Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Renovation Reality, Part 2....We Survived to Tell the Tale

There were many days that I thought the end of this renovation would never come.  We had to repaint every.single.surface. inside and out - the trim, walls, stairs, ceilings, doors.  I often told people the house was held together with caulking and plaster.

Nevertheless, we made it and were luckily able to sell it very quickly when we put it on the market. Here's a little reminder of the exterior we started with:
ahhhh, so pretty...as was the overgrown/jungle-esque backyard.  You can't see it in the picture, but the previous owner had dug a 4' trench around the red door and window.  Nice. 

Here are the remainder of the lovely BEFORE pictures. (Grab your hardhat and enter at your own risk) 

 And now, finally, here are some pictures of the "after."  Please know that we were decorating on NO budget while trying to attract a higher-end buyer... and had to sell ASAP because we had another baby on the way.  I'll try to point out places where we scrimped/saved money.

Back of the house- notice we took the "bump" off the basement level.  Also, on the left (where the round window is located), we added stairs to the basement.  Prior to adding these stairs, you had to go through the old SCARY cellar to get to the newly finished basement.

Front exterior -we removed MOUNTAINS of english ivy and planted grass/added landscaping.  We redid the porch ceiling with beadboard. We eventually repainted the front door red before we listed it to sell.

This is looking into the foyer from the living room.  This is a scanned picture, so I'm sorry for the poor quality (you'll see several throughout this post)  The door is a closet, and to the right is the dining room, kitchen, sun room, office/playroom, and stairs to the new basement.

Please excuse the stroller...this is the sun room.  It use to be an exterior porch, so it was built on a tilt for water drainage.  We built the cornice to try to camouflage the slant in the room.  I made the "curtains" out of some really discounted fabric at JoAnn's.  I painted the quote, "Dwell in possibility - Emily Dickenson," by hand.  Although out realtor told us to repaint the room in a more neutral color, I left it as is because I thought it was so fun. 

Kitchen, completely gutted and redone

Standing in the sun room, dining area is to the right.  

You can kind of see the sun room on the right, dining room is to the left. On the other side of the double oven is a room that could be used as a bedroom, office, den, or playroom.

This is the dining room, complete with my childhood dining table (free!) that I painted dark blue. (Sorry for another icky picture)  The light fixture isn't one I'd pick for myself, but it was simple, and more importantly, it was very inexpensive! 

Only one more icky picture after this.  This is the den-bedroom-playroom.  The laundry room that use to me in the dirt-floor cellar (was a closet) in the back left corner.  There's a half bath that we added (it was another closet).  We had planned on putting french doors where the large window is located and we wanted to build a deck - but we ran out of time, energy and money. 

Please excuse the horrible picture and the grumpy bulldog.  This is the only picture I have of the top of the stair case...it use to be a wall and was one of the bigger challenges we faced in trying to complete so that it matched the lower portion (existing) of the stairs.  The end result turned out beautifully - I wish I had a better picture to share!

This is the master bedroom closet.  We added the wall to make it a closet. 

Master bedroom - with my $15 headboard I painted black.  Master bath is on the right. 

Master Bedroom - on the right you can see the hall we added, the door to the nursery, and the top of the stairs (that was originally closed off)

Master Bathroom

This is the finished portion of the basement.  The stairs originate in the kitchen, behind the stove.  The dresser and bed and linens are from Ikea. The lamp is from a thrift store. New laminate floors.  The closet door is one of the original wood doors from the house that we didn't need, and we cut it down to fit the space.

 The picture on the back of the bed is one of the old wood windows from the house.  I printed some graphics out onto cardstock and colored them in.  I painted the border, and taped the pages onto the back of the window.  Free art (if you can call it "art"). 

The other half of the basement - you can see the foot of the bed to the left. (And a nice pic of our AC unit out the window!)

 I think that's all the pictures I have...and I've only shown you maybe half the house.  I'm impressed if you've made it this far with me though!  I loved this house - it made me so happy when another young family bought it and loved it maybe more than we did (no nightmarish reno experiences!)

Just to bring it full-circle - the house BEFORE. 


Now, (sigh), we begin again...but we were smarter this time...at least we can live in the house we just bought....with its blue carpet and red countertops.

I've seen many beautiful renovations completed here in blog-land.  Any fun stories to share?  I'd love to hear (or see) them!

I originally wrote this post before I knew what "linking up" was - but I'm so much older and wiser now (almost 3 mos!), so I've linked to these parties...

Photobucket Savy Southern Style


TT small

Weekend Bloggy Reading
take care -

Picks with Promise

Since I can't share any of my finished projects until I actually have a space to finish some projects...I thought I'd show a couple of the treasures my husband and I found this weekend.  

We found a fantastically cheap barn sale....we did not, however, find a babysitter....so I had to carry our 25 pound daughter and Bryan had to watch our 2-year-old so no emergency trips for tetanus shots would be necessary (they are up to date on all shots, and I think Max has actually had his tetanus, but for the sake of my story, let's go with it).  

This made rifling through a cluttered, dirty, wet old barn a little difficult.   I can only imagine the fun stuff we would have found if we were able to dig in!  We still (I think) found some rusty, old, crusty  fun stuff.

Please ignore our messy garage...we lost over 1000 sq ft when we moved to our apartment, so most of our belongings live in the garage.  (We also have a toddler who thinks mommy's decor is more fun than any number of toys)

Fantastic Green Vintage Tackle Box

Shabby Wood Crate

Great Star Light Fixture 

Huge Wood Tool Box and a couple other little finds.

Everything obviously needs some serious love...and I can't wait to get started on things. 

Only 2 more days until we move....and oh yeah, I have 2200 sq ft of house that needs completely renovated too (plus, the babies!)

 Have you found any fun treasures lately?  Do share!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Mine tastes better

Apparently the food on my plate tastes better than the same exact food on Max's plate.  I guess it's a toddler thing.  Its been a rough day in mommy-land.  When Max wasn't performing death-defying stunts or trying to kill the dog, he was whining and/or crying.

Then, there's Emme, who I've nicknamed the screech owl.  People scoff at this description of my beautiful, happy, smiley baby, until they experience it for themselves.  Then, they act like they are the first person to have experienced the phenomenon.

But, when they are sleeping, all the craziness of the dayis forgotten (most of the time) and they look like little angels  (Emme is sleeping on my lap as I type this with one hand)

In other news, Bryan and I had a lot of fun finding some treasures for my new business venture.  It's called Max Originals, and will be vintagey, unique, "upcycled" treasures and furniture that I plan to sell.  More on that later, for sure!

Anyone else's food taste better on their plate?  Anyone else have a challenging day?  Please share, I'm sure I'll feel silly for thinking mine was difficult.

Til next time---

Trying to pack....unsuccessfully

We are supposed to be moving to the new house next weekend...yippeeeee!!!  I.can't.wait....no more noisy neighbors partying until 4am (ahem, last night), no more revving motorcycle engines at 9:30pm, no more surprise landscaper or maintenance men visits during nap time.

Packing, however, is not going so well...emme is used to almost-constant attention from me, and that's nearly impossible when trying to pack the kitchen.  At almost-10 mos old, she still has spontaneous falls, so I try to keep her away from as many hard surfaces as possible.  I've packed 2 boxes in the last 4 hours.  this progress does NOT=success.  At this rate, we'll be living here with the next set of renters.

As....uhhh...frustrating as this is, even more worrisome is what I'll do with her when I'm trying to put it all away.  She's almost 25 pounds, so I can't wear her.  Plus, I had all these great plans of painting Max's room, and starting my business (more on that later - just don't have the space here to start my projects until we move)....which may be pretty challenging with my constant-companion.  I absolutely ADORE Emme (and Max, of course - but we're talking about E) - she's my last baby, she's chubby, and smiley, and funny...and I want to enjoy every minute of both my babies childhoods that I can....but I also have the small obligation of making our home habitable for them and my very-hard-working husband.

...oops, had to step away for a moment....Max was trying to launch himself off of the bar stools (that he's not supposed to be near) and because I had to step away from Emme momentarily, she had a small breakdown.  I have a feeling the next couple weeks will be a(nother)  test of patience.

Serenity now.

Friday, August 19, 2011

The evil weed-whacker man!!

We've lived in an apartment for the past year while looking for our new house.  There are pros and cons...one pro being that you don't have to take care of a yard.  The con being that the weed whacker man shows up unexpectedly, just in time to wake up my 2 sleeping babies!!  They barely ever nap at the same time, but when they do, it seems like weed whacker man inevitably shows up at the same  time. 

And then there's the guy 3 doors down who likes to rev his motorcycle's engine at 9:30pm....

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Renovation Reality

My husband and I met when he bought his house. I was his real estate agent. Crazy, huh? He bought the house in May 2007, and planned to renovate and sell by September 2007. He chose a local contractor who came highly recommended by my husband's mortgage broker.

Here's a peek at the house (built in 1908) – pre $150,000 renovation lawsuit-blood-sweat-many tears:

The front, obviously. Do you like the wire hanging from the ceiling where a light fixture should be? When it rained, water would pour through the hole, and when it was cold, we would get a lovely icicle.


And the back…notice the black tarp on the left? The man who owned the house before us had dug out a bunker under where a porch use to be…by hand, with buckets. Odd.

Don't worry, I have more pictures. To make a long, heartbreaking story short, when we were about $80,000 into the reno, we realized that of the 26 items on the original estimate, only 14 had been started, and not one had been completed. NOT.ONE. We weren't living in the house at the time, so when we would come out to check on the progress, the contractor would make promises and give explanations…we were so deep, we thought the easiest way to proceed would be to move into the house (with no hot water, finished kitchen, or bathroom doors) and keep a closer eye on things. We quickly realized that we had made a terrible mistake by trusting this contractor.

We were left with a house that was maybe 25% finished, and we only had about $10,000 left to finish the project (which we quickly realized was not nearly enough) So begins the blood, sweat, and tears part of the story. The hardest I've ever worked – and we planned a wedding and had a baby during it too. Instead of 3 months, it took 3 years. Here are a couple more pictures – showing before and after. Sorry some of the pictures aren't so great, unbelievably, we didn't really take "after" pictures.


FOYER – There use to be a low ceiling in the foyer. We had it removed and the correlating wall, but the contractors couldn't figure out how to finish the railing to match the existing lower portion of steps.  The wall and closet on the left were removed, the picture on the right shows what was left.

This is how the contractors left the newly created laundry room...knowing we were moving in that day. (Before they started working there, these floors had been in perfect condition.)  Oh, and they never hooked up the plumbing, so the 1st time I did laundry...water was pouring into our basement, which as you'll see below, had dirt floors.

Basement...or something.  The  rectangular mound on the left was once a 10 foot deep abyss.


BEFORE- On left, original master bath - and only bathroom in the house.  On right, once they tore down kitchen ceiling below the bathroom, they found serious water damage, so the whole bathroom floor came out.




Originally, a parlor  for the master bedroom, but we added a hallway to make it a small 3rd bedroom.

Original kitchen.  These were all of the cabinets, the opposite wall just had a stove on it.      

Thankfully, we survived, so there are "after" pictures to share.   This post has reminded me to take lots of pictures of our next house, I can't believe how few I have of the last house!



Max and Emme's Bedrooms

Emme is sleeping on me, so I'm typing this with one hand.  I tried to take them outside to play, but Max was more interested in trying to stragle the dog with her line and opening/closing the screen door.  Therre's no shade out there, so its pretty uncomfortable. 

I'm so excited about moving into our house in 2 weeks (from today!!), and I've put together some idea boards for what I'm thinking of doing. 

Here's my idea for Max's room...I'm  still deciding on paint colors...but am thinking green with a gray or blue stripe.  B and I are planning to make his headboard...I'll post pictures when we get to that point.

And here's Emme's room:

I used Olioboard to design them.  You can upload your own pictures, but they have a huge selection of item available too.

My other favorite new site is pinterrest...so much easier than saving everything to my hard drive.

Fun stuff for all my free time!


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Laughing Emme

We've finally "YouTube'd" a couple videos of the babies.  Emme's laugh is hysterical...it makes me laugh outloud every time I hear it.

The weekend in review

Saturday we went to an estate auction in Galena...it was really hot in the gym where the auction was being held and M&E were not impressed with our choice of activities for the day!  Luckily, B's dad came to help entertain the kids, so I was able to stay and watch the auction for a couple hours.  We bought an antique glass star light fixture for $20 and a small side table for $15 that I plan to refinish to resell eventually.

Sunday we drove out to the house and bought Max his last carseat - atleast I hope so - it goes up to 100 lbs.  I cleaned out M's old carseat for E (she officially outgrew hers a couple weeks ago) and it looks brand new (was super duper gross though!!).  I also cleaned the bathrooms since B was home to watch the babies.

Monday, Bryan was on 3rd shift, so we got to spend time with him during the day.  We went grocery shopping...and the babies both got to enjoy their new carseats...Emme seemed very pleased with hers...and Max looks like a big boy in his.  Both babies were especially grumpy yesterday, and we had no idea why - they both napped and got to play outside/go to the store.  Who knows.  Anyway, as B was leaving for work, both M&E decided they want me to hold them until they fell asleep...and unfortunately, I'm not able to hold them both at the same time.  Finally, after about 45 minutes of failing to make either of them happy, I had to put Emme in her bed and let her cry until I could get Max to sleep.  I always have to pay more attention to her since she's smaller, and last night M seemed really upset, so I decided to stay with him.  Then, I took E downstairs to get her to sleep...which took another hour or so.  Sooo....around 12am, I got to bed, but M kept rolling onto me all night...and then E woke up around 4:30am.  It was a long night and mommy is pretty tired today.

I excited about potentially starting my own business finding and refinishing/fixing old furniture and oddities to resell.  It is all the things I love to do - it would be so great if it were to become successful and something I could do fulltime once the kids are in school.    I'll elaborate more on that later.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

New House Introduction

After being in contract on 4 other houses in the past year, and not closing on 3 of them...I believe (still holding breath, crossing  fingers, etc) that we've found "the one."  Just to recap the year in houses: 

 House #1 - Small cape cod - everything, including carpet, walls, and exterior was a lovely light pea green.  Sellers wouldn't make several crucial repairs (like make the water run) so we canceled the contract.

 House #2 - Small cape cod - needed total rehab.  Were doing a (ridiculous) full 203K FHA loan...and costs got out of hand...by closing, we were paying more for the house than it was worth.  Strangely enough, FHA allows that to happen?  Yeah, I know.  Lender surprised us with $3000 in additional closing costs the night before closing, with no explanation other than that he "thought" it "may" have been an error with a credit that the seller was giving us.  Since we decided to cancel the contract, HUD didn't want to give us our $1000 in earnest money back, but after I wrote a letter explaining the horrible experience we had with our lender....they gave it back, which they NEVER do. (supposedly)

House #3 - Small brick ranch without an oven. Water view and .75 acres...but the house was really small - 1426 sq ft (we are big people) and we realized that we would probably grow out of it.  We decided were paying too much for a house that needed updating....we'd never be able to sell the house for what we'd need to put into it.  The final straw was trying to negotiate the repairs with the seller - we only asked for a couple of things that were required by the lender (treating termites) or maintenance items that should have been completed on a full-price house (not a distressed sale) before it was listed.

AND....Finally...House #4 - The morning we cancelled our offer on #3, I was lying in bed that morning and thought to myself, I wonder if they'd take "X" amount for house #4 - if they did, I'd want it, even though needs lots of updates and has no water view.  I went downstairs and B was looking at #4 online - he said, they lowered the price on #4 to "X-$1000" (numbers changed to protect the innocent).  I ignored him because he enjoys "pulling my leg" all  the time.  Once he finally convinced me, I realized that it was a sign we were looking for.  We made an appointment with our Realtor to see it again.  We canceled offer on #3 because the seller wouldn't make repairs, and made a new offer on #4 which was accepted by the sellers.

So, here are the "before" pictures of the house that should be ours as of 8/31/11 (if everything goes as planned):

One of the things we love about the house is that we can live there and fix it up over time.

One side of our double-sided fireplace.

Other side of the fire place, dining room, and our colorful kitchen.

Sunroom...my favorite room...I have many plans for this one!

Max's Bedroom

Guest Bath 

"Master" Bath

Back of the house
Shed (aka - future Mother-In-Law Suite...I kid!)

LOTS of work to do, but not NEARLY as much as our last house.

take care

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