About Us

Welcome to 12 Oaks!

We are Amanda & Ben, two DIY-addicts renovating our home in the Chicago suburbs.

Everyone thought we were crazy when we purchased this extreme “fixer upper.” But over the past 5 years, we’ve transformed the houseย and property, nicknamed “12 Oaks” after the number of trees that line the driveway, top to bottom.

Check out our house tour to see all we’ve done so far, and stay tuned for even more updates!

Want to drop us a line? Email us at 12oaksblog@gmail.com.

24 Responses to “About Us”

  1. Amanda April 2, 2013 at 2:48 pm #

    Hi ๐Ÿ™‚
    I saw your link on Thrifty Decor Chick and I am itching to do a project like yours! I can’t wait to follow along with you. I’m a court reporter and while I’m in court, I love to pull up my favorite blogs and ‘catch-up’. And I have to tell you I am a blog snob;) I don’t have many favorites, but yours has moved right up to the top ๐Ÿ˜‰ Good luck in your adventure and I can’t wait to live vicariously as you work through all your home renovations!
    Wishing you the best from Minnesota,

    • 12oaksblog April 2, 2013 at 3:25 pm #

      So glad you found us! I think I have about 4 subscribers who aren’t family or friends, so I find it pretty neat!

  2. scotdog98 April 18, 2013 at 12:44 pm #

    Wow, I just found you from House of Turquoise – you guys are really hard workers! I read the whole blog, yes while I’m supposed to be at work, lol! Can’t wait to read more. I’ve always been really curious about the details of a short sale & would love to read more about that. Hopefully, you got a great deal! And, what in the world make the previous owners love Sharapova (ms) so much, lol!!

    • 12oaksblog April 18, 2013 at 12:56 pm #

      Thanks so much, very flattered you read the whole blog! Short sales are a major pain but if you’ve got the time and patience can get you an amazing deal. Yeah, the previous owners were obsessed with tennis. We’ve found 2 5-gallon buckets of tennis balls in the back yard- an endless supply for our lab/boxer. Thanks again for stopping by!

  3. Amy April 19, 2013 at 10:08 am #

    I just discovered your blog through Pinterest. The transformation of your house already is amazing! We are putting our home on the market this month and I can’t wait to get my hands on a “new” fixer-upper! We’ve been in our little home for about 8 years and there’s nothing left to do. Plus we’ve gone from two newlyweds to a family of four, so we’re officially busting at the seams. I am so inspired that I just spent my whole morning at work reading your entire blog from the beginning ๐Ÿ™‚

    • 12oaksblog April 19, 2013 at 10:54 am #

      Thanks Amy! So glad you found us and flattered you read the whole thing. Good luck with your upcoming home sale.. sounds like you put a lot of work into it so shouldn’t be too hard to sell. That’s what we found with the sale of our last house at least. Sweat equity pays off!

  4. Courtney April 20, 2013 at 5:47 pm #

    Just found your blog on Pinterest and fell in love! I love everything you’ve done (yep, I read the whole blog!) and can’t wait to see more. My husband and I just sold our first fixer-upper home and will be closing on our new house next week! Similarly to you and your husband, we’re going from a small 2 bedroom house with not even .25 acres to a 5 bedroom 3 acre property! It’ll be much roomier for our growing family but I have so many projects I’m itching to get started on and many of your posts are a huge inspiration! Plus I think it’s a wonderful idea to track the changes and progress with a blog! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • 12oaksblog April 20, 2013 at 9:33 pm #

      Hi Courtney! That totally sounds like us, small house and lot to a much bigger one. I’m sure you will love the extra space and land. It’s awesome not having neighbors breathing down your neck. Enjoy and good luck!

  5. Kristen Prosser April 27, 2013 at 1:15 pm #

    Hi! I have a question about your bathroom! First of all, it looks great! We pinned it a while ago and love it. ๐Ÿ™‚ We are interested in doing horizontal wainscoting in our bathroom. Did you have any problems with moisture? I saw that you got the panels from Menards. Did you do any extra sealing? Is everything holding up okay now?

    Any advice would be appreciated! Thanks!!


    • 12oaksblog April 27, 2013 at 1:32 pm #

      Thanks Kristin! We made sure to put the lumber in the house near the room it will be installed in for at least 7 days before to allow the lumber to acclimate to the same moisture content.
      We did put USG green board drywall up but that was only because at first we were going to drywall. You do not need to do drywall. The lumber can be nailed directly to the studs. I recommend sealing both sides of the lumber with an oil based primer and on the ends as well. Then apply an oil based paint on top once installed. If you do this you shouldn’t have an issue. Also make sure you have a exhaust fan that can accommodate the size room you have. Very important. It is a little more work but the results are worth it. Hope this helps!

  6. Sarah-Nadine November 17, 2013 at 11:27 am #

    I just stumbled across your blog and I am loving it. It is very impressive how much you have done to the house already and it is always nice to read about other DIY’ers, who do most if not all the work themselves.

    • 12oaksblog November 17, 2013 at 2:24 pm #

      Thanks Sarah glad you found us!

  7. Deb Longhenry (@DebLonghenry) December 13, 2013 at 8:07 pm #

    Very impressed with all the work you have done and your design style! Just a question about your hardwood flooring. Do you know if it is white oak or red oak? I am having a really hard time deciding on a stain color choice and Spice by Duraseal is a contender, but we have red oak flooring and I know the two species take stain differently. I like the tone, richness and warmth of how your stain turned out. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

    • 12oaksblog December 13, 2013 at 9:06 pm #

      I’m not sure which it is but I would just do a sample on your floors. We did like 6 different samples on our floor after it was sanded to find the right one. Good luck!

  8. home furnishings market trends February 7, 2014 at 3:32 pm #

    WOW just what I was searching for. Came here by searching for home furnishings stores nyc

  9. Rosslyn Pollard March 8, 2014 at 12:52 am #

    Hi Ben and Amanda – I have only just found this story-line. My, I must say, I am very impressed. Your home is looking fantastic. – You are both certainly doing a very good job. – I only wish you were here in Canberra so that you could input some ideas into my house which needs some major renovations. Love, Ros.

  10. Rucha Tatke March 16, 2014 at 8:02 pm #

    Congrats on the beautiful baby girl! I came across your blog because someone mentioned your beautiful nursery on a forum, and I love your site and projects!

  11. Tylah March 22, 2014 at 5:14 am #

    Hi guys just found you! So nice to see some kiwiana themes in your babies room! I’m from nz and you see it much on blogs etc! Congrats on your baby ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. linda February 3, 2016 at 2:12 pm #

    I love your bathroom, where did you get your mirror?

    • 12oaksblog February 3, 2016 at 4:27 pm #

      Thanks Linda which bathroom?

  13. Diana October 11, 2016 at 7:53 am #

    Are you guys on Facebook? I’m not on Instagram and I would love to follow your progress. Thanks!

    • 12oaksblog October 11, 2016 at 8:26 am #

      Sorry we aren’t on Facebook. Did you subscribe by email?

  14. Shay Hass October 27, 2016 at 3:09 pm #

    Love your blog! Would love to see more about costs, budgets, bargains and what you do to pay for it all! It all seems overwhelmingly expensive! I’d love to know if you do little bits at a time based on your monthly budget for improvements!

    • 12oaksblog October 27, 2016 at 3:49 pm #

      Thanks Shay. We got our house pretty cheap (much less than what we sold our last house for) so figured the costs of renovation in when we bought it. Plus we’ve been at it for 4 years so it has definitely been spread out. We do most of our own work so that helps. And what we do hire out we have good contacts for since my husband is a builder. All that said, it certainly adds up! But we’re certain we could get it all back and more if and when we sell.

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