Monthly Archives: June 2012

The People Have Spoken…

… and they want to see some pictures!  Pictures, you shall have.

This is a “before” photo of our kitchen. It doesn’t really look as terrible in these photos as it did in person, but trust me, it was pretty bad.  Those cabinets? Consensus is that they were likely original to the house, almost definitely at least from the 1970s. The reason we know that? Because they had obviously never been replaced while the PAISLEY laminate countertops were in place and I can’t imagine that someone installed paisley countertops any time post 1980.

You can’t tell that the countertops are paisley unless you look at them up close (we didn’t even notice it the first time we saw the place) and we didn’t take a close-up photo, so you’ll just have to trust me.  Actually, the small section of countertop to the right of the stove was a different countertop. It must have broken at some point… most likely after paisley countertop stopped being manufactured.

The refrigerator and dishwasher were probably between 5-10 years old, both in working order. The range on the other hand, was much older (mid-80s, maybe?) and you could not use multiple burners and the oven without blowing a fuse, so it had to go. (Not to mention, it was ugly.)  We decided we might as well just replace all of the appliances at once so that they’d match.  We donated the dishwasher and sold the fridge… the range went to appliance heaven.

The vinyl flooring was new.  The previous owner had replaced the floors throughout the first floor before listing the house – vinyl in the kitchen, hallway, laundry room, bathroom, and foyer, and carpet in the dining room and living room. We wanted hardwood floors throughout most of the first floor (we left the vinyl in the laundry room and bathroom for now, until we do those renovations), so even though the vinyl was new, it came out with the rest of the kitchen.

And here’s the view with my back to the window/sink area, facing the dining room…

Yup, a wall. We pretty quickly decided that needed to go. Also, you probably can’t tell from the above two photos, but those are actually two different big globe lights, which were just sort of oddly floating in a non-symmetrical and not centered fashion.

Okay, that’s an overview of the “before.” Now, onto the “after”…

As you can see, we took down the wall between the dining room and kitchen and added a peninsula.  We’ll eventually get two stools to stick under there, on the kitchen side.  We moved the dishwasher to the right side of the sink so that we didn’t have two appliances right next to each other (it wasn’t an issue functionally, I just didn’t like the look of it), which meant that we could actually center the sink on the window.  (You can’t really tell in the first photo, above, but the sink was off-center to the right of the window a bit.)  We also added some narrow (technically, upper) cabinets to the left wall where we set up our “breakfast” station.

Here’s a before photo of that wall (next to our laundry/utility room)…

And the after…

See? It was just wasted wall space. Now we have a place for our blender, tea maker and bananas.  (The blue dessert glasses are just hanging out there temporarily… I bought them this weekend.)  Underneath, we store our other “breakfast” items… tea, coffee, french press, coffee grinder, smoothie cups, travel mugs, and toaster.  There’s also room for a bunch of Pyrex that we received for our wedding that we had to keep packed in the box in the guest bedroom closet in the apartment.  We’re not sure whether we’re going to put a metal spice rack up there (or make some sort of magnetic spice rack on the back of a cabinet door) or if we are just going to hang some artwork.  Since our stainless steel fridge isn’t magnetic on the front, we hung a magnetic white board on our laundry room door.

Here’s the old view when standing in the hallway…

And here’s what it looks like now…

Ahh… so much better. (Don’t forget, that was a closed off wall to the dining room before.)  We’re going to hang some pendant lights above the peninsula, but haven’t gotten around to it yet.  We just didn’t have time to go looking at pendants so hadn’t made the decision before the contractors were finished. All the electrical that’s needed is up there though… we just need to actually make a decision and then have them come back and add it. (We think we’re going to do ball jar pendant lights after seeing them in a restaurant the other day.)

Here’s a close up of our finishes. For those who are curious, we have GE appliances (yes, that IS a double-oven!), Caesarstone countertops in Raven, RiverRun cabinetry in Mt. Vernon Snow (which doesn’t appear to be on their website), Daltile Semigloss subway tiles in Desert Gray, and Benjamin Moore paint in Pear Green.  (The paint color is reading a bit more yellow on my monitor than it does in real life.)

(We also got under-cabinet lighting and lights above the sink, which I forgot to turn on for the photos. Adam would also like me to mention the soft-close drawers, which he was very, very excited about.)

Our design was to be neutral with all of the more permanent fixtures, with greys, whites, stainless steel, and polished nickel, but then use bold colors to accent it. If we get tired of the bright green, we just need to repaint.

Much better than the before, right?

And here’s what it looks like when standing in the dining room…

I can’t believe that view used to be a wall!

We still have a few things left to do. Eventually, we’ll paint all of the trim and doors in the house a crisp white, rather than the off-white that they are now, but that’s kind of low on the list of priorities since we want to do it all at once.  We’re going to add some sort of curtains and/or blinds to the window.  Also, as I mentioned, we need to add something above the breakfast area (either a spice rack/shelves combo or some artwork), stools for the counter, and the lighting above the island.

We love it. In fact, I love it so much, I get sad that it ends up dirty after we cook in there… I wish it could stay sparkly and pretty all the time.

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This Post Ended Up Sounding Way More Whiny Than I Intended…

A friend’s status message the other day was something like, “Home ownership is exhausting.” Indeed!

Although we closed on our house on April 20th, we didn’t actually move in until May 24th. Our lease was up the end of May (well, technically we went month-to-month after our previous lease ended in April) and having a month overlap between renting and owning meant we had time to get the kitchen renovations started, paint a few rooms, pack our belongings, and move over to the new place. We somehow thought we’d get so much more done with the house before we actually moved in, but really we only ended up painting two rooms. (And hiring contractors to start the kitchen and install new floors, but at least that wasn’t manual labor on our part.)

We make trips to Home Depot or Lowes more than once a week. Target, too. We still have our serving dishes, barware, and booze packed away until we buy some storage pieces for the dining room. Our living room, while large, has a layout that just doesn’t work with two couches, so we need to replace one with a couple of chairs. We have a few boxes of items that need to be freecycled or craigslisted or donated. Although we replaced the master closet, we still don’t have doors for it. (I’m just calling it a “walk-in” closet right now, even though it’s really a “walk-up-to” closet.) Our brand new refrigerator has a bum part that keeps the freezer from getting sufficiently cold, so it needs to be replaced. (At no charge, thank goodness.) Our washing machine puts out cold water when you turn it to hot, and hot water when you turn it to cold, so we’ve got a plumber coming in to fix that. (Adam attempted to himself, but to do so some valve needs to be replaced or else it starts leaking everywhere… I don’t exactly know. I’m leaving that sort of fix-it stuff to him.) The washing machine and dryer are also probably 25 years old and we have to talk nicely to them so they don’t break right away. Adam went to clean the gutters out last weekend because there were baby trees growing out of them, but when he got up the ladder he learned that the previous owner had installed a gutter cover… that apparently didn’t work, so we had to hire someone to take those off and clear out the gutters for us. We’ve painted the dining room, but still need to paint the living room hopefully by the end of this month when Adam’s parents come to visit. There’s nothing hung on the walls anywhere. The carpet desperately needs to be vacuumed. I’m completely ignoring that one bathroom in our house even exists, because it’s so ugly and the sliding glass door to the shower scares me. Not to mention that the one room in the house the previous owner attempted to update/renovate — the master bathroom — has crooked floor tiles, a crooked toilet, and a crooked light fixture. (Clearly, this man did not own a ruler or a level.) It also looks like it belongs in some Florida vacation home… and not in a good way.

And I feel like this barely scratches the surface of all the things that need fixing/updating/replacing/purchasing.

I know it sounds like I am complaining, but I’m really not. I love our house. I love the neighborhood. I love the easier commute. We’re just at the point where it is hard to believe we’ll ever get settled, which can be really frustrating. Not that I expected to be all unpacked and settled in just a few weeks; it’s just that every time we cross one thing off the list, we seem to add at least two more and there’s no end in sight. It’s overwhelming. It’s exhausting.

At least our new kitchen is super pretty.

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The One…

When I last left off in the house-hunting saga (see parts one and two if you missed ’em), we’d gotten pretty frustrated with the process and were debating whether or not to take a break for a while when we got an email alert for a house that looked pretty interesting. It was actually on the same street of the very first house we saw, back before we even had an agent, that got us thinking we were ready to jump into the house-hunting process. It was a half mile from the metro, in one of the neighborhoods we had been focusing on, and priced almost 15% lower than any other house (other than a foreclosure) we’d seen.

Yeah, so that last point had us worried. I mean, obviously something had to be wrong with it if it was priced so much lower than other houses in the area.  But we still decided that we might as well go take a look.

An open house was scheduled for the weekend, but we knew from experience that there were usually offers in, and sometimes even accepted, before the open house. So we emailed our agent immediately (this was at 8 a.m.) to ask her if there was any way we could see that house after work that day. One of her associates was available, so Adam and I met up with her at the house after work.

You guys, this house had so many things we were looking for… and even things beyond what we thought we could get in our price range! It was a half mile from the metro, had a large (for its size) kitchen, had 2.5 baths (including a bathroom on the main floor AND one in the master!), and the bedrooms were all larger than we’d been seeing AND had good sized closets.  While we knew the place definitely needed some updating (some appliances appeared to date back to the early ’80s and the two main bathrooms are UG-LY), we knew that with the lower list price, we’d be able to tackle some of those updates sooner rather than later. We knew immediately that we had to put in an offer on this house before it got snatched up.

I suppose it’s of no surprise to anyone by this point that we ended up buying this house. But it is so crazy how quickly it all happened. Just a few days before, when all of our friends were in town for the weekend for the half marathon, we were telling them that we weren’t having any luck and were thinking of taking a break. Tuesday, the house comes on the market. We made an offer the next morning. The offer was accepted that afternoon.

Without going into too many financial details, I will admit that after looking at comps we did end up offering more than the asking price, BUT! During the purchase process, the house was actually appraised for more than our offer, so we felt pretty validated about that decision. We still have no idea why the owner priced the house as he did, other than we think he was VERY motivated to sell as quickly as possible. (We’re pretty sure he must have been relocated and already purchased a new place. He wasn’t even at the closing because he lived in another state.)  He’d owned the house for a long time and we saw all the paperwork, so we know that he definitely didn’t lose any money on the deal. Whatever his reason, we’re obviously not complaining! By somehow finding the one house priced below cost in the area, we were able to have some money to put toward some MUCH needed renovations.  Oh, just you wait until you see the before photos of our very 70s kitchen. Here’s a teaser… the previous countertops were PAISLEY.

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June Goals…

My May goals got completely derailed by packing, planning and hosting a baby shower, moving, and (sorta) unpacking.  Whoops!

A pathetic recap of my May goals…

1. Continue to go to boot camp at least twice a week. I was going strong the first three weeks of May. Then I only went once the fourth week (the week of the move) and then the last (half) week (i.e., earlier this week), I didn’t go at all because, despite hiring movers this time, I still managed to cause my old back injury to rear its ugly head. I was feeling a bit better later in the week, but decided to just take the full week off and make sure it’s fully healed, rather than go to boot camp, have it be a very core-heavy class, and then have to miss even more time because I hurt it worse.

2. Participate in Mission: Put Together. Again, I was going strong the first few weeks of May, but then with the packing and moving, I basically stopped. I probably have three or four days worth of photos that never made it to Flickr, and then the week of the move, I certainly was anything other than put together. My uniform was running shorts and old t-shirts for all the packing, moving, and many, many, many trips to Home Depot and Lowes.

3. Read a book. Nope. Didn’t even pick one up.

Let’s see if I can do better in June now that I’m getting all settled into the new place!

1. Go to boot camp at least twice a week.  I signed up for another month and still feel like I need to go at least twice a week (preferably more) to get my money’s worth.  I may take a break from it in July and August if it’s too hot out, but I’m hoping my body will be able to adjust to the heat if I work out outside throughout the month of June.

2. Plan our New England vacation.  As per usual, our vacation destination is driven by our friends’ weddings. We have a wedding to attend in Vermont the second weekend of September and then another in Connecticut the following weekend, so we’re planning to just stay up there for the whole week, rather than fly back to DC for Monday-Friday. Right now the plan is to B&B hop around Vermont. If anyone has any must-see/must-do recommendations for the area, please let me know!

3. Get the house unpacked.  So far, we’ve really only got the master bedroom unpacked. Now that the kitchen is complete (update and photos to come soon!), we can finally get to unpacking the downstairs. I’d like for us to be pretty much settled in by the end of the month, so that from there on out it’s just be improvement, rather than moving, projects that we’ll need to tackle. (And oh, how there will be many projects to tackle…)

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