Thursday, April 28, 2011

Ode to Appliance Joy, Installment One

It is not new. In fact it is about 10 years old.

Nor is it particularly spiffy in design.

But it functions.

And it is ours.

Yes, it is the dishwasher of which I speak. E grew up with one that functioned intermittently. I've never had one until now and needed lessons on how to use it. What a joy. The sound is so comforting – the sound of something being handled FOR YOU. I would hug it if the cabinet weren't in the way.

Sigh. E's still my number one, but my dishwasher is quickly becoming a beloved friend.

Overstating? Probably. Concerned about that? Nope.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Project the First

The only major appliances the house lacked when we bought it were a washer and dryer. We researched and researched and finally chose a lovely "oxide silver" Maytag front loader set. We were able to order at a greatly reduced price due to the generosity of a family member who shared a discount (thank you!) As a result, they won't be arriving until May 16, but we didn't know that when we bought the house, so my first decree was that the color of the laundry room had to change. It's a very small room, with little more space for anything but the machines themselves, and we knew it would be too hard to do after they arrived. So challenge number one was before us already.

Too addled by paper signing to make any serious decisions about color, we chose white – not adventurous, but an improvement. We neglected to take proper before pictures, new bloggers that we are, but trust us when we say that the light peach paint in the room was accurately described by E as "Silly Putty." This combined with some OK-but-dated stenciling made paint one of the first (of many) home improvement purchases.

E was eager to get going and started painting on our second full night in the house. Not sure the color's silliness or puttiness is shining through here. Let's take a closer look – side by-side comparison:



All of this is gone due to the efforts of my now sore-shouldered husband. Oh, let's not forget the lighting:

This times two. My parents sold these in our furniture store from the 70s through the 80s. I hadn't seen one in ages.

Things are proceeding excellently. The dogged E has finished the walls and most of the trim. Only the doors remain. We should have new lights by tomorrow evening, after an initial choice that didn't work well. We will have to address the cabinetry too, and would like to do that before the machines arrive, but are at a bit of a loss, so all we've done so far is change the knobs. Baby steps.

Lessons learned so far? Primer is your friend, especially when using white over any color, especially when covering stenciling. We initially skipped that step and realized later how wrong we were. Also, effective tools are extremely helpful. After a coworker recommended that E look into getting a power roller, E found a tool called a Paintstick EZ Twist that is purely mechanical, lacks a motor, and as a result is both cheaper and more appealing to E, who enjoys purely mechanical items like some enjoy pedicures. While, as he is fond of saying, it is no "magic bullet," it has allowed him to decrease his painting time, not too mention his bending-and-tray-fussing time, significantly, as it siphons paint straight from the can. Trim and edging must still be done manually of course, but if shaving seconds can save lives in trauma centers, it can save sanity in home improvement.

Christmas in April

What a joy it is to be able to get out all those wedding presents we've had to store since November 2009. I'm spending the afternoon unwrapping the rest of our dishes and other items we didn't have room for at the old place. Happy Easter Monday to us, and thanks again to all for your generosity.

And We're Back!

We have Internet at the house! More posts to come!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Like Days of Yore

We have had some delays getting our home Internet access set up, hence the lack of posts. But come Monday, boom! Right after we paint, rip out carpet, re-floor, buy new furniture...just kidding.. We'll include you on all that. And by the looks of the place, there will be PLENTY of it!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Front Porches Rule

Another first: Yesterday, a dreary and rainy day. I got home from work before C, changed into painting clothes, ran outside to get the mail...and locked myself out of the house. Thank God for the front porch.

Start placing bets on the next stupid thing I'll be the first to do.

Friday, April 15, 2011

The Deed is Done

Today was the day. An hour of signing, a ridiculously sized check, and it was all over. The house was ours. Here it is:

The door knocker:

The entry way stairwell, with unfortunate carpet:

The living room: fireplace 1, octagonal moulding 0:

Large, deep window at the front of the living room:

Dining room behind the living room:

Kitchen next to the dining room:

Family room next to the kitchen: doors lead to the patio:
The patio:
The maple tree:
The back of the house:
The back of the house from the property line:
And the front again:
As you can see, it needs quite a bit of cosmetic work. There's also a lot of worn out carpeting on the second floor that I haven't shared here. So we have our work cut out for us, but we've been assured that, structurally, the house is pretty sound, so we can concern ourselves with prettying up the joint. Its overwhelming, but exciting too. Fingers crossed.

I can't believe we bought a house. I feel like we got married all over again.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Hearth and Home

“What I like about this one,” said E as he clicked open yet another real estate listing,” Is that it has two fireplaces.”

We had been looking for a home for about three months, which may not sound bad, but when those months include the holidays and winter, things can get a bit dreary. Especially when the housing market is so good for buyers, it’s terrible for sellers. This meant that owners of interesting homes were only selling if they absolutely had to, and so were few and far between. The rest of the offerings had often been on the market for ages because no one was interested in buying the house with the bathroom in the kitchen, or the third bedroom in the stone floor basement.

We were planning on heading into the showing fray once again and were making a list of possibilities. We had decided to see anything that looked promising online, for any reason, just to make sure we weren’t ruling out anything unnecessarily.

The listing E opened was indeed for a house with two fireplaces. I desperately wanted one, so two was a bounty to be sure. The rest of the house gave me pause, though: a development home from the late 1980s, it appeared to have been decorated when it was new and left that way: hearts, geese, welcome signs, dusty rose and country blue. Blue kitchen countertop. Smurfy blue wall-to-wall. Sigh.

The exterior was a little more promising -- although only 20-plus years old, the double chimneys gave the house an older appearance that I liked. There real stone on the front of the house helped as well.

Perhaps the biggest hurdle was the development issue. A history major and veteran of multiple childhood summer vacation trips to both Colonial Williamsburg and Old Sturbridge Village, I had always sworn I’d buy an older home – not 200 years old, maybe, but at least pre-war. Developments to me too often meant no trees, no sidewalks, and an artificial feeling of being plopped in place with no relationship to a real community, no center other than the occasional strip mall. I completely understood why they might make sense for others, but not for me.

But two fireplaces. We added it to the list, along with four other houses we planned to see in a marathon Saturday housing run.

It was the second stop that day, after a pricier house that had recently been redone. It stood little chance. Dazzled by the gorgeous new flooring of the previous place, I was in no mood to tolerate 80s early American. Part way through, I turned to E and told him I was finished. He said he’d like to keep looking since we were there.

We finished the grand tour of homes that day with the house essentially ruled out. But over the weeks to come we realized we could get that house significantly cheaper than the “finished” house, and make it our own – choose our own lovely flooring, paint colors, etc., instead of having them picked for us. In addition, this particular development showed no evidence of plopping – it was a natural outgrowth of a small town, walking distance from schools, a pool, restaurants, a library, and more. The house has sidewalks and is located at the intersection of two real roads that predate the development. E would still be surrounded by cycling country, something we had hoped to retain from our apartment’s location. And we would have two fireplaces. We had found our house.