17 July 2017

Possessed by Blueberries

Claire has figured out her Halloween costume:

Possessed by Blueberries

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15 July 2017

Before and After: Indiana

Since hearing that our house has had an offer, I've had a few requests to post before and after pictures of our home. I for one love sharing them because even I sometimes forget how far we've really come. The small (and sometimes enormous) projects have added up and though there's always something else that seems to need attention, I think it's safe to say that the house is done. Or, I should say, "done" because houses never really are complete.
This is the entryway that used to greet people. It didn't set a very high bar for our guests with a bare, concrete slab, weirdly textured drywall, and dark wood paneling. We tackled the entryway a couple of years ago and even though we just recently put the finishing touches on it, we really love the bright, clean, welcoming look we enjoy now.
The great room is aptly named but when we moved in, it didn't really live up to its name. It was dirty, the floor consisted of old carpet soaked in cigarette smoke and dog urine and chipped tile and overall, was just in a pathetic state.
And presto, just like that, it magically changed into a beautiful, stately room!
I WISH.
No, like all things, in my lack of magical abilities, it took a lot of hard work. A lot because that is one huge room. We had to rent scaffolding to paint the ceiling, the wood flooring took days and days to cut and lay down and the stairs were a monster of their own.
Now, one of the rooms that was there, mostly for use as a work room (or as an indoor bouncy house spot) is one of my favorite rooms in the house. It's spacious and attractive and bright.
It's incredible what a facelift can do for a room! You just have to have the vision for it...
...and the ability to A) start a project and B) finish a project.
I feel like we've finally gotten our payout. It was worth the wait!
This sad, smelly storage closet affectionately became known as the shoe closet and after a fresh coat of paint and some new carpet, we built a little coat rack and bench and called it good!       
It's now stuffed with holiday decorations, coats, and wrapping paper and doubles as our tornado shelter, should one ever decide to sweep past the house.
The guest bathroom was one room that, had I the time, I would have transformed into something more magnificent than it has become.
There are some redeeming things about the bathroom (I don't know why but I love the corner toilet...), so when we were getting ready to show the house, we worked with what we had.
I think it's kind of cute, considering how little attention the room got. It certainly served its purpose and hosted many-a-guest!
At the back of the house is a spacious mud room that apparently once doubled as a second kitchen. While some suggested I use it as a canning kitchen and while it would have been nice, I don't can that much just yet, so the room was put to use in other ways. The dog eats and sleeps down there and Jack houses his enormous aquaponics set up (and all his unused bee equipment and accompanying worms) and when we come in muddy, we can literally traipse through the room and I don't bat an eye. What good would be a mud room if it didn't get muddy once in a while??
Like everywhere else, it got a new coat of paint and I used tiling the mud room as warm up for our bathroom. It's a simple, unadorned room but that's okay by us!
The laundry room...
What's there to say about it? It was the very last room that got any attention. It was basically a half-finished closet off the mud room with a chute down from the master bath where the clothes accumulated and I shut the door whenever I didn't want to look at them. Maybe my ugly laundry area explains my resentment for doing the laundry, heehee!
Not that impressive but better...
The next room is the storage room, off the opposite side of the mud room as the laundry room. We did put up a new wall to cover the exposed wires but that's about it. I would have painted the whole thing and built shelves for our food storage but that was pretty far down on the priority list.
I guess I cleaned it and got started on our food storage. Does that count for something?
The guest bedroom went through a bit more of a transformation. I removed the scraps of wallpaper (yes, it was literally scraps of wallpaper slapped on the wall), painted and eventually, a couple of missionaries from church helped us build a snazzy closet to make it a technical bedroom.
Living in the literal crossroads of America, it has been super nice having a guest bedroom and it would be an understatement to say it's been well-used. Friends and family are always welcome!

(***Disclaimer: rent for the guest room may include hard labor and constant babysitting***)
Our bedroom...ah, our bedroom. Where do I begin? To say this room was depressing doesn't quite describe the black, depressing sinkhole of the abyss that it was. One wall was painted black, the opposite wall was covered in black carpet (where do you even find black carpet?!) and the floor was crusty, peeling black linoleum. It was sad--no--WOEBEGONE. Though I've been told that when fixing up a house, the places where guests will see should be the first to be repaired, I always end up doing the bedrooms first. I need a bit of a sanctuary from the craziness that goes on in the rest of the house.
The first thing I did was--you guessed it--paint. Kilz was the first step to cover the nicotine and seal it in so it wouldn't leach out. An overhead fan and light and a bright paint color made loads of difference.
Granted, I lived with subflooring in our bedroom for four years but I was patiently biding my time until we could get carpet. It was well worth the wait, although we seem to have the bad habit of only getting carpet when we are about to move, thus enjoying it for only a couple of months. Guess it keeps it from having any chance of getting dirty.
Through our room is the once infamous bathroom. Of all the rooms in the house, it's hard to wrap my mind around the decor of this room, which has kind of the air of a heart rate monitor over a checkerboard. It was one of the most challenging rooms to renovate in part because of the size but also because of how much needed to be rearranged. Do you ever admire the plumbing and electrical work in your home? No? Well, after doing all of that in our bathroom, I appreciate a job well done much, much more.
When we moved in, there was a shower but I hated using it, so I ended up going down the hall to the girls' bathroom since it was renovated first.
Where the vanity once stood is now where the big soaker tub (which I will miss very, very much) is now. I almost hate to admit it but every time I look at that nasty vanity, I practically gag. In my overwhelmed state when first viewing the home, I didn't peek in the drawers so as a welcome home surprise, we were greeted with an abandoned rat's nest under the sink. Gross! I had nightmares for weeks that I would come across a rat should I ever have to use the restroom in the middle of the night.
All of that is behind us know. I can look at where the tub is and not shudder with disgust because,
with a lot of backbreaking labor, sweat, and Kilz, all is right with the master bath.
I don't have any particular feelings about the small office that's off the living room. It wasn't terribly disgusting or terribly difficult to renovate. I took advantage of the parquet flooring and refinished it, covered the horrible texturing with the same planking we put in the bathroom and gave it a fun jade-colored paint job.
Now, it's an office/crafting room/music studio/novel writing sanctuary.
Down the hall are the kids' rooms which face each other and were equally icky. The girls' room, while plenty spacious, was so dark, dank, and strewn with teensy tiny pinholes on every surface, like someone was bored enough to jab the wall eighty million times with the same pushpin. Luckily, a little paint goes a long way and soon enough, their room was perfectly girly (i.e. pink).
I love the size, color, and happy feeling of their room now. Exactly what our three little girls want out of a bedroom.
Henry's room is across the way and was another black hole. Or, I suppose, a purple hole. Those awesome French doors you see? They led straight to a drop off instead of a deck that was there but had since been ripped down. His room was the first to be totally finished since friends found some free flooring for us (our friends know us so well!).
The formerly melancholy room...
...is now full of light and fun, just like Henry.
The girls' bathroom was one of the first rooms we redid because, for a bathroom, it was a fairly easy project to tackle. Though I would have preferred a white tub, we ended up leaving the gray whirlpool tub and incorporating it into our decor.
A bit of paint, epoxy resin for the countertop, a new faucet, and a ridiculous cat portrait for the wall (Claire's suggestion...obviously) and it's a totally new room!
Next is the very polarizing blood-red living room. People either love or hate the archways. Me? I kinda like how quirky they are. It was the icky red paint, foggy old windows, and tacky vinyl flooring that detracted from its appeal.
After the ceiling was painted, then it was the walls, a free door and $20 windows, and fresh carpet. It's barely recognizable!
On top of the windows being foggy, the only access to the deck was through the kitchen. Once we installed my sister's door, the kids could run circles in and out of the kitchen to the living room, then back out onto the deck, and vice versa. Maybe I should have rethought putting in a door...nah. Still love it.
The cubbies are used for hanging backpacks, the sewing desk, and rousing games of hide and seek.
Ah! I love the living room!
The kitchen was just...oh, my. What's the word? Disastrous. Yeah, that's it. Brown carpet on the island, squiggly green painted walls, an enormous, ill-placed island, and yellow countertops. To say that entertaining in it was embarrassing is like the understatement of the century.
It took me a couple of tries to get the kitchen decor right but once my family visited for a spring break and asked if I had any projects planned, I got things into gear and we tackled the kitchen. It was one of those huge projects that took a massive amount of work but in the end, it was so, sooooo worth it.
One of the biggest changes was taking out the island and rearranging it so we could fit a table in the kitchen. We had to move some wiring and repurpose the cabinets, then move the stove.
I wish we would have been able to do it earlier!
One more look: dull and gloomy.
And now: chipper and cheerful.
There's even room for our enormous table, which is big enough to fit all of us and guests!
The outside of the house has been greatly altered, too, but we didn't have a lot of before photos. So, enjoy a photo of our deck, one of the best parts about this house. Painting it took quite a while--it was all edging and weird angles but it looks so great and boy, oh, boy, did the underbelly take f-o-r-e-v-e-r. The deck is like a built-in outside playpen for the kids. Even if it's raining or snowing outside, if the kids want to go out, they can! We love eating dinner out on the deck, barring any incredibly hot weather or persistent bugs and have watched many hours of farm tv. It's a great place to ponder or safely watch impressive lightning storms. Plus, the cats love using it as their own playground as well.
When we moved in, the house just looked tired and faded. After choosing a rich maroon for the siding and neutral beige to tie in the trim to the stone, it was just a matter of putting up the siding, giving the house a total facelift. Oh, and a new roof.
With the house looking like this when we pulled up the first time to see it, it's kind of a surprise that we even bought it at all...guess you could say we like a project.
Now, when we or our guests arrive, I think it's safe to say we have better curb appeal!
The back of the house went through a similar facelift. We took out the door that was in Henry's room (the original builder of the house really, really liked decks--there was one on every side of the house), pulled down the decorative wood, sealed windows, caulked sauffets, hung siding, and painted and painted and painted.
It was one of the longest running projects on the house but it was almost impossible not to be because fiber cement siding isn't a one person job and it's hard being on a ladder when pregnant and trying to watch little kids. But, it got done and it looks great.
I don't know how the kids feel but I am really going to miss their playground. The new house doesn't have one and that is one of the very top priorities on my list. Heck, even I enjoy a good swingset!
Though the house we are buying has a super cute barn (I can hardly believe we'll finally have our own barn! Hooray!!), the horses and I have really enjoyed having a sturdy lean to for them. There was a bit of remodeling to do to the interior and we found some tin that perfectly matched our house color and in a couple of days, the tired old shed was repurposed and revitalized.
It's hard not to look at old photos of our house and not feel a sense of pride. It's not a haughty feeling but a humble joy, seeing our labors come to fruition, feeling blessed we were able to have the vision of what a dilapidated old house could be, satisfaction at having the skills and means to complete the individual projects, which summed up to a totally different home in only a few years. Of course, there is always a price we pay for such accomplishments--bruised knees from kneeling to put in tile or wood flooring, hot showers spent scrubbing paint and caulking and construction adhesive off our skin, stitches, scrapes, and being so bone tired we don't want to be on our feet one minute longer--but it, like any challenge, was worth it. We're looking forward to a brand new home and putting our personal touches on it but for right now, we're going to enjoy our Indiana Mansion for as long as we can!

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