It's only been a couple of months....what's the rush, right?
Just in case any of you are eager to see a beautifully decorated new home anytime soon, here are a few photos to explain why that hasn't come to pass quite yet. It makes no sense to paint and do window treatments until all of the construction dust has settled. And until the rennovation/painting is done, nothing can be put into place yet.
These pictures show what was originally a small formal living room area which opened up off of the front entry. Well, our need for an office far exceeded the need for 2 living rooms, so we decided to have a wall installed, french doors put in on the other wall, and the open doorway into the great room was opened up to improve the sense of vertical space.
Since we're still wiped out from renovating our other house, and because Steve will be extremely busy with his new job assignment, we hired a contractor to take care of everything except the painting (my job). It's awesome to have someone else take care of the work, but the downside is that it has to be done on other people's timetable = lots of waiting until the various workers have time to come in and do their respective jobs. We're currently waiting for the sheetrock guy. I'd do it myself, but the walls have a very heavy splatter texture on it that would be impossible to match without a splatter machine, which I don't own and have no intention of buying. I wish all the walls were smooth, but that is not the case. Hopefully the sheetrock will be done this week sometime and things can progress.
There is very little storage in this house, so we decided to bump out the closet under the stairs to squeeze in a little more storage space. At least now we'll be able to hang all our winter coats in one place!
You can see the ridiculous, stand-alone post in the photo above - the post they ended up having to put in to support the balcony above because they didn't use a beam beefy enough to support a free-standing cantilevered balcony. Grrrrr. Hazel's already gotten hurt on that huge trim wrapped around the post, and it really affects traffic in one of the busiest places in the house. I'd love to get rid of the post altogether, but it would be mega-expensive to go in and beef up the beams on the second floor enough to do that. At a minimum, I want to replace it with a round pillar so Hazel's head won't get bashed again.
We're in the process of installing unfinished cabinets in the laundry room, which will help a lot in the storage department. I'm still thinking about what I want to do to the cabinets to finish them....
This is our master bedroom, after the 2 senseless little partial walls were removed so that we could actually have room to put a horizontal dresser in our bedroom (you know, the one that got split in two because of the movers). Apparently the original contractor put those little walls in because he was going to install a built-in shelving system, but no such shelving ever materialized. And since the rest of the walls are peppered with windows and doors, that space was the only place for a long dresser. Besides, it was a great excuse for me to condemn the super cheap, ultra ugly and scratchy carpet to death....I'll be installing new flooring in there as soon as the sheetrock is done.
The sheetrock guy will also be fixing the place in the ceiling where Steve almost fell through while trying to figure out why the AC unit in the attic was leaking and ruining the sheetrock in our hallway. Oops! Glad he didn't get hurt.
Anyway, as soon as the flooring is installed, I can move our bedroom furniture out of the living room and we can have a bed and a place to put our clothes again. Except now I have to find new furniture since the movers destroyed most of our bedroom set!
Some of you have already been scratching your heads about these remodels/replacements, saying "Wait a minute...I thought it was a brand new house?"
Yes, it was recently finished, and we're the first inhabitants, but it was abandoned several years ago by the original builder while only half built. So it sat for a few years without the exterior and roof even being finished. Then the bank stepped in and hired a different contractor to finish the job...and as you can imagine, workers finishing a house for a bank foreclosure can result in a level of workmanship and quality of materials that is much less than if they were hired by a client about to move in. So, between the weathering wear & tear and the foreclosure status, this "new" house has suffered all sorts of issues like rotted door frames on the back deck, leaking patio doors (3 exterior doors and frames need replacing), plumbing and wiring issues (leaking pipes and faulty, arcing (sp?) wires that kept tripping circuits), HVAC problems (improperly installed unit in attic = leaking and water damage), bird infestation of all the bathroom ventilation systems, warped and cupped hardwood flooring, and soft spots underneath the kitchen flooring that I have yet to confirm the cause of. Some of these things we knew about prior to buying it (yes, we had it inspected) but many came to light after moving in...and since it's a foreclosure, everything is "AS IS" and we have no recourse even if things were installed improperly. It's a good thing we got a good deal on it!
Soooooooo, it's a beautiful house with wonderful potential - it's just not as "move-in ready" as we had hoped. But the neighborhood is really great, I LOVE how much space we have outside (3 acres!!!) and our neighbors are FANTASTIC. They've helped me out so much already, especially when Steve was gone for weeks at a time and I was here alone with the kids trying to deal with all of the problems that kept springing up with the house, not to mention moving in and sending the kids off to a new school.
Because the inside of the house has been so overwhelming, I've been seeking solace and a creative outlet by working on the landscaping outside...another major reason I'm still not unpacked yet! We were blessed with a cool and wet spring, which really helped as I planted 17 trees and HUNDREDS of plants. Here you can see the front of the house, and my tiny little fledgling landscape....and the 11 cubic yards of mulch that didn't go as far as expected, boo-hoo.
This is our backyard - in the distance you may be able to see 6 trees that I recently planted....or maybe not. :-) It's so awesome to have so much space, although it takes about 2 hours to mow everything, even with a 60" deck mower! It's worth it though - I love it. Eventually I'll put in a big vegetable garden and dig out a big firepit area, among other things. Those projects will have to wait until next year though.
This is what the front of the house looked like before we moved in...
...and the same general area of the house in its current state. It still looks pretty wimpy, but I was determined not to overplant so that when the bushes reach their mature size, they won't be crowded. I ordered many of the shrubs online, and they came as bare-root little twigs so it will be at least a couple of years before the yard really looks like much...hence the urgency to get them in the ground as soon as I could.
Now that the brutal summer heat has descended upon us, I spend at least 2 hours a day watering and weeding everything - and I have started to question the wisdom of planting everything at once! I did so because there was almost NO vegetation (other than weeds) on the entire property except 6 scrawny, neglected bushes in front of the house. I really wanted to get things in the ground ASAP so they can get growing - because I NEED plants as much as I need a nicely decorated house inside....especially after leaving behind such a lush, densely-planted yard in Virginia.
As you can see, there is still much work to be done. I'll be installing edging all around the beds, and this fall we'll get rid of the weeds (AKA lawn, but it's not grass - just weeds) and plant grass seed.
Since the water table is so high in this area (AKA swamp), everyone's property is surrounded by ditches to control flooding. When we first started house hunting in the area, I was amazed at how flat the topography is - and how many swampy marshy areas there are (hello, mosquitoes). In fact, there is a large wildlife reserve nearby that, no joke, is officially named the Great Dismal Swamp. I'm sure it's very beautiful, but since I'm no fan of bugs, alligators, and poisonous snakes, that's probably not a place I'll be frequenting much. I've had nightmares about alligators eating my children for years, and now water moccasins and diamondbacks have slithered their way into my list of things to be paranoid about.
Anyway, on Craigslist I found a local listing for a huge pile of river rock that a homeowner had pulled out of his yard and was selling for a great price, so we borrowed a big trailer and vehicle from our awesome neighbors next door and loaded them all up. Sweet! The perfect solution to controlling both weeds and erosion around the culverts in the ditches. I mortared the rocks in place around the culverts, and the remaining rocks will be carefully stacked on top of landscape fabric along the slope. I dug a little "shelf" in the dirt at the bottom of the ditch and embedded the first row of the rocks in cement to provide additional stability when the rains come. I'll put more landscape fabric at the base of the ditch and cover it with gravel, which should help a lot with weed control as well.
Every morning I come out and work on it for a few hours before it gets too hot...but with the heat wave we've just experienced this past week the early morning thing is pretty much pointless. On Saturday it was 90 degrees at 9:00 am, with enough humidity in the air to make me drip just standing there, let alone mixing cement and hefting rocks. I think it got above 100 for several days, and the humidity makes it SO much worse! I know that other places have been even more scorched, but this muggy heat is enough for me! I've been able to brave the temps, though, to keep chipping away at this rock project. I really enjoy working with rock, and I'm looking forward to being able to finish SOMETHING....because it's going to be a long, long time before the house is the way I've envisioned it to be.
This next week is supposed to be cooler, with lots of thunderstorms - hurray for that! Having Mother Nature water my plants is much better than me doing it, and building rock walls in ditches will be much more pleasant. :-)