Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Things to pay attention to when looking to buy a house...

Does anyone have a list of items that you look for when you go to buy a house?

We started one after we bought the house on Slade, and we have gradually added to it over time.

If you have any additional suggestions, please leave a comment...I would love to hear them!  I know there are lots of things that aren't on here that would be helpful in the hunt this weekend.

Here is our random, running list...

  1. Has basement ever flooded?
  2. Have seller fix as much as you can have them do on the inspection list
  3. Drive by at different times of the day/night to check out the scene
  4. Pay attention to how busy the street is
  5. Do windows open?
  6. Age of roof!
  7. Are shower heads tall enough?
  8. School district
  9. Pay attention to neighbors and their yards, dogs, etc.
  10. Fenced yard
  11. Get different mortgage quotes
  12. Security system?
  13. Gas/Electric appliances
  14. Motion sensor/outside safety lights
  15. Age of AC/Heater
  16. Age of water heater
  17. Paint condition – chipped, cracks in walls, etc.
  18. Cable jacks/phone jacks
  19. Water pressure
  20. Air return location
  21. Level Lot
  22. Window treatments
  23. Lead paint
  24. Electrical – all up to date?
  25. Flooding of yard?
  26. Sex Offenders close by?  (I know that sounds weird, but we learned to take this into account after we moved in and learned there were a couple sex offenders living in a house close to us)

Hmmm...I would love to live on post if I could get one of these houses...

On the hunt...

for a place to live.  We are off to NY for the next several days for lots of house hunting...both on and off post.  We are all over the place as far as what we are looking at, go figure.  Hopefully by EOD Monday we will have at least decided if we want to keep looking off post OR if we will hold out hope that we can get a house on post.

I am just wrapping up Ryan & Jamie's invitations - I can't wait to blog about that after we get home next week!  I will also be making some blog changes and will have a fun guest on the blog!!

Isn't this a cute house?  It is one of the ones we have our eyes on...

Friday, March 26, 2010

Slade Drive House Tour - kitchen

We had a small kitchen on Slade Drive...but that is all I have ever known so it was fine for us. It connected to a tiny room with our washer/dryer and refrigerator. 

Before we moved in...
love that schoolhouse pendant light!
This was a great built in...i immediately envisioned my cookbooks on these shelves...
We thought this spot could be better arranged to feel more inviting...

The ceramic tile floors were cracking in some spots.  The previous owners told me that there was not wood under the tile, which surprised me.  Fast forward a couple of years.  I got new appliances while Sean was deployed.  Our uber-handy friend, Jay, was nice enough to come down and install the dishwasher for me.  As luck would have it, when he removed the old dishwasher, I spotted pine flooring!

Soon after that, I called Brenda, who works in construction, and asked to borrow her sledge hammer.  I went to town busting up the floor....all on a whim.  There were three levels of flooring - the ceramic tile, a subfloor and linoleum tile.  I had no clue what I was doing but just went for it.  I got 95% of the layers up, and then left the parts that were really close to the cabinets to a professional.

My 'flat daddy Sean' enjoyed a beer while I was hard at work:
layers and layers and layers, oh my!

I had someone finish the demo and refinish the floors.  I then hired some painters to repaint all the cabinets, since a lot of the paint was peeling off, for the best price EVER.  I spent days scraping layers of paint off in the laundry room, and I repainted a fresher coat of yellow.  I got so frustrated with scraping paint that I let the painters finish the kitchen for me.

Thanks to lots of help from friends - removing doors, moving appliances around, etc. I was able to get a look I was more happy with.   It was fun to have the big 'reveal' for Sean when he came home for R&R.

The afters...
We removed the vent hood and added the space saver microwave which was a big help on counter space.  One of my favorite things in the kitchen was the pull out tray in the built in cabinet (you can see it near the phone)...this was so great for spreading out cookbooks! 
During the renovation, Randy helped me remove the swinging door between the kitchen/utility room.  It felt like the space really opened up once it was taken out.
I sewed the curtain during my sewing class, and my dad built us this nice shelf to go over the washer/dryer...
And that's all we have with the kitchen, folks!

Lessons learned:
1.  I had no clue how to hang window coverings - they are a definite weakness of mine!  So, I screwed the curtain rod hardware right into the moulding around the window.  WHOOPS.  I didn't know I wasn't supposed to do that until Tim and Sommer came down and saw what I had done.  I immediately knew from their faces that I had botched this!  They were very sweet and reassuring to me on my bad move.
2.  Never paint kitchen cabinets with a brush again.  I would definitely spray them next time!

Do your magazines pile up?

I don't get this.  When I get magazines, they end up in a pile on the coffee table.  It takes me forever to get around to them, okay, except for US Weekly, since that is such a guilty pleasure.  I would think that I would be so excited to carve out time to sit down and devour the latest home magazines...and I DO love looking through them when I finally make time.  So, what's with my pile up?  Does this happen to anyone else?  And then do you have the ever growing stack of tear sheets as well??

New England Architecture

I am really going to miss the architecture when we leave Boston in two short months.  We have really loved living in Newton, and it it probably the nicest town we will ever live in.  We are surrounded by the most stunning, charming, intricately designed old homes....paradise!!  

I am anxious for some real springtime weather to arrive so that I can go on some long walks with my camera to capture all my favorites.  I will share some along the way.

Here is one of them.  It can be yours - for a cool 3.25 mil.  Have at it.

The glass roof just calls to me every time I walk by.  It reminds me of the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum....

My favorites from today

How cute are these pillows?

And, I really want a pantry like this.  I am so tempted to start down this path with matching spice jars b/c I found cute ones for next to nothing at China Fair.  Check out the whole house tour of emersonmade...instant love - just like her products!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

A very good day.

I woke up to a cold and rainy birthday, which ended up being okay because my day started like this...

Fresh Flowers and Chocolate Milk...
Then, I realized that Sean had actually ordered up this rainy day BECAUSE...Paddy got me the red wellies I have been keeping an eye on for a very long time!
Then, some yummy coffee and sour cream pancakes.  We recently had this specialty at the Deluxe Town Diner.  Sean searched out a recipe and recreated them.  They were so good that I think Sean and my dad are going to have to have a pancake cook-off!
And the grand breakfast finale...I mean, come on, we couldn't just stare at this perfection until after dinner!  Honestly, the best cake I have ever had.  Sean is a fantastic cook, but who knew he could bake too?  Kudos to him. 
Just so he knows, yes, I will be asking for the same cake again next year.  Thanks to my husband for putting together a day that made me smile all day long. 

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Slade Drive House Tour - Back Porch/Yard

There was a nice deck on our porch when we purchased it and the back yard was in pretty good shape.  We made some small changes over the years to make it 'ours'.


First, we restained the porch.  My dad helped us replace some rotted boards in the deck, and he also repaired some of the siding on the addition that was in bad shape.  We got a furniture upgrade from the two plastic green chairs, and I got REALLY into plants. 

I hung this old window with window box that I had from the wall.  I usually had small pots with succulents in here.  We then added the lanterns on either side.  I got the cheapest, smallest door that I could find from the junk yard, and then used concrete pavers that were laying around our yard to create a potting table for all my herbs.  I drilled some large holes in the table to let the water drain which worked pretty well. 
Ahh, herbs...

During a lunch break one day, Rhonda and I went 'junking' at the local junk yard.  She found these pillars for a total steal, and she convinced me to buy them.  Thanks, Rhonda!  I added some Ikea lanterns to the top of them - my brother helped screw them in so that they wouldn't fall off.

The hungarian baby bath is still a favorite piece of ours - Sommer and I got these at Scott Antique Markets in Atlanta. 

We got a heater for cooler nights on the porch...see the lessons learned :)  You can see the heater here...this was taken at Sean's welcome home party...

When we first moved in, there was a path from the bottom of the porch to the driveway made with railroad ties and some sort of large chips of mulch.  These got all over the yard, and we didn't like the look of it.  Sean removed the ties and worked hard to grow grass there.

I planted new bushes along the back of the porch and stuck with my favorites...rosemary bushes, hydrangeas, and tea olives - have you smelled these?  Oh, they are so divine!!

I removed the railroad ties that had been used to define the planting areas, and replaced it with old brick that I got at the junk yard.  We added many other shrubs throughout the backyard..some did well, some didn't.

We have so many fond memories from our porch...we constantly talk about how we miss having coffee on the porch, meals with friends, nights with wine and music, etc. 

Lessons learned:
--Candles melt so easily in GA during the summer. Next time, I would use candles that are in glass if possible so that they don't melt to a point that you can't use them.
--I would never buy an electric outdoor heater again...they don't work very well at all.  I would definitely buy propane next time.
--We probably should have put a different walkway in to lead to the driveway
--Once I got excited about planting, I couldn't control myself.  It was fun, but a LOT of maintenance/watering...time!  I am glad I tried so many things, but now I am better about narrowing down.

Slade Drive House Tour - outdoor entertaining area

When Sean and I moved into our house on Slade, we were new to all this yard work stuff, especially in a southern climate.  We had a lot to do and a lot to learn!

There was a three-car carport in the back yard and two of the spots would be usable; however, with a dog, and our laziness, we knew we weren't going to use it because we would need to open/close the big fence gate every time we wanted to park.

We brainstormed a lot, and our work took place over a long time, but here is what we tackled...

The Befores...
(notice fence, big dead tree, and old shed in carport)...
The shed was completely rotted, there was random lumber stored up on the rafters, the iron fence along the back was completely rusted, the floor was a mess...thus, begin the work!
What a we prepared to get started...
(You can see the good work Sean did on the iron fench though - 
he wire brushed, sanded and repainted it)...

We had a chain link fence at first, but after someone stole our lawn mower from the carport, we decided it was time for a privacy fence.
Privacy fence after...

I started having visions of a nice outdoor entertaining area using the carport.  We toyed with ideas of putting a new shed space under the carport; however, it wasn't in the best shape structurally, and we weren't sure how long we would be there.  So, instead, we decided to buy one of those Rubbermaid storage sheds that we were able to tuck away on the side of our house in a space that wouldn't have been used otherwise.

And, for the record, Rubbermaid advertises some crazy fast assembly time of 90 minutes or something ridiculous like that.  Ummm...let me just say kudos to anyone who has ever achieved this.  This took us all day long.  Maybe it would have gone more smoothly if we had a rubber mallet instead of the meat mallet we used. :)

New Shed on side of house...

Then, we got to work on the carport.  We wanted to create an area to relax and hang out, a place to eat, serve food, and grill.  Thankfully, there was plenty of room for all of these functions.

First, we had some rotting boards replaced.  Then, we power washed the heck out of it.  Next, we painted the floor (chocolate brown) and the ceiling (putty).  We had two ceiling fans installed and an electrical outlet added (have to be able to have music!). 

The carport evolved over time as we could afford bits and pieces.  I envisioned a space flanked with long white curtains to give us privacy and a more finished look.  Enter the Ikea Merete curtains.  We bought pipes from Home Depot and eye hooks to serve as curtain rods.  I am sort of embarrassed to admit just how many hours of my life I spent taking down, washing, and re-hanging these curtains over the years, but from a distance, they held up very well.

We also bought lots of bags of river rock to put between the edge of the carport floor and the fence, to cover up the dirt that was there.  This helped keep the curtains cleaner.  It drove 'neurotic me' a little crazy how the wind would separate the curtains...thank goodness for binder clips!  Those got a little rusty from getting rained on, but they did a good job keeping the curtains together.  As soon as the curtains went up, it felt like the space was really transformed!

We got a collapsible table from WalMart as we knew we could use this in the future as well, and I painted our old dining room table chairs (hand-me-downs from my parents) black.  We bought the buffet piece in Northern Michigan, and we didn't have room in the house for it, so it was perfect out here.  It needed to be refinished anyway, so I figured I would leave it as is until we moved.  We bought the wicker furniture from Pier I when it is was on sale.

To the right of the wicker sits my cherished claw foot tub.  This tub is from my grandma's cottage.  It is over 100 years old, and when the family recently did some renovations, they were going to get rid of it.  Being the sentimental sap and antique lover that I am, I quickly volunteered to take it.  Much to Sean's dismay, we ended up renting a U-Haul to get it home.  It was perfect for holding all of our firewood!

We added some hanging baskets and sago palms as you entered the space.  I found free standing tiki torches at Sam's Club, which were great...except for when the wind knocked them over!

To make it feel more like a room, I added pillows, tablecloths, a votive chandelier (which really wasn't the smartest idea...why didn't I think about how hard it would be to light 40+ candles every time I wanted to turn it 'on'!).  The chandelier quickly turned into a lantern holder instead.

I thought the space needed some plants, so I went for a couple split leaf philodendrons, and then moved my lemon trees to the entrance of the space as well.

I then wanted a space to take in some rays and enjoy an afternoon cocktail.  I found two wooden lounge chairs on sale at Hobby Lobby.  I added an umbrella and monogrammed lounge chair covers...I really miss this spot!

The afters..

I miss that flowering jasmine on the trellis - those blooms are so delicate and smell delightful!

view from off the back porch...

The amount of time we were able to spend outdoors in GA was one of our very favorite things about living there.  We used this space like an extra room in our home.  We were even able to eat Christmas dinner out here one year!

With any space that we worked on, we always felt that we had lessons learned.  I am going to try to document them as I go along so we don't make the same mistakes twice :)

Carport lessons learned:
--Don't buy chandeliers with a million votives to light. Nightmare.
--Be careful with glass outdoors.  Countless hurricanes, lanterns, etc. were broken when we had big storms = bad news when you have a dog wandering around the backyard!
--The more stuff we have out there = more to clean.  I spent a lot of time sweeping, washing off furniture, etc.  It was a lot of work from that perspective.
--If we ever had another outdoor room like this, but were able to design where it was located, we would definitely position this type of space close to the kitchen.  It was sometimes a bit treacherous trying to get all the food out here because of less than level backyard.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Slade Drive - House Tour

I think I will kick off the house tours with sweet old Slade Drive...

2003 - When we moved in...

2008 - When we were getting ready to is fun to see how much the shrubs grew.  
They provided nice privacy for the front porch.

We bought this house two weeks before we got married, and we were able to live here for 5 1/2 glorious years.

It is part of the Park District...

The house was built in 1939, and it was built on land that was partitioned off of the estate of the St. Elmo house.  

Our friends, Sam and Meghan Rumer, found us a picture of our house from when it was originally built in a reference book at the library.  I can't seem to find it right now, but I will keep searching and update when I find it.

I loved this house because of all the heart and soul we put into it as well as all the wonderful memories that it held for this...

Welcome to our home...

House Tours

I am going to attempt to create some entries with tours of our humble abodes with the best before and after shots I can dig up in iPhoto.  Let the reminiscing begin!

I just got home from the gym to find....



and This...
I literally started jumping up and down with joy.  Let's just say that my husband scored MAJOR points for coming through on the flourless chocolate cake.  It was beyond cute to see the care he was taking to make it.  I don't need anything else for my birthday...this is the best.  (Now I really wish I would have run the 4.5 miles I had hoped to instead of the 2.5 I actually did...and that was mostly walking, for the record).