I am constantly on Zillow looking at homes in the Pittsburgh area. For me, the thought of buying an old house sort of terrifies me. The ones in my price range usually need a lot of work. If they don’t need any renovations, it’s usually out of my range. This makes me feel torn. For now, I live vicariously through my pals that are home owners.
After Christa and Dan bought their Lawrenceville home in 2014, I started to follow their renovation process on Christa’s blog “Under a House.” They have a modern aesthetic that I love and I was excited to observe their journey as new home owners. The great thing about this blog is they post a lot of what goes into each project and their resources. I recently had the opportunity to take a tour of their home and ask Christa a few questions.
Tell us a little about your home
Our house a little row house built about 100 years ago. Before we lived in it, it was a rental property, which is very evident. It was well maintained, but very bland – white and beige and brown everything. It’s about 1200 square feet with a typical Pittsburgh basement, then on the first floor there is a kitchen, living room, and dining room, and two bedrooms upstairs. We also have a nice little backyard and garden.
We closed on the house on December 22, 2014, got engaged that same day, and then started immediately tearing up the carpet and ripping down plaster.
Did you guys intend to buy a home that would need renovated?
Sort of. Saying what we did was intentional is a very generous statement. Our house hunt consisted of looking at one house – this house – putting an offer in the next day, and then moving in shortly after. I had been stopping by my pal Courtney Brennan’s house a lot then to see what she and her husband were doing to completely gut and renovate a row house in Lawrenceville. They definitely inspired us to move in the renovation direction. Also, purchasing a home in Lawrenceville that was already renovated in our price range would have been pretty impossible.
What has been the most challenging project so far
A challenging, but rewarding project was exposing our brick wall on the first floor. It was incredibly messy and hard, but I get to look at it every day and reap the benefits of our blood, sweat and tears. But the MOST challenging thing has been stripping paint off of the woodwork. Someone painted everything in our house brown and now it’s my job to strip off the brown to expose the beautiful wood underneath. It’s incredibly frustrating, you never feel like you’re making progress, it’s really messy, and you get burned with paint stripper regularly. Shout out to my mom for coming over on Saturday mornings to help me with this horrendous task.
What is your inspiration
There is so much inspiration on the internet and it’s hard not to get intimidated by it all. I have to step away sometimes just to focus on my own goals.
When I do go online, I really like Door Sixteen not only because her style is on point, but also because she does manageable projects and proves that good design/home aesthetic is within in reach if you are patient and work hard. I mostly admire people who don’t make this renovation work look like a walk in the park or something that happens overnight. It’s most interesting to me when people make awesome things happen with limited resources.
Also, I was just in Stockholm and came back with a ton of Scandinavian inspiration. Ikea everywhere there – I loved it.
I want to thank Christa and Dan for letting me tour their lovely home. If you want to continue to follow along their renovation, check out their blog “Under a House.”