1987 Fixer Upper Home Remodel : Entry Way and Office Before and After

I’m so excited to be heading inside the #1987FixerUpper this week to share the entry way and office remodel. We took this puppy down to the studs and boy what a project it was!

The entry way started out as a dark, kind of boring space.  It was painted a dark green, had a large tuscan chandelier, and the room to the right (what is an office) was walled off.  The headers were low leading into the living room and office and it just felt dark, closed off and a bit unwelcoming overall.  The stairs were carpeted and the banister and railing were outdated and no longer met code due to the spindles being too far apart and the banister being a low 34″ instead of the 37-39 it needs to be now days.  I literally felt a bit sick to my stomach when I would get to the top of the stairs and get too near the railing.  I felt like someone was going to fall overboard and that is not a good feeling! So, we set to work making this space feel light, bright and open…all musts for me with this transformation.  This part of the project was not overly complicated.  It was simply raising the header into the living room by about 6 inches, opening up the wall into the office to make it an open space right off the entry way, changing out the flooring on the stairs from carpet to wood, replacing the banister, spindles and newel posts, replacing the front door and window over it to a more modern looking rectangle and adding the trim.

entry way makeover remodel 1987 house

Here’s what we started with:

Living room 1

Entry way


entry way design

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Office 6

Entry way 2


Office 5

Office 3

Office 2

Office 1

Office 7

throughout the process:

Office 1 1

There were SO many switches in this house…like SO many!  I wanted to eliminate as many as we could and just clean things up a bit so we didn’t have panel after panel of switches.  We managed to get the four sets of switches you see in the wall here down to two.  Much better! 🙂

Living room

1980's home remodel

The new window over the front door made SUCH a difference in the overall look of the house, both inside and out!

1980's fixer upper

The stair railing is one of the last things to come down, simply for safety reasons….and you want it to go back up as quickly as possible!  Once the walls went back up and the old flooring was removed it already looked so much better and can you believe how much brighter already?!

Entry way 4

Opening that office wall up made SUCH a huge difference in how open the entry felt, and also how much light it let in.  That office has one of the best windows in the house, so having it closed off was a shame!

entry way design

When the trim started going up and taking shape I could really get a feel for how grand and beautiful the entry was going to feel.

entry way design

entry way design

entry way design

Such a different look!

entry way design

entry way design

The new front door was like the icing on the cake.  I designed it so the lines would mimic those on the millwork and everything would look like one piece.  The longer side lights on the door and the three windows across the top all let even more light into this previously dark space.

installing a new front door

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And finally the finished product (minus the decorating part, of course! ;))

entry way makeover

I searched high and low for ideas for the wainscoting in this entry way.  It is the only place in the house with ceilings higher than 8 feet, and I wanted to emphasize that because when you first walk in it really sets the tone for the rest of the house.  I have had several people tell me they don’t even notice the lower ceilings because they entry makes everything feel so open and bright.  I opted for these long single boxes outlining the room because they draw the eye up and call attention to the high ceilings.

entry way remodel

entry way re design

wood stairs

Like I may have mentioned a time or two thousand times before, I love light. 😉  Previously this entry had the one tuscan chandelier with two bulbs and the office had some track lighting.  I added so many lights to this house it’s insane…but I love how bright it is!  The entry way now has four cans and a six bulb chandelier.  The office is now sporting 4 cans as well as another overhead light.  It will eventually be a chandelier of some sort, but I have a place holder semi flush mount in there for the time being.  All of the lights in the house are now LED which has led to tremendous electric bill savings on a house this size!

entry way remodel

millwork in the entry way

entry way makeover

entry way redesign on a 1980s house

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Well if you made it through all of those pictures, then you are a real trooper! 😉  If you want all the details stick around…


Wood: Oasis Hardwood Carmel Collection Marina

Custom Front Door and Wood for Trim and Stairs – FJP Building Supply

Chandelier in Entry Way

Door Hardware


Walls: Repose Gray by Sherwin Williams at 25%

Trim and Stairs: High Reflective White by Sherwin WIlliams


What we changed:

New Electrical (wiring, switches and plates, added can lights and chandeliers throughout)

New Drywall Throughout

New Insulation

Added all New Trim

New Paint

New Flooring

New Lights

New Windows

New Front Door and Hardware

New Windows

Removed Walls

Changed Headers

New Stair Parts (Balusters, Newel Posts, Railings, Risers)

Here are a few things I learned with this portion of the remodel and my best cost guide/price ranges found for some of these services in our area for this project:


This is what everyone dreams of doing, right?  You watch HGTV and everyone goes through houses saying “I’d remove that wall, and this wall…open this up here and cut that out…” well, that is in fact what we did.  But, before I bought the house, I met with a structural engineer that came through the house with me.  I told him my plans, gave him a copy of the blueprints to the house, and asked him to give me his assessment.  It only cost me about $150 for his time, and that was money well spent.  I knew at that point that I could safely do what I was hoping to do, with minimal expense, because nothing that I wanted to remove was load bearing.  I highly recommend this minimal expense if you are thinking about removing walls.


While we did replace just about every stair part in the house, we did not replace the actual stair structure.  The stairwell was already where we wanted it and was very wide, which was awesome, so that saved us some money…but it did lead to a few problems to be aware of if you are thinking about doing the same thing.  When we switched the carpet to wood, we ended up with some issues with the risers and the width of the stair tread.  It’s hard for me to explain, but just be aware of the width of your stair tread during the process.  You want to make sure it is a minimum of 10 inches.  We had to add an extra piece to the riser so that once the nosing was in place the stair would look right and feel right to step on.  Removing old stair trim and working with existing pieces may also lead to some interesting problems trimming things back out.  These are all easy problems to work around, but just being aware that they may come up will help.  I was not aware of those things and it was just one more thing to think about and try to work out.  The contractors (at least the ones here) did not care about the stair height or tread being a certain width.  They were just more concerned about getting things put together, so I had to be on top of them making sure that things came out correctly.

The stair pieces we ended up with were all hand picked by me.  Contractors and wood shops will have pieces that they are used to using together, but don’t be afraid to ask to make changes.  In Utah is is pretty common right now to use these balusters and the handrail we used, however, they are much larger.  It gives everything a clunky feel…that’s the best way I can describe it.  The handrails are so big in fact, that no one can really grab it because the width of it makes it uncomfortable.  What?!  Aren’t you supposed to actually be able to hold on to a handrail? 😉 I wanted a more refined look, so I simply asked if they could scale it down and make it about 1/2 inch narrower..and they did!  It was funny.  When I was talking to the guy that works at the wood shop, he said that he has the same rail in his house and it is so big that his wife has to hold on to the balusters instead of the rail every time she goes up and down the stairs.  He told me he wished he had thought of having it made smaller.  These are the kinds of little decisions and questions and things to be thinking about when you are building or remodeling…and it never hurts to ask questions!  I also added a trim piece to the newel post and it was amazing what a difference that little detail made.


There are SO many types of trim you can do, it is really up to you to decide what look you like best.  Research on the internet, visit model homes, take pictures of things you see in restaurants and hotels, etc. I think trim work makes everything look amazing.  You can never have too much wood as far as I’m concerned! 😉  We have trim in just about every room and on lots of the ceilings in our Orange County house and I love it.  But I learned something interesting during this process.  More things to think about. 😉 The trim we have in OC is basically as smooth as a piece of furniture.  The walls are lined with MDF which creates a beautiful painting surface, and the windows and smaller trim pieces are a poplar or something similar, which is also incredibly smooth.  KNOW WHAT WOOD YOUR WOOD GUYS ARE USING AND HOW THEY ARE GOING TO APPLY YOUR TRIM.  ALSO, PLAN TO SPEND A LOT ON PAINTING THE TRIM AND GET A GOOD PAINTER.  I was a bit naive in this department because I had someone who was truly an artist do the work on our CA house, as well as a painter that was fabulous…only I didn’t truly appreciate them until I had this house done.  Because I had worked with such great people in CA, I didn’t realize quite how much I needed to know to get the job done the way I wanted it here in UT.  Think about how you want your wood trim to be finished.  In CA, ours is lacquered and it is GORGEOUS!  It only looks so good because the quality of the wood and the prep work done before painting is superb.  The way it is finished, it all looks like one solid piece of furniture.  Typical finish work here is done with all MDF.  That means window sills and ledges etc. are all cut pieces of MDF with the rough edge sticking out.  Paint does not like the rough edge of MDF.  It doesn’t look finished and is super rough to the touch…and you can’t sand it away…it’s just the nature of the wood.  All of our shelving in closets, window sills, and other cut trim surfaces are like this.  Had I known I would have insisted they used poplar or something similar, but I was unaware that was even an option because of my prior experience.  It is also uncommon for finish carpenters here to back the walls with MDF.  I told everyone I met with for estimates that I wanted this done, and not one person would do it.  This means that instead of a perfectly smooth surface, your drywall becomes the background for all your trim work and any imperfections in the drywall are part of it too.  If you have textured walls, that texture is framed in your trim.  Be sure you are ok with that.  We had smooth drywall here in UT, so I eventually gave up and just used the drywall as the backing for our trim.  Another thing that is uncommon here is plant-on mouldings.  These are the trim pieces that sit inside the MDF grids.  They give everything a more finished look…but it’s also more expensive because it’s twice as many cuts and extra wood.  But if it is something you want, make sure your finish guys do them.  It was a shock to me to find so many people that just didn’t want to do the extra work, make sure you know what you are getting so you are not surprised.

When it comes to painting, expect the paint to cost more than the trim work.  Yep, you read that right!  Years ago when we had some trim put around our master bedroom I paid $2100 for the woodwork.  Imagine my surprise when the paint job cost $2400!  Whoa!  Well, that is due to all of the prep work that needs to happen before the woodwork can be painted.  It is the painter’s job to sand, smooth, fill, prime, paint and caulk every little seam and join in the trim.  That is a BIG, tedious job.  A good painter will know just how to prep everything and make the woodwork look seamless.  Stay on top of them and make sure they are finishing it to your satisfaction.  A good prep and paint job makes all the difference…if the wood is done correctly. 😉


Ours is a very normal sized door (about 8 feet wide total) with double, full side lights and 3 windows across the top, all frosted for privacy.  It was custom made out from a design I drew up and was made out of a clear alder…very good wood, great for painting or staining.   Something similar will most likely run between $2500-3500.  That does not include installation.  Installing a new door will also most likely require some trim work around the inside of the door to clean it up.  Hire a finish carpenters will install and fix the door up for you.  I do not have our front door installation itemized, so I don’t know what to tell you to expect for that cost, I apologize!  Keep in mind that you will also need to hire a painter to paint or stain the door, and you will need new hardware.  The cost of hardware can vary significantly depending on what you are looking for.  You may likely need to hire a hardware installer too for more difficult front door/deadbolt installation.  Typically the hardware installers will sell you the hardware at retail and then installation cost is minimal.  They make their money on the retail mark-up of the product.


Electricians are expensive…there is just no way around it.  Expect to pay between $100-125 an hour for the first truck with one or two guys. If you have a bigger job and need a larger crew, the second truck is usually between $75-90 an hour for an additional 2-3 guys. I love the lights I found for the exterior.  I think they are a perfect transitional fixture between traditional and modern, which is just the touch the exterior needed.  These are the wall lights and this chandelier/lantern is the porch light.

Hopefully I haven’t bored you to tears!  I don’t blame you if you don’t want to read every detail, but for those of you that are going through something similar, I hope you can learn from my mistakes and the experiences I had throughout our remodel process.

You can find all of the posts about our remodel and follow along here:


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Next week we’ll check out the living and dining room. 🙂

Have a great day!

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Owner at Pink Peppermint Design
Tammy Mitchell is the founder and creative director of lifestyle blog pinkpeppermintdesign.com. Along with being a homeschooling mom of two kiddos, she is also an in-demand prop and event stylist, photographer, interior and graphic designer. Here on Pink Peppermint Design, she aims to share creative DIY projects, easy entertaining and gift ideas, inspiring interiors and events, as well as her life, with thousands of readers every month. She lives in Southern California, with her husband and two children.
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2 thoughts on “1987 Fixer Upper Home Remodel : Entry Way and Office Before and After”

  1. Tammy…it is beautiful!! The trim detail is gorgeous and the new window over the door lets in so much natural light. Question about the entry chandelier…do you remember which size you went with for the lantern?
    Congrats on your beautiful new home!

    • Hi Beverly! I apologize for the late response! My blog has been giving me problems with responding to comments, but I think it’s all fixed now! :). I went with the large chandelier. There is one size bigger…an XL, but this size worked well of our space. I hope that helps! 🙂


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