Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Introducing the Bathroom

OK, well considering my fast-approaching deadline to have a good chunk of my kitchen done this month, I should probably be sourcing plywood or tearing our formica or priming cabinets or something useful. BUT I've been more than a little obsessed with a new idea for my bathroom the past few days, so I have to get it off my mind before I can move on.

Presenting, our bathroom:

I know. Captivating, right? So, there are clearly numerous issues with this little guy. We need a new sink, new/refinished tub, a new light fixture, and every paintable surface should probably get a new coat. But let's focus on one thing for now. The tile.

I'm not sure that I could honestly describe this tile in a good light. It's a dingy beige + blush color in a weird uncategorizable pattern. Despite its lack of good attributes though, I don't hate it. It's just meh. It's definitely original to the house, and in-line with early mid-century bathrooms. (Edit: definitely NOT original to the house!) So I can't really find a good reason to rip it out, especially since it's in relatively good condition in most parts. (Edit: After doing research on this tile pattern, I found it was produced in the late seventies, which absolves me of all guilt for not keeping it when we gut everything. Wahoo!)

BUT, can I ever love my bathroom with such meh tiles enveloping the whole thing? You can't see from this photo, but all four walls are lined with it. My initial plan was to ignore the tile and focus on making the rest of the bathroom nice and shiny. Then hopefully there would be a nice contrast between new and old. But the post over at Young House Love about their entryway grout gave me an idea! Could I possibly start to love these tiles if I gave them some bright white grout?

Up close the difference isn't very striking, but the overall view of the tile changes the effect of the pattern I think. It becomes a little more graphic and fresh. I'm just trying to decide if it's enough of a difference to justify all the work. It will be so much work! Of course, I won't be actually re-grouting the tiles. I'll just be painting it with Grout Renew like the Young House Love folks. But still, so much work!

Kitchen Kitchen Kitchen

Now that the holidays are over, I'm trying to get back in the swing of homey things. Next on my list is the kitchen. I don't think I've posted a photo of this most beautiful part of our home. Brace yourself.

Don't stare too long. It will eat your soul. I look at that photo and wonder what kind of crazy I am for buying this kitchen! Well, the walls and trim have been painted since that photo, which makes a big difference. But we've still got a ways to go. The tricky thing is that this update will just be temporary (we want to do a full renovation in a year or two), and our budget is super duper modest. So I've been working on putting together a bare-minimum plan that will possibly work out well. Here's an idea of what I have in mind.

Yay Photoshop! This rendering gives me hope that I won't hate myself every time I walk into my kitchen!! However, like I said, the only progress we've made so far is painting the walls and trim. Here's a list of what we still need to get there:

- Painted cabinets
- Plywood countertop
- 3form panels as backsplash
- DIY linen roller shades for windows and door
- Grout renew for floor
- Cleaned and painted oven hood
- New light fixtures
- Rods for hanging utensils

My current goal is to have the cabinets and countertop finished by the end of the month. We're going to do it!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Fall Leaves

Having a yard means so much fall clean-up. But fun first!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Progress Before the Move

Welp, we've been moved-in for a little over a month now. I've been wanting to record what we were able to accomplish in September, before we moved in. Here's a list and some photos!

Electrical - When we had the house inspected, we found out the house was running off of two panels. One was outdated, original to the house. The other was pretty small, not enough to power the whole house. As part of our buying contract, the seller had an electrician put in a brand new panel to bring the home up to code. However, there were still some things that needed to be done to make the house more livable for us. My parents were so generous to come out and help. My dad and James were able to work some magic to do these updates without even tearing out any drywall. Here's what they did:

- Ran modern, grounded wiring to outlets in the living room and master bedroom
- Reworked the garage lighting and electrical situation so that it was safer
- Ran a 220 down to the basement for our electric dryer
- Installed GFCI outlets in the kitchen and bathroom
- Replaced and repaired any broken outlets

Yard - We are so pleased with the size of our yard, and with the yummy fruit growing on our trees. However, the house had been vacant since early spring, so the yard was a huge mess. My in-laws came to the rescue and made some huge clean-up progress in the yard. James and I (and Joah!) helped out a bit too. We aren't so concerned about aesthetics at this point, since everything will be covered in snow soon. So we basically picked up fruit and tried to remove as many dead things as we could. It made a big difference!

Exterior - One of my top priorities was giving the exterior a quick facelift with paint. Something about choosing our front door color made the house feel like it was really ours. So fun to see it moving toward our photoshopped dream!

- Painted front door
- Painted stucco on garage
- Painted wood gate
- Filled in holes in mortar (mostly just in front; the back still needs attention)

Interior - The walls and wood trim were in desperate need of a good paint job, and we spent many many hours painting almost the entire upstairs, with the help of wonderful friends and inlaws. We chose a beautiful glossy white for all of the woodwork. For the walls, the living room is the same white, but with an eggshell finish. The kitchen and bedrooms are "painter's white," a super super light warm gray. I'm so happy with all of it!

Exterior Plans

Our house has potential! A lot of these improvements will have to wait until the spring time, but this was a fun little exercise.

This photo was taken about a week after we closed on the house. My dad and James did some yard clean up, which gave us a much better view of the house.

And here is a fun little representation of some of our goals for the house. It's nice to have a visual to motivate me. SO CUTE, right?

PS. I blurred out our house numbers on the first one, and used fake numbers on the second one. Just because these are on the internetz and all.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013


Since we began house shopping, I discovered that I reach abnormally high levels of joy while creating floorplans.

So, aside from their being useful as we make updates to our home, this was so fun for me! I decided to create 3 versions for both floors of our home: current, dream and realistic. The dream version is what we would do given very very few restrictions, and the realistic version takes some important things into account—such as, whether our home would be left standing if we removed all the walls from the front half of the structure. Note also that "realistic" is a relative term, in this case meaning "Analisa's uneducated guess of what's possible."

For the first floor, the goal was to create as many free-flowing areas as possible, and involved stripping the front half of our home of walls, moving the wall that houses our electrical panel, moving exterior doors, and expanding windows. AKA, probably not even close to practical. So the realistic version adds columns and pony walls instead of just removing the walls completely, and works around the other structurally imperative things. Still pretty exciting!

I don't really have a lot of complaints about the layout of our basement as-is, so my dream version is pretty simple. Turn the staircase the other way; make the bathroom bigger and move the door to face the living area; and close off the laundry area. Since none of those things will be very smart when it comes to making our money back, I tried to pair the costs down for the realistic version.

So what to do with these???? For now, we're going to give the house a gradual facelift as we save for a big renovation. Hopefully some of these ideas will come to fruition in the coming years!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

We bought a house!

And it's gonna need some love!

We closed early September, and moved in last week. James and I spent the days in between doing some quick improvements with the generous help of my parents and his parents, but we've definitely got a ways to go. For the record, here are some photos of the place before we touched A THING. Be prepared to be happy you don't own such a place! JK, it's not that bad. Well...

(I'm a little bit dumb and didn't take a lot of "before" shots myself, so some of these are screenshots from the appraisal.)

We were house-hunting all summer, looking for a place that we could make our own, but that was not a complete gut job. This one seemed to be a good balance for us. Some of the things we loved:

• Perfect size - double our apartment! Enough for Joah to have his own bedroom upstairs, and James and I get our own offices in the basement.
• Built in 1947 with a fun transitional style - post-war, early mid-century
• Brick!
• Original hardwood floors (oak?)
• Some original trim and doors
• Large windows let in lotsa light
• Cute circle window in front!
• Big back yard
• Fruit trees
• Location - near downtown; easy access to freeway and public transportation

So far all the challenges with owning this house have been so worth the feelings of accomplishment and ownership. We don't have heaps of money to put into renovating this place, but it's liberating to know we can do whatever we want, as long as we are willing to put the work into it. So so fun!

Oh and, for fun, here's an itty bitty screenshot of the assessor's earliest photo of our house. This was the only old photo they have online, but they may have more if I go searching in person. Could be cool!