...because home doesn't happen overnight.

Earlier today we became owners of The Underdog.  We also were happy to learn that all proceeds of the estate sale and real estate sale are going to charity.  {Too bad we can’t write off the mortgage!}  Nothing like buying a dumpy house to help out a good cause!  As soon as the keys were handed over to us, we drove over to take before pictures of the mostly empty property.  We were surprised to find that a dryer, microwave, clothing hangers {plastic and wooden}, lamp, American flag, planters o’ plenty and other miscellaneous items were left behind.  Here is the highly anticipated house tour.  She doesn’t look like much, but we’re already planning some pretty major renovations to bring this gal up to par with the casual, open living style that we prefer.  More on all our plans later.  For now, see if you can spot the potential and guess what we have in mind.

That’s the view from the road.

The house is hidden behind a front yard full of trees.

You walk from the driveway, in front of the garage and around to the front door.

You immediately enter into the living room which has a large picture window that looks out onto the front yard and a wood burning fireplace.  Notice the faded, dirty walls where all of the previous homeowner’s original artwork was displayed.  Nearly every wall in the house is like this.  It was full of art.  You can also see where the paint is peeling on the wall above the fireplace.  And there’s the rusty shag carpet I was telling you about.  It’s obvious that the previous furniture arrangement hadn’t changed over the last 20+ years.  All of the carpet padding is worn down to the concrete slab…except in spots where large pieces of furniture once lived.

Opposite the front door is the dining room.  More faded, dirty walls.  You can see where the hallway to the bedrooms and bathrooms runs off to the right.

Off the dining room is the what-we-think-is completely original 1958 kitchen.  You can see beyond the kitchen into the den.  The interior door that is open leads to the attached 2-car garage.

The cabinets are in bad shape – stained and warped.  The window above the sink looks out onto the backyard.

Here’s the view of the kitchen and dining room from the den.

That’s the den.  Complete with a window AC unit…the only source of AC in the home.  The patio sliders lead out to the backyard.

The laundry ‘room’ is actually a small closet right off the den.  Again, the door to the right leads to the attached garage.

Back to the hall off the living room/dining room.  It leads to the private areas of the house: bedrooms and bathrooms.  At the end is one of two hall closets in the home.

An original pink bathroom.  Yikes!

Bedroom #1 is teeny…not even 10′ x 10′.  It’ll be Everett’s bedroom.  Did I mention the bedrooms boast green shag carpet?  You probably would have figured that out on your own.

Bedroom #2 is a decent size.  It’ll be Layne’s bedroom.  If you look closely at the baseboard, you can see some pretty extensive termite damage.  Eek!

Bedroom #3 is the master.  It’ll be mine and Handy Hubby’s bedroom.  From what we can tell, we think this was the previous homeowner’s ‘studio.’  There are paint splatters all over one wall and dozens of paintings were stored in the closet when we first toured the house.

This bedroom is a true master with a full bathroom en-suite…a rarity in a 1958 ranch.

Another original pink bathroom.  Double yikes!

Back outside, here’s the rear of the house.  The master bedroom, master bathroom, hall bathroom, dining room, kitchen and den {from left to right above} all have windows/doors looking out over the backyard.

The backyard is wider than it is deep.  There are several dead evergreens back there.

Just in case you missed it during the interior tour, there’s the window AC unit located in the den window.  Classy.

And that, my friends, concludes The Underdog house tour.  That’s what we’re working with. There’s no basement.  Storage will be a challenge but I’m confident we’ll manage.  So, what’s next?  Well, projects that relate to safety and health issues are first on the list:  radon mitigation, electrical service upgrade, proper dryer/bathroom ventilation, and precarious tree removal.  After that, we can start planning for and tackling some aesthetics.  Handy Hubby is looking forward to the larger scale projects that we’ll have to tackle before I can get in there and start decorating. He’ll have his fun, and then I’ll have mine!

I’ll be sharing what changes we have in store for our new old house soon.  What would you do to this house?

images:  all Dana Miller for House*Tweaking



We were in the same boat with a house that needed everything 4 years ago. Its A LOT of work but its all worth it in the end! We didnt have green shag in the bedrooms….we had PURPLE! Puke! The walls are insane how dirty they were! Yikes! Cant wait to see ongoing pics of this house!


Congrats on the new house! I can’t wait to see the “after” pics!


Oh, Dana — I’m so excited for you! Your new house is just bursting with potential. And it needs so much updating that it’s practically a blank canvas just waiting for you and Handy Hubby to work your home improvement magic. :)

totally awesome “bones!” Can’t wait to see what you do with it!!! :D


So exciting! I would open up the kitchen to the dining room…maybe take down the wall they share to a half wall and then do additional storage on the dining room side of the wall? Have fun:)


Congrats! I definitely can’t wait to see what you do to it! My first step would be to rip out all that shag carpet! Have fun!


I love the layout! Can’t wait to see what you guys do with it!!!


Cringing over the carpet & faded walls, ack! So much potential though. I look forward to seeing your project phases. If it was possible I would find a way to open up the living room walls and also make a wide door in the hallway to the private spaces. I love being able to close off the private spaces or open them up.


So excited to see what you guys do with it! It has a great floor plan and I bet it will look amazing when it is done. Have you thought about making the laundry closet bigger or just moving the W/D to the garage? We had a laundry closet in our last house and it was so hard to keep the laundry in the closet. It was always a mess so I have to have a room but I’m bad at laundry.


Urgh, what were people thinking in the late 1950s?? We too have a pink tiled bathroom with a blue tub! Yuck! Are ya’ll planning to keep the pink tiling?


Oh man that blank wall between the kitchen and the living room is just dying to have a big ol’ opening put in it… :)

Well, you’ll definitely have lots of “tweaking” to do! :) It is a lot of work, but the house seems to have a great layout. So the possibilities are exciting!


It has wonderful potential and the layout is great! Looking forward to following the progress!


What a cute little ranch – alright, behind all the dirt and shag carpeting it’s a cute little ranch! I love how open the house feels with all of the windows. I’m sure you have big plans for every room, but I’m most looking forward to what you do with the kitchen and the den. Good luck with all of your house renovations. I know you’ll do great!


Oh, that layout looks a lot like our place before they took the kitchen walls down (check out the Flip before and after pics on our blog, if you like). I never saw the bath “before” pics, but I bet there was some pink or powder blue, those crazy 1950s builders!

Lots of possibilities (and cleaning, and painting :). I bet you’ll enjoy being able to choose your new flooring in the new place!


You’ll definitely be moving the laundry room, lol.

This is a great property, and I can’t wait to see what it looks like once you’ve made it your own.


Wow! So glad a recently found your blog!! Can’t wait to see all your future posts on the updates and changes you’re going to make! Congrats on your new home and I adore your blog!


whoa-It looks like our house – that we’re also in the middle of remodeling! I know from experience though-enough forethought and elbow grease goes a long way! I can’t wait to see what you do with it! (and please PLEASE paint the brick around the fireplace!! cant you see it? cool gray walls, white beautiful texture in the brick, and beautiful lighting with that window!! *swoon* I have a love hate relationship with remodel:)


I would definitely take out all (or a portion, depending on the necessity of the wall for the structure) of that wall between kitchen and living. I’m seeing a humongous kitchen island!
How fun! Can’t WAIT to start reading the progress posts!!!


Oh, Dana, what a great house. You guys did well! While I’m totally scared of the walls and carpet (yuck!), I’m kind of loving those pink bathrooms. Did you see that article in the NY Times back in January about pink bathrooms? Here’s a little clip: “And since pink bathrooms are associated with a time of prosperity, perhaps there is also an element of nostalgia for rosier times…” The article is called “Bathrooms: Pretty in Pink, Again.”

Can’t wait to see what you guys do with it all! Hope you had a nice vacation.



Hi Dana!

Congratulations on the new house! I think there are a lot of possibilities and I’m sure you’ll decorate it beautifully. Where we live, people sometimes ‘open up’ the living room by adding a large veranda with lots of windows (I think it’s called a porch in American English? But porches in the US are usually without any windows (am I right?) and these ones have windows everywhere.)
People here love to sit outside, but in winter it gets too wet or cold here, so they sit in their veranda. You get a little bit of outside inside… ;-)
Anyway, have fun renovating & decorating!!
Inge xxx


Gongrats on the new house! So much potential there, can’t wait to see what you have planned for it. I’ll also second Kirsten about removing the kitchen wall, I can just see the beautiful open plan living room + kitchen + dining room.


This is the most exciting post yet! I am thrilled for you because, like you, I am able to see great potential in this house but even more importantly, you are well on your way to making your dream of financial freedom a reality! Please keep us updated regularly!


Wow, I take my hat off to you. Here in Oz, termite damage + built post-war (ie no period features) = knockdown; cheaper to build a new house. I love the layout though. Can’t wait to see what you do with it.

can’t wait to see what you plan to do with this gem!

your fellow ohioan…

How fun!! A diamond in the rough for sure!


woah. this is wild… (1st time commenting, but i love your blog) my name is also Dana (thought that was funny when i 1st found this blog, most “Danas” i’ve met were guys) & my hubby of 8 years & i recently moved out of a 1950’s home that was SO simular to yours (in NC)! {now we’re in the country b/c we’re trying, HARD, to get out of debt so we can do something MORE w/ out life too!} the outside was nearly identical (the very same “look” & color) but our inside layout was very different. same bathroom though, so i know what you mean! we tore out all the old, grody shag & went with wood floors and had gas logs put in the fireplace (& *pout* had to put in more a/c window units b/c we couldn’t afford that kind of overhaul). the kitchen cabinets were in good shape so i painted them white, along w/ the walls, to open up the “galley” style space – except for one focal wall where the table was. our yard, too, was very… umm “established” w/ trees, but oddly so; when we moved in, we did do a LOT of reshaping & trimming of lower limbs to open up the ground space. the wiring was pain, so i’m glad you said you’re updating that… we had screw-in fuses *bleck*… wired unsenceablly, all ceiling lights were on one fuse, for example. And i painted the the front door a mustard color (called Cow Slip, funny name) to bring a “pop” to the “darkness” of the front of the house… those are just my highlights! i can hardly wait to see what you come up with b/c your other home is lovely! i’ll be staying tuned!!!


Paint the exterior brick! Painted brick can be beautiful.


hooray! a new house! and lots of new projects by the looks of it! cant wait to see how you work your magic! bxx


I love the trees in the front yard!
The first thing I would do is rip up the carpet and hope there are wood floors underneath. I love wood flooring.
Cannot wait to see “during” and “after” photos =].

Looks like fun! So much carpet to rip out! When it comes to layout, I’ve received the advice more than once to move into a house and live with what exists for a while before you go too crazy with knocking out walls… advice we blatantly ignored! And in this house, I can see some walls that could be nicely knocked down to open it all up… but then, I’m a huge fan of open concept.

Have fun with the house! I’m looking forward to seeing what you guys do with it.

Can’t wait to see what you do with the place! I’m sure it’s going to look completely different once your done with it! Good luck!


I am so excited to follow along and see all of the awesome renovations you do that my hubby and I don’t have the nerve to take on! Love your blog, good luck!

Your new old house has a lot of potential! Because of the year it was built, I’m wondering if you have hardwood floors under some of the carpet? Our 1960 rancher had red oak throughout, except the kitchen, bathrooms and master bedroom. Your house actually isn’t too far off from what our house was, before Ben started working on it. Unfortunately, because Ben bought our house 2 years before I even knew him, I don’t have true before pictures, but I’d love for you to take a tour of our home, just to see where we started and where we’ve gone with the house: http://ourhumbleabowed.wordpress.com/the-grand-tour/ We also had to upgrade our electrical service and overcome a pink bathroom. Happy tweaking!!


Big Fun!

I actually LOVE the one pink bathroom…the one with the gray tub…rats.

SOOOO Looking forward to how you make this one your own!


Wow, this is like deja-vu! I looked at a ranch almost identical to that one in Northern KY about a year ago. We didn’t end up buying it but I had such dreams of what it could have been. Can’t wait to see what you guys do!


Great potential in this new little house! My first question though, is how in the world you managed to close so quickly!?! We’re hopefully closing on our project up-dater house Friday but it’s taken upwards of 2 months to get that all done. Getting a mortgage is a royal pain right now! Congrats regardless!

I can’t wait to see the changes you make. It truly in a blank slate, though it definitely needs a good scrubbing before you can really start tackling the project. We’ve got the same dingy walls with faded spots where things were hanging on the wall — including original 1950’s pine paneling. Woohoo! =P Fortunately our new house is actually very livable (if dated) so we’ll be doing most of the changes after we move in and over time.

Number one and two on the list have already been determined — repaint the entire bedroom wing (3 bedrooms and a hall) a fresh coat of white paint on the walls and ceiling and replace all 3 fans. That alone will make a huge difference and painting is so much easier without all sorts of stuff in the rooms at the same time. Lol!

Keep us updated and congrats again! Good luck on a quick sale on your current home.

City Roots, Country Life


That reminds me of our ranch when we bought it. I can’t wait to see what you do with all that potential. Congrats!

Wow this is so exciting for you. Lots of work but I can see the end result is going to be amazing. This will be fun to see your progress and what a great find for you all!


This reminds me sooo much of our home when we first bought it! Im so excited to see what all you do with it! I know it will be amazing! One question I have is, will you be using all the same colors like paint, bedding, decor as was in your other home & just change things up a bit? I tend to want something totally different when we buy a new home but I cant because it runs into a lot of $$$…


I can’t wait to see what you’ll do with this home! We’ve been living in a home with paneling all over and a huge brick wall where lies the fireplace for about 1 year now and I am soooo ready to start decorating it. I need some ideas, so I will be checking your blog pretty often now. :o) Wish you the best!


April wrote: “Urgh, what were people thinking in the late 1950s?? We too have a pink tiled bathroom with a blue tub!”

Color was new in the ’50s! You wouldn’t believe how excited people were to have those colored tiles and fixtures. Then in the ’60s and ’70s they came out with shag carpeting, “gold” colored faucets and those veined mirror tiles for your dining room walls.

Urgh! But there were all big deals back then.

I won’t lie to you, Dana — I cringed more than once when I was looking at these photos! BUT, I just know that y’all are going to do something amazing with this home. You are so brave, and I can’t wait to see the process!

Congrats on the new house! Can’t wait to see what y’all do with it!


What an exciting point for a blog! A clean slate (or dirty, by the look of those walls). But exciting none the less. Can’t wait to read your ideas for each room and see them unfold!


Can’t wait to see what you do with it!!!


Hi, congrats for the new house. What about a floor plan? can you drawer someone for us?


The pictures of the carpeting reminds me of our 1st home. It was a bungalow built in 1928 and after we bought it the first thing we did was rip out the 50 year old wool carpet & disintegrated padding to expose the beautiful hardwood floors that were hidden beneath. We went to town ripping out that carpet and later got sick from breathing in all the dust & dirt (and who knows what else) that we unleashed from the carpet and padding. Unfortunately, we didn’t wear masks. Lesson learned!
I can’t wait to see you transform this home. You are very talented so I know the outcome is going to be GREAT! Congrats!


I love your blog. I have been reading it for a couple of months. I just wanted to leave a comment to tell you how much I am looking forward to seeing how you transform this home. Good luck and thanks for sharing!


So much potential and you’ll have great before and after pictures! Seems great! I have a hunch you might knock out at least part of the wall between the kitchen and living room. I’m crossing my fingers for you that it’s not a main support wall so that it’s cheaper. It reminds me a lot of our home that was built a few years later in ’62. It was very original as well – complete with the same wall stains where pictures had been and original kitchen. Our kitchen (and the carpet) was the first to go in our home – made a huge difference! That is some very pink tile, but if it makes you feel better we have a blue tub and sink. They’ve kind of grown on me. Probably will need to deal with at some point before we try to sell sometime. Good luck!


I have lots of great ideas for this house! You have many fun projects (and a few headaches) ahead. Can’t wait to see the after photos!


The house has so much potential. I hope you have hardwoods under the carpet! I would think you would remove or limb up the evergreen trees in the front (although I like the one by the garage). And remove the dead ones in the back. I can see opening the space between the kitchen and dining room and possible into the den. I can’t imagine opening the space between the living room and kitchen. It seems weird that you would see into the kitchen upon entering the house. One thing I hope you do (or don’t do) is try to change the basic character of your ranch. Crown molding and wainscoting just won’t work, in my humble and it’s not my house so it doesn’t really matter opinion :-). It’s a simple house and I hope you keep your updates modern and simple in nature. What fun for you! I can’t wait to follow along with your progress.

Your house is a diamond in the rough! I adore the simple, straight-forward layout. You can do most anything with it… clean-lined, modernist feel, or add builtins, trims, architectural detail for a bit more traditional look. It’ll be fun to see what you do!


I love all the trees. I’m sure a few will have to come down, but they provide so much privacy. Central heat/air. I also love the pink tiles, they look to be in great shape. I’ve seen several DIY shows where they are painting the tiles. Can’t wait to see what you have up your sleeve :)


Nice pink tiles !! Seriously, what an amazing house to renovate … look at those wonderful big windows. I envy you and I can’t wait to see the results when you guys weave your magic!


Melissa – For $$ sake, many things will be carried over from our current house. However, I would like to try some different paint colors and add in more natural, warm elements. That being said, I’ve always been a neutral color scheme lover, so you probably won’t see any brightly painted walls in our next home. It’s funny how you learn to hone in on ‘your style’ as you decorate and tweak more and more. To be honest, we don’t have a concrete color scheme laid out yet…still trying to focus on the larger projects first.

Oh I love it!!! My ex and I bought a house that was built in 1900 and it was so much fun to remodel…I am excited to follow your journey with you…as far as an opinion on what I would do…”Get rid of the pink bathrooms”….LOL!!


This is a blank slate. So many ideas! I’m excited for you. Can’t wait to see plans and progress and good luck selling your current home!


Love love love the house. I can see what your family sees in it. It would be my perfect fixer upper.

Oh my goodness! You are going to have fun in there, HUGE potential…can’t wait to see the afters!! Congrats and best of luck! PS. Our first home was a pink and seafoam green color scheme, reeked of the ’80’s…

Whoa! This looks just like the house my family bought ten years ago except our kitchen had pink tiles every where and a pink oven too – check under those shaggy carpets – you may have some hard wood floors in there…. can’t wait to see what it looks like after you get your hands on it!


Wow!! I LOVE the idea of a grand remodel. What an awesome project. It will soooo be. Worth it in the end! The hubby and I are house hunting now and am going with the same idea {a fixer upper..to keep our payments low and payoff early} plus you get what you want! Congrats

What potential! Can’t wait to see what y’all do with it!


Dana, I’ve been keeping up with your blog and just love your writing style and how you keep me intrigued by your life journaling. You have a lovely family and I am thrilled that you found the right home at the right time. I especially love the trees; if you take some out, because you have to, plant some more because they are truly beautiful!

All the best


Just found your blog via apt therapy! I bought my first house, not quite 2 years ago – a completely falling apart 1956 ranch, but you could see all the original charm fighting through what it’s neglectful owners had or hadn’t done to it over the years!

Congrats – I love midcentury ranches and I can’t wait to follow along. Thank you for showing an old house some love!

-J from Delaware


How exciting! We’re living in a tiny 1969 ex-government housing home that needs a *lot* of love, so it’s great to see what you’re starting with – which is not dissimilar to our own. I can’t wait to see what you do with it :-)


For God’s sake–the pink bath rooms are fabulous–you have to keep them. Just painted my 1965 vintage bathroom pink and it looks great. You will never find tile as good as the original 50’s kind. Go to the RetroRenovation web site for more on pink bathrooms and you’ll never go for beige again.


We looked at a house with that exact floor plan minus the master bathroom and plus a scary scary basement. I can’t wait to see what you do with it!

I especially can’t wait to see what you do with the picture window as far as treatments. We have one in our front room and I am completely stumped as to what to do with it.


Woah…super weird I think my husband and I just went to the estate sale at this house….


Abbie – Really?!


Haha! Yeah was the lady that lived there an artist?


Abbie – Apparently, yes she was an artist. We even got 2 of her original pieces to keep with the home.


Thats awesome! Well I can’t wait to see what you do, it truly needed A LOT of work!

Just found your blog and I see we are almost kindred spirits. Well, in terms of houses. We are set to take ownership of a 1950s house purchased through an “as-is” estate sale. I feel your pain! I added you to my blogroll and will be checking back for design inspiration. Good luck with the house and your career.


I have really enjoyed your site and look forward to seeing your progress with the underdog. I have a soft spot for mid-century ranches. They’re not inherently stylish but they are so practical. My husband and I just purchased a 1952 ranch style and will be starting the remodel soon. Like the underdog our “new” house has short but wide windows and I wondered what you think about curtains. My husband wants a short curtain, barely longer than the window but I want to go floor length to make the window seem a little longer. Any thoughts?


Britten – For curtain panels, I prefer floor-length ones…especially to vertically extend a small room. If you or your husband are concerned about window treatments extending beyond the frame of the windows, then I would go with shades of some sort. Either fabric roman shades, woven shades or even roll-up shades.


I just ran across your for sale by owner tips and at the perfect time! We live in Cincinnati too (Loveland) and are getting our house ready to sell by owner. Thanks for the useful information. Congratulations on your new home! Great lot and the house has lots of potential. I can’t wait to see how it turns out!


wow…that is one big ol mess you got there….but, it is really open and you can see the potential. I am curious what kind of budget you have in mind for renovating this entire house. Every room needs to be redone, plus landscaping. I am sure it will turn out amazing! Good luck


Hi! Got linked here from Apartment Therapy. I love your pink bathrooms! Some people would kill for them. You might consider taking a look at this website: http://savethepinkbathrooms.com/

Maybe it will bring you over to the dark side!


Clampers – The pink wasn’t the problem. The original tile was cracked and letting water seep into the walls behind it. There was black mold everywhere once we opened things up. So, the tile had to go.