Our bodies are tired and our heads are spinning from quite the last few months. We closed on our new home in Salt Lake City on January 23, but didn’t start the real work on it until the end of February. My husband’s brother and sister came from out of state to help us and they did soooooo much work! We are incredibly grateful for their sacrifice of time and effort (and sanity) to get us through the beginning stage of our first big renovation project.
The biggest job so far was installing 17 new windows. We ordered our windows from Milgard (through Home Depot). The house was built in 1960 and has many custom-sized, large windows. We loooove the sizes and shapes! We obviously included the required egress windows where needed, but wherever we could we chose picture windows. They really make a statement! We spent an extra $1,300 to upgrade to black windows. It’s something we’ve wanted for years and with the style and coloring of the house they’re perfect. Because many of the windows were installed into brick, a lot of extra time was spent framing the surround of the window to get them just right. It was intense, backbreaking work for my husband, brother-in-law, and sister-in-law! I just got to watch and laugh at their goofy antics. We could have easily had snow but instead, the weekend of the window install in early March was gorgeous – in the mid 60s and sunny. Along with the actual windows, all of the trim (both inside and outside) had to be replaced. My husband is a talented carpenter so he trimmed most of the windows himself. The outside trim still needs to be painted white. We can’t wait to see what the white trim will look like around those black windows! We also plan to paint our front door, garage door, and shutters black!
Another big project we completed was building a wall in the basement. Initially, our basement was one giant room. Instead of leaving the large, nondescript room, we broke it into two spaces by putting up a wall. Now we have a large fourth bedroom/guest room (that already had a large closet) and a good-sized office! We only spent $1,000 to build the wall and redirect HVAC and electrical but adding a fourth bedroom and office will pay huge dividends when we eventually sell the house! We haven’t had a dedicated office for five years. We mostly work at the kitchen table or on the couch. We’re really looking forward to the office serving as our household hub, library, and office for my photography business! My vision for the office is a clean, well-organized and functional space with styled bookshelves, a desk (or two), comfortable chairs, warm lamp lighting, and some plants.
The basement is currently a mess but we are starting the process of going through the mounds of stuff. I foresee a large Goodwill donation run in the near future! Most of the mess is in the guest room. We bought a new guest bed a couple months ago and it’s sitting there begging to be put together! There are quite a few purchases that need to be made for the guest room – sheets, bedding, side tables, lamps, and decor. I’m excited to have a purposeful and dedicated guest space!
The guest bath/laundry room in the basement is tiiiiiny. It’s the most tricky room in the house for me. The stand up shower is functioning, but not beautiful. There is a itty bitty sink with no counter space and the washer and dryer are squished along the left wall. There is little room to move around and basically no storage. I’m brainstorming about how all of my laundry and cleaning supplies will fit into that space. Open shelving is probably the way to go. I’m also thinking I need to be a bit more minimalist about my supplies and stop frequenting those back aisles at Costco!
Our main living space is functional and organized enough for now. We purchased new furniture and sold our old set and I’m looooving the change! I’m starting to map out where I want decor hung. I want to hang ceiling height curtains on our big front windows for sure. I would also love to find a console or buffet to go to the right of the door along the big, blank wall. It would serve as extra storage and warm up that side of the room.
The biggest project we want to save for is a complete kitchen renovation. The cabinets are original to the house and look decent because they’ve been painted white. But trust me, they’re not in good shape. The people who sold us the house had installed new countertops and backsplash and they’re fine, but not our preferred style. We plan to change out the cabinets, countertops, and backsplash whenever we can save up enough to do so! Thankfully, my husband is a cabinet designer/engineer/builder so we can tackle that part ourselves.
I love the style and layout of the main floor, but the biggest eye sore is the slate flooring and fireplace surround. I never knew how much I hated slate until living here! It’s dark, uneven, falling apart in places, and never feels clean no matter how much I scrub it by hand! But it’s something we’ll have to live with until we can afford to renovate the kitchen. The slate starts at the front door and continues through the dining area and kitchen. We want to install cohesive wood flooring in our entire main floor when we redo the kitchen. It will likely be 3-5 years before we can tackle that project.
The upstairs rooms are partially done, but definitely not complete. Kya’s room is the most put together in the house. All that’s left is to put up her mirror and hang some curtains. The room across from hers is an extra bedroom that is serving as her play room right now. It still has piles of boxes in the corner that need to be unpacked and is a pretty plain room. I’d love to make it a more colorful space that could be easily changed over to a bedroom when it comes time to have another child. One of those play tepees would be a fun addition!
Our master bedroom totally has the wow factor going on! The wall behind the bed is Sherwin Williams’ Anchors Aweigh (a deep, deep navy blue). We both can’t stop talking about how much we love it! For the first time in our marriage, we feel like we’re going to have a truly beautiful master bedroom when it’s all said and done. We have yet to add decor and we need a dresser and some plants, but I am loving the process of dreaming about how this space will turn out! We especially love the 80-inch wide window over our bed. Stunning! A master bathroom is attached to the bedroom. It was “upgraded” before we moved in but we’re realizing how cheaply it was done. A week into living here, the bathtub started to peel. We found out that the flipper used a quick fix to cover up the poor condition of the tub, so our tub will need reglazing or replacing. Though it’s on the bottom of our list, I would love to eventually re-do the master bath. The layout is nice and even though it’s not huge, it’s very functional and spacious enough for us. I imagine a walk-in shower, new flooring, a custom cabinet, a unique sink, a beautiful countertop, more taste specific hardware, a gorgeous mirror, and a new light fixture. That’s all in the waaaay down the road category! The hall bath is a full bathroom that functions as Kya’s bathroom and a bathroom for guests. It doesn’t have any windows because it’s in the center of the house, so it feels a bit drab to me. It will eventually need an upgrade but it functions for now.
The outside of the house needs a lot of TLC. This past weekend we got rid of a dump trailer full of renovation garbage, limbs, bushes, etc. It’s looking more cleaned up but far from how we want it to look. We’ll see what finances allow for this summer. We may only be able to weed, get the grass looking nice, and mulch for now then wait on building raised garden beds and planting veggies, bushes, and flowers. I personally love yard work and can’t wait to spruce things up better once we’re completely past the possibility of snow!
We have really enjoyed meeting many of our neighbors. Our street is quite multicultural and we love it! We have been told our neighborhood families gather for summer picnics, Fourth of July celebrations, etc.! Neighborliness is super important to me, especially because I come from the south and that’s just the norm down there. There are a lot of kids in our area too! I can’t wait to get outside and mingle with our neighbors more as the weather continues to warm up. One neighbor family brought us Tillamook ice cream this week after seeing our Oregon license plates (which still need to be changed). We can tell we’re going to like it here!
The last few months have taken a toll on us physically, mentally, emotionally, and definitely financially. Our home here in Salt Lake is 50 years older and only 500 square feet larger than what we had in Oregon and it was nearly DOUBLE the cost. We’ve already put in nearly $20,000 in renovations into it since purchasing and are pinching pennies to get back on track. We went a little over budget because of unforeseen problems (we should have learned that lesson from all those HGTV shows). We’re so thankful for how God has provided for every single element of our move here and now for the opportunity to be homeowners again. We honestly don’t know how it’s possible to be where we’re at and in no debt (except our mortgage)! We’re focusing on free projects over the next few months to get our bank account built back up. It took us longer than we anticipated and cost us more than we expected but we’re here and loving putting our blood, sweat, and tears into this little piece of the valley. Remembering why we moved here and how God has provided gives us motivation to keep going!