Sunday, February 19, 2017

Thankful Sunday--February 19, 2017

The crowd was looking at a pair of bluebirds in a tree.

I am thankful for new discoveries.

Ward and I are now proud owners of only one house.  So for the first weekend in a long time, we don't have to do house stuff.  There is plenty to do, but none of it is time sensitive like the chores of the last six months have been.

We decided it was time to do a little more exploring in our new neighborhood. While doing this, we found an Audubon bird sanctuary only ten minutes from our house and we went on a bird walk there
Saturday morning.
I never found the bluebirds, but the sky was nice.

Ward had to encourage me to go because the thermometer read 29F and I had no desire to go out in the cold for two hours. Have I mentioned I don't like cold? After a couple of prods, I started layering up and stayed quite warm during the walk. Actually, too warm. In only a couple of hours, the temperature rose 30 degrees. But that's what layers are good for--peeling off and cooling down.

I learned a lot of new things about birds, but I didn't see many. It was a low bird count day, but that was not the main problem. It's my untrained eye. I can see the birds when they perch on our feeder, but spotting them in a distant tree? By the time I figured out which tree they were talking about, the bird had flown away. I knew I was in real trouble when the leader said to look at that flock of cedar waxwings and I couldn't even find the flock. However, I did spot a small plane that was flying over. And no one even pointed it out to me. I consider that my great find for the day.

Despite the lack of bird sightings, it was quite an enjoyable morning. It is definitely someplace we will go back to and explore the various trails there.

So for this first of many discoveries we are going to make in our new neighborhood, I am thankful.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Thankful Sunday--February 12, 2017

I am thankful for empty rooms.

Friday, we moved the rest of the things from our old house to our new house. It's really good to have all of them in one place. Now it's time to make our new house a home. :)

Note: The actual closing is on Wednesday and we still a few more things to do for that. But we are only one step from the finish line. Yay!

Monday, January 30, 2017

A Broken Record

I know, I know, over the past 6 months I sound like a broken record. That means this house selling stuff is still consuming the majority of our time. We have had the inspections and as expected there were a few items to be addressed. This has meant meeting various repairmen for estimates, repairs, etc., as well as working on things ourselves. This has also meant more paperwork and negotiations.

We saw this on our drive to the funeral. It had both military and police escorts.
What do you think it is?
In addition, we're finally working on cleaning up and moving our outside stuff from the shed and yard. Thankfully, Ward is taking the lead on this as it's cold out there and I don't do very well in the cold.

But the end is in sight. We have a closing date!! And I have scheduled the movers for the second part of our move. With the end in sight, my mind is starting to wander to the new house and how we might arrange the influx of furniture and some decorating ideas. As well as, some of the repairs and work our new house needs. It's nice to have a little extra mental energy to entertain these thoughts.

The only distraction from the all-house-all-the-time was a trip out of town for a couple of days to attend a family funeral. Although it was a sad occasion, it was good to reconnect with family.

So there it is. Another exciting week in my land of repairs and contracts. Until next time...

Note: If there are any young people out there reading this, I realize that you may not have the context to understand the broken record comment. Ask your parents about it. They will know exactly what I'm talking about.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Thankful Sunday, January 22, 2017

I am thankful for my microwave.

Our new house has a microwave installed over the stove. While it works, it is original to the house and was built in 1989. It has no turntable and only 600 watts--not very powerful by today's standards.

We had not moved the microwave from the old house because I used it in staging to show how it would fit in one of the cabinets and not take up any counter space. Yesterday we moved it and I had my first decent bag of popcorn since we moved. It turns out that 600 watts only pops about half of the kernels no matter how long you cook them. Someday, we will replace the one over the stove. In the meantime, we have our more powerful one, and for that I am thankful.

Thursday, January 19, 2017


As you know, we did a lot of work on our old house getting it ready to sell including staging. Staging is supposed to accomplish two things. One is to make the rooms seem as large as possible and the other is to arrange the room so the buyers can see how it can be used and imagine themselves living there. That is done with neutral colors and themes and minimal furniture and accessories.  It's challenge to find a balance between being too cluttered and personal to being too sparse and sterile.

I found the whole staging process exhausting mostly from the point of shopping and reshopping to find the right items. We used our furniture on all of the big things and some of the accessories, but many of our other things had too much of a personal stamp on them or were too dated. I also shopped at my sisters' houses and found a few things, but most of the shopping was done in stores. I visited thrift shops, consignment shops, Khols, TJ Maxx, Pier One, Home Goods, Walmart, Target, Ikea, Big Lots, and Amazon. Multiple times.

 I haven't done the final numbers, but I think the money spent was approximately the same as what a professional stager would have charged for renting their things for 3 months. Of course, we get to keep all that we bought, but some of it we don't need and can't take back. If I had to do this again, I'm not sure if I would do it myself or not. While I was in the middle of the process and going crazy,  I thought we should have hired a professional. Now that things have calmed down, I'm not so sure. I've learned a lot from the experience and would definitely be much better at staging than this first time. Also, if I weren't trying to do it in a hurry during the holidays, it might not have been so taxing.

But was all of that effort worth it? Yes!! We got a signed contract just a couple of days ago after the house being on the market a week. Actually, we had two offers and a bit of a bidding war going on which resulted in getting more than the asking price. This is not the case for other houses in our area. While real estate is not dead here, it isn't moving that fast. We're very pleased. Now we need to get past a couple of more hurdles before I can schedule the movers--the inspections and buyer financing. Both should be okay, but when buying and selling a house, you never know.

Below are a couple of examples of the staging we did. During the process, I was too busy to take pictures, so these pictures were pieced together from various places including the listing service. They don't necessarily show the best comparisons but I think they will give an idea of what was done.

Before: The Living Room

You will notice the dated curtains which are also a bit faded from the sun. I've been meaning to change them for a few years now, but couldn't figure out what to replace them with, so there they stayed. 

The two wooden chairs along that wall (out of their usual spots) are replacements for some upholstered chairs we used to have. However, the old chairs got shredded by the cats to the point that they were an embarrassment. So, they were replaced with chairs that could be easily fixed from cat scratches. Some day when we figure out the cat problem, we'll get different ones. 

The big bowl on the coffee table (from my parents that I refinished) was a gift from my neighbor. It's really too big for that spot (and every where else in my house) but I left it there for her to see until I could figure out what to do with it. 

The hutch came from Ward's grandmother and is full of personal family items that mean a lot to us, but don't display well.

The pictures on the wall are personal ones including the marriage certificate of my great 

After: The Living Room

First and foremost, the room got a fresh coat of paint in a neutral color. We hired most of that out and it was money very well spent. Who knows how long it would have taken us to paint the whole house? New paint means the green accent walls are gone. 

The rug got cleaned with a lot of hands and knees spot cleaning. 

The end tables are old pine ones that we made from a kit when we were first married. They had gotten pretty marred (yes, cats were involved in some of that), so there were a lot of touch ups with a brown Sharpie. Not a perfect match, but okay from a distance. Accessories were placed to cover up the worst places. The brass lamps got changed for brushed nickle ones. Brass is very dated and brushed nickle is in. Not shown here, but we also changed all of our brass door knobs for brushed nickle ones. 

However, the brass fireplace (which you can't see in the before picture) insert stayed. We decided not to go to the expense or effort of a new insert. However, we did paint the black metal around it to improve the scratched surface. The fireplace had bookshelves on either side that were removed. They were solid oak and in good shape, but were "so 80's". We put a lamp in one corner where they used to be to bring more light into the room. On that note, we also changed the fluorescent light bulbs in the whole house for incandescent ones because they give off brighter and warmer light. The picture and accessories around the fireplace are entirely new. Finding a picture for there was really hard. I think I tried 5 different things before I found one that looked okay. That's part of the back and forth shopping I talked about. Without the shelves on either side, the brass insert really stood out and needed to be toned down with accessories. It took a while until that was satisfactory. 

The couch got a cover to cover up the ends that the cats shredded. New throw pillows were added. New pictures above the sofa. When picking pictures, painted ones are better than photographs and generic pictures are better. Flowers are okay if they are stylized. You can't see it, but we took the curtains down over the whole house. That showcased our new windows and the pretty view we have surrounding all sides of the house. Of course, that meant that we did a lot of window cleaning.

Recently redone hardwood floors helped the whole look. Luckily, no work required there.

Before: Family Room
This was the room that we spent the most time in. When the kids were younger, the basement served as the family room, but we moved up here a few years ago. Our computer, TV, and files were in here.  It opens up directly from the garage and it was also our mudroom and drop spot. 

However, the room is not very big and we had it pretty crowded although quite functional for what we needed. 

Once again dated curtains and a covered couch. If you look closely, you see a fur spot where the cats rubbed on it daily. 

The colors are shades of blue and gold honoring WV colors, but not necessarily ones I think look best. Just ones I picked when I couldn't figure out anything else. I'm not good at picking colors. 

The pictures above the couch were wedding gifts from my aunt. She personalized one for both me and Ward about our home states and backgrounds.

After: Family Room
You'll see many of the same things were done here as in the living room. No curtains and fewer pieces of furniture. 

The gate leg table in the corner is from my grandmother and was supposed to used for staging in the dining room. We don't have separate dining room furniture and we wanted to move our every day table to use in the new house, so were going to use this table. However, we couldn't get the chairs to fit well with the gate leg so we folded it up and moved it in here to fill space with a suggestion that you could put a TV there is you wanted. 

The recliner has a smaller footprint than most and fits well in that corner. We set it up as a reading corner with a lamp, throw, and end table with books that are out of sight on the other side of the chair. The lamp has a brass pole, but decided to use it since it is mostly out of view behind the recliner. 

The recliner has several scratch marks on it from the cats so it definitely needed a throw to cover them up. However because it is leather, most throws slid right off of it. I actually tried taping them, but that didn't work so well. The one that's there was crocheted by my aunt that has lot of texture so it didn't slip so easily.  While the throw is kind of old fashioned, it was okay because it was a good texture contrast with the chair.

We removed the ceiling fan (notice the top of the first picture) and replaced it with a light fixture. This got rid of the dated, brass fan that was there.

And the list goes on an on. We did this to pretty much every room in the house and several places outside. Another day, I may show you some more before and afters. But for now, there's still a lot of house stuff to do. Next up is cleaning up the yard and garden shed at the old house and moving things from there to the new house.

Until next time...

Note: When I call things dated and old fashioned, no judgement here. Obviously, because that's what we were living with. However, we thought that the market for our house would be young families and they were the ones that would consider them "old". We didn't want our house to look like their parents or grandparents house. We wanted it to look like it could be "their" house. Who is actually buying our house? A young couple about to be married buying their first house.