Showing posts with label Living Room. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Living Room. Show all posts

What You Need to Know About Buying a Fixer Upper

Apr 12, 2015

I love home improvement shows, especially the before and after that magically happens in two days. Unfortunately, that's not even close to real life. I have bought and remodeled two fixer uppers on a budget and still spent a small fortune. Approximately 80% of my weekends have been sacrificed over the last 15 years to DIY projects, too. That is the reality! When I saw both of the homes we bought for the first time I pictured what they could look like in my head. I can't say everyone shared my vision at the time, but they came around as the rooms started to take shape. What I didn't know was how much everything would realistically cost and how much time it would take to complete each room.

It all started with home shopping. I told myself some whoppers of lies that I hear other people say as well.

It's just paint. This may or may not be true. If you have 17 foot tall ceilings and the entire house needs to be painted inside and out, it's thousands of dollars of paint. The contractors had to build scaffolding to paint this room.

I could have bought a used car for what we paid to have the exterior painted.

Even for simple rooms you need to ask yourself if you can paint or do you think you can paint? It's not easy to cut in around ceilings and doors. It has taken me years of practice to correctly use an angled brush. You also need to factor in the cost of ladders, paint brushes, painters tape, drop cloths and other accessories.

We can live with it for a while. It will become the bane of your existence. That's what I said about most everything in my house when we moved in. "It's not what I would have picked, but it's not terrible." I found myself a few days before Christmas one year tearing out my carpeted stairs. I couldn't handle it A while somehow turns into years as other things take precedence, like a new roof or air conditioner.

DIY will be fun! No, it won't. I think my husband and I almost needed marriage counseling after building these living room shelves and fireplace mantel. It was one of our first projects and we were beyond frustrated with each other. I have since learned how to nicely say the shelves aren't level and he has learned to use a level.

Okay, it's not all bad. There is an amazing sense of accomplishment and pride when you are finished with a project that is 100% uniquely yours.
There are things that I wish I would have done differently to make things go so much smoother and on budget.
Get Organized. Start from the day you walk through a new house. Make a list of everything you want to change, from the big remodels to the lighting fixtures. Estimate the cost of the projects by visiting home improvement stores or contacting a local contractor. Add this amount to the sales price of the home for the real cost. It's a great way to put things in perspective and accurately compare homes. The updated house down the street for a bit more might not seem so expensive now.

Will you get your money back if you sell? I watch the housing market very closely. I don't always wait to remodel just because I am still saving for it. Once I decide a project will get me a complete return or close enough to it, that's when I start my project. Home values aren't known for going up all that much where I live, which is why most people don't remodel here. Adding a granite countertop or a new wood floor in the family room is usually the extent of an update. I've also seen formerly nice neighborhoods drop in value here. Luckily, I don't believe this is the norm for most of the country.

I also think because we are so emotionally invested in our homes and neighborhoods it's hard to admit when it's not working for your family any longer. As families grow or children leave for college, what you need out of a home changes. I never thought I would need a mudroom for backpacks and shoes until I had three school age children. When I saw them in magazines years ago I truly though they were unnecessary and extravagant. Silly me! It's amazing how these changes will sneak up on you. What works for you right now may not work for you in just a few years. Sometimes it just makes sense to move instead of trying to change your home.

Hire a professional. Sometimes hiring a professional will save you money. There are times I would have saved money getting it done right the first time. That was plumbing for me. Never again. Get a free quote and you might be surprised. Sometimes the price is worth it if you are in a time crunch and just want the project done. One thing I have learned is to put my family above any project we have going on. I have hired painters for rooms I could have easily painted on my own, but I wouldn't have made it to reading groups or math tiles at my son's school. Also, consider hiring an interior designer on a consulting basis for those hard to figure out rooms or just to pick out finishes. It can also save you money and time in the long run.

Big Announcement Here

I have not mentioned this before, but I have been working with clients as an hourly design consultant. It started through word of mouth as people have read my blog. It's easy for me to relay my knowledge in a short amount of time for their problem areas, guide them in the right direction, or stage their homes to sell. I love the way this is working out for me and my clients. It saves them money and frees up my time since (another announcement here) I started a full-time job working from home in the nursing field. Yes, I know this is a lot! These opportunities fell in my lap within months of each other and I didn't want to say no to either of them. Who doesn't want to decorate homes and work in their PJs?! It's also the reason I haven't been blogging quite as much. I can't say what the future holds for either of these careers since they are both new and it will be a bit of a juggling act once you throw in family life, too. It's such an exciting time and I hope to share even more updates with you soon!

Sorry, for the side note. I'll get back on topic! You might be wondering why I would buy two fixer uppers if the cost and stress were more than I ever intended. It was worth it! I'm definitely one of the most picky people you will ever meet. I have never found one house in my price range that didn't need a remodel in my eyes. If you are like me, you will be tearing out a perfectly nice countertop or floor because you don't like the color. It makes more financial sense to buy something a bit cheaper if you are going to redo everything anyway. Despite the high cost I have managed to come out ahead financially through careful planning. The best part is I have a home that I love!


Christmas Living Room 2014

Dec 2, 2014

I'm plugging away at putting the finishing touches on my Christmas decorations this week. The most important room, the living room, is done! I'm enjoying the fire as I type away and trying not to notice my kids are flinging around the pillows and throw blankets right now. At least I have the pictures to prove it was clean at one point.

You might notice I finally got rid of the ceiling fan. It's been an eyesore for so many years (10 but who's counting). My husband loves ceiling fans so this was a big deal. I replaced it with an inexpensive light from Overstock that is very similar to one Pottery Barn sells. I didn't have many options in this room because of the low ceilings, but anything is an improvement over the hovercraft I had in here before.

The reindeer is a recent find from Target. Isn't he cute? I have a feeling if he were real he wouldn't be thrilled with being called cute. I think he would prefer majestic or regal. He may be a bit of a snob.

I didn't change much else on the mantel. I doubled up a faux garland and then added varying types of real branches on the mantel. If I have any that turn brown it will be easy to take them out and replace them. I probably won't, but at least I have that option if I'm feeling industrious. The boxwood wreath on the window is from Trader Joe's and it was only $10! I think every woman in that store walked out with one that day. Oh, and that's Jingle, our Elf on the Shelf, hanging out inside the wreath. No one is supposed to touch him or he will lose his magic so he made it into the pictures this year. I'm not risking the wrath of my 6 year old by moving him. He is very much into the magic of Christmas this year. It took me by surprise, but I'm so excited that I'm searching for Christmas movies for us to watch at night and planning on taking him to see Santa soon. Oh, what fun!

It's not quite a Rockefeller Christmas around here though. I have to show you what I'm dealing with while trying to clean up this room and take pictures.

Serenity now! If you were wondering why Mario wasn't photobombing as usual, this would be why.

Would you ever know that was going on looking at this picture?

This looks way too peaceful to be my living room!

My Two Favorite and Inexpensive House Plants

Apr 15, 2014

How was your weekend? We had great weather here and then it turned windy, cold and rainy yesterday. Before the temperature dropped 35 degrees we took full advantage of the weather and bought enough plants to turn our backyard into a rainforest. At least that's what my 8 year old called it. I love my kids perspective on our projects. I'll have pictures later in the week of the backyard (or rainforest) once the sun comes out again. I also picked up two of my favorite house plants while out shopping. I love them because they go in any room.  Most of the stores have their orchids out, but only the grocery store has them for $10. That store is HEB for fellow Texans! I picked one up to replace the one I killed in the living room.
I've been moving it around the house to see where else it could go-the mantel, the coffee table, the end table, the bedroom, the bathroom vanity and tub (it's called a garden tub after all :), and the entry table. It looks good everywhere!  I also bought a couple of regency palms since Wal-Mart had them on sale for $10. You probably noticed them on my upstairs balcony in a recent post.  DSC_3432
I have two of these on the balcony. One is behind the camera in the corner. They are great for privacy when I want to wear my pjs out here, which I did yesterday. Not to mention there's something about palms that put me in an instant vacation mood. As with the orchid, I've been moving them around the house and they look good everywhere. One ended up in the entryway.  DSC_3864

And the other is in the living room.


I also like the way they look on the front porch, the office, the bedroom and the dining room. It's a great and inexpensive way to fill an empty corner. Doesn't every room have one of those? Now, I'm off to find a couple of new planters!

Christmas Home Tour 2013

Dec 3, 2013

Welcome! Come inside and my little elf will show you around.

christmas home tour

There he is! His name is Mario. He' Italian elf?


Because my decorations are neutral in the back of the house, I decided to go with a pop of red in the front.


Off the entryway is the dining room. A small centerpiece and a bit of ribbon is enough for everyday, but I do plan on putting together a tablescape for Christmas Eve.




Once you turn the corner into the living room the décor is completely different. It's cool and neutral, which blends perfectly with the room.





Mario is all ready for Christmas in his holiday sweater. I think red is his color.


Seriously, could he not be a dog model?


He doesn't move once you put the sweater on and I had to walk around him to take the picture. I wish my kids would take note!

On the other side of the great room I continued the neutral décor, but I did add a few pops of red.





Looking from the kitchen into the living room.


And from the living area to the kitchen.


I also put a tree in my boys' game room. I needed a place to put our sentimental ornaments and the ones that the boys look forward to seeing every year.



Thanks for stopping by!


Holiday Link Parties

Jennifer Rizzo's holiday housewalk link party. Link up your home for a chance to be in next years house walk.

Finishing Touches

May 9, 2013

Accessorizing a room takes time despite the insta-rooms we see on tv. I'm trying my best to finish up two rooms right now, my living room and the kids' game room. This is why my cart at Homegoods was piled embarrassingly high with home decor a couple of days ago. I had no idea if many of the things I bought would work once they were in the room, but the good thing is that I can always take back whatever I don't use. I'm not finished yet and still have even more things to buy, but I can already see the fireplace wall taking shape.

I had planned on buying two white vases for the mantel and I found the perfect one, but the problem is there was only one in the store. Isn't that the way it always works out? I bought it anyway and will stalk Homegoods until they bring another one in.

I absolutely adore the new platter, but I'm not sure it goes here so I'm keeping the tag on for now.

I didn't even realize the picture frames needed to be replaced until I started putting it all together. And, I'm fully aware the basket of books is a hot mess. I'll just keep shopping and rearranging until I find the right combination.

Mario also got a doggie accessory. I'm hoping he'll stay off the white sofa and chairs now that he has a new bed. I think he might like it. He laid on it for a while the first night and then promptly "marked" it. Thank goodness it's washable and that he hasn't felt the need for a repeat performance. Don't you just love the way he blends into the fabric? Oh, and that's one of the kids dirty socks he's chewing on. Nice.

I also bought new pillows and hung pictures of the boys up in the game room. At least this wall is finished.

I really love the way this room is turning out. The boys don't have much to say about it, but they do like watching tv and playing video games in here a lot more lately. That's good enough for me because it keeps them off the white sofa and chairs in the living room!

Why I Didn't Choose a Loveseat

Apr 26, 2013

My second armchair is finally here!

I didn't realize not getting a loveseat was going to be such a topic of conversation with friends and family. Buying new sofas does seem to be an ingrained process. You go to the furniture store and buy a matching sofa and loveseat, maybe a side chair or recliner too. I rocked the boat and opted not to buy a loveseat for several reasons.

The first, is that I didn't like looking at the back of my loveseat from the kitchen and breakfast room. Most people can put a sofa table behind the loveseat to solve this problem, but it didn't look right since I have that weird half wall thing going on. A sofa table next to the half wall just looked weird. The side benefit of having chairs is that I have a better view into the living room. Before, it felt completely blocked off by the loveseat. In this small space, that wasn't a good thing.

A second reason, is that I can eventually move these chairs around. I'm still considering moving them to face the sofa, which is my favorite combination. Moving the tv over the fireplace would be necessary with this layout, but installing the tv turned there turned out to be a lot more complicated than I first thought. We're going to stick to this arrangement for now.

I mentioned it before, but I really don't like sharing a loveseat with someone. I prefer to have my own chair and I'm sure my guests feel the same way. Don't you always feel like you're going to accidentally kick or elbow the person next to you?

Since you last saw this room. I moved my sea green Windsor Riad pillow back in and rearranged the mantel a bit. I finally found a spot between the chairs for my little side table I bought on sale at Target. I thought it was so cute and picked it up months ago even though I had no place to put it.

Is the ceiling fan driving you crazy? I curse it every single day. My husband and I have a disagreement about it. He thinks we will die this summer without a fan in here. I think we'll be fine without it. I'm going to wait a few months and see how necessary it really is before making a change. I'm sure I'll be right!