Kassarie & Kayliray

I’m super excited to finally start sharing our Casa de Mortensen Home Renovation with you all!!! I’ve debated on the best way to start sharing these posts and it has seriously delayed me in actually sitting down to write. I finally decided to start with a Before Tour of the house to show how it all looked before we got started with our changes and making it our own. I snapped all of these before photos with my cell phone in the various trips we made to make plans and check out the house, so pardon the less than stellar quality… and the dog photo bomb… ;)

Remember, this was the house where my husband grew up. When he grew up here, it looked basically like this, minus the um… interesting brownish paint job on the cabinets in the kitchen. Those deer and elk heads were courtesy of a later tenant…

But these main living areas are more or less how they’ve been for years.

Kitchen Renovation Before

Kitchen Renovation Before 2

The pantry…

Home Renovation Pantry Before

Below is the view of the kitchen and dining area if you’re looking from the living room.

Kitchen Renovation Before 3

And from there if you turn around you’ll see the living room. The elk on the wall was from prior tenants, but again, the rest is basically just like it was when my husband’s family lived there.

Home Renovation Living Room Before

And this is the entry from the side door.

Home Renovation Entryway Before

This is the view of the side entryway, looking from the laundry room.

Home Renovation Entryway Before 2

And finally the laundry room…

Home Renovation Laundry Room

This is the view of the side entryway, looking from the laundry room.  Home Renovation Laundry Room 2

Up next I’ll share the other living areas before we started making changes… The bedrooms, bathrooms, etc. Hope you’ll come back to see the renovations and cosmetic changes we’ve been working on!


We are currently in the process of purchasing a home for the second time. Granted, we are not professionals in this area, but having gone through the first time and now the second time buying process we feel like we have a good handle on the situation. So here are Capital One’s Tips for First-Time Home buyers along with a little of my personal insight.

Tips for Buying Your First Home

1. BEFORE you start looking at houses figure out exactly what you can afford. It is SUCH a downer to find your dream home then figure out that incredible place is incredibly out of your budget. Whether it’s a small cabin or a mansion find out prior whether you can manage the monthly payments before you get your hopes up.

Tips for Buying Your First Home

2. Start saving for that down payment NOW. When we started looking for our first and now second homes we put every single extra penny into a savings account starting months before hand so we could build up a decent down payment. Almost all conventional loans require at least 5 percent of the home’s purchase price down. However, the traditional estimate for a down payment is 20 percent of the purchase price of the house, which can lower your monthly payments and avoid mortgage insurance better than a lower down payment.

3. Research closing costs before deciding on your lender. They can be a huge hit to your overall budget and are required up front before you can actually take possession of your new home. You can relax knowing you found the best deal from the best lender. ;)

Tips for first time home buyers

4. While you’re researching closing costs, research mortgage types. Mortgages come in all shapes and sizes, and which one you choose depends on a lot of variables, including your budget, the amount you can afford to put down, the interest you’ll pay and the term length. All mortgages have pros and cons, but starting with at least a top-line understanding of what’s available is important as you save for this major purchase.

5. Check out Capital One’s Home Loans Online Neighborhood, a free online resource where you can learn all about home buying. There you will find several easy-to-understand articles and helpful videos, as well as information about Capital One’s Home Loans offerings.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.


The last few months in the Mortensen household have been in a word, crazy. Long story short we decided to move for the hub’s job to a town a few hours away. We packed up our house, rented it out to some family and moved. After living there for a total of four months the hubs got a promotion back at home so we moved back. Our house was rented for another several months so we had to rent a place in our original town.

We’ve since toyed with the idea of building a new home here, buying another place here, moving back into our old house once the lease there is up… But we have finally decided on a completely different and much more exciting option!

We are going to purchase and renovate the home that my husband grew up in and hope to call that our forever home!!

Casa de Mortensen Before Exterior

So there it is in all of it’s pre-renovated glory! This house is a special place for my husband for obvious reasons. He grew up there. His childhood was spent there. But it’s a special place for me too. It’s the first place we lived together after college. We spent a few months living there with his dad before buying the house we own now (and currently have rented out.)

It’s in a small town, just 45 minutes from where we live now. When I told a friend of mine we would be moving there she gaffed at the thought of no Wal-Mart. ;) This town is actually bigger than where I grew up so it’s no big deal for me. Just an adjustment from what we’re used to now. It’s a place we are excited to raise our daughter and a place we are excited to call HOME.

My life for the last few and probably several future months has just about revolved around getting this going. Our plans include renovating the entire inside of the home and the exterior as well! I am really excited to share our home buying and renovation story with you here. Hope you’ll stop by often and follow along with us on the road to our dream home!