Saturday, January 29, 2011

Kitchen Inspiration

We are currently waiting on the permit that will allow work to begin on the house, so I thought I would do a quick post on the kitchen that is the inspiration behind our future kitchen.

I saw this kitchen on House Beautiful:

I love everything about this kitchen: the colors, the layout, the appliances (although there is no way our appliances will be as nice as these).  I kept thinking about a kitchen layout with two islands and couldn't stop thinking about how we could get that in our house.  So I drew up a floorplan that included two islands and a large pantry.  The next step was to convince Kyle that our kitchen should include two islands and to see what what the architect and Ann thought about the idea.

After we sat down with both Ann and the architect, we were convinced that its a great idea.  If you look back at the floorplan, you'll notice that we have two islands with an approximate size of 6.5'x3', along with about 15 feet of cabinetry and countertops on the side wall (which includes the range and the fridge).  We also have a large (5'x11') pantry and a huge window behind the islands.  One of the islands has the sink and dishwasher in it, and the other island is large countertop space with seating at a bar area.  Thanks to the islands, we are also able to get the extra light from the large window, and with the large pantry we are able to get the storage we'd be missing from the upper cabinets.

I can't wait to start cooking and baking in the new kitchen... perhaps we'll have everyone over for a nice big housewarming meal once it's all done.

Monday, January 24, 2011


Finally.... we have floorplans!

I have spent more hours the last couple of months drawing on graph paper than I care to admit. It was a huge puzzle to me - see if we can get everything we want in this house. (I like puzzles and I like a challenge) Luckily we had the opportunity to work with an architect who took our ideas and improved upon them. I'm very excited about how they turned out.

First, the current floorplan. We had a large part in putting together the current floorplan of the house - including measuring in the very cold and very dark house with flashlights. Not a fun experience but it saved us some money by not hiring someone else to do the measuring. The architect took our measurements, went out to the house and did some double checking to make sure we measured correctly, and put the current plan down on paper.

Click on the pictures to get a better view.


And of course, the proposed floorplan.  You'll notice that the house will have 4 bedrooms and three bathrooms, and open floorplan for the living areas, and a den and laundry room downstairs.  It pretty much has everything we wanted.  So excited!


How this came to be....

A few things I thought I should address before the blog gets too far along. First of all, how did all of this happen? And second, why are we blogging about it?

How did we get here:

I guess you could say it all started a little over a year ago. My sister, Amy, and her husband, Jay, found a duplex in a nearby neighborhood that was being foreclosed. They decided to go for it and eventually got the house. They worked with a couple they know (we will be referring to them often as well - Ann and Arthur) who has experience renovating houses. Over a period of 4-5 months they gutted the house and completely renovated everything. We got to watch from the sidelines and think "Man, this is awesome." Along with "Man, that's a ton of work. Glad its them and not us." Ha.

Fast forward a good bit to a weekend in November. Kyle and I are relaxing at a mountain cabin when I get a call from Amy. She mentions that the (practically identical) duplex next door is on the market in case we were interested, and to spread the word to anyone else who might be interested. Normally a house like this would be under contract immediately with an investor who could pay in cash. But, thanks to a special Freddie Mac foreclosure program, we had a two week window before any investors could make offers. I casually mention this to Kyle, not expecting much of a reaction, but the more we talked about it, the more it made sense. Before we knew it we had called Ann, scheduled a time to meet her at the house after we got back on Sunday, and made on offer that next Tuesday!

Ann and Arthur are doing the renovations for us as well. We're very excited to be working with them, and it helps that they did the house next door already. It should take 4-5 months and we'll hopefully be moving in sometime this summer.

I could go on for awhile about why I'm so excited for this house - how much bigger it is, how its in a great neighborhood, how I get a laundry room finally, etc etc. But the most important thing is how incredibly blessed we feel to have this opportunity and how thankful we are. I pray that we will be good stewards of the house and will use it to bless others.

If you're wondering what the plan is for our current house - we intend to sell it as fast as we can! Our goal is to get it on the market in late February/early March and see how it goes. That will be an adventure I don't particularly look forward to, but I have faith we will survive the process.

Why start a blog?

The main reason we started this blog is for ourselves. We want to remember the whole process. When we bought our current house we did a complete renovation of the kitchen ourselves, but did a horrible job at chronicling the process. We have some great before and after pictures but that's pretty much all we have. We want to avoid that and are using the blog as a template to keep track of everything that happens.

Therefore, it might not always be the most interesting blog in the world. I don't expect anyone to come here for the superb writing or professional pictures. We're amateurs, so don't expect too much. However, I thought I would put the blog out there for a few reasons. One, its good accountability to keep updating it. And second, there might be some people out there who are interested in seeing the process. Granted, they all might be family (Hi Dad!). But anyone is welcome to follow the process. It might be slow at times, boring at times, but we'll still be here.

Thanks for joining us!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Before Pictures

Meg here... The day after we closed on the house we made it a point to get out there and try to take some good "Before" pictures.  Its hard to look at these pictures and imagine the finished product because it will be so incredibly different, but we want to remember where we started.  So here they are:

 Front of the house - we will get rid of the large bushes, paint the house, and change the entry to just one door

 View of the street from the front doors

 Living space as you walk into the left side - this is about where our foyer will be.  Some of that space will also be taken up by the master closet and bathroom


 Bedroom at the front left of the house - will become a guest bedroom

 Left side staircase (this is the staircase we'll be keeping - but it will look different!)

 Back left bedroom - this is where the Master bedroom will be.  We're going to probably add some french doors that go out to the deck

 Left side bathroom - This is the general area of the master bath

 Downstairs now - the living area on the left side - this is generally where two bedrooms will be with a hall in between.

 Downstairs left side living area

 Downstairs left side kitchen (anyone need a fridge?)

 Downstairs left side room (will become a large den)

 Utility Room - The Laundry room will be in this general area (finally - a separate laundry room!)

Downstairs half-bath (will become a full bath) 

 Now on to the right side... Living area when you walk in

 Right side living area - this is where our living room will be

 View of the backyard from upstairs - this is the view the deck will have

 Right set of stairs - will be demolished

 Right side bedroom - about where the dining room will be.

 Right side bathroom - the large pantry will be in this area

 Right side other bedroom - kitchen will be in this area

 Downstairs right side living area - will become garage space

 Right side kitchen 

 Crazy neighbors... did we mention my sister lives next door?

 Utility room - will become garage storage and another utility room

 Right side downstairs half bath - utility room/garage storage will take this space over

 Backyard after walking out of the downstairs door

 One side of the fence is up... Thanks neighbors!

 View of the back of the house - picture a large deck 

 A deck kinda like this one.... the finished house next door

View of the other side of the back yard.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Post-closing Thoughts

Phase one of our odyssey came to a close Friday afternoon; after much stress, many unreturned phone calls, and a small forest's worth of paperwork, we officially own the house.

A few random post-closing thoughts:

1.  The foreclosure industry is positively booming.  The attorney's office that handled our closing does most of the foreclosures in the Atlanta area, and I was rather surprised at how busy they were on the Friday afternoon following a holiday weekend..  In case you're an optimist who thinks the worst is behind us, the closing attorney told us December was the busiest month they've ever had.

2. Being a listing broker for a Freddie Mac property has to be the greatest job in the world.  Freddie sets an incredibly low price on the property that makes buyers willing to jump through a multitude of hoops in order to close the deal - why bother providing decent service when the buyer will bend over backward get the deal done?  Your 3.5% commission is same either way.  Truly a stellar example of your tax dollars being flushed down the drain.

3. I am still incredulous at how much money banks were willing to lend us.  Yes, the documentation was intense, and yes, we are good credit risks, but still - a little crazy.  Banks may be not be lending like they once were, but apparently if you can fit into their cookie-cutter profile there are loans to be had out there.