My sweet baby girl will be two weeks old tomorrow, so I thought I should share a bit about her birth and how things are going for us as a family of four. I will keep the birth story pretty clean, but feel free to skip ahead if you’re bored!
It’s mind boggling to me that we’ve been in our new house in Michigan for over a month now, and that we are having another baby any day. My days have been filled with a million tasks related to renovating an old house while living here, and getting things ready for the baby. Every room is in various stages of mess, and it’s sort of a happy chaos around here right now. Ted started working almost immediately after we moved in, so I’ve been trying to do as much as I can while being very, very pregnant in 90 degree heat. So anyway, a few quick updates.
I love my kitchen. It has been a process to get to this point. We still need a backsplash and a couple light fixtures installed, but other than that, it’s close to done. I’ve been working on the decorative glass cabinets and trying to keep everything clean as best as I can.
The above photos are the reason why it’s difficult to keep everything clean right now. We had the power lines running over our backyard buried a couple weeks ago, and a huge tree stump removed and finally had the backyard smoothed out and covered with topsoil and seed after all that work was done. No more giant trench through the yard, although the concrete patio still needs to be fixed. We have lots of baby grass sprouting up now since this pic was taken over a week ago. Can’t wait until I can let the dog run around back there again and not worry about Ellie messing something up. We’ve had a parade of contractors in and out of the house constantly, so I can’t wait to be done with the dirt and bugs that have gone along with that. And the jungle weeds, oh my goodness.
This door looks so awesome. We did a little floor plan reconfigure in the kitchen and garage addition area, and this back entrance was one of the trickiest places to figure out. Originally it just had a storm door that led to an unheated vestibule area. You would then open a door to the right to walk into the kitchen (which was where this wood door came from). We removed this door and created an open entryway to the kitchen, and knocked an entrance to the left into what is now our mudroom/pantry/laundry room. Since we will park at the back of the house and use this entry through all the winter months, I’m so excited to have a place other than the kitchen to dump boots and all our stuff.
My dad is a genius and figured out how to make this door fit, redid the stoop and trim (which still needs a little brick work), and made it all look like it has always been there. You can also see the new trim color I picked out for the exterior of the house. The current color everywhere else is a dark mud brown that I don’t care for, so I wanted to lighten and brighten it all up. We don’t plan to tackle the rest of the exterior until next spring, but it didn’t make sense to paint all of this trim brown only to turn around and repaint it again in the spring. I also can’t wait to have the brick power washed and clean up the landscaping. We have an awesome covered back porch area that will be perfect for a nice big dining table and chairs at some point. Projects.
We (my dad!) have cut down a couple scrub trees, yanked out a huge overgrown grapevine that was overtaking some holly bushes and our air conditioner, and tried to keep up with the serious jungle weeds, but other than that, we haven’t had time for much landscaping yet this summer. You can tell that our yard was well taken care of at some point, but after being a rental for a couple years and then sitting vacant for 9 months before we bought it, everything is starting to look a little sprawly and crazy. This fall we will plan to divide up a bunch of stuff, and prune like crazy. I did buy a couple petunia plants for the front porch because I think it makes it feel more like home. Ellie picked out the color.
As far as the inside of the house, this has been the view for the past few weeks. The delivery guys must know us all by name by now. Thank goodness for Amazon prime is all I can say. I’ve ordered everything from lightbulbs to the kitchen sink (literally) from Amazon. I honestly don’t know how else I would have managed this project without it, especially when we were still living 600 miles away. My dad gives me a list of 10 random odds and ends and with the click of a button they show up in two days. It’s a beautiful thing. Especially now that I don’t particularly want to drag my almost three year old and my large self through five stores to find all this stuff. Light fixtures, faucets, cabinet hardware, the vent for our range, obscure light bulb sizes, and even furniture have shown up on our doorstep. Let’s just say we’ve been keeping our recycling bins a little on the extra full side.
Miss grumpy eating at our new breakfast table courtesy of Amazon. Chairs are real, table is a fake, but nobody needs to know that right?
So what else is left on our to do list? Mostly just finishing touches at this point. Here’s my list:
- Kitchen backsplash (will be 3×6 carrara marble subway tiles)
- Master bath backsplash (will be white 3×6 subway tiles)
- Hang mirror in front of window over sink in master bath (will require a little creative hook and cabling)
- Hang remaining light fixtures (two in kitchen/back entry, one in front entry, one at top of stairs in entryway, one (on backorder for a bit) in the sunroom, and replace can lights in 4th bedroom/laundry area
- schedule wallpaper installer to hang wallpaper in dining room, half bath and Ellie’s room
- make cushion for Ellie’s built in window seat
- finish finding/hanging window treatments in master bedroom, nursery, 4th bedroom and half bath
- order cabinets for laundry area
- have carpet installed in 4th bedroom (sometime this month!)
- hang pictures everrrrywhere
- find rugs for various areas
- order new couch for living room and craigslist the old ones (new chairs are already on order, coming soon)
- set up 4th bedroom as a guest bedroom once carpet is installed so we have a place for family to stay
And a million other little odds and ends that make me feel like as soon as I cross off one thing, I add three more. Every day. But this is fun for me, at least for the most part. Living here without all the bathrooms functioning for a while, not so much. We have made so much progress though and I can’t wait until I can share official before and after pictures of everything. This house has been a dream for me, and I absolutely love our neighborhood. I can’t wait to have more time and energy to get out and see more of it.
In the meantime, I’ll be folding baby clothes and sweeping dirt out of my kitchen for the 18th time today.
Most of my days the past couple months or so have been filled with making lots of house decisions. Research on paint, light fixtures, faucets, toilets… you name it. It’s definitely more challenging to plan a house remodel from several states away, but we’re so lucky to have my dad helping us out with everything. I always look forward to getting new progress pictures from him each week, and we are only a few short weeks away from moving in now. Movers are coming to pack us up two weeks from today!
I will share some of the (very rough!) progress pics in a minute, but first I wanted to talk about my plans for the living room. This is a room I have put a lot of thought into. We plan to live with our existing, beat up temporary stuff we bought in Hershey for a while until we can afford to do this room the way we want to. Basically everything needs to be replaced, so it’s going to be a big project that we will slowly complete. We want things to hold up for the long run, and be kid and pet friendly, while not necessarily looking like it.
I even included my fantasy chair, an Eames lounge on here. Dream big right? One thing Ted and I both agreed on from the start was that we wanted a leather sofa. We have lived through two fabric ones being constantly bombarded by baby spit up and dog dirt now, and I just want something I can wipe down whenever I need to. Especially since we are up for another round of baby spit soon!
The room is sort of an odd shape to design. I put a tentative floor plan together shown below.
It’s shown with a sofa and loveseat, which is what we currently own, but I would like to replace the loveseat with two separate chairs. The french doors at the back of the room lead to our awesome covered patio area, so we need to leave an aisle to access those. I’m planning to stash a couple baskets of kid toys and books behind the sofa under a console table or something. It’s nice to have a place to store stuff that isn’t visible front and center.
Here are some pics to remind you of what we started with.
The ceiling has been painted white and the walls are Benjamin Moore Balboa Grey. The floor is currently being refinished, and my dad just installed the new built in shelving next to the fireplace. I love it! We decided to square off the tops of the arches on either side because it was an astronomical cost savings to do so. I still think they look great, and there are lots of other arches and other architectural features in the room.
Here’s what it’s looking like now.
Obviously it still needs the shelves and hardware installed, but it’s fun to start seeing things get put back together. Don’t you love the fireplace? We removed the old brass door insert and plan to just place some logs in there for now. At some point in the past, the fireplace was converted to gas, but our inspector said it needed to be replaced. We opted to just tear it out and cap off the gas for now. The chimney would need to be re-lined if we wanted to burn actual wood in there, so we will just live without it being functional for a while until we decide what to do.
Moving on to further progress, these are of the kitchen. The cabinets have been installed, and my dad is now working on finishing up the trim and details. They will go all the way up to the ceiling when he’s finished. The drywall will be covered someday when I pick out backsplash tile, which I want to wait to do in person once the counters are installed. The floors are going to be black slate and install is starting on that tomorrow. Can’t wait to see this room in a more finished state!
The second photo shows the results of a big project. We closed off a doorway that was on the right side of the first photo in order to create a more functional floor plan. Because of that, we still needed a way to access the room beyond the kitchen, which is what used to be a garage. My dad cut through the wall where you can see the second doorway with a new wood header. The room you see in there will be our new laundry/pantry/mudroom, which I am so excited about. We split the space approximately in half, so there is also a guest bedroom beyond that to the right. The guest room is the only access to the basement, which isn’t my ideal layout, but sometimes in an old house you just have to deal with some quirks. We won’t finish the basement for some time anyway.
There is a door to the left in that little hallway that leads to the backyard. We have another freestanding two stall garage closer to the back of the house, so we will be using this back door as our main entry most of the time. It’s going to be so nice to have a place to hang coats and kick off wet snowy boots this winter that isn’t right in a doorway.
This is how things are looking in our front entryway. It was originally painted a dark gray/blue color, ceiling included, and it made this area feel so gloomy. I think this pic is just the first coat, but you can already see how much brighter it will be in there. We added that can light at the bottom of the stairs as well, which will so nice to have in the evenings. I still need to find new light fixtures for the main chandelier (that you can’t see in this photo), and a sconce for the wall near that back half bath. I’d like to see the space in person again though before I decide on anything. This room will also be tiled in the same slate as the kitchen, which it’s connected to by that doorway in the back right corner of this pic. I can’t wait to see how the tile looks with everything.
Ellie has been very vocal about her request for a pink bedroom. She got her wish!
Our master bath is mostly being left as is, with the exception of a new vanity. I had also noticed from a real estate photo of the back of the house that there appeared to be a window over the sink area. My dad removed the mirror and sure enough, there’s a big, bright window right in the middle. It totally changes the feel of the room, so we definitely want to keep it as open as we can. It does leave me scratching my head a bit as to how to hang a mirror there though. The things that keep me awake at night these days…
Anyway, I think we should be in pretty good shape by the end of next week. All the flooring should be done – all the wood floor refinishing upstairs and downstairs, and hopefully most of the tile. We will still have some odds and ends projects going on after we move in, but as long as I have a functional kitchen and bathroom, I’m happy!
Part of me is so excited to be adding another baby to our family soon. We’ve always known we wanted more than one child, so I like thinking about all the fun we will have in the future as a family of four. It’s also a little sad to think about Ellie not being our only baby anymore. She has been a delight and is used to having our full attention.
It’s also fun to think of her as a big sister, and I know she will love having a new baby around. I never had a sister, so I think it’s fun that she will have that experience growing up.
We have a lot of life changes happening in the next few months. We have to pack up our life here in Hershey and we move back to Michigan at the end of June. We will move into our new house and then Ted will start his new job in July. Baby #2 is due at the beginning of August. Lots of really great things, but sometimes I wonder how Ellie (and the rest of us!) will handle all of the new things we will have going on.
Anyway, we won’t be bored! In the meantime, we are trying to enjoy our last few weeks in Pennsylvania and the only home Ellie really knows or remembers.
And I’ll be loving a little extra on my monkey girl. And probably writing down more conversations like the following:
Me: Ellie it’s way too early to get up yet. You have to go back to bed for a little while.
Ellie: (furious) I not pickin’ you flowers anymore!
I recently purchased a set of 6 vintage walnut, caned back chairs with upholstered seats from a store in Washington DC. We’ve had them crammed around our too small table for a while now and I’m looking forward to using them in a larger, more appropriate space soon. The seats need to be reupholstered, so I’d like to find a Sunbrella indoor/outdoor fabric that can withstand spills and sticky kid fingers. I’m not positive about the light fixture yet. I might use the one shown here in our entry area instead and look for something longer for over the table. Decisions, decisions.
I’m also not sure what to do about the serving buffet yet. I really like the one shown, but I don’t want too many shades of wood going on in here. Still watching out for the right fit. We may possibly add a couple upholstered captain’s chairs at the head and foot of the table in the future as well. I want to take my time planning some of the peripheral items. Sometimes the right piece will just fall in my lap.
As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, we are planning to remove the fake tin ceiling. I’m tossing around the idea of doing a grasscloth wall-covering above the chair rail in here. Possibly below too, but I need to price it out. I found a textured vinyl lookalike that would be a great solution – kid friendly, scrubbable, and far less expensive than true grasscloth. The floor in this room is in the best shape of any in the house. We are going to leave it alone for now, since I think it must have been refinished at some point in the recent past. I love the natural light in this room and can’t wait to host future parties here.
Next on my plan of attack is the breakfast nook. The room is about 7’x9′, and one wall will be taken up by a large built in china cabinet. The other end is a nice bay window, and there are open doorways on either side. At first, I wanted to see if we could salvage the existing upper cabinets because they were original to the house. The case was covered in several layers of old (probably lead!) paint, and the doors had been refinished at some point back to a wood stain. After going through our plans, we decided it would look best to remove them and start fresh so that everything matches.
You can see the basis for my plan in the sample photo above. Ours will look almost identical to that one, with open shelves in the center, glass doors on either side, and closed cabinetry below. I have some china I’m planning to use in the glass cabinets, so it’ll be great to have such a nice way to display it.
We are removing the dated paneling from the lower wall, and the floors will be a multi-size black slate tile. I’ve had the Galbraith and Paul pendant light (another Philly sample sale score) in storage for over a year now, so it’ll be fun to finally hang it up.
My plan with this house is to blend old with new. I respect the original character here, but I don’t believe in living in a time warp at the expense of practicality. I like a wide variety of styles, so it’s fun for me to be able to incorporate things from many different sources in this house.
One thing I’m sad about is the fact that our current dining table is just not going to work in our new house. It’s too big for the breakfast nook, and too small for the dining room. I may or may not decide to keep the chairs, depending on what I select for the table, but I thought I would throw this up here and see if there’s any interest from friends before I put it on craigslist. I have two options – Hershey friends, the table will be available starting sometime in June. Grand Rapids friends, we can move it with us and you can pick it up from our new house after we move. Anybody dying for a walnut top Eames (probably knockoff, but a very nice one) eiffel base table, and four black bentwood chairs from Restoration Hardware? I’ll think about a price and put it on my Facebook soon. Table is 40″x60″ and what we call a “boat shape” in the industry (ends are slightly tapered). It’s in really good condition – just a few small/light scratches. I purchased it used, and we’ve only had it for two years here in Hershey.
Anyway, it’s up for grabs!
I’m still adjusting this one, but I think I’ve got a good start. We will be keeping our current dresser (not the one pictured – ours is vintage), and that’s about it. Our current nightstands will move to the guest bedroom, and I’m trying to talk my way into getting a new king sized bed. Tall people problems! If we do, we will use our current queen size in the guest bedroom as well.
Due to the layout, the bed will most likely need to go in front of a window. Not my first choice, but there are enough windows in the room, so I’m not too concerned about it. I own the patterned pillow, purchased at a Galbraith and Paul sample sale in Philly last December. I also plan to paint some sort of art for the room too, so the one shown is just sort of my inspiration. I’m using mostly lighter paint colors throughout the rest of the house, but I’d love to do something a little more dramatic in here with the darker charcoal color.
This is the room. It’s sort of a door and windowpalooza in there. Once again, planning to refinish the beat up wood floor, and replace all the tacky old brass lightswitch and electric outlet covers. I haven’t decided if I’m totally sold on the light fixture yet or not. I don’t think it’s original to the house – probably more of a 60’s renovation, but it’s not terrible. It’s something easy to switch out in the future if I decide to.
Our room also has an attached master bathroom, which is almost unheard of in this area. It’s a kind of funky space, so I’m anxious to make it work a bit better. The bathroom was created by finishing what used to be attic space above the old garage. Rather than raising the roof to match the house, we have a long hallway and stairs down into the bathroom. The hallway is lined with closets which have sliding doors. So. Much. Storage. And there’s a walk in closet within the bathroom itself. Plus two tiny closets in the bedroom shown in the photo above (those will be Ted’s haha).
One thing I can’t figure out is why they thought purple was a great hallway color. The bathroom is yet another shade of blue – this one looks too babyish in person. It looks like an Easter egg. Obviously we will be painting everything. The floor tile is in good shape, but the grout is super dirty. I’m hoping to scrub that clean and avoid having to re-grout or anything more drastic. See how it looks black in the pic above? Inside the closets and on the shower walls it is pure white. So gross.
Other changes we are planning are replacing the vanity and counter, removing a bizarre triangular shelf made of tile, replacing the toilet and lighting. We also made a discovery that I’m very happy about. I noticed from the back of the house that there was a blocked up window where I knew the bathroom to be. My dad did a little digging and figured out that the previous owners glued the mirror over the vanity right on top of the window, which is the same size. There’s no other natural light in the room, so I’m planning to remove the mirror and figure out something different. Should be so much brighter in there that way!
I’m also excited about an idea for the backsplash wall behind the sink. Possibly something like this subway tile in an interesting color. I can’t wait to start seeing everything come together.
Now that we know we have a second girl joining our family, I was excited to know I could reuse so much of our baby stuff. Ellie had been telling everyone for months that she was getting a baby sister, even before we knew that to be true. She either had an intuition, or willed it to happen!
The room I’m planning to use for the nursery has some built in shelving that isn’t in the best condition, but I’m hoping some caulk and paint will work wonders. If not, we may end up replacing them somewhere down the line.
Basically the only thing I have so far is the crib and the changing pad. We never had room for a legit rocking chair in Ellie’s old nursery, so I’m looking forward to that upgrade this time around. I’m also hoping to find a used dresser somewhere if possible. This room will be a pale gray with pink accents. I didn’t want to paint two rooms pink!
Apparently the former owners were big on the color blue. I think I counted about six or seven different shades used throughout the house. And they all clash terribly haha. Another thing I can’t wait to change are the terrible window shades. They look like old movie projector screens or something. The ceiling fan is also coming down in here too, and the carpet is being removed. I can’t wait to crack open some paint and get started!
Ellie is currently still sleeping in her crib, but we will need it for her new baby sister later this summer. I bought an awesome full size Jenny Lind style bed frame from craigslist for her a while back that my parents are storing for us right now – can’t wait to see how she likes it. I’m still trying to decide if I want to convert her crib to a toddler rail now, or wait until we move to just switch her completely to the new bed. Toddler mom life you know? Decisions, decisions.
Anyway, I put a mood board together to get all my ideas in one place and here is what I came up with so far.
I plan to reuse her dresser (also a CL find!), and replace the knobs to coordinate with the new scheme. The art piece is one I painted for her original nursery in our old house and can thankfully reuse again. We have the bed frame, sheets and decorative pillows, but I need to find a quilt.
These are some pics of her new bedroom in its current state. The wood floor under the carpet will be refinished , and I’m planning to wallpaper the wall behind the bed and paint the others a pale pink. Ellie has been telling me for months that she wants a pink bedroom, so pink she will get.
The other thing I’m excited about is adding a window seat to the deeper nook in the first room shot. It just looks like it should have one right? The ceiling fan is going, and I need to come up with some window treatments. I’m excited about the little alcove room that leads to the closet. It’s the perfect spot for her play kitchen set.
I will probably end up tweaking this a bit, but I love the direction it’s going so far! I showed this picture to Ellie and she is so excited for her new big girl room. Every night as we’re putting her to bed she asks for a story about our new house and what her new room will look like. Girl after my own heart!
Sooo…we are official homeowners again today. We made an offer on a house back in mid February while we were in Michigan, and after a rather lengthy and annoying process with the seller, we finally got an accepted offer! The house has been sitting empty for nearly a year, so we were fortunate to have some negotiation room and are beyond thrilled to be the new owners of this home. The home buying process is definitely not as easy from 600+ miles away, but we are thankful to have an awesome realtor (Mike Karel at Remax!!) who has been so helpful through everything. We finally closed on the house this morning. So anyway, pictures!
There’s a bit of a weird driveway situation going on that we aren’t sure what to do with yet. As you can see, the former garage on the front of the house has been converted into finished living space. The old driveway is still there, but we’re not sure yet whether we want to keep it or tear it out.
This is the newer garage and driveway around the corner. I can’t even tell you how excited I am about the idea of parking in a garage again. It’s not attached, but it has two stalls and is nice and big. We will be replacing those beat up wood doors.
The backyard is fenced in and that makes me so, so happy. Two years of having to take the dog outside on a leash in all kinds of weather, and never being able to let my guard down with Ellie outside, and this is going to change my life. We have a lot of work to do back here. We are removing the weird shaped brick patio, the tree stump and surrounding wall, trimming the massive oak tree back a bit, and having the power lines buried. They are crazy low and hang right over the middle of the yard.
The entryway is one of the coolest spots in the house. The stairs, railings and doors with original glass knobs are amazing. The tile floor from a 1960’s renovation… not so much. That’s going, and we are going to try to brighten things up a bit down there. I love the character of old houses, and this one has plenty (built in 1929!).
The kitchen… I hate it. The pictures make it look better than it really is. Someone went through the trouble to put in granite, but in my opinion it was not worth it. The cabinet doors and drawer fronts were replaced at some point, probably the 80’s, and I think they look so weird with the white framing. The drawers are not on glides, so they stick terribly, and everything just has a very run down feel. The appliances are around 12 years old, so they are not really worth saving. They will probably be put on craigslist soon, FYI…
Anyway, we are going to continue the same tile we are using in the entryway here into the kitchen, getting rid of the dingy vinyl. The layout is beyond weird in person – too many doorways, and the island cuts into the work triangle way too much. I’m working with a kitchen designer to correct everything I don’t like about it, and I’m really excited about the changes we are planning.
This is a breakfast nook off of the kitchen. I won’t show you the other wall yet, because I have big plans for that area. I’m beyond excited for my dad to get to work on this house with a sledgehammer!
This dining room color… I just don’t understand anything about this room. The house is a 1929, sort of old world, Tudor-ish style. The previous owners put up this super cheesy looking tin ceiling that just does not go with anything. Don’t get me wrong, I love the look of actual tin ceilings in houses or businesses where it’s period appropriate. Like maybe an 1895 farm house or an old storefront downtown. Not this house though, especially since it looks more like plastic than metal. It’s going. As is the neon blue paint. This photo is actually toned down from real life, if you can believe it. What I do love is the original diamond paned, leaded glass windows and the gorgeous wood flooring.
The living room is excellent. Nice and big, charming stone fireplace, and that awesome sunroom off to the side. The tan ceiling and dark paint have to go though. While we had a similar blue in our last living room that I loved, this house just looks too dark with a color like that in here. I have some changes planned for the built in bookcases next to the fireplace, and can’t wait to have the floor refinished. The sunroom is going to be perfect as the playroom and extra sitting area. I’m keeping the original tile in there – just hoping to clean up the grout with a couple tricks I found online. The french doors at the back of the living room open up to the covered patio in the backyard.
This eyesore is what we’re calling the garage conversion room. It’s huge – like 17’x24′ and they call it a 4th bedroom. It’s such a weird space right now. I’m itching for my dad to start knocking through a wall in there so we can start planning how best to remodel it. The tentative plan is to convert the back half (opposite end of this photo) into a walk in pantry/laundry/mudroom off of the kitchen. The front half, shown here will be turned into a much more functional looking guest bedroom/office. The little stair to the right leads to the basement doorway. It’s just an awkward looking room right now, and our hope is to make it much more usable space for our family.
This charmer is the kid’s bath upstairs. It’s all original tile, with some unfortunate 1960’s cabinetry and mirrors. At first, I was hoping to just replace the floor tiles and keep the walls as is. The more we started looking into it though, the more we realized it all needs to go. The floor tile has what I call permadirt. The glaze has worn off, so the dirt just sticks to it everywhere, and the grout is all a mess. Lots of cracked tiles, and it just looks really bad. The vanity cabinets are in terrible shape, so I was hoping to tear those out and be able to salvage the wall tile behind them. Unfortunately, they are glued on like crazy everywhere, so they will most likely damage it pretty badly.
You can’t tell from the photos, but the tub area has been patched up numerous times as plumbing fixtures were changed and grab bars removed. Lots of cracked tile on the walls, and it’s just in poor general condition. We have also realized the plaster walls are pretty rough in places too, and the room is in desperate need of insulation to keep pipes from freezing on the exterior wall. So this room is basically being gutted. I’ve been on a mission to find a similar shade of green tile to replace the existing, and I think I’ve found a great option. Preserving the charm is important to me, but real people have to live here every day, and I know this bathroom needs some serious attention before it deteriorates any worse.
I won’t share pics of the bedrooms yet (3 upstairs) – they don’t look like much while they’re empty. I’ve been working on mood boards for everything and can’t wait to share more of my plans. I’m super excited about what I’ve come up with for Ellie’s bedroom and the baby (sister!) nursery, so those will probably be first up.
Anyway, off to spend a million more hours on Pinterest! Only about 82 more days until we move back to Michigan!