Our One Month Home Update

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

While we've only lived here for a couple weeks now, we've officially owned this home for one month! And boy, has it flown by! We've definitely accomplished a lot, but a lot of things got moved around on our Master To Do List, so I thought it would be fun to share where we are in our list and how it's already changed.

Exterior Front: 

We still have a lot to do on the exterior, but most of that is going to happen in 2019. We have been going back and forth about what we want to do, paint wise. The siding was recently painted, but we hate the trim and shudders, so we're considering just having the trim, shutters, and doors painted a different color before we decide if we want to paint the whole thing. It would make a big difference, and save us about $4K, since we could do the first floor ourselves, so it might be a good interim fix before we decide to paint the whole house! We eventually want to repaint this house in order to make it less 80's, and more colonial classic. This is a quick n' crappy Photoshop job I did to show you what we're thinking it can be:

Aside from paint, we hope to tackle landscaping ASAP. My family is coming for Thanksgiving, and I plan to get their help tackling the huge bushes to the left of our stairs. They're monsters and really need to be dealt with.

Exterior To Do: 
  1. Paint all brown trim white 
  2. Paint front door red
  3. Paint garage doors white
  4. Replace exterior light fixtures
  5. Re-landscape/prune shrubs (these currently make the entry way feel super claustrophobic)
  6. Re-paint house darker blue/grey (we'll  save up for this bigger job, but will get  started with the trim, windows and doors, first)

Entry Way : 

Here's where we currently are: 

It's feeling like a lot of white with white walls, white doors, white trim, etc , so I'm sure pretty soon I'll get the urge to paint, but for now it's tolerable! I'd really like to paint the walls, add a new light fixture, tweak the entry furniture, and potentially add a runner to the stairs, but for now I'm super happy with how far this space has come!

Entry Way To Do: 
  1. Replace flooring on main floor✅
  2. Remove carpet and re-finish stairs
  3. Improve/repair railing (currently a little loose)
  4. Take down those curtains 
  5. Replace rotted trim on exterior
  6. Replace boob lights with something more stylish
  7. Scrape popcorn ceilings in entry and hallway
  8. Get a smaller entry way table (the one we have here sticks out a bit, but it's fine for now)
  9. Paint the room a new color - thinking something like this! 
  10. Paint the spindles & risers white 
  11. Paint interior door something fun like this
  12. Replace lock with smart lock/touch pad 
  13. Possibly add  a coat drop area - we don't have a great coat closet, so need to make a good drop spot for guests to hang their coats! This might get moved up priority wise as we now need a place to hang out jackets.
  14. Repair door (sticks really bad and has some wood rot)
Dining Room: 
LOL I had high hopes of this space feeling "finished" by the time we had our families for Thanksgiving, but I under estimated how much energy would be going to just getting the house set up, and painting in here just wasn't a priority yet. But, I still feel like we did a lot! 

Here's my inspiration for this room: 

Here's where we are now: 

LOL. Keeping it real. This dining room is SAD. I have ordered a few rugs that haven't been "right," can't find chairs that I like that properly fill this space, and am just starting to get frustrated with this room. I think the table we have feels small in this room, even fully extended. Down the road we will likely replace it, but it's funny because we weren't sure it would even fit in here when it was still carpeted! Changing the floors made this room feel huge. 

Dining room to do: 
  1. Replace carpet with hardwood floors 
  2. Add wainscoting 
  3. Make windows operable
  4. Replace light with something more stylish (purchased, but not installed)
  5. Paint room 
  6. Get an indoor/outdoor rug for easy cleaning
  7. Add window treatments
  8. Cover popcorn ceilings (We've decided in this room instead of scraping, we want to do an "accent" to cover it like this. 
Living Room: 
I wasn't sure how our furniture would fit in this space, and will we did get rid of a lot when we moved, we haven't really added anything in here that we didn't already have! 

Here's where we are now: 

Living Room To  Do: 
  1. Remove carpet and replace with hardwoods 
  2. Paint walls 
  3. Remove the curtains
  4. Replace back door (this is something we actually negotiated for the seller to take care of)
  5. Add a screen door
  6. Hang curtains around back door
  7. Make windows operable
  8. Replace window screens (most of them are rotted out)
  9. Remove all crooked curtain rods
  10. Re-face fireplace tiles 
  11. Re-build fireplace surround to be level with floors (after removing the tile, there's a gap)
  12. Add blinds to windows
  13. Add built in bookshelves with cabinet storage around fireplace

We'd love to take this from this boring situation, 

to something like this, or this: 

The Kitchen: 
The kitchen is one of those projects that you don't appreciate until you move in. We thought for SURE we would hate the layout, the cabinet height, etc. But honestly, we love it! It's got such a functional layout. Two people can be comfortably working here without ever touching, and it's just been really great. I think we've both decided we definitely don't want to change the layout, but do plan to still paint the cabinets at some point. 

We did, however, speed up our plans with this space when we ended up removing the tile floor unexpectedly! When they removed the carpet, we found that the tiles were set really high, and would never be level with our new flooring. We decided to go for it and remove them, which sped up our plans to make a new pantry, too, since the floors would have to be laid out around that. I AM SO GLAD WE DID IT. It was not even close to being in the budget, but it has made such a huge difference to the layout of this kitchen, we just love it! 

This is my inspiration for what we'd like to do down the line! 

Kitchen To Do: 

1. Replace tile floor 
2. Convert coat closet to pantry (door is being installed this weekend, and then it will finally be done, done!) 
3. Paint cabinets white 
4. Replace cabinet hardware 
5.. New refrigerator 
6. Remove fiberglass backsplash & replace with tile 
7. Paint & touch up trim around baseboards 
8. Replace yellow counter tops 

Pantry before: 

The glass door we bought should be installed this week, and then we still have to prime, paint, and trim out the door, but it's progress! And gave us 18 inches of walkway back in our kitchen!

Breakfast Nook: 
I couldn't explain the little stair railing window if I tried, so I'll just say we're going to leave it for now while we decide how we want to change the kitchen. We may  decide to close that in, or open it up to widen the doorway into the living room. Time will tell! In that little window, however, I'm picturing  a little breakfast nook, like some of these below: 

Here's where we are now:

Breakfast Nook To Do: 

  1. Buy kitchen chairs 
  2. Add bamboo shade to picture window 
  3. Scrape paint off windows 
  4. Hang curtains 
  5. Paint walls 
  6. Do something with the spindle window....

Our bedroom progress was pretty big, but doesn't have a big "punch" for before/after. In all of these rooms we have:
  1. Scraped, sanded, primed, painted popcorn ceilings 
  2. Added ceiling fans 
  3. Installed window blinds
  4. Removed and installed new carpet 
  5. Made all windows operable 
But, we still would like to: 
  1. Hang curtains 
  2. Paint walls 
  3. Tweak some furniture that doesn't fit 

Only our guest room and master bedroom currently have furniture, so: 

Guest room: 

 Master bathroom:

By no means is this the bathroom of my  dreams, but it's totally workable. I don't really spend much time in the bathroom, so I've never prioritized having a lot of space.  We've had one bathroom drawer to share for the last 3 years, so just having our own cabinets is going to feel like a new lease on life!  

Interestingly, there is plumbing under the other cabinet for a second sink. I'm not sure why the owners got rid of it, but we like the idea of having double sinks so we're not fighting for sink space when we brush our teeth. This room will get some attention, but we're going to try some more creative,  cosmetic, improvements instead of anything major in here. 

Some inspiration  for what I'm envisioning: 

Master Bath To Do: 
  1. Paint shower surround (the internet says I can do it with this!) to match the white basin 
  2. Paint tile floors 
  3. Replace counter tops with double sink 
  4. Paint cabinets 
  5. Replace mirror with double mirrors 
  6. Remove curtain (where did  they find so many matching beige curtains??)
Guest Bathroom: 
Having double vision?  That's because this bathroom is an exact, just reverse, copy of the master bathroom. The biggest issue with this bathroom whyyyyy they removed the only bathtub from the house when they re-did this room last year. Another one of those "didn't consider for re-sale"  things that hurt this house on the market. Thankfully, we factored this fix into our offer price, so we plan to remove the fiberglass shower and replace it with the tub that was once there. It's not inexpensive,  but we need a bathtub, so it is what it is.

Our inspiration for this space: 

Here's where we are now: 

Guest Bath To Do: 
  1. Paint floor tile 
  2. Paint cabinet 
  3. Makeover/Replace counter top 
  4. Replace mirror/frame mirror
  5. Remove shower and replace with bath tub 
Bonus  Room:
Above the garage is a huge bonus room with about a million closets. The previous owners had a  lot of kids, so they had the room split into two rooms with a temporary wall. We're going to leave this area as it is for now. We're not changing the carpet, or touching the wall until we have a need for this space. We plan to have  kids in this house,  so I'm not sure if we want this to be a play room, a  guest room, or something else. We've talked about the idea of bringing the laundry up out of  the garage and into this part of the house, but we're just going to leave it alone until we know what we want to do with it.

There's a lot this space could turn into, so I'm not even touching a to do list for now. 

The back deck:
Buying this house came with some compromises on "must haves" with my husband. My must have was the wood floors - I can't deal with that narsty carpet and really wanted real hardwood floors. His must have, however, is a screened in  porch. We're both big wussies when it comes to heat, humidity, and mosquitos, which pretty much makes us hermits during the summer months in North Carolina. So,  we agreed that once we had the floors done, we'd save to do the screened in porch so we can enjoy the backyard during the next summer.

I've had about a million quotes on this project, and the quotes were alllllll over the place (more about that experience here), but here's the back deck currently, and the inspiration we showed our contractor for pricing.

The Backyard:
Funny enough,  in the neighborhood we've bought in, it is actually fairly unusual to have a flat, sunny, grassy, backyard.  Most of the yards here are heavily wooded, heavily sloped, or... prone to water. Yeesh. This yard gets just the right  amount of sun  to have healthy  grass, but we still have  some plans for landscaping.  We plan to redo the walk way from the garage to the deck - right now it's brick pavers sloppily tossed into sand-  and re do some of the shrubbery to make it a bit more lush.  The seller also cut down a row of privacy trees between this house and the neighbors (whyyyy?)  so we're  going to put something back to give us back a little privacy.

Thanks for reading along with this novel of a post! It's been really fun keeping track of everything we're doing and having a place to go back to look at my inspiration and ideas when I want to move on to something new. I plan to do these updates once a quarter or so, so hopefully by the end of March we'll have made some more progress to update on! 

Our $70 fireplace makeover

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Y'all...... I finished painting my staircase yesterday (post to come), and as much as I love it and it made such a big transformation, MVP of our "mini makeover" projects is going to this $70 fireplace makeover. I can't tell you what an aesthetic difference it made in our living room. The tile we inherited with the house was a beige, ceramic tile with pink undertones. In some light it was truly salmon colored, and it just was not okay.

We had to replace the hearth tiles when we installed the hardwood floors (not included in our $70 budget!), and we chose a pretty, grey quartz to go in their place. Once the new hearth was installed, it only exaggerated the difference in the surround tiles and really made me feel like they needed to go.

We had considered painting the tiles, or doing something with a stencil (like this), but I've seen some DIY painted tiles up close, and the stencils tend to smudge. While that wouldn't bother me, it definitely would bother Mr. Details, so I decided against that right away.

With this being on our fireplace, I also wanted to be sure I had something heat safe, since it's now moving into winter and we plan to light fires in here all winter long. A little researching and I came across Tic Tac Tiles, and after reading the reviews, I was sold. They had dozens of style options to choose from, and all of the comments were that it looked real, was good quality, and was holding up safely. Score!

After a glass of wine, I Amazon Primed them right to my door. In hindsight, the wine was a bad idea because I mis-measured by literally half and had to order more, but we won't go there ;)

The box had some simple instructions for how to apply them, but it was also really self explanatory. We used a cutting board and a box cutter to trim them, and just assembled them as we went!

This project took us about 2 hours of installation (went a lot faster once we got the hang of it), and cost us $70 for 2 packs of 10 tiles. It's really easy - there's an edge that's meant to go against the wall, and then there's a part where they overlap. We messed up the overlap part a couple times, and almost ran out of tiles a second time, but we were able to peel them off and start again.

And now for the finished product... drumroll please!

A reminder of how far we've come with new floors, a new hearth, and furniture. Paint, window shades, and a new fireplace surround are on the to do list but we're fine with how it is for now! 

The other awesome thing about these tiles is that they really do look and feel like tile. They're raised, and the "grout lines" are recessed so they have a really realistic texture. Here's an up close picture of the texture so you can see -- they're SUPER convincing, even up close!

The other nice thing about these tiles is that they are peel and stick - you can remove them easily! It did leave a bit of residue when we pulled them up, but I'm sure some Goo-gone would help get that off if you were renting or something and couldn't damage anything.

I am so, so happy with how this turned out, and I am dying to use these in other places where we plan a bigger makeover down the line but want something cheap to get us through for now. I'm currently looking at our kitchen backsplash made of fiberglass shower surround and thinking that's a dang good candidate....

How to Meet New Neighbors

Monday, November 5, 2018

This weekend, we officially celebrated one week in our new home. Every day is feeling more and more normal, and our routines are starting to get back in place (missed you, vegetables). While our project list seems to be ever-changing/growing, we are feeling really comfortable here and more sure than ever that we made the right choice and this is home we will love for many years.

One of our favorite things about this new home has been the neighborhood. While we absolutely love being so close to our favorite walking trails, and having such an active neighborhood to explore, one of the biggest surprises we've loved has been how wonderful and welcoming our neighbors are!

Being on a small cul de sac of only 9 homes, it was important to us that we meet our neighbors and introduce ourselves. We didn't want any awkward car waves as introductions! The week before we moved in, I decided to take some action to make sure we could build a good relationship and dropped off some surprises in our neighbors' mailboxes.

It was super easy. I bought a big box of popcorn, took each packet out, and made these little print outs on Canva.com (the best, free tool for making any cute flyers or social media posts!)

All I did was take some pretty washi tape, tape the little note onto the popcorn, and place it in their mailbox. We had such a great response! Everyone we passed for the rest of the week while moving in was so kind - they thanked us for the popcorn, and we had an easy conversation starter to get to know each other! Then, our sweet neighbors decided to return the favor and brought us some delicious cookies to warm our house with. 

I'm so glad we did this, because when Halloween happened last week, all of our neighbors felt comfortable ringing the doorbell with their kiddos, we had something to talk about, and had already "broken the ice." We even got an invitation to our neighbors' backyard bonfire later that night and stayed up wayyy past my bedtime getting to know each other. Three cheers for new friends! 

If you're moving soon and want some ideas for meeting your new neighbors, I love this simple one. It was inexpensive, and a great way to say hello and build a good relationship with the people you live closest to! 

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