We bought a foreclosed property and turned it into a short term rental

Hello dear friends. Well, we are finally finished! If you have been following along with me on Instagram over the last year, we bought a house sight unseen from Auction.com and have finally completed phase two of the renovations…..YAY! We’ve listed it as a short-term rental and have been blown away by the response. We are very tired but very happy campers. Would you like to see it? Let’s take a quick tour.

Penny Tile typography-Fresh Coast Vibes

Penny Tile typography-Fresh Coast Vibes

A little background…my husband found the house online one Saturday morning (looking at real estate is relaxing to him). He was intrigued. I was meh. The house was located close enough to us that we could do a drive-by. I was still meh. The location was fantastic. Close to Lake Michigan and two blocks from town. However, when you buy a house at an auction, you are purchasing it “as is,” and we were not able to see the inside at all. This is what the house looked like on the drive-by.



Despite some reservations, we placed our bid and held our breath, not sure if we wanted to be the high bidders or not. A few days later, we were notified we were the new owners of the house! EEK!

Once we got in and took a look around, we gave a big sigh of relief. For rookies, we had gotten off easy. The structure was not only sound, but someone had begun what looked to be a flip a few years back, and the main issues on the inside were the amount of garbage (several dumpsters worth) and updating the heating and cooling. The roof was in good condition, some of the windows were newer. Outside needed lots of love and cleaned up, but we were pleasantly surprised at the condition overall. I think we had convinced ourselves it was going to be a disaster. Once we cleared the trash, we rolled up our sleeves and decided to start on the bottom floor.

After Living Area

After Living Area

This is what it looked like on day one.

Before on day one.

Before on day one.

We hired out the things we had never done. Floors were one of them. Having the wood floors refinished made a huge difference. We didn’t stain them; we just added a matte poly for protection.

Refinished oak floors.

Refinished oak floors.


Walls are SW Snowbound and trim is SW Morning Fog

The walls are SW Snowbound, and the trim is SW Morning Fog.

You can follow more detailed project progress here as we completed the first floor for the One Room Challenge last spring.

I used shims to add texture to this niche. I will add a shelf for books next.

I used shims to add texture to this niche. I will add a shelf for books next.

We needed to make sure we had comfortable seating for six. The sofa is a slipcover for ease of cleaning.

We needed to make sure we had comfortable seating for six. The sofa is a slipcover for ease of cleaning.

Dining Room View

Dining Room View

After a few different tries we settled on painting the bar counter.

After a few different tries, we settled on painting the bar counter.

Since we knew we wanted to turn this into a short-term rental as quickly as possible and keep costs under control, we tried to keep and reuse as many of the materials as possible. We kept the cabinet boxes in the kitchen but replaced the broken doors and kept the concrete countertops on the bar and coffee station. We did donate the original hood vent shown below as I wanted something warmer in the space.

Original kitchen

We also added the butcher block countertops but saved the original sink and shelving.

White appliances and a green glass backsplash add to the coastal vibe.

White appliances and a green glass backsplash add to the coastal vibe.

Coffee bar in Kitchen

One of the biggest bonuses we discovered was that a powder room had been added somewhere along the line.

Before powder room

Before powder room

One of my favorite things in this renovation is this wallpaper from SpoonFlower! I just love the birds!

After powder room

After powder room

Now for the upstairs!

We painted the stairway trim, SW Iron Ore.

Trim in SW Iron Ore

The upstairs bathroom is small but mighty. We replaced everything except the tub and the linen cabinet in here. Subway tile to the ceiling and penny tile on the floor worked perfectly to retain the character and make the space feel fresh and updated. Here is a before-shot to show you where we started from.

Before bathroom

Penny tile

Penny tile

Bathroom with Subway tile

Bathroom with ceiling decal

It’s always about the details for me. I adore these floral decals. I got them from Leen the Graphics Queen. They have held up very well, and this is one feature the guests have commented on.

The upstairs has three bedrooms. Bedroom number one:

Peek of bedroom

Using all white bedding in the Airbnb makes it easier to maintain.

Using all white bedding in the Airbnb makes it easier to maintain.

Bedroom number two is my favorite.

Coastal cottage vibe

Coastal cottage vibe

Blue room with green closet

And finally, bedroom number three. It’s the smallest of the bedrooms. Our goal was to sleep 6 guests, and we made it!

Using a trellis as a headboard

Green bedroom

One of the very best features of the house is the large deck. Because we were on a time crunch, we simply had time to get it cleaned up, but that’s as far as we’ve gotten (did I mention we are booked pretty much through October?!?!). It’s on the top of our list of things to do this Fall.

Outdoor deck

A few last pics of the outside cleaned up. We will continue to finish up some projects, but we are so excited to be live! You can see the Airbnb listing here.

Green house with blue door

Thank you for coming along for the tour today!

Other posts you may enjoy:

DIY Kitchen Hood Vent

How I stained My Kitchen Counters

Until next time,


Distressed Property to Airbnb
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  1. Kathy A says:

    Wow! You have worked a miracle with this house! Hope being a short term landlord turns out to be easier than I think it is!

  2. This is one of the best transformations I have ever seen! Love it! Thank you for sharing this with us at Charming Homes and Gardens!

  3. Jenn says:

    Such an amazing transformation! I hope you will join us at Embracing Home and Family Link Party! https://theeverydayfarmhouse.com/embracing-home-and-family-link-party-6/

    • Libbie Burling says:

      Thank you for the kind invitation! I did indeed pop over and found some wonderful ideas that I pinned. Nice to meet you!!


  4. Marilyn says:

    Thank you for sharing at #OverTheMoon. Pinned and shared. Have a lovely week. I hope to see you at next week’s party too! Please stay safe and healthy. Come party with us at Over The Moon! Catapult your content Over The Moon! @marilyn_lesniak @EclecticRedBarn

    Sorry I couldn’t pin. There is no choice for pinterest.

  5. naush says:

    Libbe, I’m absolutely blown by the transformation !!! Its spectacular !!! Bathrooms and Kitchens are generally the hardest places to transform but make the maximum impact. Truly love your makeover. Its looking like a DREAM.
    Thank you for joining us at Meraki link party.

  6. What an amazing renovation, Libby! The kitchen is my fave! Looks GREAT. And I love the coastal vibe throughout the cottage! Even the outside looks amazing! Congrats on going live, and congrats on being featured at Tuesday Turn About this coming Tuesday!

  7. Beautiful transformation. You did an amazing job on transforming this space. i am happy to feature your transformation rental on Love Your Creativity.

  8. Kristin says:

    I am in complete awe of you Libbie and your husband! It turned out amazing! Its unbelievable what you were able to accomplish! I can see why its so popular! I’m featuring you this week at Charming Homes & Gardens!

  9. Libbie,
    I just found you from Charming Homes and Gardens. What an amazing transformation! I didn’t know one could bid on a house so thank you for the resource. I restore homes in our area so it is very fun for me to see before and after pictures. You did an amazing job!

  10. You guys did amazing on the foreclosed property! It turned out amazing. I love seeing before and afters of houses.

    Thanks for sharing this post with us on the Embracing Home and Family Link-up party. We hope you join us again this Friday!


  11. Congratulations! This renovation is amazing. You should be very proud of what you have accomplished in the past year. I hope it stays booked solid for you for a long time. Thanks for visiting this week and sharing this lovely transformation. #HomeMattersParty

  12. Suzy Turner says:

    What a gorgeous transformation! Congratulations on doing such an incredible job. If I’m ever looking for an air b&b in your area, I’d definitely book to come and stay!
    Best wishes,

  13. Jennifer Howard says:

    WOW, what an amazing transformation!! I can’t believe it’s the same house!!!

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