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Tag Archives: home planning

…And Gilder To Frame For It

Whenever I talk to my aunt she always asks, “What projects are you working on?”

I know that she’s just making conversation but I always feel like Prince Humperdink when I respond that we don’t have any projects going on right now. We’ve been busy.

It’s not as though I’m planning anything as grand as he is, it’s just Mr. Pirate and I have found our time strangely occupied since Elle came along. She really has changed everything. Our weekends revolve around nap time. Our menu planning is determined by whether or not it’s something that can be gummed by a little person with only two teeth.

Neither of us regrets this change in our perspective but it certainly has altered our short-term planning for the Jade House.

We bought this house because of its proximity to the elementary school (it’s at the end of our block) so the goal always has been to hunker down and stay here for a bit. And with that comes our expectation that things will take some time.

The house has come a long way even if we’re not making regular progress. We now have two fully functional bathrooms plus the sole original one that’s located in our creepy basement. Mr. Pirate refinished the hardwood in Elle’s room which was more important to us than fixing the peeling linoleum-whatever floor in the living room and dining room.

We’re working on saving and budgeting for new windows. All of the appliances in our kitchen work, even if the layout leaves something to be desired. It has possibly stopped snowing (for now) so maybe we can start laying down the groundwork for a raised vegetable garden out back and just do some general curb appeal.

At times I envy the family two doors down who had the opportunity to gut their formerly bank-owned home. Like ours, it was in need of some restorative TLC and they were able to set up a Dumpster out front and just give the house a 4-month long makeover before they moved in. It would have been nice to do that.

Instead, we’re just living with poking along and doing one intermittent project at a time. At least this way we’ll never be bored.



Accepting Change With Grace

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I remember back in the early days (okay, the early 2000’s) of reality home improvement shows when the residents would come home for the big reveal and someone would burst into tears. You’d watch that person have a meltdown right there on TLC and wonder what the big deal was. They just had part of their home renovated. For free. Wasn’t that something to be excited about?

Now that I’m a home owner though, I get it. I understand how you can come home and be faced with a change to your home that you had no hand in doing and just how overwhelming that can be.

My in-laws stayed with us for the better part of August and my father-in-law is a man who is happiest with a hammer in hand. Owen warned me that projects would likely get done when they came to visit. I believed him but I guess I just wasn’t prepared for the reality of coming home from work and seeing how much of a difference a new light fixture can make. Or how much bigger our yard looks when there aren’t scraggly elms crowding up against our foundation.

But I turned on the water works and cried anyway.

Let me just go ahead and say on the record that I have really great in-laws.

Last summer, my mother-in-law and brother-in-law came out and helped us move. Owen comes from a super helpful and considerate family. They operate very much like my own blood kin.

I guess I felt a certain amount of shame at my lack of involvement with the three weeks worth of progress being done on our house. From time to time I still have these moments where I just don’t feel like I have done enough to deserve this house. We make our payments on time, but I worry that some day the Tidy Patrol will show up on our doorstep and evict us for letting the dishes pile up or for still having stuff in boxes.

This xkcd comic describes how I view our approach to having our own place.

We’re not quite that bad. But there’s a pirate flag spanning one wall of our kitchen and I’ve given strong consideration to painting our front door a cheerful Police Box shade of blue.

I want to have pride in home ownership. To my mind I equate that to spending my own sweat equity to better the house and making my own mistakes as we learn about how to fix things. Having someone else do things for us just felt like cheating.

Even if the new light fixture in the hallway looks really cool.


Project list for 2012

I said this over on the Skills blog but I’ll say it again here.

I’m not a fan of making New Year’s resolutions. Mostly because I’d feel bad about deviating from my resolve. And really let’s be honest here. We’re quite good about beating up on ourselves without adding extra cannon fodder aren’t we?

I used to make them. You can flip through my old journals and at the first of every new year I make a series of resolutions that I usually failed to keep. My most popular resolution from year to year was almost always “write more.” But without guidelines that’s an empty statement.

Sometime after college, probably while in Georgia, I stopped even writing down my resolutions. I tried the day zero project for several months where I set out to do 101 things in 1,001 days. But those don’t count as New Year’s resolutions because I started it in the fall of 2007 and had a definite deadline.

I think that’s the rub though. The deadline. That’s why NaNoWriMo works so well. You have to write a 50,000 word novel in a month. Period. There’s no wiggle room when the goal and the rules of the game are both so clear.

So even though I’m not going to set down a series of personal resolutions, I would at least to take a moment to draft the Jade House’s tentative project list for 2012. We might not get everything done and that’s okay. We stressed enough about the house last year. Now we’ll just let the projects happen as they happen.
Things to do for the Jade House:

  • fix/remodel the upstairs bathrooms
  • make it so that the sinks don’t leak
  • hang pictures
  • attempt a to grow things outdoors
  • get the garage cleared out
  • replace/repair the garage door
  • replace the front and back doors
  • finish painting
  • declutter…yeah…we haven’t been here a year yet and already I feel like we’re accumulating clutter
  • unpack all boxes

No worries. Right?


Ways to View a Room

Our friend Brydon recently referred to visiting our house as “porn for the apartment dweller.” Not only because we’re still trying to extract layers of grime from the corners, but because there is so much more room here than what we’ve previously had. And maybe because we’re adding the extra voyeur element to the Jade House by blogging about it.

The Jade House is still in a state of chaos, but it is gradually becoming organized chaos.

We’ve started moving things from the garage to the basement into organized piles based on the boxes’ designations. Kitchen and dining room on one side. Bedrooms and office stuff in another corner. Rinse, repeat.

As a room gets painted, we’re starting to fill it. This makes the house sound stupid grand, when really it’s just your normal house in suburbia. But it’s A LOT more space than either of us has ever had to ourselves. We come from families where we could have had our own bedrooms, but ended up sharing with our siblings anyway.

The whole concept of having rooms (plural) to fill on our own is super exciting and still a little daunting. We’ve figured out the office (kind of) and once the wireless is set up the computer box will move off of my short dresser and downstairs.

Last weekend Mr. Pirate finished painting what we currently refer to as the guest bedroom.

As we tried different orientations for my old bed (under the window and against the wall where the desk is) it occurred to me though that it could be something else. A guest bedroom that is only a guest bedroom seems like a waste of space so we’re considering making it a multi-use room. Like maybe it’ll be a library too, or a writing room, or some kind of crazy mix of all these things with clever storage tossed in there. I like clever storage. Ikea is my place of ultimate clever storage.

What it won’t be though is cold. Today we’re going to hang curtains since Colorado decided that it is now fall. As in, right now.

Even though we only have pine trees we’ll be picking up a couple of rakes this afternoon too since leaves from across the neighborhood have blown into our yard. It’s cool though. This whole yard business satisfies my own urges for house porn.

For several months prior to our closing we’d go for walks around the neighborhood and I’d point out parts of people’s yards that I liked. Even the ones that I couldn’t see, but hear. Like the water feature in someone’s backyard that you always hear just gurgling away.

It’s all becoming less overwhelming though. Our bottom-line goal right now though is to get writing places set up by Nov. 1. NaNoWriMo will be here before long and we need to find a sense of normal before that happens.


Breathing life into the Jade House

I have come to the conclusion that throwing a house-warming party while the house is still on fire, is a bad idea.

We’ve been in the Jade House for almost a full month now and have decided that maybe we’ll throw a shindig for the house sometime in the fall. Of next year.

Owen and I are Level 1 homeowners and moving into a serious fixer-upper like this has kind of been like running into Molten Core wearing only starting gear.

At times, I feel like I’ve been running around my head and screaming: “STICK TO THE PLAN GUYS! STICK TO THE PLAN!

Coming to live at this house felt very much like a whirlwind three-month long courtship where neither party was really ready for something serious.

We had a rocky first date where I wanted nothing to do with the house, met a second time when I started to reassess my original opinions, and finally the pirate and I decided to propose our intentions. We had some issues surrounding our signing and I started to worry that the house was getting cold feet and wanted to back out. Finally, we made our for better or for worse commitment.

And now here we are. The honeymoon hardly lasted an hour and now both us and the house are hanging out all of our dirty laundry. Our toolbox is inadequate to handle the house’s needs. It was empty and neglected for sometime before even going on the market. There’s a random hole in the kitchen ceiling. Every faucet leaks in some endearing fashion or another. We have more weeds than actual lawn. Our laundry list goes on.

We have our work cut out for us, but we’re enthusiastic about the challenge.

It’s really nice to have a space where we don’t have to answer to anyone. If we want to paint the walls. We can. (Currently we’re going with Behr’s Wax Sculpture but accent wall’s are in our future.)

Yes, Wax Sculpture looks like beige. But it’s our beige.

If we want to put up an aerial jungle gym for the cats in the future office, our only limitations are our imagination and our skills.

We’re even thinking about signing up for a couple of classes through my community college on basic at-home plumbing and electrical. Because seriously. Beyond knowing that water goes down the drain and that electricity likes to be grounded, we don’t know a whole lot.

It’s a slow process which is fine by us. We’re not here to power level and move out.

It’s at least a 30-year commitment and we want the Jade House to know that we’re in it for the long haul. Come what may.