Why We Decided Not to Move

Last week I shared a post where I briefly mentioned that we had considered moving. The decision to stay in our blue house was not an easy one, and it was definitely a decision where we considered multiple factors. Arriving at the decision to take on adding two expensive outdoor features (pool and detached garage) was not easy. In fact, we spent years studying the housing market in our area, crunching numbers, and weighing the pros and cons. Ultimately, we decided that moving was not our best option. I’m sure I’m not the only adult who has faced (or is currently) facing life-altering decisions regarding whether or not to sell, so I thought it might be helpful if I shared a few of the deciding reasons we decided to stay.

Location, Location, Location

Our county is fairly large for our area, and moving to a different location within our county would drastically affect where we live. Currently, we can be to the interstate in 7 minutes. Our county has several interstate on ramps in different areas, and the one we live near gives my husband an extra 40 minutes every single day. That time adds up over the course of a week, month, or year. Not only are we near the interstate, we have an easy drive to the interstate with zero traffic lights. We are also five minutes (or less!) away from Walmart, multiple grocery stores, Hobby Lobby, our favorite movie theater, my gym, restaurants, and multiple family members. In my family, we’re the nearest to my grandmother who was just diagnosed with dementia. Knowing that I can be to her in three minutes is priceless. Our subdivision is also just outside of the city limits, but there is one house within our neighborhood inside the city limits. Because of that one house, our entire subdivision is zoned to receive city services without the higher taxes. In addition to all of the above, we have wonderful neighbors and live in a community where I feel safe. All of the homes in our neighborhood are well maintained with spacious lots. I just can’t imagine finding a better location.

Numbers

There were a lot of numbers that factored into our decision-making process. First, we have a fair bit of equity in our house. This was the trickiest part of the number game to consider. Having equity meant that we could cash in the equity on this house in order to upgrade to a house that met more of our wish list items. (More about our wish list in a moment.) However, equity also meant that we had a safety net and a low monthly mortgage payment. Selling our house and cashing in on the equity was a gamble that I wasn’t willing to take without doing my research first. So, I spent a couple of years watching the market. Housing prices in our county have remained steady – and honestly a little high – for the past few years. Our blue house wasn’t in the best shape when we purchased it, so we bought it for a low price. Finding another low-priced house that met our needs just wasn’t financially feasible. Similarly, purchasing land and building wasn’t fiscally responsible either. Numbers don’t lie, and they were telling me that we needed to stay in our blue house in order to live comfortably within our means.

Flipping?

I should mention that we also considered selling this house, moving into a smaller house, and flipping it for a quick profit. This was not an ideal solution for a number of reasons. First, I don’t want to downsize just to upsize again in a year or so. That would mean storing our furniture or selling it all just to repurchase something similar. Second, neither of us wanted to put in the labor required to flip another house. Getting our house ready to go on the market would take considerable work, and then we’d have to deal with keeping it spotless until it sold. I can’t even imagine having to get our 3 pets out of our house each time someone requested a showing. Then, we’d have to sell things, move, and completely renovate another house while living in it. This is not the quality of life we want for ourselves, so this option was quickly eliminated.

Wish List

No house is perfect. Even a house built just for us would have flaws. When considering moving, we had to take a hard look at our house and the areas in which we wished it could improve. In no particular order, our wish list for this house included:

  1. More garage space.
  2. A larger dining room.
  3. Separate office space for me.
  4. A pool.
  5. A larger laundry room.
  6. A second living room space for gaming and family gatherings.

However, our blue house has so many wonderful features that I have not seen in similar houses in our area, such as:

  1. A very large master suite.
  2. A completely renovated master bathroom that suits our needs and taste.
  3. A gas stove.
  4. A perfect location.
  5. A large, flat corner lot.
  6. A large, fenced-in yard.
  7. A color palette, fixtures, and furnishings that we chose for ourselves.
  8. Just the right amount of square footage.
  9. Potential to grow.

When you compare the lists, there’s obviously more to love about this house than there is to dislike. Plus, we knew we could overcome the majority our house’s shortcomings through renovations. Adding a pool and detached garage would solve numbers 1, 4, and 5 on our list. We could expand our laundry room into our attached garage if we no longer needed that garage closet space directly on the other side of the laundry room. We can gain a second living room space by finishing the bonus room space above our current garage. And, we can swap my office and dining room spaces if we find that we need more space in those areas. The sunroom I use as my office is long and narrow, which would accommodate our dining room table. The current dining room has more wall space that would help me to gain better office storage while also separating my workspace from our living area better. Alternately, I could use some of the bonus room space for a totally separate office space.

When we thought about our home desires, we realized that we already had everything we needed right here. Not only did our house have the potential to meet all of our wish list items, it just makes financial and practical sense to stay here. In our first house, we tackled every project with the resale value in mind. Even the paint choices in our first house were selected with the future buyer in mind. It paid off, but we never totally felt at home there. In our blue house, we made decisions for us, and it feels like home.

Backyard Inspiration: Pool & Outdoor Kitchen

We’re considering tackling a LARGE outdoor renovation later this year that would entail adding a pool and a large detached garage to our yard. We have just under two acres in our subdivision, so we should have enough room to add these projects. Arriving at the decision to take on adding two expensive features was not easy. In fact, we spent years studying the housing market in our area, crunching numbers, and weighing the pros and cons of moving vs tackling a large backyard renovation. Ultimately, we decided to tackle the renovation instead of moving.

The plan is to add a fiberglass pool with a saltwater system as well as a detached garage on the side of our house. This allows us to keep the footprint of our large, fenced-in back yard. Our lot is one of the largest in our neighborhood, and the land directly beside our house is the largest and flattest making it the best option for the pool and garage. Plus, it’s a considerable distance from our septic tank and field lines. The garage will house a large workspace for vehicle maintenance and tool storage, loft storage, pool storage, a closet for my business storage, a bathroom, and outdoor kitchen. Yes, we’re hoping to cram a ton of function into this space! The bathroom, kitchen, and pool storage areas will be accessible from the pool. The tool and business storage areas and workspace will be accessible from a garage door facing the road. So the pool and outdoor living areas will be separate from the work and storage spaces.

We still have a lot to figure out, but I thought it would be fun to share some inspiration!

Clockwise from top left: fiberglass pool, hanging lights, inflatable lounge, outdoor kitchen, outdoor screen enclosure, shuttered kitchenette passthrough, hanging daybed. To see more of what I’m considering, check out my Pinterest board. I’ve already pinned a bunch of inspiration, and I’m sure I’ll pin much more.

Updating a GIANT To-Do List

Back in 2013, I shared a GIANT to-do list for our blue house. I thought it might be fun to see just how much we’ve accomplished since then by crossing off the items we’ve completed.

Exterior

The Blue House at BetweenWeekdays.com

Our exterior needs a lot of work. And, like the interior of our home, there are many “it’s nice to dream” about projects. The above picture is a little dated; it doesn’t show off our pretty, red door.

  • The fence needs some major repairs
  • The fence needs to be painted… badly. Update: After making some major repairs in fall 2015, we decided the fence looked much better and didn’t actually need a coat of paint.
  • The landscaping needs major, major work. I plan to call the pros in the help. Update: We’ve made major strides, but there’s still much to do.
  • We need to add some exterior lighting to the walkway to the front door
  • Add a brick foundation (to match the house) to the storage building. Update: We added skirting to the side of the storage building facing in our back yard, and now we’re considering the options for the other three.
  • Organize the storage building
  • Add a ramp to the storage building
  • Call in the pros to remove a dying tree in the front yard. Update: we did it ourselves.
  • Patch a few window screens
  • Add furniture to the front porch
  • Add furniture to the deck

“It’s Nice to Dream:”

  • Extend the fence. Update: This may be something we consider in 2016.
  • Add a pool
  • Add a stone patio off our deck for a fire pit
  • Replace the wooden fence with a maintenance-free material

The Garage

  • We’ve been on the hunt for a fridge for quite awhile
  • Move the lawnmower to the storage building
  • Repair the garage door Update: We actually replaced the door, and we love it!
  • Add decorative hardware to the garage door
  • Add an access panel

“It’s Nice to Dream:”

  • Add storage above the car. Update: We actually just received this as a Christmas gift.
  • Find a way to store all of my seasonal decor without taking up much floor space Update: purging combined with some clever storage solutions made this happen.
  • Add a pergola above the door outside
  • Replace the door with a carriage style

The Laundry Room

  • Add a counter
  • Make it prettier
  • Add storage (cabinets? shelves?) above the washer and dryer
  • Remove the storage cabinet that’s in there now to clear up floor space
  • Paint the door Update: We removed the door altogether!

“It’s Nice to Dream:”

  • Add pedestal bases to the washer and dryer

The Kitchen

  • Finish painting the cabinets. I’m halfway there!
  • Finish replacing the hardware
  • Add crown moulding to the tops of the cabinets. Update: I enjoy the functionality of being able to store things above the cabinets, so I do not think I will add crown moulding. However, if we ever decide to sell this house, I would consider adding the moulding then.

“It’s Nice to Dream:”

  • Replace the fridge and stove. Update: I really hope this is the year of the new oven.
  • Add a backsplash. Update: I’ve made a tentative selection, and we hope to add tile this year.

The Dining Room

New Dining Room Art at BetweenWeekdays.com

“It’s Nice to Dream:”

  • I really want a bigger table in a different finish Update: We’ve ordered a custom dining set!
  • Maybe add a rug? Update: Not necessary.

The Foyer

  • Paint the trim around the front door
  • Add shutters to the sidelight windows. Update: Maybe something like this?
  • Paint the closet doors and add crystal door knobs
  • Organize the closets
  • Add wallpaper or a stencil above the chair rail

The Living Room

Living Room at BetweenWeekdays.com

  • Find wall Art! Every time I think I find just the right thing, I change my mind. 
  • Find a bigger rug in a neutral color
  • Complete the fireplace surround
  • Replace the thermostat with something “smarter”

“It’s Nice to Dream:”

  • Replace the ceiling fan. It’s off center, so I really don’t know how to fix it just yet.
  • Add sconces above the fireplace

The Office

  • Add curtains. Update: Not necessary.
  • Paint the exterior door

The Guest Bedrooms

Front Guest Bedroom at BetweenWeekdays.com

  • Replace the ceiling fan in the front guest bedroom
  • Add a television to both rooms?
  • Paint the doors and add new hardware

The Guest Bathroom

  • Paint the vanity
  • Refinish the vanity top.

“It’s Nice to Dream:”

  • Reglaze the shower stall to make it white
  • Replace the toilet with a white one
  • Add a tile floor
  • Frame out the mirror
  • Replace the vanity top. Update: We’re leaning towards granite, but we’re also considering laminate.

The Master Bedroom

  • Add more lighting
  • Add more wall art
  • Paint the doors and add new hardware

“It’s Nice to Dream:”

  • Add a chandelier over the bed with smaller chandeliers hanging over the nightstands
  • Add can lights to corners of room. Update: With our new chandelier, we do not need the additional lighting.
  • Have slip covers made for the chairs

The Master Bathroom

This room needs to be completely gutted. We know what we want, so we’re just saving up our pennies to make it happen! Update: Done!

The Master Closet

  • Replace carpet with carpet tiles. Update: Carpet tiles have been purchased!
  • Move clothes rods up
  • Add better lighting

“It’s Nice to Dream:”

  • Demo the closet as it is now and give the space to the bathroom. Then, add built-in wardrobes in the bedroom. Oh, how I wish we could do this. Update: I’m glad we didn’t go with this option and chose to keep our bathroom’s size the same.

The Attic

We actually have an efficiency suite upstairs along with an unfinished storage space. Crazy, right?

  • Turn the upstairs living room into the man cave
  • Gain access to both dormer windows; right now we can only get to one of them
  • Replace the flooring; right now it’s a mix of nasty carpet and leftover hardwood floors
  • Add a sleeker air conditioner. Update: We removed the unsightly window air conditioner.
  • Paint the walls/trim/doors

“It’s Nice to Dream:”

  • Turn the unfinished attic space over the garage into a bonus room. Update: This is something we’re seriously considering this year.
  • Rotate the staircase, so we don’t have to enter through the rear side of the garage.
  • Run HVAC upstairs, so we can add the entire space upstairs to the square footage of our house.

We’ve accomplished more that what was originally on the list, but it’s always fun to cross items off a list. We just celebrated our third anniversary here, and I’m excited to see what 2016 holds. We made the decision to sell our first house after living there for four years, so I’m anxious to see what our future looks like.

Stay tuned for a post later this week with some of my goals for the year.

Updating the Fireplace with Tile

When we first moved into our Blue House, the fireplace looked like this:

Fireplace Before at BetweenWeekdays.com

Super pretty right? That’s the photo we took right after we took possession of the house back in December 2012.

Not too long after moving in, we beefed up the trim and the mantle supports and painted it all black. We also removed that weird little shelf to the side of the fireplace.

Black Fireplace at BetweenWeekdays.com

The black was a huge step for me, but now we have tons of black-painted accents in our home. This was just the jumping off point, and I love it.

While we had our master bathroom tile work done, I asked them to add tile to the area below that mantle. I had purchased two sheets of this tile two years ago at Lowe’s. I knew I’d eventually get around to having it installed.

Fireplace tile at BetweenWeekdays.com

I’d say this is much, much improved. Wouldn’t you?

Here’s a close up of the tile:

Fireplace tile at BetweenWeekdays.com

I know the colors aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, but I’m in love! The men who installed the tile were nervous about getting the cuts and the pattern just right since it had to be pieced together in some sections. Apparently glass tiles are difficult to cut, but these guys were pros and had it installed and grouted in what seemed like no time.

To date, this is one of my favorite makeovers in our house!

TDC Before and After

A Musical Upgrade in the Bathroom

We are almost finished with our major bathroom renovation. Our bathroom is completely functional at this point, but we still have a few finishing touches left. Plus, the glass is still about a couple of weeks out. (I just ordered it today.)

So, I thought it would be fun to share a little upgrade we installed!

We both enjoy listening to music in the shower. Who doesn’t? What I don’t enjoy is having a speaker taking up valuable countertop space.

The solution?

A bluetooth ceiling fan. Of course.

Bluetooth Ceiling Fan at BetweenWeekdays.com
It works great, and it looks great! Here’s a photo of it from Lowe’s:

The bluetooth connects easily to both of our phones, and I use it daily. It has really good sound. Granted, it’s not like having a customized, surround sound, but it’s much better than I would have ever dreamed. While it doesn’t have a light, the fan is pretty powerful and works well.

I highly recommend this product, especially if you’re looking for that extra little upgrade for your bathroom. At $119 it’s a bit more than a normal ceiling fan, but it’s definitely worth the splurge!

Tile is Done

The tile work in our master bathroom is finally complete! It’s actually been finished for a week now, but I’ve been traveling. Want to see it?

Master Bathroom Tile is Done at BetweenWeekdays.com

Since this photo was taken, we’ve installed the shower heads and hung up a curtain in order to begin using the shower.

This shower is awesome!

What’s left to do?

  • The countertop will be installed tomorrow
  • Order custom glass for the shower
  • Purchase and install a toilet
  • Paint the floor vent
  • Paint and rehang the door
  • Finish trim work on the cabinet
  • Add shelves and towel bars, etc.
  • Move in
  • Enjoy!

Our bathroom should be completely functional within the week. Cue the happy dance.

Working with a Contractor: Asking for What You Want

My husband and I very much believe in doing work ourselves, so working with contractors on our master bathroom is a first for both of us. (Spoiler: I like it!) However, since we’re both slightly introverted, learning to communicate with the contractor and his team has been a challenge for us.

When we first met with the contractor, I asked for a half wall with two niches built in for shampoo bottles, etc. He said it would be no problem, and then we waited a couple of months for him to come back and start the job. We had plenty of work to do ourselves before he could begin work anyway.

When he and his team arrived and prepared the room for tile, they set one niche in the half wall and the other in the wall directly across from it. I was told that it simply wouldn’t work where I had originally requested.

Working with a Contractor Ask for What You Want aka Lesson Learned at BetweenWeekdays.com

That night Travis and I had several conversation about the niches and decided to leave well enough alone. After all, it would look better with tile, and we would be the only ones to see it. I’m not going to lie, though, I was hugely disappointed. The purpose of the half wall was to hide all of those unsightly bottles.

My father-in-law has been here every day that the contractors have been here, which has been so nice! I mentioned to him how disappointed I was about the niche but told him that I had decided to just let it go.

Little did I know that he would make it his mission to correct the problem.

It costs the contractors 2.5 hours of work to move the niche, and it was time well spent in my opinion. There are now two niches tucked away, out of sight in the half wall.

Working with a Contractor Ask for What You Want aka Lesson Learned at BetweenWeekdays.com

Lesson learned: always speak up if you’re not pleased with work your contractor is doing. They aren’t happy if you aren’t happy.

Tile work is moving right along! I hope to have an update this week.

Master Bathroom is Prepped for Tile

Our master bathroom is prepped for tile! After many delays from our contractor (who is really great, by the way), he and his crew spent the majority of the day prepping for tile to begin going in tomorrow. Here’s what the bathroom looks like at this very moment:

Master Bathroom is Prepped for Tile at BetweenWeekdays.com

Yay! It may not look like much today, but it really is. The final tile was selected today, so I’m finally ready to share our choices.

Master Bathroom Tile Selection at BetweenWeekdays.com

The first tile will be used as a mosaic in on the back shower wall. Photos do not do this tile justice as it is gorgeous in person. The second tile was chosen by our contractor. I don’t know that I would have picked it out, but I think it’s going to look great. It will go on the bathroom and shower floors. The third tile is a plain, white ceramic tile that will cover the remaining shower walls in a brick pattern. It will look something like this:

Shower Wall Tile Pattern at BetweenWeekdays.com

 

Tile work will begin tomorrow and wrap up sometime next week. We also found a solution for the countertop dilemma that I can’t wait to share!

Progress in our Master Bathroom Renovation

We’ve seen some big progress in our master bathroom renovation in the past week! (Sorry for the delayed post; we’ve had birthdays, graduations, sickness, Mother’s Day, etc. Oh, and I started my new job this week! It’s been a fun/busy time!)

When we last left off, contracted work was finally set to begin after many delays. True to what I’m learning is our contractor’s nature, he was four days late and only able to work Friday. But he made incredible progress in that one afternoon.

Lots of Progress in Master Bathroom Reno at BetweenWeekdays.com

In about four hours, the contractor was able to add tile backer board to the lower third of the shower walls, build the half wall, and create the shower pan. For the first time we were able to see the shower and begin to envision the space.

However, we were also able to see that the floor vent in its original location was not going to work for the new layout. I’m surprised we didn’t notice this earlier, but thankfully we were still at a place in the renovation where we can course correct. Travis was able to easily move the vent after work Monday.

There was only one logical place to move the vent in the room, which luckily wasn’t too far away. He was able to move the vent and patch up the floor after work. Whew!

Lots of Progress in Master Bathroom Reno at BetweenWeekdays.com

While the contractor was here, he asked us to go ahead and place the cabinets in the space before the he tiles the room. He asked us to do this for two reasons: 1. Screwing the half wall into the cabinet will firm up the half wall giving it more support. 2. Tiling under the cabinets would cost about an additional $100. Our contractor may run late most of the time, but he’s very conscious of our budget. (There’s very little chance that we will change the layout of the bathroom and wish we had tiled under the cabinetry, because there’s no where else for the cabinetry in the space.)

Without further ado: our cabinets!

Lots of Progress in Master Bathroom Reno at BetweenWeekdays.com

I love the pull our drawers in the bottom half of the pantry. Don’t worry: the door is not missing; it’s just waiting to be added back to the cabinetry. All of the doors and drawers have a soft-close feature, which was a happy surprise for us!

Of course, after we had the cabinets in place we noticed another error.

Lots of Progress in Master Bathroom Reno at BetweenWeekdays.com

Since we custom ordered the cabinetry and countertop from Lowe’s, we will need to talk to them to see if they will correct this error. This countertop was not terribly expensive, so if our budget has to take a hit, we would prefer it to be over an inexpensive countertop. Travis and I are now considering ordering an entirely different countertop, but we have a bit of time before we have to make that decision.

In regards to our tile, we still don’t know exactly what is going into the space. After speaking with our contractor last week, we decided it was best for him to make the final selection based off of the look I wanted in the space. Originally, he was supposed to send us some photos on Monday for the final selection to be made, but we’re still waiting for the photos. After the tile is selected, it will still have to be ordered. We were hoping to have tile going up in the space this week, but it looks like we are now on hold… again.

To be continued….

Contracted Work Begins on Master Bathroom This Week

Finally! The work we hired out on our master bathroom (shower pan, half wall build, and tiling) will begin this week. Our contractor has had several delays, which was fine, because it gave us more time to finish up our work (demo, new sheetrock, electrical, plumbing, and painting).

Today, the bathroom is looking much better!

Bathroom at BetweenWeekdays.com

I spent the better part of last weekend painting the ceiling and walls in this space. I was surprised that each only took two coats of paint considering I was painting on bare drywall. Here’s what I used:

Walls: Valspar Signature in Woodlawn Colonial Gray
Ceiling: Valspar Ceiling Paint in White

The back part of the bathroom is still open to the studs in order for the contractor to do all of the tile work.

Master Bathroom Paint at BetweenWeekdays.com

I would love to tell you my tile choices, but it still has to be ordered. So, I’m going to hold off on sharing what we’ve chosen just in case something doesn’t work out.

After the contractor is finished we’ll still have to set the vanity and pantry, order the glass for the shower surround, purchase a toilet, finish up electrical and plumbing, and add some additional storage and pretty. The contractor will need to help us set the glass once it arrives, but we will be able to begin using our bathroom even before the glass arrives, which means we should have a usable space sometime this month.

Here’s to progress!

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