Posts made in June, 2013

House hunting woes (location, location, location! – vs – perfect house, perfect house, perfect house…)

Posted by on Jun 24, 2013 in Moving | 3 comments

With our closing date quickly (rapidly, in fact) approaching (t-minus seven-ish days!) (insert panic attack HERE…) we’ve been house hunting like the dickens (in between packing, more packing, and even more packing still.)  While we can absolutely stay with family for a while once this house closes and until we take possession of our next (not yet purchased) home, we obviously do not want to overstay our welcome.

Moving with a happy box loving black cat named Erik

(Erik is a big fan of this moving thing.  Moving = boxes.  And boxes = one very happy cat.)

The problem?  We’re having a tough time finding suitable (ie: not decrepit or showing major electrical flaws or just plain old infected with a big case of ugly) properties within our ideal price range and available in our preferred area.  The community we’re looking at is a small village that’s just outside of the city.  Home prices are smaller, lot sizes are bigger, and it just seems like a very friendly place to live and features most of the amenities we’d need on a daily basis (grocery store?  Check!  Small hardware store?  Yep!  Gas station?  Oui!  Bank?  You betcha!  Liquor store?  Hell yes!)

But, because it’s a small town, not many properties are ever available at any particular time.  Currently there are about seven houses available within our price range in our beloved village, and we’ve visited six of them (and ruled five of them out.)  Two came equipped with copious amounts of knob and tube wiring (which we’d need to have removed before taking possession in order to qualify for a mortgage through our bank.)  One felt very unstable – the upper floors had most definitely shifted to various, rather unsettling angles (Sweetie instantly got vertigo) (and vertigo means NO.)  One had a great deal of water in the basement, and boasted the world’s tiniest kitchen (with no room to expand.)  Another had several haphazardly constructed additions, and a rather scary damp crawlspace.  And the house that we have not visited is listed as an “as-is” sorta deal, and claims to be “160 years young” (and, unfortunately, as-is plus archaic doesn’t strike me as a particularly good combination.)

There is, however, one house that is in the running.  It’s on a beautiful tree-lined street (my favourite kind of street!) and has so much potential!  We’ve visited it twice now, and haven’t yet entirely ruled it out.  However, nor have we agreed that it should definitely be our next home.

First, the layout doesn’t thrill me.  For example, there is no defined entryway (you enter directly into the living room) and while I acknowledge that we could definitely create some sort of entryway area with a cleverly placed wardrobe or strategically aligned bookshelf (I’ve already done some anticipatory “how to create an entryway” searches a la Pinterest, of course) (you know…  just in case…), I like having a formal entry space where shoes can be hidden, coats are out of sight, and all the messiness that tends to form around the main entrance door can quickly be stashed away from view.

Secondly, there’s the kitchen counter conundrum.  While I actually like the layout of the kitchen, the counters must go.  They must, in fact, go far far away.  The counters have been (rather haphazardly) tiled with some sort of beige tile, and while I’m not normally a countertop snob (I lived with THIS counter for over two years, afterall), I’m not a super huge fan of tiled counters.  There’s the porous grout.  There’s the nooks and crannies.  There’s just something about it that seems a bit unclean to me.

Then, there’s the basement.  I have this same problem each time we’ve searched for new homes: I don’t like scary and unusable basements.  Crawlspaces are even worse.  That said, this basement isn’t overly scary.  There’s no dirt on the floor, and it’s brightly lit.  However the ceiling height is at about five feet, which means that while (exceedingly tall) Sweetie has to pretty much maneuver around the basement on his knees, even I have to duck.  Claustrophobia is a very real type of fear.  Thus, by default, the low ceiling height makes the basement quasi-scary.

But most alarming is the back yard.  Oh, that back yard…  I’m guessing the current owners’ goal was to make the backyard into a meadow-like oasis.  Or they’re exceedingly bad gardeners.  Or a little of both.  There are various wildflowers scattered haphazardly about, but far more prominent are the weeds and overgrown bushes and… well… just stuff everywhere.  It’s more a thick dense jungle than a meadow-like oasis.  The yard does have potential however – it’s a rather deep lot (over two hundred feet deep) and it has many mature trees (a must for me!) and tonnes of privacy (a must for Sweetie!) but I’m just not sure if I’m up for tackling that ginormous and overgrown space.  I was an indoor child, afterall.  A spectacular gardener I am not.

Sigh…  Decisions decisions.  Like my friend Jess said one night while I was lamenting all this to her (during one of our rather epic marathon phone chats): you can change a house, but you can’t change your neighbourhood.  And I’m definitely keeping that in mind.  Having once lived on a very busy street that I despised from the moment we moved in till the day we moved out, I fully understand that location is possibly the most important consideration when choosing a home.

Yep.  Awesome location may indeed trump all the negatives about this house.  Even the Amazon out back.

I’ll keep you posted.  :)


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To fixer-upper, or not to fixer-upper (that is the question)

Posted by on Jun 13, 2013 in Moving | 2 comments

It has been a whirlwind couple of weeks filled with showings and open houses and fur-filled feline field trips to the park and obsessive vacuuming and pillow-fluffing and floral arranging, but it happened.

Our house sold.  YAY!!!

And, with our house now sold (yay again!), we’ve entered full-fledged house-hunting mode.  The buyers wanted an incredibly fast closing (three weeks!) (seriously – who moves that quickly?) so we need to find somewhere new to live asap.  Sadly, three measly little weeks isn’t much time to find an amazing house, put an offer in on said house, get an inspector’s blessing on that house, and move into our next humble (and awesome!) little abode.  Luckily, we can live with family and friends for a bit until we close on our next home, and we’ll stash all of our worldly possessions in a storage unit in the meantime.  Yep, I’m guessing we’ll be of no-fixed-address (also known as “Hotel du Mom and Dad”) for a couple weeks at least.

But my current dilemma is this: as we begin to seriously (and rather feverishly) house-hunt, do we look for another fixer-upper, or do we search for a house that’s shiny and lovely and perfect as-is?  The thought has crossed my mind that it’d be nice to move into a for real “move in ready” sorta place.  The whole concept is a little foreign to me though.  Our first house was adorned with layers of old wallpaper (in each and every single room) and rainbow-painted baseboards and a kitchen that was far uglier than our current one ever was.

Need proof?  Here’s our very first kitchen before the wallpaper removal and epic painting project began…

The absolute ugiest green and salmon coloured kitchen ever

Yep.  We bought that house.  And it took weekend upon weekend upon weekend to make it pretty and lovely and into a good home for Sweetie and me and the cats.  It was a great little house.  It just required a bit of work (and a lot less wallpaper.)

Little green and white 1950s kitchen

The same is true for this place.  It too needed a lot of work when we bought it, although not nearly as much as our first home (thankfully, this was a wallpaper-free house from the start!)  Still, I’ve spent many many weekends painting walls and caulking baseboards and trim, and trying to make everything here lovely.  And I now adore our house.  It feels like “us.”  And I’m very sad to see it go.

But that’s my dilemma: the weekends consumed by painting and flooring and reno-ing and obsessing…  Do I want to continue down that long and tedious road yet again with our next house?  I’m undecided.

On one hand, we’ve made a very good profit on both houses we’ve owned, mostly due to all the work we’ve put into fixing them up and making them pretty.  And I do love the sense of accomplishment I get when I stand back and see what I’ve done with just a bit of paint and a whole lot of manual labour.  Renovating has become my little hobby – it’s what I do in my spare time, and I like it!

But, there are certainly other things I could be doing with my time.  And this is where I become a little unsure of what to do next.  I’ve spent the past three years obsessing about this house and worrying about my kitchen and wondering what I should do next and painting nearly every single weekend.  Would I like to do something else on my weekends?  Like relax perhaps?  Maybe…

And there’s my inner debate.  To fixer-upper, or not to fixer-upper…  That really is the question.  And there are houses currently on the market that fit onto both ends of that spectrum.  We’re going to take a look at houses over the next few days, and hopefully one will feel like home.  Either a home that needs work, or a home that’s move in ready.  I guess we’ll see which calls to us most, and that’ll be the answer.  :)


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Flower arranging for successful home staging! (cheesy almost-rhyme deliberate and quite awful)

Posted by on Jun 10, 2013 in Moving | 0 comments

A wise friend (you know who you are!) once told me that when you’re selling your house, you should ensure that there are flowers, somewhere, in every room.

Closeup of yellow button mums bouquet of flowers

Not that scattering a little floral loveliness around my home is a big stretch for me anyway.  I am, afterall, a buddy to blossoms.  A friend to foliage.  A pal to petals.

Old kitchen with black counters white cabinets Stonington Gray walls and yellow accents

Yellow button mums bouquet in green glass mason jar

And I’ve definitely tried to pretty-up the house with flowers for all of our recent showings and open houses.  Some spider mums here, some button mums there…  There aren’t flowers in EVERY room necessarily, but my kitchen, living room and dining room have all said “Yes please!” to a beautiful bouquet or two over the past couple of weeks.

BM Gossamer Blue dining room with white curtains and chairs and pine table

White spider mums in a vintage white and gray and yellow kitchen

Here’s hoping that some fellow flower friendly house buyer finds all this effort charming and pretty and subsequently decides to buy our beloved little abode.  :)


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Feeling all floral (my new want: a big pink flowery sofa)

Posted by on Jun 6, 2013 in Living Room | 3 comments

Call me crazy, but I sorta want a pretty floral sofa.  I’m blaming it on spring.

Ikea Byvik floral pretty sofa

More precisely, I’d like a shiny new cover for our (currently white) Ikea Ektorp sofa.  The Byvik Multicolour cover would be lovely please.

Red and pink flowered Byvik Multicolour cover for my Ikea Ektorp sofa

The same Byvik Multicolour cover that Ikea no longer offers.  Of course.  At least here in Canada, and maybe in the U.S. too.  Although (after a quick consultation with my friends over at Google) it appears that they might still sell it overseas.  Am I the only person in North America who craves a little pink patterned prettiness?  It’s possible.

That said, Sweetie would likely disapprove of all this.  He has patiently accepted all of the pretty things I’ve brought (subtly) into our house to date.  A feminine print here.  An embroidered throw cushion there.  My tactic is to slowly introduce items – blend them in with the existing pieces, if you will – until they look natural and he slowly adapts and begins to believe that they’ve always been part of our decor.

It’s the interior design equivalent of the frog-in-the-hot-water-versus-the-frog-in-the-slowly-heated-water experiment, really.  Too much all at once and Sweetie would likely flee and run away to live in our garage.  But discreetly introduce all the prettiness over time and he’ll settle right in like a happy little floral-loving amphibian.

Sneaky, eh?

But a big pink flowery couch might be tricky to discreetly introduce.  Sweetie isn’t always particularly observant, but a brightly patterned sofa is kind of hard to ignore.

Then again, there’s always the “but patterns stay clean looking longer” justification, and he can’t deny me that.  Sweetie is a construction electrician, which means he comes home from work exceedingly dirty almost every night.  A patterned sofa cover would make any dirt far less noticeable.  And dirt is a topic that Sweetie can appreciate and understand (and it’s far more convincing than the “but it’s pretty and I like it” argument.)

Yeah.  Maybe I’ll lead with that.  :)


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Memories… light the corners of my fridge… (one last kitchen post)

Posted by on Jun 3, 2013 in Kitchen | 0 comments

I’m going to miss my kitchen.  A lot.  Yep, that’s right – we haven’t yet sold our house and I’m already getting all nostalgic for the room that caused me so much grief and cost me so many hours while I lusted over other people’s kitchens on Pinterest and planned and researched and obsessed.

But I now love my cute little kitchen.  The floors are no longer blue.  The countertop is all sparkly and clean, and I finally got my double sink.  I adore the Stonington Gray-painted walls, and my fresh clean-looking Snowfall White cabinets.  Plus all the other little things I did to make our kitchen feel like “us.”  I worked hard to make it pretty!  It’s now my happy place – many batches of brownies and cookies and other yummy things (made for the people I love) have emerged from this room.  And it’s where Sweetie and I convene each night after work, discussing our days while sitting across from one another at the island.

Let’s reminisce just a little, k?

Here’s where we started (image courtesy of the original house listing, not me!) with an ugly and rather greasy chair rail, ridiculous light fixtures, dirty cream coloured cabinets, strange gray trim, and a blue peel and stick floor…

Ugly kitchen before

Kitchen before

Sweetie removed the rather random chair rail, and I painted the dickens out of my wee kitchen and we swapped out all the hardware and the obnoxious light fixtures, leaving us with this…

1940s BM Stonington Gray kitchen with Snowfall White cabinets and trim

…which we lived with for quite a while (while I crazily stalked other people’s kitchens and planned and planned and planned some more.)

Then – happy day! – I laid a new kitchen floor.  Best.  Day.  Ever.

Allure slate look Patina tile kitchen floor

…and then (then!) we added new countertops and the fancy new double sink. Leaving us with our current happy (and pretty!) little kitchen…

Benjamin Moore Stonington Gray kitchen with yellow and white accents

Stonington Gray kitchen with island and Ikea white Ingolf bar chairs stools

Happy sigh.  :)

If we were planning to stay in the house longer, I would have put in a backsplash, probably in marble of some sort.  I’ve always adored FrecklesChick‘s lovely little kitchen, and I think a similar tile backsplash would have looked snazzy here.

But perhaps we’ll save all that for the next house.  :)  While I’m hoping that our next kitchen won’t be quite as disasterous as this one was when we moved in, we tend to buy houses with ugly kitchens.  It seems to be our (not at all intentional) “thing.”

So, just to recap (because I love a good Grand Finale!), this…

Ugly kitchen before

…became this…

Kitchen after with original cupboards vintage gray and yellow

…and this…

…turned into this…

Stonington Gray kitchen with island and Ikea white Ingolf bar chairs stools

Better eh?  I’d say that’s definite progress.  Here’s hoping the next family who lives in this house loves this little kitchen as much as I do!

And here’s looking forward to having a new kitchen to obsess about and pretty-up at our next home, wherever that may be.  Although I could really do without a blue floor this time.  (Just saying.)


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