Tag Archives: renovation

Happy House-iversary!

One year ago today, we bought ourselves a sweet little fixer-upper.

28386657252_e5c83b3651_z

Snooort.

It feels like we’ve lived here forever, pouring our blood, sweat, and dollars into this home – but also our love, energy, and attention. Cosmic balance!

I asked Jason last night:¬† at what point we will have sunk more money into the house than we will ever recoup? For example, if the value of the house is X and the purchase price was Y, is X minus Y our renovation budget? We’re not interested in selling any time soon, but we also recognize that a big four bedroom house (with an upstairs master suite) may not meet our needs for the rest of our lives.

I don’t think there’s a good answer. We got an amazing deal on the house, and we’ve paid for all the renovations in cash. Even if we used the formula above, where list price minus asking price equals renovation budget, we’ve only spent half that amount. In that sense, I feel good about the choices we’ve made so far. And, with any luck, the value of the house will continue to increase over time, which means the reno budget is always usually expanding.

30712128390_85b4f9f399_c

How do I love thee, house? Let me count the ways:

  1. I love that this house was designed for this particular climate. It has deep porches and an airy crawlspace, which makes the house relatively easy to cool in the summer.
  2. I love, love, love the amount of natural light we get. I frequently forget to turn on the lights when I’m cooking in the kitchen because the windows provide so much illumination.
  3. I love that we were able to move my mom over here; that our guest house has been the perfect accommodation for her. It’s separate but close, and she feels safe there.
  4. I love that we will never, ever, ever run out of projects. Ever.

I don’t miss much about our previous house, but I do miss having alternate “living” spaces. Previously, we had a formal living room, a family room, AND a sun room. Here we have a living room. We use the porch as a second living space, but it would be nice to have an indoor, TV-free area.

We’d planned to take the first year to complete the big-ticket, necessary renovations, and by and large we’ve done that. I think we both hoped to be done painting by now, but no such luck. We just started painting Hollyn’s bedroom a couple of days ago, and the rest of the children’s rooms need addressing.

Next up, we’ll tackle projects that are not strictly necessary, but which will increase our happiness. Remodeling the kitchen is high on our list, as is adding a sound-dampening fence along the Thomasville Road side of the house. Jason would like to add a plunge pool, and as the summer drags on, I’m warming up to the idea.

We are not on a television show, so we’re not on any kind of deadline. I’m comfortable living in an unfinished house, as long as each improvement we make is thoughtful. If it takes us another year to get the house “done” (or rather, “done enough” – a house this old is never done!) I’ll be happy.

I am happy. I’ve loved our first year here.

 

 

 

Advertisements

1 Comment

Filed under Home, Projects

Won’t you be my neighbor?

A house up the street from me just went on the market a couple of weeks ago, and I am desperate for someone to buy it and make it amazing on the cheap.

This is a 3 bedroom, 2 bath house with 1,542 square feet of living space, plus a big garage. It’s on a big corner lot.

Got it? Got it. Now, I have notes.

(All photos from Realtor.com)

e40361c627649cb18d4a8c95861e5c0el-m0xd-w1020_h770_q80

I love brick houses. But this brick? Is not my favorite. I’d paint it cream or light gray, or maybe lime wash it to make the color more even.

Step a little closer.

e40361c627649cb18d4a8c95861e5c0el-m3xd-w1020_h770_q80The window on the left has one shutter, and the window by the door has zero. The remaining shutters look good, so I’d probably just get three new brown shutters.

If the new shutter runs into that exterior light next to the front door, I’d move it to hang from the porch ceiling. If it doesn’t, I’d replace that light with something more awesome, and put a second one on the other side of the door.

I am not offended by the scrolly iron column (“scrolly” is a highly technical term), but if you didn’t like it you could encase it in wood stained to match the shutters. I’d also paint¬† the front door and re-think the landscaping in front of the porch.

Exterior

Let’s step inside.

e40361c627649cb18d4a8c95861e5c0el-m4xd-w1020_h770_q80

This room is fine, but suffers from too much large furniture and too little imagination. Smaller-scale furniture, a rug, bigger art, and new curtains would make a world of difference. On the plus side, the floor looks fine and some enterprising soul already installed crown molding.

Plus, look at these neat columns that break up the space between the living room and dining area:

e40361c627649cb18d4a8c95861e5c0el-m5xd-w1020_h770_q80

I wish someone had carried the wood flooring through to the back of the house, but if that’s not in your budget, you can live with relatively inoffensive tile and start saving your dollars to replace it later.

On to the dining area!

e40361c627649cb18d4a8c95861e5c0el-m7xd-w1020_h770_q80

Why is there a ceiling fan in this space? I’d replace it with a pendant or chandelier. I’d also replace the sliding doors with French doors (although that’s pricey). I feel that the table is too big for the space and blocks the flow of traffic to the back door. This is only a 3 bedroom, 2 bath house, and I can’t imagine the buyer needing seating for six on a regular basis.

A round table with optional leaf would be more appropriate:

birch-lane-grafton-extending-round-dining-table

Pivot to the kitchen:

e40361c627649cb18d4a8c95861e5c0el-m8xd-w1020_h770_q80

It’s not a terrible starting point. Honest.

Next to the fridge, under the window, I’d try to find a way to add more storage in the form of a built-in buffet:

a94a2279dd8ed9974ffe522f010c74b2

Now, to the kitchen proper.

e40361c627649cb18d4a8c95861e5c0el-m11xd-w1020_h770_q80

Right off the bat, I notice that the upper and lower cabinet doors don’t match, the range is in a weird place (not emotionally, just physically), and the light fixture kind of blows. It’s hard to tell the condition of the countertops, but let’s assume they’re fine.

I’d replace that light fixture and add more lower cabinets on the right-hand wall, moving the range over so its door doesn’t fight with the dishwasher’s. I’d pull the upper cabinets off the range wall and hang chunky shelves on either side of the range, kind of like this:

kitchen-shelves-detail

Finally, I’d paint the lower cabinets a dark color and the upper cabinets white. If the hardware on the upper cabinets is bad, I’d replace it.

If your kitchen budget is bigger, you can replace the counter tops and backsplash while you’re at it.

Then there’s this awkward space (the baker’s rack is next to the stove, for reference):

e40361c627649cb18d4a8c95861e5c0el-m15xd-w1020_h770_q80

This might be a good place to install a pegboard wall for shallow storage.

pegboard-ideas-kitchen-2-400x600

The bedrooms all appear to be good-sized, and they all have hardwood floors. The two bathrooms are dated but appear clean and functional.

Off the master bedroom, there’s this office space, which could be a great retreat or work space.

e40361c627649cb18d4a8c95861e5c0el-m23xd-w1020_h770_q80

Paint, carpet, and better lighting would transform this room.

I have questions about the back patio.

e40361c627649cb18d4a8c95861e5c0el-m27xd-w1020_h770_q80

Such as, who put an air conditioning compressor right there? SURELY that can be moved. Otherwise, the patio is fine. Some seating, maybe a fan, and you’re golden.

And that’s it. Barring any major structural defects, it’s a perfect home for a couple or small family to make their own. Plus, the neighbors are tremendous, the schools are good, and the location is convenient.

(Note: I am not affiliated with, nor have I been compensated by, any realtor. This is what I do for fun. Sad, but true.)

Leave a comment

Filed under Home, Projects

The World’s Lamest Reveal

In July, we bought this fixer-upper:

27602154416_1671bc92e5_c

After 3 months and a substantial number of renovation dollars, I present…..

(drumroll)

(hushed, excited whispers)

(maybe a little cowbell)

OUR HOUSE:

27602154416_1671bc92e5_c

(loud sigh)

That’s right, almost all our renovation dollars were spent on stuff you can’t see! Psychologically speaking, this was a terrible decision! We should have just lit a pile of money on fire in the front yard!

Here’s a breakdown of where the dollars went:

  1. New Roof – Hartsfield Roofing & Construction
  2. Complete Rewire – Chad O’Hara’s Quality Electrical Services
  3. Foundation Work – Alpha Foundation Systems
  4. Vermin Elimination – Black Thumb
  5. Plumbing and Gas – White’s Plumbing
  6. HVAC Unit and Duct Replacement – Central Heating Consultants
  7. Drywall Repairs – Wall Doctors

Fear not! It appears the hard part is over. We’ve unpacked most of our boxes and are gearing up to paint. We’re going to start with our own room. The kids are miffed, but HEY, they don’t pay the mortgage.

Jason asked for a blue room, so I picked three shades to test:

29694007121_0baac31364_z

Top to bottom, that’s Wythe Blue (Benjamin Moore), Palladian Blue (Benjamin Moore), and Flora (Behr). I liked the darkest and he liked the lightest, so we compromised on the middle shade.

And that’s marriage in a nutshell.

 

 

 

1 Comment

Filed under Home, Projects

Adventure is Out There

So we moved.

28461415201_8eab153d18_o

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.

27602154416_fd554c2db5_o

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.

27875152304_e7bb21acd4_z

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

28491754025_06c6038bcb_z

We will also have some drywall to patch.

28208423810_14325c4d7f_z

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:

28241689160_aa00b5fe15_z

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!

 

 

 

1 Comment

Filed under Home, Projects