Monday, May 26, 2014

Falling into Place

We often wonder if we're still on the right path, doing what we're supposed to be doing. When we moved into our current house, we felt strongly that this was where we were supposed to be. The house, the neighborhood, the school, the ward (congregational boundary). We knew this was the right place, and it was a great feeling. At the same time, I couldn't help but look forward. I knew we wanted more kids, and I knew the house we were in could only handle our growing bunch for so long. Even though that "limit" was all in my head, it was real nonetheless.
Benjamin at about 14 months, right around the time we moved in.
 Lately (actually, starting with Lydia's pregnancy), I've felt what can only be described as (probably mild) claustrophobia. I attribute that to sharing all of my personal space with another person for 9 months straight, while living in an 1100 sq. foot home with four other people.
Our fourth, Lydia is now 14 months.
Knowing this was largely in my head, and that my own ancestors (not to mention billions of people across the globe) have lived with a LOT less, I have done my best to be content. We didn't know if things would change at work anytime soon, and we didn't know if St. Louis was really our forever home. So we lived with what we had and made the best of it. And I can honestly say, we've been really happy.
Sixteen showings in 24 hours. We couldn't believe it.
We started our home search this Spring. During one of our casual "let's just see what's out there" online house window-shopping nights, we came across what we later termed as the "rainbow unicorn." In our favorite area, five bedrooms, a nice private backyard and comfortably within our price range. When we contacted a realtor about it, of course it was sold already. We prayed about it, and felt impressed that we could move if that's what we wanted to do. Not incredibly reassuring, but we decided it was time to get serious about putting our house on the market and finding another. 
We went to the Magic House that first afternoon of showings.
We really wanted to sell our home before buying another. There was just too much uncertainty, and holding two mortgages indefinitely terrified us. The realtor team we chose seemed pretty confident about selling ours though, so we looked and prepped simultaneously, every now and then discovering a home that was almost perfect. After a while, we took a break to get the drain pipe fixed, knowing we couldn't sell until that issue was totally resolved. The day we were finally ready to go back out looking, our dream house (which a friend in our ward had told us about before it hit the market, and which I had refused to actually consider because it was out of our price range) made a huge price drop- just into the upper limits of our price range. We jetted right over there that day, and knew right away this was the one. We also knew it wouldn't last long at that new price, so we went for it.
Paul removing the dead squirrel out front for day two of showings.
The next week our house went on the market, and we just had to wait for our realtor to get our brochures printed out before we started officially showing it. Once they were in, we had 16 showings in a 24 hour period- and all before the open house, where another 50 people came through. We got two offers that first night, and just like that - our house was sold. The couple who bought it reminded us of ourselves when we bought this house. Just like us, they offered more than listing, wanted to keep all the appliances, and asked for closing costs. I'm still holding my breath a little until everything goes through, but the timing has felt nothing short of miraculous. I'm so grateful.'s looking forward! I took some pictures during our inspection. It's a house from the mid-sixties, but it is SOLID. That foundation is in great shape, something I could never say about our current home. Here's the spot I want to convert into my studio! I'm really excited about this.
Here's the entry, with two closets on either side of the front door, and facing the stairway.
I am in love with the curvature of the stairway. 

And the upstairs hallway is crazy. Eight doorways leading to six bedrooms and two bathrooms- not counting the one off the master. Can you say - Guest room!!! We are excited not to have our guests on an air mattress in the basement anymore. So seriously, if you're ever in our neck of the woods, you no longer have an excuse not to stop by!
The bedrooms all kind of look like this. Wood floors, builder beige walls. 
One of the two bathrooms is updated, but the other looks like this. I might need to stretch my creative muscles with this one until we can feasibly do a bigger renovation...
Having never had a master bath, this is an especially exciting thing! It's nothing too fancy- no big jetted tub, but it's OURS. No more tub toys or little boy spray. ;)
Back downstairs, there's a living room (which we'll convert into a library/music room) on one side of the entry. It looks back into the family room. 
And the dining room is on the other side of the entry. While I'm not wild about the chandelier, that ceiling medallion is staying! (Paul and I were throughly enjoying our leisurely tour through our new house without kids, since they were at a friend's house! haha...)
The family room has these great ceiling beams that will be stripped. I'm all for natural wood beams. 
 The other side of the family room has a door leading to the backyard and a wet bar (which I'll probably knock out and convert into a game closet. Through the hall is a bathroom on the right and the kitchen. There's even a cute little desk right there, perfect for the computer!
 The kitchen is pretty plain, but I'm thrilled. It has probably three times more storage than what I've had these past seven years, and the layout is great. We can definitely live with this for a while until we save our pennies to make it ours. And I'm actually glad it's not granite. I would have felt a lot more guilty ripping out granite than this. :)
That doorway on the far left is the laundry room/closet!!!! No more basement laundry!
We may build a bench along that far wall for the eating area.
We still don't know when our closing date is. With Benjamin's baptism coming up in less than a month and our parents coming into town for that, we're hoping to get in as soon as we can. We're officially ready to move forward!!! 

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Guess What.

We bought a house. And I can't even begin to tell you how happy/humbled/blessed I feel. I feel like this new house is everything and more that I ever could have hoped for. Heavenly Father knows us perfectly. And the timing was nothing short of miraculous.
 We'll close sometime in June, so we're hoping for a quick sale on our current home. We've never felt completely settled in the house we're in, although we've always felt so grateful to have it. It was always a temporary stopping point, like we were just keeping it until it was time to hand it over to someone else. Now, we feel like we can just move in and live there for the rest of our lives. Through teenage years and graduations and weddings and big Thanksgiving dinners and house guests and everything. I'll try to get more pictures sometime this week when we do a walk-through inspection. The pictures online really don't do it justice.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Pretty Pictures!

 A funny thing happened this week in the midst of crazy market preparations for our home. I think I'm finally ready to let go. Honestly, this house no longer feels like ours.
Barbara- our Realtor, was a saint, and sent a complimentary cleaning service out this morning, right before she sent out her professional photographer. It's pretty satisfying to see these beautiful photos of all the work we put into it these past several years. Just seeing them gives me some sense of closure.
When Barbara really examined the deck last week, she mentioned that we couldn't sell it as is, without doing some repairs. When we started ripping up a few of the offending boards, it became clear that only about twenty percent of it was still intact. So, naturally, we ripped up the whole thing and replaced it. In 24 hours. It was nuts. 

Staging is funny. This space has only ever been home to a lawnmower and like twenty bags of random yard stuff. But doesn't it look cute now?
 I'll miss this space. But I am excited to start fresh again.

This bathroom has really served all six of us well. It's always in high demand.
 The kitchen really has never looked better. And I've never been more afraid to use it.

 The girl's room really came together too, I think. There's just too much furniture for the space. But we use every bit of it.
 The boys room looks amazing without the boxes and shelves and dressers covered with all their special things. They'll be excited to open that box up again in a few months!
 Our bedroom never did get that promised art over the bed. I decided to let the gorgeous quilt take center stage in here.

 The basement got all put back together in the nick of time.

 Notice the rug is strategically placed right over the still-curing concrete. We can't refinish that surface with stained concrete for another week or so. Also, I still need to paint the ceiling over the burst pipe spot- and ask the photographer to do a little photoshop. :)
 And here's the downstairs bathroom that has been used approximately five times since we've lived here. My Mom knows its quirks better than I do. ;)
Not pictured are the unfinished laundry room and the garage. Both are overflowing with boxes, extra book shelves, art, toys and the millions of other things that need to be put in storage. Gotta get on that.

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Kitchen Peek

 I think I may have left everyone in a collective panic when I posted this last picture of our kitchen floors. No, we didn't go with red, and yes, we were overjoyed when every bit of that eye-offending underlayment was covered up. We had some pretty tricky spots to cut- especially around doorways and by the stairs, but in the end, we figured it out!
 Also, I realized I had no true "befores" to show, but you can kind of see the color behind Peter here. It was a dusty medium blue, and did nothing for the closet-like feel of the space.
And here's the floor! In all it's non-red-or-crusty-grayed glory! I love the color, although I might have even preferred to go a bit darker. I painted the chipped, yellowed cabinets a bright white, which also helped a lot. 

I also replaced the hardware and stripped and spray-painted all the hinges in oil rubbed bronze. I replaced the doorknob too. 

We also added trim and caulk around all the gaps, so it looks much, much better overall. With the fresh paint color on the walls and white cabinets, I don't even mind the counters at all, where they used to be a really unsettling color. I took down the toile curtains, leaving the door bare and adding a bamboo shade over the window. 
I think it looks much cleaner and brighter. We're not completely finished. On the other side of the room, the stove is still sitting on a piece of cardboard, waiting for a cabinet piece to be installed between it and the dishwasher. But we're close! I'll take true "afters" in the daytime next time, and hopefully get truer colors. But it may also mean we have tiny redheaded models showing it off. ;)

Friday, May 02, 2014


I just can't help it. Whenever I go and look at houses, I mentally scan my pinterest board and come up with solutions to these old people/vanilla houses. For example, this house that smelled exactly like the old carpet looks (In my favorite school district, and in one of the most charming, kid-friendly neighborhoods I've ever seen with my own eyes):
 Basically we'd have to change out all the flooring and paint every surface before we moved in, but I was seeing lots of potential. You know, to make it a little more like this:

Then there was this kitchen (different house). Beautiful. Perfectly passable in every way, but I couldn't help but draw a parallel to one of my favorite Pinterest kitchens of all time ever. How easy it would be to convert this...

...into something a little more like this? That corner was screaming for a breakfast nook! Plus this particular house had five bedrooms, which is so hard to find, and a major plus in my book.
 I've gotten a little less enthusiastic about looking at houses ever since the basement floor had to be ripped up to replace the corroded drain coming from our kitchen. Somehow, our basement always finds a way to bring me back to reality. :)
 That patch on the wall is from the burst pipes this winter. It still needs to be painted.
 Oh, built-in! So, so glad you were spared!!!
 The emptied out storage room, where most of the shelves had to be ripped out.
I was almost ready to give up after this episode. Our whole house smells like a sewer, and it's going to take about a month to get it all back to back to how it was. But we will get through this, and our house will sell. THIS summer. We have a great realtor, who is great at bringing me back down from my roller coaster of emotions. We're getting so close!