Thank you all for your kind comments on our first home! Many of you mentioned in comments that you didn’t think it looked that bad, especially compared to my description of it as ‘a wreck’. That’s cute of you. You haven’t seen it in person. It does look nice in that picture, doesn’t it?
And it is a pretty house, it really is. I’m kind of crazy about it. I just don’t think I can fully express in pictures how dirty and run down it is on the inside. It truly can’t be comprehended until you’re up close and personal, and these pictures just don’t do it justice. It’s like an attractive-looking woman who you’d be surprised to learn has been smoking 3 packs a day and consuming a steady diet of bacon and Ho-Hos and crack for a lifetime. Plus she’s a hooker. My house is that hooker. It looks all right until you take a peek-see inside. You’d have to mosey on over to our little abode and take a stroll through that front door and run your fingers over the inch-thick grime covering every surface and take a deep breath of the ammonia tang of years-old pee in the air and take a gander at the cracked and busted baby blue (baby blue!!!) countertops to gain a full appreciation for this beaut. But it has great bones, it’s a great canvas, and it’s already on its way.
We learned right before we closed on the house that it had been a rental for the past few years, which explains so much about it. Jeff and I kept wondering how someone could let their house/yard fall into the sort of condition that this one was in, but of course . . . renters. They didn’t care what the house looked like/smelled like . . . it wasn’t their house.
But on the plus side of it being a rental, it is a completely blank slate. There are no funky 1950s bathrooms tiled from floor to ceiling in pink, or dated wallpaper that would be a nightmare to remove, or dark wall colors to try and cover up, or other bizarre personal preferences homeowners love to install. It’s messy and dirty and stinky, but completely blank and ready for us to update however we want (and it was inexpensive enough that we can actually afford to give it some updates—hooray!). Every wall is white, every carpet is beige, and the bathrooms are just your typical ‘builder standard’ without any crazy tile or fixtures to worry about. Empty canvas over here!
You’ve seen the exterior of the house . . . step through the front door and you’ll find yourself in this entry room:
One element we REALLY wanted in our house was a front living room area combined with a ‘hidden’ kitchen . . . as much as I love the idea of a very open floor plan, I hate the thought of my kitchen (with its sink full of dishes) being the first thing visible when someone walks into the house. And it seems like a lot of houses are built that way, with a nice big view of the kitchen from the door—I don’t love that. Once I got over the dog pee smell on our first visit to this house, I loved that a front living room and dining area are visible from the door, and not the fridge and kitchen sink. And check out those high ceilings! Neat, huh?
This is the dining area straight past the living room . . . I’m crazy about that super-bright bay window! And the light fixture, of course, but that goes without saying. (Decorating question: should I bother with curtains/drapes for these windows? I don’t want to block any of that great light, but would it look too naked without them?)
And call me crazy, but I kind of like this currently-goofy kitchen:
Sure, those cracked baby blue countertops are a little silly and of course we all hate oak cabinets right now, but I love the layout of the kitchen. Not to mention that this is about 5 times my current amount of counter and cabinet space in our apartment. I’m planning to paint the cabinets a bright glossy white and add some pretty silver hardware, and the blue counters are going to have to be replaced (well shucks) as well as the sink and faucet if I can swing it in our rather-limited budget, but I love how it’s set up. Plus there’s yet another huge beautiful window above the sink looking out over the backyard—I love all the windows and natural light in this place!
Head down a few stairs and you’re in the family room:
. . . complete with massive, sooty stone fireplace (speaking of which, does anyone have any secret tips for cleaning a massive, sooty stone fireplace? I’m guessing just a whole lot of scrubbing, but I kind of hope there’s some miracle product I don’t know about yet.). We’re planning to knock down a few small walls in this room (including the one you can kind of barely see on the far right of that picture above) that make it feel really small and closed-off from the rest of the house, and replacing those sliding doors with French doors to make it look even brighter and less ‘apartment-y.’ This is a really long, narrow room that’s going to take a little clever setting-up to look cozy and friendly instead of like a giant hallway . . . thank goodness I have an interior designer for a mom who knows just how to handle rooms like this.
Upstairs we’ve got three standard-looking bedrooms that really just need new paint and carpets:
And two bathrooms which are a little closer to the grody side of the ick spectrum:
Do you see the sink? Yuck. And the toilet is suspiciously yellow and odorous . . . now I’m hoping more than ever that the pee smell in this house is pet-related. Gross gross gross! I despise the linoleum on the floor (it didn’t look so bad when we were just walking through, and doesn’t look bad at all in this picture—it almost looks pretty!--but now that I’ve inspected it more closely, it’s peeling up around all the edges and is really worn-out and cheap-looking), so tiling the bathrooms is being added to the to-do list.
This big room in the basement has us a little baffled:
We can’t figure out what it must have been once, or what it was intended to be. Three-quarters laminate and one-quarter carpet, two closets, and . . .
. . . do you see the floors/wall on this side? It’s plumbed as a bathroom. Weird. We can’t figure out what it was meant to be (maybe someone planned to finish it as another bed and bathroom?), and we’re not entirely sure what to do with it. But while we figure it out, it’ll make a nice combination craft/chiropractic room—it’s a huuuuuge space, so hopefully we can manage to share nicely like good little children. Jeff seems to think it will be his man cave. How adorable of him. Doesn’t he know that’s what the garage is for?
There’s another teensy room in the basement (storage area, I guess?) and a rather creepy little laundry room that both aren’t worth sharing.
We’d love to beef up the ‘deck’ (translation: knock this down and build a real deck) (those sliding doors are the ones in the family room, and that’s our realtor standing in the doorway [who I am fully prepared to run away with if he were so inclined because he was fantastic and so helpful through this whole process]):
And check out this jungle of a yard!
Just imagine the grass and weeds about double this height. These pictures were taken 2 or 3 weeks before we closed, so it has now managed to reproduce and get even more out of control, plus the grass is half-dead from not being watered for weeks, so it’s patchy and yellow and prickly. And those leafy weeds right in the foreground of the picture? Now almost my height. For realsies. But on the bright side, we were excited to discover that two of those trees over on the side of the house are fruit trees! One is possibly a cherry tree (or a killer poisonous berry tree, I guess I’ll just make a pie with it and figure it out from there), and one might just be a crabapple tree, but either way, they look awfully cute all blooming and growing, and I’m beyond thrilled to have a spacious fenced yard for Forrest to play in. He looooves being outside, but right now in our apartment, him ‘playing outside’ translates to him' ‘racing for the street every two seconds’, me freaking out and dragging him back into the unfenced-dang-it yard, and spending the rest of ‘playtime’ walking along a foot behind him so I can keep him out of danger while he explores. Fun for everyone, really.
I’ve spent all week painting (pictures to come!), every single inch of icky nasty carpet has been removed (made even ickier nastier now that it’s been torn out and we saw the horrifying stains on the underside and carpet pad . . . the stuff of nightmares, I tell you), and this weekend will be spent knocking down a few family room walls and laying new wood laminate flooring all through the downstairs (front room, kitchen, dining, family room, stairs). It’s coming along!