We listed our house a little over a week ago, thanks to an amazing market (from a sellers perspective) we had accepted a great offer within a few days. I took screen shots of the listing photos from when we bought the house and I thought it would be fun to show the before and afters to showcase the work we’ve done on our little abode.
We knew we wanted to buy a house when me moved to Seattle, and we figured we’d do another flip like we’d done in Cleveland. We were nervous however because the homes were at least twice as expensive in Seattle, and we heard of many people who were making offers on multiple homes. We rented our first three months in Seattle so we’d have time to look. Our price range was low, and I wanted a yard, a basement, large windows, two bedrooms and Tom wanted to be 20 minutes or less from work. By, I think, a miracle, we found our house. It had everything on our list (one of only three that did). We made and offer, it was accepted, and it was completely sans drama. We didn’t like the busy-ish road we were on, but knew that was what pushed the price down, and the quaint private backyard made up for the less than ideal front.
Updates: New front door (that I painted), I trimmed and repainted the garage door- which made it too heavy for our old garage door to open- so Tm installed a new garage door opener. Woops! We painted the foundation, and the trim. I also did a lot of landscaping- adding the burning bush and perennials in the bed in front of the picture windows and a sunny perennial bed at the edge of the lawn. We also put in a full sun garden bed (non pictured) and a raspberry patch!
We were immediately taken by the huge picture windows, vaulted ceiling, exposed brick fireplace, and exposed beam. Having done a flip before I immediately started seeing the potential- tear this wall down here, open this up there. . .
Of course the most obvious change was the wall color- which we painted twice. First with some left over paint from Cleveland (I was desperate to get rid of the dark navy.) And finally this Tapestry Beige when we finished the kitchen.
The largest project we tackled in this house was our kitchen. Literally three days after we moved in my sister and I tore down the wall between the kitchen nook and the dining area. As it was there was this awkward breakfast nook that was too small for a decent sized table, and then this small door way to a dining area that was too small for a dining room table. The floor and wall had gaping holes from where the wall had stood for years, but our table straddled it and I preferred the function to the form.
Over the first three years we lived here we slowly worked our way through our kitchen- first having a HUGE cantilever beam installed above to support the weight of the house, and then vaulting the dining side and opening up the wall between the kitchen and living room.
I’ve never posted about our kitchen, but it was my first large design project and since this is my private blog I’m going to boast a bit here. Thanks to our weekend warrior renovation schedule (and since my husband only gets one weekend off a month it’s more like a mono-monthly renovation schedule) it took a LONG time to finish this space. I say thanks, because that gave me abundant time to design the space. I was grateful for the time to live and use the kitchen so I really knew what our needs were. The only reason we felt secure in putting in this nice of a kitchen was because I felt secure that it was a solid investment- given the strong real estate market. I wanted to strike a balance between what would be sellable and widely liked; and what I wanted personally. I made many many sketches of this space, tweaking here and reworking there. I knew I wanted a place for my music books to go (since there wasn’t an easy way to have them by the piano) I knew I wanted a built in desk, I wanted shelves for the shoes that crowded the walkway from the front door, and I wanted lots of pantry space. It’s fun to think about the various steps of this process. We took the washer and dryer down stairs early on- which was a huge help- moving the fridge out of the walkway really helped open things up. When we moved in, the washer and dryer were behind those accordion doors. Thankfully we had just enough space to put them in our cold storage room downstairs. Which opened up the space they were in for the fridge- a real blessing since it fit a full sized fridge without jutting out past the counter! I wanted a bar, because I grew up with one, and I love the image of kids sitting up to help prep food. Eventually this plan materialized, and I’ve completely loved it. Many people have asked me since, “Is there anything you would change about your kitchen?” And in all honesty I don’t have a good answer for them. I LOVE my kitchen! I LOVE all the pull out drawers. I love that everything has it’s place. I love the built in office area. I love that there is enough cabinetry for a drawer for art supplies, and two drawers for homeschooling books and materials. I love that all my appliances fit in drawers- and don’t have to be out on the counter. Even large appliances like a Bosch mixer, Vitamix, and instant pot! I love my built in – under the counter microwave. I love my open shelves- for their character, and for the openness they lend the kitchen. I adore our induction range. I love that we left the kitchen partially closed- you can’t see my sink of dirty dishes when you walk in the front door, and I can hide anything unsightly behind that wall when I teach.
One of the things I’m most proud of in our kitchen is the windows. I had a window guy out to give us a bid to replace them, and he said that being that they were already double-paned we’d have to upgrade with a really superior window to improve their efficacy. He suggested painting them. They are aluminum windows and they just looked old and ratty. I’d started noticing a lot of black trimmed windows in home decor magazines and on pinterest and really liked their dramatic contrast. I was soo nervous when I first slapped on the paint, but the final results combined with trimming them in wood (they didn’t have any millwork before) is striking, and completely transformed the space. The windows no longer look old and outdated, but stylish and current. They highlighted one of the main features of our home, in my opinion, our huge windows!
It was fun to see these pictures because I’ve often felt bad about how little I’ve done on this yard. The greatest contribution has been a huge amount of pruning, tearing out, cutting down. I’ll never forget the look on my neighbor’s face then they saw me 6 months pregnant, out in the drizzling rain, standing on our heavily sloped terraced gardens tearing out salal and ivy. I’m pretty sure they thought I’d lost it. The entire first tier was covered in it, and I was determined to prepare it for a flower garden the following spring. I was also pretty proud of those huge loads of vines, branches, bushes, etc that I smashed into the bed of our truck and delivered to the dump without help. It was my first time “Securing a load” and again I’m sure I got many a snicker from passers by seeing this pregnant woman jumping up and down on this huge bed of branches to compact them down- so I could fit more! The men at the dump were equally surprised when I yanked and pulled with all my might to then dislodge the heavily compacted yard waste from the truck bed- almost falling into the pit at the dump several times! The above pictures don’t really show the garden vignette’s I created, but at least hint at the amount of openness and light I achieved.
The yard is my domain. I still chuckle when I remember this conversation with our neighbor, John. (Please note that John is Korean and his english carries a strong accent. This conversation occurred one summer evening when I was out finishing up yard work after I’d put the kids to bed. I believe Tom was working at the hospital that night. )
J-“You work so hard! You do all the workee, I never see your husband do the workee. Your husband a fancy man? ”
I tried to explain that my husband is not a “fancy man” but rather works very hard at the hospital, and that he does many of the projects inside. (He’s the electrician, plumper, carpenter, etc.)
While our yard was small I wanted it to have a portion of the magical outdoors my childhood yard had. It took a few years before I secured the slide I had envisioned- a cast off from a playground! Both grandpa’s helped build the fort hidden up on the hill, and careful pruning allowed for a grove of rhododendron that made for the ideal climbing environment. I hope I always remember my children swinging under our apple tree, and reading books from the hammock we hung from the plum tree. I hope I remember how’d they’d drop down to the garden and pick sun-warmed tomatoes, green beans and strawberries, or how’d they’d lie about how many raspberries they’d eaten- the red smears on their hands and faces relaying the truth. As I was mowing the lawn for the last time, I cried thinking of all the plants that had been transplants from other people’s gardens. Sister Meringer started me off with heuchera, iris, peonies, strawberries and blue bells. Sabina gave me daisies, bleeding heart, and a few I don’t know the name of, the Mitchells gave me a bag of daffodils that bright up the dismal March’s and two Allium bulbs that stretch upward like aliens right in front of our front window and give me a chuckle with their absurd placement. They gave me one patch of raspberries and another friend from Moxee gave me the others. Sue Scruggs gave me a bunch of Fuchsia. I brought cannas from Cleveland that are HUGE and stunning next to my back door. And I always cherish the little Japanese maple that my sister grafted from her own tree in her front yard! My father fortified the front bed so I could have the full sun bed I’d been pining for since we’d moved here. He put it in the week after I had Chiara, and with every shovel of dirt and loading of wood I could tell it was his way of telling me He loved me, and was proud of me and his new granddaughter. I thought of the manure the Telford’s put on our rhubarb the spring we were living in Idaho- unable to prep our garden. How I wish I could bring all these plants with me, so I could forever have those symbols of generosity and love surrounding my home.
I took pictures of the other rooms, but they weren’t included on the listing, and I’m not going to take the time to unearth them. Let’s just say there was a huge sketch of a muscled man with a machine gun on the wall of one room.
These pictures actually don’t represent the house as we lived it. Anders room is pretty true to form, it started out as the nursery until the crib was replaced by the toddler bed. What was staged as the master bedroom was Chiara’s room and our guest room. Much of the decor in the third room originally was in there. The third room had a bright green wall with thin white stripes and was decorated in blue and green for Scotland.
This room was SO fun to stage. I splurged on new bedding and pillows and it came together so sweetly. I’m so excited to let it be Chiara’s big girl room in our next house.
I love a basement. I grew up with a basement, and it’s hard for me to imagine rearing children without one. I love having a space for my kids to be wild and crazy, to leave out their intricate playmobil worlds or lego creations without it interfering with our main living space.
We made this desk (made out of a door and two book case from UW dorms, to create this office nook. Tom’s always been a fan of a BIG desk, and this fit his criteria. For a while I kept my computer down there too, but after I moved it upstairs I’ve used the other side for my sewing machine. Obviously the staging doesn’t show our typical set up down here. We never used a coffee table- preferring to leave the space open for play, and instead had that long table over near the bookcases for kids art and play. We also had two more bookcases full of books and more toys. I’ve gotta say, I’m kind of liking the limited toy set up. We cut down on our toys by probably 60% (they either got donated or put in storage). Clean up at our house is SO much easier since there are no miscellaneous toys, and everything has such a clear spot that the kids have been surprisingly adept at putting things back exactly as intended!
We had our master bedroom in the basement. I disliked the darkness of it, but it was ideal for Tom, since he so often has to sleep during the day. (We affectionately called it our mole hole.)
Well this post is WAY too long, but I wanted to jot a few of these thoughts down for memories sake. A more sentimental memory laden post should follow this at some point, but in case it doesn’t. Here’s something!