our NEW fixer upper

i cannot believe we have a "house #2" now! it's been a whirlwind. and it's bittersweet saying goodbye to our first house, but we are so, very excited to call this new one home

here's a little tour [all pictures from mls listing]

here she is, in her macaroni & cheese glory! it's perfectly nestled in the woods, in a little neighborhood outside of town. hello, green trees! hello, glass storm door!! 
(we're thinking a nice white-ish/greige and maybe cedar shutters?)

when you walk in the front door, there isn't a real entryway, but there's a coat closet, beautiful stone fireplace, a little bay window action, lots of light, and laminate "wood" flooring.

through the living room (past the fireplace wall) is a little dining area. the door to the garage opens up here, and it is a walkway to the sunroom, so we will have to take extra care to not use our dining room table as a command center/dumping ground. a rectangular table with bench seating will help with the walkway. new light fixture, fa sho.

the dining "room" opens up to the kitchen. i have a vision of opening up the refrigerator wall into the living room for an open concept. there is a little passthrough into the sunroom (which i like, but would end up being covered by cabinets in "the vision"). buh-bye soffit, hello new everything!

and the sunroom! six windows surrounded by green trees! 
can't you just picture cozy, rainy movie nights in here?

a door from the sunroom leads to the deck--just enough space for a grill and some furniture. 
jeremy is very excited to drink coffee out here in the morning (i feel like everyone always says they'll do that, but never do..jeremy will probably prove me wrong). 
and, those sliding french doors are to the master bedroom!

all of the rooms in the house are so bright! our first house had only 6 windows! SIX! the new house has EIGHTEEN (including glass doors)! the only thing lacking in this house is master closet storage--and only because we were so spoiled by our first's walk-in closet. 
we'll be fine, we don't have a ton of clothes.

the master has a little bathroom that i have big plans for. 
not an upgrade, but maybe when i'm done with it..

next to the master is the room i may be most excited about 
(but that's hard to say, i'm so dang excited!) 
the laundry room!!! it has a window! and plenty of room for builtins! 
did i mention the window?

down the hall are two bedrooms, a bathroom, and a linen closet. 
the carpeted bedroom is HUGE! and both bedrooms have massive walk-in closets. 

the bedroom with "wood" floors is what my mom is affectionately calling "the baby's room." (nope, not pregnant). what it lacks in space, it makes up for in cute reading nook! i'm a sucker for nooks. 

the main bathroom. i plan to subway tile the shower [to the ceiling], replace the floors, and paint the cabinetry. if money weren't an option, it would be gutted, but there's something to be said about the builtins around the mirror and the pullout hamper built into the vanity! heyo! random towel bars and candlestick light fixtures will go.

last but not least, our favorite part of the house: the basement!!! i feel like jeremy will never even come upstairs with the hangout we have planned down here! bye drop ceiling!

out the sliding doors is the beautiful, shady backyard! you can actually hear birds! 
and, it's fully fenced for my puppy girls.

one more thing: out the basement doors, is a little covered patio area that (once, it's a neutral color, and less velveeta) will be a really nice hangout. string lights? hammock?

stay tuned!







things i've learned from our fixer upper

here are 10 things i would do differently if i were to tackle another fixer-upper or give advice to anyone thinking about a fixer-upper.

#1 scrape your popcorn ceilings before you move in. if you are thinking about doing it, do it. otherwise you'll move in and never do it because it's a) too messy or b) too time consuming. just do it before your furniture is in. oh, and before you replace or clean existing flooring.

#2 replace or clean the floors. all of them. upgrade your flooring now while you don't have any furniture to move out of the way. get your carpets cleaned or else suffer the wrath of peoples' old stains creeping back to the surface. just do it.

#3 garbage disposal. we went back and forth on this, and at the time decided not to spend the $100+ on it. hindsight: i wish we had one. sink strainers get nasty. that is all.

#4 get a home inspector that you have personally checked out and who has great reviews. we took my realtor's suggestion with a home inspector (looking back, they probably had some shady deal worked out together)--this guy was scared of ladders, so slowly climbed up a few steps (with his butt out, clinging for dear life), popped his head in the attic and came right back down. thankfully, the house was built pretty well, and we haven't had any issues, but there have been multiple things we've thought he should've noticed/warned us about. he had zero input.

#5 paint/fix/replace baseboards (shortly after you're satisfied with your flooring). again, it's easier with an empty house. ours were installed by what i can only imagine was a 5 year old who didn't know what the word "miter" means. add crown moulding while you're at it. if you can learn how to do it (there are lots of tutorials on youtube + tools to make it easy), it's not terribly expensive and it makes a room feel finished and more high-end.

#6 exchange hollow core doors for something more high end. real wood looks nicer, lasts longer, is more soundproof, and takes a beating if you ever want to rent out your fixer upper.
[image via]
i mean, there's no comparison

#7 replace bathtubs or have them refinished. i'd have liked to replace our bathtub with something roomier for one, but since that wasn't in the budget, i wish we would've had it spray refinished so it felt brand new. even on it's cleanest day, it doesn't scream luxurious spa like i'd like it to.

#8 while we're at it, let's replace the toilets. sitting on a toilet that hasn't been sat on by strangers is just a nice feeling. they're not that expensive. it's also nice to have toilets that don't require juggling or holding down handles to flush. (ew, germs). plus american standard has a toilet without the nasty pipe  outline on the side so it stays cleaner. or how about the touchless flush toilets. or the water-saving toilets for number one and number two ;)
image from google
#9 privacy fence. we have a beautiful green backyard that would be an amazing hangout if it were a little more..private. we definitely should have (and still should) splurge on a privacy fence.

#10 replace windows. for one, our current house only has SIX windows. SIX! that's all! and most of them do not lock. yikes! windows aren't that expensive. but after you move in, it's a hassle. that's a lot of work (and patching AND painting to the interior AND exterior!) but, if we'd done it prior to move in our house would be safer, more energy efficient and brighter! (because, hello! that living room window would've been doubled in size)


house staging

when we decide to put our house on the market, there are some things i want to do to "stage" the interior and exterior. i have a feeling it will be on the market for a long time (other houses in the neighborhood are for sale and they've been that way for awhile), so the house will need to look picture-perfect, but still be livable. this will most likely involve packing and renting a storage unit.


  - flooring (hall, office, guest, master)
  - touch up grout paint
  - touch up wall & ceiling paint
  - smaller kitchen table
  - bleach, scrub & add peel and stick tile under kitchen sink
  - remove in hallway 
  - caulk office shelves, bathroom sink, mirrors
  - add mosaic tile to master bath sink area
  - stage as office (bare minimum--desk in center of room)
  - pack up closets (i'm serious. everything)
  - empty medicine cabinet and bathroom drawers
  - add cabinetry/shelving/hanging bar in laundry (maybe doors?)
  - new chandelier in dining?
  - get microwave fixed
  - add brick to front entry walls
  - touch up paint exterior
  - remove front shrubbery (and possibly in the back)
  - lawncare
  - plant flowers
  - remove bricks from backyard
  - empty shed in backyard
  - fix back gate to open with ease


  - guest tray on guest bed
  - towels in bathroom
  - bath/shower products (make it spa-like)

leslie, the sweet spot and liz have some pretty awesome staging tips/pics on their blogs



the more i search for houseplans, the pickier i am becoming. i've looked at hundreds (thousands?) of houseplans. i've actually always enjoyed looking at blueprints, so finding a house that suits us has been really fun for me. but i want something particular (i guess). i can tell if it's wrong or right within a second of it popping up on the computer screen. why aren't all houses open concept nowadays? even when i click 'open concept,' i end up looking at closed off galley kitchens. houseplans tend to be peninsula-city (and i want an island!)

so, as i'm looking (and looking, and looking) i've noticed some things that are deal-breakers for me.

here are the things i need in a layout:
  • powder room (not off kitchen or dining room!)
  • open concept
  • dining room + breakfast area in kitchen (i can be swayed on this one)
  • kitchen island (even a decent peninsula would work)
  • if one-story -- split bedrooms (that's: master on one side, "kids" on the other)
  • if two-story -- master and laundry on main floor
  • foyer
  • laundry room/mudroom (with a window would be nice)
  • jack-and-jill bathroom (hello? these are few and far between)
  • water closet in master bath
  • separate tub and shower in master
  • pantry (walk-in would be great. decent sized cabinet-style would be fine. c'mon)
  • loft area upstairs for computer
  • deck
i have found a plan that i can't seem to get out of my head. it checks all the boxes (minus jack-and-jill bathroom, window in laundry room, loft) plus it has 'future bonus space' above the garage. i'm just not sure what we'll be approved for (square footage-wise), and this one is at the max of what i'm assuming.


paying off debt

we've got a lot of debt. after a few years of living off of a single income, we've learned how to make it work--but that doesn't mean we didn't lean on a few credit cards (and mom and dad! love you!) to get us through some tough[er] times.

so, lately we've been super diligent in playing off debt. my new favorite hobby is looking at/updating a spreadsheet i created to see what debt is left and what our smartest next steps are. it's fun (i'm weird) seeing the utilizations, payment dates, interest rates(!), etc side-by-side.

and my second favorite hobby is clicking the little bubble next to "Balance" on payments. that's a new one for me. i'm very accustomed to auto-pay taking out the minimum payment every month. i know, i know, yikes.

today i paid off the balance of my (our?) target card. can't say he had a hand in that one. double yikes.

guys, this one was in the quadruple digits! not proud.

but anyway! we are seeing our debt-to-income ratio dwindling before our eyes. and that. is. fun.
we've vowed to pay off our credit card debt + my car before we move. we've got a pretty sweet setup where we are--we love our house and the mortgage payment is next to nothing. it'll be hard to say goodbye to that, knowing our next house will be bigger and in a nicer area aka more expensive.