Tuesday, March 11, 2014

A New Floorplan!

In my last post I talked about how we started off 2014 with a burst heating pipe and over $25,000 in water damage and how we made a split-second decision not to put the house back together exactly as it was.  Here I am with an update!

The renovation has been completed and we're pretty much done playing "Musical Chairs" with our furniture, shuffling it around from room-to-room.  Today, I'd like to introduce you to our new Living Room/Dining Room combo!

This is pretty much exactly what you see when you walk in the front door (courtesy of the panoramic photo capture mode on my camera):

Directly in front of you are the stairs to the second floor.  To the left is our new living room, which used to be a bedroom that was separated by a wall that we removed and to the right is our dining room, which used to be our living room.

Here's the new living room side:

And here's the dining room side:

Before this room was our dining room, it was our living room and was closed off to the room on the other side of the stairs:

Here is that same exact view now (with the front door closed):

Huge difference, right?! The wall that was separating these two rooms had a closet on the other side of it for the bedroom, but it wasn't a load-bearing wall.  We also had the railings for the stairs replaced and I just love that you can see through the staircase now.

I'm still working on hanging things on the walls so they don't feel so empty, but I'm loving how it's coming along.  Here are some close-ups of some of my favorite details so far:

I springed-up my coat rack as much as possible with some bird decor:

I just loooooove this bling-y chandelier I got from Overstock.com:

Those frames behind the table are filled with some free botanical prints I found online, that I put into wooden frames from WalMart:

I'm on the hunt for a large ornate mirror to hang over the buffet in the dining room, so hopefully I find something great soon!

In the living room, I'm loving the colors introduced by the pillows and painting:

Check out this lamp that I spray painted and the red bird art I got from a calendar.  I replaced the art inside one of those square IKEA art frames with the bird:

I've still got lots to do, but I'm enjoying the openness and brightness of the space so much!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

A Wacky and Wet Start to the New Year

Four days after the start of the New Year (and less than five months after moving in!) we experienced our first disaster as homeowners.

We walked in the door from grocery shopping at about 5:30 in the evening to water gushing out of our ceiling into our Living Room, Bedroom and flooding our Basement.  Lots of panic and flying expletives ensued.

The Aftermath: Christmas comes to an abrupt end.
The same view after the walls were opened up for drying and mold prevention.
It turned out that the copper pipe that runs along the eaves of our 2nd floor carrying hot water to the baseboard heaters had burst in two places.  After turning off the water main, it still took a good 20-30 minutes for the water to finish pouring out of the ceiling on our main floor, which gives you an idea of just how much water was up there.  It had saturated our hardwood floors, walls and ceilings, as well as the walls and floors in our basement.

The Aftermath:  Walls are ripped open to find broken pipe.
One of Two Culprits.
I'll spare you the details, but there was approximately $25,000 in damages.  This included our sofa and brand new mattress, which didn't survive the incident.  After filing a claim with our insurance company, we're having a restoration company do the repair work.  But the most exciting thing is, we decided NOT to put things back exactly as they were.

Ironically, just prior to the New Year, we had sat down and talked about our plans for the house over the next couple of years.  We planned to spend this year prepping the upstairs for us to move up there to sleep and shower (re-finishing one of the upstairs bedrooms and the upstairs bathroom) all with the intention of converting our existing Master Bedroom into a Living Room and then moving our Dining Room into what was our Living Room.  We had planned on accomplishing this by knocking down the wall to the left of the stair case when you walk in.  We saw this layout once when we were house hunting and it was beautiful.  So nice and open.

The far wall adjacent to the stairs is the one I'm talking about removing.  That wall would have a banister to match the one that's already there, opening up the front two rooms to one another.
When the restoration company told us they'd be re-finishing our hardwood floors, the thought crossed my mind that now would be the time to knock down that wall.  We didn't want to have them re-do the floors, then in a year or two remove that wall and then have to re-do the floors again, since it can be a pretty disruptive process.  So, we asked them to just go ahead and remove that wall (since it wasn't load-bearing) and we'd shuffle our rooms around accordingly.

Here's where we are now.  
That same wall opened up to what used to be our bedroom
View from the opposite side, inside what used to be our bedroom.  This will now be a Living Room.
Another angle of the removed wall, facing the front door.

Same angle from other room.
View while coming down the stairs.
Those are some interesting wall coverings they used in the '50's, huh?

I'm really excited about this, because I think it'll change how we use the whole house.  I realize we'll be losing a bedroom, but right now it's only the two of us in a 4-bedroom house anyway.  And we have potential to add the bedroom back upstairs where we'd prefer it later on, anyway.  Also, there's still a closet in the corner of the new Living Room, so if we need to, we can put the wall back up and convert it back to a 4th bedroom.  Mostly, I'm just looking forward to getting our living space back and being panel-free in these two rooms!

I also hope that it will inspire me to tackle more decorating/DIY projects around here, because I was so preoccupied in the first few months of living here that I barely accomplished anything.  So, here's hoping a clean slate gives me a fresh pair of eyes to tackle this new space with!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

How Craigslist has helped me make a House into a Home

Thanks to Craigslist, we now have a home for all our books! 

In my last post, I mentioned how overwhelmed I was upon moving into our first home.  We weren't able to do any painting or renovating before Move-In Day, so the whole experience was rushed.  All we were able to do was some basic cleaning and pulling up some carpeting in what is currently being used as our bedroom.

Weeks after moving in, I was starting to get more comfortable, but there were still a couple of things preventing our house from feeling like a home to us.  One was that in a couple of rooms, there were still stacks of boxes that we couldn't unpack, because we didn't have anywhere to put their contents.  Specifically, boxes full of books and our China.

I quickly learned that buying a large bookcase brand new was going to cost a lot of money.  We weren't prepared to spend hundreds of dollars on a large piece of furniture just yet, so I started scouring Craigslist for something.  On a morning over Labor Day weekend, a listing popped up for a really nice, large, real wood bookcase.  They had it custom-built for their home, but when I measured the walls in our office, I saw that it would fit perfectly on one of the walls.  More importantly, they were only asking $50 for it!  They actually had two of them, but only one would fit in our office.  

After checking it out in person, we knew it'd be the perfect solution for our Boxes O'Books, so we scheduled a time to come back with a U-Haul to pick it up.  The U-Haul rental was actually more expensive than the bookcase itself, but we knew we needed to rent a truck at some point to go back to our old apartment to pick up some outdoor furniture we left in the garage and both locations were close to one another, so it was a good time to tackle that chore.

We came home and I immediately began unpacking all of those boxes and now you can see the floor in the office (I can see in this photo that the carpet needs to be shampoo'd)!

Other side of the room - with a cat in his tree

Another thing that was preventing our house from feeling like a home to me was not having anywhere to host guests.  We had a large dining table that we brought with us from my Husband's Grandparents, but we didn't have any chairs for it.  We wanted to be able to invite people over, so we started looking for dining chairs and almost fell over when we saw some of the prices.  I mean, $200 for a single chair that only gets sit on once a week (if that) seems exorbitant.  We needed 8-10 chairs (the table seats 10) and our max budget was $1,000 for all the chairs.  It became clear that this approach was not going to work.

I knew after a weekend of visiting different stores and coming up with nothing, that second-hand was going to be the way to go.  I checked both Craigslist and Ebay for a little over a week, when on my morning train ride to work, a posting popped up from someone in my area selling a beautiful cherry wood dining set.  It included a large dining table (with a leaf) with 8 matching chairs (two of which had arms), as well as a China cabinet, for $1200.  I had originally asked the seller if she'd consider selling us just the chairs, but then I realized that the chairs were too large/wide for the dining table we inherited from family and also, the chairs and table were meant to go together (we just didn't have room for the china cabinet).  We checked the table and chairs out in person and I offered her a little more than half ($650) for them and she accepted!  We borrowed a friend's truck and brought home our beautiful new dining table and chairs set for $650!  Way under our $1,000 budget, for chairs, alone.

Here they are in our Dining Room (sorry about the sun-squares):

A few scratches, but nothing terrible!
Just check out those legs!
Here is it without the leaf:

And there's one more thing Craigslist is responsible for in our house - our first piece of granite in our Kitchen!

Since we don't yet have a china cabinet, I had a ton of glasses that needed a place to stay.  I was so tired of pulling them out of their boxes every time I had company over.  I had this wall in the Kitchen on the Dinette side that had a small bookshelf there for a bit for extra storage, but I wound up moving it to the Living Room, since I needed storage there, too.  For a few weeks, this wall was blank and I had been searching for a Baker's Rack, because I knew it was the perfect place for one.  But holy moly are they expensive!  

Then, one morning on Craigslist, a beautiful granite and wrought iron Baker's Rack popped up with an even more beautiful price tag of $75.  Apparently, we were the first people to call about it and to come see it.  We borrowed my Father-In-Law's Van in case we liked it and sure enough, she came home with us and now lives in our Dinette, holding most of our beautiful wine glasses!  

The granite slab alone was probably 50 lbs.  It's such a nice addition to our Kitchen, especially since we looooove wine!

These are just a few reasons why I love me some Craigslist!

Happy Living!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

An Overwhelmed First Time Homeowner

It's been so long since I last wrote here.  I don't know what to say except that buying and moving into our first home was way more overwhelming than I ever imagined.

It's not that it's overwhelming in a bad way - it was just overwhelming in so many ways.

There are so many things we want to do... on top of all the things that absolutely had to be done.  I spent the first few weeks here walking around the house with a bottle of bleach in one hand and a roll of paper towels under my arm.  The guy who owned the home before us worked on cars (we hope) and his hands must have always been dirty.  We noticed that every switch plate and door and wall had black hand prints all over them.  I'm not a neat freak or anything, but it's just different when it's your dirt.

We finally got the house into a condition where we felt more comfortable.  After that, the unpacked boxes we still had were really beginning to bug me.  The boxes in the Office were filled with books and we didn't have a place to put all the books yet, so in boxes they stayed.

The problem was budgetary.  We had really depleted our savings to buy the house, plus we set aside an additional $10,000 to convert the house from oil heat to gas heat, since it's so much more cost and energy efficient.  We knew the gas conversion would pay for itself over the next decade or so, but spending an additional $10,000 after you've just bought a house is scary.

We set aside some additional money for furniture/decorating, but not much.  It was at this point that I started to feel overwhelmed.  I had always dreamed of buying a home and decorating it and making it look and feel exactly how we wanted it to.  But I'm not very skilled in it and I find myself second-guessing almost every purchase I'm about to make.  I didn't even want to look at furniture online anymore, because I knew we couldn't afford any of it right away.  We've only bought a few pieces of furniture since moving in and the majority of them were from Craigslist (I'll share those in a bit).  But all of this on top of not having any confidence in what I was doing (decorating-wise) really started to make me second-guess blogging.  I wanted it to be fun, but I was feeling so intimidated and clueless.  So, I just stopped for a while.

Recently, I stopped looking around the house and focusing on the things that have yet to be done and started really focusing on the things that we've already done.  These days, I'm feeling grateful and much less overwhelmed, as I'm enjoying being in our home so much more.

As soon as I started to feel better, I started to think about the blog again.  I still want to have fun and continue to interact with the other Home Decor bloggers and hopefully learn a lot.  So, I'll keep updating the blog as long as I have something to write about.  We're decorating at a snail's pace, but we'll be here for a really long time, so what's the rush anyway?

The room that I'd say is "most done" right now, is the living room.  Probably because this is where we spend most of our time.  We still have to paint this room (that lovely yellow/green came with the house) and I'm not exactly sure what color to go with yet.  I've got a brown and blue-gray thing going on, but I can't say it was entirely intentional.  We brought the brown sofas and coffee table with us from our apartment and really, that's all that came with us - everything else is new.  I fell in love with the gray carpet (and its price) and everything else just sort of came along for the ride.  I think I need a "pop" of color somewhere, but I'm not really sure yet which one I want to use.  Orange? Yellow? Purple? Pink?!

The sofas and coffee table are from Raymour and Flanigan (outlet), the rug is from Overstock.com, the pillows and lamps are from Homegoods, the mirror next to the entry is from TJ Maxx, the round end tables are from Joss & Main and the curtains are from Wayfair.

In total, I spent just under $500 on new items for this room (purchases outside of what we brought with us).  Good thing the budget was set for $500, HA! 

I have a bathroom update to share soon, as well as a few really great Craigslist finds that I can't wait to share.  

Happy Living! :)

Monday, July 29, 2013

All Moved In!

*I have to apologize for the impromptu hiatus these past couple of weeks.  Life hit us hard recently, between our full-time gigs, a cancelled flight home from a Wedding, last-minute packing, last-minute moving and everything in between, there just weren't enough minutes in the day.  Without further adieu, welcome to our new home!*

With the help of family and friends, we moved into our first home less than 48 hours ago and we're *almost* completely unpacked (shout-out to my mom for spending three hours with me on Friday attacking the grimy fridge).  The last few boxes contain things that need furniture that we don't yet own, or are decor items that we need to find places for in our new home.

The first room we set up was the Living Room.  I had put the feet back on the sofas about three minutes after they were lugged into our Living Room off the truck and I had to pick a place for the TV fast, because the cable guy arrived while we were still unloading the boxes.  I quickly laid out the furniture in an L-Shape, with the back of the Love Seat facing the entry way when you walk in, so that I can buy we can place a console there.

I'm not quite sure yet if the furniture will stay like this.  We're living with it for a few days, but I did ask the cable guy (I should stop calling him that, his name is Lou!) to leave me some slack on the cable in case I changed my mind.  I'm already considering moving the TV to the left a little (centered on that back wall) with "built-ins" around it or to the wall on the left and flipping the Sofa and Love Seat to the walls opposite where they are now, to allow for additional seating.

So many other things about this room will be changing.  The paint color, the pillows, the lamp, the end table, the window dressings... much, much more will be changing.  The only things that will likely stay are the sofa, love seat and coffee table.

This. Kitchen.  The first time we saw the house, I apparently had my "This-Has-Potential" Goggles on, because even though I was enamored with the sheer size of it, it was GRIMY.  It might have been the dirtiest kitchen I'd ever laid eyes on, nevermind that I'd actually have to cook and eat in it.  *shudder*

It took us about three days to get the Kitchen to an inhabitable state.  I'm not joking.  There are still food stains on the wall next to the sink that NO cleaning product is capable of removing and since they're FAUX wood panels, I can't even paint over them.  We have to wait until we're ready to tear down the walls re-do the kitchen for those stains to be gone.  BUT, the Fridge was so disgusting that I wasn't even sure we could keep it.  It took SIX magic erasers and tons of soaking in bleach and warm water, but my mom and I got it sparkling again.  I actually don't have a "before" picture, because when I said I wanted to take one, my mom said, "Why would you EVER want to remember what this Fridge currently looks like?"  I wasn't thinking like a Blogger and I agreed with her.  Of course, I regret this, because you'd never in a million years guess it was the same Fridge and I was already a huge Magic Eraser fan, but now I'm a DIE-HARD Fan.  #MagicErasersSavedMyFridge

I love the little dinette side of the kitchen, because even though we have big plans to change the layout completely down the line, in the meantime, it's nice to have so much space.  We can easily both be in the kitchen at the same time and Hubby was doing some classwork at the table on his laptop while I was finishing up dinner.  We ate there for the first time tonight and I really enjoyed it!

Here's our little pass-through from the kitchen to the Living Room.  It's kind of nice, because while people are sitting in the living room, I can still communicate with them and see the TV them.  #TheresThatFridgeAgain

This room off the kitchen is where we're currently storing most of our boxes.  I think it will eventually be a formal dining room, although I'm still toying with the idea of adding more seating on the other side of this room with a little bar area.  I'm really excited about this spot, even though I'm not quite sure what we'll do with it.

The Pepto-Pink Bathroom is looking a little better than it did when we first saw it.  I think it's the white shower curtain, as opposed to the yellowed-white curtain that was hanging before.  I originally wanted to do gray and pink until we could afford to gut the bathroom and replace the pink fixtures, but I realized I had registered for brown towels when we were getting married, so pink and brown it is!  I think I will try to replace/paint the vanity and mirror for a quick update to tide us over.  One thing we will not be able to quickly address is the faux tile wall covering.  it's yellow with flowers and HAS to go, but I'm not sure how big of a job it will be to remove it all.

I'm not sure what I will tackle first, but I'm really anxious to paint and the only rooms that are ready for paint are the living room and formal dining room right now.  Every where else has some kind of weird wall covering that needs to be removed first.  I'm going to scope out some inspiration pictures to try to get ready to overhaul one of these rooms.  I'll be sure to let you know as soon as I've picked one!