We disappeared and why we’re back.

We gave you a house tour in Sept 2015 and it was only our 4th post before we disappeared.  We had to for a variety of reasons mostly existential in nature I guess.  I’m a big time blog reader and the more I read, the less I felt I could contribute to the blog space.  I mean how could I, I’m not an interior design guru, I don’t have mad construction chops – all I had was a first house that I was hoping to make into our own.  Hell, I didn’t even have an Amazon affiliate account!

But as I tried to make changes that mimicked what I saw on blogs, I found myself constantly buying things.  I found myself going through “round ups of what to buy” from every blogger everywhere.  I get it, its a money maker but I got into DIY to make things, not just buy them.  One of our first purchases for our home were some pendants from Rejuvenation.  I love them but they were expensive and I knew if I were to replace all the lights in our home, well I would either be quite broke or I’ll have to wait forever.  So I started searching on how to make my own lights.  That’s when the light bulb literally went off.  I actually started making lights that were COMPARABLE to those you find on Rejuvenation, Triple Seven Home, School House Electric.  Yes I can and I did!  Kristen told me I should sell the lights I made but I had a better idea.  Why not empower people to make their own?  I mean isn’t that what blogs and DIY is all about?  This could be where I could make a difference.  Imagine someone who goes through these amazing blogs but can’t afford a Cedar and Moss sconce, well, I can’t make ANY light, but there are some nice ones I can definitely pit together for sometimes a quarter of retail and I can’t wait to put these plans together for this little space on the internet.

Since our last house tour, we’ve made many many updates to the house.  We’ll shoot another tour soon so that you can enjoy all the before and afters that we have!  Well, this was meant to be a short hello we’re back post so I’ll let you get back to your regular scheduled program but a couple of things to look out for these next few weeks that we’re intending to blog about:

  1. DIY semi flushmount lights (we made fancy lights for our upstairs hallway!)
  2. DIY kitchen sconce
  3. Commentary on our new sofa from Article (formerly known as Bryght – not affiliated, just an honest opinion!)
  4. Living with our open kitchen shelf (and loving it!)
  5. Staining stair banisters

Talk you you all soon!

 

Finally a House Tour!

Kristen and I apologize for being absent from this blog.  We were in the throws of moving in and let’s just say it has been a whirl wind!  Well, we finally managed to get a video of the new digs for the internet world to see so here it is!  Hopefully this gives you a better idea of how the home is laid out and we can’t wait to update you on all the changes we intend to make to this place – after we do all the fixes we need to do!  So here’s our house… enjoy!

Favorite Etsy Artists

Favorite Etsy Artists

Part of interior design is filling your home with art and I truly believe that art makes a house a home.  You may not know this about me, but I love to paint.  In fact, many of the pieces we have at home right now are originals painted by me!  Originals that only Kristen would buy, but hey, at least I can tout that I have originals!  I’d had hope to show some of my art in this post but everything is packed in boxes right now!  Well, just gives me an excuse to dedicate to whole post to home made art!

All that said, I love browsing Etsy for art because it is not only affordable, its by someone who may or may not be a full time artist but more importantly, its by someone who has something unique to say that hasn’t been pushed through galleries or mass printing.  Sure the Audrey Hepburn canvas from Ikea is nice, but I’d bet a pretty penny that thousands of folks have that hanging on their living room walls.  So here are some of my favorite Etsy artists right now.  I’m definitely teetering over which ones I should buy for the new home – choices choices choices!  I wish I could get them all!

–  Definitely a blogger favorite!  I love her work that uses strong muted colors like blues, blacks and greens.  They stand out well on a neutral wall.  I also love her theme of the hidden face (which is common amongst some of the other Etsy artists I’ve highlighted) – there’s just something mysterious about that draws you in!
–  I first came across Kai Samuel Davis on another blog and fell utterly in love.  His pieces showcase so much movement that it bring life to a wall.  It makes you want to look a little deeper to figure out what’s going on.  Love it!
–  I love David Llyod’s figure abstracts – especially the ones painted from behind (see my love for the hidden face??).  I’m not an art aficionado but there’s just something about his figure paintings that scream sophistication.
–  I hate to beat a dead horse but do you see my obsession with the hidden face?  Add that to my love for hair styles and Elizabeth Mayville is my kind of artist!  I love the neutral backgrounds she uses – all this just makes her subject pop that much more against a neutral wall.  Pair this with some more neutral pieces and you have a really attractive gallery.
–  I actually came across this piece on Framebridge‘s site and I think the quirkiness of this piece would look great in a home office!
–  Young House Love first introduced me to Samantha French and really what’s there not to love?  Its bright, vibrant and the rippling water just makes you wish you owned a pool!  (We don’t own one so we might end up jumping into our bathtub instead!)
–  Again, hooray for the quirky – something that is a little less serious but always beautiful.

Planning Projects

What’s a girl to do when she’s waiting to close on the house?  Plan plan plan projects!  The house we bought is pretty move in ready but we have a long list of projects that we want to tackle – some of them DIYable, others are definitely more contractor friendly.  I’ve been keeping a list on Evernote for the past month and every time Kristen logs in, she says that the list has grown longer and that we’ll never finish all of it before we move to our next home (which will be in at least a few years).

So with this long list of projects ranging from finishing up the basement to changing (almost all!) the light fixtures to demoing walls – how do you decide what projects are worth tackling and what aren’t?  Well, Kristen and I have created a couple of quick litmus test questions to ascertain if a project is going on the “to-do” list or the “well, we may never get to that” list.

  1. Does it add value to the home?  And is this value similar to the amount spent?  Not all projects add value to homes.  Not all projects add the same amount of value you spent.  Since this isn’t going to be our forever home, we are cognizant that if we choose to do something, we do hope to get something back from it.  For example, we do intend to change out the floors because cheap laminate and carpet aren’t going to cut it for us.  Are we getting the best hardwood possible?  No, because this isn’t a neighborhood that will pay back on that.  Are we going the laminate route?  Probably not, unless it looks and feels really good.  We’ve already looked at some floors and will likely land on an engineered hardwood because its cheaper than hardwood but looks and feels better than laminate.  In our neighborhood, if we had to sell our home, I think we would at least get back what we would spend on the floors.
  2. Is this project too specific to our taste?  We all want to make a home “our own” but sometimes making it too specific could detract from your home’s value instead of adding to it.  We love the modern elements but realize that we are living in a more traditional suburb in the midwest so encasing the entire living room in glass isn’t an option.  One of the projects we have on our list is to change out some of the exterior doors (laundry door, front door, and back sliding door).  We’ve looked at some beautifully modern ones but decided that we are going with more traditional ones to maintain the traditional American look of the home.
  3. Are there cheaper ways of achieving the end result?  One of the things we want to do is replace the small half bath door with a sliding door to maximize square footage of a very small bath.  Sure we would love to have a pocket door, but that would mean cutting holes in walls and getting a contractor in.  So we decided on adding a sliding barn door instead.  Same result but way less money.

I’m sure that there are more questions to be asked for each and every project but starting out with some basic questions will help frame your perspective when approaching each project.  Happy DIYing!

Our Home Buying Story

Screen Shot 2015-08-26 at 2.09.23 PM

We moved from Massachusetts to Indiana in 2014 and knew quite literally no one.  Fast forward a year later, we knew a couple more people but were still pretty green about all things Indy.  When we decided to get a home, we didn’t know any great realtors, online reviews were spotty at best and so we found our realtor on Zillow.  We picked one with good reviews and who was a “premier agent” with a healthy number of sales.  Would we do that again?  Probably not.  You see, realtors on Zillow pay to advertise on Zillow.  They probably have clients falling into their lap every day, most of whom won’t pan into actual sales.  As such, we felt we didn’t get enough attention or help especially as first time home ignorant buyers.  Sure our realtor showed us the houses we were interested in, but he didn’t make recommendations on homes we might be interested in or even provided us comps when we decided on the house we wanted to make an offer on.  I’m not sure if realtors even do this or if HGTV has skewed my expectations of a realtor.  When we do this again however, we’ll definitely do a lot more research into the realtor we decide to use.

Anyway, we were an easy sale.  We made an offer on the 2nd house we saw.  I wanted to go in lower, Kristen wanted to go in higher, our realtor wanted to go in at a price that would seal the deal faster I assume.  We went in somewhere in the middle and after a couple of counters, we settled on a price I could live with.  Home inspection scheduling was a doozy because the sellers were getting married and going on their honeymoon!  Weird timing to sell a house but we were nice about it and pushed the inspection back and gave the sellers over 2 weeks to get back to us on our requests.  We also pushed closing back a week even though that’s really going to make moving really tight (and probably more expensive) for us.  If there’s something I learned from all this, its that you should (1) take time to find a good realtor, no seriously ask around – friends, family, strangers! (2) be nice to your sellers but don’t be doormats and (3) inspect the house with your home inspector!  Gosh I can’t tell you how much I learned during those 4 hours with our lovely home inspector (Shout out to White’s Home Inspection!) and how much we were able to negotiate because we knew what we were talking about!

Well its about a month before we officially close and get the house so fingers crossed it all goes well!  The photo is a picture of the house from good ol’ Google Maps!

Another home/DIY/interior design blog??

You’re probably wondering why I’m writing this blog.  I mean there are a million other home blogs out there – many of whom I love and follow religiously – so why another blog?  Most blogs I read have amazing before and afters, many of them have been doing DIY for years, its almost second nature.  I find myself very often scrolling to their very first post to see where they started, to learn the very basics.  What kind of primer do I use?  How do I change a light fixture?  What kind of light fixture goes with a round table?  Curtains or blinds or both?  Simple questions perhaps but I’d bet a dollar (maybe more!) that a lot of people still have these questions.  All that said, because many of these blogs are so established, they sometimes don’t incorporate some new fangled technology that new home owners have access to – the ever illusive smarthome.

So here’s where I see myself and my blog.  Its for people like me, people who are new to DIY, who are new to owning a home, but would also like to incorporate some of the recent smarthome features that we read about.  So this is why I’m writing a blog.  We plan to update this blog 2 – 3 times a week.  I hope you continue to read on and get to know us as we get to know ourselves through this process.

Hello!

IMG_1223 Hi everyone – we are Kristen and Cheryl and we will be moving into our first home in Sept 2015.  We’ve been renters since we graduated from school so this is our first foray into home ownership – all its joys and tribulations!

We’ve been reading a ton of blogs and we love how folks document their “house-to-home” journey and we’ve learned so much that we feel we’ll be able to make some of these changes ourselves!  Just so we’re all clear on the starting point we’re at, we are terrible DIY-ers.  In fact, the only real DIY we’ve done is to hang paintings and take them down.  No seriously, we tried to make a frame once and we couldn’t get the screws all the way through the wood without stripping them.  Needless to say, we gave up.

With an actual house that we can make actual changes to (there is a severe limit to how much you can do as a renter), we’re excited to get this part of our life started!  I – its Cheryl speaking here – am far more DIY ambitious than Kristen is but you’ll hear from us both I’m sure.  My posts will hopefully be filled with stories of amazing befores and afters while Kristen’s might be filled with all the DIY failures I’ll try my best to hide!

So anyway, we’re glad to be on the blogosphere and documenting what we do and what little we know so come along for the bumpy ride!