House Update & Pictures!

At long last, I am finally getting a post up with pictures of the progress we have made on the house!

Prior to moving in we did all the “big” things, got the house to a state of “liveable,” and left most of the rest of it to after we had made the move.  And by “we” I mean “pretty much ALL Zach, with some help along the way from friends and family.”  Big things were: removing the popcorn ceilings, painting nearly every wall, pulling up the tile floor and laying laminate, trimming most of the door frames, faux board & batten in the dining area, completely rebuilding the staircase + creating a built-in bookcase and closet under the stairs, gutting the kitchen and installing new cabinets, countertops and sink.  It was a massive undertaking and we are FAR from being done.  But we are so pleased with the results thus far and love chipping away at finishing the other little things as we go.

Here are a number of before and after pictures… (please note – the “before” pictures are from the listing when the house was shown and taken with a wide angle lense… whereas most of my “after” pictures were taken with my iphone and sometimes done as “panorama” – so the angles and stuff are a little off… but you get the idea.)

I have to start off with the stairs and bookcase – they are a major focal point and pretty much Zach’s greatest masterpiece of the house.
BEFORE (carpeted treads, metal handrailing, weird plant shelf on the landing, awkward space underneath…

AFTER (stained wooden treads and handrails, painted wood ballusters & newel posts, built-in bookshelves and a small storage closet under the stairs…)

the kitchen:
BEFORE (dated cabinets, even more dated countertops, very old microwave and dishwasher, no pantry, old school fluorescent light fixture, mismatched window blinds)

AFTER (new cabinets and countertops, new dishwasher, new sink, skipped the microwave altogether, matching window blinds, recessed can lighting… please excuse the missing cabinet door in the lower corner – it’s coming haha)

another angle:
BEFORE

AFTER (added pantry to the left of the fridge, yay!)

view of the dining area opposite the kitchen (besides painting, we added the board and batten on the wall and changed out the light fixture for a chandelier):

the downstairs bathroom is probably the closest to being completely done (still need to put in a couple baseboards and trim inside the door, which you can’t even see):

the nursery is the next closest to being completely done (still need to trim the closet and get a couple more cloth bins for the box shelves).  the majority of the room is decorated with airplanes for JackJack and we love it.  but since he and Chloe will be sharing a room for the next couple of years that we are in this house (we want to keep the downstairs bedroom reserved as a guest bedroom), and i was not about to redecorate in something neutral for both kids, i simply opted to girly up the corner where Chloe’s bed will be.  🙂

from the doorway:

from the opposite corner:
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Chloe’s corner:

the details (baby dresses that *i* wore as an infant !!!!!! and a beautiful verse print my SIL found on pinterest):
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about 5 days after moving into the house, the washing machine flooded due to the use of too much detergent by previous owners which clogged the draining sensor.  the entire laundry room had nearly half an inch of standing water and water had seeped underneath the laminate flooring we had JUST laid.  water is a freakishly fast and damaging entity you guys.  we immediately started pulling up the flooring to see how far the water had spread and to stop it from spreading any further!  sadly, it had gotten all the way into the downstairs bedroom, bathroom, hallway and a few feet of the dining area and in front of the bookcase.  if the whole thing hadn’t been so urgent, we probably would have just sat down and cried.  it was so depressing.

i kept reminding myself of the reasons we had to be grateful in the midst of this: friends only a couple blocks away who were available to watch Jack while we did damage control, the fact that the water had not spread to the kitchen (i couldn’t imagine if we had had to pull out the newly installed cabinets and countertops), that zach had just gotten home when we discovered the flood, owning a shop vac for swift clean up of the water…

and probably most of all, i was grateful for home owner’s insurance.  as depressing and frustrating as the whole episode was, the blow was softened considerably when our insurance company cut us a check a few days later for a couple THOUSAND dollars more than the cost of materials to replace the flooring.  while sopping up water and ripping up floor boards, i kept thinking, “God, i know you have allowed this for a reason and You are still good and faithful in the midst of this… but i am struggling right now.  this is HARD!” never thinking that God would actually have plans to bless us – monetarily! – as a result.  it was totally a blessing in disguise.  as a result, we were able to use the extra money to buy a number of things we thought we wouldn’t be able to buy for months: an R/O system for the kitchen sink, a utility tub for the laundry room, a hood range vent for above the stove… and probably most exciting, a NEW BED SET!

we had been talking for awhile about wanting to get a california king size bed (and putting our queen size in the guest bedroom) so we figured it was a good idea to take advantage of having such a large chunk of extra money and GO FOR IT!  and we absolutely love it!  while our bedroom and bathroom are the least finished rooms in the house, it makes me happy to walk in and see such a lovely bed set.

living room and guest bedroom are getting close… saving them for another blog post.  🙂

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we bought a house!

yes, ladies and gentlemen, after 4+ years of apartment/shared living, we bought our first house!!  needless to say, we are STOKED.

moving to arizona made it financially feasible to buy a home within months of saving, as opposed to the years it would have taken us living in southern california.  and living with my parents (for free) allowed us to save wicked fast.

as we began to browse home listings online a few months ago, we found ourselves adjusting and re-adjusting our expectations as we compared the market, what was available, and what we could afford.  once we move into a house, that will be our 5th move in less than 5 years.  ugh.  we are SO over moving.  so initially we wanted to look long and hard and find as close to the long term / dream home as possible, move in and be done for a loooong time.  but not only was that not appearing to be the best decision financially (it would have stretched our budget to the max and therefore not allowed much “extra” for saving, normal home owner repairs, unexpected/unforeseen expenses, or even much travel/fun/margin), we also don’t know for sure what God’s plan is for our family size or even Zach’s job.  so we decided that maybe it wasn’t the best idea to buy a bigger house just yet.  so we decided to scale back our expectations and ideas and look for more of a “starter home,” with some room to grow, some potential for trying out home projects, experiment with developing our style, etc.  surprisingly, once we decided on that, we both immediately had a stronger sense of peace AND excitement!  plus, once we “downsized” our expectations, the ability to start actively looking suddenly was right upon us – not 4+ months away.

well once we got the ball rolling, it all happened CRAZY fast.  we met with our realtor and our lender (both of whom were FANTASTIC to work with and we HIGHLY recommend – let me know if you want either’s info!) on a thursday afternoon.  looked at 3 houses on friday morning.  put in an offer on one house around 1pm on friday afternoon.  got a call from our realtor at 4pm saying that our offer had been accepted!  whaaat?!  i was both elated and a little terrified.  what had we just done?!  put an offer on basically the first house we looked at???  and this house was FAR from a dream home – even a dream “starter” home.  when we saw it, we definitely had to look below the proverbial surface.  the house is very dated and needed some serious beautifying.  it was liveable, for sure – not a total dump, by any means – but aesthetically nothing like what we wanted.  however, as my husband put it, “everything that’s wrong with the house, is right with the house.”  meaning, pretty much everything we wanted to change was doable on our own and not crazy expensive (or at least, we wouldn’t opt for the crazy expensive version, haha).  we took a deep breath and plunged forward.  inspection on tuesday – came back great.  a handful of things on the list but nothing huge.  we decided to ask the seller to take care of a couple minor roof and foundation items and one thing with the garage door.  they agreed!  appraisal came back perfect.  wow, this was really happening.

oh wait.  did i mention that this all happened right in the middle of the government shutdown / budget crisis??  um yeah.  and the closing dates fell right in the middle of our trip to Michigan!  a little nuts, i know.  but God provided for us in every way and zach’s paychecks came through in time and all went smoothly.  thanks to the technological era that we live in, we were able to sign the closing papers in zach’s grandparents’ living room and do our final walk through via FaceTime on our iphones.  we walked off the plane and drove straight to get the keys to our home!  God is so very kind!

so the house is 1250sqft, 3 bedrooms & 2 full bathrooms on the southwest corner-ish of Cooper & Warner – a fabulous location for us!  the master and 2nd bedroom are upstairs, leaving the 3rd bedroom and other bathroom downstairs – IDEAL for guests!  having a good guest-friendly set up was a TOP priority for us specifically because we want zach’s parents to ALWAYS have a place to stay when they come to visit.  the backyard is also very nicely set up for hospitality as well.  it’s

much of the beautifying and remodeling that we are doing to the house is stuff that we don’t want to live in the midst of, so we are planning to continue living with my parents until the projects are done, hopefully around the end of january. here’s an overview list of what we plan to do:
– remove popcorn ceilings and paint the ceiling
– construct a “built in” bookcase and small closet from the awkward open space underneath the stairs
– redo the staircase with wood (steps, trimmed out newel posts and simple balusters)
– paint ALL the walls.  they are currently all white and well, that just doesn’t work for us.  every room/bathroom is getting new paint.
– accent just about everything with either trim or crown molding (or both)
– remove the tile floor downstairs and part of the carpet upstairs and replace it with laminate faux wood floors
– essentially remodel the kitchen: new cabinets, new countertops (faux granite), new sink, new appliances (fridge, stove/oven, microwave), and one window needs new blinds…
– new cabinet + sink in the downstairs bathroom, shorten and trim out mirror, clean & recalk tub
– backyard overhaul: remove rock, bushes, 1 tree, random flagstone pieces and some brick and put in grass and lights, a portable firepit, outdoor table & chairs, etc. (although the backyard stuff will probably happen farther down the line… definitely NOT prior to moving in!)
– furnish & decorate!  thus far pretty much all of the furniture and decor we’ve had has been freebies from kind people and/or stuff we each brought with us from our single life, haha.  we’ve been very thankful for it and made it work in each of our apartments.  knowing that we were going to buy a home after moving back to arizona, we opted to get rid of ALL of our living room furniture and start fresh with our own style once we got a house.  there didn’t seem to be much sense in moving and storing large items that we knew we were going to replace.  kinda fun – i get to start somewhat afresh and decorate my home!  i’ve had a BLAST going through my Pinterest boards from the last 4 years and picking out what i want to do – and actually get to DO IT!

let me just say that i TOTALLY married up when it comes to handyman skills.  my husband is the BOMB.  he knows how to do SO much! electrical & lighting, basic plumbing, wood working/construction, painting and most general home repair.  there is very little that we will need to hire out for this house, which will save us a LOT of moolah.  and even better – zach really enjoys home projects!  and all the more now that he gets to work on projects that he picked, designed and are extra exciting because they are in OUR OWN home.

since so much is changing, i’m not going to post pictures of the home just yet – i’d rather wait and show them to you in “before and after” posts with the final result!  but i will leave you with this teaser of the front (since we’re not changing much about the front at all, haha: