Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Tore Up From the Floor Up!

I stopped by the house last Tuesday (the day after receiving the keys, FINALLY) to see if the demo crew had begun demolition yet.  You can imagine after all the delays (6 weeks worth just to close) that I didn't have high expectations for any part of this process happening on time.  But to my delight, as I pulled up to the house, I noticed the huge front picture window was gone!  (It's getting moved elsewhere.)

Inside, I was surprised to see even more carnage:  The carpets were all gone on the main level and basement, the Falcon Crest stairway banister was gone and some of the drywall had been smashed in with a sledge hammer (Big Daddy will be so happy!), and the kitchen island had been taken apart.   Never was anyone so thrilled to see their house in a state of complete disarray!

Since that time, I've stopped by the house twice more and now there is nothing left inside but the lonely fridge and pulled out double ovens standing in the middle of the kitchen space.  The entire system of cabinets and counters is gone (I sold them on KSL and the guy came and took the entire kitchen down himself), the broken kitchen appliances are gone, the bathroom vanities from the main floor are gone (same guy bought those), the hideous vanity from our master closet is gone (yahoo!), the upper and lower stairs are entirely gone and there is only a gaping hole in the floor where they used to be, the light fixtures are all gone, toilets, tubs and doors are gone.  There's a hole in the kitchen wall where the built-in hutch used to be.  Pretty much every single thing is gone but the fireplaces (whose tile will soon be smashed out), spiral staircase (whose days are numbered), and the remaining kitchen appliances that still work (sort of). 

I've got to give props to Axel and his team of demolition studs.  These guys would give Mad Max a run for his money!  And to Sean Foote of Foote Construction, our GC, who is rocking it so far getting everything busted up.  

It's surprising to say, but I like the house so much better now that it is a total wreck.  The grime is so much less visible, haha!

Here are pics of some of the demolition.  Don't worry if you can't tell what you're looking at.  As the rebuild begins, I'll go room-by-room with before and afters.

We have one more wall to smash down today--the one between the future dining room and future family room.  And then they're going to start framing up the new stuff TOMORROW! I would have been skeptical that it would actually happen tomorrow if it weren't for the fact that these guys ROCK. So...join me tomorrow or whenever I get to it for a breakdown of what's going up!  (Is that called a break up?)

Friday, November 22, 2013

Getting To Know You, Part 3 - The Kitchen

They say the kitchen is the heart of the home.  In our case, the kitchen is more like the shins of our home.  Not quite at one end of the house, but close. 

When we explored this house for the first time, I knew that one thing that would have to change was the kitchen.  Built in 1996 in what was probably then a very chic, fancy style (cherry wood with lots of ornate trim), it was clearly good quality.  But SO not my style.  And the layout--all shoved into one corner with a strange angular "s" shaped island--it didn't do the baroque cabinetry any favors. 

The kitchen also had an attached breakfast nook area with a built in hutch.  Across from that room was a room that the previous owners had used as a family room but which immediately jumped out to me as a better dining room. And if we moved the dining area there, I could use all that breakfast nook space to expand the kitchen! 

So, here is what we have now, and what I hope it will be...

That's the new lay-out.   It includes a big fat island that seats 5, a double window seat by the windows, a desk and double ovens (on that top wall), and a new window in the bottom corner next to the stove.  (I made these layouts myself with a cool app called Home Design DIY).

Here's the style we're going for...

We've met with a couple of kitchen designers.  We're still waiting for bids to see how much this will break the bank.  (I don't want to know!)  But I guess you've got to spend what you've got to spend so that the shins of your home are just right.


Thursday, November 21, 2013

The House Drama That Ends With Good News

I have to take a break from the house renovation and tour for a minute to tell you that demolition is supposed to start tomorrow. And that is good!  Because we closed on the house SIX WEEKS AGO.  That is to say that we closed.  The bank who owned the house, however, toyed with us for another month and a half before they closed.  First it was about who was going to pay for the repairs our lender required to be done.  (They didn't want to, of course.  We couldn't w/o it being our house.  In the end, the repairs "magically" got done.  We won't say how.  But lets just say the bank didn't do it. )

So you'd think we could close after that 3 week delay, right?  No.  There was the resending of multiple addenda and extensions, and the resigning in ink of said addenda and extensions because e-signing wasn't good enough.  Then our loan lock expired.  We invoked our free one week extension with the assurance of the seller bank that they'd be ready with the paperwork by then.  But they weren't.  Turns out they forgot to order the title.  So our lock expired again.  And this time we had to buy the lock back, to the tune of a grand.  Thank you, Bank of America.  I. hate. you. 

Because of the re-lock fee, it changed our closing papers and we had to resign.  And then we had to wait.....wait.....wait....and hope that the seller/bank actually signed.  And finally, Monday, November 18th 6 weeks after our closing date of October 3rd, we got keys!  Hallelujah!  And it's a good thing too because I had already sold the stained glass lights on ebay a week before.  Whoops! 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Getting To Know You, Part 2 -- Main Floor Living & Dining

Of course, the funnest part of a home renovation is the before and after.  So I want to do the "before" justice.  I've taken quite a few pictures of the house--the good, the bad, and the VERY ugly.  And I want you to see it all so that you can really appreciate how great it is when it's done.  I'm going to try to get the video camera working so I can do a video home tour too, but let's start with a few still shots of the interior for now...

The entry.  No, let's back up.  The porch.   No wait, I have to back up one more step.  Me.  So, I love quirky. Our first Little Pink House was so charmingly quirky.  We loved it. So one of the things that drew us to this house was the fact that it also had a lot of quirky elements.  Most of them are good, but one that makes no sense at all is the front porch. 

We suspect that whoever built this house was their own architect.  Because who installs this huge picture window on the front porch with a view of....the stair treads?  Bizarre. It's almost like the staircase was an afterthought!

And in that corner behind the staircase's curve?  An isolated, unreachable area.  A triangle of hardwood floor that you can't reach or get to.  You can guess how clean that is!

Just inside (after you trip on the bottom step) you notice the giant, sweeping, curved staircase and massive brass chandelier. 

Big Daddy HATES the staircase.  Like, HATES it.  I'm not really sure why.  He keeps referencing Falcon Crest with a snear.  I don't care for the country-style spindles either, but other than that, I'm OK with it.  But this will be one of the first things to go.  It will be converted to a switchback style with a window at the landing.  Honestly, it's not a priority for me, but it's a big deal to him.  Compromise, people.  That's we rock at this marriage thing!   Here is what we're picturing for the new staircase...

The next thing you notice inside the front door, after you trip on the bottom step, is the amazing living room.   (This is the view from the living room toward the front door.)

(This is the view from the front door into the living room.)


One of the real jewels of the house is this 2-story tall room with the 2-story tall windows.  (Which you currently can't see out of because the bushes are so overgrown. But in theory they give a nice view of the backyard waterfall and pond. ) And there's a fireplace which is now surrounded by pale pink faux marble tile, but which will someday be a gorgeous centerpiece.

We plan on using this room as a library/music room.  I will need some SERIOUS inspiration to make it work, but we don't want it to be a formal living room with couches.  For one, it's right next to our master bedroom and we don't want it to become a hub for the children and their noises/messes.  And 2), the family room is right next to it.  Why have two living rooms back to back?  It makes no sense.

This is where the living room bleeds into the current formal dining room, soon to be our family room.  



It has these gorgeous coffered ceilings.  It also has a hideous brass chandelier.  (Ebay anyone?)  This room will become our family room. We will wall in the back area to separate it from the living room/music room.  We will remove the doors to the back yard and put in a big window.  Then we will move the dining room to the next room down, the one right off the kitchen, and punch out the wall between the two rooms to create a more open dining/family room.

This is the future dining room (currently used as a family room).

You can see how it is right off the kitchen, so it really makes more sense to have that be the dining room rather than the room next to it down the hall.  Of course we'll rip the carpeting out.  But I love the idea of a hearth in my kitchen/dining room, so we'll leave the fireplace and just update that hideous pink granite tile surround. 

These doors will stay and will eventually lead out to a nice covered patio.  The wall to the right will get knocked out to join the dining room up with the future family room on the other side of it.

The future dining room has this random spiral staircase in it.  Big Daddy is NOT a fan.  But mostly he's not a fan of the staircase itself--seeing as how it is ugly, dirty, missing spindles, and is very old fashioned.  He wanted to get rid of it altogether, but I luh-luh-love the quirkiness of having a spiral back stairway there, so I promised to have it updated if he would let me keep it.  So he gets his new front stairway and I get to keep my back stairway.

Ok, I think that's enough for today.  Tomorrow...the kitchen!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Why We Love Will Someday Love Little Pink House III

I know you're expecting to see pictures of the inside of Little Pink House III today.  But I didn't have time to upload all the pictures.  So instead I'll tell you about why we chose to buy this house.  First let me describe to you what I first thought when I went inside Little Pink House III...

"WHAT A DUMP!  It's exactly what we were looking for!"

Because we have non-standard taste for Utah, we knew it would be next to impossible to find a pre-built house to suit our taste.  And sure enough, both style-wise and layout-wise, we couldn't find anything we liked.  So the option to find a fixer-upper became more and more attractive the longer we looked.  I had no idea how much of a fixer upper our future house would be!

When I tell that you this house is filthy, I can't stress it enough.  It's like 12 grubby toddlers and 20 puppies and 2 college fraternities who all have pet pigs have lived in it for 10 years and no one ever cleaned up ANYTHING.  Every carpet looks like someone was murdered on it.  Every light switch, door handle, and wall is covered with ketchup smears, finger prints, grease, grime and other things I don't want to know about.  There are holes in walls and doors, stickers and writing on most surfaces in the bedrooms.  The kitchen is all banged up, greasy, stinky and icky.   Toilet seats are broken.  Tubs are stained.  The dishwasher looks like fires were set inside it.  NO LIE.  The yard is so overgrown that hardly a window is visible and the grass is all completely dead.  The algae on the pond out back is so thick my daughter thought it was grass and tried to walk across it! 

Why on earth would we want this house, you ask?  BONES.  It has excellent bones!  Great spaces, a few amazing features like the coffered ceiling and the spiral staircase and the huge 2 story tall windows.  Excellent light.  Wonderful potential.  AND it has a big 1/2 acre, west facing lot, on a quiet street WITH a few established trees!  It's in my kids' current school district.  And although we don't know the neighbors yet, about 1/2 the neighborhood was built in the last 5 years, so that bodes well for there being young kids around.  And the price is right.  It's a foreclosure, and with the condition it's in, we are getting it at a price low enough to allow for pretty beefy renovations.

That is all relative, of course, once you start adding up the items that need to be ripped out and replaced:
1 Kitchen
5 bathrooms
1 master closet
2 staircases
20 doors
miles of crown molding
hundreds of yards of carpeting
dozens of awful light fixtures
8 panels of mirrored sliding closet doors
3 garage doors
3 windows
a few horrible pine trees
loads of overgrown weeds and shrubs
2 furnaces, 2 water heaters, 2 air conditioners
a dishwasher, a stove, possibly a fridge and 2 ovens

There's the waterfall/pond to be mucked out, the driveway and back patio to be resurfaced, the sod to be replaced (and undoubtedly a sprinkler system in need of repairs), honestly the list goes on and on and on!  But remember the bones.  The fantastic bones!  And the great spaces.  And the lot.  The lot is key.  So keep the faith.  It's all going to turn out great!  (Right???)

Friday, November 15, 2013

Getting To Know You

I'm sure you're all sick of the blah-blah-blah posts and want more of the PICTURES ALREADY posts.  So without further ado, let me give you the grand tour of Little Pink House III (starting with the exterior today) ...

This is the front:

You can't see much of it.  Whoever owned it before this just let it grow wild.  Trees, shrubs, self-seeding junk trees/bushes, and weeds were all left to run amok.  (Is that really how you spell that??)  The grass was left to die completely.  The pond in the water feature out back is so covered with algae that Daphne thought it was grass and tried to walk across it!  She fell in up to her knees in swamp water. Nary a basement window can be seen through the jungle of bushes.  The house has huge 2-story picture windows in the living room that "look out" onto the back yard, but really just look out onto bushes.  So here is a picture we found on the county website of the house when it was first built...

This house is VERY 1990's.   It's peach colored stucco with some brick, it has those arched windows that were completely the rage in the late 80's to late 90's.  The shape is very what I call "90's behemoth" like a bear hunching over with its face low to the ground and it's giant back all that's visible.  You can't really tell in these pictures because they're all taken from street level looking uphill.  But this digital picture will show you what I mean...
The backyard has serious potential.  It is not huge, but it is good-sized.  It has some trees on it--a few fruit trees and some other unidentified small trees. It has a flat wide area just behind the house with a patio made of two un-matching materials, and a rock waterfall that feeds into a swamp that will one day be a lovely koi pond.  And then it slopes up about 8-9 feet with a small plateau at the top, enough for a few more trees.  And there's a gate that leads directly out onto a running trail!  Behind that, just woods.  And two or three house lengths down, a park.  So no backyard neighbors, woot! 

(Rock waterfall and pond area)
One final exterior feature that should be mentioned is the Land of Desolation out behind the master bedroom. It currently looks like this...
We suspect there use to be a patio here.  The 2 steps leading down to this area are sunken and cracked, so probably whatever was here was sunken and cracked too and got ripped out.  Someday we hope to make it a nice deck with a hot tub built in.  Right off the master bedroom?  Hell to the yes!  But probably not for a loooong time.
So that's the exterior.  We hate the general look of the house, but we have great plans to change it entirely.  Those are coming up in a couple of days.  What we do love is the location of the house--the neighborhood, distance to the freeway, proximity to stores/gym/school--and the fact that it's in a good neighborhood on a quiet street.  We love that it has some trees.  The yard is old enough to have a little character.  We love that it has the running trail behind and no backyard neighbors.  We love the size and space of the house.  We love that there is so much potential.  So it'll take a lot of work to whip this jungle of a yard into shape, and to reinvent the look of this house (think Craftsman meets Coastal Contemporary).  But in the end, I think we're going to love it!
Join me tomorrow for Part 2 of Getting To Know You: "Getting To Know All About You" (The Interior). 

How We Found Little Pink House III

So here's a little history on our new house, Little Pink House III....

Like I said yesterday, we moved to our rental (Little Green House) knowing it was temporary.  We wanted to find a place to settle that was between Big Daddy's work and his clients (spread across the Salt Lake Valley and Utah County to the south) but we didn't know where that place was.  We wanted a nice neighborhood, somewhere we could raise our kids.  Somewhere we could put down roots and make friends.  Somewhere with big trees hopefully (which are hard to find in Utah).  Somewhere that our neighbors weren't selling meth out front (i.e. Little Pink House I).   We weren't sure what city that was, let alone what neighborhood, but as soon as we drove down the street to check out Little Green House, we knew we were getting close.  Huge Chinese Elms hung over the streets.  The town had an old feel to it, some history.  The houses weren't all cookie-cutter brown stucco and stone.  It was smack dab between Big Daddy's work and his clients.  It just felt...right.

So we moved in and set into motion Phase 1 of our house hunt:  looking for a house very nearby for us to buy. We're picky.  Actually, that's not true.  We just don't have the taste that 95% of other people in Utah have, which makes us seem picky when it comes to house hunting.   Big Daddy and I like modern.  And we like Craftsman, which was the original version of modern.  Craftsman is just starting to appear here a little bit.  Modern?  Forget it.  It might as well be the bubonic plague to Utahans.  So trying to find a bit of chrome amongst all the wrought iron, some red amongst the beige, some concrete amongst the slate, some white amongst the knotty alder....well, you might as well have been asking for the moon.   After looking at dozens of boring beige stucco and stone, Old World European/rustic cookie cutter spec homes, we decided to move to phase 2 of our house hunt:  finding a lot to build our dream house.

Commence 9 months of fruitlessly searching for a lot that was A) west facing.  If you don't know, west facing lots are THE BOMB DIGGITY.  The front faces into the sun in the afternoon and evening, leaving the Eastern back yard all shady.  Utah summer sun is HOT, and having a BBQ at an East facing house (with a west facing back yard) is like cooking burgers on the surface of the sun.  Plus with a west-facing house, in the winter your front walk and driveway snow get melted off by the sun! It's perfect.  B) In a nice neighborhood (i.e. median age between 30-40, lots of kids, preferably no drug dealers next door.  C) on a quiet street.  Somehow all of our houses have been on fairly busy streets.  We wanted a street without major through traffic.  D) preferably having established trees.  I'm from Michigan, people!  I need me some GREENERY!    E) Oh, and the lot should be decent sized, say 1/3 to 1/2 acre.   E) And it should be in our budget.   That little thing.  But that's not much to ask, right?    Well APPARENTLY it is.  We found two lots that came close to being what we wanted, but one was too expensive.  The other had neighbors who may or may not have turned out to have been heroin dealers.  One neighbor was surely the long lost second Sanford Son. 

So we began Phase 3 of our house hunt: Widening the search to include already-built houses way under market value but needing a lot of TLC so as to be ready for us to put our own touch on them.  Ha! That had about an icicle's chance in hell, right?  Well, as it turns out that was a lot easier than buying a turn key house we liked or finding a lot that suited our needs.  Within about a month of opening up our search to include renovation houses, we found Little Pink House III.    I'm not sure what made us want to see it. The pictures online showed the worst parts and neglected the few truly amazing elements.  The outside was hideous.  But for some reason I was drawn to go see it. And once Big Daddy and I walked through, despite how scary the house was in so many ways, we looked at each other and said, "I think this is it." 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Little Pink House III- A history of Little Pink Houses

This was our first house, a little pink house.  Salmon, really.  But close enough.  (And if you love John Mellencamp the way my husband does, you'll appreciate the reference though the color might not be quite accurate).

We bought our first Little Pink House when we first got married.  It was built in 1895 and it was very very neglected.  What you see in this picture is after years of lovingly restoring it.  It was so charming.  So full of character.  And SOOO lacking in any kind of modern conveniences.  Like closets.  Or garages.  Or heating!  So after 8 years, and 2 kids, we moved.  We moved to Little Pink House II.  

It was technically not pink either.  Kind of a pinkish-red brick, maybe.  But we brought our third child home to it, so it counts. It also brought us forward an entire century!  A/C, check!  Central heat, check!  3 car garage, check!  Decent neighborhood, check!  Charm....um, no.  Style....uh, not so much.  It wasn't our forever house.   So last year we moved here...

This is not a Little Pink House either.  It's green, for one thing.  And it's a rental.  It's soooo cute!  It brought us forward into yet another century, the 21st!  But, we knew when we moved here that this was not our forever house either.   Love the white kitchen, huge hidden pantry and modern styling though I might, this was a stopping over point to finding our final resting spot.  (Boy, that sounds morbid!  But you'll understand when you see Little Pink House III).  

This is Little Pink House III.

I know what you're thinking. "It's not pink."  Or maybe you're thinking, "I can't see it!"  Ya.  That's one of it's many problems.    It's covered over by years of weeds and bushes and lack of love.  The inside is worse.  But we're going to love it back to life.  (If we ever close on it.)  Tune in tomorrow for the next installment of Little Pink Houses III!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Something's Gotta Give

Wow.  Seriously, wow.  4 months.  It's been 4 whole months since I blogged.

I think I have started the last 10 posts with some exclamation similar to this, substitute the length of time since my last post (gradually getting longer).  I should probably stop being so surprised that I haven't blogged much.

I blame Facebook.  BACK IN THE DAY (Ye Auld Year of 2010), when all of us young moms were childless/with child/with non-mobile babies/with barely-mobile toddlers (or at least that's how it seemed) we had LOADS of time to blog.  And we were stuck at home with said bellies/babies/toddlers and no connection to the outside world.  It was like a worldwide epidemic of Castaway!  Blogging was our lifeblood.  (Am I speaking for anyone else here, or was it just me?)

And then came Facebook, or "Mini-Blogging" as I like to call it.  I remember the first buzz of Facebook.  By then I had a couple of non-mobile and mobile babies.  But still somehow had a bit of time on my hands to blog.  But I did not have time on my hands to blog AND update the minutia of my life constantly, not to mention read about the far more meaningless minutia of friends constantly on this new-fangled thing called Facebook.  I was doing just fine with my blog, thankyouverymuch, and didn't need another time-suck.  (Just so you know, Friends.  I LOVE your minutia now! Don't get your feelings all hurt.  That was then.) 


My blog is dead, I spend LOADS of time on that time-suck Facebook, plus Words With Friends, Instagram, the occasional odd email (and Twitter?  Oh please don't bring up Twitter.  I. Just. Can't. Go. There.), and now 3 HIGHLY MOBILE children with ridiculous things like hobbies, and homework, and friends.  Pshht!  Forget blogging!  Who has time to blog?!? 

Well, I do.  No I don't.  But I finally have a purpose to my blog and AM going to reinvent myself, ditch emailing, ditch Facebook, ditch friends, family, eating, breathing, sleeping (no, not sleeping)....I am going to blog about my new house renovation!!!

Who's excited?!?  (I see you all with your hands raised.)

Ok, tune in tomorrow for the first installment of Little Pink Houses the Third!