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.

dream laundry/mudroom mood board

laundry room mood board
okay, i had way too much fun with this one! after seeing brick pavers in a mudroom on pinterest, i'm sold. and how cute is that laundromat-style cart? i want a farmhouse sink like in the kitchen, and a frosted door that says LAUNDRY. wasn't sure if subway tile backsplash was too much with the flooring, so white beadboard is an option. not sure on countertops, but it will be the same in the kitchen and bathrooms ;)

dream living room mood board

i decided to put together a little mood board to show the vibe i'm feeling for a light, airy living room. (what i'm picturing for our future forever home.

dream living room

what i see: dark wood floors, a staircase with white risers (with built-in storage underneath) a big, cozy couch with bright pillows, grownup seating, bright & airy white curtains with bamboo blinds, a neutral rug like this one, brick fireplace & hearth with white planking to the ceiling. i can't decide if having a tv mounted over a fireplace makes the tv too high. still contemplating. a pretty table like this with blanket baskets underneath would do nicely if i decide against a fireplace-mount. 

dream house exterior: mood board

dream exterior
can you believe it? another mood board. i've definitely been having fun dreaming up what i want our forever house to look like. in detail. i'm decorating a fake house in my head when i can't fall asleep at night.
anyway! i have always loved the look of cedar shingles on the eaves of houses (and have even contemplated adding it to our current house for curb appeal), and am definitely feeling them for this craftsman-esque image i have in my mind. sherwin williams' naval blue is pretty perfect. my dream door is pictured--craftsman style with dentil molding. stained beadboard ceilings, wooden railing, beefed up pillars and nice, cozy outdoor furniture on the deck. boom.


dream kitchen mood board

dream kitchen

went ahead and made a kitchen mood board for the dream house. go ahead and ready yourself for mood board city. side note: in the dream, this kitchen is open to the previously mentioned living room.

what i'm picturing: real, handscraped wood floors, exposed beams, farmhouse sink, a mix of natural woods (table, light fixtures, cutting boards on display, floors, etc), cup pulls on the cabinets, a round table with a settee in an eat-in kitchen nook, flat island with bar stools centering the room. is this asking too much?

also, question: do light fixtures have to match door hardware and faucets? in my head they do, but pictures of kitchens i like say otherwise..


new house dreamin'

the long list (who would've guessed?) of "wants" for the dream house. i've been scouring pinterest and forums for things people wish they would've done when building 
{in pink are "musts"}

garbage disposal on both sides of sink 
cabinets on both sides of peninsula/island
gas range + griddle (no stainless 'backsplash') with drawers underneath
double ovens
drawer dishwasher (?)
subway tile 
outlet for "coffee station"
microwave in lower cabinets 
cabinets to ceiling
under-cabinet lighting
farmhouse sink
quartz countertops
cabinet-covered fridge (?)
pot-filler above range
vent oven to outside
flooring running under cabinets
kickplate drawers
recessed fridge
waterfall countertop (?)
copper tubing for ice maker
breakfast area 
room for upholstered sofa/bench under windows in eat-in area with sconces on each side

separate dining room
board and batten/wainscoting 

9' (minimum) ceilings on lower level
small room with french doors (play area for computer//kids in the future)
plank wood + brick fireplace
floor outlet (for floating furniture)

recessed dryer vent
mudroom cubbies
laundry shoot (?)
frosted "Laundry" pocket door
whirlpool sink for delicates (?)
brick paver flooring (?)

door to backyard (?)
window seat (?)
4 outlets on each side of bed
on first level 

no builder grade mirrors
cable/outlet in master bathroom
tub sprayer in master 
large tile
no tub/shower inserts
outlet behind toilet in master water closet 7 powered room (for lamps)
leaded glass shower door in master
heated floors (?)
cast iron pipes from upper bathroom (noise reduction)
stone in master shower floor

motion-sensor light (if not pocket door)
microwave in pantry (?)
frosted pocket door

window in master closet (?)
closets painted room color (cheaper and better looking, anyway)
heat/air vent in master closet

built in fire escape ladders (?)
dutch door in "nursery"
two bedrooms upstairs

keypad front door handle
outlets in eaves (for christmas lights)
outlets! (both sides of front door?)
gasline on patio
fenced backyard

attic light switch downstairs

smooth walls
wired for sound throughout (including exterior)
recessed outlets
nest thermostat (upstairs & downstairs?)
crown molding
upgrade insulation
wood flooring throughout
white risers on staircase
paint color (interior-grey/taupe + ceiling same) (exterior-white/grey/navy + cedar shakes)
doggy door
extra wide, flat, craftsman baseboards
frame braces for ceiling fans (living, master, bedrooms)
3-way light switches (walk through and get a feel for the layout)
extra board bracing where drapes or heavy items will hang (studs)
storm door on front
USB outlets

-buy our own faucets, shower heads, light fixtures/ceiling fans, appliances, toilet paper holders
-plan where vents will go related to furniture placement (walkthrough--think furniture, curtains, etc)
-take pictures of plumbing/electrical before drywall for future reference
-get a light fixture "allowance" instead of builder bundle