About Me, Fixer Upper, house reno

New digs + downstairs tour (and the backstory of buying two houses in a single calendar year)

August 25, 2017

After an arduous journey through the hell that is the current real estate market in the Mile High City, we were thrilled to close on a house of our very own a couple weeks ago on August 11th. I haven’t talked about it in great detail here on the blog, but the reason we sold our last home, (which we only bought August 14th of last year) basically boiled down to a whole bunch of cosmetic issues turning out to be structural issues, upon further inve$tigation. Also, mold. The mold was really the last straw. We found it in the basement in the back wall of our big boy’s bedroom at the end of a long renovation process, and we decided to call the game. We had it professionally remediated, the air tested clean, and then we put the house (and the disclosure documents) on the market.

Thanks to the incredible generosity of friends and the providence of God, we were able to spend a couple weeks months living in a house north of the city while a family just our size – 3 boys and a girl – served overseas doing mission work. They assured us that we were an answered prayer, as they felt comforted knowing their house wouldn’t sit vacant in their absence. We’re still pretty sure we got the better end of the deal, however, and we’re hoping we can pay that generosity forward at some point down the road.

Since they left behind their furniture and kitchen gear, it was basically like moving into an extended stay hotel or a vacation rental. We kept all our things packed in boxes in their oversized two car garage and just brought in sheets and clothes.

While the setup of this house was ideal and the generosity of our friends unprecedented, it wasn’t without it’s imperfections. It was about an hour each way to work each day for Dave, and when school was in session, I would leave around 2:15 for pickup and sometimes get back close to 5, traffic depending. So we learned to embrace the minivan’s DVD player and the art of living out of a van (but not down by the river.) Still, I don’t care if I never see I-25 again. At least for a month or two.

It also made house hunting … interesting. Once the first trimester started to ease up, I’d spend an hour or so in the morning scanning the listings, send a handful to our realtor, and then jump in the car and see a house or four before hightailing it back north to beat rush hour and/or scoop up the big kids from school. We saw about 70% of the houses with all 4 kids in tow, which was really, really fun for our realtor, St. Brendan. We walked through close to 80 houses in a couple month’s time, and we were under contract seven (7!) frapping times before locking down a very Biblical home run with our current abode. I was beginning to despair that my desperate artificial deadline which I beseeched the Lord with was ever going to be met. (I pleaded with Him: “don’t let me have to make that drive again this school year; not even once.”)

Well, against all odds, mere hours after our 6th contract fell through (#foundationissues), our home came on the market. It was listed as an estate being dissolved by the adult children of the deceased owner, who took impeccable care of it and very much embraced the 70’s whence it was built. So the windows and AC and water heater and all the serious business had been updated, but the gold shag carpet (in.the.bathrooms), yellow linoleum and faux wood panelling game was strong. (Is still strong, linoleum-wise. Embracing my inner Kendra Tierney.)

We saw the house 2 hours after it hit the market, on a Thursday afternoon, wrote an offer that night, and had a signed contract before the end of the day on Friday. We got it for slightly under asking but still a bit more than we’d been hoping to pay, but it’s in our ideal neighborhood, close to my sisters, and 10 minutes from our parish and 20 from school. Plus, at 2,900 sq feet including an unfinished basement, we’re not about to bust out of it any time soon. In fact, I plan to be buried here because after 8 moves in 7 years of marriage, we’re loading another Uhaul only if my casket’s inside.

I know some people thought we were morons for trying to buy a house in this market (and I got a few lovely comments on social media to that effect. People be classy.) But we both felt that God had more for us. And after 6 months of almost continuous respiratory and GI illness in our old house, we figured out that the mold was actually making us really, really sick. Me and the two big boys, in particular. Within a week of moving into our friend’s home in the spring, every single one of us had a complete return to health. It was actually kind of disturbing, in retrospect, because it made us realize how sick we’d really been, and for how long.

Our new house tested mercifully mold and moisture free, and the basement being unfinished was actually a bonus to us, because we could be diligent in our investigation of any possible moisture incursion and rest easy that no below-grade drywall was hiding a dirty secret.

Once we closed earlier in the month, we had a little over a week until school started, and so we rolled up our sleeves, called in our sibling and parent crew, and got to work. (Well, they got to work. I made a lot of runs to Starbucks and Chipotle and wrangled a lot of kids for a lot of long nights solo.) My husband, his father, and his brothers tore out all the carpeting downstairs, took down a hunting lodge worth of faux wood paneling, beams, and bookshelves (trust me, it wasn’t charming or paint-able) and tiled two bathroom floors. I ripped down two room’s worth of wallpaper, painted the kitchen and family room (low voc and with a mask, fear not) and cleaned. We still have a ways to go (trim, moulding, some more paint) but overall it looks like a new house. I wish I’d saved the listing pics for before shots, but I was too busy ripping carpet up the hour after we got the keys to think about snapping evidence shots. So all I have for you is some after-ish shots today. Think of them more as “work in progress” shots.

We ended up moving in Saturday, August 19th, 2 days before school began, almost the literal 11th hour of my imaginary deadline with God. Nicely played, Lord.

The downstairs has a large living room, a formal dining room (which I love because of the size of our family/extended family) a half bath powder room, a family room with a fire place and great sliders out to the backyard, and a smallish galley style kitchen with a breakfast nook. I’ll probably end up putting a small table there for a homework center/grocery bag drop zone, but right now it’s where we’re eating our meals off a folding table while a girlfriend’s talented hubby builds us a custom farmhouse table + bench set. (Local Denver readers, stay tuned for details.)

Without further ado, please enjoy some adequate cellphone snaps and the reminder that lifestyle blogger I am not. And thanks for all the prayers along the long, bumpy ride. (And thanks to our wonderful community for all the muscle and all the meals the past week. We’ll never ask for moving help again, and we owe you a Saturday or 10 in return.)

Front yard and exterior. We’re on a super quiet street and all our neighbors are in their 60’s. Introvert’s dream.

Kitchen. Definitely the weakest link, but hey, new appliances. (And I don’t really like to cook anyway.)

Grainy view of the entryway/stairwell from the front door

 

It’s hard to convey the scale of the yard. It’s enormous and there is sooooo much grass. Dream come true.

40 foot Blue Spruce. I foresee decking this out with about 1,000 Christmas lights in a few short months.

Blurry fireplace vibes. Gas insert means minimal actual heat but also (high fives here) minimal actual mess. I’m all about them shortcuts.

Dining room with freshly installed hickory floor. Not crazy about the color or the board widths, but the price was right. We can afford to do one room a year in hardwood I think, provided nobody needs braces in the near future. 😉

View from the living room, through the kitchen into the family room.

Blurry little half bath. Imagine painted cabinets and Evie having a place to do her makeup, brother-free, in about 10 years. Plus a place for my guests to feign belief that my boys don’t pee all over the floor. Yellow linoleum covers a multitude of sins.

Living room with new grey carpet and childhood detritus.

Brooding shot of the living room from the other angle (have I mentioned that my dumbed down smartphone is no iPhone when it comes to pixels?)

Stay tuned for the vv exciting upstairs tour coming soon to a blog post near you, and happy Friday.

14 Comments

  • Reply Rebecca W. August 25, 2017 at 2:16 pm

    Woohoo! Congratulations!! (Is now a good time for me to mention that your blog got me addicted to Madam Secretary?)

  • Reply Ashley Casto August 25, 2017 at 2:40 pm

    I was just in Denver (visiting a friend in the hospital) and was out for a walk wondering if I was randomly walking by your new house. And I’m pretty sure I didn’t 😂 But I had a hard time not emailing you to see if you wanted to grab coffe. But that seemed … ahem … stalkerish. So happy for you! And your new house looks like an absolute dream. That yard!! 😍

  • Reply Maripaz August 25, 2017 at 4:34 pm

    I am happy you have a home now! We had moved 8 times in 9 years of marriage. 2 years ago we moved to our house now and I told husband that I will die here. Never moving again.

  • Reply Kathleen August 25, 2017 at 5:17 pm

    Oh this is great!! We live in DC area and had so many disappointments so i know the struggle! Like you we got a project (except the elder man took care of windows and roof etc!! Yah!) but I’ve loved the results.. even if some baseboards are still leaning against the wall waiting to be nailed in!!!. I tell my husband all the time he will have to drag my dead body out of our house!! Congrats on finding a home!!!

  • Reply Anna August 25, 2017 at 8:37 pm

    Congrats Jenny you will make it all yours in due time !!!! Blessings!

  • Reply jeanette August 25, 2017 at 9:10 pm

    So very happy *and jealous* that you found your home finally! God’s timing is always perfect, isn’t it? So from your success I am ever more encouraged to trust that it will be impeccable for us, too.

    I’ve said the dead body thing, too, about out of state moves. Never again. We can’t really say we’ll never move again, because here we are at it again, but we can sure say never out of state! Too, too hard.

    I hope you settle in and get some rest and relaxation in your lovely backyard before the weather turns cool. May you have many happy years of family life ahead in your home. May it be the place of memories that your children recall with fondness when they grow up.

  • Reply Cami August 25, 2017 at 10:08 pm

    Yay! So happy for you! Such a crazy market, I know! Looks like a lovely little (biggish, actually) slice of home for your sweet-faced crew. How wonderful that you have your friends and family to help make improvements! Wishing you all the best in your new abode and I look forward to seeing more photos. Today we found a rental where we are moving to in Connecticut. We are going to be on the road moving there in a week so God certainly loves testing our faith, not revealing his plan until the last minute!

    • Reply Cami August 25, 2017 at 10:09 pm

      Oh yeah, and this is move #5 in 7 years of marriage.

  • Reply Lorna August 26, 2017 at 4:41 am

    That is one awesome family home!! Congratulations!!

  • Reply Sarah August 26, 2017 at 7:10 am

    Yay! Congrats Jenny, so glad you aren’t making that commute anymore. So brutal.

  • Reply Mary August 26, 2017 at 9:55 am

    Congratulations!!! What a blessing to finally find your home. Mold is NO JOKE!

  • Reply Amanda August 26, 2017 at 10:18 am

    Yayyyy so so so happy for you all! The home is LOVELY and you will make it yours in time 🙂 praise the Lord for swooping in and providing last minute!!! LOL

  • Reply Ashley August 27, 2017 at 1:10 pm

    Oh Jenny, I am SO happy for you!! You have been in my prayers (house buying/selling is not for the weak, haha!) and I’m so glad you’ll be able to start this new school year settled in without all that stress. Can I send you a housewarming gift? Send me an email with your address! xo

  • Reply MK August 28, 2017 at 3:12 pm

    Congrats Jenny & family! We just moved out of state and it was (and is) an ordeal with small children, while being pregnant. Figuring out logistics, buying a home sight unseen (if you don’t count Internet photos and video), packing, driving for two days, unpacking, getting organized–whew. All with very helpful and cooperative 3 and 1 year old (yeah, right!). Having to recognize and resist the temptation to want to get everything done immediately, and knowing my limits, has proven HARD for me! Have you found that true, also?

    I’m so happy you found a good home, in the right neighborhood with plenty of room, in what sounds like such a tough market. And happy to hear you have lots of family help–makes a big difference! Good luck settling in!

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