Yep, I’m a Real Life Renovator For Realz!

If you are newer to this blog, you may not know that in 2015 we sold our perfectly finished French inspired home and bought a neglected fixer located just a few miles from it. Hello Lovely became sort of a diary of ongoing projects (um…we renovated the whole thing ourselves) where I shared the joys and pitfalls honestly. So just in case there are any readers wondering if we just sort of slapped some paint on the while and styled the home, let’s glance back and be clear that Yep, I’m a Real Life Renovator For Realz!

Detail of white oak hardwood floor in farmhouse style master bedroom in Hello Lovely Studio fixer upper
Yep, I’m a Real Life Renovator For Realz!

This project aged us like no other! We addressed every single room in the four-bedroom home. That meant we gutted the kitchen and bathrooms, tore up floors, replaced the furnace/CA, and upgraded every fixture and finish to make this a new house.

Philomena 2 Drawer
In case you’re interested, this nightstand is similar to mine: Philomena 2-Drawer Nightstand

Our bedroom furniture was antique white, and I did a light glaze of Benjamin Moore Revere Pewter + water over it to keep it light with an aged look. Here’s another nightstand which could easily be tweaked with paint as desired:

Are You a Real Life Renovator For Realz?

My husband and I are half crazy renovators who choose to do the majority of home improvement ourselves.

Why?

Initially, we were DIYers because we were so doggone poor and drowning in student loan debt. But after we paid off the debt, we found it gratifying to see projects through together.

How?

We have learned to do the work by reading, observing, and mostly doing it! Below you’ll find some before/after peeks as well as learn about renovation tools we rely upon.

during installation of stikwood statement wall in master bedroom of Hello Lovely Studio fixer upper
Yep, I’m a Real Life Renovator For Realz!

Tools of the trade for the real life renovators

I independently selected products in this post—if you buy from one of my links, I may earn a commission.

Here’s one power tool I simply cannot live without.

HP Elitebook Folio. For years, I have been relying upon my HP Elitebook to shop, glean inspiration, find video tutorials, and Google things like ‘how to remove stains from carrara marble.’

HP Elitebook
Big love for my touchscreen, light as a feather laptop: HP Elitebook Folio G1

Renovation Tools We Rely Upon

1. The usual suspects

In my own box, you’ll find: a handsome vintage hammer with patina worthy of a devoted blog post, finishing nails, paint color decks, trowels and paint brushes as well as tape measures. But my #1 favorite tool costs about $6 and helps to transform everything…

I LOVE THIS WOOSTER PAINT BRUSH and have used them for years. They are inexpensive enough to use for projects that wreck the bristles by the end. (Like old crusty wood shutters where you have to work the paint into the louvers.)

French inspired courtyard by Hello Lovely Studio

2. Serious Muscle Power

Heavy lifting and the bulk of physical labor is executed by my better half, whose imagination was ignited by our fixer upper which we began tackling in 2015. (He had to convince me!) I helped with some demo, sanding, plastering, all of the painting, planting, and lighter projects.

Exterior of Hello Lovely Studio fixer upper

3. This DeWalt DIY Home Essential

It is portable, powerful for ripping and roaring into home improvement, projects, and what we turn to.

Table Saw: FIND HERE.

4. Housekeeping

With a whole house DIY renovation, we have required more clean up on aisle three than I can say. So we cannot get by without a Dyson posse.

12 Gallon Wet/Dry Mini Vacuum
Wet Dry Vac: FIND HERE

5. This Timesaver

The most important tool my husband has turned to for our whole house DIY renovation? This NAIL GUN was key. 

More Essentials for DIY

Hand Sander: FIND HERE
Cordless Rotary Tool: FIND HERE

Painting Supplies

A paint sprayer saved us so much time when we painted ceilings, garage doors, and a slew of outdoor furniture.

Canvas dropcloths have saved my floors from my clumsy DIY adventuring more times than I can count!

9 x 12 All Purpose Canvas Cotton Drop Cloth
Cotton Canvas Dropcloth, 9’x12′: FIND HERE.
Premium Paint Kit: FIND HERE

Renovation Before & Afters

Have a look at what determination, labor, and  smart tools can bring back to life!

Before pic of courtyard in Hello Lovely Studio's fixer upper
BEFORE
Knotty alder front door (Pacific Entries) and country courtyard by Hello Lovely Studio
AFTER: We gutted the entire courtyard with the exception of the Burning Bush (right), brought in a few plants and pea gravel, and upgraded the front door with a knotty alder beauty RIGHT HERE.
Our front door is made of rustic knotty alder and stained rich walnut - Hello Lovely Studio.
AFTER

Find the French Tolix style metal bistro chair RIGHT HERE.

BEFORE
Rustic stone wall in French inspired courtyard by Hello Lovely Studio
AFTER – Tools required: shovels, wheelbarrow, tamper, and muscles.
Snowy trees in my winter yard in Northern Illinois - Hello Lovely Studio.

Here is a garden bench similar to ours: RIGHT HERE.

BEFORE
Front entry with knotty alder door, vintage table, and vintage French prayer chair - Hello Lovely Studio
AFTER. Tools required: drill, paintbrush, paint roller, carpet stretcher, and saw.
Walnut stained alder front door with speakeasy - Hello Lovely Studio.
BEFORE
Romantic, simple, French courtyard with pink accents for a tea party - Hello Lovely Studio.
AFTER
BEFORE. Nothing you see here stayed in the room, but every single item was re-used in the home, including the water damaged maple flooring.
Modern farmhouse kitchen with apron front farm sink and marble subway tile by Hello Lovely Studio
AFTER. Exact Fireclay Sink: 30″ Similar Fireclay Farm Sink. Exact Kohler Parq Kitchen Faucet: FIND HERE.
Minuet Viatera quartz countertop in our classic white kitchen with Shaker cabinets and stainless appliances. #hellolovelystudio #whitequartz #countertops #kitchendesign #minuet #viateraquartz #lgviatera
Serene tranquil white kitchen with farm sink, marble subway tile, Viatera Minuet quartz counters, white Shaker cabinets, and white oak flooring. Design and photo: Hello Lovely Studio. #kitchendesign #whitekitchen #minuet #whitequartz #benjaminmoorewhite
Hello Lovely Studio
BEFORE – I know it looks pretty, but all of that maple had to be ripped out due to water damage.
Serene, timeless, and tranquil white kitchen with window seat and European country style by Hello Lovely Studio.
AFTER
Timeless and tranquil French farmhouse and European country style in my white kitchen with window seat and Belgian linen chairs - Hello Lovely Studio.
AFTER
before of catwalk at Hello Lovely Studio's fixer upper
During
before of master bedroom in Hello Lovely Studio's fixer upper
Master Bedroom During Renovation
Master bedroom with Stikwood wood plank wall and knotty alder door in Hello Lovely Studio fixer upper
AFTER. Find knotty rustic alder interior door options RIGHT HERE.. The wall is covered with Stikwood (Hamptons) you can FIND HERE. Lamps: Paris Gate (RH).
Master bedroom with white oak flooring and knotty alder doors - Hello Lovely Studio
Hello Lovely Studio – Master Bedroom. Find knotty rustic alder interior door options RIGHT HERE..
My serene Nordic French style bedroom with Benjamin Moore White walls and Stikwood accent wall. Hello Lovely Studio.
Hello Lovely Studio
Before pic of living room at fixer upper - Hello Lovely Studio
BEFORE: Living Room
Belgian style living room with linen upholstery, white oak flooring, and stone fireplace - Hello Lovely Studio
AFTER – Find fireplace surround optons RIGHT HERE.
Belgian style living room with chaise and antique Belgian sideboard. Hello Lovely Studio.

Here’s a gorgeous cabinet in the same spirit of our old sideboard from Belgium. This one’s new but made from reclaimed Elm.

Chinese rice cabinet constructed from reclaimed elm wood.
Chinese Rice Cabinet

I’m also crushing on Wisteria’s vintage Chinese bench!

French inspired and European country informed, this cozy living room with Belgian linen is simple and serene - Hello Lovely Studio.
Hello Lovely Studio
Belgian linen upholstered furniture in a spare yet cozy living room with European country style by Hello Lovely Studio.
Hello Lovely Studio
Demo of living room floor in fixer upper by Hello Lovely Studio
BEFORE: Living Room Floor
AFTER
Living room and hallway to kitchen in fixer upper by Hello Lovely
AFTER

It’s so fun to look back at the befores and realize all we have accomplished around here!

Exterior of our woodsy Nordic French style cottage - Hello Lovely Studio.
White Slipcovered Sofa
French Basket
Courtney Lamp Base
Antique Chinese Wood Rustic Round Stool
French Country Bed
Tuscan Terracotta Urn Vase
Round Farmhouse Table
Rustic Reclaimed Elm Cabinet
French Chaise
French Farmhouse Dining Table
Milagro Heart
Rustic Farmhouse Stool
Edgecombe End Table
Hand Carved 4 Door Sideboard
Black Metal Accent Table
Galvanized Console Table
Gabriel Chevron Quilt Set
Metal Martini Table
Marble Subway Backsplash in My Kitchen
French Wire Laundry Basket
White Ruffle Bedding
Gustavian Tub Chair
Handmade Sunburst Mirror
Linen Napkin Set
French Country Lamp
Venetian Mirror
French Lidded Baskets
French Panel Mirror
Distressed White French Country Chandelier
Antique Chinese Weathered Bench
Helmsley Bronze Door Hardware
Oval Back Counter Stool, Set of 2
Rococo Floor Lamp
Gertrude Wood Bench
Italian Candelabra Chandelier
Colleen Slope Arm Linen Chair Set
White Ruffle Quilt Set
Avignon Coat Rack With Hooks
San Jose Handleset for Front Door
Round Farmhouse Dining Table
Adele Dining Chair
Campaign Style End Table
Louis Upholstered Bench
Oak Laminate Flooring
Knotty Alder Interior Door
Alabaster 30″ Lamp
Louis Ghost Chair
Sweater Weave Basket
French Wood Chandelier
Terracotta Pots & Basket
French Linen Dining Chair
Beachy White Slipcovered Sofa
Diptyque Oyedo Candle
PARIS Framed Print
Cross Back Dining Chair
French Country Candle Holder
Tulip Style Modern Round Dining Table
French Industrial Metal Chairs (4)
Holborn Lantern Pendant
Rustic End Table
Faux Bois Candleholders
French Ticking Stripe Pillow
Bridge Kitchen Faucet (Stainless)
Jute Area Rug
Rustic Industrial Farmhouse Shelves
Belgian Linen Sofa
Venetian Etched Mirror (24″ x 36″)
White Ruffle Bedding
Rustic Wood Candlestick Set
French Market Basket
Polished Carrara Subway Tile
French Country Farmhouse Baskets
Concrete Pillar Table Lamp
Belgian Style Lamp
Modern Farmhouse Lamp
White Slipcovered Sofa
Round Woven Placemat Set
Antiqued Sunburst Mirror
Fireclay Farm Sink (Reinhard, 30″)
Boheme Madera Bench
Round Marble Side Table
Linen Slipcover Dining Chair
Wicker Patio Chair
Teak Farmhouse Stool

See more of our home right here.

A Famous Renovator I Admire!

Peace to you right where you are.

-michele

Shopping for items you already intended to buy on Amazon RIGHT HERE (not just items mentioned in posts) or home decor keeps decor inspiration flowing on Hello Lovely!

Hello Lovely is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

White Slipcovered Sofa
French Basket
Courtney Lamp Base
Antique Chinese Wood Rustic Round Stool
French Country Bed
Tuscan Terracotta Urn Vase
Round Farmhouse Table
Rustic Reclaimed Elm Cabinet
French Chaise
French Farmhouse Dining Table
Milagro Heart
Linen Slipcovered Chair Set
Rustic Farmhouse Stool
Edgecombe End Table
Hand Carved 4 Door Sideboard
Black Metal Accent Table
Galvanized Console Table
Gabriel Chevron Quilt Set
Metal Martini Table
Marble Subway Backsplash in My Kitchen
French Wire Laundry Basket
White Ruffle Bedding
Gustavian Tub Chair
Handmade Sunburst Mirror
Wide Pine Sideboard
Linen Napkin Set
French Country Lamp
Venetian Mirror
French Lidded Baskets
French Panel Mirror
Distressed White French Country Chandelier
Antique Chinese Weathered Bench
French Country Headboard
Oval Back Counter Stool, Set of 2
Rococo Floor Lamp
Linen & Burlap Tufted Ottoman
Gertrude Wood Bench
Italian Candelabra Chandelier
Colleen Slope Arm Linen Chair Set
White Ruffle Quilt Set
French Louis Style Arm Chair
Avignon Coat Rack With Hooks
Round Farmhouse Dining Table
Adele Dining Chair
Louis Upholstered Bench
French Accent Chair
Pamela Arm Chair
Sweater Weave Basket
French Wood Chandelier
Terracotta Pots & Basket
French Country Wood Chandelier
French Linen Dining Chair
Gustavian Cabinet
French Farmhouse Dining Table
Bar Stool
Beachy White Slipcovered Sofa
Rattan Armchair
Diptyque Oyedo Candle
Cross Back Dining Chair
French Country Candle Holder
French Industrial Metal Chairs (4)
Designer Favorite Wall Mirror
Holborn Lantern Pendant
French Country 6-Light Chandelier
Rustic End Table
French Country Upholstered Arm Chair
Faux Bois Candleholders
French Ticking Stripe Pillow
Jute Area Rug
French Candle Style Chandelier
Rustic Industrial Farmhouse Shelves
Belgian Linen Sofa
White Ruffle Bedding
Rustic Wood Candlestick Set
French Market Basket
Linen Modern Wing Chair
French Country Farmhouse Baskets
Concrete Pillar Table Lamp
Spindle Leg Upholstered Bench
Belgian Style Lamp
Modern Farmhouse Lamp
White Slipcovered Sofa
Scrubbed Wood 5-Light Chandelier
Arched Champagne Wall Mirror
Moravian Star 1-Light Pendant
Highback Armchair
Mini Pendant Light
White Vase Set
Round Woven Placemat Set
Fireclay Farm Sink (Reinhard, 30″)
Matelasse Coverlet
Quilted Coverlet
Boheme Madera Bench
Belgian Linen Duvet Set
Round Marble Side Table
Rustic Pedestal Farm Table
Teak Farmhouse Stool
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8 Comments

  1. Carol S.
    February 21, 2020 / 11:45 am

    Wowie that’s a lotta work and it turned out so beautiful. That front door…front garden…floors throughout…master bedroom…light and bright…love it all. Ordered some paint brushes lol, gotta paint/rcover a couple old dining room head chairs for use for a bit in backyard. Thanks for inspiration and entertainment. That video at end was lovely.

    • Michele
      Author
      February 21, 2020 / 6:28 pm

      Thanks so much for reading, Carol. It was a labor of love, but oh the dust and hard work that went into this DIY. Happy painting, and I hope your projects bring you joy. I personally love the meditative quiet of painting and transforming junk with simple paint. Peace to you.

  2. Carol S.
    February 21, 2020 / 11:49 am

    Also…I was looking for a bedroom nightstand like yours…do you have a link, I bet others are looking too. For what it’s worth, I ended up with these following your inspiration pic. 🙂 Three drawers and a large surface top is such a luxury after small single drawer ones had forever! Now if I could only swing that Chinese dresser…it’s gorgeous.

  3. February 25, 2020 / 12:40 pm

    Michele,
    It is always so relaxing and a great opportunity to regenerate yourself at the beach. Water has such a relaxing affect. Enjoy your time.
    Hugs,
    Bev

    • Michele
      Author
      February 25, 2020 / 11:38 pm

      Annnnnd howwwww – enjoying every second of hanging loose. Thank you, Bev. 🙂

  4. February 27, 2020 / 7:59 am

    I’m amazed at the transformation every time I’m at your blog, Michele! I also wish I would have had this post,with all of the great tools, when we were in our previous house. I’ve featured this at TFT today. So envious of your beach time, and hope you are relaxed and refreshed!

    • Michele
      Author
      February 27, 2020 / 10:09 pm

      Thank you so much, Pam. I’m honored to be featured and will see you at TFT very soon. It feels so great to be in a tropical place. 🙂

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