Happy Birthday, Pete: Our 2011 Year in Review!

Happy birthday, poops. Hope your 25th is just as good, if not better than your 24th. I still feel like a cougar, irregardless.

I know how much you love those “year in review” posts, so I thought it might be nice to highlight some of my favorite “before and after” projects we tackled together around the house in 2011. Can’t wait to see what we’ll be saying this time next year about our DIY accomplishments. Also can’t wait to be your Mrs. (Just sayin’.)

Let’s start with the outside, where two huge trees and endless hedges were blocking the view of our house, making us drive past it nearly every time (not that I don’t still do that). I think it looks a lot prettier now that you can actually see our front yard, where we hope to have raised beds once Spring rolls around.

Then there’s this situation, which I still have to resolve by laying my bricks straighter since I was rushing (Pete did a good job with his).

Tada! The brick paths looking a lot less sad

Our sunroom was looking a little unfortunate when we first moved in, since we used it mostly to store lawn equipment and trash bags. I think it’s looking a lot cozier these days:

The Rocking chair revamp might be one of my favorite furniture makeovers from this past year…I love seeing it so bright and cheerful on our sunroom porch.

Here’s a look at our living room when had our first walk-through of the house. I instantly wanted to paint the fireplace white, and although most of my family thought I was crazy for it, I think it turned out pretty nice:

I still can’t believe how much painting we tackled the month before moving in, I wish I still had that kind of energy now.

The dining room used to be a bit of a downer, but with a little love from the wallpaper steamer and a fresh coat of paint, it’s looking better already:

Mmm, yellow.

Remember how smoke-stained our kitchen looked when we had our first walk-through? It looks so much better now without that bunny wallpaper, the new checkered floors we installed, and the white painted cabinets, all of which we did on our own within the first few months of moving in.

This one is lacking a “before” photo, but here’s a glimpse at the chalkboard door in our kitchen, which we try to always update with a weekly menu to avoid endless “what do YOU want for dinner?” ramblings.

This is what our office/critter room looked like when we first moved in. Eek. It’s still a work in progress, and I keep forgetting to take a photo since we’ve added a desk and organized things, but here’s a look at the lack of wallpaper and avocado paint job:

That’s Willie Nelson, our pet bunny. You can’t tell from this photo, but there’s also two other bunnies (Applesauce and Cadbury) and a chinchilla (Maude) nearby.

Here’s our bedroom when we first moved in…we even inherited these curtains from the previous owner. We haven’t taken a recent photo of our bedroom with our new curtains and artwork, but here’s a look at the freshly-painted walls:

Yay, mustard and grey accents galore!

The upstairs bathroom before & after is a pretty simple one as of right now, but it still makes me happy not to see those butterflies when I shower.

These are just some of my favorite before & after photos from the past six months of living in our first house together. I can’t wait to spruce up the yard to make it nice for our wedding and to see how we change the upstairs, since we’ve barely touched it. Anyway, I hope you have an amazing 25th birthday and consider myself the luckiest for being able to share it with you.

“Shop Vac That Shit, yo!”

Pardon my French, but Hurricane Irene took a major piss on our weekend plans. Initially, we had a family barbecue scheduled, which had to be canceled since it was apparent that there wasn’t going to be any grilling in our near future. So, the ginger and I stocked up on beer, sangria, pie and a bunch of terrible movies we were looking forward to absorbing. Unfortunately, Hurricane Irene had other plans for our Saturday evening.

Early in the night, we noticed the basement was getting some water, but it wasn’t anything terrible. By 11pm, the water was coming in harder, so we used our BFF (the Shop-Vac) to control the issue. Before we knew it, the water was streaming in at a pretty aggressive pace, so we had to attack it with all of our might. We took turns emptying the Shop-Vac (which took very little time to fill up), while scooping the remaining water into buckets with cups.

At first, I had the brilliant idea to scoop the water with shot glasses, but normal sized cups were quickly needed, as the water was rising faster and faster. I settled on using an empty vegetable broth can and a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle cup, which was no doubt acquired from a fast food chain in the 80s by yours truly. By the end of our adventure, the plastic cup showed no sign of ever donning green turtles, since it was scraped against the ground so many times.

In case you were curious, in the video above I am indeed mumbling “this is bullshit” and “ohhhh, sweet baby!” when trying to lift a full bucket of water (probably my jillionth for the evening). There is also a zombie moan toward the end of the clip, for those of you who are patient enough to sit through Pete’s rendition of the Blair Witch Project. We started at 11pm and scooped and Shop-Vac-ed until 5am, when we decided it was time to take a two hour nap. When we woke up at 7am, the water collected to about two inches, so we spent the rest of our morning tackling the flooded basement until the storm calmed down.

Unfortunately, our sump pump is not located near the areas of the basement which get the most water (of course). We spent hours of scooping water in the most awkward positions. About 6 hours into it, I realized I had been crouching in wet shoes the entire time and decided to sit on a step ladder. Pete used a bucket as a seat while we tried to keep ourselves motivated and energized by being ridiculous and goofy. We invented the “bucket-off” game which consisted of trying to beat one another by filling our buckets faster with water. I am proud to say that I am the faster water scooper out of the two of us, but Pete is by far more skilled in the Shop Vac department.

At one point I felt like I was in the movie “Dancer in the Dark” when Bjork’s character is in the factory and starts to hear music from all of the industrial sounds (see scene below). The combination of Pete and I both scooping water and the Shop Vac doing its thang was making us lose. our. minds. “Clatter, crash, clack! Racket, bang, thump! Rattle, clang, crack, thud, whack, bam!” We were seriously scooping the water with one cup in each hand while resting our heads on our legs and trying to sleep at the same time. By 5am we made the executive decision to just take a nap and tackle it once the water was higher so we could maintain some sanity.

Betty White remained unphased throughout the entire procedure. She doesn’t mind a tornado or hurricane, but as soon as she hears a clap of thunder, girl is a mess. Meanwhile, Pete and I were delirious and took a few mini breaks next to her on the couch to read the latest on our Twitter feeds.

My entire body still hurts so badly from the whole experience. I haven’t been able to shake my killer headache, which probably came with sitting in a pool of water in a damp basement for about 10 hours. No matter how much rest I get, I still feel totally useless. Lesson learned: I am a total puss when it comes to natural disasters. Overall, we really lucked out that the power stayed on and we were able to take advantage of the magical Shop-Vac powers. Plus, no fallen trees, which also made me do a happy, Bjork dance.

How did my fellow East Coasters brave the storm?

Gardening 101: Weeding, Pruning and Advil Taking

It’s been a while since I’ve shared the progress we’ve made on the outside of our house. Unfortunately, up until this week, I hadn’t lifted a finger to help with the exterior of our home. Last you saw, Pete had removed the trees and hedges from the front yard, which he and his mom have been trying to break down into Lowe’s bags for weeks. I had been attacking interior work—painting and more wallpaper removal mostly—so I had my blinders on when it came to the great outdoors.

Here is the house a few weeks ago after having the trees and hedges recently removed.

This is a shot of the exterior of the house from today—the grass has already started to grow back where the trees and hedges once lived. A few weekends ago, my dad spent an entire day pressure washing the bricks, concrete patio and sides of the house and shed. The bricks are more vibrant now, but we still have to weed the cracks and fill them with sand. Yesterday I made a pathetic attempt to purchase 4×8 lattice for covering the giant gaps underneath our house, but I failed miserably when trying to lug it around Lowe’s by my lonesome. It was definitely an entertaining sight for the red vest-wearing employees, I’m sure. Anyway, please note the addition of Harold the Gnome, who I have grown up with since I was a wee little thing. Yes, I know he could use a paint job, but I still love him like a brother from another mother.

Pete’s parents found this old spoon on the road in front of our house when they were helping us on moving day. I decided to keep it to display in the flower pot, which reminded me of these spoon garden markers I gifted my friend a while back.

You might have noticed we decided to keep the bunny statue we inherited from the previous owner (Elva). We think it suits our love for all things bunnies. Pete’s mom had the idea to surround basil with marigolds in pots on the porch in an attempt to deter the real life bunnies from the basil. This little guy sure doesn’t mind the marigolds, but hopefully the real critters won’t be eating any caprese salad anytime soon. In other news, we bought a bird house and so far I haven’t seen a single bird munching on the bird suets. Hmph.

Here’s a view of the front of the house, where Pete’s mom and I planted deep purple petunias. Keep in mind I have never weeded or gardened a day in my life, so this is all a learning experience for me.

We planted the petunias around the front of the house and righthand side, where I hope to add some more flowers to plant underneath the hedges. Any ideas on what might look good and flourish this time of year?

Pete’s mom thought these might be a sign of chrysanthemums…any advice if we should just weed them or if these might turn into something purty in the fall?

I spent my entire afternoon trimming the hedges on the side of the yard, which take up a pretty hefty amount of space near our driveway. Sorry I don’t have any decent “before” photos to give you an idea of how overgrown and unhealthy they were. I have no idea if I did a good job or not, but I mostly got rid of the massive amount of dead branches and raised them from the ground to make room for mulch and flowers. Just call me Shannon Scissorhands…no seriously, don’t do that. We’ve lucked out because our township offers a composting facility for residents, where they provide endless mounds of free wood mulch and leaf mulch. For those local readers out there, be sure to check out more information on the Abington Township’s compost page.

I probably spent four or five hours grunting, snapping thick branches and weeding. At one point, I was sitting in dirt with giant earthworms crawling across my pants and plenty of millipedes, centipedes and spiders in sight. Let’s not forget that I spotted a wee garden snake nearing the end of my adventures in pruning, but I just kept weeding and cleaning up buried candy wrappers in a state of pure delusion. For those of you who don’t know me very well, I am absolutely terrified of snakes and centipedes and anything that is creepy crawly, so today was a great success in bravery! I’m pretty sure I have never been so sweaty and gross in my life. This seems to be a recurring theme during our house revamping, but it’s nothing a cold shower, lots of water and a few Advil can’t help.

During this sweaty gardening time, I got a surprise visit from the uber adorable Stephanie, who introduced herself through my blog a while back while Pete and I were in the house hunting process. It turns out she lives right down our street…it’s a crazy, small world! Anyway, my apologies to Stephanie for the grossest first impression of me ever, I hope she’ll still want to be my neighborhood pal.

This is a normal week’s worth of Lowe’s bags for us as of lately. Hopefully the garbage men don’t hate us too much yet.

Here’s a glimpse at the progress Pete and his mom have made with cleaning up the trees and hedges from the front yard. Pardon the dead grass, I’m telling myself it will come back to life soon.

Pete and his mom also cleaned up the entire fenced in garden area, which had been filled to the brim with weeds and all sorts of not-so-pretty garbage. For now, it is home to our new tomato plants, but one day we will hopefully have beds with all sorts of delicious herbs and vegetables.

Pete discovered that the pieces of slate in the backyard were a lot bigger than we had thought since they were covered up with weeds and grass. He did his best to clear them all off, but now that they are all revealed, we aren’t sure what to do about them. Do you think we should use our spare slate pieces to make a more cohesive area (minus the random path probably) where we could have some additional outdoor seating? Or should we scrap it and grow grass back into those areas? Most of the slate pieces we’ve inherited with the yard are quite large and parallelogram-shaped, so it makes it a bit more difficult to make an interesting slate pathway like you may have seen on Young House Love.

Pete also got his pressure washin’ on when my dad came to help rescue our dirty exterior. We were really surprised by how much of a difference the pressure washer made, especially on the fire pit/stone grill thingy in the back.

Speaking of the fire pit thingy, what the heck is this and what do you think we should do with it? It is completely falling apart, so we should probably dispose of it, but part of me wishes we could fix it up in some way and turn it into a functioning fire pit.

That just about sums up this week’s house happenings so far. I’ve also been making some progress with the last of the wallpaper removal on our first floor, in addition to trying to repair cracked (and majorly leaking) shower grout. When I’m not surrounding myself with earthworms and caulk, I’m applying to jobs, writing cover letters and freelance blogging. Oh, and finding owners of lost dogs, so I’ll share more about all of this soon!

One Month Later: All Moved In

Supposedly two of the most stressful events in a person’s life are becoming unemployed and moving. I’ve had to deal with both of those situations within the past week and I’ve managed to come out of the experience pain-free (minus some shin bruises and paint in my hair). Last week I was told I would have to be let go at the magazine due to some changes relating to funding and management. I took this as a sign to hunt down the perfect job for my creativity and talents, somewhere I can learn from a group of peers who will inspire me to be better every single day. Luckily I have unemployment money coming in to hold me over, along with freelance photography and blogging work on the side. Despite the stress of moving into a new home and having to be creative with an entirely different budget, I am actually incredibly excited for this opportunity. I plan to challenge myself to find something where I can truly grow and allow myself to try new things.

A month has passed since Pete and I purchased our home together and we are finally settled in. We spent this past weekend moving in our belongings, with the help of Pete’s family who were sports for dealing with our massive amount of stuff. During my recent stint of unemployment, I spent the week before our move-in painting ceilings, trim and walls to make sure our first floor was live-able. We packed up nearly the entire contents of our apartment in one day, so needless to say, we started this weekend off completely exhausted and ready for a nap. Unfortunately, Pete and I are pretty obsessive about unpacking things before we kick our shoes off to relax. Today is the first day I’ve had a chance to just sit for an extended period of time, and despite feeling a bit lazy, I have to say it’s pretty darn nice. Our to-do list remains never-ending, but I thought it might be swell to share our progress with you so far. We are pretty proud with the achievements we’ve made in only a month and I look forward to tackling many more house projects with Pete in years to come. This weekend we will be removing the rest of the wallpaper in the kitchen, patching, prepping and painting the ceiling and walls.

I’m so lucky to have such a supportive boyfriend and family, I can’t thank you guys enough for all of your help over the past month with everything. It’s also really amazing having a second family just around the corner…I definitely owe Pete’s family a coupon for one month of free manual labor, especially now that I’m unemployed. Anyway, I can’t wait to share our future projects with you guys, but until then, here’s what we’ve been up to lately.

Betty White approves our new rust-colored rug, which has been unbelievably comfortable to rub our feet on after a long day of working on the house.

Here’s a look at our sunroom at the moment. Up until yesterday, it was filled to the brim with boxes and yard tools, but at least now the boxes have been unpacked and recycled. Eventually we’ll get patio furniture and all sorts of pretty stuff to fill this room with, but for now we’re just going to toss some beach chairs and garden tools around and hope no one judges us too much.

The sunroom door leads to our living room, which holds our new IKEA Karlstad sofa in Isunda Gray, courtesy of my way-too-nice parents who spoiled us with a new couch for our housewarming gift. They also surprised us with ceiling fans, which Pete managed to install on his own and impress me with his man skills. Another thing you may notice about this room is how shiny and new the floors look! Pete’s parents were super kind and chipped in for us to have the hardwood floors refinished as their gift to us…we really think it makes an incredible difference! Don’t forget to look at our last round of before & after shots as a reminder of what things looked like up until now. The white fireplace and trim really make the walls (and Betty White) pop. Speaking of walls, we had thought we selected a medium gray color for the room, until we actually ended up painting and discovered we had ourselves more of a blue tone. This just goes to show that purchasing paint samples is worth it if you’re a stickler for perfection, but we think it actually works out well in complementing the orange rug.

Painting the wooden door, windows and trim white was one of the most time consuming things, but definitely well worth it in the end. Betty White agrees, despite making her disgruntled “why are you using flash so early in the morning?” face.

We plan to get a floating shelf to put above the couch, which will have framed artwork and knick knacks resting on it, but until then we just have a lonely astronaut painting by one of Pete’s favorite artists, Scott C. You will also notice during this tour that we are lacking in curtains and decorative pillows, which will be resolved once we have some more savings for emergencies, such as one of us having to go on unemployment (ahem).

Pete gifted me these beautiful pop-up books by Robert Sabuda last Christmas and they remain to be one of my prized possessions. Robert came to my illustration class in college to teach us his ways, so it is extra special to have his work on display in the house.

The dining room area consists of a table I revamped with vintage family photos, along with a gossip bench and cabinet I refurbished.

I really like these framed prints by Berkley Illustrations above the thrifted globe and camera finds. Our BFF Laura Kicey created the colorful architectural composite above the owl chess set, which matches the chartreuse, yellow and purple tones in the room wonderfully. We have her work throughout the house, as we like to think of ourselves as two of her biggest fans, evah!

The bay window area with natural wood is one of my go-to spots throughout the house. It’s really nice to unwind and catch up on emails while listening to the birds chirp and cars drive by outside. The framed piece by Jeff Soto above the gossip bench is one of my favorites because of its sense of nostalgia and pop surrealism, with a little bit of robot love thrown in.

Sadly, the kitchen has been neglected during this entire process, but we will give it some much-needed TLC soon. The walls are half wallpaper-removed, half in need of major patching and repair, so it’s definitely a big project that will easily eat up an entire weekend. Our plans are to paint the walls a deep teal-blue and utilize black and white checkered vinyl tiles in addition to swapping out the sink for a birch and stainless steel, free-standing model from IKEA. We plan to remodel the kitchen as our first major project, but for now we are just making it work with our modest budget and some elbow grease. Ew. Whoever came up with that term needs to rethink that one.

There was an enormous amount of kitchen storage in our previous apartment, so we had to be creative when trying to make room for odds and ends in our new, much smaller space. We used this bookshelf by ikea to store things like tupperware, dish towels, random appliances and our treasured copies of Everyday Food.

Here’s a glimpse into our office/critter room, which is under construction for the time being. Pete was kind enough to treat me to a sweet drawing desk with a light box from IKEA for my birthday, which can barely be seen in these photos. Unfortunately, the desk legs aren’t back in stock yet, so my office area is kind of in shambles while we wait. I am so excited to start using the desk, it will definitely take me back to my days of making carbon copies of Ariel and my other favorite Disney characters.

This room is an especially difficult one to photograph, so bear with the terrible angles in this one. We’re not really set on the positioning of most of the artwork in this room, but I figured once the desk is assembled we’ll have a better idea of where we want to hang certain pieces. Willie Nelson, Cadbury, Maude and Applesauce are all pretty pleased with their new digs and window views.

Willie Nelson may look like he doesn’t approve of the new house, but I think he’s just putting on his game face. Don’t sass him, he is a feisty one (not really, he’s a big poof ball of cuddles).

Meanwhile, Betty White attempts to eat her foot off on our new horseradish quilt by West Elm and patterned sheets from Target.

The closet space in the bedroom is pretty much non-existant (you can’t even fit the width of a standard hanger in it), which is why we had to be creative once again about figuring out storage for our clothing. Thank goodness for IKEA’s green storage bins, which we had an abundance of in our apartment. Plus, this way we have an opportunity to showcase our knick knacks. Pete thinks the owls are way too cluttered in there, so we might end up shifting them to a floating shelf elsewhere, but for now they can keep us company when we go to sleep. One of my favorite owls is the one my brother gave me after his theater company toured in France. The owl actually opens up, so I suppose I could stash drugs in him, but Fun Dip sounds like a much more enjoyable option.

Betty White was begging for pets and flashing her Britney during these photos, so please don’t be too appalled by her exposed lady bits. She doesn’t know any better, honest. The lamp and dresser were inherited from my grandparents, which is the case with many of our knick knacks and artwork throughout the house. I really like mixing vintage pieces that have a lot of heart to them with more simplistic, modern styles. Laura Kicey’s contemporary construct photography matched the grey and yellow tones of the room, which made me happily flail because I was itching for some artwork above our bed. What looked like a light gray on the paint swatch has turned out to appear quite mauve on the walls at times, but we’re okay with it. We actually ended up purchasing a very pale gray for the walls, only to test it out and realize that it looked pretty much white. I decided to paint the ceiling, windows and trim with the nearly-white gray instead, to keep the room looking muted and serene. Lesson learned: stop being lazy and invest in some gosh darn paint samples!

The new bedding is really comfy and definitely makes it harder for us to get out of bed in the mornings. Betty White has deemed it her own, and is often seen flashing her pink “area” to innocent passersby.

I forgive her though, because she keeps me company while I listen to This American Life podcasts and wear pajamas until mid afternoon on days like this.

All in all, it’s been a pretty exhausting week, but I look forward to all of the change to come in the next few months. Be sure to stop by again soon for more progress shots and updates on my editorial/creative job hunt!

House Update: Before & Progress Shots

This weekend brought a lot of major progress to our house makeover, including major landscaping, cabinet painting and more wallpaper removal. Pete’s family came over to tackle the last room of wallpaper on the main floor, while his brother and friend helped take down all of the hedges and trees that were blocking our house. Betty White did her part by constantly stepping in wet paint and sleeping in the fireplace instead of her bed. Lesson learned: stop attempting to bathe the pooch pre-move-in.

I was surprised by how long my project of painting the kitchen cabinets took. I’d say I worked on painting the inside and outsides of the cabinets and the interior shelves over the course of about four days. We also updated the hardware, apart from the one cabinet door that still needs a knob drilled in. The previous owner had punched a pretty big hole in the door and tried covering it up with a massive knob, so I had to use wood filler to fix it up before putting in the new knob. These cabinets are a semi-temporary fix since we plan on renovating the kitchen within the next year, but we wanted to brighten up the already small room with a fresh take on the cabinetry.

During the process of wallpaper removal in the kitchen, I asked Pete for his help in moving the fridge so I could take down the paper behind it. When we pushed the fridge aside, I figured we had just discovered a giant dust bunny. That was, until I realized it was a mummified mouse, which caused me to shriek and run into the dining room while flailing like a crazy person. I’m sure the neighbors enjoy spying on our adventures as new homeowners while I dance around in front of our bay windows shouting, “OH MY DEAR GOD, THAT IS GROSS!”

Upon further inspection, we found yet another dead mouse that Pete had to shop vacuum out of the drip tray under the fridge because the tray was not able to be removed and cleaned. Needless to say, this was a major yuck factor, so we listed it on Craigslist and took advantage of Memorial Day savings. We are definitely going to hell for selling the mouse fridge to unsuspecting locals, but I can’t help but smile at our shiny new stainless steel friend (karma is definitely going to kick me in the ass for this one). With the money we got for the old fridge along with discounts and rebates, we only ended up spending about $130 on our mummified-mice-free appliance. Thank god for Lowe’s. Once there was a day when Target was my only temptation, but now Lowe’s has come along and stolen my heart and tempted me with its non-stop deals.

The dead mice weren’t our only encounter with unwanted critters this past week. Pete and I have been spending our weeknights working on the house, and driving back to our apartment to unwind and relax for about an hour before going to bed. On Friday night we were psyched for uninterrupted entertainment provided by Hulu, when a winged creature snuck its way into the apartment and had other plans for us. Luckily Pete found the small hole the bat was flying in from, so hopefully we won’t have any other unwanted mammals creeping up on us before we move out in the next few weeks.

Anyway, here are some more progress updates!

Here’s our living room with a basic coat of primer on everything. We are having our hardwood floors refinished this week, so we will begin prepping and painting the rooms this upcoming weekend.

The wallpaper is all gone in every room on the bottom floor, except for some spots in the kitchen. Once I had my dead mouse encounter I got distracted and decided to paint the cabinets so we could begin bringing our kitchen stuff over.

We will most definitely miss the Thomas Kinkade themed room, which will be our office/pet area once we move in.

I love that Betty White makes an appearance in pretty much every before/after shot because she’s following me around everywhere. She’s like the Waldo of our home photos in this one where she’s peeking out from behind the shop vacuum. Note the lack of plumbing now that we’ve had the washer/dryer pipes removed. That was finished under our escrow account, which has since had some major drama attached to it. Once we are finally finished with our house buying related drama, I will share our experiences with the FHA loan process, including reviews of our real estate agent, mortgage officer, contractors and inspector.

The room which we will be using as our bedroom was the absolute worst when it came to removing the wallpaper. The kitchen and the bedroom will need some major spackling love before we can start priming and painting everything. But for now, it feels nice to have all of the wallpaper down and to have made some major progress everywhere.

Here’s a view of our house when we first purchased it. The hedges and trees made it so difficult to see the actual house, that I drove by it pretty frequently in the first week of visits.

Here’s another angle of the “before” shots. Pete and I have a lot of plans for the front of the house, but our primary concern was to get rid of the hedges and two big trees so you could actually see our home.

Pete began by clipping the lower limbs from the tree to prep it for chainsawing the next day. Betty White stared through the door and made her sad “Dad, why are you hurting the tree like that?” puppy dog face, which was all sorts of cute.

Tada! This is the exterior now that the hedges and trees are removed. I can’t take any credit for helping, apart from putting bandages on Pete’s blisters and nuzzling his poison ivy arms every night. We can’t thank Pete’s brother and friend Gary enough for helping Pete clear the lawn up with their man strength!

Eventually we’ll make beds in the two spots where the tree stumps are, but for now we’re just going to use some grass seed to bring the lawn back to life.

When I went on a hoagie run for 15 minutes, the boys had magically removed the big tree that was blocking our back door by the mudroom. It definitely makes a huge difference in the amount of light that comes into the house now. I didn’t realize they would be removing the tree so quickly or I would have taken a better before photo!

For now the tree trimmings are on the side of our house, so we’ll be working on bundling up the limbs and bagging them. Hopefully Lowe’s sells those brown bags in bulk!

In addition to making major progress on the house this weekend, we also had a lot of fun visiting our friends in Bethlehem and eating delicious BBQ foods. Pete treated me to a day out at the zoo yesterday for my 27th birthday and we finished the night up with an intimate hibachi dinner for two at Ooka. Nothing makes me happier than elephant shrews and fried ice cream…that boy sure does know me. How did you guys spend your Memorial Day weekend?

Before Photos: Basement and Upstairs

Here’s where the before photos take a turn for the worst. The basement is the most terrifying spot of the house by far. This is where you’ll find mummified mouse bodies, decaying walls and a plethora of old records left behind to choose from (Peter Pan, Bob Dylan and Bobby Darin were the highlights).

I’m most excited about fixing up the old furniture downstairs and really bringing them to life to make them brighten up the current zombified state of things. Here’s a shot of the pool table before Pete cleaned it up with the shop vacuum, which made a huge difference. Now we just need to find an entire set of pool balls since somehow the previous homeowners lost a few of them.

The washer/dryer are a bummer to look at, but at least they work and we’re not being charged $2.75 a load. Pete tested them out last night and now has a ton of clean undershirts to show for it! As part of our escrow (I’ll ramble more about our disaster of a settlement soon, I promise), we will be having the chipping paint on the basement walls cleaned up and sealed. I’d like to get patio paint sooner than later so the floors can be a nice shade of brown and less frightening. I don’t want to feel like I’m walking into the Home Alone basement every time I go downstairs to wash my clothes. Ok, let’s be honest, Pete takes care of laundry, but I might have to go down there at some point!

Some of the things the previous homeowners left behind for us, not including the hanging crucifix which I will share with you all later!

Here are the stairs that are located right near the oven in the kitchen, which lead to the upstairs floor. There was an unfortunate trend of wood panelled walls at some point, which we will be addressing with gallons of paint for the time being. The upstairs bathroom is full and perfectly functioning, but we could do without the butterfly wallpaper and vinyl floors so we’ll be tackling that once we make the bottom floor more move-in ready.

Betty White is partial to the all-wood room, which we aren’t quite sure what to do with. We will mostly be living only on the bottom floor until we can afford to heat/cool the entire house. For now, the upstairs will contain the guest room and this room, which we’ll likely turn into an art/photo studio or something until we are grown up enough to think about babies and stuff.

The long hallway, which has horse curtains on either end (I kind of think we might keep these and clean them up) a lot of dreary rugs which were immediately ripped up after these photos were taken. Betty White was adjusting herself all ladylike while I admired a portion of the wall that is filled with the previous owner’s vintage encyclopedias (which we’re keeping!).

The guest room will need to have the wallpaper removed and painted, in addition to revamping all of the furniture to make it more modern. The mattress needs to be tossed since it doesn’t have the most attractive smell on the planet, so add that to our ginormous list of to-do items. Speaking of lists, we were inspired by Young House Love to write down everything we’d like to accomplish, whether short term or long term, so I’ll be sharing that with all of you soon.

That just about does it for “before” photos. Next up I guess I’ll start sharing the progress we’ve made so far in the house and what we hope to realistically accomplish before we move in this summer.

Before & After Inspiration

Our house inspection is this Saturday, so we’re crossing our fingers all goes well on that end. We will be working on saving for any potential house emergencies for the next few months. That being said, we will have to be creative in figuring out affordable ways to modernize the house if it ends up being ours in a couple of months. Since we don’t want to spend on any major renovations right away, we will be removing wallpaper and painting for the most part. Once we have our goal amount of emergency savings, we can begin renovating the kitchen, which is number one on our makeover list.

Here are some affordable before & after ideas for sprucing up our potential new home:

“After” Image Source

In the smaller bedroom upstairs, wood paneling covers the walls and ceiling, which can hopefully be revamped with some cheerful color and painted white ceilings.

“After” Image Source

The sunroom is pretty as is, but could use a fresh coat of color and trim, maybe something subtle and earthy to go with the blue floors.

“After” Image Source

I’ve mentioned before my obsession with white fireplaces, which I think would look really lovely with grey walls and pops of color incorporated in the room.

“After” Image Source

The bay window area needs some love, which could be accomplished by hanging airy curtains with new hardware and an area rug.

What are some simple ways you’ve given your home a new look on a tight budget?