Leaky Pipes at Spinning Wheel

Let’s be clear – this job is not like an HGTV show. It’s always a fun conversation when someone asks about Muddy River Homes and they immediately think of a fun half hour show that takes a dilapidated home to a beautiful renovation.

I enjoy those shows, I really do – I think they’re inspiring and continue to challenge people to rethink they way we recycle neighborhoods. But sometimes they tend to sidestep challenges – or quickly resolve them with seemingly endless budgets.

Foreclosure rehabilitation isn’t for the faint of heart – surprises are around every corner and the Spinning Wheel home didn’t disappoint.

Just a few weeks into the project and the progress is already significant. Demolition is complete and I’ve made the paint and flooring choices.

In the main area where the living room and the kitchen connect, we decided to remove this half wall and it immediately opened up the flow of the space.

We were also able to salvage the cabinets with a nice paint job. Ryan will add molding and new hardware to really spruce them up.

We were making great time…until Ryan turned the water on and Spinning Wheel gave us our first surprise. Water literally flowed out from the ceiling chandelier in our kitchen. And just like that…the wet drywall had to come down.

Here’s the tiny culprit that caused so much trouble.

Pipes are now fixed, water is on – and luckily this will only eat into the budget about $800. It did however eat up time. It pushed us back a solid week and time is money. In order to make up for it, we’ll hire someone to do the taping and mudding so Ryan can move on to other items.

All in all, it’s a small hiccup that could have been much worse. For instance, if you were renovating a home for the first time and decided to leave the water on overnight…much. much. worse. A little experience and caution goes a long way.

New Project: Spinning Wheel

Six offers. It took six offers over the span of two months on our new Spinning Wheel project before we could call it ours. That’s not to say that we were offering more money each time…nope, the last three offers we submitted were the exact same. But as the year started to close, motivation to get foreclosures off the books increased and our offer became more and more appealing.

This last round of project shopping was pretty intense. In the current St. Charles County market, it’s easy to sell – difficult to buy. It’s an exciting time. Having renovated so many properties, we’re pretty open minded about what we can handle when shopping. When others can’t see past the animal stained carpets, moldy drywall, or bug infested chimneys – we see potential. Yet even with that mindset, competition was up.

That’s why we are so excited to have locked down the Spinning Wheel house. It most certainly needs some attention, but renovation and restoration, it’s going to be beautiful. Here is it’s current state:

In the living room, we’ll replace the flooring, add lighting, and replace the mantle. We’ll removed the awkward kitchen/living room cabinet to open the space completely. We’ll continue the flooring throughout the main level so it will feel like a unified space.

In the kitchen, we’ll paint the cabinets, add new hardware, new countertops, and a new backsplash. As I choose fixtures, tile, and colors, I’ll be sure to share.

A big project will be refinishing the stairs – the carpet must go. We’ll opt for some version of wood with a runner.

Upstairs the rooms will be simple. The majority of work falls in the bathrooms – in both we’ll paint vanities, replace the tops, all the hardware, and do custom tiling in the bath/showers.

The basement we’re removing the carpet and staining the concrete. We’ve never tried this before, but it’s a cheap experiment…if it looks terrible, we’ll just put carpet back!

Outside we’ll need some decking, but otherwise the yard is good to go.

So excited to get this project going and completed. When all is said and done, I’ll do a final walk through to ensure it’s family ready – and we’ll make the move! It’s not our forever home, but still our home for a season. Can’t wait to see it transform.

Janis Ann is Now Available

I can’t think of a better way to return from maternity leave than to announce that the Janis Ann project is up for grabs. For the last 12 weeks our family focused on the new little life that joined us. We fulfilled all those parent stereotypes of sleepless nights, forgetful days, and overwhelming happiness. Work? We pressed pause. But now we’re ready to get moving again – and we’re kicking it gear by showing off our Janis Ann gem!

This house underwent such a beautiful transformation and it’s going to be someone’s home. When I set up staging to give buyers an idea of what it would feel like to live there, I could imagine the dinners around the kitchen and dining room, the coffee bar bustling early every morning, and crackling fires in the family area. It’s a sweet space that is going to make someone very happy.

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Janis Ann Project Update

After some much needed time off for Christmas, we’re returning to the Janis Ann project recharged and ready to go. Here’s where we are so far:

Upstairs walls are painted, electrical is in, and lighting is installed. Recessed lights keep the living room and kitchen open and airy.


The chandelier is refinished (check out how here) and up.


Fans for the bedroom. The designer in me would love to see a pretty chandelier, but the practical homeowner in me wants a fan above my bed.


The old cabinets are painted and ready for hardware. Express Granite is measuring for countertops tomorrow morning.

janis ann kitchen

One of Ryan’s specialities is custom tile work. He did an amazing job on the bathroom in the master and it’s all getting grout today.


The basement drywall is up and the paint is going on this week!

IMG_0410I’m really excited because I’m off of my 9-5 job, so I get to work on Janis Ann with Ryan. This week, my big project is built in bookshelves and redoing this fireplace. It’s going to be beautiful when I’m done!


Chandelier Makeover DIY

This Chandelier Makeover DIY is for lighting in the Janis Ann project.

Each project we renovate, I try to leave behind some character of the original home. For the Janis Ann project, I knew the dining room chandelier could be something special with a little elbow grease. It’s a quality fixture from Germany that’s outdated due to the brass color and crystals.


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For this DIY chandelier makeover, I decided to remove all the crystals and change the finish to oil-rubbed bronze. The crystals fell off with a simple snip, snip!



I sprayed a base coat of flat, dark brown – then covered the entire fixture with Rustoleum Metallic Finish Oil Rubbed Bronze.

The design plans for Janis Ann include very muted walls (color as seen in photo below), white kitchen cabinets, and a dark wood floor (not yet installed). The oil rubbed bronze fixture will help balance out all the colors.

The entire project took a total of 1:30 (that’s dry time included). It’ll be a beautiful focal point for the Janis Ann home when all the pieces finally come together!


Picking Paint Color, Tile, & Countertops

Walking into a new project that we’ve gutted always allows me to see the space with fresh eyes. My favorite place to start rebuilding is the kitchen. At the Sturm house, the kitchen is the heart of the home. It’s where we all touch base after we’ve finished a long day. The concoctions can warm cold skin, fill hungry bellies and fix a lot of life’s problems. I want homebuyers to be able to see themselves doing similar things in this space.

It’s always tricky with rehabs because I do not know my buyer. We walk a fine line of remaining neutral while still incorporating special touches that conjure up warm feelings of home.

For the Janis Ann Gem, we knocked out the wall separating living/dining area to the kitchen. It immediately opened the space and allows the rooms to breathe.


During my design process I scour magazines, Pinterest, and take countless trips to Home Depot. I need to make the most of this space on a budget and that always takes work. The first decision was easy – hardwood floors throughout. We haven’t found the product yet, but we know this is a must.

For paint color, I fell in love with this one:

silver strandSherwin Williams Silver Strand SW 7057

The front windows bring in light changes that keep the color versatile. In the morning it’s a cool gray, but by the afternoon, it’s warmed up to show it’s brown undertones.

I love these cabinets, but not the color. We’re going to lighten the whole room up with a simple paint job. This color isn’t stark white, but nice and clean:

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Benjamin Moore White Dove OC-17

After going back and forth on backsplash, I’ve decided to go with the white subway tile. The space needs to remain as open and airy as possible.

I’m still on the hunt for the countertops. I love these options:

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Plus, we’re installing a beautiful island with a wooden top that will balance the whole kitchen out More updates to come as we make improvements.

The Right Place at the Right Time

Shopping for the next project is always an exciting time at Muddy River Homes.

Ryan always brings home the smell of “foreclosure” after a long day of house shopping. It could be a home with mold, pet odor, or even squatters – he’s never shy about checking every room and basement, so the smell tends to stick.

Given the competitive market in the St. Louis area, sometimes the shopping takes longer than we’d like – but sometimes, you’re just in the right place at the right time. That’s how it worked for us on the Janis Ann Gem. The home was left to deteriorate in this great little neighborhood right next to the St. Peters golf course. After the homeowner passed, a distant family member handled the trust and the home sat vacant for three years. When the time came for sale, they just wanted it gone.

These are my favorite homes. At some point this home was full of life, family, and love. The neighbors knew each other by name and shared years worth of stories. With some hard work and design insight, Ryan and I are going to restore this home and make it one of the best in the neighborhood. Then comes the best part. Someone, some couple, or some family is going to fill the beautiful space. They’re going to walk through and imagine where they can cook dinner and enjoy food with friends. They’re going to see themselves relaxing and breathing easy in their master suite. They’re going to find their new home, their new neighborhood, and their new community.


Within the first week of our arrival, Ryan made a few friends. When we started painting the outside of the home, Ryan made lots of friends. The pinkish hue (understandably) ran its course and it was time for a new look. He’s now the most popular guy in the neighborhood.

I’m thankful that God led us to this project. With our last home taking longer in the renovation stage than planned and our second little girl on the way, we both needed the satisfaction of diving in to our next project. We’re excited about this restoration and bringing life back into the Janis Ann Gem.