The House Tour

To tour our house and see what we've done, check out the pics and links below:

To do - 
- new bushes
- columns instead of wrought iron
- new front door
- new windows
- (maybe?) paint brick
- retile front porch

I don't really have a before picture of this because it was never really photographed but here is our little entry corner. It has our coat closet (which is very deep and houses our wrapping paper station). Ideally, I'd like to wire a light into that closet to get rid of that stray wire behind the boots.

Living Room:
 Here's how it started out looking (in an MLS pic with the old owner's things):
 Most gratifying home project so far? Ripping out the carpet to expose the hardwood.

To do/Wish list:
- Replace windows with something energy efficient 
- Get a sectional couch
- Refinish hardwood floors
- (maybe?) paint the trim cream

This room is Bee's Wax by Sherwin Williams.

Dining Room:

This "now" picture isn't even the new now because we have since taken out that door to the left that went to our guest bedroom and that is a wall. This room started out as:
 It definitely benefited from the carpet being taken out. 

To do:
- Widen doors to den
- Spray paint new light fixture with ORB spray paint
- Figure out new layout/declutter

 Front Hall:
 The main thing of importance in our front hall is our laundry closet we created. Prior to creation, laundry was done in the pantry (also where the water heater and HVAC is) - not ideal. We moved it to this hall closet to be closer to the bedrooms. 
 It started out as:
 (the closest I have to a true before) with a single door. We widened the doorway and now have a laundry area in our hall. 

Office/Front Bedroom:

This room is used by Jake for his studies. We built this desk using a shelf, filing cabinet, and some wood from Home Depot. This room is Ligoner Tan from Sherwin Williams.

Middle Bedroom/Guest Room:
Other than getting incredibly cluttered with clothes, this room has not changed much since we moved in. It is still white like below and is in need of some serious design help:
 We have closed off two doors in this room (including the one in the right of the picture here) and obviously put our furniture in it. I'd like to make it a guest room/crafting area with my new sewing machine. 

Guest Bath:
We painted this bathroom "Drizzle" by Sherwin Williams. We took out a cabinet above the toilet (it has a huge closet to the right of the door when you walk in so you don't really need it) and took out the medicine cabinet. 
 Master Bedroom:
 Our bedroom is in the back of the house and has its own bathroom. We're currently turning the hallway into a dressing area to complete the "master suite" look. Here's a sort-of-before:
 To do:
- get a rug for the floor
- complete hallway "built in closet" dressing area

The den has changed a lot, even since this picture was taken (the shelves are black now and we're going to have to completely rearrange after the kitchen renovation because where the couch is now there are cabinets). Here's a major before:
 To Do:
- Rearrange after kitchen reno finishes
- new flooring (Cork?)
- Take out the paneling/repaint
- Widen doorway to dining room

No "after" for this one yet - soon. Until then, relish in our before:

Advice for buying a home:

Jake and I bought our first house on October 15th, 2009. We wanted to take advantage of what seemed like the "perfect storm" for new homeowners - low interest rates, deflated house values, and the first time homeowner's tax credit. We knew we wanted to live in Midtown and started by looking on the MLS (any large real estate firm is going to have a searchable Multiple Listing Service for you to look at on their website) to see what was out there, what we could get for our money, what we could expect. Once we knew what to expect, we started visiting open houses. This helped because we hadn't committed to an agent yet but wanted to see houses to begin the conversation of what we liked/didn't like. After we found a few houses we wanted to look at, we contacted our realtor (if you need a recommendation, email me and I'll give you her name, she was great). 

I've got a few pieces of advice for buying your first home:

1) Make a budget and see how much you can comfortably afford in mortgage payments. Then subtract about 100-200$. Really - you'll want that money for house stuff. 

2) Find out how much mortgage you can take out. Use the mortgage calculator on the MLS websites. Remember that you are having to include insurance and taxes in that calculation. Our mortgage payment isn't that much (comparable to our rent) but our taxes and insurance are what makes it much higher. 

3) Get pre-approved. This is important to do as soon as you think you want a house because you need to be pre-approved to put a contract on a house and you're not going to want to wait once you find a house you love. Your agent will have great recommendations for a mortgage lender.

4) If you're buying with a spouse/sig other, you need to have open conversations about what are priorities in houses. I needed closets, Jake wanted big bathrooms. Also talk about how much work you're willing to put into the house. We put an offer on a foreclosure and I was fine with the amount of work it needed, but Jake was hesitant. We compromised with the house we got. It needed cosmetic work but nothing structural.

5) Figure out what neighborhood you want to live in. Especially if you're new to an area, I would really recommend renting in the neighborhood before buying. Make sure you like it at all times of the day, at all times of the year. We love where we are and can't imagine being in another neighborhood. Know that each person has a different opinion on neighborhoods. Listen and decide for yourself. 

6) Don't get carried away by cute-ness and decor when looking at houses. You can make it cute on your own and are paying extra for the house most likely because someone else has decorated it well. See the potential in homes and do the work yourself. 


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