...because home doesn't happen overnight.

tn kitchen 5

Steve and I are headed to Nashville this weekend for a much needed adults-only getaway. We try to take a trip just the two of us once a year. Sometimes it’s a big deal, and other times we visit far-flung friends (and ogle their kitchen). I get a little anxious leading up to trips like this. Who will watch the kids? Who will feed Cheetah? What if something happens to our kids/house/pet while we’re away? Is it really worth the effort just for three days? The planning is the hardest part.

nashville living room

nashville den

It’s always worth it though. Once we’re on the road without kids whining and making demands in the back seat, we both agree the quiet drive is a vacation in itself.

Now for the big question: What do we do/eat/drink/see while we’re in Nashville? You guys always have the best suggestions!

P.S. – A new kitchen in an old Nashville house and a fun Nashville house tour. I love the patterned sofas!

images: 1) Dana Miller for House*Tweaking 2) Leslee Mitchell for One Kings Lane

07.24.16 / DIY Trundle Tweak

trundle tweak 1

Mabrey has a real bed! We actually finished the bed several months ago. Then things kind of came to a halt while I searched for mattresses. More on the mattresses in a minute, but first I wanted to share how we gave an inexpensive, generic bed a unique look.

trundle tweak 2

The catalog image of the bed is horribly styled, but I liked the clean lines, trundle option and price tag. I knew it would look better with paint and different hardware. I originally shared my plans for the bed here, then changed my mind on the brass handles and opted for kid-friendly leather pulls instead. (You can see the mood board I created for Mabrey’s room here.)

When the bed arrived, Steve and I were impressed with the quality for the price. The wood was solid and the finish was super smooth with a slight sheen. We almost hated to paint it, but it wasn’t part of my vision.

trundle tweak putty

Before assembling the bed, I filled the knob holes with wood putty and let it dry.

trundle tweak sand

Then we took turns lightly sanding the surface with a random orbital sander to scuff it up for better paint adhesion.

trundle tweak paint sprayer

We decided to assemble the bed before painting it mostly because we didn’t have a way to prop up all the individual pieces. There was no way I was painting all the slats by hand with a brush, so Steve busted out the paint sprayer. He covered the driveway with a drop cloth to protect it from overspray and applied two thin coats of Benjamin Moore pine grove (#511) in semi-gloss, mixed in the Advance line. You can read more about the Advance paint here. It’s a great option for painting furniture or cabinetry because it’s self-leveling and provides a high-end finish.

We let the bed off-gas in the garage for over a week before bringing it inside. Once the bed was inside, Steve and I decided our dream kitchen includes cabinets painted Benjamin Moore pine grove. It’s SUCH. A. GREAT. COLOR.

trundle tweak 3

I did some measuring + math then pre-drilled holes in the trundle for the leather pulls and attached them with the provided brass screws and nuts. (Depending on what mattress you use, you may need to trim the backs of the screws so they don’t catch on the mattress.) I absolutely LOVE the leather handles against the olive green!

trundle tweak 6

For the price (I spent <$350 for the bed + trundle…essentially $175 per bed not including mattresses), I am extremely happy with how the bed turned out. The one thing that irks me are the pre-drilled holes on the side of the headboard and footboard meant to be used for a bunk bed conversion. I could have puttied them, but who knows? We might need another bunk one day.

trundle tweak 4

Believe it or not, the toughest part of this project was finding an eco-friendly trundle mattress. The mattress needed to be less than 8″ deep in order to slide under the bed easily. I found plenty of mattresses that would fit, but they weren’t exactly green. I really wanted to use Brentwood Home since I had great success with one of their mattresses in my bedroom, so I shot them an email to see if they offered anything that met my specs.

trundle tweak 5

They promptly replied and pointed me toward their kids’ section. (I had no idea they even had a kids’ section!) The Bamboo Gel 7 checked all the boxes and it was well priced at $205. Winner! If you’re ever in need of an eco-friendly mattress, I can’t recommend Brentwood Home enough. They have lots of options at different price points for cribs, trundles and larger beds, too. They even have changing pads and nursing pillows! (Totally unsolicited.)

The trundle isn’t on a track; it rolls on four casters. When pulling it out and sliding it in, you have to keep it parallel with the bed or it’ll get wonky, but it’s really not an issue since we use the trundle so infrequently.

trundle tweak 8

Slowly but surely, Mabrey’s room is coming along. (Did you spy the wall coverings?) I’ll be sharing the full reveal next month along with a complete source list, but I wanted to share the source of the sheets because they’re so pretty!Mabrey couldn’t decide which set she liked most, so we bought a set of each to mix and match. They have little tags on the long sides that read “SIDE” for easy bed-making. So helpful!

patterned sheets on top bed – Threshold performance sheet set in neutral, Target

blush sheets on trundle – possibly pink vintage washed sheet set, Target

Hope you’re staying cool!

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

flip house main

Confession: we’ve been trolling house listings since last fall. We knew that once our mortgage was paid off, we wanted to seriously consider potential investment properties. Initially, several scenarios came to mind: 1) Buy another fixer-upper to renovate and live in, and sell our current home for a profit. 2) Buy a rental property and rent it out while living in our current home. 3) Buy another fixer-upper to renovate and sell for a profit while living in our current home. We spent a lot of time studying the local real estate market, researching feasible real estate investment options, running the numbers, talking to realtors and seasoned investors and figuring out exactly what we wanted to gain from our investment. A new home? A sizable, one-time payoff? Steady, long-term additional income? A new experience? A challenge?

We looked at a ton of houses – online and in person. I can’t even make a guesstimate. A TON. We looked at all kinds of properties: foreclosures, short sales, HUDs, for sale by owner, sheriff sales, real estate auctions, old houses, new houses, big houses, little houses, estate sales and plain ol’ houses just, you know, for sale. At one point, we were this close to purchasing a parcel of land in a neighboring city and building an Airbnb first, then eventually adding a home for ourselves, but were stopped short thanks to zoning restrictions and a questionable lien on the property.

We discovered pretty quickly that it was going to take a property with loads of potential at a great price and some proper star alignment to get us to leave our current home. We’ve touched every surface, made it ours and own it outright. It’s the ideal setup for us at this stage in our lives. Plus, I think there’s something to be said for living in a home for a while after the renovation dust settles. So many homeowners move on to bigger and “better” things when their house is done, but we feel like, “What’s wrong with staying put even if it’s not our forever home, our dream house?” In reality, we’re very much enjoying the freedom our home has given us. That’s not to say we wouldn’t be tempted if the right house came along – at the right price, at the right time, in the right location. But, so far, it hasn’t and we don’t see any reason to force it. So we ditched option #1…for now.

Regardless of our living situation, Steve and I have been itching to take on another project. Home improvement is something we both enjoy. It’s a fulfilling outlet for us. We know houses are just things, but we can’t help seeing the potential in even the worst ones. And if we can turn a profit doing something we love, then heck, let’s try it! But not on TV. (Yes, there have been television offers but that’s not us. Props to the people who do it though!)

So as soon as we paid off our mortgage, we took out a home equity line of credit in order to make a cash offer on and renovate a fixer-upper. Mere days after we opened the account, we found the perfect investment property in a highly sought after local neighborhood. I toured it the day it went on the market while Steve was at work. (Scouring new listings had become part of my morning routine.) The minute I stepped in the door, I knew it was the one. Immediately after the showing, I called Steve and we decided to make an offer. We were actually driving up to Michigan for spring break later that evening and communicating with our realtor via phone to put in an offer. Sadly, a few hours later, we learned that there was a clause in the contract requiring owner occupancy for 12 months. Basically, we were required to sign a contract saying the house would be our primary residence for the first year. We had no plans to live in the house, and our realtor advised us against lying due to legal repercussions. So we had to let it go. Even though it was perfect.

Fast forward two months, a nearby dilapidated ranch caught our eye. (Sound familiar?) It was an estate sale to be sold in as-is condition and was located in a township void of pricey city taxes and within an excellent school district. (We had learned from months of research that “as-is” listings can be great investment opportunities.) Steve called our realtor to schedule a showing, but while we were waiting to hear back I noticed the listing had already gone “pending” online. When our realtor called back, we fully expected him to tell us the house was under contract, but instead he said we were good to see it that day.

“It’s listed as pending online. Is that not the case?” we asked.

“No. The listing agent said it’s a mistake. There have been major issues with a new listing database. There’s no contract,” he answered.

We saw the house later that day and made an offer that evening. Our lowball offer was accepted (most likely because we were paying cash, could close quickly and beat other buyers to it thanks to the lucky “pending” slip-up) and…SURPRISE!…we closed on the house last month. Since no liens, loans or in-person sellers were involved, it was the fastest closing ever. It went something like, “Sign here and congratulations.”

Although, the congratulations part felt laughable to us. “Congratulations! You just bought a second house! It needs a ton of work and smells like cat pee!”

As far as plans go, we’ve decided to fix it up and sell it as opposed to rent it out, although both are viable options. If it doesn’t sell (fingers crossed it does), we can always rent it out even though it’s not our first choice. (We’ve learned that we need a Plan B in case Plan A doesn’t work out.) Why sell? First, if renting the house were our primary goal, many of the improvements we’d like to make wouldn’t happen. Making improvements to appeal to renters is not the same as making improvements to appeal to buyers. Sure, we could go in and clean it up a bit and make a few so-so repairs and rent it out, but that’s not something that sounds too enjoyable or fulfilling to us. We like a good challenge. Second, the house is in the same township we live in, so we’re all for renovating it to maintain (and possibly increase) home values. Finally, we aren’t entirely sure where we’ll be living 10 years from now, and we don’t want to invest in a long-term rental and be responsible for it remotely.

I’m hesitant to call what we’re doing a flip even though, let’s be realistic, that’s what we’re doing. However, we have no plans to install the cheapest granite countertops we can find and slap down a bunch of carpet in a matter of weeks. Yes, one of our goals is to make a profit, but we don’t want to completely sacrifice style in the name of dollar signs. We love the idea of a thoughtfully designed, budget-friendly flip, and we’re fully prepared for it to take a little longer than the average flip. Is there such a thing as a careful real estate turnover? On the other hand, we also realize we’ll have to make some compromises since we’re not renovating the house for ourselves. We’re confident we can find a sweet spot between cheap flip and dream remodel.

I’d like to mention that we chose not to share our plans and house search in detail in real time on the blog because we wanted to be sure our decision wasn’t swayed by outside influences. We really wanted to stay true to ourselves and our personal goals. I hope you understand! The good news is I plan to document our flip experience much like I did our downsizing journey. If anything, we’ll all learn something, right?

So, yeah, we bought a house. It reeks of cat piss. And we couldn’t be more excited. Or scared. House tour coming soon! (Two words: pistachio walls.)

image: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking