Friday, February 19, 2016

Basics 101

I love DIY blogs but making a home both liveable and lovely involve more than horrible-before-and-inspiring-after photos.

The rules of basic home repair:

  • it ain't gonna be pretty (see Exhibit One, below)

  • your fingernails will not thank you
  • it takes forever
  • one thing leads to another.
The rewards of day one, meager but worthwhile--sinks that drain properly and don't leak.

Coming soon:  clean, mildew-free caulking around the tub!

Also, I have a growing feeling that uncaring landlords--who snapped up foreclosures, used them as rentals, performed not one iota of basic maintenance, and are now selling for an insane profit--will be reincarnated as cockroaches over and over, stomped on by homeowners for eternity.

Stay creative,

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Getting Back to Basics

The family Pinterest boards have been expanding rapidly while our son's house (gotta get a name for that) was in escrow.  Google has been consulted on everything from General Finishes Gel Stain colors, to Bosch dishwasher reviews, and from dog doors to French doors. There must be a hundred paint chips sitting on the coffee table.  I'm pretty sure we've evaluated every fifty-two inch ceiling fan in town for both looks and function.

Oh, how lovely it would be to plunge right into the fun stuff.  Paint and new faucets and furniture.

The first things through the door later today will be tools though.  There are three leaky sinks, one loose toilet, and caulk that needs to be removed and replaced.  No need to worry about the air conditioner with snow in the forecast, but gutters might be a priority since melted snow is dripping onto pavers tilted toward the foundation and seeping underneath the house just a bit.

Truthfully, it would be a relief to just schedule professionals to come in and tighten pipe joints and install seamless gutters.  Pity they cost big bucks that our first-time homeowner doesn't have.  He does have a genetic predisposition towards DIY and two parents with a little extra time who aren't afraid of power tools.

Patience, Grasshopper.  

Wax on, wax off.

The kitchen is functional as it is right now, but thank heavens transforming the cabinets from pink pickled oak to rich dark walnut is high on the priority list due to the convenience of restaining before he moves all his cooking equipment in.  Can't you just imagine how gorgeous this kitchen is going to be with dark wood against the granite?

Sort of like this inspiration photo.

Basics are inescapable but there's nothing like the enjoyment of actually seeing progress happen right before your eyes.  And I think this is the change our son is looking forward to most of all.

The Queen Mother always told us we had to eat our dinner before we got dessert. Dang it.

Holding creativity in check for the present,

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

So Close He Can Taste It

It's official: our boomerang child is buying has bought a house!

Right now this spacious, airy place is a delicious vanilla concoction that's visually appealing to a wide variety of buyers.  The walls are a soft tan, the carpet a mid-brown tweed, the tile a pale ivory, the kitchen has new granite countertops.

Yes, there's bright brass obnoxiously winking at him from the master bathroom.  And the cabinets are finished in what he not-so-fondly refers to as pickled pink oak. 

Worst of all:   Every. Single. Major. System. in the house has issues.  Thank heavens for a great home inspector!  Most of the problems are relatively minor and none of us expected a house built in 1997 to be flawless.  But some (a non-functioning A/C unit, incorrect plumbing, and a leaky water heater come to mind) would have been dealbreakers if the sellers had not relented with a fairly substantial credit.  Our son really was willing to walk away and continue looking. Good boy!  He liked this house a lot, but decided that being disappointed and needing to look further would be far better than regretting buying a money pit.

I think the cardinal rule of real estate is that the perfect home for you IS out there, you just have to keep believing, not get discouraged and know that the Universe will provide.

Conversely, if what seems like your dream home slips away to another buyer or falls out of escrow for any of a hundred reasons, then know that it's not meant to be.

This house was a four-day nail-biter while the sellers reviewed multiple offers.  Then the home inspection was a gigantic disappointment that could have sent him back to the MLS listings.  But the stars aligned in the end and the escrow went smoothly and is closing just one day late--a minor miracle in itself. our son signed all the papers and tomorrow it's just a matter of waiting for the keys!

Wasn't it just yesterday that I took a picture of this little boy going out our front door ready for his first day of kindergarten and now I'll be taking a photo of him opening his own front door for the very first time!

Stay creative,

Monday, February 15, 2016

A Home Of His Own

We're on the real estate roller coaster with our younger son. Exciting, heart-wrenching, thrill and chills...the whole magilla!  I'm hoping to say "all's well that end's well" (thank you, Mr. Shakespeare) very, very soon.  And I look forward to an entire night of peaceful repose for a change.

Sheesh, buying a home for oneself is tame compared to undergoing the same torture with your child.  I know I can't smooth every path for him, but that doesn't make me not wish to torture various sellers and their agents with an incandescently-red poker.  Hmmm, maybe that's why they call it a "hot" real estate market hereabouts?

It's not all bad.  I love looking at houses and seeing their potential to become a dream home.  Isn't that why all the DIY, home-making blogs are so popular?  Fixer Upper, anyone?

After viewing homes that had more drawbacks than assets, and living through the disappointments of failed offers, he's found a home that checked off every box.
  • Three bedroom, two bath, 
  • decent-sized yard of the Goldilocks variety (not too big, not too small), 
  • livable right off but with potential to upgrade and personalize,
  • zoned for good schools, reasonable HOA fees (two things that directly affect value in our area),
  • decent commute time.
This one had all of the above plus an enormous walk-in in the master and the largest main bathroom we'd seen.  Two hundred extra square feet provided spacious rooms and a great flow throughout.  Our son said, "It's the nicest home I've seen!"  We all stood in the front room with big smiles on our faces.

I'm totally lame but I even liked the address and street name.

Needless to say, he's made an offer.  A very good, strong offer.  Not to leave you hanging, but it's a tight market out there and he's been disappointed more than once.

Fingers and toes crossed...I would love to start blogging about "his house" and all the non-girly, classic improvements that he'd like to make.  But for now, I don't wanna jinx it by frying any fish before I've caught them.

Stay creative,

Thursday, January 28, 2016

16 for 2016. Well, almost.

Oh golly, it's been so long since I've posted that I'm having a hard time actually writing something, anything, without editing it before I've even finished a sentence!  But, hey, that now that I've finished one whole sentence the rest should be easy, right?

I've been crafting my own personal bucket list for the year and naturally I got a wild hare to have sixteen items.  Because Twenty Sixteen!

So far though, I only have twelve thingies on it.  Which is great because now I have room to add great ideas as they occur to me.

Some goals were realizing that I am determined to meet my cousin Linda who loves thrifting as much as I do (even if she is a genius at seeing and snapping up great buys) and attend either the Alameda Flea Market or the one on Treasure Island with her. We've been trying to get there for a few years without notable success so I've moved it way high on my priority list.

Other easy-peasy ones:  camping (because that's on my list every year) and finishing my Irish Chain quilt (the top is one hundred percent pieced so backing, batting and quilting are next).

Some are from the To-Do list, which shouldn't really be part of a bucket list, BUT...checking them off would make my life so much nicer.  It would be great if our master bath toilet actually flushed reliably on the first try.  Equally lovely would be a garage door opener that closed.  Currently I hold the button down for eighteen seconds while it closes and then depart the garage via the small garage door.  I'm grateful that it opens without incident, but holding that button down is getting old, old, old.

I even surprised myself by realizing that I want to volunteer by either using my DIY skills for Habitat or exercising my bent for all things vintage (history major here) by linking up with the historical society.  Leading a walking tour of our historical districts would suit me just fine.

Also, I plan to polish up my hostessing skills and revive Game Night for the neighborhood.  Time to make plans and send invitations.  (Right after I embark on a major house cleaning. Yeah, I know the neighbors would enjoy themselves in a slightly-cluttered house as much as a nice tidy one, but otherwise my sweetie will drive me insane with last-minute cleaning just when I need to focus on final party prep.  Truthfully, it wouldn't hurt me one little bit to organize myself enough to have a company-ready home most the time.  In fact, it would probably make me feel pretty good.)  But I digress.

You may have noticed these don't add up to twelve.  Could be you'll hear about the other ideas on the 2016 list when they become reality.  Wish me luck!

I'm now hitting the Publish button.  (Not waiting on photos.  Not going over it and over it with endless edits.  Otherwise this will join the other one hundred-fifty posts in my Drafts folder.)

Stay shiny, be inspired, focus on the good, enjoy life,