Sunday, February 28, 2010

Picking Colors

While we were at Home Depot perusing the wood stain options, Dan and I also decided to pick out paint colors. I was VERY excited about choosing paint colors, as we kept the colors at our last house very neutral for selling purposes.

While Dan went to check out drywall options for the ceiling, I explored paints. I gravitated to the Martha Stewart collection immediately. What's nice about her paint colors is that she doesn't have EVERY color in the rainbow; instead, Martha offers almost exclusively crisp, clean and beautiful colors. I mixed, matched, held paint samples in different lights, etc. — then I finally landed on four colors that seem to be good fits for our new house. (While not yet shown online, Martha Stewart HOME paints are now available at Home Depot as well as Lowe's.)

To my surprise and additional excitement, Dan liked all four of the colors I chose. They are:
  • Sisal (a warm khaki)
  • Cityscape (a neutral khaki-ish with gray/cool tones)
  • Salt Glaze (a super light blue)
  • Timothy Hay (a lime verbana type)
We'll do the trim, doors and built-ins in semi-gloss white.

I'm sure Martha wouldn't be happy with me for this... but we took her colors over to Sherwin Williams for color matching (SW has slightly better paint, in our opinion and in our contractor's). The folks over at the North Druid Hills Sherwin Williams (by Target) are always nice and incredibly helpful.

And after reading feedback, evaluating our color preferences and considering that we have a (large) pet, we decided on English Chestnut for the floors. This color is also very similar to what's already on the floors, so that makes us even more comfortable with the choice.

The place is going to look leaps and bounds different in two weeks. By that time, the floors will have been refinished and more than half of the rooms repainted. Weee!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Choosing a Wood Stain

(click to enlarge)

Tonight or tomorrow, Dan and I will head to Home Depot to look at wood stain samples. Our contractor prefers to use Minwax, so we'll look at the colors they offer. We have about 950 square feet of hardwoods to be refinished (three bedrooms, hallway, foyer and living/dining combo).

Dan likes the Red Mahogany and the Gunstock. I like the Special Walnut and Dark Walnut. We do need to be wary of going too dark though, as darker wood stains show scratches and wear

more than lighter stains.

I'm thinking we'll likely settle on Provincial or Early American, which are good compromises between the reddish mahogany and the rich browns of the chestnuts.

What do you think?

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Bringing Down the House

It's official! Dan and I closed on our "new" house this morning. We're both very excited and couldn't be more appreciative of all parties involved. The sellers were easy to work with and Andy from The Peters Company was stellar as always. We felt very secure with Scott Meldrum of Bank of America (our mortgage officer) -- and Zach McElveen of Campbell and Brannon was a true professional with the closing. Andy's wife Lesley provided great support as well.


10am: we meet at Campbell and Brannon for closing


11:30: closing wraps (no hiccups), I head back to work 

1:30: Dan e-mails me to say he's already taken down the ceiling tiles in the master bedroom ("good news - they come down easily and the existing planks can be used for drywall!")

And Dan's already hard at work.

Master bedroom ceiling, sans 1970s ceiling tiles.

Oh, and he also managed to remove all the carpet from the master bedroom. (We're grateful the floors look to be in good shape.)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Closing Time

Tomorrow's the big day: closing. We'll sit at a table with lawyers, our realtors, our lender and the sellers. Fingers crossed all goes well!

Tonight we had our "final walk-through" of the property. I'm not sure exactly what is supposed to happen in a final walk-through (maybe walk away if something is crazy awry?), but ours went fine.

Since the last time we visited the house, the sellers (the son and daughter-in-law of the woman who passed away) moved out all the furniture, items in storage in the basement, pictures on the wall, etc., etc., and did a general clean-up of the space. There was nothing to sign so we verbally told our agent the house seemed satisfactory.

Seeing the house tonight was mostly exciting, but also a reminder of all the projects that lie ahead. Luckily the "income property" (walkout basement apartment) will need very little work to be in rentworthy condition. In fact, one of the projects my mom and I will tackle in early March is giving the apartment a mini cosmetic facelift (painting, replacing the bathroom mirror with something more modern, hanging curtains, etc.). We're hoping the space will garner us about $600 a month that we can cashflow into improvement projects.

Our realtor (Andy of The Peters Company) and I scoped out the place while we

waited for Dan to arrive.

Kitchen. Note the counter left of the oven. If put a rubber ball on the counter, it would roll off (to the left) faster than you could say "yo mama."

View one of the living/dining combo (screened-in porch is to the right).

Living/dining from another angle.

The even left us the fancy above-toilet organizer!

The ceiling tiles we'll be pulling down (or Dan will be pulling down) this week.

Masks will be worn.

Master (in our dreams, we could combine the adjacent bedroom into

one big master suite). Of course this is only when we build another

bedroom in the basement... 20 years from now.

Back bedroom. I hope there's nothing sketchy hanging out behind that mirror.

Back bedroom shot 2.

This bad baby is currently hanging out in the kitchen (likely so that the older woman who previously lived here didn't have to go downstairs to do laundry). It will soon be relocated into the apartment so we can advertise with "includes washer/dryer."

This looks about the same.

Stairs from basement up to main floor.

Buyer's remorse? Nah. :)

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Drawing inspiration: bathrooms

We're five days out* from being the proud owners of a late 1940s estate sale home in Decatur — with LOTS of room for updates. (I may have neglected to mention up to this point that the house will be the first place Dan and I picked out together — exciting!)

Even with a list of 35 bazillion things to do immediately (closing in the gaps between the chimney and the roof, rerouting the front yard drainage, skimming over the cracked walls in the bedrooms, etc.), I can't help but start dreaming about the purely cosmetic updates down the road.

I'm thinking: bathrooms and kitchens.

I got a good piece of advice this week from my good friend Megan (by way of her cousin): "The parts of the home that people invest the most money in are also the parts of the home that begin looking dated the quickest." That's something to consider.

Here are some of the bathrooms that are inspiring me lately. I like that these looks are classic and traditional but have notes of early-to-mid 20th century style. I love love love elements like wainscoting or beadboard, subway tile, black and white hexagon tile and pedestal sinks — especially with contemporary touches mixed in.

Just imagine it... we could take this:

and transform it along these lines:

Image from (I like how the simple white mirror and the
granite countertop make this beadboard bathroom just a bit more modern).

Photo from the A Little Busy Blog.

Ahhh beadboard bathrooms. Be still my heart!

One question I have is: What kind of tub does one put in a bathroom like this? Hmmm.


*Fingers crossed everything pans out for Thursday's closing!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Baby Shower Decorations

Slow your horses. No babies for us just yet. I wanted to share some photos from my childhood friend Lindsay's baby shower. Lindsay and her husband Allen welcomed a happy and healthy little girl named Hanna Louise into the world this morning.

I'm no Dawn Gahan (see some amazing wedding shower, baby shower and rehearsal dinner decor by the talented Dawn here, here and here), but I tried my best! Luckily I was one of several gals hosting Lindsay's shower/brunch — so our powers combined created a personalized, dainty and fun baby shower.

Lindsay's sister Charlene asked if I would coordinate decorations. She already planned to bring a clothes line (and tiny pink clothes to pin to it). Another cohostess volunteered to make a yellow gingham table runner for the food table (Lindsay decorated the baby's room in pale yellow, light pink and light green).

So I started brainstorming, considering the following:
  • The baby's room color scheme, especially since it would play into the shower colors as well
  • I would be driving the decorations three hours south, from Atlanta to Eufaula, Alabama
  • A budget of about $40 to $50
White flowers seemed to be the logical choice. I spray painted vases green and pink to complement the yellow gingham table runner. (Note: I'm bummed I couldn't find a lighter green paint.)

The flowers. Photo taken at my office (I left straight from work for Alabama).

Since Lindsay and her husband were such cute babies — and this baby was their first — I thought it would be cute to frame several baby pictures of each of them. I also wrote a little poem that begged the question, "Who will baby Stanton look like?" I like the different shapes and textures created by the hodgepodge of vases and frames. (Frames and vases were all picked up at Goodwill.)

Wasn't Lindsay the cutest little girl? (Click for full-size image)

My attempt at baby poetry.

To keep the costs fair, we six hostesses each brought a food item or two.

Mmmm blueberry coffee cake, breakfast casseroles, fruit,
spinach and artichoke dip and more.

Charlene coordinated the games, which were cute and different than any I'd seen at baby showers previously. We did Hum That (Baby) Tune (participants hummed a tune that had the word "baby" somewhere in the song — and everyone else in the room tried to guess the song. Examples include "Hit Me Baby, One More Time" and "Baby Love"), a worksheet with scrambled words and other baby-related puzzles and a game where we had to guess baby items that started with the letters B-A-B-Y S-T-A-N-T-O-N. (Charlene wrapped 10 little gifts that corresponded with each letter, and Lindsay got to keep them after the gift that related to each letter was revealed.)
My mom, trying to get the hang of the games.

Deep in thought, trying to unscramble words like gyerist (registry) and ledcra (cradle).

The gorgeous mom-to-be, surrounded by her hostesses.

The shower came together well, especially with the backdrop of Ms. Theresa's gorgeous home.

If I could lend any advice for someone who wants to take a crack at this craft project, I would recommend finding rough-textured (or wood) vases and frames so the paint sticks a little better. Also, I had to replace the hydrangeas with other white flowers last minute because they started drooping just hours after putting them in the vases.

Congratulations, Lindsay and Allen!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Three Teeny Updates

  • Since the house was being sold as-is, we knew we couldn't ask for much. We did, however, decide to ask the seller to have the home fumigated, exterminated, etc., etc. — and he agreed. We're very relieved, as it will be nice to have the "tenants" evacuated before we move in.
  • We received the bank-mandated appraisal today — and we're in good shape.
  • Due diligence ends tomorrow — and we have no plans to back out at this point.
Fingers crossed for an easy closing on 2/25.


Thursday, February 4, 2010

Inspection time: the good, the bad and the ugly

Our (potential) home inspection was yesterday. And Norman from Stellar Inspections turned the 35-plus page inspection for us in nearly 24 hours. Right on, Norman!

As to be expected with any inspection, we received feedback of a few major issues, several medium-to-moderate ones... and a slew of this-isn't-an-emergency-but-you-should-probably-take-care-of-it-soon items. Dan experienced the entire inspection firsthand, as he crawled along around on all fours in the attic, traipsed around the unkempt exterior and inspected for water damage — all by Norman's side.

I took the opportunity to take more photos of the house and evaluate the space. When you visit a house on a house-hunting trip, it's easy for everything to mix together. E.g., I remembered a formal living room area in addition to the informal one at the back of the house... yeah, I made that up!

While I was thinking about silly, not-so-functional tasks like playing with my camera, Dan decided to really maximize our time at the house. He scheduled a contractor to swing by to evaluate a few potential projects and give us his feedback. Dan also measured the hardwoods that could be refinished (about 900 square feet when you tally up the three bedrooms, hallway and large living/dining space).

On to the photos I snapped (some capture "issues" while others are just for perspective):

So, here she is. Built to last in 1949.

The kitchen (bead board wall), complete with hunter green laminates. It's a galley kitchen but with lots of counter space.

We were a little concerned concerned about this cracking in the kitchen ceiling. It appears the previous owners closed in a sunroom adjacent to the kitchen. Phil, our contractor friend, is fairly certain all this needs is a little mudding/skimming.

The long wall running between the kitchen and the living area. The wood paneling appears to be in mostly good shape, though we'd likely want to update crown molding (you can see about eight layers of paint crudded up on the molding).

Bookcase/built-ins at the "living" end of the large living/dining area. Phil the contractor suggests recessing that drywall area in the middle so we can comfortably hang out TV there. The lady who lived here obviously had a thing for yellow. I love the idea of having that storage under the bookcase.

Good-looking fireplace. Our inspector encouraged us to use gas logs instead of wood to keep this in clean shape. I'll have more to discuss re: the fireplace and chimney below.

View from the living/dining room to the "three seasons" porch, which is about the size of the main room (12-feet by 26-feet)

(Now, onto the basement apartment. The basement runs the length of the house but only about a third is finished. The unfinished area has giantly tall ceilings and is mostly used for storage. The finished area is in the form of a studio apartment, which we hope to rent for the first year or two of owning the house. Thankfully the apartment seems to turnkey, with an exterior entrance and fresh paint and carpet. That income isn't vital — but it would make a big difference with cash-flowing improvements.)

Kitchenette end of the basement studio apartment. The sink, stove and vent work fine.

One angle of the apartment.

Opposite view/angle.

Apartment vanity.

Apartment throne. Again with the yellow.

Apartment closet.

Apartment fireplace.

(Okay, back upstairs. You still with me?)

Phil the contractor measures the hallway.

Hallway/main bathroom tub. Surprise. More yellow.

What felt like the smallest of the three upstairs bedrooms. This room is the most likely to be the office/small guest bedroom... or maybe one day, a nursery (and anxiety takes over...).

Second guest bedroom.

Master bedroom (about 14 feet by 11 feet — close to same size as the other bedrooms)

Master bathroom with stand-up shower. We found out later this bathroom renovation may be one of our first projects (the shower drain pan has been patched once and has little life left in it).

(Back downstairs to evaluate some issues... are you still with me?)

Stairs seem to be supporting weight just fine; however, our inspector recommends we add some base support (versus just letting them hang) to make them more structurally sound.

Storage in unfinished basement area. Some of this area could be finished off later.

The good news in this photo: The drain appears to be in the right place, and the furnace seems to be operating fine. The bad news: It appears we have some little friends (namely mice/rats).

Are you ready for one of the most massive finds of the inspection....?

(wait for it)

(wait for it)

Oooooooh. Bad news. This giant poo shot was taken in the attic. It appears a raccoon is living amongst the wharf rats. eeeek! Thank goodness we can deal with this before we move in. I wish you could see how big this is. It's the size of medium dog poop.

As you would expect, I didn't capture every issue above. So in the interest of keeping "pros" and "cons" in these posts, here we go:

Some PROS of the inspection:
  • No structural or major water damage issues (or as Dan put it, no
  • Roof is 7 to 9 years old
  • AC is 10 years or younger
  • Electrical seems to be mostly in good shape (note: we do need to make some of the outlets GCFI compliant, and a breaker needs to be replaced)
  • No termites
  • There's tile underneath the main bathroom carpet (hallelujah)
  • Hardwood floors under the carpets
  • The yard is mega deep (the whole yard is two-thirds of an acre — and no one would ever build in the backyard)
  • Late 40s/early 50s were known for good/solid construction
  • Addition seems to be well-constructed
  • Nothing freaked out our inspector, contractor friend or the pest control guy — in fact, they all encouraged us to proceed
Some CONS* of the inspection:
  • Gaps exist between the chimney and the attic. This has led to some water damage (none active) around the chimney. We'll need new flashing (the protective material around the chimney) as well as some preventive measures (added pitch to keep water rolling down the roof, new boots, new chimney cap, etc.) to keep this in good shape.
  • During this visit, we realized there's quite a bit of cosmetic work needed (painting, moldings, kitchen work, floor refinishing, bathroom renovations, etc.)
  • The age of house means there may be some asbestos (e.g., in the bedroom ceiling tiles)
  • Some subfloor issues need to be addressed, namely where a floor joist was cut in half to make room for a new pipe.
  • "Tenants" (a.k.a. some pests)
  • While it's not structural, the drywall paneling in the bedrooms is showing its seams, which means we'll want to have new drywall laid on top or have the current drywall mudded and skimmed.
Due diligence ends on Tuesday. Stay tuned.

*Note: few houses, even new ones, come without issues.