March 17, 2015

My New Home – The “Before” Tour!

This morning I got up as usual, and went to the gym as usual, but then instead of sitting down at my computer, I spent a lot of time writing on stacks and stacks of paper. I swear, I’ve almost forgotten how to write, since I am pretty much always on a computer… but today it didn’t matter if it was legible or not. I was signing all the paperwork to buy my first home in Colorado!

Officially mine now!

I am soooooo excited for this house, which is basically everything I was looking for. Rather than a big bang approach to moving, since it’s only a few miles away from my current apartment, I’ve decided to spend the next few weeks slowly moving over all the smaller stuff – basically, anything I can fit in my SUV is fair game! Then I’m working on hiring movers to come at the end to take the big furniture so I don’t have to try to deal with it myself (or coerce my friends into doing it).

I already had to make two trips over there today to meet with a fireplace cleaner (sorry, Adam, I forgot to make him do a Chim-Chim-Cheree dance for me) and a general contractor. Since I’ve decided to make a rule for myself that I never go over empty-handed, I brought over all the beer in my fridge and all of my cocktail dresses/formal gowns. The necessities, obviously! Haha. My actual rationale is that I need the beer for a small party tonight with my friends (happy St. Patrick’s Day!) and the dresses were easy to grab and I definitely won’t need them until well after I move in. In the next day or two, I’ll start prioritizing/sorting through the rest of my stuff to figure out what I need and what I can start taking over, but again, since they’re so close together, it wouldn’t be the end of the world if I take something over that I need and have to go fetch it. That’s just another forced trip in which to bring more stuff!

So speaking of the general contractor… while the previous owners put some nice cosmetic upgrades in (painted walls and new carpet!) and the house is really amazing, there are definitely some things I want to change to make it perfect for me. For example, since it has an unfinished walkout basement, I really want to finish that as soon as possible so that I can better host guests and also use the backyard for entertaining come summer. (Which I swear is going to be here like next week – it’s been in the high 70s the last two days!) Plus, I want to create a home gym down there – and that’s something that I’m incredibly eager to have! I am already getting nervous about not having an apartment gym anymore, though I’m planning to try out Classpass over the next month so that I can at least go to some group classes when I’m not doing home workouts.

The basement is definitely something that I can’t do on my own, but for the rest of the rooms, I’d like to stay as cost-conscious as possible. Buying a house in Colorado is so expensive – like twice the price of where I grew up! And even though I bought a lot of furniture when I moved here from NYC, the furniture in my current apartment is not even going to come close to filling up the house, so I also have a lot to buy on that front.

On the repair/renovate front, I’d like to try to DIY as much as possible. I don’t consider myself to be very handy at all, but I’m hoping I can change that about myself and learn! I think my first project is going to be restaining the bannister, since that seems not overly complicated – or at least something not-dangerous where I won’t accidentally kill myself or destroy the house in the DIY process. (For example, swapping out the doorbell chime is high on my priority list, because I find the sound really annoying, but I’m kind of afraid I’m going to electrocute myself based on the instructions I read online.)

I’ve seen a lot of my favorite bloggers post about their home renovations, and so I thought it would be fun for me to post the “before” pictures now and then show my progress along the way as I start changing things up (and moving furniture in). I would also love any suggestions or help, since this is all new to me! I’ve started creating some Pinterest boards for things I like, but I think I’m going to be doing a lot of Craigslist/thrift store shopping in order to actually acquire it, so I’ll need to be patient to find it all at an affordable price point.

Dining Room
View from upstairs of the formal living room / dining room / entry

I need to get a dining room table/chairs in here (thinking simple and Mission-ish, probably with seating for six or eight people) under the hanging lamp, as well as a (semi)-matching sideboard to go against the base of the stairs. For the front area by the window, I’d eventually like to get either an armchair or a settee, plus a piano… but that’s definitely on the “someday” list of things I can’t really afford to spend money on right now. In general, I’m trying to get as much as possible used (except upholstered furniture), so I need to wait till a decent upright piano comes on there for under $250 and then I can snatch it up πŸ™‚

Living Room and Kitchen
Living room and kitchen, as seen from the corner of the living room.

For now, I’m going to put my current brown leather living room furniture in here, with the TV over the fireplace. However, once the basement is finished, I’ll likely move that stuff downstairs and get a new set for up here. Maybe an L-shaped sofa in a taupe microfiber?? I’d like to either do green or purple accents throughout this room (to be clear, that’s “or” not “and”!) and try to make it feel more homey and comfy than the formal living room up front, but also not quite as casual as the basement.

The kitchen is already in pretty good shape – the countertops are brand new, and I already swapped out the stainless sink for a black granite one that I really love. I would like to eventually replace the appliances, and have gone back and forth with Becky via email a lot since she’s thinking of doing the same in her new house! However, I definitely can’t justify the expense right now, since these all work just fine (although the fridge is annoying with me with not being big enough, even though right now it just has a bunch of beer in it). As for that half wall dividing the space, I’m asking my contractor to extend the height of it and add a granite top to match the kitchen counters, so that it makes a countertop bar where I can sit and eat dinner and watch TV. Um, I mean, I never watch TV while I eat because it’s terrible and lazy and slobby to do that? Moving on…

The open loft – which I’m going to use as a home office.

The open loft is my absolute favorite part of the house, and a big part of what sold me on it. I joked with my realtor that I can basically wake up in the morning and then lean over the railing to survey “my estate”, but I seriously do love how open it is to the living room/dining room below (as seen in the first picture). I’m going to put a desk in this space (thinking a rolltop?) and a really comfy easy chair (maybe a chair-and-a-half style?) in the corner by the window – because this window has some of the best views of the house. I can see the Flatirons from it! I am so excited to be able to have that kind of view while I work, especially since I work from home a lot these days.

Master Bedroom
The master bedroom.

The master bedroom is a little bit boring with not much to tell. However, because the house is set on a hill, the window looks out over the top of the other homes behind it and I have some nice views of the city lights on the horizon at night! All I’m going to put in here is my bed and an easy chair, but I might repaint it (all the walls? Just one accent wall?) to make it a little more fun. I’ll likely also swap out my current queen-sized bed for a king-sized, and then move my old bed to the guest room, but that’s not going to be in the near future… maybe in six months or so. Through the door to the right is the master bathroom, where I’d like to update some fixtures, and a huge closet that is perfect just the way it is (once I get my dressers into it).

Bedroom 2
Bedroom 2 (which also looks almost exactly like bedroom 3).

These other two bedrooms are similarly plain, and since I don’t really know what I’m going to do with either of them yet, they’ll probably just sit empty for a while. (Ideas welcome, please!) I had originally planned to use one bedroom as a home office, but this home came with the loft space that is already perfect for an office. And of course, I do need a guest bedroom, but that brings me to…

The backyard and walkout basement.

The walkout basement. It’s unfinished (though roughed in) right now, so I’ve been soliciting lots of bids from contractors to get it finished in the next two months so that I can enjoy it as soon as possible. I’m planning to put in a guest bedroom and bathroom, a small gym area, and a large space for entertaining (probably with just a couch and TV, nothing fancy). I’m really excited about having room for guests in the basement, so that anyone who’s visiting has their privacy. Before I moved to Colorado, I frequently stayed in my friend Kelly’s guest bedroom in the basement, and I just loved feeling like I was out of the way and not bothering anyone when I stayed there. I hate feeling like I’m intruding when I’m a houseguest! And as I mentioned earlier, I’m really excited about having a home gym that I can use – I’m trying to do a layout where the equipment can be hidden away when guests are over but that can be open to the main room when I’m actually using it, so that it doesn’t feel cramped. We’ll see how that all works out!

Finally, the backyard is really snowy in this picture, but now that the snow has melted, I’m seeing that it’s really cute – but is definitely going to need lots of landscaping. Yikes, that part is a little scary to me! I have no idea what I’m going to do with it, but I’m probably going to try to use lots of stone and minimal grass so that it won’t be high maintenance. I also need to get some kind of small table and chairs set (maybe bar-style?) that can fit on the small deck off the kitchen, because I think that would be nice to be able to sit out there and eat in the summer.

So – welcome to my new house! If you know me, definitely come visit. And whether you do or don’t, please share any and all ideas with me in the comments because I’d love some help with getting it to feel like my forever home πŸ™‚


22 thoughts on “My New Home – The “Before” Tour!”

  1. Oh, yep, I know this game. Moved from a tiny townhouse in the city to a big new house in the burbs this time last year. A few ideas/recommendations:

    1) Figure out one thing first – color? Style? Wood trim color? Having at least one firm decision in your mind as you’re shopping for furniture, rugs, accent pieces, etc. makes it so much easier. For us, we have dark wood trim throughout the house. This meant a lot of wood furniture is out of the running for us.

    2) Sign up for curated sale sites like Joss & Main or One Kings Lane. Even if you don’t buy anything, they’ll give you ideas. (Plus, the accent mirrors on Joss & Main are a really really good deal).

    3) For landscaping, take a look at house listings in your area. Steal ideas. Either go to a nursery and ask them to ID plants in the listing, or provide a contact for a landscaper in your area that does low maintenance or etc. We’re going through this right now. It’s more expensive than you think, but it is a big one time investment into the house.

    4) World Market/Cost Plus. Seriously. They have fantastic furniture sales (We got our entire dining collection 50% off last year), and fun little pops of color for accent chairs, etc. I’ve been pleased with the quality so far.

    Above all else – have FUN! It’s your house, nothing is really that permanent. And it’s just Money. πŸ™‚

    1. 1 – That is AWESOME advice and exactly what I need to figure out. I feel like it’s hard to pick a style after living in apartments for so long, since my style has kind of always been dictated to me? I need to figure out what my own is for sure! I like your idea.

      2. My concern with these was that they would kind of acclimate me to fancier stuff than I’m used to, and that I’d end up wanting to spend more money, you know? I may hold off on this for now but we will see πŸ™‚

      3. That is a really fantastic idea! I’ve definitely been using listings/previous sales to get ideas for layouts and decorating, but never thought to do it for landscaping. However… ugh, you are scaring me with “more expensive than you think.” I am pretty sure that is the case with everything for homeownership! πŸ™‚

      4. I have been looking at World Market online a lot, but I definitely need to go in person and check out the sales. I definitely love how they have some fun accent stuff! I can definitely see my “style” being traditional stuff with a few random pops of fun stuff.

    2. 1. Go there, figure out wha kind of resonates with you. The houses are all RIDICULOUS, but get a vibe. What do you like? What don’t you like? For me, it was lots of clean lines, decluttered spaces, and whites, blues, teals. When we got into the house and hard the dark wood everywhere, we used the light blues and turquoises to lighten the space up. If you look at your place now, it does need some lightening (especially in the kitchen, with the dark appliances) and pops of color. The loft area could use some more ‘serious’ elements to keep you focused when working, with some big, airy artwork on the walls to make sure the space stays ‘big’.

      2. Nah. Not really fancier – the prices are actually ‘reasonable’ as compared to other stores. I think some of the stuff is trendier than you’ll find elsewhere….but it’s given me good ideas. And – it’s made me more comfortable with COLORS and PATTERNS, which have totally made my house. πŸ™‚ (Otherwise my house would just be grey and silver. 50 Shades of Actually Really My House Is Grey)

      3. Well. I am used to buying $5 flats of pansies – townhouse, right? Now it’s a price tag that involves a comma. It’s not so much that it’s so expensive – just so much more expensive than what I was used to for ‘yard work’. We have 1/3 acre and it’s likely going to be $10k+ to landscape – but right now we have sod, no good dirt, and a little hydrangea I planted last year. So….

      4. That’s exactly ours. Classic furniture with fun pops from little accents on the mantle or fun throw pillows. Do you have a HomeGoods near you? I get all of my lamps, pillows, and knick-knacks from them.

    3. 1. Just signed up on Houzz! I love your ideas too πŸ˜‰

      2. I am definitely a little scared of color looking TOO much, so that’s a good idea for accent pieces.

      3. I think right now my “landscape” plan means “make sure the grass is actually planted” and that’s about it πŸ™‚ But yeah, definitely need to start learning/doing more.

      4. YES to HomeGoods! I am going to be all over that.

    1. Thanks so much, Melissa! I definitely need to start watching HGTV. I watched it a few weeks ago for the first time and LOVED it, so may need to get into it for ideas πŸ™‚

  2. I love that loft! I want a tiny house someday, but it will have to have a loft.

    As far as landscaping, my aunt is a landscape designer who also does landscape and gardening lessons. So she’ll do a design for a client, then do a few sessions teaching them landscaping and gardening skills, and then you can do the rest yourself/hire it out, but be able to do the maintenance. Maybe you can find someone like that in your area?

    1. I feel like everyone I know wants a tiny house! My realtor, one of my good friends at work… you are right on trend πŸ™‚

      That is such a cool idea about the landscaping – I am definitely going to look for that in my area.

  3. Three words: Ball. Pit. Room. You will seriously be the most popular neighbor on the block. Either that, or you’ll be the creepy neighbor w/out kids that always has kids playing around. “Hey kids, want some candy!??!!??”

    ORRRRR, trampoline room. Honestly, anything that you find in a McDonalds playplace could really go in there. Can you imagine how fun it would be to have a slide from your loft to the formal living room!?!?! Make this happen. You could even make it a waterslide in the summer.

    Seriously though, congrats on the house!! The great thing about decorating is that it evolves as time goes on. Usually what I’ll do is find one thing that I LOVE and design a room around that. For my family room, that is a few pictures I took of wine bottles matted w/ a red matte. That drove the red paint, the red pots, the canvas of wine corks, etc etc.

    Again…. ball.pit.

    1. “Anything that you find in a McDonalds playplace could really go in there” – pretty sure that is the best home decorating advice I’ve ever heard. And I’m pretty sure my neighbors are already going to think I’m creepy because I am so eager to make friends with them and bring them brownies the second I move in πŸ™‚

  4. The place looks gorgeous! Love the open loft and how cool that you get a view! Have so much fun decorating! I’m all about thrifting as much as possible as well, the key is to just be patient and go back to see what’s new that will work for you.

  5. Okay, I meant to comment on this post last week when I first read it but let it slide… so I’m a few days late πŸ˜‰ I LOVEEEE your new digs – The openness, space and it looks really cozy for winters! I love what you plan on doing with the kitchen too… even though none of us ever eat while watching TV πŸ˜‰ Hehe. I actually don’t think your appliances look bad at all! Obviously, stainless steel is both of our preferences but yours blend in nicely now. I say as long as they work, stick with ’em until you find a really good deal!

    1. As we discussed in email, I will definitely be on the hunt in May πŸ™‚ CONGRATULATIONS on your closing! I love that we have similar milestones and will be going through this “together” across the internet.

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