership, our daughter’s first home, the inspiration for my husband’s newfound love of woodworking and renovation, and the basis for the UHP idea. Instead of jumping ship, we’re giving this house a little love, a ton of paint and drywall, and some much needed style. Welcome to the Ugly House Project.

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