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Our Kitchen Remodel!

19 Aug

1 1/2 years ago when we bought this house, we thought, “Hey, it would be so fun to buy an old house and remodel it ourselves!” Turns out it is so much fun. Fun like a root canal. Or a pap smear. Or like getting bitten in unmentionable places by fire ants (yes, this did just happen to me). It doesn’t help that this summer has been so, so hot and rainless (but st

ill humid). My garden is dead and I don’t care. The flowerbeds are overrun with weeds and I don’t care. We started sanding down the porch to paint it and decided that we would finish it when the weather cooled down, so yes, we’re that ghetto family with a half-hanging porch swing, bits of paint sanded off the pillars, and sample colors painted on the porch.

We decided that since Sam works 12 hours a day and doesn’t have time to mow the lawn, let alone remodel a kitchen, we were going to suck it up and hire a contractor. Best. Decision. Ever. It’s still not fun, but it doesn’t involve Sam and I smolderingly staring at one another (and not sexy smoldering, more like, “I don’t want to say something I’m going to regret later”) and then quitting because it’s hot and we’re tired and we don’t want to fight over sanding technique.

I’m going to document the whole process as we go along. One of the biggest reasons why we wanted to remodel (aside from the hospital sterility of it all) is the fact that the washer and dryer were in the kitchen:

The cabinets and “decorative molding” were total handy-man specials–they weren’t going anywhere, but they also weren’t square or pretty.

The stove looked out onto the dining room. I like having the semi-open concept, but the whole layout of the kitchen was awkward and it was a little bit of a problem that the range didn’t vent anywhere. Also, those columns had to stay because they’re support beams, but we have a plan for them.


See that white closet on the red wall with the knob on it? It’s a deep, awkward cabinet that we were using as the linen closet. But it was hard to find anything because of how deep it was and how the shelving was situated. So that’s gone. We extended the closet out, so now it’s going to be big enough for our washer, dryer, and vacuum.

The kids’ room had wide bi-fold doors that opened into the kitchen. It was just a weird layout and it was hard to work in the kitchen after or before the kids were in bed because the doors weren’t great at keeping the sound out. So that is now a wall. Then they ripped out the wall that was their closet and the new entrance to their room is through their old closet door.

It’s not even done and it feels so much less weird and more like a bedroom now!

We also walled off the door to what was once the formal dining room because we’re turning that into another bedroom.

When they pulled off the cabinets, we discovered all sorts of layers of awesomeness–sheetrock (I didn’t get a pic of the red paint), red and yellow faux tile paneling, a nice, yellowed, 1950’s-esque floral wallpaper, and then the walls.

Apparently our house was built to withstand the cold war because this is what’s behind all the sheetrock:

Solid, 3/4″ wood planks.

One of the fun things about taking apart the kitchen is trying to figure out our house’s story–it looks like this back wall where the sink, dishwasher, and fridge used to be was actually once the back wall of the house–there’s framing for a big picture window and what was once probably the back door.

There’s also a story with the floors–sub-floor, hardwood floors, black and red linoleum tiles, adhesive, yellow linoleum tiles, and the light ceramic tiles that were in the house when we bought it.

So there you have it! I’ll keep updating as they make more and more progress!


>Mayhem, Dave!

13 Feb

>Things here have been crazy. They say that buying a house is one of the most stressful things you’ll ever do, and I’ll believe it! At least it’s been relatively good stress, not “I feel like my life is falling apart stress,” you know?

Anyway, last week, we had our home inspection. The inspector said everything looked pretty good, especially for an 80-year-old house, but…dum dum dum…the foundation needed repairs. That is NOT what you want to hear. So this last week, we’ve been waiting for the foundation guy, plus a couple of other subcontractors, to come take a look at some things that may need to be repaired. We were particularly worried about the foundation guy because he only comes out once a week (on Fridays), that was our big-ticket, deal-breaking item, and our inspection requests are due on Monday.

Well, the roof guy was supposed to come on Wednesday. Didn’t show. Thursday? It snowed. Friday? Still snowy and very cold. So no roof guy. The electrician was supposed to come out yesterday. No-show. So imagine my distress at 4:30 when the foundation guy still hadn’t shown up. I was a big ball of nerves. I had to change my ringtone from the Chuck theme song to something a little more mellow because everytime my phone rang, I about jumped out of my skin.

Fortunately, the foundation guy did come. Also, fortunately, the foundation is in great shape and doesn’t need any repairs. The house isn’t level, but from a structural point of view, it’s just fine. He said if it’s annoying or if we just want to have it leveled, we can, but it’s an 80-year-old foundation that has another 100 years. Phew. A lot of worry for nothing.

So we close in 9 days! I figure it’s not over ’til it’s over, and no celebrating until we have the keys in our hands, but I’m hoping we’re through the worst of it. Now onto packing…

Oh, I did have a Devil Dog incident this week. Like I said, we’ve had some CRAZY weather for Louisiana this week. I swear to you, Devil Dog’s owners are in some kind of dog fighting business and not only do they allow their dogs to roam the neighborhood freely, but they also allow them to reproduce freely. As nearly as I can tell, there are at least 2 females and at least 1 male, so there’s always at least one litter of puppies roaming with the older dogs (can I tell you how excited I am to leave this street??)

Anyway, when I came home the other day, two of Devil Dog’s puppies came bounding over and then an adolescent German Shepherd and a fully-grown, tiny, twitchy, hump-everything-in-sight mutt came running over. I’d never seen the German Shepherd or the mutt before, but they were very sweet (and cold). So we played for a little while and then I went inside. The two puppies and the other two were just huddling with each other to stay warm on our porch.

In our town, the animal shelter closes at 3:00 pm (of course…because animals stop roaming at 3:00 in the afternoon). Not wanting to send the puppies back to Devil Dog’s house, someone in the ward came and picked them up for the weekend (it’s supposed to warm up next week). I got a box and a blanket for the German Shepherd and the mutt, but even still, they were both shivering and crying on our front porch. We felt so bad for them that we brought them inside, gave them a bath and some food and water (“some” is quite the understatement–they were either starving or enormous eaters), and let them sleep in the kitchen (from which they escaped at some point in the middle of the night and proceeded to pee and poop all over the house).

Sweet as the doggies were, they had to go. I loaded them into the van and called the animal shelter to let them know we were coming and they informed me that because of the snow, no one could get up or down the hill, so no animals until close to closing time. Nuts. So I turned around, went back home, and let the animals out to pee. They promptly met up with the Devil Dogs and started running around the neighborhood. Then I saw some dude from Devil Dog’s house on a 4-wheeler (we do NOT live in the country) who seemed to be happy to see the mutt and the German Shepherd. So, assuming the dogs were indeed part of the Devil Dog pack, I let ’em go.

Well…the dogs proceeded to run through the neighborhood all day. They scratched on our door from time to time and tried to get into the car with me when I went to check on the foundation inspector. After I managed to drive away, I saw the same guy on his 4-wheeler and, being the sly fox that I am, had the following conversation with him:

Kate: Hey, do you buy any chance know who that German Shepherd and the other dog belong to?
4-Wheelin’ Guy: Nope [yeah right, dude]–I’ve seem them running through the neighborhood today, but I don’t know who they belong to.
Kate: Yeah, they were hanging out on our front porch last night and we felt so bad for them that we let them sleep in our kitchen, but we’re trying to move and can’t hold onto them until we find their owner. I wish I knew who they belonged to because I really don’t want to have to take them to the pound…
4-Wheelin’ Guy: Yeah, that would suck.

I was gone for about 10 minutes and when I got back, the German Shepherd, mutt, and ALL the Devil Dogs were not running around the neighborhood and I haven’t seen them since.

>Weekend Update

29 Jan

>So…we’re under contract on a house!!! This is it:

It is actually the very first house we ever looked at while we were house hunting. We were seriously considering it before, but passed on it because one of the bathrooms needs a lot of work. After we made the offer on the other house, we realized that the bathroom in this house would probably not be as much work as the 2 bathrooms in the other house would be, and that really, it had about 90% of what we’re looking for, so we made an offer on Monday, negotiated back and forth for a few days, and the seller accepted our counter-offer yesterday morning. I feel SO good about it–I just feel like this is the place for us. Assuming everything the with the inspection and loan go like they’re supposed to, we’ll close on February 22nd. YAY!!!

So…this leads into my embarassing moment of the month. My sister’s last name is Morgan and one of my Young Women is also named Morgan. Well, after we heard from our realtor yesterday, I went to call my sister to tell her the good news. This particular sister lives in Alabama. So anyway, the person on the other end answered the phone and said in a sweet little Southern Belle accent, “Well, good MORNIN’!” I, thinking this person was my sister, said in my fake Southern Belle accent, “Well, good mornin’ to YOU!” We then proceeded to have a sweet Southern Belle conversation. At which point I realized it was not my sister, but Morgan’s mother. I wanted. To. Die.

As for the kids? They’re good. Meredith says everything is “way ______.” Like when it gets dark at night, it’s “way nighttime.” Or her food is “way hot.” She’s obsessed with princesses, dresses, shoes, make-up (“lip sauce” is her favorite), being beautiful, beautiful things, the word beautiful. She’s such a girl.

Clark loves Transformers and Ben 10–he does some VERY serious transformations, complete with sound effects. The other day, I told him that I was sad he doesn’t like to play with his Thomas trains anymore and he said, “Well, Mom, some things are changin’.” So funny and yet it breaks my heart just a little bit. He’s gotten too big too fast!


19 Jan

>So they rejected our offer. They are not willing to give at ALL–they want full asking price, will not pay closing costs, and are selling it as is and will not include a warranty. I’m actually okay with it because it is SO inconceivable to me that they’re not willing to budge at all–I’d be more sad, I think, if we negotiated the heck out of it and ended up not getting it. But it’s just so egotistical (at least in my mind) to ask $20K more than the neighborhood comps (which sat on the market for 6 months), with a completely trashed backyard and 2 bathrooms that haven’t been touched 50 years and expect full asking price with no concessions, you know?

Back to the drawing board…a little wiser… 🙂

>House Hunters

19 Jan


So around Christmas, I got this bee in my bonnet that we needed to buy a house. To say that I’ve been scared of buying a house up until this point would be the understatement of the century–the very thought of it literally made me panicky. But one day, it’s like a light bulb switched on and we were just ready (although it didn’t hurt that Sam found out we’re going to be here for at least another 3 years). So we started house hunting. And obsessing. I swear we saw everything in our price range. We fell in love with a house only to discover the second time around that it needed a LOT more work than we were willing to put into it (and the fact that when you tell someone to turn right at the Dominoes Pizza, 2nd house past the old apartment complex, that you could probably be living in a nicer neighborhood). Knowing we couldn’t make it work in spite of the fact that the outside of the house was awesome, we very sadly and frustratedly moved on.
We found another two houses that we really liked. I made my pro-con list. Sam did not agree with my methods and made his own pro-con list. There was some yelling about whose pro-con list was better. But what it all came down to was this. How could you say no to this master bedroom??

One of our contingencies is that the ducks stay. And yes, that is a camo comforter with pink John Deere throw blanket.

Justkiddingjustkiddingjustkidding (said like Kristen Wiig). We actually did really like that house, but we liked this house better. And made an offer on it today.

It’s way bigger than it looks from the outside and I love the neighborhood, PLUS it’s super close to the Expressway which, for those of you not from here, is GOLDEN because probably my #1 gripe about this place and finding a place to live is that everything is SO spread out and unless you’re near one of the few main roads, it can be a major pain to get anywhere. The kitchen sold us–it’s huge and ALMOST has more custom cabinets than I know what to do with. Also, I’d have 2, count ’em, 2 ovens AND fridges. Be. Still. My. Heart. Pretty much the whole house has to be painted, the bathrooms HAVE to be gutted, and the backyard needs some (a lot of) work, too, but it’s all good old-fashioned elbow greasy fun, not ripping down walls and rearranging rooms, you know?

Anyway, our offer was on the low side, and I’m sure they’ll counter, but our fingers are crossed that it’ll all go through! Here’s hoping! 🙂