Sunday, November 28, 2010

Contact Paper

Oh. My. Goodness.

We've never seen so much contact paper in our lives, people.  EVER.

You don't realize it until you open up a drawer and you see one kind. 

You don't think much of it. Then you open up another drawer and you think to yourself, "Really? Another style and print?"

And then another...
And then another...

And another...

And another! The hits just kept coming people.

It wasn't so bad in the kitchen because it was all being gutted anyway - more comical than anything. At least this was what we thought. But what makes all of this worse is when you are trying to do this:

and this in your bathroom built-ins (Not going to be able to gut this easily) or your hallway closet built-ins.

Yeah, not cool. Razorblades take most of this out (your fingers will NEVER forgive you) but when this paper has been stuck down on this wood for almost 50 years, you can imagine how sticky, slimy, stinky and disgusting this task is. Thank goodness for J's sister. She's a saint when it comes to contact paper. Now, we are very thankful for a CLEAN, CONTACT PAPER-LESS WORLD in the M&J house. And we're loving this:

"The Chokey"

Ever see the movie Matilda? Or read the book? Familiar with "the chokey"?

It's a small, closet-sized room which has nails sticking out every which way and lots of jagged edges poking into the room. When the kids behave badly in school, they are forced to stand in it by the awful principal, Agatha Trunchbull (doesn't the name even sound horrible?)

What does this have in common with M&J's house, do you ask?

Check this out:

Our Weird Closet - aka "The Chokey"
On our first tour of the house, we opened it's door thinking it was a coat closet (it's approximately five feet from the entryway).  We opened it up and found a cable wire coming up through a drilled hole in the beautiful wood floor (WHAT were they thinking?!?) - must have stored a TV in this closet and watched it from either the kitchen, dining or living rooms. All three have a straight shot to where that TV must have sat.

Not only was cable running to this closet, it also houses the doorbell ringer, attic access, an outlet and a single light bulb. Some might say "multipurpose". It also housed some odd storage system - shelving as well as vertical partitions. We found this very odd from the beginning and it created lots of confusion when referring to it.

From then on, this closet had to have a name. Inevitably, it became the "chokey" to J's family, as they were familiar with Matilda. After a few weeks (or months) the name stuck and it will (unfortunately)  always be "the chokey", even though M&J are going to make it a pantry.

Saturday, November 27, 2010


The weekend after getting the keys to our new place, M & J, along with J's parents and brother, got to work on the house.
J's brother mowed the yard LAWN (we're county kids - it's a yard!) and picked up trash, large limbs and anything else that wasn't supposed to be in the yard (Can't help it...). Although the exterior was in pretty good shape, our new home needed some help to increase it's curb appeal (Yet again, a new concept to country kids. Growing up, our exterior home decor had two rules - be heavy and hearty enough to withstand Kansas winds and crazy weather. If it passed those two rules, it could be put outside. If not, be willing to kiss it goodbye - It wouldn't last a day outside the country homes in Kansas.)

 J's Brother Mowing the Lawn

M & J, with the help of J's parents, got to work on the inside of the house. J and her Mom cleaned the bathrooms and dumped lots of things in the trash while M and J's Dad began gutting the kitchen. Cabinet doors came off, then cabinets came out. Drawers were carried out, back splash tile was pulled off the walls... everything was gutted in the kitchen. I'm sure our new neighbors thought we were crazy - "You just bought the place and now you're taking everything out!" We knew we wanted a new kitchen - the one that was there was not in very good shape and had lots of dings, stains, etc. - and we planned for that when we decided what we were willing to purchase our home for.

J Enjoying the Gutted Kitchen

M and J's Dad Gutting the Kitchen
We also took down curtains, curtain rods and these B-E-A-U-TIFUL (just a hint of sarcasm) drapes in our living and dining room:
Wonder why?
We made lots of progress during that weekend and it really helped us feel better about what we were about to undertake.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Our House - Before

After our home was officially ours, we went and took beginning photos of our first place. We wanted to be able to look back and see what our house was BEFORE all our hard work. Here's the "before" of our home:The Outside
View of the Combined Dining and Living Room

View of the Kitchen from the Dining RoomAnother view of the KitchenHalf bath - just off the kitchen

Master Bedroom
Full Bathroom
Second Bedroom - will become M's OfficeThird Bedroom - to become Guest BedroomHallway with Built-in ClosetOne half of the Utility RoomOther Half of the Utility RoomOpen Room in the Basement - will become J's Craft RoomCloset in what will be J's Craft RoomOne Half of Family RoomOther Half of the Family Room

Knowing what we had to work with was going to help us know what steps would need to be taken to get our home to the place we wanted it. We were looking forward to getting some ideas together and seeing what opportunities would be available to us for our new place, and we couldn't wait to get started.

Sunday, November 14, 2010


On day 250 of marriage, (but who's counting) M & J purchased their first home.

SOLD - M & J are now Homeowners

In Front of our New Place

We were armed and ready to get to work - the faster we got things finished up the faster we could get moved into our new place. We had a long list of tasks, but were hopeful to get most of them done (at least to the point that we could move in) by the end of May. We were hoping to have friends over for the 4th of July holiday, and wanted to have a renovated house finished and ready for guests. Boy, we had a lot to learn...

Home Inspection

Our counter-offer was accepted, and now it was time for the home inspection. We lined up an inspector for March 24th, and had family ready to come with us to help us talk through our plans after this home would (hopefully) be ours. We were on a deadline, after all...

Our (Possible) Future Home on Inspection Day

M & J were armed and prepared for this inspection. J had her camera, M had his tape measure and both were carrying pen and paper. The goal was to get photos of all the rooms, dimensions of all the rooms and get an idea of what would (or should) be our priorities. After all, J was picking out which photos would be hung on which wall, while M was talking logistics and priorities. M & J were clearly on different paths. Oops. Not good.

Getting Dimensions of the Full Bathroom

At the end of the inspection, it was all good news. Anything that was found was a very minimal issue, (so minimal that we can't remember what they were), so we were glad to have a positive report. Because of the outdoor temperature, our air conditioner could not be started and checked. We were feeling great and were ready to finalize all the paperwork and OFFICIALLY be homeowners.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

House #3 - St. John

At this point, we were hoping that third time would be a charm. However, we didn't know which house would be lucky number 3...

We waited about a month to see if anything else was going to come on the market, and during this time, M's father passed away. We continued to look, but realized that time was moving fast and we were going to be wanting a place of our own pretty soon. J had accepted a position in Central KS, but M & J were still living in their house in Manhattan at the time. This led to J (and occasionally M) living with J's parents (and occasionally M's mother). Although this worked out just fine, and M & J were VERY thankful to have a place to stay, we were ready to have our own place. We had to be out of our home in two months, and we needed to get the buying process started.

After waiting for more options that it seemed were never coming, we decided to re-evaluate the homes we had already seen to see if there was something that could work for us, whether on a temporary basis or a situation where we could flip the house and get something else in the future if we didn't love the house we purchased. There were no quality options for renting, so this led us to re-evaluate past options.

We narrowed it down to two places we thought might work - both homes we had already seen at least once. One was located on Clark St, and was a former veterinarian's home. It was very custom-built - picture a weird layout, carpet in the master bath, walking through an open master bath to get to the bedroom, etc. To top it off, an awkward red and black checkerboard carpeted wet bar area and a linoleum tiled rec room were not at the top of our list. This home had large rooms, a main floor laundry room and the most updated kitchen we had seen, but these things did not make up for other things we would have to fix, much less the price. Given its need for remodeling and its age, we felt it was way overpriced and didn't think we stood a chance to buy it at the price we were willing to pay.

Clark Street

Our second option was the house we never really considered the first time around. We were so taken by the interior blemishes that we hadn't really looked at potential - all we saw was what was there. The price was below what we were willing to pay, but it still had issues. An awful 18" back door. Lots of holes and scrapes down doors and woodwork that was scattered with multiple colors of paint. The basement was finished, which was great, but it seemed that the kitchen and bathrooms would have to go immediately, and this entire home was going to need lots of TLC to get back to what it should be and even more to improve it. It was in a great neighborhood, with a large back yard and had lots of potential to become a great home. We just had to decide if we were willing to put in the work, the time and the money to make this home a great home and our home.

St. John
After visiting both homes again, taking family to have them share their opinions, we decided to put in an offer. (Hopefully) considering all things and weighing all the pros and cons, we chose to put in an offer on the house on St. John. We called our realtor, and after talking through our options, we put in our offer and waited. We received a counter-offer, and then chose to counter-offer one time. If our offer wasn't accepted at this point, we were willing to walk away. We had done it twice before, and the third time would be no different. Now all we had to do was wait...