Saturday, April 18, 2015

Everything I've ever wanted

So, house status is solidly in the "it looks (much!) worse before it looks better" stage.  (Don't ever be fooled by the magic of the Internet that makes it seem like "before" goes to "after" in just one tidy snap of a finger.)

Much worse.  But since frequent postings of wallpaper peeling progress would be the Internet equivalent of watching paint dry, I'll switch gears to mom-blog and share some pictures of our lovely little afternoon picnic.  But not before I assure you that the fruit basket border is NOT staying; I just hadn't found the ladder yet at the point of this photo.

It was one of those days, weather wise, where everything seems absolutely perfect.  When I took this shot, I announced that it captured "everything I have ever wanted."  I think it felt all the more sweet because I have recently been doing a lot of thinking and reading about intentional living, and have been keeping a running list of the things that I want my life and our home to be like.  One of the recurring themes is simple joys, the carefree time spent together sharing the beautiful gifts we've been given.  

 I consider our lives at a bit of a crossroads, moving from a (haphazardly utilized and pretty overwhelming) temporary housing situation to our little dream house that very well may be the address where I receive mail from my grand kids.  The transition is a good chance for me to reflect on what I really want and make the space and our routines and decisions reflect that, but the exercise has been so fruitful that I recommend it to everyone, even if you're not in the midst of a huge change.

I kept a notepad on the kitchen counter for a few days with the header "I want our lives/home to be..." and jotted down random ideas as I thought of them.  I found Tsh Oxenrider's books to be inspiring and practical - check out Notes from a Blue Bike and Organized Simplicity.  The theme and content of the two is similar, but the former reads more like a memoir and the latter more like a manual.

Off the soapbox and on to more pictures:

Family photos are exponentially harder with the addition of each child.  These are my two favorites from the series.  Three out of four are smiling.  And the toddler is holding her nose.

Aaand, totally accidental, but perfect hand position from Anna.  

What is your perfect Saturday?  I hope you enjoyed some of it today :)

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

My blank canvas

Well, friends, I've promised and promised these pictures for long enough.  Many thanks for your patience :)

I'm calling this post my blank canvas, since there are so many spots just begging to be decorated.  However, after the number of hours I've already spent peeling wallpaper, maybe "blank" isn't the best adjective.  Prep work is my least favorite, but soon enough I'll be moving on to painting :)

I've been working on things a little bit (with my two little helpers, so with obvious safety/time/logistical limitations), but renovations will ramp up significantly in May when Justin's semester is over and he's off for the summer.  (Having him 100% of the time in the summer makes up a bit for how little we see him now!)

At some point I'll have to type up the story of finding this house...God's hand is so clearly in the details, and we feel incredibly blessed to have found such a wonderful place in a dream neighborhood (there are several other young families (including 5 other little girls under age 3) on our block - and the kind of borrow-sugar-over-the-fence-while-the-kids-all-play-together kind of community I didn't think even existed anymore).  To be made more perfect, we decided to buy it on Valentine's Day and closed on St. Joseph's Day (the patron saint of homes).

And without further ado, the "before" tour.  (You would have thought I'd learned my lesson about taking good pictures from the last house, but apparently there are some angles I still need to shoot before we change things.  Possibly supervising an excited/exploring toddler while taking these might have had something to do with it :) )

The outside is growing on me, but I may have been heard to call it ugly.  Let's just say it was the charming inside that won me over, not the front!  It will be better in time with some modifications, most notably our plan for a portico instead of that silly canvas over the front door.

Entrance way/ living room - plans include removing wallpaper, removing blue carpet, adding hardwood floors, new sconce lights, removing window treatments.

Kitchen - for now, removing wall paper, painting & painting cabinets; we're considering a more significant overhaul in a few years once we've lived with the space and know what we want to do (this could include closing off doors, removing the wall between the kitchen/dining,, not things you want to rush into).  Also, new appliances at some point (and eventually converting back to a gas stove!)

Dining room (viewed from back family room, looking through into living room).  Kitchen doorway is to the right, large window to the left (apparently Anna was doing something crazy at this point since I have no better pictures?)

Adding hardwood in here, too (because who wants to feed toddlers over carpet?!), adding beadboard, a chair rail, and painting.  Down the line, we might do a built-in two-sided hutch between the kitchen and dining room, or remove the dividing wall all together.

The family room - removing the built-in desk, doing something about the hideous ceiling, removing carpet, adding hardwood floors, and PAINTING.  Sorry to you natural wood lovers out there, but this is a north-facing room where I'll be spending a huge portion of my days.  It's got great windows but needs to be brighter!!

EEEETSY BITSY powder room (off the family room) - remove wallpaper, paint, new sink fixtures, remove shelf, new light, etc.

Basement laundry - for being a basement, it's pretty nice and non-creepy.  I have plans (and Pinterest boards) for eventual upgrades, but for now it's sufficient.

Garage (off the kitchen) - the big challenge here will be making efficient use of storage space and adding a mudroom function since there isn't space for coats/shoes/etc inside the house (or at least, not inside the house in a logical flow...the coat closet is three rooms away from this entry, and I know myself well enough to say that the coats would not get put away properly if we had to do that trek every time).

Going back around to the front staircase:

Stair case.  This much wallpaper makes me want to cry.  New carpeting on the agenda.  I'm not a blue kind of person.

Guest bedroom - new carpet, new paint, new window treatments

Girls' bedroom - new carpet, new paint, new window treatments, general renovation fix up (light switches, caulking, door knobs, etc, etc)

Master bedroom (complete with 3 closets, including a cedar one!) - initially, basic paint/carpet/window treatments, eventually building a window seat

Upstairs bath.  This will be the biggest renovation this summer.  The tub doors have got to go, the vanity is too big for the space, and I've always really wanted to tile something.  Also, I'm brainstorming about that closet and whether it's going to still look like that (versus something more open).  Also, we're trying really hard to figure out a way to have a laundry chute (because naturally the first thing you want to do with a new house is cut a hole through 2 stories, right?!  Oh, maybe that's just us).

Aaand, back porch.  I have some decorating (and globe light) daydreams about this space.  The backyard will eventually have a garden, a swing set, and a shed.

As compared to our last house, which was pretty neglected when we bought it, this one has been impeccably cared for, so finding "former glory" might be a misnomer.  In this case, it's finding more of a current glory, a style and function that represents our family now as opposed to the elderly couple who lived there previously (we bought it from a widower).  But the "finding former glory" name is going to stick :)

We have very optimistic timelines about things we'll accomplish before moving in July, but realistically things will be ongoing projects.  Our last house took us about 14 months, and that was without kids (and it was smaller, although we also had to do more significant work in many cases).  The beauty of this place is that we have no plans to move - I mean, of course we might move someday (either within town or to a new area completely) - but until we feel called otherwise, this is home.  Even our beloved first house had a time stamp on it, since we knew we'd only be in Ithaca until Justin's graduation.  It's reassuring this time to know that we can take our time and do it right to make this place just how we want it.

I'd love to give you a tour in real life, so come on over...especially if you think you might enjoy peeling wallpaper ;)