About catherine
Catherine is a CPA-turned-creative entrepreneur. She is the founder of Beginning in the Middle. an interior designer, photographer, writer, and business schemer.  She loves being cozy at home, miniature everything, and has a not-so-secret dream of living on an island one day.
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Before & After

First Order of Business

Duplex Progress

I hope you all had a great Labor Day Weekend.  It’s hard to believe that summer is over (although I’m secretly excited because fall is my favorite!)

We’ve been trying to get as much done as we can before the cold weather sets in, but the more work we do on this house, the more projects we add to our to-do list.  It can be very overwhelming at times, but c’est la vie.  It will all be worth it when we finish!

Here are a few photos of what side #1 of the house looked like when we bought it (there are still tenants in side #2, so we’ll show you that when they move out).

The first thing we did when we got our keys was remove the dirty, wet-dog-scented carpet.  It was everywhere.  Apparently the people who lived there before we bought it had lots of animals they didn’t take care of.  We were hopeful that taking up the carpet would get rid of most of the nastyness, so we went to town.

After removing all of the carpet, we discovered original hardwood floors throughout the entire house!  We also discovered that they were all covered by 4-5 layers of paint.  Why someone would do that, I don’t know, but at least it created a barrier between all of the gross stuff that happened on the carpet and the original hardwood floors.   The bad thing is that the paint was close to impossible to remove.  We first tried using a paint stripper – no luck.  Then we rented two different commercial sanders which barely did anything.  Just a whole lot of paint-tinted sawdust and a lot of floor left to cover.  We decided to stop and come up with another plan.

During that time, we had our floors tested for lead-based paint, which we should have done before even starting our sanding project.  Lead exposure can cause all sorts of health issues, and being that the home was built in 1920, there was a strong possibility that the floors contained lead without us knowing it.  Thankfully, they were negative which was a huge, huge relief.

So we got back to work, and this time tried using a hand planer to remove the paint.  Success!  So far, we’ve only done the living room and dining room floors, but they’re looking really promising!  Once we get the paint off with the planer, we’ll reintroduce the sanders to smooth everything out and finish off the job.


Hand Planer


Wood After Using the Planer


Living Room/Dining Room Progress!

Unfortunately, removing the carpet and doing the floors didn’t completely take the smell away, so we tried washing the walls with a 50/50 vinegar/water mixture.  It helped temporarily, but we noticed it came back after a few days.  We also took off all of the faux wood paneling and discovered lots of layers of paint and old wallpaper, and a huge cockroach problem!

At this point, our hopes of moving into this side of the house relatively soon were out the window.  It got even worse when we started taking down the dropped ceilings in the bedrooms.   We found cockroach poo and mouse poo EVERYWHERE, and called an exterminator to start treating the problem.  The one and only silver lining in all of this is that by taking down the dropped ceilings, we added about a foot of ceiling height in all of our rooms.

Now that the rest of our house is in shambles, it’s time to move onto our next target: the kitchen!  Details coming soon!

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  1. Rhonda says:

    I am excited to see how far you guys will have gotten the next time I swing through Columbus. Maybe I will be in town long enough to swing the hammer once or twice.

  2. […] been another eventful week over here at the new duplex.  Last week, we demo’d the majority of the house except for the kitchen and bathroom.  This time around, our target was the kitchen.  What we […]

  3. […] Now that we were fully equipped, we were ready to tackle the two fireplaces in the living room and dining room, both of which are capable of being fully functional!  This is what the dining room fireplace looked like when we moved in (there’s a few more photos of the house pre-demo here). […]

  4. […] also painted all the walls, and started putting the trim back up.  During our demo process, we were able to salvage most of the original baseboards and molding above the windows and doors, […]

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Catherine & Bryan Williamson moved from NYC to Columbus, OH in 2013.  Beginning in the Middle is a journal of the couple's design and renovation projects, real estate investment and Airbnb hosting journey, travel, and other life happenings.



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I grew up in New Jersey and always had a dream of living in New York.  There was something about the energy of the city that drew me inOur journey started unexpectedly in 2012, when we decided to make a big move from New York to Columbus. The glamour of climbing the corporate ladder was wearing off, and we knew that renting an expensive small apartment and dealing with crowded subways everyday was not going to work forever. We wanted to start creating something for ourselves, and although we didn’t know exactly what that something was, we knew NYC wasn’t the place for it.

We decided on Columbus because Bryan grew up here, and we were intrigued by all of the development going on in the downtown area at the time. We drove through many of the neighborhoods and admired the boarded up old houses, most of which were built in the early 1900s, and started dreaming about the things we could do here.

I'm Catherine, and I'm the founder of Beginning in the Middle.

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