Our little 1940s house

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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So three cats go into a car (and that’s it. No punchline. Just three cats in a car. With me and Sweetie. All weekend.)

Posted by on May 30, 2013 in Moving, Tails | 0 comments

With the house finally (fiiiiiiinally) on the market (yay!), the showings and open houses have begun.  This past weekend was, in fact, completely devoted to open houses.  As in the entire weekend.  Two open houses on Saturday, two on Sunday.  For a total of five hours each day.  Yep.  It was a lot and (in all honesty) seemed a little like open house overkill to me.  But in the rather tricky world of real estate, this was probably the equivalent of our go-big-or-go-home moment.  And our agent was quite enthusiastic about this strategy (and, well, he’s the expert!) so we gave him the official thumbs up on his plan.

The problem with being both a home seller and a cat owner?  The two don’t mix particularly well.  I like my cats.  Sweetie likes our cats.  Lots of people love our cats.  And as they should – our three fur-babes are pretty darn awesome and friendly and adorable, if you ask me.  :)  But, sadly, home seekers aren’t necessarily kitty-friendly.  There’s the smell-stigma (“ohhhh… honey, look… they have cats… let’s try really really hard to find some sort of cat smell somewhere in this house… it must be here somewhere…”)  There’s the distraction (afterall, the kitties are indeed ridiculously cute.)  And there’s the terrifying possibility that during all of the open house comings-and-goings one sneaky little fur-ball could weasel its way through the front door.

So what do we do?

We go on field trips!  All of us.  Sweetie, me, and the three cats, all in one car together.

Three cats in a car

When we sold our last home, we quickly discovered that the easiest way to create home selling harmony was to pack the cats up in their individual carriers and bring them for a mini roadtrip during house showings.  During open houses, they’d get treated to a full-blown field trip to a local park for a couple of hours.

Orange cat in a cat carrier

And so, in keeping with house-selling tradition, Jacob, Irwin, Erik, me and Sweetie all hung out at the park for most of the weekend while random strangers wandered through our home.  Were the cats excited?  No.  But did they survive?  Absolutely.  After about thirty minutes of initial panic, they all settled down and spent the remaining four-ish hours exploring the car/looking out the window/napping.

Black cat on car dashboard

Cats traveling in cars

Until the house sells (hopefully soon!), we’ll likely keep the car set up like a big rolling kitty crate.  There’s a litterbox in the back, and a food bowl and water, and some puppy training pads and lots of old towels too just in case of accidents.  It’s not pretty, but it’s functional.  And if it helps make these outings a little less stressful for the kitties, so be it.

Black long haired cat sleeping on kitty carrier

That said, if you need to carpool with someone, I’m likely not your best choice right now.  Unless you like a whole lotta cat fur on your clothes.

 

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Mr Agent, list this house! (in my head that was totally in Ty Pennington’s voice btw)

Posted by on May 23, 2013 in Moving, Our little 1940s house | 2 comments

So we’ve finally (FINALLY!) reached the end of our pre-house-listing project list.  Yay!  Like pretty much everything I do, it’s taken us far longer to get the house ready to sell than I ever thought it would (my initial prediction?  Two weeks.  The reality?  Two months.)  Our (rather patient) agent has been ready to list us for eons now, and he enthusiastically plunked the For Sale sign on our lawn almost two weeks ago, thinking it’d only be a couple more days before we made everything official.  And there are still a gazillion touch ups I’d like to do, and little places and nooks that I glance at and think “Gee, I should totally do something with that – what if a possible house buyer sees the scuff on that wall/chip in that windowsill/tiny little spec of dried up renegade paint on the floor…”  But house-selling season is quickly waning.  And we’ve come to the point where we just need to declare (outloud and from the front porch – it keeps the neighbours on their toes) “Good enough!” and put everything in fate’s hands and hope that someone else falls in love with the house the way we did two and a half years ago.

Red brick house for sale sign on sunny day

This whole house-selling thing makes me sad, truth be told.  Sweetie and I have had a really hard time coming to terms with the fact that we’re selling our beloved little 1940s house.  Sure, we’ve chatted for the past year or so about possibly someday moving back to an area that’s closer to a lot of our friends and our families.  But we weren’t at all planning a move this year.  And, as a result, neither of us are in the mindset to get excited about moving.  We’re moving because we need to.  Because of finances and work opportunities and what makes the most logical sense for us right now.  Not because we want to.

It really sorta sucks.

But everything will be ok.  And it is a new little adventure.  And, when it comes right down to it: it’s just a house.  We’ll make a home somewhere else.  There will be new projects, maybe a new community to explore, and lots of amazing new memories made.  I have my Sweetie, I have my cats, I have my health, and the people I love are happy and healthy too.  And, really, that’s all that really matters.

And, who knows: maybe our next place will even come equipped with a dishwasher.  Change is good.  :)

 

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One last project (because nothing says “Welcome to your new home!” like a freshly painted porch)

Posted by on May 16, 2013 in The Great Outdoors | 2 comments

In a rather shocking turn of events, my front porch finally got its facelift.  Poof!  It was a last minute pre-listing omg-the-porch-looks-like-crap kind of moment that spawned this project.  I woke up on Monday morning, opened the door so the cats could look outside through the screen, and declared (to my cats – now that I’m home by myself every day we chat quite a bit) (yep – I’m that crazy cat lady who has full conversations with her cats) that it was a porch painting sorta day.

And it looks so much better.

Truth be told, I had really good porch-painting intentions all last summer and fall, but my painting plans were constantly thwarted by rainy-forecasts and too-hot days.  Selling (and a string of lovely-spring-weather days) was the kick in the tooshy I needed to get this project done.

Here’s the really ugly before (-ish – I forgot to take a real before shot, so this was a couple hours into painting) (but it still shows just how awful-looking my wee little porch had gotten):

(See the little furry faces peeking through the screen door?  I had quite the porch painting audience.)

After!

Front porch painted Benjamin Moore Stampede on red brick house

Wooden front porch painting project using BM Stampede paint in flat finish

So.  Much.  Better.  Eh?  I went with paint rather than stain – staining (according to the nice lady at my local Benjamin Moore store) would have required sanding.  I don’t like sanding.  And that all seemed like a lot of work.  However paint, she said, could just be plopped right on top of the old finish.  Given that this was one of a gazillion projects I had on the go, I was sold.  The colour I bravely chose (since exterior house colour choosing is hard!) is Benjamin Moore’s Stampede.  It seems to match some of the little stones that live in our brick.

Benjamin Moore BM Stampede paint CC-540 with exterior red brick

Sweetie removed the sad-looking (and, well, dead) bushes that sat in front of the house and planted those tiiiny and rather adorable globe cedars for me.  They’ll get bigger.  Eventually.  And they need a bit more mulch and my front flowerbeds in general need a lot more love.  But, in the meantime, I think those little green balls of cedarness are pretty darn cute.

Wooden front porch painted Benjamin Moore BM Stampede exterior paint

And my front bench got a little fancying up too with a pretty new pillow and a potted yellow gerbera daisy…

Front porch with wooden white bench and yellow throw cushion pillow

It screams “Buy me!  Buy me!  You could sip wine here!” no?  Hoping so!

All in all, porch painting was not fun.  It took me two days (I thought it would take a couple hours) and three quarts of paint (I figured it would take one.)  But I’m pretty sure it was a worthwhile effort.  Here’s hoping a bit of curb appeal will go a long way in enticing house shoppers to fall in love with our happy little home.  :)

 

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What HGTV has taught me (my house selling strategy explained)

Posted by on May 9, 2013 in Moving, Ramblings... | 3 comments

Someone recently asked me, “Why are you spending so much time working on your house if you’re planning to sell?  Don’t you think you should probably just hurry up and list?”  They were referring to my basement painting/dining room purging/kitchen re-doing/nursery staging/overall house prettying attempts.  And I completely understand their curiosity – this does seem a bit like house-selling overkill.  I totally get that.

My how to sell your house by staging strategy explained

But here’s the truth: our house isn’t perfect.  At all.  The roof on the garage needs replacing.  The windows are archaic and need to be updated.  Despite diligent litter scooping, the basement still retains a slight air of “eu de kitty” (it’s simply an unavoidable cat-owning evil.)  The chimney desperately needs to be re-pointed.  And there are some questionable-looking spots on our foundation that could possibly raise a few eyebrows (despite that our basement has never ever ever ever leaked.)  (KNOCK ON WOOD.)

So, recognizing all of these flaws, my strategy is this: MAKE THEM FALL IN LOVE WITH THE HOUSE.  Make them adore the house.  So much so that they overlook the blemishes, because they can’t see themselves living anywhere else.  Because they NEED our cute little 1940s house.

Clever eh?

This isn’t some amazing revelation I’ve come up with on my own.  I’ve done my HGTV research.  I’ve watched enough episodes of House Hunters and Property Virgins and other house-buying shows to know how this all works.  The plot goes like this: Possible Buyers enter house.  Possible Buyers have an initial emotional response to the house.  If the walls are painted odd colours or if the baseboards look nasty, the emotional response is a poor one and Possible Buyers make faces and start looking for other reasons to dislike the house.  If the house is appealing and pretty and attractive, Possible Buyers regard any problems as minor issues that can be easily resolved in the future.  Then we cut to a shot of them signing papers.  And then we see Possible Buyers (now New Home Owners) two months later, happy and all moved into the house and gushing about how wonderful it is.

Thusly, our house needs to be absolutely perfect from a cosmetic standpoint when we list, because that’s what buyers fall in love with.  They don’t fall in love with a perfect foundation or fancy new windows.  They fall in love with paint colours and pretty decor and the overall emotion that they feel when they step into a house for the first time.

HGTV told me so.

 

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