Homeowners Once Again

Decorate your home. It gives the illusion that your life is more interesting than it really is.
Charles Schulz
[This post has been a draft for months, so now that the wedding is over, I’m playing catch-up… and this is a long post.]
Our move-in day was the Saturday before Thanksgiving 2014. Anyone who has moved understands this feeling: you back the U-Haul into the driveway of your newly purchased or rented house/apartment/condo/trailer or cave/tent/tiny house and you’re immediately grateful for the boost of elation that temporarily masks the overwhelming whole-body and entire-mind fatigue from the packing and moving. You’d cry from happiness, but there is just enough fatigue that won’t allow those crocodile tears to flow.
Since then, we’ve had many months of lifting, sorting, scraping, spending, hoisting, picture hanging, ladder climbing, organizing, cleaning, spending, discovering, digging, brainstorming, scrubbing, driving to Lowe’s and Home Depot, and… more spending. And when I say, “we’ve had many months…” I truly mean my husband. I’ve done more picture hanging than he and I’m the color person as far as choosing colors for most anything, but he is the worker and I want that to be known. No grass grows under his feet, as my mother would say. Together we are a good team for brainstorming creative and practical ideas, so the teamwork thing is definitely good.  I am bringing home the bacon, though, so I’m not totally a slug. (In the words of the late Donna Summer, “She Works Hard for the Money.”) The Shark (otherwise known as a vacuum cleaner) and all its attachments gets a workout. Often. And it’s a terrific piece of machinery according to Gary.  Nothing gets by Gary and The Shark.
2014. Christmas in the new house, up on the landing.
2014. Christmas in the new house, up on the landing.

A quick summary about Thanksgiving and Christmas 2014 in the new digs:  For Thanksgiving, we picked up a prepared Thanksgiving dinner, complete with a pre-cooked Butterball turkey and fixin’s just needing to be warmed. Best idea ever, Gar! By Christmas, we cooked our traditional dinner of Gary’s Roast Beast and plenty of side dishes, plus an exceptional Apple Pie.

Back to the house. We bought a house built in 2002 that had been empty for 16 months or so. We looked at many houses in many neighborhoods and by chance, we were connected with a realtor who has the right stuff – realtor-wise, plus she is just an all-around great person with an agreeable sense of humor. Carlene got to know us well and we spent many, many hours together. (Many, as in about 9 months’ worth…) She investigated a crawl space when I was looking at a house without Gary (investigated, meaning, she crawled in). She did preliminary looking for us “with Gary eyes” and she demonstrated both patience and persistence. Carlene is the best. And recently, she helped Hanna and Mike to find their first house! Anyhoo, this house we are in was distressed, not trashed, but neglected in many areas. We knew it needed TLC, updating, and improvements when we bought it; however, there were some surprises that we didn’t count on – you know, the things that make you cock your head to the side and exclaim, “Really? Are you kidding me? Are you bleepin’ kidding me!” There were times we thought we would not want a house that needed fixing up, but the location of this place – wow – it trumped other houses that were newer.
Repurposed old, worn out stools, now decor
Repurposed old, worn out stools, now decor
The house has three bedrooms (one down, two up), two and a half baths, and the second floor has a bonus/TV room, plus a small room that I’ll use as a sewing room. We liked the tall windows and the hardwood floors in the front of the house. We’re in a small neighborhood in the country with some room around us. We love living so close to Wake Forest and Raleigh! The neighbors have been very welcoming, and I sure like working from home 3 days/week. I drive to Greenville (80 mi each way) on Mondays and Tuesdays.

Projects So Far

  • The entire interior was painted, except for the bonus room on the second level. We’ll deal with that later. We were so glad we hired the painting done. The neutral for most of the house is Benjamin Moore’s Revere Pewter, and I will love this color for many years. Sometimes it looks taupe, sometimes it looks gray, and even a greenish-gray. Raccoon Hollow by Benjamin Moore is in the main floor powder room (replacing red & gold) and one of the guest rooms. It’s like a khaki and it looks good with red, slate, or black. Love it. Palladian Blue, a popular Benjamin Moore color, is in the office, one of the guest rooms, and the master bedroom. It’s more green than blue, but very coastal and refreshing. It’s my only color choice that Gary is not wild about, but he doesn’t dislike it enough to repaint. The master bathroom is Still Life in Gray by Valspar. It’s a medium-dark gray and it’s a good color next to our bedroom. With the tiles we chose for the shower, we’re really happy with the color.
  • We replaced living room and master bedroom carpet after paying to have it cleaned, AND after our dog Remy STILL would not lay on it. True story.
  • While at the carpet store, we also ended up ordering new tile to go around and in front of fireplace because of the blah/outdated (and not ours) tile, which would not coordinate with the mushroom-colored carpet we chose. Not planned, but the outcome was worth it, really it was.
  • We replaced the over-sized shower in the master bath. There was a crack in some floor tiles in the shower. You know where this is going. All tiles had to be ripped out of course, and sure enough there was a sub-floor that needed replacing, very evident when the handyman’s foot went right through the sub-floor. We did a total re-do, to ensure that no moldy wood, remained. It turned out beautifully. This is phase I of the bathroom. We have plans to replace the cabinets, counters, and floor.  And there is a small garden tub in our big bathroom that we’ll gladly say goodbye to since we are people over 4′ tall.
  • We replaced the divided black, HEAVY cast iron kitchen sink, a little sooner than anticipated, with my dream sink, the Nantucket – heavy gauge stainless steel, big enough to hold two large crockpots, three 12-pound turkeys, a stack of 20 large cookie sheets, or triplet babies.
    The Nantucket
    The Nantucket

    You get the idea. Delivered in 2 days (right before Christmas!) from Amazon Prime. The back story: Gary just wanted to clean up the caulk around the sink. He started hoisting it out of the counter just enough to clean grout, and it hit him: “Goodness gracious, my beloved, this incredibly heavy sink is not going back in.” The wording in his head was probably a smidge different.  It took both of us to get the beast out to the garage and into the van. We donated it to Habitat Restore. I’m surprised the back end of the van wasn’t dragging on the pavement on the drive to Raleigh. Why not run down to Lowe’s or Home Depot to buy a sink? Well, we did just that, about 6pm, and there was no sink to meet our needs. Once we  returned home, Gary logged on to Amazon Prime. End result? Two days later (remember, pre-Christmas), the Nantucket was delivered. Gary promptly started on the install and plumbing. It is the best sink. Ever.

  • We built a desk for my home office. I use “we” so liberally; I need to watch that. Gary built it, I sanded, painted, and provided direction and encouragement. I love working at home a few days a week, with the front yard in my view. I’m a lucky girl to have this arrangement with my department at ECU, I really am. Truly I wish I could take credit for this clever, utilitarian desk, but the credit goes to Pinterest for the basic idea, although we added our own design features.
    Glass finishes the table (holes for cords, too)
    Glass finishes the table (holes for cords, too)

    The office is right off the front door, so I wanted something tasteful, but I did not want just any big, heavy desk. Hence, a visit to the Raleigh Habitat Restore where we found a slightly beat up very old door for $15. Of course, the cute, well-made strawberry red table legs from IKEA added $60 to the project (worth it). A nice piece of pine was needed for some extra visual appeal and to hide cords. Then there’s the glass with 2 holes cut for cords. (Gary is THE MAN for cord control, by the way!)

  • We replaced window treatments on windows. All windows. Now they go with our tastes and sensibilities.
  • We needed a headboard in one of the guest rooms, so we did the DIY thing again. We took another trip to Habitat Restore and spotted an old, weathered shutter. $10 and it was ours. Gary just power washed it to clean it up, and that exposed some old red paint. Instant “character and an unexpected surprise!” The red color showing through fit in just dandy with the room color and bedding. It had a small strip of wood down the side (which became the top of the headboard), which was handy for hanging. Gary sprayed a clear seal on it and hung it on the wall one day while I was at work.
  • We had some landscaping guys remove leaves from the entire yard – we were ankle deep in leaves. Remy was confused. We have some big trees out here and they drop lots of leaves, twigs, and branches, especially when it’s windy. The leaves are now in big piles and will be burned one of these days. We found out from day 1 in the house that neighbors burn leaves after they get them in piles. Sounds fine to us. The yard was ignored, so Gary has plans to get that back in shape and start start a maintenance plan for leaf control. I’d like to see Gary buy a riding mower (with an extra seat for Remy) for mowing this big yard. For now, he thinks he needs the exercise.
  • We had a gas line installed, bought a gas stove (LOVE it) and sold the flat top stove that was in the kitchen. The fridge and dishwasher are both pretty great, as it turns out, and probably were updated a couple years ago.
  • Our laundry room remodel job is done; Gary did almost all of that. He did have to call an electrician and plumber in for a couple of things. We really needed some kind of pantry storage, so the room works very well now. Using our stacking kit for the washer and dryer, we then had room for a new utility sink and some utility shelves. IMG_0004I painted the color trim up by the ceiling (green Frog Tape is my new fave product) and sewed the curtain from red/white herringbone fabric from an upholstery mill outlet. Medium blue on the trim is Revel Blue, and Naval is the dark navy, both by Sherwin-Williams. (The red was a paint sample.) The ivory color on the new bead board in the room is the trim color we have throughout the house, Benjamin Moore’s White Dove.
  • Shortly before the wedding, Gary painted the front door and the shutters a nice red, to update the front of the house. Love it! We chose Sherwin-Williams Stolen Kiss as our red choice, and we hit the jackpot. Neighbors are noticing and shouting “we love it! you people are fabulous!” as they walk and drive by. Actually, that is a gross exaggeration of a couple of compliments we got from maybe two neighbors. But we know the other people are thinking it. When I say “we,” I don’t mean Gary.
  • Oh yeah, I can’t forget this! My project manager husband made a couple of rain chains for the front of the house that hang from the gutters — love the sounds of the rain when I’m working in my office and have the window cracked – rain running down over each bucket. Inexpensive DIY project. Lengths of chain from the hardware store and small galvanized buckets from Amazon were the supplies.
Did I mention a family of bats living in the eaves?
Did I mention a family of bats living in the eaves?

Gary is a good troubleshooter and problem-solver who knows his limits. Word of mouth has proven to be the best advertising and we’ve found good people to hire when a job is out of Gary’s scope of experience. And they’ve all been friendly to Remy, so she has not minded the company and attention at all! Finally, I won’t go into details about all of the cleaning and scrubbing, or show pictures of Gary’s cleaning events where he uses everything from the shop vac to Q-tips,  large scrub brushes, and putty knives for scraping grime.(Okay, I’ll post one pic that he probably does not know exists. Good thing he doesn’t know my WP login.) Suffice it to say, if something needs cleaning, it will be meticulously cleaned. That’s my guy.

The house is a work in progress, but it’s ours, it’s a prime and convenient location, and we’re happy as clams to be here. And when I say “we,” I mean us.
Click a photo below to see a slideshow, or enlarge the pic. (I will add more ‘after’ shots when I take them.)
The Nantucket

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Laundry Room Makeover Photos


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 Master Bath Before & After
DIY Desk Project – Re-purposing an old door!
Fireplace and Floor Tiles
Miscellaneous Before & After Shots


This is the view when we bought it. Since then, we have a red door and shutters. and less wild bushes.




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