Thursday, August 20, 2015

House Hunters: Blue 11 Edition

Hi friends! I’m here today to show you our new house, but I thought I’d make it a little more fun by turning it into a House Hunters-esque post. So, just like the show, I’ll take you through three houses we toured, and at the end you’ll see which house we ended up getting!

House #1: The Pool House

Pool House

This was a beautiful, big house in a great neighborhood. The homeowners had put a lot of work into updating it and it showed: they had a beautiful kitchen, modern bathroom with large walk-in shower, and a gorgeous finished basement. Plus there’s the show-stopping pool with the fantastic patio. And unlike a lot of houses with pools, this one actually had room for a dog: there was a separate fenced-in side yard that Finnley could run around in.

    • Pros: Move-in ready, great for entertaining (pool/patio and basement), updated kitchen and bathroom
    • Cons: Over budget, expensive upkeep for pool, already updated so no way to choose my own finishes

House #2: The Historic House

1

Francis St House Collage

This house from the 1920’s was absolutely gorgeous! I fell in love with it as soon as we walked it. It had great original (or original-feeling) features like hardwood and tile floors, brass light fixtures, stained glass windows and doors, and even a fountain inside the house! It also had beautiful formal gardens that I could totally picture throwing a Gatsby-themed party in.

  • Pros: All the original features listed above, the gardens, just an all around impressive home in great condition
  • Cons: Expensive to keep up, the kitchen needed updated, small showers, neighborhood wasn’t quite as safe as others we looked at

House #3: The Basic House

Devonshire House Collage

This was a perfectly nice house under our budget. It had lovely features like a finished basement and a great screened in porch, plus it backed up to a pretty wooded area. It was move in ready, but the master bathroom could definitely use an update and I wasn’t crazy about the kitchen. The only thing we’d really need to do right away though would be to build a fence.

  • Pros: Low price, pretty backyard, great screened-in porch
  • Cons: Overall kind of a boring house

Sooo…which house did we choose??

Houses

 

Well, that’s kind of a trick question, because we actually put an offer on all three of these houses!

We started with the Pool House. It was a really nicely updated home, and the pool was an awesome bonus. But it was over budget, so we tried to negotiate to get the price down. Unfortunately, the current owners weren’t able to meet us in the middle so we had to walk away.

Then we found the Historic House and I fell in love. It was priced at the top of our budget, and we only went back and forth a couple times before agreeing on a price. Once we were under contract we moved forward with an inspection. For being about 90 years old it was in really good condition, but it had a few problems that would have been quite expensive to fix (roof maintenance, friable asbestos, radon, and a buried oil tank), and we just didn’t have the cash to do these things right when we moved in. The current owners weren’t able to fix any of these problems, so we had to walk away from this house and move on to plan C.

By the time we got out of our contract on the Historic House we were in a bit of a time crunch. We were already under contract on our old home and we needed to find something quickly or else we’d be living in a hotel all summer. So we toured a few more houses and found the Basic House. It was nice, and it’d work well for us, but it wasn’t nearly as impressive as the other two homes. We made an offer though, and we were able to close on it without any issues.

IMG_3256

So this is our home! It took me a little while to get over the disappointment of losing the Historic House, but I think this is a really good home for us. Both the Pool House and the Historic House cost a lot more money upfront, plus they would have taken a lot of money to maintain. Our Basic House is much more manageable, plus we have more room to make it our own. I also really love our neighborhood, and I was little iffy about the neighborhood of the Historic Home.

So in the end, I think things worked out exactly how they were supposed to Smile  I’ll be back next week to show you more photos of our new house and our plans for making it our own.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Ten Tips for Getting Your House Sold Fast

This spring was a really busy time, as I mentioned in Tuesday’s post. We had a lot going on, but one of the biggest things was getting our house ready to sell. We didn’t tackle any major projects, but all the little things added up. It was all worth it thought: we sold our house for full asking price (plus closing costs) in four days!

IMG_4054

This was our first home, so I’m not an expert in real estate, but I would consider our sale quite successful. We put a lot of work into getting our house ready and I think it showed. Here are my top 10 tips for getting your house ready to list and sold quickly.

1. Consider Home Improvement Projects

About six months before we planned to list our house, we met with a real estate agent to talk about home improvement projects. We had a list of prospective projects that we thought would increase the value of our home and make it show better, but after talking with our agent, we shortened the list. I would highly suggest meeting with your agent several months before you plan to list the house to go over projects. He or she can help you decide what projects are worth your time and money and which are not. For example, we considered refinishing our wood floors, but our agent told us that for our neighborhood and price point our floors were in good condition, and that we might not recoup the cost of getting them refinished. She did encourage us to redo our kitchen backsplash though, since that was an inexpensive update that made a big difference.

Kitchen before and after

2. Do Small Updates

When prospective buyers tour your house, you want them to feel like it’s well taken care of and that they will have very little to do to make it livable. We tackled small projects like painting chipped trim and changing out brass doorknobs and hinges for new, polished nickel hardware. These little changes made the house look updated and in good condition without spending a ton of time or money.

3. Deep Clean

This seems obvious, but you want your house to be really, really clean when buyers tour your home. Don’t be afraid to hire a cleaning company to give your house a really good, deep cleaning to get it ready to list. If you have carpet, I’d also recommend getting your carpets professionally cleaned, especially if you have pets. This will get out any stains and help eliminate pet odor.

4. Declutter

Decluttering is another obvious rule of selling your house, but it’s important. Having some knick-knacks out is ok, but limit it to just your favorites. I have a lot of decorative objects, so clearing some of it out was hard for me, but it made the house show a lot better. You want people to focus on your home, not your stuff.

P.S. A personal pet peeve of mine is too many plants (especially fake plants!). A few pieces of greenery add some life, but too many makes your house seem like a jungle. Nobody wants to buy a jungle.

5. Clean Out Closets

I’m not going to lie, this was a tough one for me. All of our closets were overcrowded and messy, especially our master closet. It was a walk in, but not very big, so we took a lot of time to clean and organize it to make it look more spacious. Everybody wants big closets, so put some effort into cleaning out your closets to make them seem bigger. Only keep the clothes you’re going to be wearing that season, and store or discard everything else. Make sure your shelves look clean and organized too, and don’t leave anything on the floor.

6. Organize Basement/Storage Space

Our house had a big unfinished basement, which was great, but over the years we had let it turn into a giant mess. Nobody wants to walk into a giant mess, even if it’s a basement or storage space. Pack away extra items and stack boxes and tubs in one section of the room so that there’s still plenty of room to walk around. You want every room in your house to feel spacious, including the storage rooms.

7. Clear Out Bulky Furniture

Like I said above, you want every room in your house to feel spacious, so if you have extra furniture consider moving it out to make the room feel a little bigger. This is especially true if any of the furniture blocks the flow of traffic into a space. We moved the chair in the living room and the chair in our bedroom to create a little more space in both rooms and make them feel more open.

Living Room before after

8. Show a Little Personality

Decluttering is important, but you don’t want to clear out absolutely everything that gives your home some personality. I think leaving some pictures on the wall and showcasing a few treasured personal items is perfectly fine, and it can help buyers picture themselves in it. And while neutrals are great, don’t be afraid of showing a little color, especially in accessories that will be moved out.

I know someone that completely renovated their home before listing it, and while they did a lovely job, they didn’t stage it at all. They moved out all their furniture during the renovation and only moved in the bare essentials (couch and bed) when they were done. The house had no color and no personality, and it took a long time to sell.

If you’re in a similar situation, it can be advantageous to hire stagers to make your home more appealing to buyers. It’s more money upfront, but worth it if it helps your house sell faster.

9. Hide Personal Items

For this one I’m talking about things like medicines, bras, tampons, etc. They’re things everyone has, but nobody wants to see them when they’re touring a home. This probably seems obvious, but I’ve noticed all of these things during our house-hunting search. I bought a cloth basket to put tampons and other personal items in so that they wouldn’t be visible to buyers. Before you list your home, walk through it like a buyer and take notice of anything you wouldn’t want a stranger to see, and make a plan to take those things out of sight.

P.S. Remember that everyone will look in cabinets and drawers too, so keep that in mind when you’re organizing everything.

10. Pay Attention to Scent

You want your house to look and smell really clean when buyers tour it, so be sure to take out the trash, remove smelly items from the fridge, and clean the litter box before buyers come through. If there are areas of the house that may have a little smelly (like a litter box), you might put a clean smelling (not floral or tropical) air freshener in that part of the house, but otherwise I would suggest not using any artificial scents. Even if you typically love scented candles, etc, you don’t want those scents to overpower the house. Plus, some people are really sensitive to smells, and you don’t want too many air fresheners to ruin their perception of your house.

 

So there you have it, my top 10 tips for getting your house sold fast. For those of you have have sold a home before, do you agree with my list? Is there anything you feel like I left out?

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Happenings

Hello friends! Welcome back to this little blog of mine. I know it’s been ages since I’ve posted, but life has been more than a little crazy around here. Over the last five months my husband and I have endured some of the biggest stressors life can throw at you. To go into everything that’s happened since March would take around 10,000 words, so I’ll just give you the highlights.

The biggest thing that happened was the passing of my mother-in-law, Traci. She was diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer four years ago (two weeks after our wedding), and over the years she endured a mastectomy, hundreds of chemotherapy treatments, radiation, and two brain surgeries to try to beat the cancer. This spring things took a turn for the worse, and at the end of April, after a few days in the hospital, she elected to go home on hospice. We spent a lot of time at her house during her last month, right up until she passed away on May 25.

Traci’s death was hard for everyone, but I’m so thankful we were able to spend a lot time with her at the end and that we were with her when she passed away. I miss her a lot, but I’m happy she’s not in pain anymore. Rest in Peace, Traci <3

Our Race for the Cure team, “Show Me the Cure for Ta-Ta’s!” two years ago today. Traci is in the center wearing the white hat.
At the same time we lost my mother-in-law, we were also dealing with the stress of selling our home, buying a new house, and moving to St. Joseph, MO, about an hour north of Kansas City and a 75 minute drive from our old home in Lee’s Summit. Moving is always stressful, especially when you’re moving out of town, and moving at the same time that we were dealing with the loss of a loved one put my stress levels at about 1000. And when I say we “at the same time,” I mean that literally: the movers packed up our house while we were at Traci’s funeral.

Needless to say, the past few months have been quite busy and stressful. We’re slowly settling in to our new and house and getting to know St. Joe, though I do miss Kansas City and our old house. We did have some good stress in all of the craziness though: Ben graduated from residency at the end of June, and he started his new job as a family physician at the beginning of August at a clinic here in town. We were also able to get away for a week and relax by the pool at a resort in Mexico last month, which was wonderful.

So, with all of the stress and business of the last several months I had to step back from blogging. Plus, I found out that blogging is a little like exercising: once you get out of the routine of doing it, it’s hard to get started again, even if you miss it (which I did). But now that life has settled down I plan to get back into my blogging routine and share more updates with you. Over the next couple weeks I plan to share some of my tips for getting your house sold quickly, our house hunting journey, and pics and plans for our new home.

Thanks so much to those of you who have stuck around during my hiatus, I really appreciate your understanding and support

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Blush Living Room Designs

Yesterday I showed you some of my favorite blush home d├ęcor items, and today I’m showing you how to use them by featuring them in two different living room designs.

For the first one I used blush as an accent in the rug and the pillow and I kept the rest of the room pretty neutral.

Living Room with Blush Accents

For the second room I let the pink sofa be the star of the room with black and white and gold accents. It really pops against the striped rug, don’t you think?

Black and white living room with pink couch 2

To see all the items used in both rooms, you can click on each picture or click here to view the designs on Polyvore.

I’m curious, which room do you prefer? When I was designing them I thought I’d like the black and white rug/pink couch room better, but I think I like the gray couch/blush rug a little more!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Color Crush: Blush Pink

Hello friends! I’m back with another color crush post today. Today’s post is inspired by what everyone is dreaming of: Spring! It’s coming soon, even though it doesn’t feel like it will ever be here.

Blush is such a lovely color. It’s feminine and sophisticated, warm and soft, I just love it. And it’s a big trend right now, both in fashion and interior design. Take a look at some gorgeous rooms that have embraced the blush crush.

Suzanne Kasler

by Suzanne Kasler

The new Sugar Paper boutique in Los Angeles's Brentwod Country Mart | Lonny.com

Sugar Paper’s L.A.’s Offices via Lonny Mag

widecropwm

by Roxanne Stellmacher

Beci & Raph's Most Excellent Make & Do Adventure — House Tour | Apartment Therapy

via Apartment Therapy

Below are a few of my favorite blush pink items for your home. You can add a big pop of color with the apartment sofa or the kilim rug, or add in just a few accents with the pillow or lamp. And I gave some love to the kitchen and bathroom this time by including the pink Kitchenaide mixer and the ruffled shower curtain.

 

Blush Home Decor

 

Ella Ruffle Fabric Shower Curtain, LC Lauren Conrad for Kohl’s, $70 // Robert Abbey Mary McDonald Annika Blush and Blush Parchment Accent Lamp, Lamps Plus, $373 // Modern Wall Shelf, Urban Outfitters, $29 // Kitchenaid Artisan 5 Qt Stand Mixer in Pink, Target, $350 // Clara Pressed Pink Glass Goblet, Pier 1, $9 // Michi Print by Michelle Armas, $35 for 13” x17.5” print // Hand-loomed Chevron Diamond Pillow Cover, West Elm, $25 // Rue Apartment Sofa in Petal, CB2, $999 // Sivas Wool Kilim Rug, West Elm, $599 for 8’x10’

Come back tomorrow to see how I styled a few of these items in some room designs!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Nine Things From Target You Need Right Now

Hello my dears, and happy hump day! I hope you’re all having a wonderful week so far. This weekend was a busy one for me: Saturday I helped host a bridal shower for my sister-in-law, and Sunday I attended the Go Blog Social Workshop. Both days were a blast, but by Monday I was pretty exhausted. I didn’t do a GBS recap like I did last year, but if you are following along on Instagram you can see my photos from the day. And yesterday I did not get a chance to blog because I was busy celebrating my hubby’s 29th birthday! Luckily he has a much younger wife who does not enter the last year of her 20’s for another 3 months.

My inspiration for the post today comes from wanting to show you some of my recent acquisitions for my home, two of which come from Target. So I thought, why not highlight those finds plus some other amazing items from everyone’s favorite superstore? Because I know you all love Target, right?

Target Accesssories

 

Blue Foo Dog, $13 // Blue Button Tufted Ottoman, $60 // Teal Stripe 9” Vase, $20 // Nate Berkus Gold Elephant Trinket Dish, $10 // Ceramic Hanging Planter, $15 // Black Kilim Table Runner, $18 // Nate Berkus Black/Shell 5’x7’ Area Rug, $130 // Blue Textured Line Pillow, $25 // Cream/Gold Ceramic Accent Table, $70

A few weeks ago, I bought a set of the foo dogs and the kilim table runner and I absolutely love them! The foo dogs haven’t found a home yet, but the table runner looks great in my dining room, especially with leftover blooms from Saturday’s shower on the table.

kilim runner and flowers

Target Foo Dogs

I found a few of the other items, like the ceramic hanger and the ceramic accent table, in this post from Emily Henderson about a budget room design she and her team pulled off in one weekend. Man, can that girl style a room. #jealous.

Have you found anything good at Target? Anything from this post or otherwise that you have your eye on?

Friday, February 20, 2015

My Thoughts on Best Picture

Thanks to everyone who read my post about women in entertainment earlier this week. Like I said, it was off-topic for me (although I have posted about TV and movies several times before), but I’m really proud of that post.

And as promised, here’s my thoughts on each of the Best Picture nominees. I had planned to post this on Tuesday, but I saw that Theory of Everything was out on DVD/On Demand this week, so I waited until I had a chance to watch that film before I posted. I’ve also taken the liberty of listing them in order of best to worst IMHO.

  1. Birdman: This was the first of the BP films I saw and it’s my favorite. I really enjoyed just about everything in this movie, from the storyline (has-been actor trying to find success again), to the acting (everyone is superb, especially Michael Keaton and Emma Stone), to the camera work (long, winding shots that follow conversations down hallways). I think this movie has something for everyone: it has a nice balance of humorous and serious material, and unlike a lot of critically acclaimed movies, it isn’t violent or too vulgar. It’s one of the favorites for Best Picture and it is definitely my pick.
  2. The Grand Budapest Hotel: This was just adorable. It’s actually only the second Wes Anderson movie I’ve seen, but I can see he has a very particular style which I like. I really enjoyed this movie, but it didn’t strike me as a Best Picture film. I appreciate that it was much lighter and more jovial (but still with a bit of a darker side) than the other nominees, but overall the word I would use to describe it is “cute” (in the best of ways).
  3. The Theory of Everything: I thought this film was lovely. Eddie Redmayne was remarkable as Stephen Hawking, and Felicity Jones was equally strong as Hawking’s wife. Hawking’s/Redmayne’s physical deterioration was incredible and hard to watch, but the cinematography and soundtrack really helped lift up the movie from something that could be quite depressing. A very good movie, but not quite strong enough to earn Best Picture.
  4. Whiplash: This one is kind of an underdog, but it’s a strong movie that’s worth seeing. The acting is incredible (J.K. Simmons will almost definitely win for Best Supporting Actor), which helps you get invested in the story and the characters. However, there are basically only four characters in the whole movie, and only two of them actually matter. Also, the scope of the movie is quite narrow: a young student at a music conservatory who dreams of being the best drummer in the world is pitted against an intense and unorthodox teacher who holds his student’s future in the palm of his hand. That’s it, that’s the whole movie. But it’s worth watching, especially if you have ever studied music or love jazz.
  5. The Imitation Game: On the one hand, I’m very grateful to have learned about Alan Turning and his genius and unquestionably outstanding contribution to World War II. On the other hand, it was a pretty boring movie. It builds and builds like it’s going to be great, but there’s never any suspense (we know his machine will work and we’ll win the war). And while this was a true story about a real man who was homosexual, and it is incredibly unjust what happened to him and thousands of other gay men, as a story line it felt kind of jammed in with the rest of the movie. So overall: meh.
  6. Boyhood: We rented this from Redbox last Saturday night and I’m really glad we did (versus seeing it in theaters), because it was very long, kind of boring, and at times, depressing. I do appreciate what director Richard Linklater did here, with shooting it over 12 years so we actually get to see the actors grow up over the years, but nothing much happens. I guess there is a kind of beauty in seeing an average family age and go through what an average family goes through in a decade, but it doesn’t make for a very entertaining movie. It’s worth seeing, but I would suggest lowering your expectations (maybe that was part of the problem for me, that I expected to be blown away).

So while I haven’t met my goal of seeing all the Best Picture nominees before the Oscars, I’m really happy with my efforts (6 out of 8 ain’t bad). I have chosen not to see American Sniper yet, partly because I don’t like war movies, but mostly because it looks really intense and hard to watch. I was saving it for last, but now I think I’ll wait until it’s on DVD. And I’d really like to see Selma, I just haven’t gotten to it yet/ it hasn’t been showing at the right theaters and times. So I guess I’ll wait for that to come out on DVD too.

Have you seen any of the Best Picture nominees yet? Which was your favorite? I can’t wait to see who wins on Sunday!

P.S. Here’s a perfect companion piece to Monday’s post about the lack of women in the Best Picture: 12 Women Who Had the Perfect Response to Sexist Questions from Mic.com

Have a splendid weekend, friends!