On the Move

Let's review:  In June of 2012, we bought a house in town…a small house…that would help us transition from the acreage while trying to sell it.  We advertised the acreage officially beginning in July, and moved slowly to the new house.  We had a big garage sale, loaded up lots of stuff that was donated and kept the refuse workers busy during the fall while we settled in.  We continued to try to sell the acreage, and the longer we were unsuccessful, the more we started second-guessing our decisions.

The move offered us a completely different lifestyle…the kids walked to school, had easily-arranged after school playdates, I began embracing small-space living and discovered lots of little ways to maximize the efficiency of my small spaces.  We found ourselves being able to say yes to more things due to convenience, and were challenged by the busyness that came with things being more convenient.  We truly had to work harder to find family time, because it became easy for everyone to scatter.

Discouragement couldn't be avoided.  In March, a dear friend agreed to help me stage the house in hopes that someone would be able to see how inviting it was rather than the big, empty space that had not yet appealed to anyone.  The Magic Erasers came out and every surface got a scrub-down…the interiors of the closets got paint jobs, multiple loads of borrowed furniture and decor was unloaded and arranged…basically it felt like after I had finally gotten everything moved out, I was moving back in.  I have to admit, that when it was done, I began thinking that we just needed to move back because it looked so darn nice!

We continued with small improvements to the little house, because after all, we lived there, and planned to continue living there, so it only made sense that it would evolve to suit us.  There was much to enjoy at that house, including all of our neighbors.  We just simply needed a little more space to spread out, so we began the process of investigating what it would take to create an addition.
This crazy garage was by itself the source of so much trouble.  See how it is leaning?  That was before we moved in…by the time we had been there 16 months, there was a gap that was 6 inches big between the right side of the door and the frame!  When we were gone for a week, my dad and our neighbor straightened it out!!

Whew…lots of hoops to jump through and pleas to make, but we were making progress and when it would be all said and done, we would have a guest room, rec room, grand kitchen and a reconfigured kids bedroom suite.  We would also have to commit to living there forever, because we knew that we would never be able to recoup what we would invest.

The backyard was proving to be a great space for entertaining, so we were even more excited about the prospect of eventually having great indoor and outdoor spaces.  Jakob helped me disassemble and bring home a play structure and then proceeded to sand, stain and reassemble it in the backyard.  Tim and I built a table.
The kids and I transferred flagstone from the once-pond to build a fire pit, and then destructed that and extended our patio.  We also created a brick walkway to widen the driveway and built a new fence and gate for the kids and the dog.

The story of Nick is the saddest part of our move.  He didn't transition very well from wide open spaces to feeling like there were people in his space every day.  He became more and more aggressive, and after biting (without seriously injuring) three people we had to find him a new home.  Even in his new open environment, he attacked someone.  We hope he was sick and that was why these things were happening, but we won't ever know for sure.  We had to be part of what was one of the hardest decisions we've ever made.  It is hard not to have a dog around!

As the school year came to a close and summer began, we were approaching the year-mark of our acreage being for sale.  We decided that we would take advantage of having a beautiful house on a beautiful piece of land and use it to get away during the summer…even if it meant risking "messing up" the great magazine layout look!  We had shown the house several times, had an offer that was just way too low and finally decided to ignore all advise of removing personal effects, so we uncovered the scripture on the wall, put a picture of St. Joseph on the fridge and started spending some time there.  In mid-June, we showed the house to yet another family and within the week, they made an offer, and by July they were moving in.  (Thus the "one-last-hurrah" ice cream social!!)  After a little bit of drama, we closed on the acreage in August!

And then one day in September…our brother-in-law, informed us of a house that would be going up for sale in the near future.  He asked the owner if he could let us know about it and then asked again if we could contact him and see it.  The owner kindly agreed, showed us his house later that Saturday afternoon.  He showed it to us again within the week and in less that two weeks time had accepted an offer from us.  Kind of a whirl-wind situation, especially considering that we weren't really even looking!!  This house met all of our criteria:  in our current parish, within walking distance to one of the two schools, brick, room to spread out, affordable.  Those were criteria we set in place a while back in case we ever started looking, and to provide a quick response to the many houses that friends and family "found" for us.
Our first night in the house…floor picnic for dinner.

From there, everything fell into place in regard to everything that had to be done.  We had renters for our small house, plans for the new house, and started the process of packing and moving all over again.  We hated leaving our neighbors the most, and I struggled for a long time with "failing" at making it work to live in a small house.  Somehow I felt greedy about leaving that house, like it meant that I was being ungrateful, especially since we really did like the house.  

I've learned though that it is actually gratitude that I feel that we had the opportunity to develop relationships and experiences in the year that we lived there, and the lessons learned and the opportunity to offer our family a little more space and different dynamics…and that we could offer a wonderful home to someone who desired renting it.  We are now blocks from the high school, in a beautiful neighborhood, still surrounded by great neighbors in a house that offers everyone the space to spread out, entertain and even more importantly, come back to with families of their own someday.

Now, for a few fun stories about this house that we now call ours:  We have a pool…an indoor pool!  You wouldn't know if we didn't tell you, because it is under a floor in what is now our family/rec room.  When we bought it, there was a floor already built over it, but it only covered the pool, not the whole space.  It was sturdy enough to be supportive, but built to be taken apart someday when the previous owners were ready to use the pool again.  
We inherited so many "treasures"!  It took us a few days to go through and clean up what was leftover from the previous owners.  Some of it truly was great, and much of it truly was trash!

We finished building the floor out to the walls, had outlets wired in the entire space (previously there was only one), and light fixtures and ceiling fans added.  THEN we discovered that the pool was still full of water…chlorinated water under a solar blanket!  It had never been drained.  YIKES!  When I get around to posting the after pictures for the "pool room", I will find the way-before pictures of the pool in it's glory days!!
 The entire house is a little dated, but not horrible.  The kitchen begged for a few simple things to be done and because the previous owners were heavy smokers, keeping the carpet and drapes was not an option.  There was also a really great built in hot tub, but alas, it was going to be more money and worry than it would be worth to make it functional again, so we covered it too.  
 That's the pool room through those sliding doors, and the kitchen on the left.
 Behind those double doors is a huge blind cupboard, and a broom closet to the left of them.  The far left is a built in desk and shelves.
 And down those stairs to the right of the door is my laundry closet which will also soon get some attention.
 I'm not loving the configuration of the refrigerator beside the stove and that awkward space to the left of it.
So, we started by removing upper cabinets and the peninsula to open the space up.  That room with the fireplace was their living room, but it is going to be our dining room.
Let's get that refrigerator out of there and open up that blind cupboard wall too…much better!
And then put the peninsula back in a different spot…where the refrigerator once was.  PROGRESS!
Drywall goes up, another cupboard comes down to the right of the microwave, and the countertop comes off.
 New countertop and sink in...
 …and now a faucet and disposal…and dishwasher is hooked up!!!  Woo hoo for working plumbing!  The dining room now serves as a dining room, except note that there is no overhead light.  There are two can lights and a little spot light.  I guess we call it mood lighting at dinner!
 The rest of the cabinets are installed!  The ones surrounding the fridge and to the right of the microwave were built and the ones to the left of the microwave used to hang over the sink!  Painting begins and the backsplash gets white subway tile and grey grout.  Beadboard goes up on the wall and butcher block is laid down in what will morph into a baking center.
Getting there…Shelves go up, most of the painting is done.  Lighting still needs to be addressed.
 This is going to be one of my favorites!  Eventually I will figure out what I want to keep here.
 The magnetic chalkboard on the side of the pantry is done, with the exception of the trim.  I can't say that I was super impressed with the magnetic paint.  I used an entire can…6 coats and it doesn't hold much of a magnet at all.
 I couldn't decide between these to drawer pulls, so I used them both.
 There is still some painting that needs to happen and outlet covers that need to go on, but my kitchen functions and I love it.  The paint is Annie Sloan chalk paint…both upper and lower cabinets and the blue on the wainscoting as well as the tannish color on the secretary desk in the dining room.  So begins my love affair with chalk paint!
 Eventually I'd love to add a new range…no room for a bigger one, but I've got my eye on a dual fuel, double convection oven with 5 burners, which can only make cooking easier right?
 Yep…I'm gonna really like that baking center.  Tim's idea…good job honey!
So, I know it isn't a very good picture, but how can I overlook the inside of the pantry?  Another favorite.  My shelves are drawers that roll out and above the fridge is storage for all of my pans.
 …and the light that replaced the ceiling fan.  There is still much to be done…lots of little things to be finished.  a few more lighting choices that need to be made, some more paint that needs to go up on the wall.  I'm sure the list is endless, but we're not going anywhere, so I think I have time.  :)

OH…and the floors…beautiful hand scraped white oak throughout the main floor and white oak upstairs.  LOVE wood floors.

We are only at the beginning of the adventures with this home.  It has really great bones, and most of what is present is just fine and can be modified over time if we ever decide to.  Of course my wheels haven't stopped turning since we moved in, but I can't quite keep up, so I can either stress about it, or just be.  I choose "be" for right now.  We've already done so much after all.