Friday, June 21, 2013

au revoir, home ownership!

Sorry I've been slow posting lately - our internet access in the evenings is currently limited! But that should change after the 28th I think, so hopefully blogging shall be picked back up...although the eventual direction is still in nebulous clouds of indecision! :)

I can announce it now that we've passed the appraisal and inspection - all that's left is the closing next week (!!) - we have sold our sweet little first house on Daws! After I was a bit slow to get it on the market, I thought we might not be able to sell it by owner ("FSBO") before we left. But it was on the market all of 13 days with 3 offers in that time before we agreed to a sale price just $2k below our list price! (And I still have a waiting list of several people who want to buy it if this sale falls through :) )

Will do another post with details of how we did the whole FSBO process. But for now should we just have some eye-candy of all the Befores/Afters of how it has transformed over the last three years? I surprised myself and loved having open houses and showing the house this spring - fun to share with people! Especially as we realize how housing will be different in Geneva (high prices!) it's fun to look back on our first house. :)

The front yard: Move-in day!

My stars I forgot what crazy bushes we had in our yard. This doesn't even encompass the rest of the bushery and spotty grass. In this google maps photo you can see more of the craziness (imagine that front bush about twice the size with exuberant summer growth when we got there):

And now:

Wish I could have caught a photo when the crepe myrtle bloom this summer! And ha, I'll never forget when husband gave me a bewildered look as I lugged the cordless saw out onto the porch at 10pm one evening to cut off the bench that used to be on the porch where the front steps are now ("what are you doing?" "I just really want to hack off this one part of the house..")

Can't resist another shot of how well the grass is doing :)

The living room on move-in day:

And these three years later:

Crazy how much difference the white trim and beige walls made, isn't it?! And you can't even see the ugly popcorn ceilings we scraped off and all the crown molding that we painted white as well. The high ceilings made it a huge job, but SOO worth it to have that feeling of openness when you walk in.

Dining room, then:

Yes. Green walls, blue light fixtures and popcorn ceiling :) And now (well, "now" before we started packing everything up!):

Again we didn't do much in this room besides scraping the popcorn ceiling, painting all the trim and walls, changing out the light fixture, and adding a new coat of finish to the wood floors. Phew it was so much work painting all that trim and the window trim..! It took two coats of primer and two or three coats of paint on all the wood (I think because the wood trim was mostly unfinished or the finish had worn off over the years, so it soaked up the paint).

Sidenote - we sold the table and chairs on Craigslist for more than we'd paid for them! They are solid wood, and we'd found them for a great deal at a factory-like discount place in OKC. For the huge hassle we had actually getting them, though, they were definitely worth what we sold them for :)

Annnd the kitchen - such a favorite remodel project! I wish I'd taken more Before photos. You can also see it in the Before dining room photo above. 

And now:

This was probably our biggest remodel project. We stripped everything out down to the walls (plus tearing out that old linoleum!), started with repainting (and scraping the popcorn ceiling - I love the lighter-green ceiling now with the crown trim), then followed with Ikea cabinets, corian countertops from Lowes (LOVE), tile backsplash, oil-rubbed-bronze knobs from Overstock, and new microwave and dishwasher. 

I really love our design decisions for that room (probably biased because had a great time using graph paper to plan everything, including the stove-sink-fridge triangle - did you notice we moved the stove? Fortunately the gas pipe was long enough and flexible so we didn't even have to touch that). Filling the room with light colors brightened it so much since it doesn't have any windows to the outside, and refinishing the wood floors helped the space feel more open since it connects seamlessly now to the dining room.

Next - the library?

Pretty blank palette, and again we mostly scraped the ceiling, painted and added a coat of polish to the floor!


Ahh. Painting those walls twice to get the perfect shade of blue = totally worth it!

Oops, no shot of David's side of the room. But a gratuitous shot of lovely shade makeover! Am definitely going to do something similar for our new apartment.

And our bedroom:

After scraping the ceiling, painting trim and walls, adding finish to the floor, refinishing the fan, and strategic decorating:

We still love that duvet cover that I made :)

And I'm particularly fond of the curtains and dresser decorating I re-did recently. The green wall seemed overpowering in that room sometimes, so I brought in the gray to balance it, and used this green/blue bowl of flowers to soften the green.

And the bathroom - with the tub re-do that I still need to blog about! Before...seriously, whose idea were those industrial tiles?

And after several stages of renovations!

I still need to blog about the tub renovation - hard but turned out soo well, with lots of elbow grease and late night snacks patience! ;)

See the little ledge just above the tub in the above photo? We had some extra space to play with, so we shifted the tub left and added this step-out from the tub to the wall to make the shower more spacious. It really made a difference!

These built-in shelves are my least favorite part! They took a lot of effort and attention to detail at every stage...but so worth it for the customized feel, and I love how the smaller tile matches the sink backsplash.

We installed one of those fancy curved-out shower curtain rods as well to increase the spacious feel...and the tall shower head arm means David tall people don't need to lean down to wash their hair ;)

And let's see...the sunroom! When we moved in it had been most recently used as a hair salon. I learned recently that the woman who had it built onto the house was an artist and used it as her studio! I think she'd like what we've done with it. :)


And now...

It's a hard space to photograph because only the laundry room connects to it. Oh I did the countertop redo just before our open houses started! I bought some planks from Lowes (and had them cut them to size for me), cut a hole for the sink, sanded/stained/sealed and added the little bar sink (is from Amazon as I recall).

And the back patio!! When we moved in:

And its latest look after we added sand between the stones to prevent weeds, and had to rebuild the fence after tornado damage.

So many people have asked me if we'll miss our sweet little house. I suppose the answer is yes and no - yes of course because it became so comfortable and familiar! But I think we are ready for a break from home ownership for awhile.

I thought I'd make a short list of our favorite design decision vs. what we found hard or might do differently next time:

Best Design Decisions Ever
- Choosing a house with some character (like the tall ceilings in the living room)
- Incorporating neutral, smooth modern design (like the neutral walls and white trim) with vintage touches that make it feel customized to our selves (like our board of keys, chandelier makeover, distressed wood projects, and African accents and figurines)
- Re-painting when we end up not liking a wall color - totally worth it! (after living with it a few days sometimes to be sure - like how I ended up liking the blue sunroom with green cabinets :) )
- Bringing color to the tiny kitchen ceiling with a lighter green than the walls to help open up the space!
- Restoring hardwood floor to the kitchen...what can I say, I'm smitten with hardwood floors! Thanks Husband for that idea ;)
- Choosing a house close to our jobs (campus) and walkable to surrounding shops/restaurants/etc
- Learning to embrace color in decorating...slooowly...
- Hanging curtains "higher and wider" than the windows - am going to continue that for openness! And actually also using curtains rather than blinds. I'm just not a fan of the American mini-blind, but Husband likes privacy from the Tokaloshes ;)
- Evaluating our renovation choices based on resale value - I think we did a great job renovating without 'over-renovating' - that is, without putting more $ into the house than we could get back out of it when we sold it (For example, we were sure we wanted to renovate the kitchen and bathroom, but didn't end up putting in new windows which we probably couldn't have gotten the value back out of. If I was going to live there forever that would be my next project!). It probably made it easier that we knew we weren't going to live there forever, so we could plan ahead for re-selling.

Not So Repeatable Decisions
- Choosing an older house meant we had significant repair our case we didn't have much choice, although we could have shaved off a few decades. Most of the houses in our price range were "newer in suburbs" or "older near university" or "newer near university but no character" - but still a newer house would be nice next time for fewer maintenance issues.
- Umm, let's make living in tornado alley be a not-repeatable choice - we are still totally happy with our choice to attend OU but don't really want to make a habit of living in TornadoLand. Although if we did it again, we would TOTALLY build a storm shelter that doubled as a wine cellar with big comfy chairs and fully stocked fridge. 'Nuff said.
- Buying rugs too quickly. Our style definitely developed as we saw what we liked and didn't like (well, maybe mine did more than David's - I think he's less picky) - next time I think I'll deliberate longer or get to know the house more before choosing rugs. Or maybe I just know way more about rug options now (RugsUSA, Urban Outfitter, West Elm etc) than I did then (Lowes, Kohls, Bed Bath and Beyond).
- Painting so many of our walls beige (huge living room, dining room, half of library and bedroom) and then adding beige furnishings (couches, rugs, futon, pillows). I got quite tired of all the tans! I think it took me awhile to start with the 'pops of color', so as I get better at that I can probably do better neutrals. But I think I'm also learning that you can do different shades of the same color, or related shades, to keep the cohesive flow of the house but still add variety.

All in all, what a great experience we had with our Daws house! Whew and what a long post. I better sign off before I make it any longer!!


  1. Thanks for the update and before and afters! I have been following all the house fun and have really been enjoying seeing what you have done with the place. Congrats on the sale and I look forward to hearing about your adventures at CERN! - Maryanne

    1. Thanks, great to hear from you Maryanne!!

  2. AH! I can't believe it. Craaazzy! Great post, get pics. The bathroom looks so good! I can't wait for the details about selling.

    1. Thanks!! I'm so happy for how fast our house sold! :D Yes selling details coming soon!

  3. You guys did an amazing job you have a lot to be proud about!

    1. Thanks Manda! Ooh, I loved clicking over to your blog just now and reading about your wood floor project! Wood floors are the best!

    2. Thank you! I am kind of jealous you are getting to start the process over again. It is stressful but man is there something to turning a house into a hidden jewel. I love it when people come over and tell me they thought we were crazy for buying our house three years ago and man look at what you did now!

    3. Yes it's so fun to transform a house!! I kind of wish we were starting the process over again right now! We just moved to Switzerland and the market is so expensive here that we'll be renting for the next couple years. Le sigh. I'm definitely going to miss the amount of customizing you can do when it's your own house. But it will be an interesting season and I'll look forward to the next house we buy in future! :)


I'd love to hear from you! :)