Tag Archives: owning a home

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.

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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!

The House

10 Apr

It’s like an episode of Love It or List It, and for now, we’ve decided to love it.

We took our house off the market and plan on doing some upgrades, mostly cosmetic like light fixtures and paint, some necessaries like a new roof, and then a really fun idea: possibly finishing out the gigantic attic.

The good houses in our neighborhood sell like hotcakes (for instance a house in our price range got multiple offers in 24 hours a couple weeks ago). For the life of me I will never understand why our house didn’t sell during the 7 months we had it listed in the last year, but that’s OK. We’re going to make it work to stay here and enjoy it and our neighborhood.

I already walk around with a new sense of joy in my surroundings.

Now, back to work so we can afford our mortgage.

The Great Deck Adventure of 2015

29 Jan

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Two weekends ago our wonderful, handy friend Lloyd came over to help Dave build my privacy screen idea. They removed the current posts on the deck (very carefully — hello sawsall!) and put in 7 ft. posts. Then they fit in lattice supports, cut the lattice to the correct size, and slid it in to each slot.

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They finished just before the cold rains of last week, and it looked fabulous.

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Lloyd then recruited Dave to help on Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend for the HOMES project (a yearly service project that helps elderly, poor people with home repair), and Walt and I went to brunch at Stone Soup Kitchen while he was gone. A little mother-son date!

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I quickly started adding my decorations AKA hanging lights and railing planters. I filled the latter with pansies.

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I began the final (and overwhelming) touches by painting one panel of lattice. It took about 2-3 hours, and I had to use solid color stain. Using a brush left thick drip marks down the other side of the panel. This got done right before our open house.

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The whole week after the open house was gorgeous, until Friday. It rained all day, of course. I was worried but Saturday was fairly sunny (even though not warm). I had to get down to business on Sunday just so I could finish this thing.

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I was really glad to be able to slide out the lattice panels and paint the posts separately. I had painted the first panel in place and that was a mistake. It was a sunny Sunday to get this work done, thank goodness.

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I realized if I made David buy me this lovely tool (oh no, something that requires directions!), my very huge project would become a very quick project. Thank you, inventor of the paint sprayer. It worked pretty fantastically but it ate through the rest of my paint and I had to finish with the brush. I’m not sure I had the settings correct or if I did it right, but I was in a hurry. And the sprayer-painted sides look much better than the brush sides.

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But it’s done now and it looks grand!!!

Attempt #2 at selling our house: a little bit more reality

27 Dec

I made this beautiful flyer to sell our house. I thought we might try to sell by owner, but we found an agent with a marketing plan that I hope will accomplish all our goals. And now that Christmas is over, I’d really like to get this show on the road!

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House Back

My dad is right. He said, “It’s easy to buy a house. It’s hard to sell one.”

The Zillow link to our listing.

I would like to think we’ve learned a little bit about humility from the first time we listed our house (for what we think it is worth based upon the money and labor we’ve invested into the property), but it is always about the elusive “market”. We’ve improved our house (even more), lowered the price, and are very interested in selling because we have a house under contract in Marietta, GA. It will be quite a big change to go from city living to the suburbs, but we are ready for it. Our house in the city is beautiful and located in one of the best neighborhoods you can hope to live in. It is also an interesting neighborhood. One that I will miss. Every day we stay here our roots grow deeper, but I’m anxious to put roots down where I see us living until we grow old.

So if you know anyone looking for a great 3/2.5 in Ormewood Park…

A thoughtful little moment in my life.

16 Dec

I was driving home from my favorite church meeting of the year last night and thinking about how lately I’ve been all “I’ll be happy when this happens” or “Once that gets done I can be happy,” and that’s just not a good way to live. It is putting qualifications on my general enjoyment of life. And while lately it has been very stressful no matter what mood I’m in, I simply need to be happy in the present. I can’t say “Oh if our house sells everything will be OK” or “If I can just get pregnant again I won’t have to worry about that anymore.”

Christmas is just one more time of year that reminds me of what I have to be thankful for. A beautiful, healthy boy. A nice roof over my head. A lovely husband to share my mealtimes and accomplishments and sorrows with. Clean, running water. Lots of friends. The ability to dress as I want and study what I please. An annoying yet cuddly kitten. I could go on and on.

Our church’s Joint Session meeting is always in December, and the deacons and elders meet for supper and sharing of our faith stories. It is an introduction as well as a deepening of understanding among some of our fellow members. Two years ago I shared my story for the first time, and as I had looked around the table there were many I didn’t know. Last night there were so many familiar faces, it was wonderful to know what being a part of something can do to integrate you into a system. I could have stayed on the outside looking in, but being in the mix is much more exhilarating. I believe I’ve made friends for life through this church, no matter where I might fly off to.

For those of you who know me well, you might know that I am a skeptical yet trusting person. Those things might be contradictory, but hey, life is full of the unexpected. When I was a kid I was enamored by the phrase “Expect the Unexpected” (frequently bombarding my family with the acronym ETU). I don’t know what life will bring, whether it be glorious and glittering, or if I will be able to make lemonade with the lemons, but I hope I continue to be both trusting and skeptical. I think my skepticism keeps me on my toes, and I can also use my trusting nature (some might call it naiveté) to make sure I don’t drown in the negativity that is so easy to wallow in.

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The Metamorphosis of the Kitchen Table

14 May

Over the past few weeks the garage has been in a super transitional period. First we filled it up with the things we wanted out of the house for showings and items for a yard sale. With both these things postponed, David managed to clean and organize so that we could fit the cars back in there. I was thoroughly impressed.

Then, my kitchen table project happened. Cars were parked in the driveway again.

The table was a hand-me-down from Dave’s sister, bought very cheaply from an estate sale. It’s sturdy but not very pretty. I loved it. Walter likes to push back from the table, and it would be very hard to knock these chairs over backwards. I wanted a table we could make a mess on and I wouldn’t freak out about. I didn’t want to pay $1,000 for a well-made table either.

Enter our table:

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However, once we painted the kitchen, the table looked even worse style-wise. My mother had mentioned earlier that I should paint the chairs. So I looked up some blog posts of people who had painted furniture and thought to myself, “Why not?” It didn’t really turn out like theirs (maybe it was the paint I used), but it is so much better than before that I can hardly believe it.

DSC_0291Finished product. What a beaut.

Midway through the project I had a fantastic idea to get a glass top for the table. When  I found out our table was a standard 48″ and I could get one for $100 from Pier1, I was sold. There was a lady stocking paint at Lowe’s who told me that no paint was safe to eat off of, but I could use bar wax that would yellow the paint. This other guy said that paint has been safe to use for a while now. Either way, I’m glad I don’t have to worry eating cancerous paint anymore. And I think it really is the icing on the cake in terms of how it all looks.

Here’s how I did it:

Without sanding any of the furniture (but making sure all the dust and dirt was gone), I primed everything with Zinsser 1-2-3. It covers any surface and seals as it goes. I read one person who used a brush to paint it on. Do yourself a favor and use spray primer and spray paint for any surface that isn’t completely flat. It goes so quickly too. The first chair I did with a brush and it looks significantly worse than the rest of the table and took forever. The spray cans of primer were big and I was able to use one can per chair and one can for the legs of the table.

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For the table top I used a small foam roller and a regular can of primer. When it is applied it looks like it’s going to have a terrible texture to it, but it dries nicely. You just have to make sure to take care of any lines.

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I sprayed the primer inside the garage with the door open, wearing a ventilator. This worked well to keep pollen/dust off the table while it dried and the smell isn’t bad. However, I should have done Dexter’s kill room setup in there. Primer dust was all over the floor. Not really on anything else, surprisingly, but it was hard to clean up.

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The primer dried in half an hour, which made this project go very quickly. If it feels gritty after it’s done drying, take a piece of fine sandpaper to it, removing any dust before you continue. I used Valspar black satin spray paint for the chairs and table legs, about 1 1/2 cans for each. You have to spray paint outside. The fumes are unbearable even in an open garage with a mask on. On a drop cloth I flipped the chairs upside down to get at the legs easier, then placed them upright and finished. You can’t touch them for at least an hour. They ended up a little glossier than I had imagined they would be, but it still matches my Parisian beach theme going on in the house.

I did one chair a week earlier than the rest as a test subject. I don’t know why, but maybe because I brushed on the primer, the chair is even glossier than the rest. Also, I found out, if you don’t use poly to seal the chairs then they might never dry. I read somewhere that it can take 7-30 days to “cure”. I certainly don’t have that kind of time to wait around for paint to dry! Over a week after I painted that first chair, a dinner guest left a nice butt print on the seat. No paint came off, but it was still tacky and had lots of kitty paw prints all over it too.

Solution: about an hour or so after you spray paint the chair, you can brush on polyurethane with one of those cheap sponge brushes, and three hours later it is a finished product. You can sit on it with no problems. The key to poly is to prevent it from foaming as you apply it by not having too much or too little on the brush. Also beware of drips, because they will dry permanently that way. I only did one coat for everything (instead of sanding and doing a second coat). It seems to be fine so far but obviously I can’t attest for durability. There might be a second coat in my future.

I also used the foam roller to roll on the table top paint. I used Valspar black satin latex enamel (it’s right by the spray paint). It dries a little bit harder and quicker than the spray paint, so I didn’t poly it, but that’s because I knew I was going to use the glass table top. It took about two days of Walt’s nap time to do all this, minus extra time for pilot error.

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I can see the flaws, but David says that’s because I’m being too critical.

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With some additional cute new artwork, the kitchen looks like a million bucks.

The House, nearing completion.

4 May

We have been chin deep in house projects for the past two months. This is way past knee deep… though I do see the light at the end of the tunnel. It’s just funny that after you make your already awesome house perfect you get to… move?

Since we haven’t had any pressure to put the house on the market, this is how things have been going:

When you tell a homeowner to replace the front door handle, the new handle will make the front door look old now too. They will probably want to re-stain the door.

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Worn out door.

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Fresh and wonderful door.

When they re-stain the door, they will notice that the wood rot around the house needs to be fixed as well before it goes on market. The handyman will notice that your gutter is too small, causing the problems, so he will recommend a new gutter. The gutter guys will recommend and your husband will agree that the fancy gutter guards will be worth the expense, so you’ll get those too.

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Helping us paint by keeping the drop cloth warm.

After many more projects outside (painting, washing, staining, planting, fixing, etc.), you will realize things that need to be fixed and updated inside. You want a new light fixture for the kitchen. This light fixture will be great, but then you’ll realize that you to need to repaint the kitchen to match the new light. With the fresh new look, you’ll realize how old and cheap the cabinet knobs look, so you’ll get new ones. When your kitchen looks as great as it does, you’ll want to paint the kitchen table as well (that one is mid-project. So far only one chair is currently black).

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Old kitchen.

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New kitchen.
Not the best picture. But during the day the kitchen looks almost gray to match the living room, then at night it’s this beachy blue color. Love it.

When your husband notes that the pantry could use some painting too, you say, well it’ll be difficult to paint around the pantry shelves. When your husband says he’s going to take those down, you tell him that he’s not going to put the old ones back up. He’s going to have to build shelves since you’ve always disliked the wire ones. And if you’re going to paint and put in custom shelves, you can’t leave the old linoleum. You’ll want to tile the pantry floor too.

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We picked the black one.

And this is why when you give a homeowner a cookie, he’ll want a glass of milk to go with it…