House Post Alert: Learning Lessons

It remains to be told whether we learned our lesson or not. I think we have, but then again, we’ll see how we feel by the end of this next project.

We’re starting another renovation. This, however, is different than the last one. Why is it different? Let me list the ways:

  1. We don’t have to move out because it’s not impacting the inside of the house.
  2. I did not design this time.
  3. We are not demoing.
  4. We are not painting.
  5. We hired a contractor to do it all.
  6. Nick is very happy.

If you don’t remember what the exterior of our house looked like, good for you. If you do, sorry. It’s ugly. So what’s it going to look like now?



Hellllooooooo outdoor living room. I’m already imagining an afternoon avec un verre de vin on the beautiful outdoor couch we don’t yet own. We’re also landscaping the front yard, replacing the deck and cleaning up the backyard a little bit.

Glorious, I tell you. Glorious.


Life is still pretty

It’s just busy! With a baby! Can’t believe how much time has flown by.

For those of you who have been eagerly waiting Part II: Floors (hah!), we did finally make it in. The timeline was pushed back two weeks and we were homeless for part of that. Luckily, Kelly’s friend was kind enough to loan us her apartment while she stayed with her then boyfriend (now fiance!)

All of the pain was worth it. The floors do look great and folks are typically surprised when I tell them they’re original.

Want to see what the house pretty much looks like now? Well… mostly. I know for certain that there’s several piles of books Alex has pulled down and strewn about.

This is the place to go. We had our wedding photographers turned friends come down and photograph the house and they captured it perfectly. There’s been some minor changes since then. And some major changes coming up (hint: the exterior’s asking for some love). Maybe I’ll even post them here!


house post alert: f’ing floors

so, that’s totally not our house, but it does lead me into our epic story about the floors. it was, by far, the worst experience we had with our house. i think this’ll be a two part series.

from the beginning, we wanted to keep the floors. they didn’t look good, but they were able to be refinished. i mean, look at this:

and this was BEFORE we painted

they’re pretty beat up. but look at them after sanding! so pretty!

just a slight difference

as you can see, there is a decent amount of variation, especially where new pieces have been patched in. as much as i like uniqueness, it’s gotta be in a good way. weird spots is not cool.

so our contractor suggested going dark. and i agreed.

but then there was one thing we didn’t quite align on – me selecting and seeing a sample before they stained the entire floor. my contractor seemed really surprised that i wanted to see a sample. if i hadn’t mentioned it to him, i think he would’ve just stained our floors whatever color he thought would be best.

um, i don’t think so.

so, once that was clarified, i stopped by the house to check out the stains.

the necessary samples

we ended up going with 50% ebony and 50% jacobean. same as what they used in the first picture.

so, here’s where it gets interesting. i picked out the stain color on tuesday. we were slated to move in friday afternoon/saturday morning. if that sounds like an unrealistic timeline to you, you’d be right! next post will dive into why we wouldn’t recommend our flooring contractor, despite the fact we liked the final project.

house post alert: heating and cooling the rest of the world uses

with purchasing a duplex, you end up with two of everything. same can be said for our hvac system. we had two furnaces and air conditioners. the furnaces were fairly new, but both the air conditioner and ducts were pretty crappy. and the ducts went everywhere.

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here a duct, there a duct, everywhere a duct duct!
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watch your head!

so, we ripped it all out.

and then ended up going with something a little different… if you’ve been abroad, it’s the hvac systems you see everywhere else in the world. this video explains what we ended up with it.

we installed one outdoor unit and four indoor units. each unit has it’s own remote and can be set at a different temperature. it’s fantastic for those who may call for a little more air conditioning than others.

nick was a little worried about the look of the units. they do stand out more than the average duct.

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guest bedroom!
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master bedroom!

so, they do stick out, especially when there’s no furniture in there. just wait until you see the final results though – i think they don’t stand out nearly as much now. you’ll probably be waiting for a while, unless you make the trip down to ATL. you’ve seen how slow i’ve been moving through the house.

i really like the remote and being able to shut off certain units. we recently had about 20 people over. with turning all of the units on, the house maintained comfortable temperatures easily. also, no more ducts in the basement! it feels so much bigger down there. nick’s already planning his man cave. those are all of the good things.

the bad: weeeellllll, it’s not really bad, per se. basically, we haven’t figured out the remotes too well. it feels colder than what the temperature is set at. maybe it’s just because i’m always cold. or maybe it’s because i didn’t read the manual yet. something i always advocate for other people to do.

just a little light reading the next time i take a break and relax on the couch (ha!)

house post alert: gimme storage

the most important room in the house is absolutely the kitchen. nick would probably argue it more passionately than me. and i love to cook. love to cook. love. and nick? well nick loves to eat.

when i traveled to connecticut to visit nick’s childhood home kind of early in our relationship, i asked to look at pictures of him as a child. his mom was more than willing to pull out the family photos. so i got to see nick in the 80’s. the bowl haircuts. the olan mills backdrops. brother sister pictures. SO CUTE.

then we get to the casual shots. let’s see nick in action! or with his mouth stuffed with food. literally every picture. spaghetti, lasagna, yogurt (? his recollection… not mine). nick hasn’t met a food he doesn’t like, minus cilantro, and the childhood pictures documented it.

so, of course, we needed an awesome kitchen.

when i first thought about our new kitchen, i didn’t think too much about cabinets. i thought about countertops, appliances, paint colors, but cabinets were a little bit of an afterthought. especially because i was appalled by the cost. custom cabinets are expensive. like a very good chunk of anyone’s budget.

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cabinets are in!

it’s a good thing that we like them. and i really really like them. they were worth splurging over ikea or a big box store. way worth it.

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bam. new stove location.

we don’t have a lot of overhead cabinets because we kept all of the windows. despite that, i still have leftover space. it is AWESOME. i love storage. you’ll also notice that it’s drawers flanking the future stove. great idea. so much easier for storing pots and pans. highly recommend.

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pantry? check!

at one point the cabinet guy, max, contacted me, concerned. he was all like… “the pantry is only going to be 10-12″ deep.”

my response, “and the problem is?”

any pantry is good pantry. and there’s no issues with reaching anything at that depth. i can get so much food in that sucker. it’s

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so many future meals!

so, if you ever do a kitchen redo, SPEND THE CASH.  buy the pretty cabinets. it’s worth it.

house post alert: the back door

the ugly back door including cat door!
the ugly back door including cat door!

when i laid out the plan, i knew the door needed to be moved. the kitchen was tiny with the current location.

so, i started looking for doors. i had already selected the front door, but they didn’t have the exact door i needed at the price i wanted. so i found this company – ETO Doors. they seemed decent. and they had the door i wanted – this door. it was simple and the lead time was minimal. so, i ordered it – or i attempted to. it took them a while for them to even acknowledge my order. that should’ve been a hint.

then, i place my order. my credit card is charged, but i don’t get any sort of receipt. i have to email them to get a receipt.

finally i get a receipt and an idea of shipment. that one week lead time? try slightly over two weeks – a monday. not the end of the world, but irritating. why would they say a week lead time when it’s not really?

so then my shipment date comes and goes. no communication from them. i call and email. no response. i call again and finally get someone on the phone. he says he’ll find out and call. no return call. ugh. this is wednesday after the supposed ship date of monday.

i finally get someone on the phone and make her check my order. funny enough, it’s packed and ready to go, but she just doesn’t have any idea why it hasn’t been shipped yet? she promises to see about it getting out.

well, it did finally get out, but not until the monday after. so that conversation from the previous week? they did nothing from that. absolutely nothing. so the one week lead time ended up being three weeks. great.

see the exhaust fan? location of the old door.
see the exhaust fan? location of the old door.

after all of that, i started doing more research on the company. turns out i wasn’t the only one with problems. and luckily, my problems were fairly minor. many people ended up with doors that didn’t fit or were damaged. my door was fine – once it finally arrived.

the only thing that i’m kicking myself for is the height of the door. notice it’s not the same height as the window next to it? yeah… should’ve gone with a slightly bigger door.

and here's the door - with such a handsome model
and here’s the door – with such a handsome model

at least the door lets in a lot of light. it really makes a difference in the kitchen.

house post alert: curb appeal?

nick and i recently went to a neighborhood gathering to get to know some peeps! it’s always interesting to try to explain where we live. we are part of the neighborhood, but are tucked away. half the people didn’t even know the street existed. if they do know the street, they have no idea where our house is. so, conversations often go like this…

new neighbor: “hm… i don’t know your street… oh wait! does [so and so] live on your street?”

me: “yes, they do! okay, do you know the zen house next to them? beautiful landscaping? very calming prescence?”

new neighbor: “oh yes! that house is really cool. wait, is that your house?”

me: “no, we’re the ugly white box next door to it.”

invariably, they have no idea what house we’re talking about by the time we get to our own. i guess that’s better than being remembered for a bad reason, right? either way, we are slowly working on changing the appearance. major changes will take a while. i think we both need a break from dealing with a construction zone. small things, however, are coming together! here’s what we’ve done:

  • Install new front door
  • Painted new front door
  • Installed new porch lights
  • Purchased a small table and chairs set

here’s what i’d like to do this summer – it’s not too ambitious of a list:

  • Install new address numbers
  • Install a new mail box
  • Lay out some plant/flower beds

and, as always, here’s some eye candy:

door from the inside - brings a lot of light in
door from the inside – brings a lot of light in
in daylight
in daylight
with the new lights
with the new lights
costco to the rescue. i think i spent more time researching these lights than anything else we put in the house.
costco to the rescue. i think i spent more time researching these lights than anything else we put in the house.