2017 House Goals

In 2016, our house saw many sweeping, expensive changes. 2017 isn’t likely to be quite as dramatic, but that doesn’t mean I’m slowing down. I’m excited to tackle a lot of projects throughout the house – here’s a rundown of everything on my docket.

I’ve listed the projects in order of “This will definitely happen” to “I hope this will happen but who the f knows what the future holds.”

1. Fix Up Mantle and Bookshelves

Our fireplace mantle and bookcases are in poor shape: the mantle is flecked with paint, the shelves look parched, and the stain is inconsistent. I threw our books up there when we moved in, and now it’s time to fix up and thoughtfully arrange this area.

Living Room Fireplace

I got a jump on this project in 2016 by painting the previously-painted-red brick.

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2. Spruce Up Entryway

I hadn’t put too much effort into our entryway until just recently. Now I have a new light fixture and a new (old) rug, which I’ll share soon. Left to do: buy/build a hook rail, upgrade our closet doors, and improve the closet storage situation.

3. Finish Mudroom Interior and Exterior

I spent a hundred hours on the mudroom in 2016, but never showed you any of the interior and never reached a point I’d call “finished.” (You saw the exterior in the backyard post.)

4. Improve Attic Insulation and Circulation

One not-fun but important thing I need to figure out in 2017 is our attic insulation. During our pre-closing house inspection, our inspector noted that it could stand to be improved. But it hadn’t really caused any problems* until this winter, when we witnessed the symptoms of and then learned the term “ice dam.”

Ice Dam Diagram.png(Diagram from the Historic Chicago Bungalow Association’s Bungalow Maintenance 101 guide, which I highly recommend.)

In short: heat in our attic causes snow to melt off our roof, which refreezes in and over our gutters. It also creates a murderous slick of ice on our front walk and stairs.

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* Though our second floor bedroom can be chilly, our 2016 house utility bills were virtually identical to our 2015 apartment utility bills, which was a huge load off my mind – I had really stressed about heating and cooling costs when we first moved in. This winter is expected to be brutal, however, so I’m sure that will change.

5. Figure out Bedroom Storage

The IKEA storage drawers you saw in the bedroom post are wearing out their welcome. We need better storage solutions inside and outside the closet. I also hope to install new bifold closet doors (bifold doors are shockingly expensive, by the way – I don’t really understand why).

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6. Buy a New Sofa

You’d think this would be easy. It’s not.

7. Install New Doors

I’d like to replace:

  • Our front door with a craftsman door (painted black)
  • Our back door with a glass door (so we can see our garden from our kitchen)
  • Our half-bath door with a craftsman door, if I…

8. Renovate the Half-Bathroom

If I tackle this project, it will be my very first floor-to-ceiling renovation! Given its small size and my modest ambitions, I think (fingers crossed) it could be in the budget this year.

Bathroom

I’ve ordered a few wallpaper samples, picked out a toilet*, and started to get quotes from contractors. It will be a mix of DIY and hiring out.

* If you’re worried that I may have selected a toilet that won’t be able to flush 3 cell phones, 40 cigarettes, 20 golf balls, and 56 chicken nuggets: stop worrying. It totally can. The product video on the Home Depot site kills me. Such peppy music! Such ill-advised flushing challenges!

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Those 8 goals should keep me plenty busy, and keep this blog filled with content. There will be other smaller scale projects along the way as well, including decorating our guest bedroom and adding planters to our front stoop. Stay tuned!

New House Tour: Main Floor

Thanks for dining at Palermo’s Pizzeria! Jarrod’s your waiter and he’ll be taking care of you this evening while we tour the first floor of our new house.

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Let’s start in the kitchen. It’s the best room of the house right out of the box, which isn’t to say it’s perfect, but it’s functional and is the closest to being pretty decent!

In case it’s not obvious, that’s not our table nor our curtains. The house had been vacant since October 2014 and was mostly empty except for a lot of junk in the garage and basement. I think this table was an attempt at staging, to make the place seem homier. It disappeared the day before we closed; the junk unfortunately stayed put. (The house was sold as-is, so they didn’t have to clean it.)

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We’re not going to talk about that enclosed back porch right now: please pretend that moldy mess doesn’t exist. That’s what we do every day.

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The kitchen cabinets are kinda nice: the drawers are full-extension and everything’s sturdy, but they were also put together poorly and some weird choices were made. That upper cabinet to the right of the sink, for example, is a base cabinet: it’s way too deep to be up top and Jarrod is definitely going to ram his head into it while loading the dishwasher.

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That island is gigantic. I’m excited to have so much counter space on either side of the stove and four matching stools lined up at the bar.

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Another “Good ’nuff!” paint job from the previous occupant. That door on the right leads to the basement.

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Past the kitchen is the staircase I love, terrible beast of a project that it is. Looks like someone started stripping that sixth baluster and then said “Fuck this!” A few months from now, I’ll probably do the same. My only saving grace is that I don’t want to strip to the point of re-staining (that would kill me and/or I’d set my house on fire), just to the point that it can be a clean paint job. I want the risers and balusters to be white, with the handrail and stair treads stained brown.

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There’s a half-bath next to the stairs. The toilet flushes and the sink drains water, and that’s about all it has going for it currently.

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I’ll make it as nice as possible with a minimal amount of money, and then do a full renovation down the road. This bathroom renovation will take priority over the upstairs one because more people will use it and it currently feels crummier.

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downstairs11Moving on to the living room. I love this view.

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Blogging is weird: it’s hard to know what balance to strike between “We’re excited about this house we bought!” and “Look at this messed up thing! Here’s another bad choice! And why in the hell would someone do this?” Just know that while I point out all the flaws, I’m excited about the overall promise of the house and still think (85% of the time) that we got a good place! Like George Harrison said in that weird music video that creeped you out as a child: It’s gonna take time, a whole of precious time, it’s going to take patience and time, to do it right and undo all the things some idiot did before you.

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This decorative fireplace will be nice eventually. I’ll paint the brick (it’s already painted – that’s red paint with hand-drawn gray “mortar” lines) and rebuild the shelves. Art — not a TV — will go over the mantle. Nothing against TVs, I just don’t like them up high.

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I’m a little overwhelmed by how to arrange furniture in the living room. There’s a lot of room to work with, but the space is divided visually by the entryways. Neither half is big enough to contain an entire seating area, so whatever couch + chair arrangement we come up with will have spill into the middle of the room. My friend’s mom (hi, Mrs. Priebe!) is an interior decorator and I’m roping her in for advice.

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The front sunroom used to be an exterior porch. It was enclosed a few decades ago, with cheap linoleum on the floor and cheap acoustic tiles on the ceiling. All of it will get changed in time. It’s a sunny bonus room and I look forward to having some comfortable chairs out there for reading and coffee. And lots of plants!

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The brick on the original exterior wall is real. The “brick” on the interior side is not.

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Those are plastic bricks, glued to a thin layer of concrete, which was applied to a piece of wall panelling, which was stuck to the plaster wall. Yeesh. This was one of things we were able to tackle prior to moving in, so it looks quite different now. Pics to come!

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The next post will tour the basement and outside, where we’ve already done a lot of work, so there will be before & after photos of some unglamorous but very necessary changes.

New House Tour: Upstairs

It’s time for a house tour! Let’s start upstairs. There are two bedrooms, one on either side of the bathroom.

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Both of the bedrooms are gigantic: approximately 20’x12′. They’re in decent shape, albeit filthy.

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Those mirrored closet doors have to go! When we* paint, I’m going to paint the angled walls the same as the wall color — not the ceiling color — which I think will make them look less steep.

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*Full disclosure: we’re actually not painting. I’m paying someone to do it for the first time! It’s simply too huge a job for us to tackle ahead of move-in (mid-August), as every single thing in the house needs to be painted: ceilings, walls, closets, doors, and trim. More importantly, I want to have a professional paint job for our first home. We have to spend a lot of money on not-fun stuff that we can’t even really see (more on that another day), so it’s worth it to me to splurge on one thing that will make a huge difference in how we feel about the house on move-in day.

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The huge window has some water damaged trim, but that’s nothing primer and paint can’t fix. There’s no evidence of mold growing (unlike our basement – more on that another day).

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All of the baseboard and door trim is in rough shape, too. The most recent occupant was a woodworker and he seems to have started a lot of projects that he didn’t finish. The finishing nail holes aren’t filled, there is spackle left unsanded, etc. It’s another reason we’re grateful to have a pro painter on the job.

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It’s hard to say which upstairs paint color is the worst, but I think the red in the bathroom takes the prize.

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The bathroom is fine — we’ve certainly seen a lot worse — and it will be totally transformed by a new paint job. The granite tile isn’t anything I would have chosen, but at least it’s gray and in good shape.

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I’m excited to have a bathroom closet. It’s big! Those abutting doors will be annoying, though, so something will need to change there.

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This sink has hilariously terrible proportions. It will be replaced at some point, perhaps as part of a full bathroom remodel or maybe I’ll cave and replace it earlier. It’s pretty low on our priority list, though: there are a lot more pressing projects!

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This Relax sign cracks me up in combination with that paint color — nothing about fire engine red says “relax.”

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Moving on to the second bedroom.

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We haven’t decided which bedroom we’ll use. We prefer the purple one because it gets evening sun and faces the front yard tree instead of the backyard alley.

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The green room closet, however, is enormous. Probably 6’x10′. It would definitely be nice to have as our primary closet.

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That’s it for the second floor! I’ll leave you with a photo of a very unprofessional paint job. I like that someone got to this point and said “Close enough!”

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