Tuesday, January 29, 2013

home sweet home - number two

Our first house was a mid-century Cape Cod in the middle of town.  We were located on a corner lot and were the proud owners of a 2.5 car garage.  Our backyard was non-existent but we did have a fenced-in side yard with a large deck that was perfect for entertaining.  I loved the house.  Hubby was never fully on board, though.  Our main floor had two bedrooms, one bathroom, a living room and a tiny, eat-in galley kitchen.  The upstairs was a large open area that had been finished by a previous owner and our basement had been partially finished by the couple we bought the house from.  Essentially, we had three levels of livable space so the tiny 850 square foot main floor didn't seem so small.

We did quite a bit of work on the house in the five years we lived there.  Walls were painted.  Hardwood floors were re-finished.  Basements were waterproofed (and re-waterproofed and finally really waterproofed).  Rooms were decorated.  Yards were landscaped.  Entryways were tiled.  Lights were replaced.  Walls were re-painted.  Kitchens were remodeled.  Drywall was hung.  Decks were built.  Foundations were braced.  Popcorn ceilings were scraped.  Stairs were refinished.  Drop ceilings were hung.  Paved sidewalks were laid.  Carpeting was installed.  Decks were stained.  HVAC systems were replaced.  It's actually kind of sad and exhausting to think of everything we did... and then left behind.

I'll go into more detail and provide progress photos for a few of the rooms, but I thought I'd share the true before and after photos.  The before photos were either taken by the inspector when we bought the house or by ourselves when we first toured it.  The after photos were taken by our Realtor when we sold the house this past fall.

You can't see the true extent of the work we did outside, but it involved removing very overgrown Yew bushes, building a front porch, adding a compost bin and rain barrel, planting loads of flowers and replacing old, broken patio pavers with a new paved sidewalk.  We also replaced the porch light and added a clothesline.

The living room transformation wasn't quite as exciting.  We replaced the linoleum entryway with ceramic tile, painted the white walls a creamy milk chocolate, replaced the entryway light with a boob light (eeek), replaced the ceiling fan with a more stylish ceiling fan, painted the curtain rods oil rubbed bronze and installed faux-wood blinds.

In contrast, the kitchen was our biggest transformation and the most exciting.  Hubby's dad is a woodworker by trade and helped us to completely remodel the kitchen right away.  We removed popcorn texture from ceiling, skim coated the ceiling, removed paneling from the lower half of the walls, patched  plaster, painted the cream walls a minty green, painted the trim cream, refaced the green and cream cabinets with cherry veneer, built new cabinets for the appliance wall, replaced old cabinet doors and hardware with new cherry cabinet doors and updated hardware, replaced laminate counters and a stainless steel sink with solid surface counters and a flush-mount sink, replaced aged light fixtures with new ones, replaced all appliances, replaced the faucet and installed faux-wood blinds.  Really, the only thing that didn't change was the tile floor and backsplash.

The previous owners used the spare bedroom as a workout room and we changed it into an office.  A few years later, it was transformed into a nursery.  Over the years, we refinished the hardwood floors, painted the white walls mustard and terracotta, installed crown molding and chair rail, replaced the old light with a ceiling fan, painted the closet white and ultimately re-painted the mustard and terracotta walls cream and baby blue.  We had intended to replace the old metal blinds but never got around to it.

We pretty much lived with the bathroom 'as is' and only painted it a light taupe when we listed it for sale.  If we had stayed in the house longer, we probably would have made it a priority to add a second bath (there was another shower in the basement, but no sink or toilet).  We also would have re-finished this bathroom at some point.  It was functional, but was a by-product of leftovers.  There were at least seven shades of taupe/pink/tan in there (the floor tile, the baseboard tile, the tub, the tub surround tile, the toilet, the toilet seat and the vanity).  On a side note - we had someone come through to help us stage the house before we listed it for sale.  She suggested a lighter shower curtain to brighten up the bathroom, so the curtain you see hung above was brand new.  The entire time we lived there, we had used a dark brown shower curtain.

The spare bedroom, master bedroom and bathroom were connected by a hallway that I can't find before/after pictures of.  I suppose it's not something you're specifically trying to market when you sell a house, though.  The hallway housed two closets, as well, so it was really just a jumbled mess of doors.  And the door frames were painted varying colors.  It was one of those things that drove me crazy, but I never got around to fixing.  We really didn't do much to the hallway other than paint the walls cream and install a frame wall, a la Young House Love.

The master bedroom  actually went through a bit of an identity crisis.  I changed the original paint color at the last minute from a darker, gray-based turquoise to a brighter, Tiffany-like turquoise.  I never really liked the brighter color but it took me four years to buy the paint to re-paint it.  It took another six months before my Mom visited and decided to re-paint it for me.  Thanks, Mom.  In the master (that was the same size as the spare), we refinished the hardwood floors, painted the white walls a semi-bright turquoise, painted the closet white, replaced the ceiling fan with a more stylish ceiling fan and ultimately re-painted the turquoise walls cream.  I'll have to find photos of the bright walls to share.

Upstairs, we really didn't do much.  I'd intended to fix the weird trim and paint the ceilings the same color as the walls, but it never made the priority list.  We were also thinking about removing the wood burning stove (we didn't use it a single time while we lived there) and ripping up the lovely burnt orange/red tile.  Instead, we hung a curtain rod to conceal a storage area above the stairs and re-finished the stairs by stripping the peeling paint, sanding the treads, and painting the risers/staining the treads.  I'll also have to share a photo of the stairs, as well.  I absolutely loved how they turned out.

The basement received quite a bit of DIY love, as well.  Besides bracing a foundation wall with steel beams, replacing the furnace and A/C and adding a sump pump and drain tiles, we also did a lot of cosmetic work.  We finished drywall in the main rec area, installed carpet, hung doors, painted the walls, hung the drop ceiling, added can lights and ultimately replaced an area of the carpet with vinyl flooring (the result of putting off installing a sump pump for far too long).

The smaller rec room in the basement was transformed from a poker room to a bar area.  Hubby's dad handcrafted the solid oak bar as a housewarming gift and we were extremely sad to leave it behind.  It was never listed for sale with the house, but eventually it became a condition of the sale.  Still bummed about that one.

The laundry room received a thick coat of white paint to hide the horrible, dungeon-like sponge painting and was also officially walled off from the rest of the basement.  Otherwise, we did very little.  I had hoped to add shelves at some point and we'd even talked about making this room a second bath, but neither ended up coming to fruition. I do need to add a photo of the shower that was built under the stairs, though.  For being the secondary shower, it was far nicer than our normal bath/shower combo.  The built-in granite seat, and wall-to-wall tile were actually very pretty.  Too bad that it was hidden under the stairs and that the basement was always a bit cold to shower in.  I think I showered in it once?  And it was in the last week we lived there because the shower curtain from the upstairs bathroom had been already been packed.

There was another section of the basement that was walled off and used for housing the mechanicals, as well as all of our storage.  I was amazed at how full that room became once E came along and started growing out of baby clothes, equipment and toys.  I think his stuff ended up filling half the room.  Pure craziness.

Also pure craziness?  The number of people willing to help us make this house our home.  We wouldn't have been able to make the improvements we did without the help and expertise of others.  A huge THANK YOU is due to many of our friends and family members who sacrificed their time to assist us.  From the bottom of our hearts, thank you to our parents, our siblings, Bryan, Uncle Jim and Aunt Sharon, our neighbor Gabe, Tank, Aunt Donna and Uncle Gary and anyone else I probably missed.  We love you all.

Monday, January 28, 2013

home sweet apartment - number one

I know the trend right now is "Throwback Thursday", but I'm trying to keep a pact with Hubby and not go out to the house until Saturday.  We'll see if I last...or if he can't last and insists I go at lunch one day to check things out.  Anyway, let's call this "Throwback Monday".  Although, it just doesn't have the same ring...

Hubby and I got married in 2006 and rented an apartment that we found online, saw in person and quickly agreed to lease.  We liked it for about 1.2 months and then decided we both wanted a house to call our own.  I think we might have stayed longer had the upstairs tenants not had dogs that liked to run laps and urinate on the balcony (which, in turn, dripped/poured down onto our balcony - it was disgusting).  We also had a chipmunk/squirrel that liked to enter the vent outside our bedroom window and run through the duct work above our bed.  At some point, the critter ended up falling through the vent in our neighbor's bathroom.  Ewww.  And, I can't forget the dumpster that was always left halfway in my assinged parking spot or the snow shoveling I did every time it snowed because the maintenance crew never kept up.  So many memories.  It's a good thing we were newlyweds, head over heels in love, and on top of the world.  We laughed quite a bit at the shortcomings and really just cared that we were living together, as a married couple, in our own place.  I don't know that I'd have the same patience today, but coming from college dorms and other apartments, I guess we were used to a certain degree of craziness.

Our kitchen, dining room and living room were open concept.  Despite buying bar stools right away (from IKEA, of course - the newlywed mecca), we never really ate at the bar that separated the kitchen and living room.  I remember staining the stools on the balcony... before the dogs (aka urinators) moved in upstairs.  I also remember watching the Cardinals win the World Series.  And the feeling of coming back from our wedding, unloading our gifts and just staring at each other.  Such random memories.

Our kitchen was actually pretty perfect for just the two of us.  We turned a spare closet into a pantry, filled our cabinets with new pots, pans, bowls and utensils and enjoyed cooking dinner almost every night.  At the time, Hubby was working at a car dealership, which meant his hours were a little odd.  I, however, was working very steady hours from 7:00 am - 3:30 pm, Monday through Friday, and enjoyed being home by 4:15 most days to start a relaxing evening.  Life was simple.  And, despite the photos shown, my home was never more organized.

At the time, I was super proud of how our master bedroom and bathroom came together. Looking back now, it all seems a little safe and uninteresting.  Oh well - I suppose that's part of the journey.  Figuring out what we like.  What we don't like.  Eventually finding our style.  And, if you look closely, you'll see that my favorite thing to decorate with were picture frames and candles.  But mostly candles. 

And talk about decorating style - holy bright bathroom!  I still like this bathroom in pieces (e.g. the basket of rolled towels and the nicely textured rug), but it's definitely brighter than anything I'd do today.  It kind of reminds me of a bathroom at a beach condo.  Gulf Shores anyone?

The above shot, on the right, is the only one I have of our living room with furniture in it.  You'll notice the couches are a deep olive/brown color.  I almost bought red couches.  Huge, bright red ones.  I'm glad I talked myself out of that one, though.  I don't even really like red that much.

Our spare bedroom/office housed a few different guests, but it was mostly our dumping ground for drying laundry, stockpiling things we were buying for the new house or storing whatever scrapbook project I was working on.  We never really 'decorated' the room, but I was glad to have the space.  And I was even more glad when people came to visit and we could make use of the pull out couch (PS - Thanks to all of you that have endured that beast of a 'bed' in exchange for time with us.  We truly appreciate it.  And we promise to make it up to you in the new house.)

In the end, we really weren't in that apartment for long.  We were married in the spring, started house hunting in fall, closed on our first home in November and finally moved into our new home sometime in March.  The timing actually worked out really well because we were able to rent our 'new' house back to the previous owners while they wrapped up a military assignment and we waited out the term on our apartment lease.  The sellers/renters ended up leaving a couple of weeks before they'd originally intended, which gave us time to paint, change light fixtures, do some maintenance and most importantly, remodel the kitchen, all before officially moving in.  Want to see where we moved?

More tomorrow - and maybe all week.  We made a lot of memories in that house.  Painted a lot of walls.  Swung a lot of hammers.  Brought home our first baby.  Cursed wet basements.  Celebrated anniversaries.  Studied for big exams.  Rejoiced in milestones and achievements.  Learned lessons in electricity and plumbing.  Hosted family gatherings.   But, most importantly, we filled that house with love, laughter and everything else that turns a house into a home.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

day 83

Happy Saturday!  I, for one, am beyond glad the weekend is here.  Besides desperately needing to get caught up on laundry (um, we have zero diapers clean and are about out of disposables), I'm really looking forward to some time with my boys, some meal planning/grocery shopping and maybe even a long bath/facial/nail-painting session.  Oh yeah, and handling some house stuff.  Exciting, no?

I mentioned that my dad came up last weekend, so Hubby and I had a chance to get out a few times by ourselves without the little dude tagging alone.  It was amazing.  We don't have family close by and sitters get expensive, so it's usually always the three of us.  We really need to make date nights a priority again, though.  It was so refreshing to get out and actually have an uninterrupted conversation, hold hands and just leisurely run errands.  Anyway, when leisurely browsing the aisles of Target (let me reiterate - uh-mazing), Hubby came across a glass lamp.  He knew I'd been on the look out for a pair and I casually commented "too bad there aren't two".  Well, he made that his personal mission and was able to uncover a second one.  I'm not sure I totally love the shape, but for the $14.98 price tag, I was sold.  These babies were originally $49.99 each and I ended up paying $15.82 total, thanks to $5 and $10 Target gift cards I found in my wallet.

Ignore the lamp shade; it's the only one I had in the condo that had a harp.  The one downfall to IKEA lamps (which we have quite a few of), are the unique shades.  Anyway, I'm holding off on purchasing shades until I decide which room these are going in. Right now, I'm thinking they'll end up in our bedroom, but it's possible I'll use them in the living room.  I tried a linen-colored herringbone shade on it at Target and it looked pretty sharp.  They had grey ones, too.  The possibilities are endless!  I can't help but think the lamps look a little like old barrels, which is a tad more rustic than my taste, but I can't get over the price.  I'll let you know if I end up returning them.

This weekend, we started our festivities at 6 am with a little dude that was beyond ready to get up and play.  I don't understand why he struggles to get up at 6:30 during the week, but is wide awake and perky at 6 am on the weekend.  I was hoping for at least another hour of sleep.  Maybe tomorrow.  After a diaper change and an episode of Dinosaur Train, we decided to make breakfast for Hubby.  E's really into cooking lately, so it's been a lot of fun to have him helping in the kitchen.  I came across a breakfast ring recipe on Pinterest the other day and immediately pinned it, hoping to surprise the Hubby this weekend.  Well, he was stalking my Pinterest boards to look at faucets I'd saved and came across the recipe pin the next day.  I got an e-mail at work that read something like: "MOST DEFINITELY, YES!!!!", along with a link to the recipe.  So much for that surprise!

Despite having to go back to the store this morning because the crescent rolls I bought last night were crusty when I opened them, the recipe was a big hit!  I snagged the recipe from The Kitchen Life of a Navy Wife but the original source seems to be Bacon Time with the Hungry Hungry Hypo.  I'd highly recommend adding it to your breakfast rotation.  I didn't have cheddar cheese on hand and ended up using a mix of American cheese slices and shredded mozzarella.  Next time, I might do 6 or 7 eggs instead of 5, but, otherwise, I followed the recipe as written and it was delicious.

After our bellies were full, we headed out to the house to check out the latest progress.  Our first discovery was that our garage doors were hung.  Verdict is?  I love them.  Now I'm even more anxious for the siding and stone work to be finished.

This is the first snow we've really had this winter and E loved bundling up in his snowsuit and getting a chance to play on his new sled from Christmas (thanks Papa K and Gram-Gram).  He and Daddy took a couple rides around the house and the giggling was contagious.

Nothing else had changed on the inside, but we discovered our bathtub had been unwrapped.  It's just as pretty as I remember!  I'm guessing the plumber wanted to take a look to see what he was up against?  Hubby and E decided to check it out and make sure they still liked it as well.

[promise they're not dead - just pretending to sleep!]
E had a lot of fun running around the basement and jumping on the leftover wood scraps.  It amazes me what kids find entertaining.

I also had to take a comparison shot of when our foundation was first poured.  It's still fun to be able to hang from the beams!

I also took a few shots of the insulation on my big girl camera and made sure to document that we had indeed passed our inspections - woohoo!

We ordered our cabinets on Thursday and are now just waiting for the drywall work to begin.  So exciting!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

day 80

I'm in a little bit of disbelief that we're on day 80.  11.5 weeks.  2.5 months.  In some ways, it seems like forever.  Afterall, we've really been working on this project for 8 months or so.  In other ways, another 80 days does not seem like enough time to get everything done.  But, I'm totally ready to be done.  Ready to move in.  Ready to decorate.  Ready to throw a housewarming party.  Ready to be out of this drafty condo.  The only part I'm not ready for is the packing up and moving again.  Any volunteers for that task?

It's cold in Wisconsin this week.  Not "Los Angeles cold" (see clip below - it's worth a laugh, especially if you hail from a state that actually gets snow or ice), but truly cold.  I think my car said -6 yesterday morning and we were up to 16 this morning.  Anyway, the cold means two things.  1) We're lining the walls of E's current room with blankets (see above).  I have never seen/lived in/experienced such a drafty place.  Especially one that's only 23 years old.  The wind and cold air is gushing through the electrical outlets and seeping in where the floor and walls meet.  It's crazy.  2) There hasn't been any progress on the exterior of the house.

I absolutely do not blame the siding guy for not coming out this week.  My fingers turned red when I ran out to the house for a short five minutes today at lunch.  While I was not surprised to see no work going on outside, I was completely surprised to see that the insulation was done inside.  Well, stage one is done.  The walls are insulated and plastic is hung.  I assume they'll be ready to do the ceiling insulation once the drywall is up.

[kitchen corner]
[dining area ceiling]
[master bedroom corner]
[living room]
[bedroom 2]
Nothing too pretty to look at, but we are beyond excited to see progress again.  I tried to peek through the plastic on the window to see when the inspection had been done and it looked like it had just been signed off on this morning.  The crew must have been on stand-by to come complete the insulation as soon as the inspection was signed off on.  I believe, at this point, they need to start warming up the inside and will then begin drywall.  The furnace is installed and hooked up to a thermostat already so I think everything just has to be fired up.  I'm not looking forward to paying two heating bills in this weather.

In other news, it was crazy windy on Saturday (day 76) and we lost some shingles.  It hasn't been hot enough for everything to properly adhere to the tar paper, so the 40 to 60 mph winds were able to do a bit of damage to the roof.  Not exactly what you want to see when you walk up, but the Construction Manager is aware and assures us everything will be fixed.

And, we received news late last week that the tile we'd selected for our fireplace is no longer available. I'm a huge second-guesser of decisions and was actually quite confident in my fireplace tile decision.  So, the thought of having to select something else wasn't very appealing.  Luckily, the Designer seems to understand by taste pretty well at this point and I was immediately on board with his recommendation.

[tumbled Torreon by Daltile]
Next up?  Ordering cabinets.  Finding a kitchen sink faucet.  Picking a paint color for the master bath and main bath.  Picking a paint color for the kitchen.  Maybe picking up a different post light (still not in love with the one we bought).  Picking out a lamp post.  And???  Anything I'm missing?

Sunday, January 20, 2013

day 76

I finally had a chance to grab some progress photos on the real camera.  I've been out to the lot a few times this week to check on things, but it's always been a quick trip at lunch.  The siding guy must think I'm nuts.

Speaking of the siding guy...  He was out working again today - by himself.  The first few days there were two workers, but all of this week there has only been the one.  It just doesn't seem efficient to me.  The good news is that he's just about done.  There is a little bit left to do on the side of the garage and then he'll have to wrap up the trim on the front of the house.  I'm anxious for the stone to go up so I can everything pulled together, but based upon the cold front coming our way, I'm guessing that's still a while out.

We also finally had the inspection on the carpentry, rough plumbing and rough electrical this past Thursday (day 74).  I have no idea what is normal, but there is a list of nine things that must be corrected before they grant approval.  The various crews are supposed to be out there making fixes this weekend so that the inspector can come back on Monday or Tuesday.  Once we get sign off, they'll begin insulating.

The HVAC was installed at some point this week as well (day 73 maybe?).  We've been told it's ready to be turned on as soon as they're done insulating so that drywall work can begin.

And, thanks to a Garden Web forum, we took a second (or one hundred and second) look at our kitchen plans and realized that the pantry door and refrigerator door would have interfered with one another as laid out.  The cabinet guy suggested adding a 15" utility cabinet to scoot the fridge down a bit, so we now have slightly altered kitchen plans.  I also had him make the switches I'd previously talked about -- getting rid of the full-height doors between the oven and cooktop and then switching to three drawers under the cooktop.  The floating shelves aren't shown within the diagrams below, but we're still planning to hang them to the right of the fridge.

There were several other changes people suggested, but I wasn't willing to make the trade-off for some of them (e.g. getting rid of our pantry to extend the space to the right of our sink or moving our sink to the peninsula).  I'm sure there will end up being things I want to change later, but right now I'm thrilled to have something larger than our old galley kitchen (which, despite being small, I adored - the before/after photos are worthy of a post... actually the whole house is).

[ignore that there is nothing on the wall - this wasn't long after we moved in]
My dad came up this weekend, so Hubby and I had a chance to get out for a date night tonight.  We went grocery shopping, hit Taco Bell for dinner and stopped at Pier1, JCPenney and Target.  Date nights have seriously changed in the past three years