House Beautiful

Tag Archive for 'fixer upper'

We Bought a Fixer Upper!

Ladies & Gents, Gusses & Geese: we have just this afternoon signed our lives away on THE biggest gem of a can of worms of a dreamboat you’ve ever seen:

…in the cutest little postcard of a mountain town there ever was (we live in Crested Butte, Colorado).

{ image via here }

{ image via Travel Crested Butte }

The property is comprised of a 1200 SF front house built in the 1800’s (the white stucco part) – currently not *quite* what you might call “livable” (hey man, floors – who needs em??), and a 1700 SF addition (the wood siding part) built onto the back that was framed & roughed-in in the 80’s, but then was left unfinished & hasn’t been touched since.

The back house addition looks like this inside:

As for the front house… llllisten: if you thought Karrie’s house we renovated 5 years ago was a primitive “before” (#casacovetliving)…

…then hold onto your shorts cuz that was the Four Seasons compared to what we’re delving into.  The term “Fixer Upper” doesn’t *quite* do justice to this little historic, circa 1880’s beauty which currently lacks living room floors but is chock full of blue midcentury plumbing fixtures, velvet-clad walls and serious quirks.  And while it may be short on ceilings (they’re just over 7 feet downstairs), it’s high on charm (great bones & lots of tongue-in-groove walls and gabled ceilings), high on endless potential and SURE to be high on cans-of-worms.  AND WE COULD NOT BE MORE THRILLED.  Here, I’ll hit the highlights for you:

Entryway into Living Room

Living Room


Goosie in said kitchen

Sunny little breakfast nook off the kitchen (you better believe imma repurpose that vintage pendant light somewhere)

Downstairs Bath (and currently the only bath)

Velvet Walls for the Win

Upstairs Master Bedroom

When Chris & I first saw this house come on the market, it was last Fall right before our (2nd time’s a charm) wedding, and we remember thinking: “WOW.  Tons of potential, tons of space… ho-ly &$#@ (!) – tons of work.”  We would’ve moved on it then, but we were in a pressure cooker otherwise known as trying to execute a destination wedding with 75 people during a global pandemic, with ever-changing rules (and a crazy DJ who lost his marbles and I was certain was going to call the 5-0 on us, cuz he had already called Gavin Newsom… can’t make this stuff up)… so it was just too overwhelming to do all the things at once.  Plus, there was this problem: “Exsqueeze me, I’ve just spent our down payment on bougainvilleas and booze.  But MAN you should’ve seen my jade velvet tablecloths!  Do you accept handshakes & Monopoly money as a form of currency?”  HAAAAAAA.

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And so after our insane wedding (which I loved SO MUCH and I wouldn’t take ONE SINGLE PART OF IT BACK – NOT ONE!), there we sat – just sweating while we watched the market tick up & up, and were racing against the clock so we could jump in before it was all out of our reach.  Crested Butte is a dang gem, but it’s no longer a hidden one: it’s actually referred to as “the last great mountain town in Colorado,” and people used to always say to us: “What do you guys DO that you get to live in this place full-time?”  It’s true that Winters here are not for the faint of heart – they are brutal and unrelenting…

It’s also true that you’re sure to stand in line for at least 1 hour at the Post Office at Christmas time, which melts my brain… and that we are a far reach from the big red bullseye (closest Target is 2 hours away).  But if that’s the worst of it, then yo – I’d say we’re in pretty good shape.  This sweet, belongs-in-a-Hallmark-movie small town is stunningly beautiful, with an abundance of nature that is largely untouched and still wild… it always feels safe (I think maybe someone borrowed someone else’s townie bike to get home from the bars last Summer, then returned it the next day, but that’s about the worst shenanigan I’ve heard of going down here), and it has THE most magical Summer & Fall.  M-A-G-I-C-A-L.  I tell you what – they just don’t make towns like this anymore.

{ via } – photo by Morgan Rachel Levy

Anyhow… the ski resort here was bought by Vail a few years ago, which drove up the real estate market a sniff, but I swear when COVID hit, sh*t went bananas and all bets were off: everyone and their mom’s brother’s uncle’s cousin figured out that they, too, could live here and work from home.  It was (and is) like a real-life game of Monopoly – or a group mud wrestling match – or that scene from Far and Away where people were hustlin dem wagons out to the frontier and staking their claim on anything they could… and we were about two shakes from being totally out of luck and either having to rent forever, or having to move out of town.  Every *single* house that hits the market in this place (as I’m sure is the case in all resort towns) has multiple offers, almost always cash offers, and almost always over asking price.  HEH?  All I could think was: dang, is a tiny roof over our heads such an astronomical ask? I don’t know if we can run with the big dogs.  Where do the Muggles go?  This is us btw.  We are muggles.

And then, our little gem came back on the market one day in late January, and we walked a few blocks over from our house to view it with our (most AMAZING realtor, without whom we would’ve been lost) and good friend, Jesse Ebner of Signature Properties & her husband Dave…

…and as Chris & I stepped into the little front living room with no floors, sagging ceilings and not ONE extra ounce of space for even a fart, we both said, almost in unison: “OMG I love it.  I am NOT scared.”

We raced in an offer the next morning, and knowing it was a huge Hail Mary and that we probably didn’t have a dog in the fight, I wrote a letter that I asked Jesse to enclose with our offer.  I introduced myself and Chris to the sellers, told them we were locals and both business owners in town and that we wanted our kids to know what it was like to grow up in a place like this.  I told them we wanted to raise our family in this house and that that was our intention not to do a quick flip or turn it into an AirBNB, but to live in it full time and lovingly restore it.  I told them why we loved the house so much – that Chris loved the Norwegian-looking historic exterior of the front house, that I loved the sunny breakfast nook, the gabled storybook ceilings upstairs, and the big yard for Goose.  I told them I was a designer and that I loved renovations the most, because they’re always a puzzle to be solved and there is always a reverence for the history of an older home.  I told them we knew they probably would have tons of other offers, but that I wanted them to know how earnest we were… and that we had every intention of getting to the closing table (the house had 2 contracts fall through previously).  And so we sat on pins & needles for 2 days, and then Jesse FaceTimed us: “YOU GUYS ARE BUYING A HOUSE IN CRESTED BUTTE!!!” – not the finest glamour shot of either of us but the happiest snap, in the interest of documenting…

Chris was all calm and collected and sat back and goes: “….whooaaaa, this is so awesome.” And I go… something like this:

GIPHY via Jay Versace

The road from contract to closing, however, had more ups & downs than the Vortex at Kings Island (Burris kids get the joke BURRIS KIDS GET THE JOKE!!).  You know what’s NOT for the faint of heart?  Getting a jumbo loan for a pair of 1099 employees on a historic non-conforming property, during COVID.  I swear, I couldn’t buy a dag gum pair of undapants for the last 45 days without the underwriters asking me who/what/where/why/when I bought em… then there’s more shenanigans like: “Because of COVID, we need to make sure you’re still employed, Stephanie, as of a few days before closing so could YOU send us every.single.piece.of.paperwork you have touched over the last 10 days” and I thought my brain was going to explode. I was like: “Mr. Underwriter, I am so overly employed right now that I don’t know how to stop what I’m doing to create a paper trail for you but OK FOR THIS HOUSE I WILL DO IT.”  The only thing more fun than that was trying to get insurance on a house built in 1880 where they ask you 20 ways to Sunday: “And tell me again, when was the last time the roof was replaced?”  And I would just snort laugh and go, “I think in the 90’s!”  THE 1890’s, THAT IS – fbdsafhdkshafkdhahfkah.  Anyhow – by some miracle, we made it (!) and she’s all ours.

In the interest of getting a jump on permits and everything else e.g. appliances that are backordered until the end of time, we’re already pretty neck-deep in planning (I may or may not have already done most of the CAD drawings for what we want to do… #SQUEAL).  I will be blogging & Insta story-ing through the renovation process (and another medium that’s in the works that rhymes with schmboob schmtube), so I hope you guys can follow along through all the twists & turns (and cans of worms) that are surely ahead!  I mean, how does my favorite saying go??

“Pretty sure “What the hell?” is always the right decision.”

WE ARE SO EXCITED.  So is Goosie:

Up next week: Renovation Plans!

Pop Quiz: what should the hashtag for this project be???  Doing a giveaway for whoever manages to come up with the best one!  Stay tuned via my Instagram page for details.


Casa Covet Living: People, we have liftoff.

Casa Covet Living Demo

Oh y’all.  It’s goin’ down.  That there picture above was sent to me last Monday. Boston Joe doesn’t mess around! PS: Boston Joe is our contractor who is a BOSS. Here are s’more of the current state of the interior:

(Master Bedroom)


(Current Family Room looking into Formal Living / Front Door)


Wanna see the plan we decided on??  Grab your magnifying glass…

Casa Covet Living | Floorplan Before & After | Stephanie Ballard Interiors

Here’s a bigger version… we’ll dig deeper into each space in a few:

Casa Covet Living | Floorplan by Stephanie Ballard

Howsabout a play-by-play of how each space / element is shaping up???  Since the layout is set and we’re now in demo mode, we’re also in hurry-up-and-choose-lighting-and-tile-and-flooring-mode.  Here’s how selections are coming:


Karrie & Tim wanted a darker floor with some texture… and something that’s relatively indestructible since a) they have a lab named Kilroy, b) Kilroy has a friend named #GusGusforPresident who visits often, and c) Karrie is a self-professed Pig Pen of sorts.  This was one of our faves:


Inspo Floors

I sourced these two options for them:

(Option A)

Walnut, Variable plank, Hand-Scraped Finish


(Option B)

European Oak… has a bit more of a weathered but still sophisticated beachy look to me.


(Winner: Option A!)

The hand-scraped walnut won out!  It was the closest to what Karrie had envisioned.  Both choices were SUPER reasonably priced for the quality.  The color of this one is also perfect.



*These* beauts in all their glass tile glory have long-since been what Karrie & Tim both wanted for their master shower:

Master Shower | Casa Covet Living

Here are the tile options I pulled for ’em that are the closest match to their inspo…



Also pulled a slightly lighter color which was my personal favorite… this picture doesn’t even START to do it justice.  It’s a STUNNER and that hue of blue is completely unique.


This is pretty close to what it would look like installed, which is about as close to perfection as you can get:

blue tile perfection | covet living

But alas… my pick was also completely pricey because it’s Glasshaus + has a completely long lead time, which rendered it completely out of the running.  (Sad face).  We also entertained the two at left:


Both gorgeous, in a sea glass / coke bottled hue sort of way, but in the end we chose to stick to their original vision and go with the more unique, deeper Caribbean blue.  PS if you like the second from the left above (seafoam greenish), it’s available at Home Depot:



For the master bath floor, we have a few options…  wanna weigh in?

(TOP LEFT):  Linen-like textured porcelain floor, which I love, and which is also relatively inexpensive.  Porcelain is a great choice for bathroom floors because of its price point but also its durability – you can literally throw bleach on it and it won’t jack it up.  Not sure what sizes we’d cut it into or how I want it laid – gotta work that one through still.  Probably will do a larger format (maybe 6×12 cuts) and maybe in a herringbone pattern – to keep it from being to matchy-matchy and dizzying against the 3×6 glass subway in the shower.

(TOP RIGHT): Classic basketweave (Carrara).

(BOTTOM LEFT): 3/4″ white porcelain hexagon.

(BOTTOM RIGHT): Carrara-like 3/4″ penny tile (shown) -or- a white porcelain penny tile which – anything you do on a floor, especially a bathroom – you want to do in a honed or matte finish to prevent slipping.  Cuz aint nobody need to bust they hip or break a neck falling down & going boom in the bathroom.  You put something in a polished finish down and you might as well layer the floor with nanner peels.

Master Bath Flooring Choices | Casa Covet Living

Also thinking we’re gonna do these vessel sinks in the master bath… it gives it kind of a spa-like feel, which I love.  Haven’t added the sinks into their cabinetry drawings yet but you get the idea:

Casa Covet Living | Master Bath

(Plan View)

They’ve got some decent counter space (about 54″) in here to spread out stuff like Karrie’s rusted Con-Air curling iron from high school, my travel toiletry bag (just kidding Teem!  I’ll stay on my side of the house), and spray bottles of Poo-Pourri. Hey – don’t knock that stuff till you try it.  Someday it’ll put matches outta biz.

Casa Covet Living | San Diego Custom Cabinets


Get ready to soil your drawers, cuz that’s what I do every time I think about what we picked for the Hall Bath… aka Guest Bath.  AKA my bathroom – bfjkdlsajfkdshjahfhdhsahaha.

Casa Covet Living | Hall Bath | Stephanie Ballard Interiors

We almost lost the battle for Hygge & West’s Pineapple in Mint wallcovering when I posted it on Insta, but I think we’ve since won him over.  (HOORAAAAAAY!)

Tim on Pineapple Wallpaper

As for the hall bath vanity, here’s what we’re dealing with: a) no linen closet in or outside of the bath, b) a small space, and c) a 41″ wide recessed area for the sink/vanity.  We entertained a pedestal sink BUT since we need little bit of storage, we decided on a freestanding vanity that’s open underneath so we can fill baskets with bath towels/linens for guests.  Like-a-zeese!

baskets under

I also suggested to Karrie that we have the countertop fabricated: a) with a little detail on the side, like this… just to keep from doing a run-of-the-mill 4″ cut-straight-across backsplash… but also to keep thangs from falling off the side, since we made the vanity freestanding and there are about 2″ of open space on either side:

Marble Vanity Corner Detail | Casa Covet Living

And b) with a wee ledge up top, like our good buddy Betsy Bracken (owner/shopkeeper of our favorite store, Bixby & Ball – aka the Mothership) has in her gorgeous bathroom (which Karrie and I may or may not have posted up in for an hour at Betsy’s Christmas party last year, with our jaws on the floor, like a coupla goons.  (PS: pics of Betsy’s home featured in Better Homes & Gardens is here.)

Betsy Bracken Bathroom | Better Homes & Gardens


Vegas Peacock it is (!)  Thanks so much for weighing in!!

Casa Covet Living | Stephanie Ballard Interiors

PS we almost peed ourselves when this happened:

Joanna Gaines weighing in on Casa Covet Living

Here are the countertop & backsplash finishes…

  • Inset above range: Tabarka Signature, Oxford on Lavan
  • Countertop: Silestone (Lagoon) or Caesarstone (Carrara-like)
  • Backsplash / Field Tile: White, handmade ceramic 3×6 subway – we chose this vs. a regular flat subway because it has a little bit of undulation and movement… hard to see from the pic, but since we’re doing tiling the whole way up the wall behind the range and behind the sink, ye know – that’s a lotta ONE tile in one color, so it’s nice to add a little texture / interest.


Lighting for the kitchen:

Casa Covet Living | San Diego Custom Cabinets Casa Covet Living | San Diego Custom Cabinets

That’s about it for now!  Such a long post (sahhhreee) and so many moving parts! Thoughts on the master bath floor??

PS… she kills me.  BAhahdhdjksahda:



Steph's Scanned Signature