Slice of Life: Real Estate Division

Me: We missed our chance!

Matt: For what?

Me: The F. Scott Fitzgerald house is for sale!

Matt: Really?

Me: It’s even under a million!

Matt: Well it is just a rowhouse.

Me: It’s huge! It’s 3,441 square feet!

Matt: Really?

Me: YES! It’s bigger on the inside!

….

Matt: The Summit umbrella really bothers me.  I like Summit and all, but you know who didn’t? F. Scott Fitzgerald.  You know why? Because he was dead.

Paint in my hair, don’t care

I attacked the horrible brick red radiator this week and man is spray paint a bitch in confined spaces!  If you’ve never tackled painting a radiator before, here’s my quick rundown.

Step 1: Prepwork

Give the radiator a good cleaning.  A flexible dryer vent brush is seriously your best friend here.  If you have never cleaned out the inside of a radiator before, be prepared to be amazed at how much nastiness you’ll knock out.  If there’s any flaking or bubbling paint, take it off with a wire brush or sandpaper (if you think the paint could be lead based, be careful and look into appropriate precautions).  You’ll also want to wash it all down to get ride of any remaining dust or particles.

 

Step 2: Tape off everything like you’re trying to make your own hazmat decon unit.

radiatorPrep

The biggest problem with spray paint is over-spray. Not a big deal if you’re outside, but if you have ANYTHING you don’t want paint on in the same room, cover it.  I didn’t cover absolutely everything and there’s a fine dust all over the floor (the particulates dry pretty quickly as they drift, so this actually isn’t a bad clean up).  I taped around all the feet and pipes, layered craft paper (or cut up grocery bags) over that, drop clothed to cover a wider spread, and taped lightweight plastic sheeting to the walls and over the brick (FYI painters tape does not like brick.  At. All.).

 

Step 3: Light Layers

radiator1

I really didn’t use anything special for paint, just Rustoleum Universal white in a satin finish.  The sprayer on these bottles is pretty sweet and doesn’t cause annoying finger cramps like the standard spray nozzles can.  Rustoleum sells a High Heat spray as well, but since their normal spray paint is good up to 200 degrees there’s really no need for the high heat stuff.  They also make a Radiator Enamel… but I couldn’t find it in stores near me so Universal it was.  Don’t worry about getting a good coat on the first pass.  In fact, don’t even try.  You want light layers so they dry faster and don’t get all drippy. Also, get as much ventilation as you can cuz this stuff is pretty potent.  If you know several friendly weightlifters you they can also disconnect the radiator and haul it outside making a lot of this considerably easier.

 

Step 4-Infinity: Lather, Rinse, and Repeat

radiator2

Lots and lots of light layers.  Patience is important here… and it’s totally not one of my strong points.  I got up to coat 5 before I ran out of paint.  Trying to cover up red is probably especially difficult… so is trying to paint something complicated that’s stuck in a corner.

 

Step 5: Fuck it, just use a brush

After coat 5 I was out of spray paint and didn’t really want to keep going.  Plus I had also covered myself in a layer of spray paint and didn’t really feel like another day of trying to scrub it all off.  I picked up a tiny can of Rustoleum white paint in a satin finish and used a foam brush to touch up the areas I failed at spraying.  If I had to do this all over again, I’d probably just brush paint from the start. I also forgot my camera at home at this point and then collapsed into a puddle of moving exhaustion, but you’ll get to see it soon once I’ve got the cabinets finished.  Spoiler: It looks a lot like the last picture from step 4, just a lot better close up.  Crazy.

Kitchen Dreamin’

Matt and I have been heading over to the new house daily.  We don’t fully move for another 2 weeks, but we’re hauling stuff, attacking the lawn, and getting the kitchen prepped…. then coming home, passing out and eating ice cream straight out of the container because it’s not like we’re fit to have company over anyway.

The kitchen is the big project I want to get done before moving because I doubt I’ll be motivated to pull everything out the cabinets once we get it put away.  We’re not doing a ton in the kitchen just yet, but I want to get the cabinets and radiator painted (the cabinets because they’re super boring builder grade things, the radiator because it is frackin brick red). Currently the cabinets have been primed!  Woot!  I have no pictures at this stage, partly because of the exhaustion cycle mentioned above, and partly because there is very little interesting about primed cabinetry.  It looks splotchy and white and that’s about it.

Instead let’s just skip ahead to the fun stuff.  This is my end goal for the kitchen:

kitchenMoodBoard

Dark inky-gray cabinets, sleek copper hardware, pale gray walls, Corian Rain Cloud counters (possibly carerra marble since I’ve managed to fall in love with what is apparently the most expensive Corian pattern known to man anyway… but I like the low maintenance that comes with solid surface over stone) and a simple white ceramic tile backsplash.

Right now I’m just tackling paint and hardware. Depending on how long a time frame we’re looking at for replacement I may consider an interim DIY project for the counter and backsplash, but for now I’m just going to leave them as is. The faucet may get replaced sooner rather than later depending on what’s the cause of our low water pressure that’s currently happening in the kitchen. At some point I’d also love to replace the sink.  I’m kind of thinking an apron-front sink, but I really like double bowl sinks and they’re harder to find in an apron-front style.

As I was working on my kitchen design concept, Jenny Komenda of Little Green Notebook posted this beauty and I felt pretty good about where I was heading with our kitchen.

In the Begining: House Tour (Before)

So what got us so excited for the house? It’s kind of perfect (at least we think so!). Here are the untouched realtor photos so you can see the completely blank slate.

You’ve already seen the outside front. Nothing amazing, as far as I can tell the house is an American Foursquare which was basically the cookie-cutter home of the early 1900’s. The paint color…. I really dislike, but exterior painting is a pain in the arse so it won’t actually get changed until the house actually needs to be repainted.

porch

The front porch. I am SO glad there’s a screened porch. The cats will love it. It’s awesome for nice weather lounging without the bugs…dreamy. You can also see two more doors to get into the house. Yes two. The porch appear to be an addition so that “airlock” type entry is pretty common in old homes.

entry

The front entryway. Aren’t those stairs just to DIE for? I’m such a sucker for a good staircase and this one is pretty phenomenal. To the left is the (formal) living room and to the right is what we will be making the dinning room.

livingrm

View to the living from the family room. Mmm leaded glass.

familyrm

Family room. Technically this was probably originally the dining room because of the built in buffet. We’re going to use it as the TV room for a couple reasons. First, who really wants a bathroom right off the dining room?  Second, I like the open flow from TV to living room so if we’re having a bunch of people we have one large entertaining space and the buffet will get turned into a bar. That hallway to the kitchen is also a little butler pantry! How cool issat?

kitchen

The Kitchen. Ok, it’s nothing special. At all. And that red radiator? UGH! We think we can make it work though. We already have a sideboard we can put under the window  (about where the bistro table is here) for added workspace and storage. Plus with the butler pantry, buffet, and a little added wall shelving we should have plenty of storage for all our kitchen stuff.

diningrm

The dining room. Ugly-as-sin ceiling, right? My current thought is to install a tin (ok, faux tin let’s be honest) ceiling over it. Not entirely sure what to do about the bookshelves but I’m thinking about adding some doors down the line and using them for storing our nicer looking serving dishes and assorted decorative things.

upstairs

This wonky shot of the stairs shows the upstairs 3 bedrooms and off on the left is a full bath and the stairs to the attic (it’s super distorted and nowhere near that wide in reality).

study1

Bedroom 1. Another ugly ceiling… this one will probably just need to be torn down and drywalled over.

master

Bedroom 2. We’ll make this the master bedroom. A rotating platform bed has been a suggested way to make use of the 13 pairs of waist high outlets in this room (whyyyy???).

study2

Bedroom 3.  It’s amazingly bright and here so I’ve claimed it for my office/studio space.

bathroom

Bathroom. This room makes me sad. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great size (and there’s a linen closet in the corner!), but just horribly, oppressively, brown right now. And that stuff on the walls appears to be vinyl flooring… dingy vinyl flooring. Yeah… THAT will be fun to remove. This is the only room to really need a total overhaul, but it will probably be done in stages.

yard

And a shot of the backyard. I think it’s a perfect size—big enough to enjoy, small enough to take care of without going crazy.  This picture was also taken in the fall. Right now it’s actually a small jungle and we’ll be trying to figure out what are weeds and what are respectable plants and relocating them as needed.

See why we fell in love? The fact that it’s walking distant to the BEST ice cream in the Twin Cities was sort of selling point as well.

 

So this happened today

We bought a house!!!!

outside

Backing up tinge… Matt and I have been living in an awesomely posh neighborhood is St Paul for about 3 years now.  We got married a little over a year ago and back in January decided to seriously start looking into buying a house.  I’ve always wanted to own a home (the design possibilities are endless! No one will get pissy with you if you decide to paint cabinets or rip out ugly tile!  Ok… maybe your husband will, but he won’t take away your security deposit!).  Matt…. not quite as enthused, but with interests rates still being low and our landlord becoming mildly annoying (did you just “fix” our sink by breaking a different part of it?  Yes… yes you did) he was on board with house hunting.

We were looking in a select few neighbors of St Paul and some of the first ring suburbs. I’d like a house, Matt wouldn’t. Matt would like a house, I wouldn’t. We’d see listings we’d both love only to have them accept offers before we could even get in a showing. The last house we looked at we almost missed out on. It’s right on a busy-ish street and we weren’t sure that was what we wanted, but we decided to check it out anyway.

And then we fell in love. At least I did… Matt doesn’t have quite the same crazed reaction to spaces that I do, but he really liked it all the same. It also ticked every box on both our Must Have and Like to Have lists, except for central air… but that was never a must have (this is Minnesota, we can pretty easily get snow from October through May). It was also a short sale. For those unfamiliar with short sales, short does not apply to the time frame. In fact, they can take fracking forever. We decided to go for it anyway.

We actually lucked out on the short sale front.  We put in an offer in March, got approval from the seller’s bank in May, and closed today which in my understanding is a pretty quick turn around for a short sale.

At 115 years old the house is need of a little lovin’, but our home inspector said is was actually in pretty good shape compared to other homes of its age.  The downside is that the previous owners made pretty much zero upgrades while they were living there, so we still have a lot to pick away at.  The upside is that pretty much everything is fair game to redo!  Because I’m kind of design nut and like taking on DIYs, Matt suggested I start a blog so at the very least I can track my renovation progress (because who doesn’t love a good Before and After, right?).  So here I am.  Blogging, or as I call it, Making Shit Up as I Go.