Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Status Update - sort of like Facebook but with more pictures

Hey all - it's time for a quick status update on the house. It seems that this whole "doing one room at a time" things is a super slow process. I'm tempted to tear the whole house apart so I can motivate myself to actually finish something. Turns out I'm less motivated than I thought to actually get stuff done - I rather enjoy laying on the couch from 5pm-10:30pm then going to bed.

Last time I left you, it was with some tips on wallpapering. I've recently rearranged the mantel and will show you a picture soon...right after we paint it white. *Sidenote -  There's been an internal dilemma about the trim - I decided to not paint it white and just restain to keep the "character" and "history" of the home. But the more staining we do, the more I'm convinced that this trim, although old, is not original to this house and is some pretty rough shape. I settled on a compromise of painting the doors white and keeping the trim dark.*

So here's what's been happening, via unedited phone pictures so I don't bore you with wordz: 

I bought these chairs on Craigslist. If you know me, you know coral is my jam. And blue and white patterned fabric runs a close second. For $60, it was hard to pass up. 

Fancy peel and stick window coverings in the background. 
 I mixed up a few paint options for the dining room - I'm planning on going with the one on the far right. It's super dark and moody and I think it'll totally work because this room has 3 windows and get tons of natural light.

I got a new toilet. Perks of having a leaky tub I suppose...
Isn't she pretty?
 Not so much a perk of the leaky tub? The hole in my dining room ceiling.

Note to self: always put a tarp down before pulling down 102 year old plaster.
 I got on an 8 foot step ladder and scrapped as much of the vines off the side of the house as I could reach.
Saved myself about $90 of labor but I almost killed myself.
 I whipped up some Halloween decorations and only had 3 Trick or Treaters - 1 of which was a friends daughter. Super sad face. But I only spent about 30 minutes on this so it wasn't a total waste of my time I suppose.
Amazing what you can do with a paper bag and some spray paint.
 I took a weekend trip to Forest City to see my best friend Kayla and helped her ring in her 31st birthday!
 I made lemon bars and they were delicious. I ate 2 just to make sure they were good enough to take to work and to girls night.
The Perfect Brownie pan also make Perfect Lemon Bars. 
 I got my hair french braided by my lovely friend Summer. I took it out almost immediately after.
30 going on 13. 
 And I finally got a dinner date with these 3 hooligans.
Add caption
 And then I made salt dough ornaments with my friend Megan and her daughter Sami. It did not go well. I salvaged these 3 stars, painted them gold and put them on my mantle.
I'm going to make a garland for my Christmas tree with these.
 And now I'm on the hunt for an inexpensive rug for the living room. Rugs USA has a ton of options and they're all on sale now. I'm contemplating this one and it's on sale for $103 plus free shipping right now.

 And then I got this tea towel and box of wine as an early birthday present to myself.

I already framed the towel to hang as art. 

Phew, that's a lot. And explains why not a lot of progress has happened at the house. I'm too busy eating, drinking and crafting I guess.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Wallpaper 101: You've been warned.

So I tackled the wallpaper in the entry way last night. I'm hoping for one of those dramatic blogger reveals so no pictures here, whomp whomp. After I posted on my Facebook page with the hashtag #donotletmefthisup, I went ahead and did just that. First piece up, got it all situated along the straight line I drew and trimmed all the edges and then I noticed it was upside down. Granted, with the pattern of the wallpaper, it probably wouldn't have been too noticeable but I noticed. And I had 33 feet to work with and I only needed about 30 of those, I could totally start over. Turns out it's not that easy. Here are a few thoughts on hanging wallpaper from yours truly :)

Do not hang your first piece upside down. Granted, this wallpaper doesn't appear to have an actual "way" that it should be hung, but it does. There are little grasshoppers that should not be hanging upside down. I dare you to find the damn grasshopper in the photo below... :)

No one would have noticed, I know. Moving on.
Measure 12 times, cut once. I think I measured once, cut 12 times on what I thought were the easiest pieces. And always have your tape measure handy. And always have a sharp utility knife.

Do not eyeball anything. When you are off the 8 foot ladder, standing in the other room (and have horrible depth perception as it is), looking through a doorway, you seriously can not just say, "Oh right below this flower is where I should cut." because as you can see, it'sallflowers. Take the time to actually figure it out and use something other than the "put one finger here, the other here, get off the ladder, lay it on the floor, where was that spot again, oh here, cut here" method. It will not work.

Maybe not start with an expensive wallpaper. I've never hung wallpaper before, only destroyed it taking it down in numerous rooms.  It probably would have been a good idea to start with the $1.00 roll I got at Habitat for Humanity Restore. Not the $160 roll from Anthropologie.

Plan. Like seriously, get your tape measure out and plan where your seams will be. I didn't do this and I should have. Why? Because I picked the worst possible wall to debut my wallpapering skills.

So pick a nice flat, blank wall to practice on first. Not a fireplace with 2 light fixtures, 1 giant mirror and 2 corners.

And in order to avoid buying an entire roll to finish the job, piece that shit together and call it a night.  I took my own advice here and did just that. I was 2 rows short. Wallpaper has this thing called a "repeat" so you don't just stop one section and continue with the next. I neglected to even think about that so I cobbled about 15 pieces together to finish. From a distance you can't tell, but if you're up there changing a light bulb or inspecting my work to be an a-hole, you'll see it.

It took me 5 hours to finish the job but I am SUPER happy with it. I love how it turned out and I'm happy to have crossed it off my to-do list! As soon as my fiance (oh yea, I got engaged) gets his lawn tools out of the way - and okay, I need to hang the light fixtures back too - I'll get some pictures and get those posted!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Renovation Realities: So my contractor quit...


Sad news in the renovation realities game friends. My contractor, who has been less than stellar since the get go - what with his unresponsiveness and horrible communication skills - has finally quit on me. (Pretend there are those little hand clapping emoji things here).

And you know what, I'm not even mad about it. And you know why? Because he sucked. Like majorly. Like I was so frustrated with him that I was ready to punch him in the face. But alas, he only showed up once to look at the work for the second time and was late because he had to stop for something to eat so I let it slide. I mean, he did show up. So sad when someone showing up almost when they say they will get him a pass from PunchLand.

Over the past few months he has made promises that he just didn't keep. "I'll have that quote to you on Monday." So I call on Monday, of course, he didn't answer. I went on vacation and sent him a text (because he has a hard time answering his phone) about not seeing anything coming through via email. Then I left the message with, "If you can't do this work I need to know so I can find someone else." And per his usual response time, 18 hours later, he responded that he was sorry and that he would not be able to do the work because he is too busy. I want to call him and scream and yell profanities at him.

I should have known from the very beginning. I mean, if he wasn't responsive when there wasn't work going on, what was I expecting when work was actually started??

Here's a tip - do your research!! I did not. I used a company that my Realtor had used previously and only because I needed a quote for the work prior to my closing. Turns out this idiot just threw some numbers on paper and called it a day. Which really sucks because my ENTIRE renovation financing was based on his logic and numbers. #epichomeownerfail

I'm meeting with another company on Friday that I've already met with twice. It seems promising - like the guy carries a clipboard, has a business card AND knows how to answer his phone. It's the little things people.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Items not mentioned in the listing....

When I purchased my house, I didn't know that it came with 3 stray cats and 2 crazy cat ladies. I missed that in the listing for sure (along with the happenings of the alley that my house sits on as well). I honestly can not make this stuff up but here's the longest recap you'll ever read of a really short story.

The day I moved in, I noticed a note on my door noting that there were a few stray cats in the area and that Shelly* and her friend Carrie* were long time rescuers and were hoping to finally get these cats rescued and into good homes. I spoke to Shelly one day and she noted that one next door neighbor was an older gentleman that would leave food and water on his stoop for the cats. At some point, my front porch also became home to a food and water bowl. Prior to me moving in, there were also little shelter boxes placed next to a vent from the basement in the winter so the cats could stay warm.

Shelly stopped over to feed the cats before work, during lunch, and after work. Mind you, she lives 10 minutes away and Carrie doesn't even live in Des Moines. Carrie has been rescuing cats from the neighborhood for years, 25 cats or so, so I figured this operation was totally legit and they'd have these cats rescued in no time.

Boy was I wrong.

After coming home to this scene one night last week, I just couldn't help but laugh.
Cat, cardboard trap, big trap by dumpster, someone laying on the
ground on the other side of the dumpster.
And yes, I realize my dash needs cleaned. That's not the point.

And then I offered up my entire front porch for their traps because I'd heard one of the cats meowing the night before. So for about 4 or 5 days, this was the scene.
Um yea, that cat food was INSIDE the trap but is now outside??
I'm thinking they didn't actually have these set to trap anything....

And then I came home to this on Wednesday. Carrie had parked herself on the sidewalk in front of my house with a trap set up on the porch. This is the picture my neighbor sent me.

All I could think was, "Oh my god, what in the world have I gotten myself into?" Well, the neighbor that sent the photo came over and asked to speak to me alone (as I was chatting with Carrie). As soon as we got inside, my neighbor said, "That lady is crazy. She is not rescuing these cats, she's feeding them. She's been feeding them for years, they are not trying to rescue them, they want these cats to live in their natural habitat and they are not trying to find homes for them." Oh, okay. Well, I wish I had known that before I'd offered up my space.

Oddly enough, that very night, both cats were captured. I'm very suspicious of this because my neighbor has actually called the police on them many times before because she knew way more than I did. They've been trying to catch these cats for MONTHS, like before I moved in - YEARS before I moved in and then all of the sudden when the one neighbor talks to me, they are magically caught within hours of our conversation?? Sounds incredibly fishy to me. So I'll leave you with the recap from the neighbor, whose husband saw it all go down:

Ryan actually witnessed the first cat being caught yesterday.  He said that the old lady flung both arms in the air and screamed with delight!  Her old male companion came running out of the car and he also had both hands in the air. Then they couldn't figure out how to take the cat home, so I believe they called Shelly and spent an hour trying to get the cat in a portable cage.  After this they all hugged each other and the drama was over. 

So the cats are gone - or at least I think they are...one of them was pregnant and I'm pretty sure I heard a meow coming from under my porch this morning....

UPDATE: I wrote this post on Thursday and as of publishing today (Monday), I can confirm that there are kittens under the porch. I'm going to try and get them out and to the Animal Rescue League. If you saw under the porch, you'd know why my trying might not be enough. It's a mess under there and full of old trim, columns, and probably a whole lot of other stuff I don't want to know about.
*names have been changed to protect the identity of these "rescuers" 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

One room at a time: Entryway

I have decided to do something I have NEVER done in all my designing and decorating years. Well, I guess there are 2 things, but I'll get to the second later. But the first thing I have decided to do with this house is - gasp - only tear up ONE room at a time! Whaaa?? I know, I know, doesn't seem possible does it. I'm use to decorating in chaos and normally have 283 projects going on at once and of those, 1 or 2 actually get crossed off my to-do list. So for this new venture, this new house, I'm going to be doing things one room at a time. First up, the entry way. 

{Insert horrible cell phone picture here because you still don't have internet and even if you did have internet, you can't actually download real camera photos because you have an ipad}
Exhibit A
I've already made some considerable changes in here - most notably is that I've completely destroyed any sort of order and it's a disaster. Second most noticeable change is that the walls are primed and ready for paint. 
It ain't pretty folks, but it's also not burgundy horribleness either.

I think I know which color I'm picking. 

But before I pick the paint color from the samples I selected, I'm waiting for this to arrive:
It's a total splurge on my part - seriously, $160 (including shipping) for a roll of wallpaper. The last roll of wallpaper I bought was from the Habitat for Humanity ReStore for a whopping $1.00 - and I got 2 rolls. Wallpaper is not something I normally think about hanging - in fact, I removed wallpaper from this room already. And now I'm going to be putting it up?? This is the second thing I'm doing that I've never done before. I've obviously lost my mind and my Instagram friends are all behind me too. So that's ordered and will be here Friday. 

This brings me to a few other purchases I've made thus far:
2 $10 chairs from Goodwill. They were 50% off if you took them at the time
of your purchase. So I texted my lovely boyfriend and he snagged them for me.
Of course these will get reupholstered.

Glass for my front door! Who knew glass was so expensive!?!? This clocked
in at $425 installed. I know exactly why the previous owner used plywood
and duct tape. 
And now this leads me to my next big decision - lighting. I'm keeping the original trim work (although it's getting freshened up with some new stain) and I'm keeping the original floors and may keep the sconces on the fireplace so I want a new light fixture in this space. The fixture that is in there right now is functional and pretty for 1902, it's just not my current style preference so I'd like to replace with something else. Here are my 2 options:
Lowes - $179 and I have a 10% off coupon

Etsy - $300 (including shipping)
I LOVE the second fixture (I realize the picture isn't the best, follow the link to see a few more shots of that one) but am hesitant about spending $300 on a light fixture when I could spend $160 on something very similar. I've looked all over for DIY versions and they are doable and I haven't ruled that option out, but I do have a lot of staining, painting and reupholstering to do and I'd like this room to be done sooner rather than later. 

I don't really have a set budget for this project, perhaps that's where I should start. I wouldn't count the glass for the door as this particular project, that was clearly a necessity and safety issue and I already had funds set aside to cover that cost. 

What do you think, should I Save, Splurge or DIY this lighting project? Or maybe you have seen something similar for a decent price? I'm open to suggestions! 

Thursday, August 7, 2014

House Update - Appraisal

Phew, buying a house is daunting. I should know this, it's practically my third time doing it but being the only one signing on the dotted line has become a tad overwhelming. I'm starting to realize that the 650 sq ft I live in right now is really not that small after all - having my laundry 2 steps from my bedroom is actually quite convenient. I'm a tad nervous about having almost 2200 sq ft (plus a basement, which I have heard you are not technically suppose to count - but add another 941 sq ft to that last number if you dare) to not only decorate - but to also clean, furnish and the most important, pay for. Between application fees, inspection fees, appraisal fees, insurance premiums, another fee to get something from the city that says they'll allow me to rebuild if the house burns down because it's less than 50 feet from the road, I'm wishing my savings account had been a bit stronger before I dove into all of this. Hate to say but my dad was right, I should have kept a better cash stash. But what's done is done, let's move on!

Sidenote: I've debated using actual numbers when talking about the house and I think it's important because not only will you see I'm not buying a lavishly priced home, but my goal is to keep all of my projects within an attainable budget (I won't be spending 5k on a new stove - I spent $630 on a new one actually, from the clearance and damaged section at Lowe's no less) and feel that numbers are important.

I was anxiously awaiting the appraisal and that came back this week. Here are the numbers.

$85,000 Purchase Price
$5,000 Credit from seller
$30,000 Repair estimate for required repairs
$120,000 Appraised Value

The required repairs include: fix the foundation, repaint the entire exterior, repair all windows, repair the roof, replace the gutters, replace the furnace and water heater and a few other small things the city says I have to fix. My financing is through the Neighborhood Finance Corp and they provide a $10,000 forgivable loan (over a 5 year period) to use towards repairs the city deems necessary (because it's a city funded program). They also offer the option to borrow up to 95% of the appraised value so I also plan to borrow an additional $15,000 so I can finish up these large repairs that I can not (or do not) want to do myself; some things are best left to professionals that you could sue if you needed to. 

So that's where I am right now. Bleeding money and crossing my fingers this is not a sign of what is to come.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Follow me on Pinterest!

I've created a Pinterest board titled "My old house." and have been pinning lots of ideas for my new house. Feel free to browse and let me know what you think in the comments below!

Follow Traci's board My old house. on Pinterest.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Samantha's Princess Bathroom

I recently talked my friend Megan into painting stripes in her daughter's bathroom after she talked me into helping her redecorate the bathroom into a Princess theme. And to be honest, it was harder and easier than we had both anticipated. I've painted horizontal stripes before but this was my first go-round with vertical stripes. I must say - the green Frog tape is the way to go with stripes! You will not be disappointed with the results. Trust me, crisp, clean lines each and every time.

Here's where we started:

90% of the painting job is in the prep work. Prep wisely.
I'm only kidding, this is how we started:
Lots of tape. Use a credit card or putty knife to seal the edges of the tape. You'll thank me for that.
We didn't use an exact science when measuring. The bathroom has tiles that we ended up using as a guide and we ended up doing stripes that were 2 tiles wide. And we're glad we did that - anything smaller would have been a taping nightmare. Do we paint this one or not? Tape on the inside or outside of the line? Paint, no paint, paint, no paint, no paint...wait, I need to start over. 

After about 2 hours of taping and 2 beers each, we started painting. I do the detail work of cutting in and Megan rolls. We've painted enough times together to know each others strengths and she's one of the only people I can paint with and not want to take the roller out of her hand and send her away to do something else.

We removed the tape while the second coat was still wet. This is very important when painting - removing tape from dry paint can lead to also removing paint and is super frustrating. Just take my advice and remove while the paint is wet.
I need to work on removing beer bottles before taking pictures. 

Thanks Frog Tape for those amazingly crisp lines!
The next step is also very important. You need to buy EVERYTHING PRINCESS FROM THE HOBBY LOBBY CLEARANCE AISLES, right Megan? If it was pink or princess, she bought it. I'm glad she did though because we ended up having lots to choose from. It's also very important to have a friend that can sew (ahem, me) so you can have her sew up some curtains for the space as well.

In the end, I think we have a princess bathroom that's not overly "OHMYGODI'MAPRINCESS" bathroom.
Big giant crown over the mirror, check!

Disney princess towels and princess rules, check!

Crown candle holder on toilet, check! And flower poms hanging from the ceiling, double check!

Princess, princess, S for Samantha, check!
Megan is going to record Samantha's reaction. I told her that if she doesn't like it, I was going to come over and paint the entire room white (I don't take criticism well apparently). But I'm pretty sure she's going to go nuts over this space. She's actually seen all the items but thinks that they were buying them for "Aunt" Traci and may have lost it when she couldn't use the princess towels immediately. I don't blame her, those are some pretty sweet towels!

And one more picture, because I love these flower poms - it's my favorite part of the entire room!
Don't be surprised if you see these make an appearance in my new house

Thursday, July 17, 2014

I got bored....so I bought a house.

I haven't even looked to see the last time I posted, but I know it was a long time ago. So much has happened in the past year - some good, some bad and some, well, expensive. Here's the expensive I'm talking about:

I bought a house.
I'm not talking expensive in that I can't afford it, I'm talking expensive in that it's the largest purchase I've made in the past year. But it's less expensive than my rent right now and I'm just bored without any projects to complete. And trust me, this place will give me plenty of projects.

A little bit about the place: it was built in 1902 and is on the National Historic Registry (which says it was built in 1898). With it being on the National Registry, there are certain things that I can and can not do to the exterior. Their motto is "Repair before Replace" and I am all for that - except when replacing would make the home more energy efficient or is less costly. But I won't get into that now, I knew what I was getting into before I signed my life away.

My style leans towards modern, but I'll be embracing the history of this home (by not painting the trim white) but also keeping my decorating on more of the modern side (I bought magenta curtains for the living room).

I close on August 29th and will begin the rehabbing process almost immediately. I'll be updating the blog with my progress and I hope you'll follow along! I'm sure my "My Opinion Monday"posts are about to get a little more interesting.
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