Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Power Of A Key

A key - it's simple and small, but it has the power to change everything. Both figuratively and literally, a key can open the door to an infinite number of new opportunities. After months of job searching and then house searching, last Friday Jon and I finally got our new house key. In return of the title company draining a significant chunk of our bank account thanks to a down payment and closing costs, we were handed a single, metal key.  Fortunately, it's what that key opens that makes that down payment worthwhile. So last Friday as we arrived at our new house with the dogs in tow, we excitedly used that key to open the door to not just our new townhouse, but also to a new season in our life as we embark on the home-ownership journey once again.

In all it's humbleness, here is our new townhouse:

A little bit different from our first house in Arizona...

Comparatively, I like that the new house has more exterior color; AZ homes are very cookie-cutter so it's nice to have a house that isn't made of beige stucco =)

Unfortunately, the seller was an older lady who loved her floral print laminate floors and outdated light fixtures (think gold and lots of glass) along with avocado green laminate counter-tops! When we purchased this house, we knew we would want to update some things right away.

Since this is short-term house for us (~5 years or so) we want to be intentional about all the upgrades and changes we make. The goal is to make it aesthetically pleasing but not top quality. Here is our to-do list that we want to tackle while owning this house.

Short-term (within the first 1-2 months):

Update the main level flooring to laminate hardwood. This will hopefully take place this weekend!
A look at the floral linoleum and Pergo flooring that is detached at the seams in several places and also very scratched.

Paint the interior walls, trim, and doors. Currently, all the baseboards, trim, and walls are an industrial shade of white. Not diggin' it, so off go the baseboards for repainting and on goes new paint for the walls. 
Hello white, dull walls!

Add more height to the back section of the backyard fence. The sides of the yard have 6 ft fencing, but the back fencing is only 3.5 to 4 ft. With an active Labrador who loves to jump and lots of birds and squirrels he would want to chase in the greenspace behind our backyard, we know this has to get fixed ASAP. 
6 foot fencing on the sides

Weird, out of place different-style shorter fencing on the back side of the yard

A bunch of random things. Shampooing the carpets, adding bathroom storage, building shelving in the sort-of kitchen pantry space, and possibly painting the avocado green counter tops for a short-term cosmetic fix.

Long term (after 1 year)

Redo the entire kitchen with new cabinets and counter tops (the avocado green laminate counter tops and particle board veneer covered cabinets HAVE to go!)

(This townhouse is only 15 years old! How can it look this dated!?)

Replace the ugly, old bathroom vanities with new ones (there are 3 of these babies)

Replace outdated lighting (good-bye gold-trimmed glass lights!)
I took this picture during the inspection, so the furniture isn't ours in this picture. But take a look at that gold trimmed glass chandelier. It's gotta go someday. Out with the old, in with the new.

Replace outdated bathroom fixtures (shower rods, towel rods, etc)

Add garage storage

Replace old toilets with more modern ones (aah, the joys of home ownership)

Replace crummy plastic mini blinds with faux wood wide panel blinds

Install ceiling fans in all three bedrooms and maybe 1 downstairs. Fortunately, there is a center ceiling light fixture in each bedroom already, so installing a fan shouldn't be too difficult.

Since this is a short-term house for us, ALL upgrades and projects will be ROI-focused. Translation: IKEA will get our business over Home Depot or Lowes when it comes to a kitchen remodel, baseboards will be painted white and re-attached, not replaced, and paint will be Valspar, not Benjamin Moore. You get the idea =)   The goal is decent quality and great aesthetic appeal on a low budget to get as much resale $$ on it as possible when we sell it some day in the future.

As I'm writing this blog, Jon and I have already started on some of the house projects.

The first big task was removing all the baseboards on the main level of the house.

Removing the baseboards

$10 molding prybar tool from Lowe's

All wiped down and ready for a fresh coat of white paint

Fortunately, whoever installed the baseboards the first time did a pretty terrible job and their lackluster quality of work was in my favor. I didn't even have to cut a seal along the top of the baseboards. There were few nails holding each piece of baseboard in, so detaching them was fairly easy. I still broke a sweat and it still took time and effort, but the process was a lot faster than I had anticipated.

A $10 molding prybar from Lowe's was the only tool I needed to detach the baseboards. I used a needle-nose plyer to pull the nails out of the detached baseboards. Since I'm using a thicker paint, I didn't worry about filling in the nail holes with wood filler, as they are so few and far between on each baseboard that I'm confident the thick paint will just naturally fill in the nail holes.

Tomorrow is the painting day! Since we are replacing the old flooring, we are taking advantage of the fact that the flooring will be pulled up so we don't have to use drop clothes for painting the walls. Painting is definitely one of those DIY projects that otherwise could have waited until we were settled in, but we figured it would be much more work once the new hardwood flooring gets installed. So wish us luck as we paint and start on the flooring installation this weekend!

Happy 4th of July!


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