Thursday, August 20, 2015

Getting it done!

I really hate living in chaos, and after our move a little over a year ago I feel like we have never gotten ourselves out of it.  Our oldest started school this year though and I am getting sucked down into the abyss of a messy home.  So here's the deal:  I am going to have to buckle down and make a real effort to organize one space during nap time each weekend.  I know I won't do it after work during the week.

We are nowhere near this bad but still!
A girl can dream right?

The kitchen cabinets!  The day we moved was filled with closings on both our old house and our new, as well as the last minute packing at our old house and then the unloading at our new house so that the truck could be returned.  And  then on top of that our daughter ended up having emergency surgery that night.  She was fine but it complicated our unpacking efforts.  My wonderful in-laws very graciously unpacked our kitchen for us so that we could eat that weekend, but a few things weren't quite where I would have put them.  And then we have two base cabinets with large blind spots that have become dumping grounds,  Something has to be done with those in particular!  And we also have some spaces filled with utensils and things that our children have outgrown.  The kitchen will be organized before we have been in the house 2 years, maybe we will even get some paint on the orangey wood cabinets!

And the before isn't as bad as ours!

The linen closet.  We moved all kinds of stuff from the old house that we haven't even touched since we have been in the new house.  And it is mainly stuffed in the linen closet.  Along with the blow up bed our guests use and the potty seat that both kids have outgrown (gross huh?).  We also have duplicates of some things because we weren't consistent with where we unloaded things (we have light bulbs in both the linen closet and the laundry room.)

Don't we all aspire to this?

The master bedroom closet.  Again, another out of site, out of mind kind of place.  It is a good size space but poorly utilized.  I hope to change out the closet system at some point but we may need to at least clean out the space before we even go that far!

This state may not be reached til after a new closet system but . . .

Those spaces will be a start and hopefully putting this in writing will make me feel more accountable to actually get stuff done.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Let there be Light

Our old home, typical of its era, had tons and tons of windows.  This was done a lot in the south prior to the advent of central heat and air to provide ventilation during the hot summers.  It also helped let in a lot of wonderful light.  I didn't realize how much this light affected me and my happiness until we moved into our 1990's era rancher.  Most of the rooms have one window.  That does not provide for a naturally well lit home.

Last fall we painted our foyer a color we had tested on the walls and loved in the space.  It was a lavender and looked great in the space with our artwork.  Then winter came and we began getting even less light in our north facing front rooms.  And the small arched window in the front door let no light in.  And then I hated the grayed out purple in the foyer.  I had almost convinced myself to repaint until we could afford to buy a new 12 light front door.


But then as I was trolling Craig's List one day, probably looking for a new sink for the laundry room we want to make over, I came across a listing for a cross buck door.  The picture reminded me of a country farmhouse which is somewhat appropriate for our kind of rural, suburban landscape.  I showed it to the hubby who liked it too but I am bad with pulling the trigger on CL purchases.  The next day I decided that we did need the door and called about it.  It was still available so we went that afternoon to get it.

The lady who sold it to us had taken it out of a home she was rehabbing.  We got to have a look around her house which was super cool since we haven't done any demo and rehab work like that in a few years.  I think I love the smell of lead paint dust!  (Kind of a joke, but a house that is stripped down to bead board and lath really does something to me!)

Getting the door home was an adventure that involved it hanging out the rear end of my compact SUV and bungee cords holding the door down.  I feel bad for all the people who were stuck behind me since I was scared that driving too fast would pull the door up and open.  But we did get it home and now I can't wait to get it painted and hung so that this winter our foyer is a nice, bright space!


Thursday, August 13, 2015

First impressions

When we first moved into our old house we had no walkway to the front porch and door and the front stoop was a concrete and brick half round with 3 steps.  They were rather steep and the top step in particular was very small.  It also wasn't in keeping with the style of the house in my opinion.  Some people loved it and felt it added some grandeur to the house.  Mind you, this was a 1350 square foot, 1930's era bungalow, it was not ever meant to be grand!

As you looked at the house from the street, the left side had been a later addition, and the foundation had never been bricked in.  Instead it was closed off with some white plastic lattice that drove my mom crazy!  In the fall of 2012 we finally decided to make the front of the house a little more cohesive and hired a mason to brick in the foundation and build us a new stairway.

This was the only picture of the porch I could find from that phase, I know it's not great, please excuse it.

After they were done we tiled the steps and the floor of the front porch with slate tile that had originally been intended for our kitchen makeover.  We removed aluminum siding that covered some of the original beadboard ceiling and painted it blue (we are in the south, thank you very much), and added a hanging lantern that made better use of the high ceiling than the standard porch fixture that had been there before.  The original railings were not even securely fastened to the posts so we replaced those with some that I felt fit the character of the home better.

We put a glider and coffee table out there, along with some additional chairs and a rolling cart which the UPS man particularly loved and after that spent plenty of time porching while watching our oldest run around the front yard.  It worked particularly well for us because our lot was triangular with a huge front yard and small rear.  A lot of play time was logged in that front yard and having a comfortable and inviting place to sit was integral to our quality, family time.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Catch ya on the flip side - Urban charm

Once, when I was small and riding through the downtown area looking at all the dilapidated buildings, I told my mom that when I grew up I wanted to buy the run down houses, fix them up, and sell them to poor people.  My mom told me that was already done by a group called Habitat for Humanity.  When I got older and found out more about Habitat I realized that wasn't entirely true but also learned how expensive rehab can be compared to new construction.

Despite this knowledge, that initial career plan still holds a lot of intrigue for me.  I still love to look at real estate listings and dream about the changes I would make to the property.  Of course, this urge isn't helped by all the property flipping and renovation shows HGTV has currently.

With that being said I thought it would be fun and also potentially satiating to chronicle some properties that I come across and the changes that I would make to them here.

First up is a property that is in a somewhat transitional neighborhood.  The area around it has recently gotten some nice retail and restaurant space, the only Whole Foods in our area is within a mile or so of this property.  It is on the smaller side with 978 square feet but we are in an area that has a lot of higher educational facilities making this the perfect starter home for a young couple seeking an urban lifestyle.

{all photos courtesy of Zillow}

The first thing I would do is clean up the front landscaping and add a privacy fence to the rear.  Possibly add some new windows, spray foam insulation, and a tankless water heater for energy efficiency.

Then, in the only bathroom, I would add some drama in the form of a boldly patterned floor, but in black and white to reference the time period of the original house.  Some subway tile in the bath and beadboard wainscoting for the walls, a pedestal sink and some sconces to round things out, get you a nice clean space.

The kitchen would get some herringbone slate floors, white shaker style cabinets, concrete countertops with an apron style sink, an industrial style faucet, stainless steel range hood, some schoolhouse lighting, and a pop of color via some bright penny tile.  Add in some white appliances and you have a great juxtaposition of modern and period.

The rest of the house would get a fresh coat of a soft grayed white and refinished hardwood floors.  And there you have the perfect urban cocoon.