How to close in a 90's TV Cubby

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Throwing it back with one of my all time favorite projects we did at our last house. Remember how I once said that popcorn ceilings are the mullet of my new home? Well, 90s TV cubbies were the mullet of my last house. They're just one of those things that had it's time in the sun, but quickly became outdated and an eyesore.

We had 2 of these TV cubbies in our last house,  and I always hated how cavernous they felt. We couldn't get a big TV in there because it was not a wide enough opening,  they were so deep that we would lose things back there, and it made our TV look super small , since the cut-out was square, not rectangular. It really was a stupid feature.

I realize these are first world problems, and "our flat screen TV looks too small above our gas fireplace" is probably the world's most privileged sentence, and that's exactly why we never had the motivation to do anything about it. That is, until my husband got a little bonus at work, and he decided it was "TREAT-YOSELF-two-thousand-EIIIIGHteen!" and bought a new TV. Since the new, bigger TV wouldn't fit in the cubby opening, I seized the opportunity to have a reason to spend the money to change it!

I knew this project would require drywall skills, and since there's nothing about that I want to DIY, I called my go-to handyman to come over and make a plan to close it in. We needed to have structural support for the TV mount to attach to something, so we made a plan to mount a 2x4 down the center of the opening, and then drywall around it. I wish I had taken some more "in action" photos, but I wasn't documenting it super well back then.

This was after he put in the 2x4 mount for the TV, closed in the drywall, and then laid the board and batten pieces around it to frame it out. We decided to line it up with the end pieces of the fireplace mantle, so it would look like one big fireplace.

My handyman knows that I like to get my hands dirty, so while he did all the cutting and measuring, I caulked, primed, and painted the rest. I really wanted this to be more of a design feature, instead of just the wall, so I decided to paint it white and make it look like part of the fireplace! Then, I decided to add a board and batten style design element around it that I felt would really set off the whole thing and make it the anchor of the room.

We still had some hanging cords once we were done mounting the TV, and after all the work painting and getting everything bright white, the black electrical cords were irking me. So, I went on Amazon and found this easy cord cover, which blended in super well and hid all our cords!

 This was such an easy, and relatively inexpensive project. The drywall work cost a few hundred dollars, and we already had the paint and primer, so it was an easy afternoon of work to really transform our living room! I absolutely love how it came out and am sad to have left it since we only got to enjoy it for a few months before we moved. Oh well! I plan to do something similar above our fireplace in the new house, even if we don't put the TV above it again!

Choosing our hardwood floors

Monday, October 22, 2018

When we purchased our new home, we knew the first project we would do would be installing new floors throughout the home. This was an easy decision for us for two reasons:

1) The flooring in the home was 32 year old carpet, and not in good shape. I don't care for carpet outside of bedrooms in general, but especially not old, dingy carpet. We factored this change into our offer price on the home and knew it was something we would undertake right away.

2) Re-doing any kind of flooring when you're living in a space is massively disruptive. You have to move out, empty the room of everything, make a huge mess, clean up the mess, move back in... it just was going to be way, way easier to do this work before we moved in. We were lucky our buyers allowed us to rent our old home back for 3 weeks so we could do it before moving!

Once we'd made the decision to re-do the floors, we had to weigh our options about what we would put back in it's place.  I sell homes in this neighborhood all the time, so I knew what buyers would expect to see and what would set our house apart (the goal, obvi). I also know what would disappoint buyers in terms of flooring if/when we re-sell this home at some point in the future.

Our neighborhood is full of classic, colonial style homes. They were all built in the 1980s, before laminate, vinyl, or engineered flooring were a glimmer in their mothers' eyes. So, the idea of any of those types of flooring was a non-starter to me, since they really just don't fit with the feel and time period of these homes.

That left us with choosing between pre-finished and site-finished hardwood floors. Pre-finished flooring is exactly as it sounds -- it's stained and sealed in factory, and then installed. There's no sanding or staining when you get these, so it's great for a quick turnaround. The thing I don't like about pre-finished floors is you can see the grooves between each plank, and you're limited to the color selection available.

Site finished flooring gets installed the same way as pre-finished floors, but they come back through and sand down the grooves so you don't see any of the lines between the planks. It has such a beautiful, smooth finish. Plus, you can choose any stain under the sun, combine them, mix it, make it perfect, etc.  It takes more time because the floors have to cure for a few days once they're installed, but it gives you a lot more flexibility and a higher end finish, in my opinion! With our installer, the cost difference between site finished and pre-finished floors wasn't that much, and since we're already investing a lot in this project,  we wanted it to be exactly right. We ended up choosing to do site finished floors.

I got bids from 5 different flooring contractors - a few big companies, a general contractor, and then a a recommendation from a coworker (who ended up being the guy we selected.) The company we chose is a small one-man (plus his crew) operation called Badderas Flooring here in Durham. Because he doesn't have any overhead, his prices were thousands of dollars below the other bids. His estimate came in nearly half what I had expected, and included a lot of extras like installing sunken air registers and our refinishing our stairs. Even better, his low estimate came in super handy when half-way through we added demo'ing our kitchen tile onto the scope. Since we had set aside more than we needed, we were able to comfortably add that project on without worrying too much. Best. Decision. Ever.

We haven't changed anything about the cabinets (yet) but removing the tile has majorly toned down their orange-y tone already! 

Part of the flooring process I hadn't expected was how many choices I would have!  I had to figure out which kind of wood, what size plank, and what stain I wanted, so, I turned to the internet and did a lot of research. We chose Type 1 Common white oak flooring. I love how the white oak is so subtle, and provides a warm, but neutral tone under any stain. Red oak is nice too, but definitely gives off a red tint. I preferred the neutral tone of the white oak, so that's what we went with. The options were Type 1, Type 2, and Select. Type 1 was the most recommended, since it's the "upper middle" tier. It has some great coloration, but fewer knots. The select is "higher end," but I love the subtle shading and color in our Type 1 boards so I'm glad we chose what we did! 

Once we had our boards selected, it was time to choose a stain. Let me tell you,  it is really, really challenging to pick stains off of swatches because they really do look different in every king of light and on every wood type. I relied heavily on inspiration pictures from some of my favorite bloggers, like these here, since their styles are similar to mine, and I knew I trusted their design choices.



 I had also recently seen a few clients go through installing and refinishing their floors, and conveniently all of these people (bloggers above too) had chosen the same stain -- a beautiful, medium brown tone called Provincial. This is a really versatile and classic stain that looks great in different kinds of light and goes well with a lot of colors. I tend to have a cooler palate, like my blogger inspiration above, and loved how the warmth of the brown balanced out the cooler blues they used in their homes.  I was heavily leaning towards this stain, but I wanted to be sure so I had my flooring guys do some samples for me to compare.

I'll be honest, putting the samples on the floor like this only confused me. They all looked good, they all looked so different....and yet also exactly the same. It was hard to distinguish between them, but the flooring guys recommended the Provincial as well, since once it's sealed it's got a richer tone. I trusted their judgment since it was already what I had thought I wanted, so we stuck with that choice!  Dark Walnut had me 'miring though!

Okay, the finished product...

Guys, look how gorgeous this is. We still have to finish the trim, vents and quarter round, so these aren't "finished-finished," but I am so, so happy with how this turned out. I can't recommend our flooring installers enough. If you are looking to re-do your floors in the Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill area, let me know and I'll send you their contact info. They worked SO hard, cleaned up really well, made great suggestions, and had all of this done in less than 2 weeks.... even with adding on a whole room to the scope!

Next up will be the carpet replacement upstairs. Now that the popcorn ceilings are scraped, they are ready to go and will be removed on Friday! I know when it comes to investing in our home, this flooring upgrade will be the best money we spend. It really brings out the classic, colonial personality of our home, and it makes me happy. While I can't help considering resale value with everything we do (fault of the trade), sometimes, it just comes down to what YOU love! And let me tell you, Spenser better watch out because I am in love. 

Popcorn Ceilings: The Mullet of My Home

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Guys, I hate popcorn ceilings... Like hate-hate them. Something about them gives me the heeby jeebies! They always look dirty, wet, dusty, and just.... bumpy. It honestly makes my skin crawl when I see them so they must be triggering my fear of tiny holes or something because I know it's not rational.

Aside from grossing me out, I've always felt like popcorn ceilings just scream 1980's, too. I can walk into any home and guess a range of when it was built based on the presence of popcorn ceilings. It's just a trend that had it's day in the spotlight, and looking back, we can all collectively agree now that it really shouldn't have.... like the infamous mullet. Hence, popcorn ceilings are the mullet of my home.

Thankfully, some of the rooms in our new house had been previously scraped, but the bedrooms and hallways upstairs had not. Because of said ick-factor for me,  I got a few quotes from painters for removing them, and they told me it would be close $2500 for a professional to do it- AKA not in the budget.  Thankfully, since our house was built in 1986, we don't have to worry about asbestos, so I felt like this was a project my husband and I could tackle ourselves.  We didn't know anything about scraping popcorn or painting ceilings, but to save $2300, I would damn sure figure it out.

This is what our ceilings looked like before in 3 bedrooms, the upstairs hallway, and the stairs (we are leaving the stairs for a professional because neither of us wants to fall and die). To some people, the popcorn look may not bother them (like my husband), but for me.... it's a mullet. I just can't.

Before we committed to doing this, I wanted to be sure I wasn't going to do irreparable damage. I watched a ton of Youtube videos, read everything on Pinterest, and eventually felt sure that this was something we could handle and I wasn't being overly optimistic. We figured since the new floors hadn't been installed yet, this would be the perfect time to make a huge mess, so we gathered our supplies.

Here's what we used to get started: 

1) A garden sprayer
2) A 10 inch scraper
3) Protective masks & eyewear
4) A box cutter (not pictured). This came in handy when we needed to score the edges where the popcorn was attached to drywall tape.

I think we spent $100 on all this.

I definitely recommend the mask and goggles. The popcorn came off super easily, but once it was on the floor, it pretty much disintegrated into dust, so we were glad we had our mouths and eyes covered!

The garden sprayer was the MVP of this whole project. We found that as long as the popcorn was wet, it came off super, super easily. You could tell right away when you'd hit a dry spot, so we would just give it a quick spritz, wait a second, and boom, came off like butter.

We didn't lay any floor coverings for these rooms, since we are having the carpets removed next week. That said, it was reaaaaaaaally messy and even though they're getting taken out, we probably should have laid something over them. We wised up when we got to the hallway, which I'll get to in a minute.

We found the best technique to remove the popcorn was to:

1) Remove all light fixtures, air vents, anything on the ceiling so you can get around it.

2) Spray the ceiling completely, and then double back over the area you are starting on so it's really wet

3) Keep the scraper as straight as possible against the wall. Angles tended to ding the drywall. Some of the comments I read about DIY'ing this project warned that you wouldn't have a smooth ceiling afterwards. We agreed it was a risk we were willing to accept, because we (I) would rather see a few mudding spots or tape lines than the popcorn everywhere. We wanted to save money, so we accepted our work wouldn't be "professional grade," but to be honest, it looks pretty smooth to me. I'll get more to the finished product in a minute!

4) Score the edges where the wall meets the ceiling before scraping. This helped get the pieces that were stuck to tape off. They didn't come off as easily, but still wasn't difficult.

You can see below our ceiling is wet and there's water dripping down the walls. This was unavoidable for us, and we plan to paint the walls anyway, so we didn't stress about it. I don't know how you'd do this project if you currently live in your home. It'd be a nightmare! We also let the ceilings dry out for a couple days before we primed them to be sure they are really dry.

Here's why we wished we had laid down a drop cloth... yeesh. While the popcorn came off the ceiling in strips, it turned to crumby dust as soon as it hit the floor. We picked up what we could, ShopVac'd the rest, and then left the carpets imperfect since they're being removed. 

After finishing the first room, I had 2 takeaways:
1) It was way easier than I expected.
2) It was way messier than I expected.

We finished one room in under an hour, which surprised both of us, but we spent just as much time trying to clean up after ourselves, so it would've been faster to lay down tarp. Once we finished a room, we decided to let the rooms air out and dry completely before we put any primer or paint on them.  

Once we got to the hallway, we wised up, and decided to lay a tarp down. That made clean up a breeze! We just folded it up like a burrito -- sides in, top down, sides in, top down, over and over again until it was all gone. We still had some left to sweep up, but it was a lot less work than the carpeted rooms. 

Scraping the three bedrooms and a hallway took us about 4 hours of work. Like I mentioned, we can't do the staircase, foyer, or dining room because the guys were working on our floors, so I'll leave those for now and figure something out later. But, once we had scraped the bedrooms, we left them to dry out completely overnight. We didn't like the idea of priming them if they still had moisture in them. 

Before priming, I got back on the ladder and sanded all the ceilings with a small sanding block. We went over all the seams where the walls and ceilings meet (some of the popcorn clumped in the corners, so this was important), and then sanded over any areas we felt were uneven or we hadn't gotten the popcorn off all the way. I didn't get any pics of this because I was doing it by myself while Spenser was at work, sorry! I'm sure the ceiling texture isn't as perfect as it would be from a professional, but you really have to look for it to notice any bumps -- especially once it was primed! 

You guys - this primer is MAGIC. Ceiling primer is thicker than a regular primer, so it stuck really well to the ceiling and smoothed out sooo much of the texture. I used this primer recommended by the paint department at Lowes, and it was such a great recommendation. I think it had some self leveling properties to it, because it really worked hard to hide imperfections. The other tool I decided to try was this ceiling paint roller below:

This roller was awesome - it's long, so you don't need a ladder, has a cover on it that did a good job catching drips (not perfect, but good), and it holds paint *in the handle* so you don't have to constantly dip your roller! I was able to do the whole ceiling twice over in about 30 minutes. By that time my neck and shoulders were exhausted from sanding & painting, so I was really grateful when Spenser came over after work to finish the other rooms.

We did two coats of primer for each room, just to be sure we had a good thick base, and to help smooth out any imperfections from DIY'ing this. Guys, I am soooo happy with the results. Honestly, unless I was lying on my back with a flashlight looking for imperfections, I don't think I'd ever notice them. We haven't even painted the ceilings yet, but the primer did such a great job covering everything. It looks so good!! The pics below have some streaks because it was still drying, but it was totally smooth by the next day. 

We won't be able to get to the painting until next Tuesday, since our floors are being stained today. We can't walk on them for 5 days so we're going to focus on packing and patching holes at the old house so it's in good shape for the new owners! 

Overall, I'm super glad we started this now, so I never have to lay in my bed thinking those little bumps are going to fall in my mouth while I sleep  (Maybe I need therapy 😂), and we were able to knock this out before we had any furniture or flooring to protect!

I am so, so happy with the difference and can't wait to get scrape the last hallway so this house can finally be mullet free!

Here's to hoping this post gives you the courage to take on your own home's mullet, whatever that may be for you!

How We (Almost) Got A New Water Heater for $25

Monday, October 15, 2018

When we bought our first house, we knew we would probably end up being right in the "witching hour" of major appliance replacement. You know, that time when everything seems to break all at once? We suspected we'd fall prey to this just given the crap-tastic, 11 year old, builder grade appliances the we'd inherited, and the fact that most big appliances start to fade off to appliance heaven after about a decade, anyway.

We were right.

The AC went out first on a hot, muggy, summer day. It had been leaking coolant apparently, and then completely died, leaving us with a 90 degree home our first summer here. $4K later, we had a working air conditioner. Side note: I really, really, really wish I had asked my Realtor who to call (this was before I was one) for an HVAC service. I went with one of the big box appliances repair companies, and paid about $1200 more than I should have for a new air conditioner. Always ask your Realtor who to call... we know who's got good pricing!

A few months later in the fall, our dishwasher broke, and then the handle broke off our microwave. Being picky, I decided if we were going to replace those two appliances, we might as well do the whole kitchen suite so they all matched (we were going from black to stainless steel), so we did. Another $4K later,  I told myself "that's IT." We're not putting any more new appliances into this house. The next buyer is going to have to take care of *something* and not just reap the reward from our investment. So, I signed us up for a repair and replacement plan with our local gas company just in case  (here's the PSNC program if you're local peeps!and held my breath that the furnace and water heater held out until after we moved.

We got so close, guys. SO close.

It looked like everything was going fine, until our buyers had their inspection. Turns out, the thermostat on our water heater was broken, so water was about 20 degrees cooler than it should have been at the temperature setting.... somehow I didn't put two and two together when I had to start turning my showers up higher than normal last year, but in hindsight, it makes sense. Thankfully, our buyers are awesome and only asked for it to be repaired.

I had almost completely forgotten about our repair plan through the gas company until I sat down to call a local plumber for the repair (which I had estimated to be around $400), and noticed a piece of mail I hadn't opened from our gas company, PSNC. It was a notice that our repair plan had changed servicers... OMG. How could I have forgotten? I called them up, they scheduled a technician to come out the next day.

The techs were really savvy and handled everything with the gas company regarding servicing and making their recommendations for repairs. Since the repair was about $350 (nailed it), which is about 1/3 the cost of a new water heater, the gas company just goes ahead and replaces it. I guess it saves them money vs. doing the repair, then 6 months later you call back and they end up giving you a new one anyway. PSNC called me back within 2 business days, let me know they'd approved the replacement due to age and repair cost, and asked when I'd be home to schedule installation.

I'll be honest, at first I was really annoyed, because now I was going to have to spend money we really need for our new house, putting in a brand new water heater I'll never even get to use.

Until... PSNC told me my total bill: $25.00. 

I said "$25.00? And then they charge me the rest after installation?"  The helpful woman on the other line said "No, Ma'am. You have the full service repair package. You just pay the service charge. The replacement is covered."

Jaw. Meet. Floor.

The excitement of this news was short lived, however, when about 40 seconds later she said "Oh, Ma'am I'm so sorry. I read this wrong. You're on the limited service package. You'll have to pay a deductible of $200.00 with the $25.00 service charge." Dangit.

Apparently there's two tiers of this plan - the $7/month plan with a $200 deductible, or the $11/month plan that's fully covered. Apparently I cheaped out and did the low end plan, so I had to pay some out of pocket. BUT, BUT, all is not lost! I had 3 water heater replacement quotes for our new house and the quotes ranged from $1800 to $1250, so I will take my $225.00 brand new water heater any👏day👏of👏the👏week!

While I'm annoyed that the dang appliances all bit the dust under my reign, I'm happy that the people buying our home will have nice, new appliances to enjoy. The technician is here now installing it, and my wallet is SO happy with the savings.

We've also decided to sign up for this same plan for our new house. The water heater at the new place is aaaaaaancient (literally 35 years old), and definitely past it's life expectancy (3 times over), so this is a little bit of a gamble. BUT, if we can do the $11/month plan for 90 days, we can call in a technician and have it replaced for free (for real this time, I checked). Please send me ALL of your good vibes, prayers, luck, and mojo that Ol' Faithful keeps kicking for 90 days so we can get it replaced for some serious savings!

If you're in North Carolina and have a water heater that's over 8 years old, I cannot recommend this PSNC program enough. Definitely sign up, or see if there's something similar in your state!

How to Simplify A Move

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Guysssss we close on our house TOMORROW! I am giddy with excitement and also nervous/scared/sad to leave our current home. But, living in transition like this is super annoying, and it feels so strange to have one foot in and one foot out the door for both houses. We're ready to move forward and get going with this new adventure! For the last few weeks we've been living under mountains of boxes, which is only adding to our readiness to get this move over with.

I thought back on my moving experiences over the last decade of my life, and I realized I have moved in and out of homes seventeen times since 2008. Some of those are moving into and out of college dorms, but I'm counting them because they definitely required the work of moving. Moving so many times (and helping my clients move all the time) has helped me learn a few tricks to make the process a little more bearable! I thought some of you may find it helpful to hear the tips and tricks I've learned along the way. My husband calls me a "moving wizard," so I must be doing something right!

1. As soon as you know you're moving, start packing. Start with the stuff you know you won't need like out of season clothes, extra sheets, or random kitchen stuff you store out of sight. Most people don't move without at least a few weeks notice, so spreading out the monotony of packing over a few weeks or months makes it a lot more bearable than having to do it all at once. If you are selling your home to move, your Realtor will talk to you about staging anyway, which is a great way to get a head start on packing. Pack away family photos, books, things you don't *need* to live there.Yes, your house will look and feel empty, and yes it will be weird, but I promise that simplifying your space will help you sell faster, and make your move easier. You may end up realizing you don't even want some of those things anymore to begin with!

2. Move anything fragile or difficult to pack by yourself. This mostly applies to people moving locally, but I've learned that most movers charge an hourly rate. Packing up small, breakable items is super time consuming, and laborious. If you can safely, but casually pack up your wine glasses, lamp shades, picture frames, etc. and take them over to your new house in a few car loads, you will save time and money by eliminating mover's tasks and have more control over your stuff. I don't know how many times I wrote "FRAGILE" on a box and watched someone stack 5 boxes on top of it before I decided I wasn't doing that anymore.

This is our pile of "unpackables." These are the things I've found so far that either obnoxious to pack, or easy to transport and not worth the risk of being broken (like our collection of meaningful Christmas ornaments!). These will get loaded into my car on closing day and dropped in the house to be sorted later.

3. Buy some clear, plastic containers instead of all cardboard boxes. I have a set about 15 plastic bins of different sizes that I have used over the years for moves. When they're not being used for moving, they're just stored in our basement, and take up 2 feet of space since they stack. They've been an awesome investment and have helped me simplify moves in the past because I don't have to source eleventyseventhousand boxes to pack up. I recommend these from Target! They're easy to grip and stack nicely.

4. When you do need cardboard boxes, check your neighborhood list serv! I got a full car load of free moving boxes twice for this move. One load was from friends that had recently moved and saved their broken down boxes, and the other was from a posting on Facebook marketplace. A couple down the road had just moved in, and had a house load of paper and broken down boxes free to the first person who picked them up. We've spent zero dollars on boxes, which is awesome, because those can get really expensive, and we plan to pay it forward and offer them up on our listserv when we're done with them too! Recycling works, y'all!

5. Gather your boxes in one area. Since movers are hourly, one of the best ways to speed up and simplify a move is to coral your boxes in a central location (or a few on each floor) so they can grab a few boxes at a time and load them. I have had movers thank me for making their jobs easier by doing this, because it saves them trips back and forth, and thus saves me money! Remember with moving, time = money. I also group all of my "Fragile" labeled boxes in one location. That way I can say "everything in this corner is fragile" and they will load them last into the truck.

Notice how I'm not that organized here. I'm not stacking by size or anything, just grouping together completed boxes as I go. Don't over-complicate it :)

6. Color code your boxes by room/floor. One of the easiest ways to make a move go faster is to create a system. I purchased this tape set from Amazon, and have been using it to label all of our boxes. When the movers come, I'll give the foreman a "key" so he knows what color tape corresponds to which room. I will have also put a piece of the corresponding tape on the door frame of each room in the new house. This saves ALL of us time and mental exhaustion when they get to the new house. Instead of having to say "where does this go?" and I have to read the box contents, think, and decide, I've already given it thought when I packed the box. The foreman can read his key and tell the movers upstairs, downstairs, or garage, and then the rooms are labeled as well!

7. Be nice to your movers. These guys are doing hard work that I'm quite sure you don't want to do yourself. Offer them water, buy some canned sodas ahead of time, make sure they know you appreciate and respect what they're doing. Buy pizza or subs for them at the end of the day. Have cash for tips. I always give a $10-$20 tip per person depending of the difficulty of the move, and I think it's well worth it. If they know you're going to take care of them, they may take better care of your stuff.

The buyers of our current house generously gave us 3 weeks to move out after closing since we start re-doing our floors at the new house tomorrow (eeeee!! it's happening!!), so the movers don't come until the end of the month, but we've already begun the process of packing some breakable things and taking them over by hand. Here's hoping moving day is as smooth and easy as they have been in the past!

If you're local to Durham, I cannot recommend Trosa movers enough. They are organized, efficient, affordable, hard working, and do awesome things for our community here in Durham. I refer most of my clients to Trosa and am using them personally. I love what they do, so if you want to read more about the Trosa organization, you can find info on their site here!

Here's hoping these tips help you simplify your next move!

We tried a mail order mattress and here's what happened!

Friday, October 5, 2018

My husband and I had been saving up to buy a new mattress for a few months before we decided to buy this new house. The mattress we previously slept on was about 8 years old, visibly worn, and was starting to squeak with loose springs when you rolled around. Neither of us was sleeping well, but when we decided to buy the house, we put a new mattress on hold and funneled that money towards our moving expenses. We decided a temporary fix would be to switch mattresses with our guest room, which was left with our current house when we bought it.

I'd like to apologize to any guests we've ever had that have slept on that mattress. IT IS SO UNCOMFORTABLE. We have lasted about a month sleeping on that bed and finally said we couldn't do it anymore. We were waking up more sore and stiff than we had on the worn down mattress, and that's just no way to live - especially with my history of having a back injury! We were waking up so tired and sore from getting poor sleep, we decided being frugal before our move just wasn't worth it.

Because of my back injury, I'm extremely particular about mattresses. I loved the one we had previously, but it was a gift from my parents when I graduated college and we couldn't afford to buy the same one again. My husband desperately wanted to try one of the mail order mattresses (which are mostly all foam), but I was really resistant because I've never found foam style mattresses to be very comfortable for my back.

Since my husband doesn't typically have big opinions on house stuff and usually goes with my flow (#blesshim), I wanted to honor that and give it a try. Plus, once I saw they have 100 night risk free trials with free pickup, I figured we didn't have much to lose. Even if it wasn't the right fit for us, it couldn't be worse than what we were currently sleeping on (sorry, again, house guests!).

So, I did what any person with picky sleeping habits does, and I read I could find on which one was best for side sleeping, which one had the best temperature control, which one was best for bad backs... I even listened to a podcast about mail order mattresses. Exciting stuff, lemme tell ya.

After all of that, we ended up choosing the Leesa mattress. It had the best reviews from users and industry reviews, and the day I went to order, they also were having a $150 off sale, so we were able to get a queen mattress for under $800 - which is half the price of the store mattresses I had looked at!

About 4 days later it arrived, we lugged it upstairs (it definitely feels like a mattress in a box- It's HEAVY).  I've been told we need to get something called a "bunkie board" to go on top of our box spring, but we haven't done that yet. The mattress was tightly wrapped, but easy to get out, and it was mattress sized within 30 seconds! Sorry for the crappy night time pics, I'm still working on my photo skills.

We slept on it the first night and my only critique was that it did have a pretty noticeable, chemical-ly odor. If that kind of thing bothers you, you might want to air it out for a day or two before you sleep on it.

After the first night, I woke up almost wanting to cry. I had slept so well, and so comfortably, that I was MAD about how much time we spent on the crappy mattresses. I didn't even realize I'd been waking up  multiple times a night to toss and relieve my hips on the old bed until I woke up in the same position I fell asleep in on the Leesa. It was awesome.

We're still giving it some time to get used to it, but overall you can count us another 5 star review. Our plan is going to be to save up for king size bed and order the king Leesa and put this one in our guest room so our guests have something comfortable to sleep on.

I am so happy we found such a comfortable bed for such a great price, and my husband is so proud of himself for being right about it all along. It's a win, win for everyone in our house. And, if you're looking for a new mattress, the Leesa Columbus Day Sale is going on until Monday. I'd say definitely give it a shot if you've been thinking about it!

UPDATE: We are about 10 months out from buying this mattress, and we STILL love it! You can see our new room and king size bed here.  We love it so much, we bought a second one in a king size, and put this queen size one in our guest room. Our guests have raved about how comfortable it is. It really is the best mattress I've ever slept on. Cannot recommend enough! 

I have buyer's remorse!

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

This weekend, my husband and I went over to check on some repairs at our new house. We hadn't been in the house in a few weeks, and when we walked in, I immediately thought to myself, "Oh God... it's smaller than I remember."

Cue my internal panicky dialogue: "Are we making the wrong choice? What if we move in and our stuff feels too small? What if it's too much work? What if we don't like it as much as our house? What if.. what if...what if..." 

Buyer's remorse. 

Part of me wants to laugh at myself because I see this all the time with my real estate clients. It is completely normal to freak out at some point during the home buying process and that's exactly what I'm doing.

But... I'm a Realtor! I should know better! Even though I know that we made the right choice, those feelings of doubt still creep in. Can we really handle all these projects? Are we going to be happy living here through the work?

If you're going through the home buying process and are starting to question whether or not you made the right choice, take a deep breath. You're normal. It doesn't mean you made the wrong decision, it just means you're thinking critically about it!

But, if you're feeling overwhelmed (hello pot, I'm kettle!) here are my best tips for overcoming your feelings of buyer's remorse:

1) Take measurements of the floor plan of your home, and of your furniture. Try to map out how your things will fit using real dimensions. My sweet, nerdy husband created tiny paper models of everything we own so we can move them around the floor plan he created. Our house is vacant, so it's been really challenging to gauge how our things will fit in the empty rooms. Seeing it laid out, even on paper, reassured me it's all going to work.

2) Write down your favorite things about the house. Take some time to remind yourself why you love this house. Is it the spacious living room? The kitchen? What drew you to this home in the first place? For us, it's location. We bought this house because of it's proximity to the trails I use all the time. We went on a long walk in the new neighborhood this weekend and I was instantly reminded why we want to move here, and that the things that aren't "perfect" about the house are worth the trade off for this quality of life!

3) Write down the things you want to change. I am list maker. I will make lists about the lists I've made, so this is crucial for my thought process. When thinking about the home projects I want to do,  I like to make lists for three categories: Things to change right away, things to change within a year, and things to dream about changing. Not everything has to happen at once, and seeing it spread out may help you realize your to do list isn't as long as you thought.

4) Allow yourself to worry. But not too much. Being nervous about a big change is normal, and it's allowing you to think critically about a decision before you make it. While I can drive myself crazy, I've come to accept this is just part of how my brain works, and I rely on other people's steadfastness (#marriage) to get me through when I feel overwhelmed. 

I know we will settle into a groove once we've moved in, and while we'll definitely learn more of the home's quirks once we're living there, we're also going to make new memories as a family here, and learn to love the things that make this house our home.

We can do this! 

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