Empty Nest Renovation – Before Photos and Video

Built in 1937, this little fixer upper needed some love and updating. The perfect empty nester adventure!


Oh my goodness this Empty Nest downsize and house renovation have been quite a ride. Just last summer we put our house in Laguna Niguel, CA (Orange County) on the market and this adventure began. We sold the house for the first time in late September, it fell out of escrow and then we sold it for the second time in December. We moved in to our fixer upper in Pasadena on January 5th, 2015. I have written several detailed posts that will help fill in the gaps for you:

We were only able to cram just about one third of our belongings into our little house in Pasadena. The balance of which is in storage and we know perfectly well that most of the rest of this “stuff” will never make it into the house. There is just not enough room and it will be time to purge when we move back in…which is actually a very good plan.

There are restrictions by the city as to how many square feet we may add based upon the size of the lot and the possibility of encroaching on our neighbors. We settled on adding a small master bath and walk-in master closet. The current closet was so small that we were forced to place a chrome hanging bar at the foot of our bed to hang the balance of our clothes. Very chic.

empty nester renovation
The closet was so small that we had a portable hanging rack in the middle of our master bedroom.

In order to appreciate the final renovation project, a BEFORE post and photos was certainly necessary. This is it! I made a quick video and took some photos of the “character” of the fixer upper before it was demoed – last week. Enjoy:

If you receive this post via email, click ==> HERE to see the video.

More about the house~

The wallpaper throughout the house was perfectly awful. Can you imagine turquoise peacocks? The kitchen tile was a 1980’s forest green and the downstairs half bath smelled “funny”. The views of the tree lined street through the leaded glass windows were lovely and the original doors and door jams are charming.

empty nester renovation
Our lovely leaded glass front window. We will not change this at all.


Isn’t it lovely? Envious? I should have kept some before the demo.


Living Room Before
Living Room After Demo
Living Room After Demo



The funny smelling downstairs half bath.


Thank you for your support and interest in our newest and most intense empty nester adventure. We decided to make a huge emotional and physical change to live closer to our family and begin a challenging yet creative project we have always dreamed of doing.

Realizing that there will be many obstacles (and joys) ahead, we look forward to seeing this empty nest renovation to its completion and become the little dream house we know it can be. The renovation will enhance the charming vintage qualities and we also plan to add a few Spanish elements as well. By enlarging it just 180 square feet, we will have enough bathrooms for better resale and a master closet to allow us to live more comfortably. The house is much smaller than our last one and will be just the perfect empty nester size when it is all finished!

After the demo~

Most of the work is being done to the back of the house and we will be resurfacing the pool, pool deck and adding new pool tile.


empty nest renovation
Back of the house a bit closer.
The view from the side of the roofless kitchen. A new master bath and master closet will be added to the second floor above the kitchen.
This is the master bedroom with the opening to the left to be the doorway to the new bathroom.


Guest bathroom upstairs down to the studs.


More post about the Fixer Upper Renovation

The Pasadena Fixer Upper Update

An Update of the Renovation of the Empty Nest

New Update for the Fixer Upper Renovation

The Empty Nest Home Renovation is Delayed…a little

It’s Time for a Fixer Upper Update

Our Empty Nest Renovation and 6 Months in Seattle

Empty Nest Renovation: Before Photos and Video

Have you taken on a renovation of this kind?

We would love to hear about it.

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33 thoughts on “Empty Nest Renovation – Before Photos and Video”

  1. What a wonderful fixer upper! The house looks like it has lots of character and charm and your added touches will be lovely! And I’m so glad you are keeping the gorgeous front window! Can’t wait to see the “after” pics! Ü

    • Thank you Holly and for your vote of confidence. We have a great architect that has created a very cool footprint and some wonderful design ideas. I will keep you up to date. Thank you for reading and for your comments.

  2. Don’t want to blow your cover by posting an “insider response”, but I love the chronicling of our journey, and the fact that we are doing it together 31(+7) years later. Looking forward to the updates, and the invoices! Note to Leisa – I agree, great window photo.

    • I think this is the first time you have written a comment! Happy to see it. We are so fortunate to be able to embark on this renovation journey. I am a lucky woman. 31 years of marriage plus a 7 year courtship.

  3. Wow, what an extensive remodel I’ve only built newer homes so I can’t imagine doing this taking away and then building. Love some of the old details and tile work, including the leaded glass window.

    • Yes Irene, it is virtually gutted, but still retains some of the original details. We hope to enhance it, enlarge it a little and enjoy it a lot!

  4. Well, it’s a small world… as a matter of fact we are two months in on a remodel. We bought a sweet little brick house that was built in 1955 and never updated. The house has a full basement, which we are building out. We also gutted the kitchen, took down a few walls, replaced the a/c, furnace, plumbing, electrical – well, you understand. When all is said and done we’ll pretty much have a new house in a solid 1955 shell. Oh, and it sits in the middle of 5.25 acres, in northern Maryland. It’s an adventure, isn’t it?!

    • Oh my Patti: You are definitely in the middle of it! Your house sounds amazing! If you would consider writing a post and sharing it with us, we would love to see it! Best of luck! Yes it is a BIG adventure!

  5. While renovating is bl**dy hard work – it is so rewarding and such a pleasure to then live in the house when done!
    We renovated a 16th century stone cottage in Wales that had no water or electricity when we started so I understand fully the effort you’re putting into this!
    Look forward to following the journey 🙂

  6. Wow, this looks like quite the renovation. I’m looking forward to seeing the changes. I love seeing what people do with renovations like this, although I don’t think it’s something I’d want to tackle for myself.

  7. We went through some major renovations on a 1950’s home years ago and always felt that the house was the one that held our hearts when we moved. Love how light and sunny your new home is with lots of curb appeal and your renovation is going to make it into your dream home. And, take it from a minimalist, you’re never going to miss the stuff that won’t fit!

    • Anita: That is great to know. I have a feeling that purging all of our unnecessary “stuff” will be liberating! Thank you for the compliments and for reading!

  8. I think most of us have one major remodel in us, and girlfriend, this is yours. Mine occurred in the 80’s and the wallpaper you got rid of is sadly reminiscent. 😉 I love your little Pasadena house. It’s the sweetest thing, and your plans make a lot of sense. Loved hearing your voice on the video, too. I especially admire your pluck in monitoring this project from another state! It looks like your crew is executing well, which is always a concern. Looking forward to additional updates!

    • Thank you so much Betsy! We have a great deal to juggle, but we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to try to live in Seattle. So far so good. Thanks for the encouragement and kind words.

  9. Suzanne, the bones of the house will make for a beautiful home. I LOOK FORWARD TO SEEING ALL THE PROGRESS, AND TO THE COMPLETE FINISHED RENOVATION.



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