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Archive for the ‘Before’ Category

I’ve been excited to share this project with you for MONTHS. No, it hasn’t been done for months, it’s been done for about five minutes. The closing ceremonies are on Sunday, so I kind-of waited until the last minute to actually do this project… but it’s been in my head for months.

Oh gosh, do those wheels make me happy.

As you know, we’ve been working on Kenton’s “big boy” room. It is going to have a cycling theme. So, I’ve been tossing around different ideas using bike parts in the room. I got this idea a while back and Jason initially tried to talk me out of it. Where would I get bike wheels? You’ll have to buy a whole bike (three bikes!) and just use the wheels? This could get expensive, quick. Yikes!

So, imagine my DELIGHT when I stumbled upon these beauties at my local thrift store…

Three bikes. $4.99 each. WHAT?! I know. You know what’s even better? I had a $10 off coupon. So, I got all three bikes for $5. YESITSTRUE. They all happen to be the same brand and size. The gal at the register guessed I was pregnant with triplet girls. I quite enjoyed telling here there was just one baby in my belly and these bikes were about to get stripped for an art project for my son’s room. Yep, she was confused.

I got home and could barely contain my excitement as I showed Jason what I found. He was impressed! You need to understand, Jason is a cyclist. but not only does he ride a bike for exercise and fun – it’s also his main hobby. He loves scouring eBay for deals on bikes and bike parts. Many times, he’s purchased incredible bikes for way below retail, stripped them and re-sold the parts via eBay for a hefty profit. We have an ongoing agreement… I don’t care if he spends $2,000, $3,000 or even $5,000 on a bike if he’s sure he can turn a profit off of it. He always does.

So, I had the right guy on my team to strip these girls down to just what I needed.

bike guts

6th wheel

That, my friends is the 6th wheel. I’m saving her for another fun project in the room – but you can see there the toughest parts to remove (thanks to rusty bolts) – the axel, bearings and cog. Once Jason was able to get those off, there was a ton of grease in that middle hole. We spent a couple of days going through cycles of spraying them down with degreaser, wiping, rinsing, letting them dry – before we felt they were ready for the next step…

The first step, once the wheels are successfully naked from all unnecessary parts, spray them down with primer.

Once they’re dry, which takes no time at all here in Arizona, you’re ready to apply the individual ring colors.

Since the Olympic colors are not colors I’m using anywhere else in this room, I opted for Krylon’s Short Cuts, mini spray paint cans:

Aren’t they cute?

Krylon, by the way, didn’t pay me for this post. I just researched spray paint and thought this product would be best. It worked out well. I had more than enough paint for each wheel. I also shopped around for the best price on these puppies, which I found at Hobby Lobby:

Two of the colors were $3.47 and the other three were $3.27. Not sure why red and yellow were more expensive, but still – that was the best price I found.

So, the obvious next step is to start painting the wheels/rings…

The front/back was easy. The sides, however, were a little tricky. At first, I thought the middle hole would fit over a wine or beer bottle, but they were a little small. So, I jerry-rigged three beer bottles through the spokes to hold the wheels just far enough off the ground that I could spray the entire side in one try.

Bonus – after, you have artsy painted beer bottles (which went straight back into the recycling bin!).

With all sides of the wheels painted…

I let them dry for a few hours. Again, the Arizona summer “dry” heat is fantastic for fast drying. It’s not fantastic for late-term pregnancy, but I digress.

Once they were ready, we did a quick Google image consult to check the proper order… then we simply nailed them to the wall, really close together.

Since Kenton’s big boy room is not ready for these rings yet, they are being temporarily housed in the playroom. Before we move them, we’ll be looking at different methods of hanging. This isn’t necessarily the most secure – especially for a curious little boy! Anyway, here’s what they look like right now in the playroom… so you can see the size….

Yes, that’s my little “Made in the USA” future Olympian down there chasing a ball…

We’re hoping he goes for the gold someday in cycling – but his current obsession with balls may indicate another sport interest. We shall see.

Okay, here’s the budget breakdown for this project:

Bikes = $5 ($4.99 each with a $10 off coupon)

Spray paint primer = Already had

Mini spray paints = $16.75

TOTAL = $21.75

Crazy, right?!

What do you think?! Anybody else do an Olympic-theme DIY project this week?

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House-aversary #3!

We closed on “Our Dream Foreclosure” three years ago today!

then

Happy anniversary, house!

It was a CRAZY day. Six months prior, I had booked tickets to France to celebrate Jason’s 30th birthday. Our first leg – a red eye to London – left at 7:00 PM on July 17, 2009.

When we started looking at houses, we told our mortgage guy we weren’t in any rush. Besides, we still had several months left on a lease for a house we were renting. But we found “The Dream” faster than expected – and a little too close to our European departure for just about anyone’s comfort. Even though the house was a foreclosure, our deal went through really fast.

In fact, I’ve never blogged about that – so, here’s the story…

Jason and I had narrowed our house search area to a certain area… a triangle, actually…

If you’re familiar with Scottsdale, Arizona – the border on the left (to the west) is the Loop 101 freeway. The border to the south is Shea Boulevard and the border along the east, up to the north is Frank Lloyd Wright Boulevard.

We had decided that was our “sweet spot” based on where we both worked at the time. That, actually, was our number one priority… limiting our commute times. We also considered where our friends lived, where our church is located and where we generally like to spend most of our time.

The problem was, a lot of other people like this area too. In order to get a home in this triangle, we were fairly certain we would have to make some major compromises on what we preferred – size, number of bedrooms, etc.

Little did we know we would find more than we ever dreamed of right in our Dream neighborhood.

(And, no, I’m not going to give you the exact location. Sure, it would be interesting if a random psychopath showed up at our door, but no thanks.)

So, back to the day we met “her.” It was a Friday and I had arranged to see three houses with our realtor over my lunch hour. These three homes were about a mile from my office at the time, right in our “sweet spot.” Jason had a busy schedule that day and wasn’t sure he’d be able to meet us. His office was about seven miles from the neighborhood we were going to look at. I met the realtor at the first house – and Jason pulled up at the same time. I was surprised and excited to see him! It’s so much easier to see houses together.

I was REALLY excited about the first house. It had four bedrooms, two baths and 1,700 square feet. It was all on one level and had a spacious backyard. The photos in the MLS listing looked gorgeous! We walked in and my love fest continued. I really liked the house and was choosing to ignore the obvious – and major! – changes we would need to make. The kitchen was in a really awkward set up, we spent several minutes plotting out how we would demo the current kitchen and redo it. Jason started scratching the house off the list. I was upset – a kitchen demo sounded like a fun project to me! The fourth “bedroom” was actually a den and right off the main rooms… that was a downer. However, the major disappointment was that the bedrooms that our future kids would take were right on the street – and even though it was a safe neighborhood, that was a concern for me. Still, I liked the house. Jason did not.

So, we followed our realtor to the next house. It was just around the corner. I was so-so about this one. I knew it was a foreclosure and the photos I had seen online were all exterior and the house looked sad. In person, it really wasn’t any different than I expected. When our realtor opened the front door, I was shocked by what I smelled – the distinctive scent of paint and new carpet. Fresh paint? New carpet? In a FORECLOSURE? What the what? Jason and I exchanged puzzled looks. Our realtor didn’t have an explanation. We started exploring the house, room by room – and with each room it got better and better. This place was blank slate. It had five bedrooms, three baths and 2,600 square feet – so much larger than the first house and the price was nearly the same. We started to get excited. This place needed some work too, but we were both enthusiastic about the projects. However, this wasn’t the first house we fell in love with and we knew if we liked it, other potential buyers probably did too. It had also already been on the market for several months – so we knew the odds were not in our favor. We asked our realtor to call right away to see if the house had any other offers.

None. Zippo. Zero. Not one.

High-fives all around! And a quick phone call to our mortgage guy – “Sorry, we lied about taking our time. We need to make an offer NOW!” We also told our realtor we wouldn’t bother seeing the third house on our list that day!

By 5:00 PM, we had everything together and our offer was in with the bank that owned the home. The bank was located in Philadelphia – a little fact that would be crucial later. We offered about $12K under the asking price, but offered to cover closing costs. We spent the next 24 hours in bliss. We were SO HAPPY.

We already knew some of our neighbors and shared the exciting news with them. On Sunday, they called to let us know, “By the way, there was an open house at ‘your’ house on Saturday.” They had walked through and loved the house too. Our hearts sunk. An open house? Our offer was in before the open house, but not before the bank closed in Philadelphia on Friday (a three hour time difference from Arizona). We went from euphoric on Saturday to depressed on Sunday. Surely, the open house drew in more offers – and on Monday morning, they would all be at that darn Philadelphia bank. We kicked ourselves for our lowball offer and were resigned to the fact the bank would likely pick the highest offer and go from there.

On Monday, our realtor confirmed our suspicions, the open house drew in several additional offers. All we could do was sit and wait. She told us it would likely take several days. We began licking our wounds.

Imagine my shock when about an hour later, our realtor called me back. The bank honored ours as the first offer and were countering us! Their counter was just $5k over ours, and they offered to cover closing costs. What the WHAT?! YES! We accepted without hesitation and started our happy dance.

now

Later, we found out that the house sat on the market for six months without one offer. So, the bank fired the realtor and hired a new one. The new realtor took it off the market for a couple of weeks – repainted it, put in the new carpet and added appliances. Seriously! In a FORECLOSURE. Apparently, the family that lived here before liked bright, ugly colors, had six kids who ruined the carpet – and had stripped the place of appliances before they high-tailed it out. So, the new realtor painted over everything with simple white, replaced the carpet with an inexpensive beige – boring, but new – and grabbed some appliances off Craig’s List (basically, just for appearances).

The home was put back on the market THE VERY MORNING we went to see it and we were the first people who walked through. We had NO IDEA at the time.

This house was meant to be ours.

After we accepted the bank’s counter offer, we went by for another lunch hour visit that Monday. I arrived at the house first and stood in the driveway, waiting for Jason and our realtor to arrive. Suddenly, the garage door started opening behind me. I whirled around to see a sweaty man with a camera. “What are you doing in MY house?” I demanded. “Your house?” the man chuckled. “I’m the realtor trying to sell this place. I’m taking new photos for the MLS listing.” “Well, don’t bother,” I told him. “We just bought it.” He just started laughing. Apparently, it all happened so fast – the bank had not even told the seller’s agent yet.

So, three years and multiple sweat equity projects later…

Not to mention our major life changes… Kenton’s birth in May 2011 and our upcoming baby #2 set to arrive this October.

We are so blessed and love living our life within these walls.

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Since we gave you a brief look at the upstairs of our home yesterday, today I thought I’d explain a bit about what’s behind each door… and just how much work I have cut out for me before this bambino arrives.

And behind me is our master bedroom.

So, here’s what needs to happen in the next 16 weeks… In order:

Cleaning out an office is no fun. No fun at all. I found bank records from 2003. Our poor shredder is working OT. And books. All the books. We have SO MANY BOOKS. We’re going to need to get creative with that.

The sewing room has always been a “/storage room.” It’s basically holding the entire contents of a baby consignment store at the moment. Of course, I can’t get rid of anything because the child in my belly may have outdoor plumbing like his/her big brother – so, therefore, everything is currently being hoarded.

Kenton’s “big boy” room, by the way, is going to be AMAZING. In my head, if nowhere else. I have big plans… but you’ll have to wait for that. (Unless you follow me on Pinterest, then you already know.)

One of my favorite things about our nursery is that it is gender neutral. We basically just have to move out Kenton’s clothes and it’s ready for his new baby brother or sister.

So, that’s “it.” That’s all I have to do – me and my rotund belly (with the hubby’s help of course) – between now and October. Wish us luck! It’s basically completely overwhelming.

Oh, there is one more room… the bathroom.

This is our third bathroom and we’ve never used it. NEVER. It needs to be completely gutted. The shower is pulling away from the wall. The linoleum is pulling away from the wall – and it’s linoleum. The toilet is old. The mirror/vanity are outdated.

Eventually, this will be the kid’s bathroom and we will likely tackle that monster of a project this fall/winter.

Kenton takes his baths in our master bathroom, which has a fun big tub. Also, potty training is still a ways off – so, this room has not been a huge priority.

So, who wants to come over and help?! Don’t all storm down my door at once.

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Stairgate 2012

Last week, a scary thing happened. I got distracted for a few seconds and looked up… Kenton had opened a closed door and was gone. I jumped up and found him, literally, teetering off the top stair.

This top stair.

Of this staircase.

I caught him just in time.

Then, I squeezed him tight for a long time and bawled my eyes out. That was, to date, one of the scariest moments of my life. I still tear up just thinking about it.

Clearly, it was time for a major change in the Dream… the addition of a gate.

Young sir is certainly on the move…

Not only is he interested in climbing the stairs, he’s walking constantly now – but wasn’t allowed to in the upstairs hallway, because of the imposing death trap of the stairs…

We had been talking about adding a gate for a while, but the great scare – “Stairgate 2012” – was the last straw.

However, we had a problem.

We have an extra wide staircase – 5 feet wide – to be precise. So, that meant no average gate would do. We needed extra wide.

On top of that, we had a little issue with our bannisters…

They stick out just enough and are just short enough to block a simple gate installation. What these bannisters don’t realize is that I’m married to the handiest man on the planet… who devised the perfect plan to gate around these pesky beasts.

Sure, it’s not the prettiest thing in the world. But it is SAFE. And that’s what matters.

Little Mr (and his best friend) are now free to walk around upstairs without mom (or dad) having a panic attack…

The best part about the gate though, is the look of panic on the Bulldog’s face as he’s racing up the stairs and suddenly encounters an obstacle. Okay, that’s mean – but it is funny.

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The playroom is still (very much) a work in progress, but it is starting to come together…

I have put very little money into this room, which is awesome. That’s thanks, in part, to some pretty lucky thrifting finds…

I scored that little kid-sized table at Goodwill for less than a latte. Yep! Just a little bit of sanding, primer and paint…

And she was good to go…

I’m still on the hunt for two or three kid-sized chairs to go with it. I’m determined to find wooden ones for cheap… and I’m willing to wait! Which is fine as Kenton is still a bit young to actually sit at the table and do something productive.

We painted the table the same color blue as our downstairs bathroom, which is right across the hall from the play room. Also that shade of blue? The diaper storage shelf (former dish display rack) that I picked up for $12 at the Junk in the Trunk Vintage Market:

Remember what that first looked like?

It’s not quite finished either. I’m going to add a colorful fabric with elastic around the bottom shelf to hold those diapers in and add some more color.

The changing table is also a second-hand find.

We found it at a local kid’s consignment store for $30! That is so much cheaper than buying one new and even less than I could find on my local Craig’s List. And it TOTALLY beats the makeshift table we were using for a few weeks:

Pretty bad, no?

You may recall, even some of the fabric used in the embroidery hoop art is from a thrift store…

See this post for more on that.

Finally, I made a really fun find at a thrift store in Del Mar, California last week:

These sweet little mirrors – and elephant and a hippo were just $2 bucks each. We still need to find a special toddler-height spot for them, but I’m sure we will soon.

Also coming soon:

  • Replacing the non-child-safe curtains and blinds with a valance and safe blind
  • New bedding for the daybed (currently, our former guest room queen-sized duvet is making an awkward cover up)
  • Perhaps a fun paint job… (don’t tell Jason!)
  • Area rug (the carpet is taking quite a beating!)
  • DIY coloring book display rack
  • More art/wall hangings
  • ANOTHER BABY! 😉

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Okay, I’m back with more on the living room makeover… for a refresher, this is what we were dealing with…

We ditched the couch set on Craig’s List for way less than what they’re worth. There are a surplus of couches on Craig’s List. We had to keep lowering the price until we got some bites. That hurt a little, but we were beyond ready to part with these out-of-date hand-me-downs.

Once they were gone, we brought in the couch and bar we had in our family room:

The ottoman stayed and gets to hang with our new couch that I’ll reveal in a later post… but here she is in progress:

And here’s a sneak peek… and a gratuitous Bulldog shot (love getting those in when I can!)…

Anywho, back to the living room. With re-arranged furniture, the other – most OBVIOUS – thing we desperately needed to do was paint… which we did and I already described in great detail – so I’ll save you that story again.

Looking down on the living room from the stairs… here’s a brief description of what we currently have…

  • Bar – from Crate & Barrel, but we scored for 60% off retail on Craig’s List
  • Bench – saved from our neighbor’s curb on bulk trash day and DIY-reupholstered. (We’ve had it forever and I blogged about years ago – literally.)
  • Couch – already had – it was another hand-me-down. (We reap the benefit of my parents upgrading their furniture every few years!)
  • End table – I hate and will be getting rid of… but we found it at a consignment store.
  • Rocking horse – Jason’s dad made it for him when he was a baby and brought it out for Kenton. I don’t want it to get destroyed, so it sits in the living room.
  • Blue chairs – from West Elm. We scored an incredible deal on those babies the day after Christmas.
  • Coffee table – we’ve had it for a while, but I don’t think I ever blogged about it. It was a floor sample at Pottery Barn, which retailed for $599, but we scored for $159. Nice, huh?!
  • The rug – the circle rug, also from West Elm. We snagged it for cheap on eBay though.

Here are some close-ups….

The giraffe on the bar was a treat my parents brought back from a recent trip to Kenya. The wine corks in the jars are something we’ve been collecting for YEARS. (Or they’re from last weekend??? You decide.)

Why, yes, that is temporary wine storage under the bench! Nice eye.

There’s the dining room. If you’ve been reading the blog for a while, you may remember that table in the kitchen. I wanted a more eclectic dining room set, but we already had this one – so it’s sits there for now.

Nestled on this little wall between the family room and the stairs is our buffet – and an original painting by my mom. It’s of the Tour de France and was  a gift for Jason – who is a cycling enthusiast. The buffet used to sit in the dining room, but doesn’t quite fit with the current table – so now it’s here, which actually works.

The buffet is the Kipling from Crate & Barrel. It retails for $699, but we paid $75 at a charity auction. I KNOW.

So, there she is… a bit more about what’s in our living room…

We still need to do a few things…

  • Popcorn ceilings. UGH.
  • Replace the Eiffel Tower photo with an original painting, which my mom will do.
  • Find something for the entry wall.
  • Area rugs in both rooms
  • Better pillows
  • Window coverings! (That will be next…)

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All week, we’ve been (finally) painting our living room and dining room. And by “we” I mean Jason:

Remember, I’m pregnant. FUMES! (Was I supposed to leave the house when he was painting? If so, OOPSIE.

But, seriously, that room needed a serious overhaul. Here’s what it looked like just a few weeks ago:

Am I riiiiiight?

Thankfully, those couches are long gone and we got some cash instead – which paid for another couch. Long story. I’ll fill you in later.

Anywho, the point of this post is to seek some advice. We’re painting the rooms a neutral color, but the plan is to do horizontal stripes on the longest wall… which is about 25 feet long.

They’ll be about 15 inches wide, but I cannot FOR.THE.LIFE.OF.ME. get the first line straight.

I’ve been measuring from the ceiling, but apparently the ceiling isn’t even?! (WTH?)

Any ideas? Tips? Anyone done anything similar and have a suggestion that will work?

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