A Friday Poll

I have a lighting question.

Here is our kitchen. Please note the large, beautiful windows.


We asked the electricians to add pendant light boxes over each window, because I like my kitchens as bright as an operating room.

I’ve narrowed my pendant choices down to two.

Option 1: The Farmer


This fixture is 10″ wide.

Pros: Makes a statement, fits the farmhouse feel of the house.

Cons: Blocks more of the natural window light.

Option 2: The Hipster


This fixture is 6.5″ wide.

Pros: Interesting shape, refined lines, smaller pendant doesn’t block the windows.

Cons: Clear shade means light is not only directed downward, small pendant may not make much impact.

So, what do you think?

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Wait, what?

Yes, this post will include a house update. BUT FIRST!

Earlier this week I stopped by my friend’s house. Her daughter and Tyler are 12 days apart and, for the first time this year, have classes together at the middle school. I walked in the door and my friend says, “Brenna, YOU TELL WINDY WHAT YOU JUST TOLD ME ABOUT TYLER.”

Oh, Lord, I thought, he’s dealing drugs at school.

“Well,” the eighth grader began, “Tyler is… like…. kind of…

WHAT?? JUST TELL ME!

….popular.”

(stunned silence)

“Wait, what?” I could not believe my ears. “Tyler? Our Tyler?”

“Yeah, I know, right?”

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So that was weird.

OK, now we can talk about the house.

The plumbers have done their work, with a couple of exceptions. They still need to re-rough the drain lines under the kitchen sink (SEXY) and the City of Tallahassee needs to turn on our natural gas (GASSY).

The electricians have contented themselves with punching an alarming number of holes in our walls and ceilings.

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Really? Was every single one of those necessary?

There have been a series of minor crises. In my head, the severity of a problem corresponds to the number of digits in the price to fix said problem. So, we’ve had a four-digit mouse problem, a three-digit HVAC problem, and a three-digit van AC problem…. in the last week.

We’re also remembering – slowly – why we bought this house in the first place. We’re finally seeing through the veil of repairs to the house itself. The porch is an amazing place to sit, whether it’s first thing in the morning with a cup of coffee, or last thing at night with a glass of wine. The bedrooms are taking shape, and the kids have spent a couple of nights in “the big house.” I have not – my rule is that my coffee maker and I must sleep under the same roof. Also, the mouse problem brings with it a flea problem, which no.

It appears that we’ve inherited a cat along with a landscaper. We call him (her?) Bonus Cat. It’s all black, and it loves to lurk in the crawl space and scare plumbers and electricians.

I believe the electricians will be done, or substantially done, by the end of next week. Fingers crossed, people!

 

 

 

 

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You Are Here.

We are now closing out our third week of home ownership, and we are still living in the apartment. The electricians have not been here since Tuesday. Jason called the company on Thursday and gave them a sample of Extra Spicy Taylor. Bottom line – they won’t be working any faster, and they’ll need another 2-3 weeks to finish.

A few people have asked why the rewiring process necessitates us being out of the house.

Lemme ‘splain.

The first thing they did was remove every outlet, every light switch, and every light fixture in the house. So even if the power was running to, say, the kitchen, there are no light fixtures to turn on, no switches with which to turn them on, and no outlets for things like coffee makers.  On top of that, all the furniture must be kept away from the walls so that the electricians can access them.

We have this. Everywhere.

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Upstairs, the new wiring has been roughed in – which means that instead of what you see above, there are gray plastic boxes in the holes:

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The once and future light switch, folks.

They are juuuuust starting work on the downstairs. In the foyer, for example, we’ve gone from this:

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To this. The hole above is on the right below:

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Part of my frustration is that I have absolutely no idea what a reasonable time for rewiring should be. We were not on-site for the rewiring at our previous house, and I don’t remember how much time it took. Additionally, all I can see is the wires poking out from the walls – there’s a whole network behind the walls, in the attic, and under the floors that I CAN’T see. And they had to go in and replace all of that, as well.

Still.

I get upset when I think about school starting and the kids having to sleep on air mattresses in the guest house. I get upset when I have to plan meals carefully, because we have a small refrigerator and small storage space. WILL I EVER GO TO COSTCO AGAIN???

Mostly I get upset when I go to the big house and see our forlorn piles of boxes, which we will STILL have to unpack when they’re done. I would love to go ahead and paint over there, but the crew is not done putting holes in the walls.

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This is our living room, plus all the porch fans. Classy.

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My big, beautiful, light-filled kitchen, which looks like something out of Hoarders.

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And Hazel’s room, now with 150% more holes in the walls.

It will be okay.

I keep telling myself that. Relatively soon, all this will be over. Relatively soon, we’ll be living in our house with new, safe wiring. Relatively soon, we will be able to laugh about this.

Soon, but probably not today.

 

 

 

 

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Home Depot, Take All My Dollars

We’ve now owned our new home for two whole weeks, and a lot has happened in that brief time.

The electricians started their work. Originally, they estimated it would take them a week to re-wire the house. Now they’re thinking it will take three weeks.

Needless to say, this is disappointing news. I’d planned to live in the apartment for a week, maybe two. But now I feel like we’ll be over here for months, making trips to “the big house” for clean clothes and pantry staples.

Other than that, things have been moving right along. The roofers showed up last Monday and replaced the roof on the big house, the guest house, and the carport in four days. They would have been done sooner but it rained every afternoon at 3:30 on the dot. Hello, Florida.

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The plumbers were supposed to start last Thursday, but about half an hour into the job, one of them developed chest pains and needed to go to the hospital. We decided to just try again this week.

The plumbers are installing gas lines throughout the house (kitchen, tankless water heater, GAS LAMPS, etc.) and also re-doing all the incoming water lines. Over the years, the lines have been cut and poorly repaired, or re-routed in strange configurations, so it just made sense to start fresh.

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We’ve made peace with our longer-than-expected stay in the guest house, and have taken measures to make it feel more like home for the time we’re over here. We fixed that pesky toilet issue and painted the living room. Jason switched out the old three-prong dryer outlet in the shed for a four-prong, so now we can plug in our appliances and wash our own clothes. AMAZING.

As with any new house, there are 9,000 things that need immediate attention. A friend remarked today that a large part of moving is just triage. Thankfully, we have both Ace Hardware and Home Depot to help us out. I’m at one store or the other on a daily basis, making it rain like it’s my job.

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Adventure is Out There

So we moved.

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Allow me to introduce you to the R. A. Gray house. Mr. Gray was the longest-serving Secretary of State in Florida history, and he had this house built across the street from the Governor’s mansion in 1928. It was sold after his death and, in 1960, was moved to its present location on the northeast side of town.

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Looks great, right?

LIES.

We were initially outbid on this house, but the winning bidder ran for the hills after they got the inspection back. Every major system in the house needed to be updated – wiring, plumbing, roof, HVAC, foundation.

But on the other hand, the house had beautiful hardwoods, a grand foyer, cut-glass doorknobs, high ceilings, and character.

The house haunted me. We could save this house. We could make it amazing. We can fix this.

Jason, bless him, saw the fevered look in my eyes and agreed to embark on this adventure with me. So we submitted a much lower offer, sold our perfectly adequate, in-good-working-order house, and bought this fixer upper. Then we lit a pile of money on fire in the front yard.

The day after the closing, the electrician got to work. The house had a grand total of zero three-prong outlets, which meant that plugging in anything more powerful than a travel hair dryer was risky. Additionally, the breaker panel was located on the exterior of the house, which just seems like a terrible idea. The wiring they pulled out of our walls looked like it belonged to a nineteenth century electric chair.

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But soon we will have an indoor breaker box, and it’s SHINY.

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We will also have some drywall to patch.

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Because the power has been off in the big house, we’ve been living in the guest house, which was not built in 1928 and which we thought was in good shape.

MORE LIES.

The sink leaked, the bedroom fan didn’t work, and yesterday water began bubbling up here:

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There are many places where water is acceptable in a bathroom, but the base of the toilet is not one of them. Jason took the toilet up, which revealed a previously-broken flange and a poorly-done repair. This was beyond our capacity, tool-wise and knowledge-wise, so we’re calling in professionals.

That sums up our first week of home ownership.

SERENITY NOW!

 

 

 

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A (Farewell) House Tour, Part 3

Part 1 here.

Part 2 here.

It’s almost over.

The packing, the anxiety, the leaving. It’s almost done.

Here’s a picture of the master bedroom from the MLS listing:

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And here’s what we did: replaced the carpet with laminate, and painted. We also added a decorative Boston Terrier.

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Hollyn & Jensen’s room was a bit bland:

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The addition of a cat helped tremendously:

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Tyler’s room was a particularly vivid shade of lilac:

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Now it’s…. well….. a 12-year-old boy lives there. What do you expect?

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And finally, Hazel’s room – which was just a guest room when we moved in.

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This is the only room that I get a little choked up about. This is where I rocked my little newborn Hazel to sleep so many nights, where I sang to her and read her stories. Where we got to know each other.

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And that’s it. Five years of constant editing, re-arranging, and improving. It’s definitely been a learning experience.

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A (Farewell) House Tour, Part 2

Part 1 here.

Moving inside, because it’s hot as blazes out there.

Inside the house, we’ve replaced all the flooring (except in the bathrooms) and moved the HVAC from the crawlspace to the attic. We also painted. The sitting room is Behr Fashion Gray, and every other living space is Martha Stewart Sisal.

This is our foyer in 2011, before we moved in.

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We removed the tile, changed out the front door and light fixture, and accessorized.

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The living room circa 2011 was already starting to feel dated, with a high-contrast accent wall.

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After using the living room as such for years, we recently flip-flopped our living and dining rooms, with great success. We also added can lights in the ceiling.

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The old dining room was petite. Since the house doesn’t have an eat-in kitchen, we used the dining room frequently, and it just wasn’t practical for a family of six.

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The old dining room is now a sitting room, home of the octopus chairs.

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Next up: the kitchen.

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We refinished the cabinets, changed out the counter tops and appliances, and added a tile backsplash and enough undercabinet lights to perform surgery in there.

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The family room was perfectly inoffensive in the MLS pictures:

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After the fire, we vaulted the ceiling, which made the room feel much bigger. Recently, we created a coffee station in the corner and added some antique furniture. We added the cat in 2013.

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The previous owners used the sunroom as an office, which I don’t understand, as there was no AC to the sunroom when we moved in.

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The biggest change we made (other than adding a proper roof with AC) was re-vamping the wet bar. I will be sad to leave it.

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In the final installment of this series, we’ll check out the bedrooms. See you then!

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