Friday, September 30, 2011

A Face Only A Mother Could Love

Consider me the mother and my home the face…because even when it’s in shambles, I’m head over heels in love with it! 

After receiving a lunchtime phone call from our contractor letting us know that the house would be completely demo'ed and cleaned up by the end of the day on Tuesday, the hubs and I were on pins and needles to see the progress that had been made.  We rushed to the house after work to see what kind of destructive state it was in after demo day part deux.

When we pulled up at our house, we saw two things: 1)  The hub’s friend Matt was taking his second truck load of plant debris out of our back yard.  (Over the past month we had created a beyond massive “where plants go to die” pile back there.  Just take a look at my “Welcome to the Jungle” post…and then picture all of that greenery laying in one giant pile.  Lucky for us, Matt is a landscaper, who graciously accepted our job of hauling all-things-green out of our yard and out of our sight); and 2)  A dumpster in our driveway that was filled to the brim.

We scrambled out of the car and said our hellos to Matt.  Then the three of us excitedly trekked (okay, Matt probably wasn’t that excited, but the hubs and I sure were) up our ugly asphalt walkway to the house.  I was beyond shocked when I opened the front door.  They had demo'ed pretty much everything that needed to go!  There were only three things left that still needed to be ripped out…the heinous kitchen backsplash (sorry to say Mom, but it's still there, for now) , the kitchen counter tops and part of the wall between the master bedroom and what was originally bedroom #3.

Here's a look at what we saw…

View from in the hallway back towards the front door.
View from the dining area towards the living room and kitchen areas (and the hubs talking to Matt).
View from the living room area towards the kitchen.
View into the kitchen...even the linoleum floor is ripped up!

Another view of the kitchen from the dining area.

View from the kitchen back towards the dining/living area.
View from the hallway through the kitchen into the dining area.
I am so in love with the fact that we can see our fireplace from the hallway now!

View from the master into the area where the main bath and a small master closet will be.

And again, from a different angle.

View from the master through the former, smaller master closet.  There will soon be a hallway through the middle of this wall leading to our two new master closets and master bath.

View from the hallway into bedroom #3, which is going to be converted into our master suite.
View from bedroom #3, towards the master.  These walls need to come down and be re-arranged to accommodate our new master suite.

View of the area in bedroom #3 that will be tiled for our new master bath.

With the walls opened up, we can really start to see our vision come to life.  Unfortunately, our contractor made it through the demo so quickly that Wednesday and Thursday there was no progress on the house.  This standstill is due to the town.  They approved our permits, but before they'd release them to us, they said we needed to bring in an engineer to okay our plans.  We found this out last Friday, so our contractor scrambled to get an engineer to our house ASAP.  The earliest appointment we could get with a pricey reputable engineer was today at 1pm.  The hubs and I are praying that our meeting with the engineer goes smoothly, that he gives us an approval letter on the spot, then we drive it to the municipal building on our way back to work, they'll give us our permits and work can resume on Monday!!  Wishful thinking?  I think so.  But hey, it doesn't hurt to send some positive vibes out there, right?!?!

Happy Friday everyone!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Oh Happy Dayyyyy!

That is the song that sprung into my head the minute I woke up on Monday morning.  I didn’t care that I was up early, because on that day, we were not about to battle Route 80 all the way to work.  We were going to battle Route 80 on the way to our house, so we could meet our contractor and start the demolition of our house!

That take-on-the-world-attitude I was sporting for the first hour of the day slightly diminished as the hubs and I proceeded to sit in traffic for almost 3 hours to get to our house.  Yes, we left Blairstown at 7AM and got to the house close to 10AM.  Route 80 struck again (what else is new).  There was a jack-knifed tractor trailer closing lanes down and creating massive delays.  This horrendous traffic caused me and the hubs to start our typical “Whippany, Whippany” chant in the car.  We tend to do it multiple times a day when one of us feels the need to point out how desperate we are to move into our house.  The majority of the time it can be heard when we are sitting in traffic, dreaming of how our lives will change when we no longer need to spend such a large chunk of our day trapped in the car, fending off our road rage.

But anyway, back to the demo.  When we FINALLY arrived at the house, we were slightly perplexed by the absence of a large construction vehicle that should have been parked in our driveway.  We looked at each other, and I said, don’t even tell me that he isn’t coming.  Then the hubs spotted a toilet sitting next to our garbage can and we let out a deep sigh of relief.  (I never thought I'd be so happy to see a toilet sitting in my driveway.)  We opened the car doors and were greeted by a loud bashing of metal on tile.  It was music to our ears.  We headed inside to see our contractor’s main guy ripping apart our master bathroom, and he was heading through our master closet.  Next thing you know, our contractor was back and joined him in ripping out the several inch thick plaster and mesh walls that were hiding underneath our tile.

As a reminder, this is how things started out….

And this is how they progressed….

Broke through the master bath into the master closet.

The back wall of the master closet is still in tact, for now.

Debris pile that was forming outside the master bedroom window...and the hubs in the background.

Broke through the master bath into the main bath.

Now you can see through the master closet into the former master and main baths.

Clear view into the main bath from the master bedroom.

Working on top the piles of debris until they can get moved to the dumpster the following day.

Taking it back to the studs.

And this is what was left at the end of the afternoon….

View from the master bedroom, through the former master bath door, into the old main bath area.

View through the master closet into the former master and main bath spaces.

View into the master bedroom while standing on a pile of debris in the former main bath.  This new main bath is going to be so much more spacious!
I was shocked that the two of them made such great headway and got through gutting the master bath, the main bath and the master closet all on day numero uno.  It was so amazing to see the transformation happen.

When the guys wrapped up around 3:30, we gave the contractor a deposit for some much needed new windows, which would be ordered the next day.  (Four or five of our windows have cracks in the single pane glass, and about 95% of them can be opened and closed only by The Hulk, or the hubs.  We desperately need some energy efficient, workable windows.)  Our contractor informed us he’d be back the next day with a couple more guys so he could get through as much demo as possible.  The hubs and I were so antsy for the next work day to come and go, so we could see what else would be torn to shreds.  Woohoo for progress!

4 - 1 = MORE

I know mathematically that equation makes no sense at all, but for us, the new three bedroom layout we came up with is way better than the four bedroom layout our home currently boasts.

Don’t get me wrong.  Having four bedrooms would really be ideal for us.  My family lives out-of-state…so when they visit, I’d love to have a bed for them to sleep in. (No more having my parents sleep on our sectional because we have no extra room…gosh I HATED doing that to them!)  However, that ideal situation loses some of it’s splendor when our master suite situation isn’t functional for me and the hubs. 

Our morning routines are so intertwined because we work at the same company.  Heck, most days we even drive in together (woot woot for saving money on gas).  But because of this (and because we both have slightly large wardrobes) we need a master suite that can accommodate dual sinks and double closets.  This, my friend, is where losing a fourth bedroom becomes a positive thing. 

Currently (as shown in my previous post) our master bath is barely big enough for one person to use, let alone two people.  And even though the master bedroom has two closets, one of the closets is barely big enough to hold a fourth of one of our wardrobes.  Thankfully the hubs and I both agree that we could work with having just 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms in our home.  What makes the three bed/two bath combo okay??  That is where our "finished" basement comes in handy.  There is more than enough space downstairs for guests to stay over (...that is when the basement actually gets “finished” by 2011 standards vs. the 1960's standards it's sporting now...until then, we have no kiddos, so our additional bedrooms can serve as guest bedrooms.)

And so it begins...all the major, structural changes we are making to the inside of our home. 

To start, we are taking over bedroom #3 and making that into two large closets and a master bath that will have dual sinks, a toilet and a 4’ x 6’ walk-in shower.  We skipped a soaking or jetted tub to get more closet space.  Some people would say that blasphemy, no tub!?!?!  But in all honesty, I have not taken a bath since I was a kid, and neither has the hubs.  I know not having a tub is a deal breaker for most, but not having enough closet space is our deal breaker.

Now onto the other changes of our home.  Since we are moving the master bath to the front of the house, it’s current footprint is being combined with the main bath’s current footprint.  These two areas, along with a tiny sliver of the current larger master closet will become the main bath for the house.  This will give a large enough space so that guests (like my 6’4 father and 6'5ish brother-in-law) have ample space when visiting, and our future kiddos won’t have to constantly fight over who gets to use the sink first.
The last major structural change to the house will be removing the main wall that runs from the front of the house (by the front door) to the back of the house (by the door to the screened-in porch).  That wall will be gone…leaving only a 6 foot long half-wall by the kitchen.  In the kitchen, the booth seating will be gone and the cabinetry along the back of it will be pushed 90 degrees along the half-wall to create an island.  The other wall that runs along the kitchen and hallway will also be removed.  These changes will create the open and airy feeling that is so very important to me and the hubs.  We don’t need a mansion…we just need a home. And having an open layout where the living room, dining room and kitchen can all be one “great room” makes for a spacious home without a crazy amount of square footage.  Its also the perfect configuration for entertaining and for when we need to keep an eye on those future kiddos.

I know everything I just typed probably sounds like blah, blah, blah because you cannot picture the changes through words.  Thanks to my favorite blogging couple over at Young House Love I found a program where I could create floor plans FOR FREE!!  For my own clarity, and so I could ensure my contractor was on the same page, I made two floor plans showing what our main floor’s original layout looks like and what it will be like after it is renovated.

{Enjoy the plans.  Demo pictures from Monday and Tuesday coming very soon!}

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Don't Judge a Book By It's Cover...

Or should we say, don’t judge a house by the last remodel it received several decades ago??  Either way, the hubs and I chose not to judge our house based on how it looked in it’s present condition.  Instead we focused on what we could turn it into in the future. 

Let's face it, the house had all the space we were looking for…four bedrooms (including a generously-sized master, which was so clutch for us considering the bedroom in our old townhouse was something like 16’ x 24’...yea I know, we were very spoiled), two baths, a “finished” basement (wood paneling, awful red and yellow tile flooring, etc….so retro, you get the picture…it’s “finished”, but not what we’d consider “finished”), a screened-in porch and a large two car garage.  Finding a house with that space, in our price range, in our dream location was like striking gold!  And lucky for us, the layout of the rooms worked perfectly for the renovations we were dreaming up in our minds.  {Much more on those changes in my next posts.}

So without further ado, here is what the interior of our 1954 rancher looked like the day we bought it.

View into the house from the front door.

Further down the hall, coat closet and basement door to the left and entryway to the living/dining room to the right.

View into the living/dining room.  Note the lovely grellow shag carpet.  Awful!

View back towards the front door.

And again.

Living room area.

Dining room/living room area with wood burning (hopefully converting to gas soon) fireplace.

View from the fireplace towards the kitchen.

View from the fireplace towards the front door.

Retro kitchen.

Another view showing off the amazing light fixture and wallpaper haha.

Restaurant style booth anyone??  I'm sure this was the envy of the neighborhood in 1960, just not anymore.

Door to the screened-in porch.

Screened-in porch in much need of a scrub down.

View of the jungle from the porch.

Peeking into the kitchen entryway from the hallway.

View toward the bedrooms and bathrooms.

View into the main bathroom and door to linen closet #1 on the left. 

Tight squeeze into the main bath.

Those light fixtures are so retro that they are almost back in style.

View of bedroom #1 (there is another linen closet to the left, but i didn't capture the door in this picture...darn).

Bedroom #1 closet.

View from the bedrooms back towards the living space.

Alcove by bedroom #2.

View into bedroom #2.

Bedroom #2 closet.

Bedroom #3

Bedroom #3 again (no clue why I didn't take a picture of the closet area...ooops).

View into the master bedroom, note the heinous wallpaper.

Master again, showing the door to the tiny master bath.

View towards the door into the master on the left and the door into the small master closet on the right.

View towards the master bath on the left and the larger master closet on the right and then the entrance furthest to the right.

Master bath.

Nothing to see here...the sink is so small we nicknamed it a dentist's sink because it's so small you can only spit into it.

The master shower.

I know it may not look like much here, but we have big plans for our little rancher; and I can't wait to share them!!!