Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Tell Me About Life in a Reno {Part 1}

**Quick update on the Family Room water issues.
I think it’s just fine.
We got the carpet dried out. And our friends lent us their carpet shampooer which we’ve cleaned the whole room and then I’ve been running over the previous wet spots a few more times. I think we’ll be able to pretend it never happened. Phew. And you know now I just get to laugh at me freaking out over nothing, right? ;)


Anyway, today I thought I’d do something different.



Since the girls and I were up at my mom’s house for a visit, I thought I’d take the opportunity to sit on her lovely country front porch and write a little bit, with the wind on my face.

People have been asking me a questions since we bought our house.

I thought It’d be fun to fake interview myself, since…. when I was a kid I was sure I’d be on Oprah someday. (Back then I’d open my heart to her about how my brother wasn’t sharing. And somehow that made me worth while guest. My audience, of porcelain dolls up on the shelf, was riveted.) Might as well continue to indulge my crazy notions that my day to day life is Oprah worthy. :) (But since this is pretend, Ill be making up the questions, and I dont think I have quite her knack for it. :) )
For the interview I’ll use questions I’ve actually been asked, questions that have been implied, and questions I’m assuming people have wanted to ask.


It’s kinda long, so I’ll do it in two parts. (You can read the rest here.)


Here goes:


What made you think you could buy a house that needed to be fixed up?
Well, I think a lot of that came from our parents. Both my own and Blake's parents are hard workers who’ve both bought houses that have needed a lot of fixing up, and I think watching them made us feel confident we could do it ourselves.
Blake’s parents in the last couple years purchased a home which needed major updating. So they install new hardwood floors, a new kitchen and two new baths. Did lots of painting. Tons of landscaping. The list goes on. And they are still renovating their basement now.
My parents bought their country farm house when I was fifteen years old. It was a total overhaul. Basically going down to the studs and back up again. I was a stubborn teenager so I only did the bare minimum of helping them do anything, which basically consisted of clean up -- mostly remains of the walls my parents took down and junk left in the barns. The rest of the time my parents let us run around outside and play in the barn. Or I liked cutting the grass on our hilarious rickety wheel popping riding lawn mower. So I didn’t learn too much specially about renovating a house, except that I watched as a run down dump of a house get built back up to a beautiful home. I also learned that it takes a really long time to do that. 
I didn’t actually live in our new house until we were about half way through my first school year (attending the school that this house belonged to) before we moved it we would commute from our old house (it took a long time to sell.) And even when we did move into the house the floors were bare, the walls barely put up, and I’d sleep in my winter coat and learned I couldn’t sleep next to the window because snow was falling on me!
We lived inside a world of tools and wood and drywall sheets. I’d come home, sit on a patio bench that just happened to be inside, have a small snack, maybe talk on the phone to a boy who called (while my stomach flip flopped around) and then go to my soon to be parent’s bedroom because it was the only place that wasn’t a major construction zone, to do my homework. At one point I had to walk across a wood plank to get there because there was no floor in the room.
And the crazy thing is, none of this phased me at all. I was so happy about where we moved I just didn’t even bat an eye. The only thing I balked at was staying there before my parent’s fixed up a bathroom. The one that was there was in  VERY  rough shape -- moldy, the toilet rocked on the soft floor, the bathtub had this hose taped onto the faucet for a “shower” option. That was my one rule, I wasn’t sleeping there without a different bathroom. No “showers” for me.
But the rest I was fine with. Including no Air conditioning through a whole summer of work.
So all that to say, fixing up a house is in my blood.
And our house is not even CLOSE to the level of fixer-upper that my parent’s was.
(I really need to do a post on their house some day!)


So if you didn’t actually learn how to fix a house as a teenager with your parents, what made you feel confident that you had the hands on skills you’d need to fix stuff?
Well, we have family on both sides who can help us if we need more help. Like I said both our parents have done this before. And our brother in law is a contractor who fixes and builds houses. So if we have questions we have at least three excellent sources to call.
And outside of that we are just pretty confident we have the skills or could learn the skills. My dad knows how to fix just about anything, and he’s taught himself how to do it all. So it’s in my blood and in my history to know I can teach myself new things and do it well. And I’ve taught myself a lot of other things in the past. Plus there is the internet -- the source of pretty much anything I’d need, right at my fingertips anytime.
Plus I’ve painted all the rooms in our first home -- so I know I can do that well, and that I like doing it. I’ve also pulled wallpaper before, I’ve mudded walls and begrudgingly sanded that mud.
I’ve painted lots of furniture.
I sew stuff.
I love to buy stuff at the thrift store and tweak it.
I’ve changed the way lots of things look.
We just felt sure we could do it with a house.
I was worried about being physically strong enough for some of the tasks -- like pulling up carpet. So I literally worked out before we bought the house just to be ready. It was hard, but we did it.


What was it about this house in particular that made you buy it?
We looked at all sorts of houses. LOTS and LOTS of houses.
We were moving here at a set time, so we couldn’t look forever. But I think I looked at every single house that look even remotely appealing in our price range.

Many of the houses I just could not see myself living in -- they just didnt have the right sensation. But there were a handful that I could. But ultimately there were really just two I’d want to pick from. The house we own now (a fixer) or a house that had just been fixed -- fixed up beautifully and stylishly. Everything about the house was nice. New beautiful dark floors, small but new and beautiful kitchen. HUGE master bathroom. Nice, nice, and nice everywhere. But the neighborhood just wasn’t as great as. We knew that if we bought the fixed up house we would be buying a house at it’s peak price point, there would no appreciating in value. We’d just be buying it to enjoy living there, not to really invest.
Our house on the other hand is in a fantastic neighborhood. (I could tell that when we came to look at it. But I really only started to fully grasp just how nice it is this summer as we take walks around -- every time we take a new route I am bowled over by what I nice place I get to live in.)
So we knew if we bought this house and fixed it, we’d be accruing home value. That’s really important to us.

Our first house did not accrue value despite us working on it, and it’s a little crushing. We are still renting it out because we couldn’t sell it due to it’s unappealing location, even if it’s a great house.
So really number one on my list when shopping this time was “location, location, location.” And this house had that inspades. Zillow lists our house as worth about $30,000 more than what we paid for it. And that’s just Zillow’s rough guess. Our realtors told us our neighborhood could support a house worth $100,000 more than what we paid -- depending on amenities. And in comparison our first home Zillow lists as worth about $15,000 less than we paid for it. (Purchased before housing crash and this area may not really recover, I don’t know. Sad times.) And no amount of fixing it up will add any value to it. The neighborhood is not selling well anymore at all. (More sad times.)
But that’s instant equity in this house. And like I mentioned if we fix it up really nicely it will be worth more than Zillow’s guess. And since we are DYI-ing everything we possibly can, there is no way we will spend even close to what the house will be worth.
We don’t have plans to move out of the house anytime soon. But we like the idea that we are investing into something of worth.
Besides that, this house had everything on my House Hopes list. I didn’t make a dream house list. I made a”It’d be nice if” list.
I gave a lot of thought to the layout of a home I’d like to have. This has has all of them. The main things were number of bedrooms, at least 2 bathrooms, and two living spaces (the theory being one could be for toys and one could be for grownup brain activity.) But it even has some unforeseen little hopes I never wrote down -- like when a hydrangea plant just popped up in the back yard by surprise -- its little things like that, that feel like a God hug. And it even has stuff I wouldn’t have not-bought the house over, but was hoping for -- like the sun rising into our bedroom windows, and setting into our living room windows.
But one big thing I was hoping for was a NOT-open floor plan.


Why do you prefer non-open floor plans?
In spite of the popularity of open floor plans, I actually discussed many times over with Blake how’d I’d prefer to not have a un-open floor plan. We looked at open floor plans while shopping, we would have potentially bought one, but they are re not my ideal. I LOVE that we ended up in a home that has a kitchen separate from our living spaces.


We started our marriage, and had a baby, while living in an open floor plan house.  Then we moved to a duplex that had a kitchen clearly open and visible from the living room.  That design DOES make the space feel bigger. And I like the look of it in pictures. But in my real life existence I don’t like how it ends up feeling. I’m naturally a messy person. I like to do projects and leave them out. I’m not the best at keeping up with the dishes or clearing the table. Then add in kids and the house is a wreck. I love being able to leave the room and leave the mess instead of seeing it from every angle. I love being able to leave the dishes at the sink and not see them from the couch. And I love that we don’t even have the option to watch TV from our table.
I was sort of nervous about the girls not being visible while I cook or {sometimes} do the dishes. But at the ages my girls were when we got here I felt ok about being out of the room (just around the corner) and they can get my attention very easily when they want to (believe me.) And for us it actaully works out so much easier for me to be out of sight to get stuff done. They just play and forget to “need” me. If they can see me, they don’t want anything but ALL my attention. I love that I can duck into the kitchen and get a few accomplished moments in.
Plus I read on Houzz this tread about open vs closed floor plans, and the idea was brought about about introverts perferring closed floor plans so they can get more alone time. That REALLY registered with me.


How did you know you could make this house beautiful? Can you make this house beautiful?
I feel very few things in this world can not be beautiful. Honestly. It’s a deep seated knowing. I think it’s part of how God made me and how I can understand Him a little bit. I think it goes back to “God made it, and it was good.” And I think it’s part of being created in His image. The need to create, and to create beautifully. I very rarely think I can’t make something beautiful. And honestly, if I don’t think I can it’s really just because I don’t have the time, money or skill set. I likely still think it’s possible.
But this house has fantastic bones. If you just imagined the walls a good color it’s pretty much done. This house is nothing like my parent’s house were it needed EVERYTHING. Our house is mostly cosmetic.
We do hope to take one wall out to open our kitchen to our eating space -- but what’s funny is, now that’s been cleaned and painted in there, everyone compliments that wall when they walk through. I can’t tell if it’s just because they feel like they should say something nice, or if people actually like it. But the room works great before a big overall.
I know the power of paint. I know that just because something looks dingy doesn’t mean it’s worthless.
And I knew this house wasn’t to far gone -- like the walls were still good walls. When I walked into this house I could literally feel how solid it was. When you walk through like 20 houses in one day, you can feel good crafts menship in your foot steps.
We knew we had hardwood floors upstairs. We knew we could install nice floor downstairs.


Whats your biggest aid in planning how your house will look and function?
Pinterest. Hands down.



How does Pinterest help you so much?
I’m a very visual person. I’m nonstop noting what I see. As I’ve aged I’ve trained myself to see more and more. The first time I took an art class, during a summer while I was in high school, I was shocked to learn how little I took in about things I’m looking at. When I was instructed to do a light-and-dark shadow study for an entire 3 hour class I was introduced to the concept of actually seeing things instead of just grazing over it. I didn’t know how to draw because I wasn’t truly observing how anything looked. Since then I’ve been a student of sight. I make mental notes of colors -- noting what I like about them, how they make me feel, what the do to spaces, they way the change things around them. I make notes about shapes and what they seem to say. I make notes about people’s outfits and why I like them and how I could recreate them. I note furniture. I note textures. I just note everything I see and keep it stock piled up.
Pinterest is basically my brain visible to other people. I can’t tell you how thrilled I am that pinterest got created.
So the more I look at Pinterest to search out house stuff the more ammo I have for my own home’s renovation stock piled up for me to reach for.
I’ve made a huge effort to make sure I use Pinterest in a way that is non stressful for me. I only follow boards that inspire me on topics I enjoy. And I unfollow any boards that either don’t apply to my existence or stress me out for any reason. Pinterest is my happy place. It  IS NOT my guilt center.
If pinterest hasnt been created I would have been doing this same process online, just not as efficiently.


I use it to get a general idea of the looks and feels I want too surround myself with. I just pin anything feel like I would like living in. And then I go back and look through those from time to time to narrow down common themes, and try to think through how that would fit in to my house.
But I also look for tiny actual details of things, like how to lay out our closet and pantry. Or how people laid out their laundry room - -trying to get the most bank for my buck in every single space.
I pin TONS and TONS. Sometimes I pin a picture just for one small bit in there. Or sometimes just because I like the vibe, and I dont plan on using anything in the picture, but trying to capture the same feeling the room had. And then there are the pins I plan on following the link to follow a specific tutorial. (But you can usually count on me tweaking it a bit.)

(I do this same kind of thing with clothes too.)

Man do I love Pinterest!



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Remember to come back and read more of my interview.”:)

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