Tag Archives: home ownership

One room down, three to go

I’ve been wanting to share our new and improved living room since our furniture arrived last week, but I haven’t been able to get a good shot in natural light that accurately represents the paint color. The light from that dang window is just too bright. I would also benefit from a camera class, but I digress.

This is the best I’ve been able to do anyway. The overhead lights throw the color off a bit in the corner, but if I turn them off, the rest of the room is too dark with the light from the window. At first, I wasn’t sure about the color. I think I just stared at it too long while paint, though, because after a few days, I grew to love it. The room is so much lighter and airier, and I can definitely feel a difference in my mood now that I’m not staring at those dark orange walls every day.

We love the furniture. The recliner closest to the camera is left over from our old furniture, and I can’t decide what to do with it. I don’t love it there, but the extra seating is nice for company. We tried it out in the master bedroom, but the awkward shape of the room just made it not a good fit there. I originally wanted it in the den, but now with the couch back there, there’s really no room for the chair. (That’s a post for another day, though … when we finally get brave enough to paint the den.)

We’re in the process of searching for inexpensive wall art to perk up those bare walls. Wall art suggestions are welcome. Stay tuned!

Mini home makeover wish list

When we started house hunting, one of the main things on our list of “must haves” was that the house needed to be move-in ready. We weren’t looking for a fixer-upper. We’re not handy enough for that sort of thing, and we knew we’d ultimately underestimate the cost of renovations and get in over our heads.

We lucked out when we found our house. Someone had already done the heavy lifting, and according to our neighbors, his renovation work has made a world of difference. Unfortunately, we don’t have any “before” pictures. But we’ve been told the handcut stone masonry on the front of the house was added in place of worn vinyl siding. Gorgeous dark laminate floors replaced worn carpet throughout the living space. The bedroom carpet is new. The kitchen, bathrooms, and laundry room are outfitted with ceramic tile instead of vinyl flooring. The windows are brand new. The kitchen counters and cabinets are new. The paint colors aren’t what I would have picked, but it’s fresh paint, so we’re making it work for now. In short, the house was gutted and redone from the inside out.

We are blessed in that we don’t have any major renovating that we want to do to the interiors. It’s all been done for us, and we love it. That doesn’t mean I don’t have a to-do list, though.

I have a wish list of items I want to makeover our sadly sparse space. I know what I want, and now I’m just saving up the money and keeping my eye open for deals. Here’s what I’m looking for.

One of the things we fell in love with in the house is sort of an odd space behind the kitchen and next to the garage. It’s a narrow room with a fireplace. It’s on the opposite side of the house from the bedrooms, which makes it the ideal spot for us to relax after the baby is asleep. The living room is right in the middle of the house, and the occasional loud commercial has been known to wake the baby. We want to transform the den into a place where we can work, read, and relax without worrying about waking him.

Over the weekend, I found an old sewing table that perfectly fits my sewing machine. It doubles as a laptop desk for me when I close the cover. Tony’s desk is back there as well as our record player and a small bookshelf. The last thing I want is a set of matching small but cozy chairs and an ottoman so we’ll have a place to relax and read by the fire in the evening.

I’m pretty sure I’m going to pick up these IKEA chairs and ottoman when we get a chance to trek up to Cincinnati. At just $99 each plus $139 for the ottoman, we can afford them now. They’re small enough to fit in the space, but look comfy. The ottoman doubles as storage space.

In the kitchen, we have an empty corner that could fit a small table and chairs. What I’d rather do is buy a freestanding cabinet to use as a pantry. Our cabinet space is lacking, and a freestanding shelf unit would give me plenty of space for stockpiling nonperishables.

I envision something like this, but I’m on the lookout for something much cheaper than its nearly $400 price tag.

Our kitchen is also lacking counter space. What we lack in cabinet and counter space we more than make up for in floor space, so there’s plenty of room for a freestanding kitchen island like this one. I love the butcher’s block top and knife storage. I also love that the wheels would allow us to push it out of the way if necessary.

For the living room, I’ve been dreaming of upgrading from our decades-old secondhand sofa. I am absolutely in love with the classic look of canvas slip covered sofas. The designer ones from Pottery Barn come with a hefty price tag, and I’m hesitant to make that kind of investment with a baby who will be a toddler soon and siblings sure to follow. Luckily, I found this considerably less expensive version at IKEA in a darker color that will mask toddler stains. We’re hoping to get the furniture next spring. We’ll also get a matching armchair and ottoman. Actually getting them here from Cincinnati will be an ordeal, but I’ll save that for another post. Hopefully they’ll last us through our young children years and we can get something fancier later.

Finally, for the master bedroom, we desperately need a closet organizing solution. Our house was built in 1970, so there are no fancy modern walk-in closets. For an older house, the closets are a good size, but we need a closet organizing system to make the best use of the space possible. For right now, we’re using the closet in the guest room for our clothes, because our master closet doesn’t even have a rail.

I’m also on the lookout for cheap, do-it-yourself wall art. Our walls are sadly bare, and with all of these other functional items I want, I don’t want to use our budget for expensive wall art. Any brilliant ideas would be much appreciated.

Of course, thus is just my wishlist for the inside. My ideas for the acre of land are endless.

What’s on your wishlist?

I need to grow a green thumb pronto

One of the things I love most about our house is that it rests on about an acre of beautiful land. Unfortunately, we moved in a little late in the season to till and plant a garden, but you better believe I’ll have a mini farm back there next spring. Tony is looking forward to cutting down on the amount of grass he needs to cut, and I can’t wait to harvest fresh organic produce.

In the meantime, I put in a small raised herb and vegetable garden in the flower bed in front of the house. We planted red pepper, tomato, cucumber, sage, peppermint, parsley, oregano, rosemary, and basil. It’s my first garden, so I wanted to keep it small and manageable. But I have much bigger plans for the future.

Everyone who has visited us has walked around the property and marveled at the plant life. Unfortunately, most of it is overgrown and woefully neglected. That’s one of the downsides of purchasing a renovated home. The seller bought it a year ago, completely renovated the interior, and let the acre of property grow unchecked. In some spots, our yard has turned into a rainforest.

Exhibit A: Piles and piles of yard waste behind the shed that’s dead underneath but sprouting plants and vines on top.

Exhibit B: Dead wood stacked next to the shed that we need to do something about before it attracts termites.

Exhibit C: Patch of weeds with flowers underneath. In the spring, there were daffodils here. I have no idea what other pretty plants would thrive if we could get rid of all this weedy growth.

Exhibit D: Honeysuckle plant that may eventually overtake our house if we don’t get it under control soon.

Exhibit E: Brambles and brush that’s possibly hiding a mulberry bush and who knows how many critters. Yikes.

One of the ambitious plans I discussed with my mom was the possibility of planting a mini orchard – a couple small apple trees and maybe a pear tree.

Both my parents and my in-laws have come to visit the house since we moved in, and we walked the yard with both of them to get their help identifying some of the plant life. They all assumed the four trees with tiny fruit growing on them were crab apple trees. I decided I’d probably take them down to make room for my mini orchard eventually.

This weekend, though, I discovered that the tiny fruit on those trees has continued to grow, and they appear to be growing into real, honest-to-goodness apples.

Exhibit F: Mysterious fruit-bearing trees.

I can’t find a reliable way to tell if they’re true apples or crab apples. They don’t seem as round as crab apples. I cut into one, and it looked exactly like an apple on the inside. It also tasted like a tart apple. It was tart, but definitely sweet, not bitter. I haven’t been able to find out whether crab apples look and taste like apples, but they already look bigger than most of the crab apples I’ve seen in pictures.

One thing I’ve read in several places is that the only difference between crab apples and true apples is that crab apples are less than 2 inches in diameter. Some of the fruit on these trees is already 2 inches or maybe a little bigger, so I have high hopes.

If they are apple trees, they’ve been allowed to grow much too tall (25 or 30 feet). They also haven’t been pruned in at least one growing season, possibly more, because the previous owners of our home before the renovation were an elderly couple that probably didn’t do too much yard work. It looks to me like it’s probably been several seasons since they were pruned.

I’m not sure what kind of fruit the trees will yield this year. There is a ton of fruit on them, and I fear I’ll end up with a million tiny, too-tart apples (or crab apples) instead of a smaller number of plump, delicious apples. The trees are also full of dead limbs and look like they could possibly be sick in some places, so I need to do more research to determine if the fruit is even safe to eat.

I am feeling incredibly overwhelmed by all of the plant life we’ve inherited on this property. It’s an embarrassment of riches for this wanna-be gardener, but I feel like I’ve inherited too much for a beginner to take on at once.

Any tips on how I can save these giant apple trees – or advice on how I can determine if they’re real apple trees at all? I’ve grown unreasonably attached to the idea that they may be apple trees, and I’d like to rescue them if they are. I just have no idea how to do it.

Also, if you have any tips on what I can do about the rest of this hot mess, I’d love to hear them!

A mouse in the house

I’ve made no secret about my struggles with anxiety. I worry. Constantly.

Less than two weeks after moving into our new home, and I’ve come to the conclusion that homeownership, while wonderful, has extended my list of worries by about a mile.

At the top of my list? A MOUSE. In my kitchen. At least one, probably more, likely living behind the dishwasher. Tony came face to face with it last night before it scampered under the counter behind the dishwasher.

After the mouse encounter, I seriously considered packing up and moving in the middle of the night like the family in “The Amityville Horror.” Because seriously. IT WAS A MOUSE.

So far it’s been suggested that we get a cat or set up traps. But the idea of finding dead mice freaks me out way more than a live mouse. I mean, I used to have hamsters when I was a kid. This is no different, right? Except he feeds himself. And doesn’t require a cage.

I’m not sure a cat would help anyway. My parents live in front of a corn field, and they used to get field mice in the basement in the fall when the weather started turning colder. We had a cat — a very lazy cat who didn’t seem to mind the mice. In fact, my bedroom was in the basement, and I distinctly remember waking up to see a mouse getting into the cat’s dish while the cat lazily slept next to me.

I like the alternative even less. A cat who actually hunts mice? When I was a kid, I had a neighbor whose cat was a skilled mouse hunter. It wasn’t uncommon to find a random mouse head on the porch. No thanks.

Not to mention, my husband is deathly allergic to felines, and it stands to reason that our son will be, too.

I don’t suppose there’s any magical, humane solution, is there? Because I was just kidding about letting the thing roam my kitchen as a pet.

Please, help, Internet! I don’t want to move again. But I also don’t want a mouse for a roommate.