We're so happy you're stopping by! CLICK HERE to sign up for Sunday morning happy mail delivered straight to your inbox!


February 22 marked three years in the house.

Three years.

It doesn’t seem like that long. But when I look back at all the pictures and projects and before-and-afters, it seems like a lifetime.

To say we’ve been busy is the understatement of the year.

For fun, Brett and I think about the time and money we’ve invested into this place and talk about all the cool things we could have done instead. I dream about tropical vacations and he dreams about hunting trips in the mountains.

But then the conversation eventually circles back around to the house and how amazing it is to have a home right now; a place that is truly ours. Eventually, we agree that we made the right decision. I haven’t figured out if we fully believe that yet or if it’s just to make ourselves feel better. 😛

As is customary around here, we’re celebrating this milestone by looking back at all we’ve accomplished so far and sharing the original ‘befores’ and as-up-to-date-as-possible ‘afters.’ And if you’re relatively new, you can catch yourself up on the original house tour here, the year one tour here and the year two and half tour here.

The Exterior

Besides the obvious addition of the garage, we refinished the front porch and painted the railings.

rustic front porch with christmas decor

In terms of landscaping, the major change came last summer when we added a deck onto the crumbling concrete slab.

It’s the perfect hangout spot to enjoy a nice cold drink and watch the dogs swim in the lake… And speaking of places to hang out, we also hung up a hammock that has quickly become another favorite place. I am challenging myself to sneak out there more often this summer and enjoy the view.

outdoor deck with outdoor furniture

The Interior

When we dive into the entire house, I’m never sure where the best place to start is… So, let’s imagine you were actually coming over. In which case, we’d definitely start in the entryway.

We’d first talk about how the house originally had two entrances. One was on the north side of the house and entered into a mudroom with two doors – one that went to the mother-in-law apartment and the other to the main house. The second entrance was what you see below and entered into the mother-in-law apartment.

This is what the view looked like about a month after moving in. We demo-ed the wall dividing the mother-in-law apartment from the rest of the main house and it made a HUGE difference.

Then, we joined in on our fist One Room Challenge in the fall of 2016 and decided to make over the entryway. From a barn wood wall to the brick floor to the built-ins… we were completely smitten!

entryway view with fall decor

A conversation about fireplaces somehow turned into a discussion about adding a half-wall to the entryway and before I knew it, Brett had whipped something together.

After installing a light switch for the exterior lights this January, we started re-evaluating the entryway and this led to a complete remodel. We ripped out the built-ins, repainted, resanded the barn wood wall, framed in the windows and painted the front door.

Next up, the living room.

As we already mentioned, there was a wall dividing the mother-in-law apartment and the main house. After knocking that down, we then reconfigured the mother-in-law side: we tore out the mudroom, moved the bedroom west, added a laundry room and moved the guest bathroom door to the north.

After the garage permit went through, we started talking about flow and function in coming in from the garage and brining things down to the basement. This led to the discussion and eventual addition of a staircase, linen closet, pantry and office.

Another contributing factor to the linen closet/staircase/office/pantry discussion was the addition of a fireplace upstairs.

This led to a half-wall in the entryway being added and some switching around of furniture.

We pushed the couch and chair back against the wall and got rid of the small chair. There’s now a clear pathway from the entryway to the kitchen – something we didn’t think would have as big of an impact as it does.

in entry towards living room

The last piece that entered into the fireplace conversation was our need for new windows.

We knew we wanted to add a wrap around deck, which meant a sliding glass door.

This left one picture window and one entryway window that needed replacing.

Once we finalized the fireplace location, we decided to add a window on either side and remove one of the big picture windows. I was a little apprehensive since the windows are definitely more narrow than what we had… but they’re so tall that I really don’t notice any less natural light coming in. Plus, they’re now a favorite looking spot for the dogs, so it was a win-win.

And then onto the kitchen.

When we moved in, the kitchen was dark and dreary. I wanted to lighten it up immediately and painted the cabinets a cream color with a brown antique glaze.

kitchen summer home tour

It stayed this way for two years until I wanted to switch it up and finally try out white cabinets. Brett has his heart set on wood cabinets when we do the full remodel so the compromise was to let me do what I really wanted until we gut the entire space.

I LOVE them and wish I would have done it this way the first time around. But, I learned a lot and it was way easier the second time around.

When we cut in the pantry, we had to remove a section of cabinets.

This allowed us to swing the oven cabinet around so it was against the wall and really open up the entire kitchen. It’s also one of those things we wish we would have done right away. (Funny how that list keeps getting longer and longer!)

Let’s bring it around to the hallway.

Originally, the main house had a hallway with a sewing room off to the right, the master bedroom straight and a guest bathroom and linen closet to the left.

When we took out the two-door mudroom and reconfigured the guest bath, guest bed and laundry room, we also added a closet to the sewing room to make it a “real” bedroom.

Then we tore out the guest bathroom and linen closet nook to make room for a home office and pantry. And once we had it all open, we decided to cut the pantry in half and use the other part for a walk-in shower for our master bath… which we’ll get to someday 🙂

And of course, we added in a stairway and linen closet, which is currently the catch-all for anything and everything.

Walking down the hallway to the guest bedroom. 

For our second One Room Challenge during the fall of 2017, we finished up one of the two guest bedrooms.

The highlight of this project was discovering plywood flooring – it’s an inexpensive way to add some charming flooring that will hold us over until we decide on something permanent.

Going down the other side of the hallway is the guest bathroom. 

original bathroom

The mother-in-law guest bathroom was HUGE. So much unused and wasted space.

So, we moved the door to the north side, cut the bathroom in half and completely gutted and reworked the entire space. It is also home to Brett’s first furniture build – that beautiful green vanity!

And lastly, the laundry room.

Originally, the laundry was downstairs. While this was one of those #firstworldproblems, it was a complete pain in the ass to haul everything up and down. So, we decided to move it upstairs.

This was partly due to us wanting everything on one level as well as wanting a mudroom to enter from the garage.

To put a frame of reference on then vs. now: the laundry room area used to be part of the mother-in-law bedroom and the closet was part of the guest bathroom.

And now that we have everything on one level, I can whole-heartedly say it was 100% the right decision.

And that concludes the tour. 🙂

Three years.

1,095 days.

26,280 hours.

On one hand, it seems like a lifetime. On the other, I feel like we just moved in yesterday.

Every time we go through these pictures, we’re humbled yet again by how much we’ve done… because, yes, there are those weeks days when this house feels like an endless, uphill battle and we’ll never get to a point of making it a home.

And then.

And then we remember that having a finished space isn’t what makes this our home. It’s the dogs greeting us as we walk through the door. It’s the feeling of relaxation and comfort that only this place seems to have. It’s the love that goes into each project. It’s the happiness we feel when we work on something together. It’s the nights spent relaxing on the couch, getting lost in a Netflix series. It’s the dinners shared around the kitchen island with family or friends. It’s the drinks enjoyed on the patio. It’s the memories we create and share here…

And that, my friends, is what makes a house a home.

Cheers to year four!



  1. Leslie Whitcomb

    Your home is settled so warmly in its spot, you can feel how much the lake and the land are part of your lives in what you are doing to the house. It all looks great! You are making real beauty. I love, love that you share all the in progress pictures. We live in a fixer upper, have made great progress – and have lived for years with old carpet, half done flooring, untrimmed windows etc. Every small completion is a victory. And at the same time, it’s already done. Our house is a home, the land around us is home, and it is the process that is just as satisfying as the finished project. Enjoy!!

  2. Leslie Whitcomb

    You are making a beautiful home. The lake and surrounding land are present and all a part of it, not shut out in some sterile remodel. I love, love, that you share all progress photos. This is real life and we also have been doing a long time fixer upper that has places of beauty and finished looks, and areas of ‘on the to do list’. It’s so nice to see your real home. Enjoy!!

    • North Country Nest

      We so appreciate your feedback and comment. As I am sure you know – it can get overwhelming when you see all the pretty after photos. That’s one of the reasons we started this blog – to showcase ass the nitty gritty in-between progress!
      Thanks again for the thoughtful comment and good luck with your own fixer-upper!


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.