The Great Room

I’m pretty sure the living room is actually the definition of a great room. Its huge. And we love it. Its also one of the more finished rooms we have as well. It took putting almost all of our real furniture in it to fill up the space (including the brown leather pieces I hate) but it will do for now. We still have some updates to do and redecorating to consider, but for now its a great place to hang out, play with tiny and relax without feeling totally overwhelmed.

Lets do a little before and after again, shall we?

View from the front door. Fireplace, weird mirror, lots of green.

Front EntryAnd now.

Fireplace AfterFloors are done, the walls, trim and mantle all got fresh paint and we actually painted the ugly brick too. It will be a quick fix to tile over the brick and hearth but this cleans it up for now. We do have to replace a safety valve (or something) which is why the gas fireplace is red-tagged. But since its July we have some time before we need to make the fireplace work.

And to the right (before)

Living Room RightMmm, light fixture. And you can kind of see the tacky stained glass (fake) in the window both in this room and in the dining room.

So here it is now.

Living Room Right After

Storm windows have been removed. Real furniture and our TV. Nice and bright and clean! This is where we spend a lot of time. The Flor carpet from the old house made the move and has been reconfigured in this area so P has a play space. Plus even though we put extra-durable finish on the floors, they still scratch with the dog and toys. While I know this is just a fact of our life, I decided to put the rug down to keep the floors as nice as possible for now.

Also, I will continue to proclaim my love for Flor. I will never buy a real area rug again. With the dog and small people running around these are the best investment. Just last week, T dog puked on one of the squares (sorry, gross. But this is life) and we were able to pick it up, clean it off, give it a wash in the sink, let it dry and its good as new. No dragging out cleaners and hoping for the best and potentially ruining a whole rug. Even if the damage wasn’t fixable, it would have cost me $12 to go buy another tile. Win. And technically, I have a few spares from this rug sitting around because this space is a different size and shape then the last room it was in. So again, no need to buy a new rug – just rearrange what we have. LOVE.

Ok – tangent over. But go buy yourself some Flor rugs. (It’s whats in P’s room too)

On to the other side.

Living Room Left Before

Hooray! Cat things!

And now.

Living Room Left AfterThis is the dance party side. I hate the brown furniture, but it will do for now. Long term I’ll be swiping the piano from my dad’s house and it will probably live under the window. And maybe we’ll get some different furniture. So hopefully it will be a nice quiet sitting/reading/music area.

I swear I’m about to paint the french doors which is why all the green tape is still up.

We need to paint the ceiling in this room still and replace the light fixtures. I’ve been eyeing some basic schoolhouse-style lights from Rejuvenation but we’re concerned they wouldn’t be bright enough. There are two of these beasts in the room now, and there are 5 bulbs in each fixture.

Living Room Lights

You can also see the ugly of the ceiling in this photo and some of the spots that need to be repaired before we can paint. Just add it to the list.

And here is one big shot of the entire room in all its greatness.

Panoramic View of Living Room

Yeah – I did move the laundry basket from this room into the dining room…which you can still see in this photo.

Its a little wonky, but you get the idea. But we love it! I cannot wait for Christmas! I love everything about Christmas in general but this room and the dining room just have me giddy for the holidays and it’s only July.

 

 

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Lighting up my World

So yeah – all the light fixtures need to be replaced in this house. At best, they are ugly. At worst they don’t work and are ugly. But on top of lights being a slightly expensive fix for each room, we also want to find lights that we love. We’ve decided to take on lights little by little so we can find what we think will work best and then save up some pennies as we need.

But the first room we got to tackle was actually the office. On top of moving, I did some job shifting and now get to work from home, so with all this space I actually have a pretty cool little office (complete with more wood paneling!) But that also meant that I could make all the design decisions since this would be primarily my own space. And its much easier to pick out a light fixture when I don’t have to convince Dylan that he should like it too.

I first fell for these – probably the more oval one on the far right. But then after looking at them in person decided it would be too much wood in a room already filled with wood. Insert too much wood joke here.

West Elm Bentwood Pendants

West Elm Bentwood Pendants

 

I supposed I should back up a step and refresh you on what we’re working with here.

Office

Lots of wood. I feel like I should take up smoking pipes and drinking whiskey while I work.

And…the light.

Office light before

Ugh – seriously, right.

So while I was wandering around West Elm looking like this:

Shopping for Light Fixtures

For illustrative purposes only. This is my child, in a cart, in Lowes. But is there really any other way to look at light fixtures?

I came across my new beauty for the office! And patiently waited for it to go on sale because Spoiler Alert! everything goes on sale at West Elm. Seriously, just wait for a few weeks and whatever you want will be on sale, or they’ll send you a discount code for free shipping or something. So I got my light for 20% off, extra win.

And then it showed up and sat in a box for a few weeks. Finally we had a long weekend and I got my pretend-electrician husband to put in the new light. Which actually was preceded by realizing we needed to paint the ceiling. Fortunately, he’s tall and whipped that out in no time.

Taking down the ugly. Reminder, shut off the power before you do this.

Dylan uninstalling a light fixtureDidn’t really want to be staring at this above me. So new paint went up too.

Office Ceiling

And… ta da!

West Elm Mobile Chandelier

And a more complete angle.

West Elm Mobile Chandelier in Office

I love it. While the house is of the Craftsman era, we want to give it some more modern/industrial details so this light fit in perfectly. And we may do something different with this room in the long run, but we can always move this light to another location if it no longer works. This room (like all of them) could still use some more organization and final touches (can you see the ugly plate cover on the switch by the window…not awesome). But its much brighter and a happier place to work for now!

Needing a Living Space

I mentioned the living room was huge. And that going into this project we knew there would be a lot of things that we just had to live with until we can save up some money to make this our dream home. But considering we just moved out of a house that we spent 6 years flipping and had considered it done, going back to square one was difficult to say the least.

So D and I agreed that we need to have some space that while maybe not at a dream state yet, would at least be comfy, clean and kid-friendly where we can have people over (another big reason for buying this beast). So we had to do something with the living room.

First step – paint. Believe it or not, we weren’t really feeling that green on the walls. Or the weird mirror over the fireplace.

Living Room PaintNothing like a man who paints in black gym socks.

The color we chose was Benjamin Moore’s Timberwolf Grey. In some light is more blue than grey but we love the rich color of it for this big room. The trim also got a fresh coat of bright white as it was more of an off-white even after cleaning.

Here’s a better before shot of the entire living room.

Living Room Before

photo 5In that top photo you can also see the fantastic wallpaper that was hidden behind the mirror. We stripped that all off too – there were at least 3 or 4 layers on that one spot. But it was kind of fun to see all the different wallpaper designs from the different eras of the house.

And here’s the after.Living Room After

SO MUCH BETTER. I love this color. Its moody and holds up in a big room really well.

You can also start to see how icky the floors are. No matter how much cleaning was done to them, they always looked dirty. Plus there were water stains and pet stains. All throughout the big 3 rooms with hardwoods. So I begged Dylan to let us get quotes to have them refinished. We’ll tackle a lot of projects ourselves, but screwing up hardwoods was not something I was interested in doing.

We got a great recommendation from the folks next door who are flipping a house too. And unfortunately while we couldn’t get them done before we had to move in, we made it happen.

Hold on to your hats.

Here are some of the before’s – close up. Ick.

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And floors after they had been sanded, but not finished.

Sanded Floors

 

2014-06-16 14.17.38Jaw dropping, right?

Now wait for it.

Floors After

 

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I may have spent an unnatural amount of time sprawled on these floors with my face pressed against their new smooth finish.

There were a lot of spots that needed to be torn and repaired. You would have no idea where that is, our contractor blended them in seamlessly. The wood is clear-grade white oak which is apparently as nice as it gets. And in the living room especially, some of the boards are REALLY long, which they don’t do anymore. So there is some great old charm to these floors that we were so happy to see restored to their former glory. I’m glad we left them natural and just put a clear coat on top of them. It may not be everyone’s taste, but with this house we are trying to balance restoring elements with bringing in new items as well.

So after the floors finished setting after a few days we moved furniture back in and even put some area rugs over some areas. And its such a nice cozy place and with P running around, it was really a priceless investment towards the livability of this house.

 

Demands from the Tiny Toomey

On the off-chance you are reading this and don’t really know us – we moved and are rehabbing this house with a 1.25 yr old. Yeah, our level of crazy just went up a few notches. We know people that wouldn’t even consider moving in general with tiny people, so to be tackling this project while chasing a toddler around is extra fun. But then again, we gutted our last kitchen while I was pregnant, so we’ve been known to keep things interesting around these parts.

Kitchen Demo
Watch out – pregnant girl with a sledgehammer.

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Anyway, different house.

We knew we needed to get Peri’s room set up first to keep her from totally losing her shit being confused. And although the rooms have wood paneling, one of the rooms upstairs had enough cute details that we thought it would actually be fun for her room. We really haven’t done much else to the room besides the floors, so we moved all her belongings in and got her settled. We did need to make some new curtains with some help from my mom, which added some new fun colors to her room outside of the grey and purple theme that we had in the last house.

Peri's BedroomIgnore the chewed up crib. Homegirl is a Beaver apparently. Her dad is very proud. She did all that with only 6 teeth.

The shelves have been a lot of fun, and if she wasn’t so into everything they might be cutely arranged. But since she pulls everything off them on a daily basis, the bottom two shelves are free game for Peri’s little grasp.

Here’s a view of the whole room. Kinda cute, even with all that wood.

Full Room View - Peri's Room

The dirty secret left of this room is the light fixture… every light fixture in this house needs to be replaced. I can count 14 of them not including the basement. That is a lot of lights.

Peri's Bedroom Light Fixture

This is not really P’s style.

Overall, getting her set up with her things made the move pretty easy for her. And this quickly became a safe and clean place for her to play while we were finishing up projects like the hardwood floors on the main floor. So there you have it – the most complete room in the house!

 

Painting Things: Part 1 of 3267

That might be an exaggeration. But everything needs to be painted. On the main floor we had the hardwoods refinished, but in the bedrooms and upstairs hallway we needed a different strategy. The floors upstairs are fir which is a softer wood and doesn’t refinish as well. Plus the hallway upstairs had already been painted white. And really, we didn’t want to spend the money up there yet. So we decided the cheapest and best solution would be to paint all the wood floors upstairs. It was something we’d never done before but its all over pinterest, so it can’t be that hard right?!

And it really wasn’t. I used Benjamin Moore’s line of Oil-based primer and floor paint (we found an old gallon of floor paint in the basement, so we knew it was oil and needed to put more oil paint over it). We primed, which I was told wasn’t really necessary but seemed like the right idea based on how rough the floors were.

Upstairs Floors BeforeHere you can see the hallway – painted white, but dirty and not done well.

And here are two of the three bedrooms upstairs.

Upstairs Bedroom Floors Before

Master Bedroom Floors Before

Not pretty.

So on went the primer. The whole process went really fast outside of dry time because its like one big wall. You have to cut-in at the walls of course, but then I just put a roller on an extension handle and went to town.

Upstairs Bedroom Floors Primed

The floor color I chose is Benjamin Moore’s Mint Chocolate Chip – so yeah…its definitely a light green color. But its kind of refreshing and fun. I have plans in the hallway to add a 2-inch border in a a chocolate brown to really tie it all together, but we’ll see if that happens. I bought two gallons of the floor color to do 3 bedrooms and the hallway which was plenty, including two coats on all the floors.

Upstairs Bedroom After

So here’s the bedroom with the floors finished. They look almost white, but in reality they have some green to them.

Here’s the hallway which shows the color a little better.

Hallway floors

 

Basically, they are fresh and clean which is what needed to happen upstairs. And for about $150 and 3 nights (pre-moving in) it was a quick fix to ugly. The final coat took maybe an hour and a half to put on all the floors. Although, I’m also holding out on the fact that we haven’t done the master yet (the room above with the really funky blue walls happening). The only thing I didn’t like was having to use Oil-based paint because 1. it smells and 2. I’m really messy and that stuff is impossible to get off your skin. And painting a floor almost guarantees you’re going to get paint on your feet. Benjamin Moore does have their Floor & Porch paint in a Latex which I definitely would have used if there hadn’t already been oil paint on the floor.

 

The Good, the Bad and the Dirty

Because we managed to have a few weeks between closing on the new house and needing to be out of our old house, we thankfully could bribe friends and family to help us tackle some projects before we moved everything in. We spent Memorial Day weekend loading a dumpster full of yard debris and the leftover furnishings that were left with the house. Unfortunately, thats often part of the deal when purchasing a short sale. Beggars can’t be choosers.

You know who your real friends are when they just show up in work clothes and start scrubbing your house for you.

I’m looking at you Sam.

2014-05-24 14.27.09I mentioned the cats, but we’re also pretty sure that over the years various smokers lived here, and smoked in the house. And probably due to health issues, the house just hadn’t been kept up with. So saying it was dirty was really an understatement. It was gross. We scrubbed grease and smoke stains off every wall. Took down dusty, musty curtains that were just covered in cobwebs. The flies that have turned the outside of this house into their home is disgusting (and finally under control). There may be a mouse or two living in a bedroom and garage.

I’m not sure how many buckets of pine-sol we went through. That stuff is magic. Pure chemical magic. Oh, and we had the water turned off because as soon as we turned it on at the street there was water leaking from the main down the sidewalk. BECAUSE OF COURSE.

Fortunately, we have nice neighbors so we could fill up buckets with their hose outside.

This is what happened when we started washing down the crown molding. Look away if you are eating.

Crown Moldingmmm, smoke stains

There are still places that need good cleanings. Most of the ceilings need a scrub or coat of primer and paint. Guess what, scrubbing ceilings is not a fun job. So just don’t look up for now.

But its worlds better. We got the yard trimmed back as well. Just keep cleaning…

House Tour

Since that last post was a lot of words, here are a lot of pictures. Some of these are from before it was actually ours to give you the full picture of what we agreed to buy. The previous owner did a better job than we expected of cleaning stuff out of this place, but we still filled up a 30 yard dumpster in a weekend without even trying.

Front EntryHello fireplace! This is the view as soon as you walk in. This room is huge (wide – hard to get a good angle). Lovely mirror…and the house stinks like cats. Awful green wall colors. We’re sold.

Living Room RightView from the doorway to the right into the formal dining room swoon. Bad light fixtures abound. And pink/purple/flowery stained glass!

Living Room Left

And view to the left into the office. Matching ugly light fixture. This room is about 15×30, its huge. And hints of wood paneling to come!

Office

Ah the office. The floors are in terrible shape (throughout). The built-ins are kind of cool, but dated. And the room is all wood paneling. What you can’t see behind me are the original french doors more swooning.

Office French Doors

There ya go – the doors. Plus lace curtains (ick). And the room is nice and sunny due to 3 large windows. Its kind of bay window-ish, but not really.

Dining Room

Alright, back over to the dining room on the other side. There is a funky little hallway area that lives between the den and living room, and also allows access to the kitchen, bathroom, a bedroom and the stairs to the basement and upstairs. Lets play ISpy…bad chandelier, bad stained glass, 80’s wallpaper…I couldn’t even tell you what all is in this room.

Kitchen

And from the dining room, into the Kitchen! The heart of a home! It does have some redeeming qualities. Its at least twice the size of the kitchen in our last house. It has a cute eat-in nook. The sink cabinet is actually a Youngstown piece which is kind of a cool retro thing upon further research, but its in rough shape.

Main Bedroom

And WHOA a bedroom! Were you blinded unexpectedly by that wallpaper? So this is the main floor bedroom which is off the hallway from the kitchen. Its a bad shot because its dark and full of stuff. And I might have been carrying a baby through all this. More sweet lights, huh.

Upstairs

Alright – we have now traveled upstairs (sorry, didn’t have a great picture of the staircase, although we haven’t done anything there so I could go take a picture now…but well, no. See proof of hoarding + cats. Did I mention this house smells fantastic? But you may spy some amazing built-in storage. My husband tried telling me those needed to go at some point to remodel the bathroom, he was very mistaken. Those are another one of the little things that I love about this house. Its amazing and you can’t find them in new homes.

Left BedroomAnother bedroom upstairs (there are 3 upstairs + 1 on the main). Its filled with wood paneling and junk. Poorly caulked ceiling goo. BUT, right to the right of this photo is an amazing walk-in closet and surprise, all the bedrooms have more closet space than I have ever seen. Again, you couldn’t even find this in new homes. Its crazy how much closet space there is and I more often hear that old homes have no storage. This house has tons.

Right Bedroom

Here is the other smaller bedroom upstairs. All wood paneling, but this one with cutesy detailing. Another spoiler alert – we turned it into P’s room and is actually kind of cute. Please send help – apparently I am growing fond of wood paneling.

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Are you freaked out yet? I also may have failed to mention that the previous owners were BIG fans of Halloween. So the dead people are fake. This is the master bedroom upstairs. The whole wall (with the blue…shower curtains) is 5 windows that open out. More wallpaper. Definitely a picture taken while holding a baby.

Upstairs Bathroom

And at the other end of the hallway (by the built-ins) is a bathroom. Which is huge. But only has a toilet and sink. But you could also put a twin size bed in there. The ceiling is sloped which creates some logistical challenges for a shower, but don’t worry, where there is a will there is a way. And we have plenty of will. These are like weird, plastic tiles stuck to the wall. They are in the shower on the main floor too, which I don’t have pictures of because its tiny.

Oh my gosh are you exhausted yet?! Did I mention this house is HUGE?

Basement

Here’s one quick shot of a small portion of the basement which they did a decent job on the surface of finishing. Except for the whole cat smell thing. And that the basement has been known to flood when it rains a lot and so all this needs to be ripped up and done to Dylan’s standards.

So thats the quick and dirty tour. I’ll be back with project specifics and side by side photos as we go along.

 

 

 

 

 

Buying A Short Sale

Otherwise known as – how we all took at least 10 years off our lives.

Also – my apologies for the emotional ugly cry I just took in front of all ya’ll. Selling your first house is hard (but spoiler alert – we did it)

The whole foundation of this blog is that we are moving. We’ve been in the process of buying a short sale home for MONTHS, and finally got close enough to the end line that we felt comfortable putting our home on the market. But it came down to the wire. And at the 11th hour and 58th minute it almost all fell apart. With that said, if you think you want to buy a short sale, assemble yourself the best team you can find. That is my number one piece of advice. To give you an example, here’s the approximate timelines and emotional rollercoaster we went through in purchasing a short sale.

• Early December, 2013. A house came up in RMLS listing that peeked our interest. You may have seen them, the descriptions say things like “great bones, needs work”. There is only one photo and its of the outside of the house. Yeah, those are the kind of listings we drool over. So we called our saint of a real estate agent and saw the house immediately. And despite that it had been previously owned by hoarders but now vacant of human life, we fell in love. We put in an offer the first day and were told they would review offers throughout the weekend and get back to us. So we waited.

• The next week rolls around and we’re told that someone had a higher, cash offer ahead of us that they had to take. But would we like to be in a backup position (informally).  We said yes, but tried to move on. It was the holidays, we had a million things going on with baby’s first Christmas, so on with life we went.

• January 13, 2014. The first deal fell through. The listing agent asked us if we still wanted in and we said YES! And jumped for joy! It had been over a month since we had been in the house, but we knew we had to go for it. So we became under contract officially. Now, here is where it starts to get tricky. See with a short sale, the home owners still accept the offer we made, but then it all gets turned over the bank for approval since the owners owe more than the house is worth. Thats what short sale means…the bank will come up short by selling it. Not that this will be a quick and easy process, quite the opposite actually.

• MONTHS go by, the sellers have to give documents to the bank (which, bless their hearts, they have to find). Also, the wife who had lived in the house passes away. Sadly, we knew she was ill and part of their financial hardships had to do with her medical bills. The silver-lining was that the man who owned the house was really glad that a young family was moving into this place.

• March 12, 2014. We get approval from the bank, saying we are good to close by May 9th! Hooray! Moving forward.

• Early April – we find out there is a tax lean that we have to pay now on top of our original offer instead of just out of the offer we made. We decide we’re willing to do that, its still a good enough buy. Figure out where to get more money. More addendums need to be signed by everyone.

• April 25, 2014. Our home goes on the market. PANIC!

• April 29, 2014. Accept an offer on our house. We have until June 10th and then we don’t have a house anymore.

• April 30, 2014. Appraisal for the new home happens. We can’t get a loan until the roof is inspected and cleaned and the leaking basement is addressed in some fashion. Find more money. Do the things. Move forward…clock is ticking.

• May 6, 2014 (3 days from closing). We aren’t ready to close for a variety of reasons. Sign more addendums. Send an extension request to the bank and hope for the best. Never hear back from the bank. We asked to push closing until May 23rd. Crickets. But we get all our financing in place, inspections finished for the loans etc. We’re ready to close.

• May 19, 2014 (5 days from closing part 2). Crickets. Hello bank. We are ready to sign…were you cool to accept that extension because we’re already past it and umm, ya know, want to buy this house. We find out we can’t sign anything until the bank signs this silly piece of paper. Begin to stress out at abnormally high levels.

• May 21, 2014. We get approval from the bank on the extension, but now they are only giving us until tomorrow (its Noon on Wednesday before Memorial Day weekend) PANIC.  Also, Dylan’s parents were on this loan with us, which allowed us to buy this house before closing on the house we were living in. But that also meant they had to sign docs immediately in Bend. Awesome. Love you guys!

• Still May 21. By a miracle of miracles, the Bend folks sign. MIL agrees to leave Bend the next morning at 5am to drive all the loan docs to Portland by 8am so we can sign by 9am and fund the loan by end of day.

• May 22nd. Loan closes. We went from waiting on approval to signing docs, and funding a loan in less than 24 hours. It can be done, but I don’t recommend it. This was the part that would have completely fallen through without awesome real estate folks, loan folks and title people. And organized financial documents. But we walked away with the keys – and then the fun really began.

 

When the beginning starts at the end

Hi there. I have resurrected my writing ambitions in order to document the act of love that will be the new short sale home we are buying. It’s finally far enough along in the process that we are certain now it will be our next home. And project. For a long while. But to begin this next chapter, we have to close the door on the last one . A lifetime ago Dylan and I were desperate to move out of a lame apartment in the Portland suburbs. We had a tiny down payment. And after months of looking, we found an ugly duckling of a house in an area of the city that seemed like it had some potential. This was 5 1/2 years ago. We said it would be a 5 year house from the beginning. We could put our blood, sweat, tears and a little bit of money into it and then move onto bigger and better. And that’s exactly what we did.
At times we were without heat. Water. A shower. A kitchen. never a toilet, thank goodness. I sat awake the night before our wedding in that house, alone. Watching tv in the basement when I couldn’t sleep. We brought our daughter home 5 years later. I’ve painted too many walls too many times to keep track of. Those walls have seen more parties than I can count. More drinks spilled, glasses broken, and friends and families voices and laughter. We grew up in this home and became a family.
So I had to get this out. To say goodbye. Because my reality is that I’m writing this on an airplane and when I pull up to my house this afternoon, there will be a for sale sign in the front yard. And the weekend will be filled with strangers wandering those halls, envisioning what their life will look like there. So while I have wandered the halls of our next home with excitement and a mind bustling with ideas to make it our own, I now have to let others do the same to the place we have called home for so long. And it makes my heart hurt a little to let that go.
or maybe a lot.
But deep down I know we will always have those memories and stories, even as we head east 13 blocks.

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