Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Including the Kitchen Sink

The blue house currently has a fake double cast iron sink.  It's really some sort of plastic composite.  I bought it because I figured most people like double sinks, I liked the look of white for the sink, and the composite was supposed to hold up better than cast iron.  But 4 years of tenants have scratched and stained the sink pretty distructively.  And since being in the yellow house with its single cast iron sink (I bought a single sink to save space in the tiny kitchen) I LOVE THE SINGLE SINK.  I've really adjusted to it and I love being able to put a whole cookie sheet in the sink and giant cats or whatever needs to be there.  I don't want 2 tiny double sinks and if I can save counter space too, then single sink it is. 

I couldn't remember how much my sink was for the yellow house I only remember I had to special order it.  So I measured the sink and went to Lowes.  The guy working at the sink counter pulled up a $400 sink (no, thank you) and then found the same sink I have for $180 but couldn't order it, I had to order it off the internet but this was after I swear to god, he pressed every button on that page including "add to favorites" and "enter zip code."  He was just pressing everything and it took forever.  Finally he let me go with the number to enter on lowes.com.

I went home and found the sink but it could not be ordered.  I think it's out of stock but the website is pretty bad, it doesn't really say that and gives you no help to figure it out.  I spent some time looking up the same sink at various websites including my goto Amazon.com.  Everywhere I went I could find the sink but the shipping was about $100.  I finally tried Homedepot.com and if I spent $250 I could get free shipping.  The sink cost more there, about $200, and I tried looking up all the other things I needed, outdoor lights, faucets, etc.  I have to admit, I overspent to get me to $250 but really I didn't have a choice, this was the only place to get the sink and $250 wasn't a deal breaker to me to spend.  I'm not even admitting what I bought for $50, it's too embarrassing to admit for someone on a budget.  Let's just say, it wasn't worth $50 but I couldn't find anything else, I didn't like the light fixtures and I found a cheaper faucet that I like more locally.

As far as scratching, I haven't really had a problem.  I have told Brian not to scrub things to death in the sink, if you have to scrub a lot just put something like a cloth under it.  I think the extra care is worth the look of a cast iron white sink.  I wish wish wish I could get a farm house sink but they are crazy expensive.  This is the closest I can really come.  Ours is barely scratched but we take care of it.  The blue house's white composite sink is a mess. 

Monday, July 25, 2011


Did I mention the real estate company offered us 4.5% commission, down from 6% if we use them as a buyer's agent as well?

I'm positive we sweated over every possible option (and sweating has not been difficult with temperatures in the mid-90s since we've been home from vacation).  In the end, we, and by we, I mean I, was so worked up with stress about it, we spent an afternoon in the quiet cool living room discussing it with some rationality, and we decided to take the 4.5%.

Here are things to remember:
We are trying to have a lightning fast sale.  Not only does Brian's brother want this because he's getting ready to go out of the country, but the faster we sell the less we have to pay on the mortgage, like missing a mortgage payment = awesome.

And because things need to go fast, we don't have time to stumble around with the wrong forms and liasoning with my dad, etc, this is better, everything will be easy and accurate.

And finally and really most important to consider: Our house is selling for what we have it listed for.  If an off the street person bought it, a) it most likely wouldn't be for full price, b) we'd be paying the 6% and not thinking twice about it.  And c) we'd be ex-freaking-static that the house sold at all.  So really, we are making out all over the place and going crazy (by we, I mean me) trying to save 1.5%.

It's hard to let the money go but when you look at it that way, it really makes sense.  And right after we decided, I gotta say, a weight was lifted from both of us immediately.  That is worth something on its own.  Everything feels better now.

Today I met with the handyman to discuss the changes in the kitchen and deck.  We talked about all the things I wanted to do and he made a list and he's getting some quotes together and time frames.  My goal here is to keep my budget as low as possible and still be able to make the changes I think will enhance the home gallizons beyond what it is now.  But I also have to compromise some things.  I dropped my list considerably, including discussions about a screened porch and repairing the flooring on the front porch.  The flooring on the front porch especially needs to be done but we can move in and save the money and get to that later, maybe possibly doing a chunk of it ourselves, like the removal of the porch flooring anyway.

Two - I really wanted to consider cabinet options beside the stock cheapy cabinets.  For the yellow house we went with the cheapest cabinets available (unfinished, wood) and my main issue with them is you cannot sand these things smooth.  I sanded the crap out of them and they are still bumpy.  Which I'm all for a cottage lived in look so I painted them thickly with white paint and put on the cutest Anthropologie knobs and they passed, they were fine.  But I don't want to paint cabinets again.  I hate painting cabinets.  It's not even the fronts that bother me but the inside and I want the insides to be white.  So the next cheapest option are these white cabinets that are smooth like a melamine finish I guess.  And although they are going to clean so easily, the bumpy white cabinets hold cat hair and dust like you wouldn't believe, they aren't the richest looking cabinets you've ever seen.  Plus the trim isn't squared off inside the cabinet, it's rounded and it bugs me SO MUCH. 

I know it doesn't look it but they are bright white cabinets not off white and dull.

I was considering having him also price the KraftMaid white shaker panelled cabinets, like my dream cabinets, they are twice the price. 

$154 per linear foot compared to $71 per linear foot for the cheapies.

I thought about and thought about it and decided to go with the cheap cabinets.  I think I'm already going to be over budget but say I'm not with the cheaper cabinets, I can maybe have money to work on the front porch flooring.  More things can be done and when you look at a white cabinet I'm not sure how really notibly different it will be.  Sure in a really nice home, but this is a little cottage in the hood.  No one's going to think, "Damn, you should have gone with the KraftMaids."

Or maybe they will.

I'm also going with solid black formica countertop.  I was thinking about doing this when we renovated the yellow house but I didn't because of dust and dirt and possibly scratches.  I had them at the garage apartment at my mom's and I really loved the look of them and I don't remember not liking them for dust reasons but since we were trying to sell the houses, I didn't want to go too crazy.  But I think we'll be in the blue house for a very long time and I like the black.

Also they don't carry the black with white specks, that's currently in the yellow house or the gray with white specks that I have currently in the blue house.  I think this is so weird.  All the options are colors or brown specks and that's just not what I want anyway.  So really I HAD  to go with black.

I was considering not doing the standard counter with the lip at the back, the sort of built in back splash.  I was going to have it like any other countertop where it's just flat and then you put in a back splash of your own.  But I don't really know when I'll be able to do the back splash and I'm worried I won't get to it in time and water will collect there and be messy (in other words, I'm worried about bugs) so I'm going with the standard back.

I also debated back and forth about putting in shelves to the right of the window. 

Kind of like this but just on one side of the window and nothing mounted like a microwave.

I've seen it used in other blogs and I love the look but when it came down to looking for wooden brackets I was having a difficult time and it became more expensive than I wanted it to. 

I liked the Anthropologie brackets, but they don't have any way to secure the shelf to the bracket meaning the shelf could come down pretty easily.  But then I realized we can secure the shelf directly to the wall with fasteners and when things are on the shelf you wouldn't really be able to tell.  So I bought the brackets last night and of course they are on back order (one of the reasons I'm ordering things early whenever I can).

Friday, July 22, 2011

Dear craigslist

Can you call something, "SOLID MAHOGANY ANTIQUE DRESSER, CHEST, VANITY AND NIGHT STAND!!" when you painted it white?

I'm all for painting and distressing furniture but I'm leading with, "I fucked up what was a nice piece of furniture up, do you like distressed, painted furniture too?"

Hey don't bother with that busted box and that black thing on the floor. We'll all look past that when searching for our SOLID MAHOGANY ANTIQUE FURNITURE.

Sheers & Floor plans

Just bought all the sheers I'll need at the new house.  I used sheers at the old house because then I was able to keep the curtains open, have all the sunlight available, and yet still have privacy.  I really like the Pottery Barn Voile Sheers.  They are cotton and not the polyester stuff you usually find.

I bought mine for a great deal on ebay.  Since the blue house has less light, houses on both sides, we'll need to suck in as much light as possible wherever we can.  In the yellow house I always keep the dining curtains open in the daytime and it gives the house a lot of light.  But at the blue house there's a house a few feet away.  I really want to be able to open my dining curtains so I thought having sheers behind the curtains was the best way to go.  And since I like the same idea, maximum light balanced with maximum privacy, I decided to go the sheer route in the living room too so I can keep those curtains open for more light.

This is also why I think it's important to knock down the wall in between the kitchen and dining room and put in a slider where the long window currently is.  My hope is it will really flood the house with light.  And as I improve the backyard, painting the fence, grass, landscaping, the view, I'm hoping will make up for lack openness on the left side of the house that we have now.

Oh, hey, I made really lame floor plans.  This is the blue house's floor plan now (totally not to scale):
I think you can click on the picture to make it bigger.

Here is the blue house's floor plan with changes made (totally still not to scale):

I paid for 2 separate drawing apps on the Ipad for $5.00 a pop and still ended up using free with every computer MS Paint.  You should be ashamed Apple.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

House Block

We're already having trouble with the sale.  Typically when you buy a house you hire a real estate agent.  The buyer's agent receives 3% of the sale of the house and the seller's agent receives 3% of the sale of the house.  This money is paid by the seller of the house.  We don't need a buyer's agent because Brian's brother is buying the house, doesn't need a mortgage, inspection, appraisal, anything.  He's just buying the house.
But the real estate company we have the house listed with insists on a buyer's agent.  The best they could offer was a total of 4.5% commission.  That extra 1.5% is like $2000 and frankly we need that money.  It's really put us in a jam and stirring up some bad feelings.  This isn't a normal sell.  No one had to show Brian's brother any houses or try to get him a house loan or schedule an inspection.  There's no back and forth negotiations.  We just need someone to write the contract.  We can even hire our own closing attorney.

So now we're trying to figure out what to do.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

I Shouda Started a Mommy Blog

Well, it looks like we are selling the yellow house and moving into the blue house.

Brian's brother is going to buy the yellow house and Brian's parents are going to move in.  Brian's dad has been having some difficulty for some time now and you may recall we went up in January to visit him during his open heart surgery.  He's still having a difficult time and all the kids are too far away.  So this opens the door to help everyone a) we sell our house and have a chunk of money to pay down that lingering debt b) I have an awesome house blog because I have tons of renovations to do to the blue house c) Brian's parents move next door to us and a kid (well, if 40 and over is a kid) is always around to help if his dad has problems and no one has to wait 6 hours or longer for a family member to arrive for emergencies.  Every time Brian tells someone they look at me.  I guess I'm supposed to be wigged out by the idea of my inlaws moving next door, fodder for a new sitcom this fall.  I honestly don't know how it will be.  Brian's parents are very private and keep to themselves pretty much.  I guess we won't really know until they are here.  Like I told Brian today I'm going to be swamped in redo's and renovations and painting every room in the blue house and outside too and landscaping and everything else to really be aware of anything for a very long time.  It won't be like the yellow house where I don't have anything to do, I'm just waiting for the cats to break something so I can go to Homegoods.

It does put my porch ideas on hold.  No daybed for the porch and I have to figure out what to do with my new ceiling fan.  I want to try to put it on the blue house's front porch but I'm not sure if I can since it has a special light plate thing and that outlet has two switches for the front porch and living room.  I'll have to ask the handyman.  I may use it in the bedroom and get another one for the front bedroom.  I despise the ceiling fans in the blue house.  They are too granny.  When I bought them I couldn't get the same ceiling fan as I had bought in the yellow house and I was so thrown off my game and not the crazy home internet shopper I am today so I just bought a white fan with granny spot lights, I didn't know what else to do and I've hated them ever since.  So I can use the new fan there or switch out the ceiling fans for the yellow house, Brian's mom won't notice they are granny because she is a granny.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

The Back Porch

When we first bought the house the porch looked like this:

I wanted a more clean look so we, by we, I mean the handyman, removed all the diagonal wood slats and the spindles, and of course the cutest old refrigerator I've ever seen but it was completely broken and not self defrosting (remember we bought the house to resell, I'll chip ice in the name of cuteness all day long but we had to have a modern fridge to sell the house).  We also switched out the flimsy screened door for a vinyl one.  I don't usually go vinyl but it was so cheap and easy to clean.

Then it looked like:

Clean Slate.  It was such a clean slate you can see the air condition is missing from the concrete pad.  It was stolen.  The yellow house's air conditioning was stolen and then a couple days later the blue house air conditioner was stolen.  We weren't concerned about the blue house's a/c because it was mammoth.  I didn't think it would be possible to move without a forklift.  And who steals an HVAC unit and then a couple days later comes back to steal the one next door.  But somebody stole it.  And that's when the privacy fence went up.

I decided to go with a red theme.  I bought a Dash & Albert outdoor rug and this cute little wire red table.  The Pier One wicker chair was a big purchase for us.  The swing came from the old house and the checkered black and white cover was originally my mom's.  The floor looks so rich compared to now, it's worn away a bit, I thought I liked it because it has the appearance of slate or chalkboard but I don't know I might think about painting the porch floor again.

My mom's checkered cover literally ripped one day so I pulled out the old sewing maching and went to the discount fabric place and you tubed how to make a zipper and viola, new slip cover.  You can also see here that the swing is changing.  From the day we moved the swing it started to fall apart.  And then one day I bleached it.  Probably right before the last photo where it looks so freaking white.  Bleaching it, because it's a plastic wicker put all these tiny cracks in the wicker and not only did it start getting dirty right away in those little cracks but it started breaking off completely.  Every day I pick up little pieces of plastic wicker off the floor.  The cats love them, they play with them like toys.  The red ribbon was my way of trying to secure the wicker to the frame because it was separating from the frame and the swing was on it's way to falling completely apart.  My mom said no to the red ribbons.  I changed them to white so now you can't see them.

You can also tell a little big how the rug is changing colors to orange.  I think I washed it too much.  I also accidentally vacuumed the corner with the Dyson, what you don't vacuum your porch, and it sucked in the rug and messed it up.  After I thew it out I haven't replaced it.  It didn't even last a year and wasn't cheap and I found the room to be easier to clean without a rug.  I have my eye on one from Ballard Design but it's too expensive.

The chair got a slip cover too.

Slowly I filled up the porch with items I liked.  You can kind of see it in the background.  This picture is kind of depressing for me because that lush shade grass lasted about one week, maybe two and then it completely died.  I watered it constantly to no avail.  And then of course the heat came.  Also the variegated hydrangea in the foreground is now almost completely dead, I have no idea what happened.  My azaleas bloomed the first year I planted them and then never again.  The bushes got very leggy and unattractive.  I only have one left because I'm still working on that area of the year on the right side.  But this isn't about the yard, that's another day.

One day I was in Joanne's looking for something and they had 50% outdoor fabrics.  I found this aqua Dwell Studio fabric with birds on it and I had to get it.  So I redid the porch cushions.  I also made this pillow from left over fabric when I was making pillows for inside.  I really like the combination of patterns and the softer blue look so that's the direction I'm going in: aqua and texture.  Playing with fabrics.

Also you can see here that on the lower portion of the screened porch we had lattice installed.  This is not for looks, well this option was the most attractive (and expensive), but Fox had figured out he could bite the screen and pull on it and get the screen hole big enough that he could escape.  We thought of like pet wire and chicken wire and just slapping some lattice on the outside of the porch (he still might eat the screen and it would not look as attractive) so this is what we went with.  I was very worried about losing the view of the yard, I like to lounge on the porch and read or watch stray cats in the yard or admire my garden, but the view is still okay.

Here's the porch swing about a year after the last slip covers.  It's still there but now the arm is almost completely worn on one side and it's really become an eyesore of the porch.  My idea, which is another post, is to remove the swing and have a day bed built into this nook. Because I'm eventually, hopefully soon, losing the swing, this opens space up for a coffee table.  My mom found this one in her alley and spray painted it.  I saw it and fell in love.  She didn't want to give it to me and I looked everywhere for something similar with no luck.  Eventually we traded enough stuff that she let me have it.  I love it!

You can see in this photo how losing the red and adding the blue is not really working with the sheer curtains I put up.  Here's a close up of the patter in the curtain.

They are super neat curtains but there's no blue in them and I seriously want all red gone, I'm so over red right now.  I just ordered some sheers from Overstock today.  They'll probably get here while we're on vacation.

Other parts of the porch.  This is the area right beside the house door, it would be to the right.  On the left would be the screened door to go outside.  This table used to be in my mom's bathroom.  I've always really liked it, the way the curtains highlight the intricate cutouts.  She had her bathroom remodeled all white and marble so she gave the table to me.  I made these curtains from Amy Butler fabric and attached velcro so I can pull them right off and wash them.  I also added knobs from Anthropologie.  I wanted to use this table in our bathroom but there's just no room.  I fits perfectly in this nook of the porch so I keep spray paint and some quarts of paint inside.  The cat food is for the outdoor cats, I feed the neighborhood strays, the yellow can is Raid, it's Orb spider season and if I don't keep up with spraying the spiders in the yard as soon I see them they'll grow about 4" wide and scare the bajeebus out of me.  I put all my garden tools in the bucket I found at Home Goods and the pink thing is a cat toy I use to lure stray kittens on the porch.

There is really a lot of stuff on the wall.  I've actually toned this down.  I want to get rid of that bird house.  The photo is really cute I have to wait to take a photo, it's giving me a lot of glare.  I local artist draws sayings in the beach sand and photographs them.  This one says, of course, "Happily Ever After."  I love the plant holder.  I've killed countless ferns and shade plants.  This spring I gave up and bought a fake fern on clearance at Potterybarn.  I have no idea what to do with that white thing on the window so it's just sitting there.  The aqua birds are from my mom.

I painted the cute little red table aqua, it's actually a darker aqua from Lowes but it works well on the table.  I bought some aqua Ball jars on ebay (or etsy, I can't remember).  I was hoping the big one would hold all our really big shells but it's not quite big enough.  The cement bunny is a housewarming gift from Brian's parents. I'm no fun to shop for, I picked out my own housewarming present, but the thought was there.  They were with us walking around the garden store looking for a stone bunny.  The little Moroccan lantern is from Paper Source.  It started rusting but I recently repainted it with spray paint and it looks good as new.  I still need a little work with accessorizing this table.

I've always wanted a chandelier on a porch so when we moved into this house I budgeted aside money to replace the $15 standard outdoor fixture for a simple cottagey chandelier, it wasn't very expensive but made the room look extra special.  The thing about chandeliers as I've found out from this one and the one in our living room is if they are not on dimmers having them float above you as a light fixture and not eye level like the one in the dining room, it gives off a harsh light.  I think especially outside you want mood lighting.  Brian and I were talking about it and what we both really want is a ceiling fan.  I've been searching high and low for a small ceiling fan, the room's width is like 64 inches with a light that's not ugly or doesn't look granny.  This is very hard to find.  You'll have to wait for my post on plans for the porch to see which one I decided to order.

Friday, July 01, 2011


Design of blog - Check
Add Twitter and Flickr - Check
Holy Cow I Made a Banner - Check

Wow, getting somewhere.  I'll get better at this I promise.

Use photos in posts - coming soon
Photos of house - coming soon