Our home at Livingston is a two-unit multifamily, divided by floor. Matt and I live in our first unit, which includes the main floor and basement. When we purchased the home, we were lucky to be able to fix up the main floor and move in, as it was tenant-free. The second unit was occupied by a tenant, which also seemed lucky, since it would buy us time to do any renovations upstairs and supplement our mortgage a bit in the meantime.

I say “seemed” lucky, because actually, we had quite a few expenses with said tenant. It wasn’t all that wonderful, and unfortunately she ended up in jail and we were forced to evict in order to regain possession of our rental unit–which ended up happening after her lease would have been up. But, that’s a risk you take when you buy a new home, tenants included. And having this home is still well worth it in the end! (I can say that more easily now that we’ve moved past that challenge…)

Our property manager (who was also our realtor) has been awesome throughout everything we faced upstairs. He helped us regain possession and get things moving along so that we could remodel our second unit and get it rented as soon as possible. With help from many contractors, the project is finally complete. (Most of those contractors were wonderful, but not all of them…we had some rough experiences that I’ll save for another post.)

It’s been quite a year, being newlyweds, first-time homeowners, renovating our own home as we live in it, and fixing up the rental unit…but I am so happy to say that we are finally on the tail end of this. We are thankful for what we’ve been able to accomplish in the past year, but we believe we overloaded ourselves and should have invited more space to breathe than we did. We knew before we got into this deal that it was going to require a lot from us–time, money, energy, sanity even…but we underestimated just how much. All in all, this will still have been a wise investment of our time and energy, and we are happy to share the progress!

Here’s a tour of our upstairs rental unit at Livingston, room by room. The “before” photos are what the unit looked like when we first gained possession of the rental unit. The “after” photos are what the unit looked like at the end of remodeling, before some lingering details and cleaning.

Living Room




My goodness, the change of flooring alone worked wonders in this entry+living room. I really liked the idea of letting the tenants decide how to use this space, so we decided to remove the transition from vinyl to carpet. The new noise-proofed flooring throughout the entirety of the room makes the space feels more cohesive and open, and now our tenants have more freedom to choose in the multi-purpose space. (By the way, those were transition strips hangin out in the middle of the room, waiting to be installed.)


Dining & Kitchen







I wanted the kitchen to feel more connected to the dining area so that they would each feel brighter and larger. So, we had the spaces both painted white to make them feel more united and to take advantage of the amount of natural light that shines here. We had the cabinets professionally painted to give them a nice update, and I covered the existing countertops with a few layers of countertop paint (read the how-to here). These fixes may not hold up forever, but they were budget-friendly and significantly impacted the look of the space.







This bathroom needed some love, particularly in the way of cleaning. Once that was settled, we painted the walls, leaving the vaulted ceiling white to help the space feel a little more open. We had wood-look tile flooring installed as well as new vanity fixtures. This bathroom has a closet (not pictured) and lots of open space for any additional organization the tenants might like.



Bedroom 1




Those blinds. Yikes. This room gets the best natural light and has the best view of any room in our entire home (including our unit), and we didn’t want that to go unnoticed. We had the window frames and trim touched up, changed the carpet to a light gray, and repainted all of the walls. We chose to paint the small nook off the master bedroom alabaster white to set it off as its own little space and to take full advantage of how bright such a small space with a window can look. I imagine the nook as a sanctuary for reading or painting…or as a vanity room where you can get ready in the natural morning light. More practically, it might just be a great place for storage separate from the sleeping space.



Bedroom 2




Bedroom two was just far too dark for its size. The deep gray walls and dark brown carpets seemed to swallow the natural light from the room’s two windows. This room catches more of the late afternoon sun and not so much morning light, so the new tones invite an easier wake-up routine.


Bedroom 3




This third bedroom was home to a young boy, and while I thought the blue was very fun for a kid, it just didn’t seem broadly accessible. So we carried the light gray in from the other bedrooms. This room is a sort of an odd shape, but if you’re like me, it invites creative potential with all its nooks and crannies.


Office/Bonus Room




This room is certainly an added bonus, despite its lack of window and odd doorway maze. While this room isn’t a legal bedroom, it’s a great space for an office, playroom, music room…whatever the tenants need.


Our goal for the upstairs rental was to update the space in such a way that anyone might like it. No more obscurely colored walls, no more dark carpet. We truly had to balance the great potential in this space with the requirements of a diminishing renovation budget (for the entire house). We’ve put in so much work with so many contractors over the past year, but I think we did a pretty swell job maximizing our budget for such a large project. There’s more to show, and so much more to tell…but that will come in later posts.

Thank you for sharing encouragement throughout this season of work! Matt and I have sometimes wondered whether we’re crazy for taking this all on when we did. But our cheerleaders helped us keep our sanity. Now it’s time to step back and admire how far Livingston has come, and to take things more slowly as we approach year two of marriage and life here at Modern Livingston.

2 replies on “unit 2, made new

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