Saturday, August 17, 2013

It's Just a House (the Before)

This will be post 1 in our House to Home series of posts.
I remember when our really awesomely nice real estate agent brought us to see this house two and a half years ago. Our criteria were pretty low, we were just looking for a house that would have a mortgage super comparable to the rent we were paying at the time. (~$825)  Compared to all the other homes we saw with their itty bitty rooms and closed off floor plans, this place was awesome. We instantly fell in love with the huge living room, the wood floors, and huge bedrooms. Being built in 1954, and few things updated since then, there were some old house quirks we didn't particularly love, but all of them were either fixable or livable.
We were looking for a two year investment. We got an amazing deal on a foreclosure, and everything went through in one weekend. The difference between this house and other starter homes we considered was that we could actually see it working out for much longer. I mean, the POTENTIAL this place has is crazy. So we bought it, and moved in.
We quickly learned we weren't allowed to change the fence line as per city ordinance that says it has to be X feet from the sidewalk and it already was. We accepted that, but it left us with a really inadequate yard for our needs. But, we got a permit secured from City of Orem to do it anyway now, and though we have to do some serious work in the front yard (removing part of the driveway) it will be worth it. Just add another weekend of work to the list!
But then other than paint and some plumbing, we didn't really DO anything. We did nothing that changed the functionality of the house. We went with whatever hand me down furniture was given to us, and somehow fell into a black/white/red color scheme that I've hated since the beginning. It's just not us, it's not home. It hasn't been working for us, because we haven't worked for it. Since we have decided to stay, we are working diligently to turn this place into home.
We are on a budget. We have a very modest budget and will unfortunately have to DIY most of these projects, (all of which we really have NO idea what we are doing, so this should be fun!) Jon is taking care of a lot of the "heavy lifting" (like driveway removal, fencing, building a shed, etc.)  and I'm taking care of most of the aesthetic decor things. (making window treatments, wall decor, painting, putting together the nursery, etc.) Both of us are in way over our heads. Painting is rough on my tailbone, and I am terrible at sewing. Jon hasn't ever really built anything by himself, and has no idea how to install a fence. We are figuring it out, together, with Google and YouTube. I think we are both most intimidated by building the fence, which is a shame because it really needs to go in ASAP so all the dogs can be home officially full time. They need to be home, this is where they belong. It's not home without them.
We won't be inviting guests over during the next couple months as we work hard to get as much done before Chase's big arrival, ( ha, like we ever invite anyone over anyway.) Unless you want to help! Help is much needed and appreciated. We also pay in pizza, donuts, and cake. Score, right?!

-Remove 15 feet of driveway, fill with bulch and soil, plant fruit tree
- Put up 130 feet of solid wood fencing (this project makes us weep. If anyone knows how to do this and would be willing to help, you'd be my hero.)
-Build a storage shed
-Gut kitchen, install new one
-Install Trafficmaster flooring through upstairs
-Replace bathroom floor, install new toilet
-Paint.... everything
-Set up nursery
-Make curtains for entire living room (so dreading this. Yuck. I HATE sewing, and many of these are 8'x4')
-Make cornices for windows
-Build coffee and end tables
-Build dining room table

Come spring we have a whole new list of projects to get the "people side" of our backyard set up. It will involve more fencing, getting patio furniture, planting privacy vines, laying sod, and in general just creating a welcoming, relaxing outdoor space we can enjoy. That's put of til Spring, partly for time's sake, and partly because we already are stretching to budget everything listed, and may need to compromise on some things already, can't get it ALL done this fall.

We live here: 
 The side yard that's getting the driveway removed and being fenced in for lots of space for the dogs to play and have outdoor space of their own, in which they can dig and be as rowdy as they want.

Our living room. I *HATE* the color scheme (but don't be fooled, I love my red couches) Black and white are two colors that shall never be in my home decorating pallet ever, ever again. The gray I don't mind so much except for when combined with my red leather, it kinda fell into the black/ white color thing, which to me doesn't feel homey at all. It feels cold and sterile (when it's not covered in dog hair...) Plus, the window treatments make me cringe. I really detest vertical blinds, a lot. I like curtains, they feel warm and homey and comfy. THese windows are seriously massive though, and I've never sewn anything before start to finish because I get so annoyed with how tedious it is and give up, so this will be interesting. (I'm making them rather than buying, partly because I can't find any I like, and partly because it will be cheaper)

Another view of the living room "before" work. A previous owner knocked down a bedroom wall to make it obnoxiously long, and we just put that wall back up, and that bedroom will be Chase's. Also, that awesome custom painting of miss Annie on the fireplace is the color pallet for the room. Blues, reds, browns. I love it. I absolutely positively love it. 
Our Kitchen. It's much less painful if you don't look directly at it. There's nothing to be salvaged here. It's all coming out. It's all being replaced. And it won't be all white and ugly. I can't wait to have an oven that cooks evenly, counter space, NOT have my laundry in the kitchen, and actual storage space that's not old school flour bins. 

That little red half wall is being removed, and a breakfast bar put in perpendicular to it, to use up that awkward little space by the back door. I'm not sure where we will put puppies when we have them, but having a functional kitchen is more important than that. 

 Also going to paint our bedroom a more neutral scheme so we can change our bedspread up without losing the put together, cohesive feel going on in there. I love the green, but it doesn't go with anything and I'm ready to change it up. 

 Upstairs bathroom. I already have new peel-and-stick tiles to replace the floor, and we are getting a new toilet that's not a stupid water saver that you have to flush 348723424 times. Other than that, as ugly as it is, it's functional and didn't make the cut on renovation projects for this year due to budget.

Crowded, cluttered garage. And this is even missing all the Dane-sized crates. Jon is already working on building an 8'x12' storage shed in the back yard with shelving to organize all this stuff, and then the work bench (that never gets used) is coming out, a ton if insulation is going in, and then all the crates will go back out here and not be inside the house. The garage is right off the kitchen, so it's not like they'll be off in some other building.We will JUST have their crates, all their feeding supplies, and beds, blankets, etc. will be stored out here.  
Downstairs living room/ bathroom/ bedrooms. We aren't doing anything with right now. I want to gut the ugly bathroom and put new carpet down throughout the living and bedrooms, but it's just not happening this year. Maybe next year. We'll see. 

SO I guess we will just keep living here for 8 or so more years. We do eventually want land, but I think with these renovation projects we will be much, much happier with our current place. It's just a matter of making it our home and changing our mindset from "cheap 2 year investment property"  to "our home, where we will begin raising our family" and make the necessary changes as budget allows. I can't wait to put the front yard garden in in the springtime, too. 

Uhh... all the pictures were taken for our home listing, so they belong to... someone that's not me, I'm just not sure who. I hope I don't go to prison for using them. 


  1. I'm glad you're staying nearby. Thank you for the "ink"

  2. Our neighbor just put in a fence by himself and had it done in a week. He used "composite" instead of wood. You can get it at home depot (I'm pretty sure it's more expensive than wood though); I'm not 100% sure what it is but I think it's a sort of wood/plastic mix that is treated and lasts forever and doesn't start looking nasty after 5 years (it's BEAUTIFUL and looks like wood). Whether you go with wood or composite, he made the whole thing look pretty easy. I think the worst part for him was pulling out the lilac bushes ^_^ He started with a 1-foot-tall, 6" thick (these are estimates) cement base, which seems to be standard for wood fencing. He then put in the fence posts (I'm guessing he left holes in the cement base), connected top-and-bottom . . . um . . . we'll call them "cross-beams" and then attached the main fence boards (vertically). I think he had some power-tools he used and it will probably be worth it to rent some specialized tools if you can swing it budget-wise. Unfortunately I don't have much more I can say to help, but my point is that it didn't look too difficult and John and I are hoping to tackle the same project soon (hopefully next spring). I'm sure you'll do just fine!