...because home doesn't happen overnight.
05.31.11 / Open House Flowers

We had yet another Open House this past Sunday.  That makes, like, seven total now.  Whew.  I counted the other day and we’ve had about 20 showings in the last 2.5 months.  Fingers crossed that one of them leads to something.

For this last Open House, I picked up a $5 bouquet on my way home from work beforehand to add pops of cheery color.  It was also an excuse for me to let out some withheld creativity frustration…albeit a little.  I still have a lot left in me.  I loosely arranged the single bouquet into 4 different vases for a casual effect.  I placed a large glass vase {which hails from Goodwill} on our dining console. Some of the buds haven’t opened yet, so I think we’ll have blooms for a while.

I lined a trio of West Elm vases {found at a Pottery Barn Outlet for cheap-o} along the dining table. I love the way the white vases and magenta blooms stand out in contrast to the black tabletop.  It’s almost like they’re floating.

Of course, someone isn’t going to buy our house just because there are pretty flowers in vases. But they sure felt welcoming and happy…feelings that we’d hope potential buyers would have when touring our home.

What did you do this weekend?  Were you a weekend warrior and finally tackle that home improvement project that’s been on your to-do list forever?  Did you keep cool and enjoy a long weekend with your family? Did you make a trip to the cemetery to visit lost loved ones?  I worked all weekend {blah} including the holiday while Handy Hubby was on kid duty.  He was also in charge of the Open House after we spent all of Saturday night cleaning like crazy people.  We did enjoy some time with my grandparents who are visiting from Florida and celebrated my grandpa’s 76th birthday with grilled kabobs and cake.  Yum!  Our neighborhood pool opened this past weekend, too.  Although I didn’t get a chance to enjoy it {no time!}, I’m looking forward to getting some use out of it this week.  I’m going with the ‘glass half full’ point of view on this one and thinking that maybe it wouldn’t be so bad if our house didn’t sell until fall so we could splash around in the pool all summer.

images:  Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

As far as house plants go, I’m all for easy and low maintenance.  ‘When was the last time I watered the plants?‘  Let’s be honest, if you were a plant in my house, you might think you were living in the Sahara Desert…I rarely turn on the ac and it could be weeks before you see a drop of water come your way.  So it should come as no surprise that I do pretty well with succulents.  Lately, I’ve been hearing a little about ‘air plants’ too.  Air plants require no soil, just indirect light and water on their leaves.  Seems easy enough.  Then I came across the Etsy shop, Tortoise Loves Donkey, and now I’m completely hooked.  Making teeny terrariums with succulents and air plants is officially on my very long to-do list.

From the petite concrete planters to the botanical science experiments in narrow glass tubes, I’m head over heels for Tortoise Loves Donkey.  What inspiration!  The shop even offers terrarium and air plant wedding favors.  And the shop owner is funny too.  Just read any of the product descriptions.  Take the Hunky Chunky Corked Set of 3, for example…

“Some days, you just need a little zen in your life. To stare at dial-tone-in-the-brain-like*. For a long time. These are great for that. You know how I know? I’ve had a few days like that. And I can’t guarantee it, but it’s quite possible that these are better for your soul than coffee. That’s saying a lot from a chick whose coffee makers (types, alone) outnumber her, oh, 6 to 1.

But seriously. Zen.

One awesome terrarium with its own little (no fuss easygoing) air plant. And cork…I’m looking at you, cats-who-knock-things-down-from-ledges. And care guide (it’s short, and easy, we swear). Measures about 2 1/8″ high and just over 1″ wide.

Set of 3 (some things are just better in threes).

*Do cell phones have dial tones? I never noticed. Are the young folk gonna be like “you’re so old you know what a dial tone sounds like”??! *sigh* I’m going back to staring at my wee plants.”

I like humor.  Especially on Fridays.  Anyhow, I think it’d be fun to try my hand at something similar: small concrete planters or itty bitty terrariums.  And if I fail, I can always buy from this Etsy shop, right?  I do love supporting small businesses and starving artists.

Speaking of DIY terrariums, did you happen to see this tutorial for terrarium magnets?

It hails from none other than a wedding planner’s website/blog called Ruffled and I think it’s fantastic.  Must do it.  The tutorial was created as a DIY wedding favor idea but I could see it making its way into mainstream DIY decor.  Terrariums must be all the wedding favor rage right now.  Man, I feel old.  Back in the day, we just gave our wedding guests some matches and sparklers to play with and called it a day. Nothing says, ‘thank you for sharing our special day’ like singed dress clothes and burnt fingers.  Do you ever wonder what your wedding would be like if you had to do it all over again now?  Of course, that’s a question for people who have been married for nearly a decade like Handy Hubby and me.  Hmmm…that would be a fun blog post.  Not that my wedding was lame.  It wasn’t.  Especially since I ended up with a Handy Hubby.

Okay, wow.  It must be Friday.  My brain is all over the place.  Now, what was I talking about?  Oh, right, the Sahara Desert.  I think I hear my house plants begging for water…

T.G.I.F!!!!!!

images:  1) Picnik collage by Dana Miller using Tortoise Loves Donkey images  2 & 3) Ruffled

A video tour of the Underdog is on my to-do list.  It sounds easy enough, right?  But when the only free time I have includes two lil’ boys who are very curious about power tools and broken, sharp objects it’s not very conducive to gluing my eyes to a video camera screen and traipsing through a mess of a house.  Who knows what those rascals would get into while I focused my attention on a video house tour!  My guess is I’d walk in on Layne using the electric drill in his brother’s ear or something.  Could you imagine that house tour?!  There would be a lot of editing.  Anyhow, I do have some kid-free free time coming up in a few days and I plan on driving up to the new, old house and making a video tour.  Until then, you’ll have to settle for my measly attempt at drawing up some floor plans for you.  Like the title of this post suggests, they aren’t technical {I left out the closet in bedroom 1}, pretty {Photoshop is on my wish list} or even to scale but you get the gist.  If anything, maybe it helps you to get a feel for the layout so that when I share the actual video tour you have a better sense of where things are.  Maybe.  FYI – The house really isn’t crooked.

Since you saw the garage yesterday, let’s start there and work our way around the house, shall we?  Plus, that’s probably going to be our everyday entrance once we move in.  Does anyone enter their own house through the front door anymore?

{an old pic…the trees, shrubs and shutters are gone now}

Garage – The two-car garage juts out from the rest of the house and has a double garage door that opens on the side of the house.  I like this feature.  Our current home has garage doors that open to the front of the house and while it’s convenient, it looks like the house eats the car every time we park.  Not to mention garage doors {that I can afford} aren’t known for their aesthetic.  The Underdog garage has its own window at the front of the house.  It’s one of the few windows that wasn’t upgraded by the previous owners.  Someday we’d like to replace it to match the newer windows.

Den – The den is located just off the garage.  This is where the window ac unit resides…the only air conditioning in the house right now.  Once the window unit is removed, a new window will have to be installed.  There are fairly new patio sliders that lead out to the backyard.  Someday I’d like to replace the sliders with french doors but that’s way down on the to-do list.  The other day Handy Hubby asked me why this room was the ‘den.’  I’ve been referring to it as the den ever since we toured the house.  I didn’t really have a good explanation but it felt like a den to me.  This is probably the room where we’ll watch TV and relax.  I found a few, unofficial definitions of a den:  1) a secluded room for study or relaxation 2) a part of a house similar to the living room: a den is about the size of a living room, but smaller than a family room 3) a comfortable usually secluded room.  I think our den fits these descriptions, so a den it is.  Plus, den just sounds more sophisticated.  And this house needs all the suggestive sophistication it can get.

{another old pic…the dryer has since been sold on Craigslist}

Laundry closet – A modest closet just off the den acts as a laundry room.  It’s also where the original fuse box was located before Handy Handy relocated it to the garage.  Contrary to popular belief, we don’t have plans to move the washer/dryer hook-up.  I actually enjoy doing laundry and try to stay on top of it, so it’s rare that our laundry is ever taking over the closets/laundry room.  Not that having a laundry room in our den won’t pose a challenge.  I want those bi-fold doors outta there.  I’ve been thinking of hanging fabric panels in place of the doors, DIYing a countertop above the washer/dryer, adding open shelving and even using part of the closet as a pantry or serving bar.  There are so many different ways it could go, so I think we’ll have to live there a while before I decide one way or the other.

Kitchen – Oh, the kitchen.  Well, you already know the walls separating the kitchen from the dining and living rooms are coming down…as is the kitchen soffit.

I’ll be sharing more details of the kitchen reno plans next week but for now I’ll say that I’m going for a symmetrical, balanced look.  After all, you will be able to see the kitchen from the living room and front door. And since we won’t have a space solely designated to dining, the kitchen will be an eat-in kitchen.  We also won’t have a room to devote to office space, so our kitchen will triple as an office.  It’s going to be one busy kitchen!  Some things I do like about the kitchen as-is is the sink placement.  There’s a nice view out to the backyard from the window above the sink.  So, the sink location is staying put.  However, refrigerator, oven/stove and dishwasher locations are getting all jumbled around.  In fact, there was no dishwasher in the original kitchen so we’re having to extend kitchen space {into the previous dining room} in order to make room for the added appliance. Fun stuff!

Dining room – You guessed it.  The dining room will become part of the kitchen space.  We aren’t formal people and have no need for a room devoted entirely to dining.  We’d rather use every square inch of space that we can for daily activities like paying bills, sorting mail, blogging, and checking email.  The dining room will gain cabinetry and countertops to make these tasks possible. Where exactly will we eat? There are a few possibilities:  a large kitchen island, a floating dining space or a combo of both.  We haven’t made up our minds on that one yet.  One thing that will stay for now is the large window that looks out onto the backyard, although eventually I’d like to have a french door or two there.  I have aspirations to open this house up to the outside.

Living room – I really do love this living room.  The huge picture window lets in so much natural light and the brick fireplace {minus the random lamp} makes for a good focal point.  Once that wall on the right is removed, it’ll feel even more bright and airy.  I’m leaning towards painting the brick but haven’t decided 100%.  Since this is the room guests enter into from the front door, it needs to act as an entryway of sorts too.  I haven’t been able to come up with any entry plans yet.  That’s okay.  I have plenty of time before anyone’s going to want to visit!

Hall closet/bath – The first space off the hallway to the bedrooms is another narrow little hall that leads to a hall closet {designated as ‘L.C.’ for linen closet – not Lauren Conrad – in the floor plan} and full bathroom.  This will be the kids’ and guests’ bathroom.  I’m pretty much set on getting a vintage claw foot tub in there if I can.  I do love the window in the shower area.  It’s one of the original windows that hasn’t been replaced but it’s in great shape and has rippled glass panels for privacy. I think it just needs a good cleaning and a few coats of paint to make it look like new.  I know some of you adore the pink tile but it’s just not my thing…and especially not my lil’ boys’ thing.  We’ll probably live with it for a little bit but eventually that tile is coming down.  Sorry to burst your bubble.  The toilet and sink positioning will remain the same to save time and money.

Utility closet – Just beyond the kids’ bathroom is a small closet that barely houses the furnace {labeled ‘F’} and gas water heater {labeled ‘W’}.  The furnace is fairly new and in good condition so it’s staying.  The water heater is 10+ years old and could die any moment according to our inspector.  We’ve tossed around the idea of replacing it with a tankless water heater to save space and money in the long run.  We may just wait until it goes kaput.

Bedroom 1 – This will be Everett’s bedroom.  It’s teeny.  Not even 10′x10′.  If you’ve been waiting for H*T to tackle a tiny bedroom, it’s coming.  I forgot to include the also teeny closet in the floor plan…probably because it’s small size is almost not even worth mentioning.  It’s located right behind where the door opens into the bedroom.  Closet organization here I come!

Bedroom 2 – This will be Layne’s bedroom.  It’s a nice size with decent closet space.  Layne’s only requirement for the room is a ceiling fan.  I’d also like to include a spot for doing homework.  It doesn’t come across in the floor plan but there’s a recessed wall to the left upon entering the bedroom.  I think a long, narrow desk and some open shelving would work well there.

Linen closet - At the end of the hallway to the bedrooms, there’s a small linen closet {labeled ‘L.C.’}  As you may have noticed already, storage is going to be tight in the Underdog.  I’m looking forward to editing and paring down our belongings to just the necessities.  We have so much stuff we don’t use!  I’ve thought of hanging a large mirror on the outside of the door to make the hallway feel bigger and bounce some light around. But I’m not sure how I feel about watching myself walk down the hallway all the time…

Bedroom 3 – This will be the master bedroom.  While the room itself is nicely sized, closet space is limited for two people so I’ve been pondering a wardrobe with a dressing bench included somewhere in the room.  This bedroom also has windows that are original to the home.  One of them has a cracked glass pane that will need to be replaced sooner rather than later.  As much as I love our current bedroom color scheme of grays, white and mustard, I’m thinking I might try a soothing color on the walls in our next bedroom.  Just for kicks and giggles.  And because it’s just paint which is cheap and easy to change.

Master bath – We were surprised to discover an adjoining bathroom on suite with the master bedroom…a true master in a 50′s ranch is rare!  This bathroom is basically a mirror image of the kids’ bathroom. Handy Hubby and I don’t take baths {I feel like I’m sitting in my own filth} so we’re thinking of removing the tub and replacing it instead with a tiled shower stall.  Again, I love the bathroom window.  It’s just like the one in the kids’ bathroom so it’ll stay along with the toilet and sink placement.

So, there’s a more detailed look at the Underdog’s floor plan.  Does it make sense now?  I would like to point out that this house has on-center windows which should make furniture placement and room arranging easy.  Have I mentioned yet that I love the fact that there’s at least one window in every room?  Me + windows = lots of smiling.  One thing that we will NOT be undertaking is room additions.  We plan on keeping the house’s original footprint outside.  What would be the point of downsizing if we added on?  Because of the smaller size of this house, we hope to be able to afford more quality materials and finishes since we won’t have to buy as much for projects.  We’re all about the quality versus quantity thing right now.  That doesn’t mean we’ll be choosing the most expensive option every time…we’ll still mix-and-match bargains with splurges…but we’re looking forward to incorporating materials that we haven’t worked with before.  Heck, we’ve still got a budget to stay within.  Stay tuned for the video version of this tour coming soon to a PC near you!

images:  Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

The Underdog’s garage is pretty tale-telling of what’s going on right now.  It has become a workshop, dumping zone and Craigslist store of sorts.

1 – That’s the new, upgraded 200 amp box which Handy Hubby relocated from the laundry closet in the den to the garage.  The original screw-in fuse box only provided 50 amp service.

2 – This is the pile of stuff that the previous owners left in the attic.  Handy Hubby brought it down so he could start moving some insulation around in the attic to make way for vaulted ceilings in the great room. My job was to go through the attic pile and see if there was anything interesting or worth keeping.  {I did get a chance to sift through the pile this past weekend and I’ll share what I found with you later.}

3 – Here’s all the carpet, padding, countertops and even a screen door that Handy Hubby has ripped out of the house.  The door was located in the doorway from the garage to the den but was heavy and cumbersome, so it came out while that entrance gets a lot of back-and-forth traffic during renovations.  Our lovely new neighbors were kind enough to haul the carpet away for us on their trailer.  I know ‘the dump’ is not a popular place in blog land but really there wasn’t much else to do with the disintegrated, rotted carpet and padding.  If we could have given it away or sold it on Craigslist we would have, but it was not reusable and unhealthy.  Anyhow, our new neighbors are really excited about the Underdog getting fixed up.  They keep telling Handy Hubby they’re so glad we bought the house.  Gotta love helpful and friendly neighbors!

4 – Those are the plywood shutters that came down last week.  We’re still trying to find a Craigslist taker for those.  So far, we’ve been able to sell the kitchen cabinets and laundry dryer {that was surprisingly left with the house} via Craigslist.

5 – This is the generator that a friend at Handy Hubby’s work has generously loaned to us until we get electricity hooked back up.  It’s been a lifesaver and a necessity!

6 – It’s hard to see but that’s a vintage copper backsplash and hood that was in the kitchen. They’re both up for sale on Craigslist.  We have plans for a kitchen overhaul that I can’t wait to share with you soon.

You can also see that Handy Hubby has set up shop in the garage.  An old workbench {just below the #1 in the picture} was left in the garage when we took possession and we’re using it as a tool catchall for now.  I think it’s going to be quite a while before we are able to park any vehicles in the garage.  But that’s okay.  There’s a nice-sized paved parking area at the end of the driveway that easily accommodates two cars side-by-side that will suffice until the garage is no longer needed as workspace for renovations.  Until then, I think it would be fun to check in on the garage every once in a while to see how its contents relate to what’s going on elsewhere in the house.  For instance, right now there’s no longer carpet and padding in the garage but a shipment of boxes arrived last week to take their place.  And, no, they’re not moving boxes.

image:  Dana Miller for House*Tweaking