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Country Kitchen Redo

18 Jan

Turns out I can’t move into a house without throwing myself into some DIY projects! I knew the kitchen was a must as soon as we looked at this house…

Cabinets were good quality, but the fluorescent light fixture, plastic counters, drop in sink, and dated pulls had to go…

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After a little bit of work, voilà!

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I actually didn’t take any before pictures (whoops), and they only had two pictures of the kitchen that I was able to copy from the MLS listing… So you can just barely see that they had cabinets hanging over the peninsula. Dave and his dad took those out ASAP.

ISy7878ghwn3h01000000000 (2)IMG_20180118_105733_022Ah, breathing room and an eating space!

IMG_20180118_104150108_HDREven though we went with the basic (and classic) subway tile, we added some flair. The edge of our butler’s pantry has a chiseled finish, which is subtle but fun up close. We also couldn’t find any bullnose corner pieces on short notice, so instead of doing 45° cuts on the tile, I had bought these really cool tiles from a local artist in Hendersonville a few months ago, and I had them put in instead.

IMG_20180118_104202376Painting along those grout lines was scary! And the white took three nerve-wracking coats to look good.

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I love our granite (Typhoon Bordeaux Light), and the sink is a regular undermount sink with a low divide. This was the feature I liked best from our expensive farmhouse sink that we had picked out in our last house.

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The counters were hard to pick out. We had a bad experience at our last house with soft granite from India that sucked up every spill no matter how many times we sealed it. Because shop hours in Asheville are mostly during the week, David could never take off work to help me pick something out. My mom came with me one of the several times I went to the giant warehouse that had so many choices I was tired halfway through just looking at them. But I finally settled on one that has delighted us after install. We wanted something with movement and flavor, and we got it! It sparkles and never fails in its beauty. Thank you, earth magma from long ago, for creating this magnificence!

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The Dining Room

8 Oct

One of the things we had the hardest time figuring out at our old house was where to put the formal dining room. For a while we had it smushed in with everything else in the living room, where you couldn’t push the chairs out all the way or you’d bang in to something. Then when we remodeled we turned our master bedroom into a pub room (dining table, piano, dart board, pub table, and TV all in one), and that was kind of awesome, but it turned our three bedroom house into a two bedroom. So when we looked for a new house, we knew we needed a separate dining room.

Voilà! The perfect size room for all our dining needs. And the door on the right leads to the kitchen.

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If you look closely you can see how old the carpet was, and that once it was some kind of shade of pink or maroon. This carpet was so gross that when Walter played on it (despite us telling him to please quit doing that), his skin would turn red. My mom’s dog got an eye infection (she’s a small dog and thus had more contact with the carpet). Walter even christened it once when we were in due diligence with projectile vomiting the day he came down with strep. Luckily though, the carpet hid beautiful hardwoods underneath just waiting for the floor guys to labor over and make perfectly smooth for us.

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This was their dining room, which I planned to use for our regular kitchen table, since we were removing the eat-in area in the actual kitchen.

Ta-da! And talk about vintage wallpaper and light fixture put to good use!

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The whole glorious room. The bigger part had been their second, formal living room.

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We frequently puzzle on this table and love inviting friends and family over for dinner, so it really does need its own space. This blue accent wall was the first thing I painted one night after we bought the house, and when I finished, I was pleased and excited for how the house would turn out (aka however we wanted it to!). Because we always knew we were going to sell our old house, I never felt like I could make it uniquely my own. This little gem, however, I’ve clearly gone to town with my design decisions.

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In a couple weeks we’re going to pick up antique chairs from David’s aunt that date back in his family several generations to put in each of the corners. Let’s just hope the cat doesn’t ruin them right away.

DIY Postcard Backsplash

6 Oct

Because my husband has the coolest family, I got the idea for our backsplash from his aunt. In her kitchen she has several photos in the same color scheme repeated like tiles, which I always thought was funky and cute. When Dave and I were trying to figure out what we wanted to do and our kitchen budget was running low (thank you awesome farmhouse sink… and all the other things we thought were must-buys before purchasing a backsplash), I thought, I could do like my aunt-in-law! When I asked her about it, she said she slapped them up on the walls with some Elmer’s glue 25 years ago as a temporary backsplash until she figured out what tile she wanted (ha!).

One of the biggest appeals for me (besides the cost being under $100 total for the project) was that if I ever changed my mind, tile could just be put up on top of the cards. No big deal.

I didn’t want to use personal photos, so I bought sets of Paris-themed photo postcards from a seller on Etsy. I used 8 blanc (white) sets, 3 gris (gray) sets, and 3 vert (teal, really) sets for some variety while trying to keep the photos as neutral and un-busy as possible. I unfortunately found out that the postcards were sold out and not going to be printed ever again (apparently) when I was running low and wanted to buy some more mid-project. I had to get creative to finish!

img_20160924_090847438I find it necessary to always have a supply of Mod Podge and foam brushes handy in case of any impromptu projects. I foolishly thought it would take a night to do all of this, but in reality it took three days. If you’re going to do something unique, you better be precise and make it look as good as possible. I glued them on and then after they dried I covered them in another layer of Mod Podge (matte finish). I plan on polying around the sink and coffee maker for extra protection once I’ve verified it won’t turn anything yellow.

dsc_0043I honestly wasn’t really sure how it would turn out, but I like it more than I thought I would. And the key was that my mom didn’t come into my kitchen and immediately notice that she didn’t like it — in fact she didn’t notice at first that I had done anything at all! When I had originally told her of my idea, she told me I shouldn’t do it, and she’s pretty good at design decisions, so I was happy she approved of the final product.

dsc_0044I wasn’t sure if Dave should caulk the bottom of the cards where they meet the granite with white or clear, so for now it’s bare. Gosh I love our kitchen sink.

dsc_0047It took me a while but I finally figured out how to use our new Nespresso machine. Délicieux.

dsc_0046No Parisian kitchen is complete without a little Julia Child sign-off decal! Bon Appétit!

dsc_0045To save on postcard usage, and because I had the idea mid-project and I’m totally in love with accenting our house with Deep Sea Dive, I had Dave help by painting the wall behind the vent hood. I love that we did that. It was the perfect final touch.

Our Total Kitchen Remodel

5 Oct

The biggest thing we did to our new house before moving in was gut and remodel the kitchen.

Because it looked like this. Not the worst, but not what we wanted either.kitchen-4-a

We had our contractor remove everything of course. Only took him a day! Walter thought the kitchen fell through a tiny hole in the floor into the basement.

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I ordered white, wood cabinets from ProSource that are made by the Amish in the United States (thank you to Bobby for helping me design the new kitchen!). They also have soft close drawers! And they were only a week late on delivery!

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I had everything so tightly scheduled so we could move in in a month, that both the flooring and granite people ended up at the house at the same time. No, that month wasn’t stressful at all!

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The house started coming together. It was fun to watch the process. It was slightly less fun to make sure everything got done on time and done right, but luckily I’m Type-A enough that I did enjoy that too.

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And then, suddenly — oh yeah and a few extra months of work later — it was finished!

As a reminder, it looked like this:

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And now!!! I love having the kitchen and living spaces together. Makes for cozy, comfortable living.

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The dog and cat happily posing.

Who doesn’t want all their appliances crammed in together?

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Ah, nice and bright and open! And our awesome woodworking friend Alex made and installed our floating shelves for us.

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They had a little eat in area (and a window we made disappear).

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Which we turned into the fridge/pantry area.

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Lovely giant wall in the middle of the room!

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Brought up to the 21st century! I kind of have a Parisian café/1950’s diner theme going.

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It’s much, much smaller than our kitchen in our old house, but once I got everything organized and realized I don’t need a million cabinets to store stuff I rarely use (hello basement storage!), I love it.

The Universe’s Perfect and Ironic Timing

28 Aug

I’ve always wanted more than one child, and for two years we waited and wondered and worked to “make” that happen. You never know when the right egg and sperm will meet at the right time and it’ll all work out. It’s so hard when you’re going through it because month after month you never know when the end of the pain will be (though at first it’s not so painful, it’s just exciting). We would say to ourselves, “If only we knew how much time we had to wait, then we could relax about it” and it’s true. The not knowing when or if it’ll ever happen is very difficult to wrap your head around.

In retrospect, I wouldn’t have wanted it to be any other way. With Walter, we wanted a baby, and *poof* I got pregnant. I never took anything for granted, but it’s not the same type of appreciation when you have to struggle for something. Not being able to get pregnant when I wanted not only made me more thankful for #2 but also for every moment with W.

I suffered so badly during first trimester that I’m not sure I would have survived if Walter was any younger. He had to play on his own during the days I couldn’t get out of bed except to feed him. And, because he is older, he really understands what is happening, and that just makes it that much more precious to me that he can share in this joy with us. He was worried about me when I was so sick and that was sweet too.

And just because the universe likes to make me laugh with its unique sense of humor, I got everything that I wanted all at once. That might sound like it’s perfect, and it is great, but there is that whole “be careful what you wish for” saying for a reason. We tried to sell our house for two years. While that process is a little more cut and dry than baby-making, trying to do so at the end of a recession and recoup your money can be a little on the tough side.

But this time, it worked, and we were able to buy the house we wanted in the right neighborhood for the right price. We moved in a week after I found out I was pregnant, and I was feeling great. Dave even moved all the heavy boxes for me. All our dreams were coming true!

Then, the sickness hit. I sat around in a brand new house (to us) feeling worse than I’ve ever felt in my life. I felt so bad that I wondered why in the heck I had ever wanted another baby. My brain started changing from “this is my dream house” to “this house and its smells and everything about it makes me sick”. After working very hard to sell our house and immediately buying and moving in to another one, it was unbelievably upsetting and worrisome to Dave to have his wife talking to the realtor about selling. Again.

It got so bad I made us stay with my mom for a few weeks, which of course was confusing to W, who had been such a trooper throughout our long move. When Dave would go work on the house, he would send me pictures, and looking at them made me nauseous. I didn’t want to talk about the house or even see highway signs that said “Marietta”. I reinstalled Zillow and was looking at Midtown condos for sale. Our doctor said it was the first time he had heard of this pregnancy side effect.

As a friend of mine told me while we were discussing this, I needed to give myself a break and wait it out. Basically in one tiny period of my life I had been dealing with selling, buying, and renovating a house, and infertility, fertility treatments, and first trimester. It was a lot to handle.

Thankfully, it passed. We’re on the side of hope and excitement, waiting for little boy to get here and enjoying every kick. We’re doing puzzles on our dining room table and loving our yard and the public library, and it’s all good. It’s still going to take time to adjust and figure out this new area of Atlanta, but hey, that’s what life is. The journey.

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A beautiful, full double rainbow we saw on W’s birthday weekend.

 

Barn Raisin’, not Barn Burnin’

16 Aug

From the moment we talked to Walt about moving from our old house, we made it clear that he would get a play set for his new yard. We wanted him to feel excited about this big change, and half the point of moving was to get more outdoor space to play in. When he spoke of his play set, he always made it clear that he wanted Pop, Mimi, Nini, Tashi, and Grandpa to come help us build it. And that’s exactly what he got!

A week before his 4th birthday, we had a good ol’ fashioned barn raising, complete with pizza dinner — just like in the olden days.

IMG_20160814_131121786And so it begins. It was a lot more not-put-together than I thought it was going to be. For example, the slide was just a long piece of plastic. Oh yeah, and there were a zillion wood pieces covering our yard.

IMG_20160814_133222308_HDRDuggy monitoring progress. He really enjoyed being outdoors All. Day. Long.

IMG_20160814_161037382When David saw Pop show up (his key partner in getting this thing built — I was in charge of water refills and picture-taking), his words were “Oh thank God.”

IMG_20160814_145112282_HDRMore helpers! Our picnic table was covered in hardware as well.

IMG_20160814_162422596The instruction booklet contained 20,000 pages. Luckily W’s cousin Ward showed up to help play.

Mimi shows the boys how to train for Olympic track meets. There was a lot of time for running around.

IMG_20160814_165324821Getting closer! We’re starting to see some structure!

IMG_20160814_165507259_HDRIt was a beautiful but hot day, even with the clouds and breezes helping us out.

IMG_20160814_202455511And it only took 7 1/2 hours!

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A happy boy’s inaugural slide ride! A fine end to a wonderful day spent with family. Couldn’t have done it without them!

A mostly DIY bathroom remodel

10 Aug

This is our “master bath,” but as I like to say, this house is much more humble than our other home. So it’s really just “the bathroom we all mostly use,” and it was a disaster until this weekend. Very narrow, and the pink tile was disgusting to me, not because of the color necessarily, but the grout was old and gross. I don’t really feel clean when I can literally see the dirt other people have left behind while I’m taking a shower.

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In this photo we had already removed the shiny, floral wallpaper, the lacy curtains, and replaced the counter.

I wish we could totally renovate and blow out the bathroom to make it more spacious, however, we are the type of people with a budget. A budget that was mostly spent on a brand new kitchen, floors, and a gorgeous fence around our wonderful land when we renovated before we moved in.

I am, though, particularly proud of what we were able to do to the space.

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We got the tile painted by Georgia Tub and Tile. They use a special epoxy paint, and it turns grungy tile into amazing white tile that you can’t tell wasn’t put in that way. Freedom from grime at a fraction of the price! The company was great to work with and they guarantee their work for three years, so I expect we won’t have to worry about it for probably something like five+ years.

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A little bit of elbow grease, paint, and some new fixtures, and I love the ambiance in here. It’s now fit for a relaxing bath!

A Bit Untethered, but Happy and Excited

22 Apr

While living in the gloriously big house that Walter now doesn’t want to leave with my awesome, frequently jet-setting in-laws has been fantastic, it’s not easy for me to not have my home base. When I want to settle down or escape, I don’t really have anywhere to go that is mine, except maybe my car. I was even having difficulties living in the small room with our cat, who I am allergic to — long story –, until my brilliant husband suggested I take a Claritin, which thankfully worked. So at least I have that space too again.

The good news is, the finish line is within sight. We sold our house! It went under contract the first day of showings, and the buyers were great. I’m jealous of our old neighbors.

We also bought a house! I feel ridiculously lucky to have found the house we did. It’s a 1965 ranch-style that has previously had one owner, sitting on half an acre of gorgeous landscape.

IMG_20160414_171304306_HDRDay of closing: happiness.

It was very well-maintained, but dated. But that’s the best part! We get to do what we want with the space! No one else has done some costly, generic updating. Mostly it is painting the walls, changing light fixtures, and refinishing floors, but we also get to redo the kitchen from scratch!

IMG_20160418_162936242_HDRYep, that’s our kitchen. Walter thought it left the house on its own.

I already feel like it is my house, even more so than our old house, not just because I’m on the deed of this one, but because I picked it out knowing that I want to live here for the next 30+ years. We have only three weeks until the movers bring our stuff, but oh what needs to be done before then!

IMG_20160422_094949Our wonderful helper!

 

IMG_20160418_205801862_HDRWallpaper was clearly invented by the devil.

IMG_20160421_170823349I needed to paint by myself, and when I was ready to go, I found him like this!

It’ll be more than great to be home again, which is why we’re working round the clock to get things done. We have been blessed by the help of Dave’s dad, who has spent several days doing electrical work at our house and puts Walt to bed so we can go work in the evenings, and my mom who has kept Walt while we get stuff done. I worry about him. In the end it’ll have been a 3 month move, and moves are not easy. Sometimes he isn’t really clear about what’s going on, but he’s a trooper. I’m real proud of him.

We’re living like it’s Downton Abbey

4 Mar

This is multi-family household living at its best, just without Nanny. Or Carson & Mrs. Hughes.

Here’s what happened: my husband bought an expensive house during the real estate bubble of ’07/’08, right before he graduated college in 2009, during the recession. A + B = C, and C hasn’t been good for us financially.

College had delayed his transition from the Marine Corps to his career in his late twenties. I graduated college at the same time as him (but mid twenties) with my second degree, didn’t find a full-time job, didn’t get in to graduate school, and then became a stay-at-home-mama, which was my dream anyway. Meanwhile, my husband worked hard to pay the mortgage, while we watched many others get rewarded by buying foreclosed or cheap houses because of the recession and at one point getting huge checks from the government for being first-time homeowners. We have been the definition of “house poor” for the last 7 years, even though we lead really, really good lives. No denying that fact.

So in order to sell our house, we have moved in with my in-laws near Chastain Park. Oh how terrible! No, not really. It’s pretty awesome.

At our house, the floor needed a good sand and refinish. Our realtor recommended it. Our cousin, who’s the best real estate agent in Birmingham, said to do it before it goes on market. It’s not the most expensive reno job, it must be done by a professional, and it can totally change the look of the house.

I’ve been wanting to change the color for years anyway.

So I finally spent the last of our savings, touched up the paint (again), cleaned it up real nice, positioned the furniture just right… and now we pray we get some money back from the money pit that has been home ownership for us so far.

We moved in with parents so we can stage the house — and not live in the poly smell immediately post-floor refinish. I won’t have to battle the dog hair, kitty litter box, Walter messes, and my type-A cleaning personality all while keeping a house show-ready. We can also take our time to find the right house for us when it comes time to do that.

I have never been more excited to go shopping in my life. I’ve never had the opportunity to pick a house before. My husband bought our current one a year before we met.

So we’re in our thirties acting a bit like we’re in our twenties… but hey, we’re Millennials, so we’re allowed to do that, right?

IMG_20160224_192426Perks: Pop reading bedtime stories to his grandboy in what used to be The Serious Business Room for twenty years but has recently been changed by Walt to The Crossword Room (note WSJ crossword on end table).

Ladies Night Out 2-2016Perks: Ladies Night Out with the Sistas of the Pour at Terra Terroir

 

Piano Time

11 Aug

I bought a piano the day before my 31st birthday. This was not a mid-life crisis.

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It is pure magic.

This piano, who has yet to secure an official name, fills the house with music. David plays into the night. I practice during the day. Walt and even Petra, the cat, play when they want to. That’s the beauty of a piano, it sounds good no matter what is going on. Well, except Petra always plays a sound of doom forte and scares us. But when the player knows what he or she is doing, all you can do as an observer it to enjoy.

David used to play as a child, and even being 20 years rusty, he’s good. I am enjoying the book I bought myself to teach me how to play. It is all very mathematical and complex to do two different things with your hands at once.

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I saw this on FB the other day and chuckled.

It is a life-long dream of mine to learn to play the piano. I used to practice the cello. I love the sound, but I never wanted to play it like I do the piano. I hope that will keep me motivated enough to get good!