We'll Be Home For Christmas

>> 12.20.2011

AKA: what our new house looks like with our furniture in it

After owning the house and leasing it back to the owner for ten days... then taking two weeks of our own time fixing it up... we finally actually moved into our home last week (after which, I promptly got sick!). For documentation's sake, I thought I'd post what the house looked like a couple of days into the move:

True story: I strategically planned our move so that we would not go one minute without losing cable tv usage. Like that's the most important thing to worry about right now... Oh, and my big girl thinks that the world revolves around her now because we've temporarily replaced the coffee table with her bed.

A few things about the kitchen:
  • I'm DYING to get rid of that tiled bar, but Nate said that we need to finish with the projects in the garage apartment first. 
  • I'm still in love with the paint color. Really. LOVE. One day I'll take good pictures of it. 
  • I'm the crazy person that hired movers and plumbers to drive around the city all morning in order to swap out the appliances from our old house to our new house. To make a long story short, not only did the plumbers not really hook everything up (note the refrigerator sticking out of the wall because the ice maker isn't connected), but they also managed to help flood the entire garage of the old place. Just thinking about the experience again gets me in an ALL CAPSSSS mood.
  • We have a serious case of "I don't have a spot for my dog food anymore" disease right now.
 The second bedroom is where all of the extra stuff is. Nate is most excited for this room because we're making it into an office/ workout room. It's a pretty decently sized room.

 It's crazy how switching around some furniture and accessories can easily put a wrench into your decorating plan. I'm not happy with anything about our master bedroom right now. Expect many posts to come.

The whole coffee table/ dog bed has seriously gotten to her head. I can't tell you how many photo-bombed pictures I had to not post.

The bathroom is obviously in progress!

 With the move, we bought both dogs new beds to enjoy. Hugo still prefers using his old bed.

 I think he is destroying his new bed in an attempt to symbolically communicate his hatred of the move and desire to go back "home." It could just be that he's upset with us for getting an Invisible Fence system- more on that later.

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Looking for Lighting

>> 12.07.2011

Due to some notourstyle/ oversized light fixtures in the majority of the house, we're been on the lookout for some new fixtures. I actually like the dining room chandelier in the new house, but want to center it in the room which would be next to impossible due to its massive size:

 (before)

Again, the living room light is just too big for the space:
 (before)

Don't tell Nate, but the bedroom chandelier is actually growing on me and it will probably be the last to go...
 (before)

The positive is that while they aren't working for us, my guess is that we should be able to sell them on Craigslist pretty easily (oh, and you know I'm already looking there for the replacements).

Since I'm now officially on the hunt for new lighting, I was happily surprised when I wondered into the Lowe's lighting section last week and noticed a few options that were not only pretty affordable, but actually attractive (unlike most of the fixtures that I've seen in the past):
This bathroom fixture could end up saving me a trip to the Restoration Hardware Outlet (where I usually get nice fixtures for cheap). I'm obsessed with how expensive it looks compared to the price!


This one could be a good alternative to the super low hanging fixture in my living room (or kitchen or hallway) and isn't bad at <$100 (better than most overstock.com options).

This one reminded me of the West Elm Globe Pendant, but a little more rustic (and slightly  more expensive).

We should be replacing some of the fixtures sooner rather than later so stay tuned to see where we end up! Where do you like to look for thrifty lighting?

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More Paint and Priorities

>> 12.06.2011

After reading some of the comments about brown bedroom paint, I wanted to avoid turning my bedroom into a cave and went lighter. We also went ahead and gave the more expensive Valspar paint+primer another shot because the Lowe's people said that we might have better results with a lighter color compared to the dark blue-grey we painted the dining room with... and they were right! With this paint, we only needed to go back and do a few touch-ups after the first coat. Here's the "Ivory Brown"  in action (in the evening and with bad lighting):
(now)

It reads as a slightly darker neutral in person and flows well with the living room/ hall color. We also went ahead and painted the ceiling and trim in this room and the living room- the before vs. now really shows off those yellow ceilings!

(before)

I know that a lot of people would rather have the blue walls from the before picture, but they were in really rough shape so we had no choice but to paint them. In the end, I think that going in a more neutral direction will give us more decorating options as far as fabrics and rugs.

We I also made another improvement on the new house over the weekend:

Yes, we will continue to eat our meals off of a Rubbermaid container on the floor... but I refused to go one more minute without putting up the tree (and no, Nate, my time could not have been better spent elsewhere)! This image kinda-sorta reminds me of Christmas 2009 when I believe I swore  off doing renovations and moving during Christmas... oops!

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Painting

>> 12.02.2011

As I've mentioned before, I'm not the greatest painter, but I'm probably worse at deciding on paint colors! Check out the assortment of samples I went through while deciding on the colors for the living room, dining room, and kitchen:


Trust me, even at $3 each, the money is well spent in my case! I couldn't believe how horrible some of the  brown shades looked when up on the wall (especially in the bathroom...).

I went ahead and took the opportunity to test out two different levels of Valspar paint quality and I must say that the $10 more a gallon paint went on more smoothly, but needed just as many coats as the cheaper stuff so I'm not sold on it.

We also splurged on the Benjamin Moore Advance paint (Cloud White) for the trim. I'll let you know in a few weeks if I think the $50/ gallon paint was worth it.

While the fancy paints aren't exactly my favorites, I do have to endorse the Shur-line paint edger. It takes a bit of practice to keep it from dripping, but it must take 1/4 the time to paint around the trim and ceiling with this thing compared to using tape and a paint brush!

Anyways, back to the colors... We used a really unscientific way of making our selections:

1. I wanted a light neutral for the living room and Nate said that he was over the gray paint that we have all over the first house so I looked out for something that leaned in the brown direction.

2. Nate wanted a pop color somewhere in this new house and I thought a blueish color would look good with the light living room, wood floors, and black and white kitchen/ bath.

3. We found a bunch of grey-brown-blue colors and went to Lowe's three times because the samples weren't working.

4. I used Google images to make sure the colors I was leaning towards weren't too crazy on other rooms (and found one in a very chic blogger's house- sold!).

5. Finally, we got the kitchen paint color customized because buying paint samples was getting expensive.

And here they are:
(now)

(before)

The living room is Valspar's Woodrow Wilson Putty and the kitchen/ dining is a variation of Valspar's Ocean Storm.

FYI, I'm absolutely in love with the dark grey-blue color and glad we took a risk by going bolder. More pictures next week when we have some furniture moved in!

PS We're thinking about going browner in the bedroom. Anyone have a brown bedroom? How do you like it?

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The First Project

>> 11.30.2011

We finally took possession of our new house yesterday after the seller's 10-day lease ended.... and after she spent three additional hours (of our time) trying to get a Murphy bed out of the front bedroom. Apparently Murphy bed moving is tricky stuff because the handyman who tried to get it out on Sunday went to the emergency room after it hit him in the head (and I did see the blood). Then yesterday, a one hour job turned into three after the seller's moving people showed up with a small car (?!) to move it to her new house.


Anyways, we're in the house, but already behind on moving! Before we can even get into the space, there is a lot of painting that needs to be done. While I do like the blue colors that are on some of the walls, they just have too many scuffs and discolorations to keep.

There is also a whoooole lot of yellowed trim to take  care of as well.


Before I head back to the house, I'll go ahead and share the very first space I went to after getting the keys...

Look closely and you'll see the grossest closet ever...


Yuck. Stay tuned for those afters and the new paint colors (which I haven't exactly picked out yet).

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We Closed Today!

>> 11.18.2011

Who has two thumbs and two houses?? ....you guessed it! We closed on the new house today. The seller will lease back the house for another 11 days so we just walked out of the office and drove back home with a whoooole lot less money and nothing to show for it (yet, of course). I like to call it "the least exciting closing ever." Unexciting is better than stressful and crazy so I'll take it!

Not having the house doesn't mean I can't share some pictures I took while we did the home inspection, right!? Before I start, I'll be upfront with you all, this isn't much of an upgrade as most people would expect to take when buying a new home- for one, the new house is just about the exact same size as our current house. The new house is, however, in a much better location and has the potential for a future addition (current house does not). AND-AND-AND-*this is most important of all*- the new house has a bonus garage apartment in the back that we plan to use for extra income before we build the addition!

So... here it is (really bad, fuzzy pictures and all):

<street view>
You all know me- I'm probably going to be making a lot of cosmetic updates to fit my tastes and the exterior is going to need some tweaking along with a ton of other things. I'll make sure to update you on the full to-do list later!
*selling feature* There's a lot of landscaping already in place and a really nice sprinkler system.

 <view of front entry>
*selling feature* I loved how this home had a designated entry space and coat closet.  

<view from front door into living and kitchen/ dining>
*selling feature*  I love the original hardwood floors that go through most of the house.

 <hallway to the right of the living room that leads to bedrooms and bathroom>
*selling feature* original solid wood doors

<bedroom #2 in the front of the house>

<main bathroom in  hallway>

<current master bed towards back of house>
*selling feature* double windows in almost every space

<other angle of master>
*selling feature* before we build the addition, it will be nice to have the double closets
<kitchen>
<kitchen>
<dining area next to kitchen>

<view from back door towards living room>

<back porch>

<garage apartment>
*selling feature* we should be able to rent this out easily in the $500-$600 range

<right side of apartment>

 <left side of apartment>

<bathroom in apartment>

We can't wait to get those keys and get started on making this place "ours." Can you guess which projects we'll tackle first?

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New House Preview

>> 11.16.2011

We received final loan approval, the HUD documents are in, and we're on our way to the bank to get a cashier's check so it looks like we're really actually buying another house this Friday. I figured this would be an okay time to give a mini black and white preview of  the house we're buying:
It's small, full of character, and nothing like the other homes we almost bought, but I promise that it was the best choice for us. When (if) we do close, I'll share the rest of the pictures and the reasons why we chose this one!

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The Homes We Almost Bought

>> 11.10.2011

Before there was ever the mystery un-blogged under contract house, there were three houses that we tried to buy. Of course, I looked at hundreds of other houses online and we visited several without actually submitting contracts, but there were only three (well, four including our house-to-be) that were worth putting in offers on. Now that all three of these have sold, I thought it would be fun to share slightly disguised MLS photos of them and their final sales prices compared to what we offered. And, of course, I'll give you a little insight as to why we went for these particular homes. The funny thing is that they're almost nothing like the house we ended up with!
 

House #1
A 2,325 sqft foreclosure (rare for the neighborhoods we looked in)
Pros: Good location, great view, wood floors downstairs (stained carpet up), lots of space
Cons: It is partially down a steep hill (bad for our cycling and running, future kids), not really part of the neighborhood because of the hill, larger than we wanted and McMansion-like, history of water damage because of the sloped driveway, the yard was tiny and not fenced in
List price: $334,900
Our offer: $300,000 The day we made our first offer, two other people came in and created a bidding war. We still weren't sure about the location and didn't want to overbid because of "the war" so went in at a price we wanted to pay. Obviously, it didn't work out for us and we're happy we don't have to deal with that hill!
Sold for: $330,199

House #2
A 1,584 sqft ranch home in great neighborhood
Pros: Location, lot size, great layout including formal entryway, a ton of potential

Cons: we would not be able to move in without doing a ton of structural updates including foundation and electrical work, almost every square inch of the house would need work
List price: $299,000
Our offer: $250,000 This was a solid offer based on the neighborhood comps, but the seller only came down to $290,000. We came back with $265,000 and pointed out the work that needed to be done. He came back at $274,000 and would not budge so we walked.
Sold for: $260,000 Yep. Our realtor said that we probably did all of the work convincing him that he was priced too high and let the next buyer get all of the rewards. It's okay in the end because it was the farthest north that I wanted to live and it needed a TON of upfront work that Nate wasn't especially excited about doing.

House #3
A 2,080 sqft mid-century home on a quiet street

Pros: curb appeal, mature trees, school district and neighborhood (several $500k+ homes), lot size, a ton of potential, newish roof, obviously cared for
Cons: bottom of a hill, not walkable at all, needed a lot of immediate work, parts of the layout were strange- no windows in dining room and small master bathroom

List price: $339,000
Our offer: $305,000 and no counter offer. We then came up to $320k, but didn't feel comfortable going any higher based on the location and the amount of work we would need to put into the home.

Sold for: $330,000


 Again, the house we ended up with is almost nothing like the three above! The one common factor among all of the homes is that they're all the worst (read: cheapest) homes in the best neighborhoods. I will say that house #4 tops them all as far as location goes- and it's all about location-location-location!

How many offers did it take before yours was accepted?

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