Before And After

On the fifteenth of February in 2017 the Cowboy and I closed on this property where we now reside for a portion of each year. We had purchased the property sight unseen through our realtor Pam, who we trusted. She viewed the property, took detailed photos and told us “you people are nuts” but in the next breath said, “with the talents you two have, this place has huge potential.” And she was right–it did have potential and all it took was a bit of money and tons of hard, physical, back breaking work over the five years living part time in Arizona.

It was two houses separated by a four foot space but both houses were under the same roof–or what was left of the roof and situated on three acres of land. According to neighbors, the houses had been abandoned for approximately 10 years. The house was advertised as having power (very important in this area as it costs $25/foot to run power to your lot), a well which we discovered was dry, and septic system.

We had a new well drilled, spread truck loads of gravel to contain the dust and got to work.

The original house was built in 1972 and we are not sure when the smaller of the two houses was added. This smaller house was in better condition and had less roof water damage than the main house. It had a finished (mostly) kitchen with refrigerator, dishwasher and gas range as well as a complete bathroom. We decided to live in the motorhome and finish what we started to call “the guest house.” We would then live in the guest house while finishing the main house.

This was our first glimpse of the houses when we arrived. Guest house to the right, main house with brick to the left. And our “glimpses” got worse!!

As you can see, both houses had traditional peaked roofs. I’ve always wanted a southwest, Santa Fe style house–so my Cowboy with a lot of hard work created one for me. Fixing the roofs was a priority that first spring of 2017.


We now have a house that looks like this–

These two photos are of the guest house kitchen in its original state. We removed that weird center cabinet/eating area.

Guest House kitchen finished
Another photo of the guest house kitchen finished

The living room area had a dropped floor of about 8 inches and some weird doors and walls–the Cowboy raised the floor, removed walls and laid tile.

Guest house living room finished

And now for the main house–it was in sad condition, no kitchen, no plumbing, horrible roof leaks, nasty carpet. It’s still hard for us to believe we created this beautiful home. We built walls to move walls, moved way too many walls, hoisted a 300 pound beam into the ceiling of the living room, laid and grouted about 3000 square feet of tile, custom built kitchen cabinets, planted trees and added a watering system, picked up and disposed of tons of junk the previous owners left, added a garage, painted endless walls and ceilings, installed some new windows, hung insulation (ugh), installed heating and air conditioning, made countless trips to Sierra Vista and Tucson for supplies, and shopped Craigslist for furnishing. We hired someone to stucco the outside of the house, to pour the outside concrete porch floors and to test the mini split heating and air conditioning units–the rest of the incredibly hard work was done by the Cowboy and me. All that hard work just adds to our immense satisfaction with the finished home.

This room was a bedroom and is now our dining room.
And the dining room now.

The main house living room before, as you can see, we vaulted the ceiling.
Main house living room now. 
Original bathroom in the main house–downright scary! And we’ve been told the previous owners were a couple with five children!! Three bedrooms and one bathroom in the main house for seven people! 

And the master bath now–I wanted no glass doors or shower curtains to keep clean–the Cowboy delivered.

And this was what was left of the kitchen in the main house–

There was no working plumbing in the main house, the Cowboy had to jack hammer the concrete to move the bathroom and kitchen plumbing to the right places as we had moved walls. I had a magazine article describing a kitchen I loved–big windows, all drawers in the lower cabinets, no upper cabinets. We basically stuck with the design from the article with the exception of installing upper cabinets on the side of the kitchen without windows. I think the kitchen is my favorite room in the whole house, maybe–I love the porch too and the dining room, and the living room!!

These cabinets on the porch were obtained with another day of hard, back breaking work. The Cowboy saw the cabinets advertised on Craigslist for free–if someone would remove them from their location. It literally took us all day long to get those cabinets out of that house. We brought them home and the Cowboy remodeled the cabinets to make them fit our space–they add so much to the porch room.

So–that’s a lot of words and a lot of photos. And while we love our house and are so pleased with how it now looks it’s not something either of us wants to ever do again.

48 thoughts on “Before And After

  1. You two are incredible. There is no other word for it. Absolutely amazing transformation. Now it’s time to enjoy the fruit of your labour, although that’s probably not going to happen 😉 👏👏👍👍😍


  2. WOW. You two are amazing. BUT – message from me – don’t ever try to do this again..😏😏

    Truly beautiful!!!!! 🤗🤗


  3. That is an absolutely incredible transformation. I’m so glad you posted before and after photos and described your journey of creating your gorgeous home. And it’s amazing that you did almost EVERYTHING yourselves.

    Honestly, that place was a serious dump before you got hold of it, and you turned it into a beautiful, unique home. You both have vision, tenacity, and talent. If you get bored, I’ll pay for you to come to Florida. I have a project for you LOL LOL. This is the inspiration I need to get our projects done!


    1. Thanks Laurel! You hit the nail on the head Laurel–it was a dump! Filthy, critter carcasses everywhere, I had lots of discouraged days but we finally persevered! And, remember that was only working one half of each of those five years.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. absolutely gorgeous houses! while it may have been a lot of back breaking and knee hurting work, the final result is amazing. You can both be proud of all the hard work and now being able to enjoy the end product. Congratulations!


  5. Just incredible. The difference between then and now. But I’m not sure how you both survived it. I’m really hoping you can take some time to enjoy the fruits of your labor.


  6. Amazing seems so trite in describing both of
    your hard, hard work. Even though I have followed you
    through every post, I think your unable to describe all
    of the hardships…. snakes, scorpions, rats and lots
    of sand to add to the list. Lol
    Your adventures would make a great book!!
    You must feel so proud…. congratulations, your
    a wonderful team🥰


    1. You are so right Linda–two huge rattlesnakes right off the bat when we first bought the place, gophers eating our trees–the list goes on! The houses were full of rat poop, snake carcasses–it’s a wonder we didn’t run screaming! And yes, we are so pleased with our efforts!


  7. I remember you first blogging about this property and what a beautiful place you made of it. The two of you could make a fortune in the contracting & design business. So much better than those DIYer’s that are on the TV. Well not Tom & Norm but for sure the rest of them.


  8. Yes, I remember what it looked like when you and Mike first showed us around. we saw it again when you were about half way through your renovations. From someone who actually saw your place for real in the beginning I have to say looking at the finished photos, you two have done an absolutely incredible job. And especially so from the rundown condition that place was in when you started. Your efforts could clearly make it onto the front pages of Better Homes and Gardens.


    1. When looking for photos for this blog post I ran across the photos of you and Kelly when you visited that time–brought back memories! We certainly gave life to this old, rundown place didn’t we!


  9. I so hope that both of you will enjoy relaxing among such beautiful surroundings! I love the desert views (grew up on the Mojave). I’d like to see if someone can actually live without a project to do. My dad couldn’t. Enjoy it all!


  10. I used to walk our dog by the empty house and think what a great location but what a mess of a house. You have done an amazing job!


    1. Lots of people have told us they walked by this house and some even went inside as the doors weren’t locked. Everyone has said they wouldn’t have tackled this project–maybe our realtor was right–we are nuts. Thanks Karen–we are so pleased with it.


  11. You Two are absolutely Awesome! You and Mike have worked very hard on that place and it is Gorgeous!
    Congratulations !
    Now Best of Luck getting Mike to take a break 😜
    Miss you both 😊


  12. You Two are absolutely Awesome! You and Mike have worked very hard on that place and it is Gorgeous!
    Congratulations !
    Now Best of Luck getting Mike to take a break 😜
    Miss you both 😊


  13. I love seeing all the photos of the before and after. It’s still amazing to see the transformation. You two are crazy and so, so talented. It’s amazing the work you’ve done. The houses are beautiful. It’s still hard to believe the kitchen in the guest house still had those beautiful cabinets with glass and none were broken. The guest house kitchen is my favorite room. It must feel so good to finally be able to just enjoy all your years of hard work.


    1. Your home is truly wonderful, a reflection of your persistence and determination. Looking at the before pictures it was evident your eyes saw the unpolished gem it has turned out to be: Beautiful and comfortable. Thank you for giving us all the tour!


  14. Thank you for sharing all the photos & step by step awesome transformation—positive enforcement of your vision & all your efforts.So,if y’all get bored; solar power & water heating,small greenhouse- all things that maintain the mansion year round?
    I’m sure there will be something unique & very well done.All the best & congratulations .


  15. Even though we saw some of the before and in-betweens, I love seeing these before and after pics. Like all have said, it truly is an amazing transformation. The windows and colors you’ve chosen make the final home such a beautiful haven. And that shower!! I’m glad to hear you’re not taking on any more and will enjoy the wonderful space you’ve made. Congrats on seeing all your ideas come to such lovely fruition.


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