Staging Our Home For Sale

Knowing that moving was probably in our 2013, I committed to getting the house ready to sell in January. We hired an inspector to do a pre-listing inspection on our house so we’d know what needed to be fixed before we listed. We have always fixed things as they came up, so the inspection went beautifully and our house was in great shape. That meant that I could focus my efforts on touching up paint and decorating for mass appeal rather than our family. My mom and I tackled the breakfast nook in January and repainted the powder room a more neutral color, but everything else was just a list of what needed to be done to stage our house when we listed.

I knew that based on our home’s square footage, we needed to appeal to the type of people we were when we bought the house – young professionals with no kids – or someone with one or two older kids. Which meant that the Fisher Price garage, the Learning Home and all the “We have babies and toddlers!” gear needed to be put away. When we found out we were under contract on our future house, we had a fast 24 hours to get our house looking a little bit less like two kids dictate the decor at our house.

The playroom transitioned back into an office, just like it was when we first moved in. All the toys (train table, art table and other play things) went to storage:

IMG_6781

 

All the toys and books in the main living area got relocated to a small designated play space in our basement, or neatly put away in the kids’ rooms.

IMG_6785

IMG_6789

The golden rule of staging is to depersonalize your home so that people can picture themselves living there. I kind of bah-humbuged this rule for a long time, and then I realized it’s really a safety concern. Not like my kids’ pictures aren’t all over the internet, but complete strangers were going to be coming into our home. I took down our gallery wall and relocated the beach prints to over the console table. We relocated our family photo albums and jewelry to various secure locations for this whole period of time, and we left very little identifying information visible in our home.

IMG_6792

In the kitchen, we took just about everything off the counters, and scrubbed things until they shined. I washed all of the hardwood floors throughout the entire house with vinegar and water.

Kitchen breakfast nook Kitchen

Upstairs, I moved all of our winter clothes out of the closets, and left only our bed and bedside tables and dresser in the master bedroom.

IMG_6797

Our Master Bathroom was always the one room that never saw a paint brush or any decor. And so I just did a thorough cleaning in here.

IMG_6807

IMG_6805

The kids’ rooms and guest bath just got thoroughly cleaned and things were straightened up and put away.

IMG_6769

IMG_6777

IMG_6771

In the garage, we took most things to storage. No one needs to see our stroller collection. I purchased a power washer to clean up the garage floor and back patio. We set the basement up into zones – a TV zone, a workout zone and a small kids play zone (knowing that regardless of the fact that we were selling our house, we couldn’t move all of the toys out).

I loved this process. It’s really helped me realize what’s important. A million decorative vignettes? Nope, just clutter. The train table and kids art table? Essential to our daily sanity and I cannot wait to have them back in the center of our home, in all of their cluttered glory, in our new house. This process opened my eyes to what’s important. I see SO MANY pins on Pinterest about how to fake a clean home for your blog. And shouldn’t we really be embracing the life that happens and telling people it’s okay to not live in a catalog. I’ve loved living in our catalog these last three weeks – it’s beautiful – but I cannot wait to have our “we are a family, this is our life” reality back in June.

Another thing I realized in this process? Because we were casually looking for a new house before listing and found it, we had to turn around to get our house in showing condition quickly. I was hosting a monthly college friends’ night at our house the night we went on the market. And my girlfriends showed up ready to clean, took Nell, who’s in an only mom or dad will do stage, to the grocery store to buy frozen pizzas for dinner, and were absolutely amazing helping us get our house ready. I knew what a wonderful group of friends I had, but this drove it home even more.

And most importantly to the listing our house for selling success process, once everything was cleaned up and all the clutter put away, we got out of the house. Casco moved in with my mom and dad for the weekend. My brother was in town with his girls the weekend we listed, so we spent a lot of time at my mom and dad’s visiting with them. If he hadn’t been in town, we probably would have headed to my aunt’s place in the mountains for the weekend. B’s mom extended an open invitation for any portion of our family to invade her home at any time. We left our house on Saturday morning, were negotiating an offer that afternoon, and still had showings lined up for back-ups through the weekend.

So that was our “staging” or cleaning up to sell process. With neutral basics it wasn’t a tough process, just took a little time and the ability to be ruthless with what should stay and what should go.

House Tour: Spring 2012

I finally have the House Tour mostly up-to-date, and in honor of it being Friday – and Karen’s House Tour link-up party – I thought it was a good day to share it with everyone. You can always access the House Tour page from the top of the blog, too.

We bought our house – in a Denver suburb – in 2007. We hadn’t even considered a new build but when we stumbled upon our future neighborhood it was in the close-out stages with the builder. Our house was already built, finishes picked, appliances ordered, etc. In general, the builder picked the upgrades we would have prioritized at the time on our newly engaged, first jobs budget – hardwood floors and air conditioning – and we’ve spent the last 5 years putting our own touch on the builder grade. We fell in love with the Craftsman Cottage curb appeal when we pulled up to the house and never looked back.


Our neighborhood is a neo-traditional neighborhood that features traditional architectural exteriors, alleys and alley garages with a goal of emphasisizing community. All of the homes in our neighborhood have great front porches – I love our porch and the happy hours that take place on our front steps with our neighbors as the weather warms up every Spring.

As you walk through the front door of our house you see our great room – half dining room, half living room to the left and our home office/playroom through an archway on the right.

The office is my transition zone – half office, half play room. I’m never sure how to best use the space and it’s never looking top notch, but it is what it is.

Dining Room:


Living Room: 

 

Just off the great room is our kitchen and the staircase to the second floor – the stairs come down into the back of the house rather than meeting you at the front door like many traditional floor plans. It was one of my favorite things about the floor plan when we looked at the house – I refer to it as our “back staircase”. 
At the bottom of the stairs, just off the living room and between the living room and the kitchen is our breakfast nook. We recently installed the banquette seating to add softness and color to the room.

The Kitchen was my labor of love in the summer of 2011 – when we bought the house it had dark “walnut” cabinets and beige (that read pink in certain lights) laminate counter tops. It was fine for awhile, but it wasn’t my dream kitchen and as the years wore on, it felt like the black hole in our house. I painted the cabinets white, installed hardware and a classic white subway tile backsplash, and we had with new counter tops installed – Silestone’s Marengo quartz.
This is what our kitchen looked like when we moved into the house in 2007:

Upstairs we have a laundry room, three bedrooms and two full baths. The master bedroom is on your right as you get to the top of the stairs.

If you exit our bedroom and look to your right, there’s a small laundry closet:


Across the landing from the master bedroom, next to the laundry room, is the Board and Batten Nursery. When we were expecting Thomas, I was craving a simple brown and white nursery. We wanted this room to be gender neutral and themeless while working with the overall craftsman cottage feel of the house, so we chose to install board and batten two-thirds of the way up the walls, and painted the top third Behr’s Chocolate Swirl. A dark wood crib, an antique dresser for a changing table, and the rocking chair my mom rocked me to sleep in rounded out the furniture – very simple, but very me circa 2010.


The nursery is under review now that we’re expecting our second child – we’re in the process of assembling the room with a new crib, chair and color scheme. Stay tuned!
Down the hall from the nursery is the kids’ bath.

At the back of the house, next to the kids’ bathroom and down the hall from the nursery, is Thomas’s “Vintage Boy’s room” – previously our guest room.



Back outside, we have a small private backyard and a side yard we share with our neighbors. Our small yard is probably Mr. B’s biggest hang-up about our house – but now that we have kids, we’re realizing how great the community playgrounds, fields and pool are – especially since we don’t have to maintain them!
 

 
Our side yard was always useless space between our home and our neighbors’ home, but when we got new neighbors last year and became good friends with them, we decided to make the most of our shared space. Mr. B and our neighbor worked all spring laying the patio, landscaping and putting together a little tot lot at the back of the space for our kids to play. We all hang out and fire pit together at least two to three times a week in the summer – it’s been a fabulous addition to our living space!



And that’s our house – in the last 5 years we’ve gone from using about 3 rooms regularly to using every square inch of the house – inside and out – on a daily basis. I don’t think we ever dreamed when we bought this house as a newly engaged couple just how much it would become our home.


Pin It

Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

I know I’ve mentioned this before, but it used to drive me crazy that there was only really one configuration for my living room. I’m used to changing furniture around on a monthly – sometimes weekly, basis. But I finally realized that there were more options – sure, the sofa can really only be situated in two locations, but the accent furniture? The possibilities are endless. So, because I was feeling the need for change, I replaced the big green chair with the two cane back chairs I redid two years ago. Our living room now has realistic seating for 6. Warning: I did not clean up before taking these pictures. There was time for one or the other, and the ol’ blog was feeling a little neglected.

 Do you love Casco’s toy box behind the chairs? This is real life, people. Glamourous.

IKEA’s finally in Denver. And I love me some IKEA. But now that it’s here, I’ve had a heart to heart with myself. I said “Self, IKEA’s great for cheap basics. But you don’t want your house to look like an IKEA ad, so don’t go overboard.” But that black and white Stockholm rug? I’ve been eying it for four years. And it now belongs to me. 

And because IKEA rugs are inexpensive, I picked up a white cotton rug for the dining room. You know, so the chairs now actually fit on the rug.

Baby socks and golden retrievers. Real life.

So. the beloved big green chair now resides in my office/B’s study zone/Thomas’s playroom and physical therapy room. T and I read books on the big green chair before his afternoon nap, and B will sit there and read his textbooks to keep me company if I’m working after Thomas goes to bed. It’s working out well, even though aesthetically this room is not anything to be proud of. But sometimes, you just have to go with what works for your family’s needs at the time. And my baby needed a mat to practice crawling and falling on in our hardwood floored house.

So that’s the latest around here.

Bookshelves for the Nursery

Thomas’s room is pretty much as you saw it in July.  The mattress is lower, but otherwise the room hasn’t changed.  But I’ve been on the lookout for a bookcase for Tom’s room – something that wouldn’t take up much floor space because the room is small, and something that wouldn’t take up much wall space because I love the board and batten and want that to be the room’s focus (thus the lack of artwork).

Originally, I had planned for B and I to make Thomas some library style bookshelves (copies of PBK bookshelves) via Ana-White.com.  But, if you’ll recall, we’re building the banquette in the kitchen and you still haven’t seen photos because we’re not done yet.  And I kind of wanted Thomas to have these bookshelves before he leaves for college.  So when I saw knock-offs of the Pottery Barn bookshelves on Target’s website (on sale at the time for $52 each) I jumped.  And I love them.

I love the slim profile. I love that they take up almost no floor space. I love that they don’t take away from or block the board and batten we love so much. I love that they display some of our favorite books forward facing for easy selection. 

Every night before bed, B, Thomas, Casco and I play and read books on the floor of Thomas’s room.  And our new shelves are the perfect complement to that little routine that we love.

Board and Batten Nursery

Ready for the nursery reveal?

We had a 10 x 10 foot room to take from Meh to Marvelous for Baby McKevitt.  B and I didn’t want to know if Baby McKevitt was a boy or a girl, which worked fine for decor purposes because I had no desire for a gender specific color scheme. The goal was a classic, timeless, theme-less and sophisticated room – one that would grow with the kiddo and add to the Craftsman Cottage appeal of our home.

For quick comparison’s sake, here’s what the room looked like before – a room we used only when we had overflow guests.  B’s bachelor pad furniture mixed with some painted white hand-me-downs made it really lovely.

Now back to the afters: I knew what this room would look like long before Baby McKevitt was a reality.  I wanted a simple brown and white color scheme with board and batten walls.   If I had a dollar for everytime someone said: “Oh, brown and white!  That will be so easy to add blue or pink to for a boy or a girl”, Tommy would have had his Notre Dame education paid for before he entered the world.  But that was never the plan.

Mr. B did all of the construction and painting – and he did a fabulous job.  We didn’t get started on the room until the end of April but he put up the board and batten in a day.  He made my vision come to life and I couldn’t love it more.

When it came to buying things for our bundle of joy, I wanted the bare minimum and things that could be used beyond the baby years.  So, I didn’t want an actual changing table.  And I didn’t want a matching dresser and crib set, either.  I hunted for months on Craigslist before finding this antique walnut dresser – for $30.  Casco and I raced against every red light in the Denver Metro Area to beat another interested party to the purchase.  I intended to refinish whatever I found, but I loved the character on this dresser and left it as is.  I honestly think I’ll use this piece forever – in future kids rooms, in front entryways, etc.  For midnight feedings, I decided to skip the glider and go with a hardwood rocker to complement the cottage feel of the room.  I stole this one out of my mom and dad’s basement storage room – love hand-me-downs.

I believe in accessorizing a room or home as you live, and it didn’t make sense to me to have a fully decorated room for a baby whose sex (and therefore name) we did not know and that hadn’t had a chance to even show a hint of its own personality.  So I’m sure that artwork and other personal touches will be added with time, but for now I love the simple basics.

We managed to do the entire room – furniture, wall treatment, paint, etc for just over $500.  Here’s the breakdown:

Board and Batten supplies: $127.03
Paint: $35
Crib: $119.99
Mattress: $79
White Crib Sheet: $5
Curtain Rod and Ring Clips: $35
Fabric for Curtains, Bedskirt and accents: $75
Dresser: $30 from Craigslist
Rocking Chair: Recycled
Floor Lamp: $17 for spray paint and a new shade.
Grand Total: $523.02

And, of course, every baby needs a soccer playing Golden Retriever guarding its crib.  Really.  I read it in one of the pregnancy and baby-rearing books.

So that’s Thomas’s room.  I think we were successful in not getting pigeon-holed into an overall theme so that the room will grow with Thomas – or work for a sibling of his in the future.  And the room gets used – Thomas has slept beautifully in his crib since we came home from the hospital.

*Linked to Frugal Friday

Price My Space: Living Room

Do you guys read Nesting Place?  I learn so much from it, she’s inspirational, that Nester.

Anyway, Nester has declared it Price My Space day, and since I’ve often thought about the cost of our home – not the physical house, the pieces that have made it our home – I wanted to participate. As my three original readers know, we started out as the hand-me-down kids – we feel like we’ve been uber frugal in our two years of home ownership – we’ve only had to buy things like accent tables.  But let’s see, shall we?

1. Our Sofa – This was free, but I paid $75 for a Sure Fit Slipcover, and later paid $30 for the cotton duck to make the individual cushion slipcovers. So this sofa cost us a total of $105.

2. Black and Glass PB knock-off console table from Target. $125

3. IKEA coffee table – $99 (now $129).

4. Fireplace Mantle from Home Depot – $89.

5. Mirror from Gordman’s – $45.

6. The big green chair. The most comfortable piece of furniture ever came from our friend Sarah when we were both moving simultaneously. B, Casco and I fight over who gets to sit in this chair. I’ve considered throwing a white slipcover on it, but the green seems to work and I don’t like things to be too matchy matchy. We’ll see. $0.

7. Dolce Slipper Chair from Target – $125

8. My beloved green lamps from Target – $60 for two.

9. Side table from Target’s Home Design Event – $60.

10. Velvet panels from Bed Bath and Beyond – $60 for the four panels in the living room.

11. Sisal Rug from IKEA – $29.99

12. Not Pictured: TV Console – $219 and TV – I have no idea, that was all Mr. B.

Total: $891.99

Of course, there are throw pillows that move in and out with the seasons, but that’s our Living Room…our just under $900 living room.  Squeezing a new sofa into that mix is no big deal, right? Right… 

Up the Down Staircase

Do you know that movie? I’ve never seen it, but it’s my life motto. I’m just an up the down staircase kind of gal.

The thing that I first fell in love with about our house was the staircase. It starts at the back of the house rather than in the foyer and reminds me of older houses with back staircases. It’s just charming – and unexpected. I adore our back staircase.

So, when Mr. B mentioned that he was tired of the oak banister – it’s the only oak in our house and builder basic oak at that – I agreed with him. Isn’t it funny how something can seem fine until it’s pointed out, and then it nags at you? And since I wasn’t feeling our banister anymore – an integral part of one of my favorite features of our house, I was itching to fix it.
Now, I’m not they type of person to take time to worry about how changing something might turn out. I figured if it looked awful, I could paint the railings white and we’d have an all-white banister. I LOVE painting wood – especially oak. My heart skips a few beats as I watch things go from something that’s not me to something I love. I truly dream of the day that Mr. B and I buy a house with oak cabinets with which I can paint white and fall in love. I search the MLS listings for pictures of outdated kitchens so I can photoshop white cabinets, different paint colors, and even layout changes and think about how great a house could be. It’s an illness. Really.
So, I grabbed the satin finish white paint we had sitting in the garage and a foam brush and went to town. It took a ton of coats. I probably should have used primer, but we’ve already discussed my lack of patience.

I wanted a two-toned banister – the more traditional look of white spindles and a wood railing. I love the result. Like, my first love Kyle Chandler of Early Edition in middle school love. And I don’t even mind the oak that much because there’s less of it. We’ll probably end up sanding and staining the railing and posts later on, but for now I like the banister as is. We’ll live with it for awhile to see what we think is right.
Casco loves our back staircase, too. It’s his favorite place to hang out. Looks comfy, eh?

What do you think of the white spindles? Would you leave the railings as is or stain them a darker walnut shade? Any wood stains you love or hate? I’ve never stained anything, it’s been all paint for this girl, so suggestions are welcome!

Patience Not So Much

Patient is not a word that would ever be used to describe yours truly. It’s why this English and Communication major never seriously considered teaching as a career option. It’s why this good student spent a majority of middle school (and a good portion of high school) in the Principal’s office. It might have something to do with why I got an “Unsatisfactory” review of my group work skills during 1st grade group reading. And it’s definitely why our guest room now has ruffled pillows. You know, two days after I found them on Jesse’s blog and posted about them.


I used some of the leftover ticking from the headboard slipcover for the ruffles. The ruffles took a little practice, but once I got the hang of it, I was golden. I did my own thing with them – didn’t follow the instructions I found earlier, and they turned out. First time for everything.

I wanted another pattern in the room so things weren’t screaming “THEME”, but I wanted the ticking to keep things coordinated. So I found some cheap white fabric with blue polka dots for the base of the shams.


And one more shot.

I’m not going to lie, I’m pretty much in love with these pillows. And with myself for figuring out how to whip them up.

Curb Appeal: The Final Touches

Do you ever think of a plan for something, search high and low for what you need to complete your project, and turn up empty?  Yeah, me to.  
When I started the porch project, I whipped up a quick idea board so that I could see that my ideas would work together.  And one of those ideas was to add galvanized flower boxes to our porch railing.  I have no idea how the idea came to me, but I wanted to add color without going the pot route.  It’s a little overdone in our neighborhood.  So, I woke up one night and thought – galvanized flower boxes – it’s different but still classic – the galvanized tin would work well with our gray house paint and stonework, and bonus, it hasn’t been done in our neighborhood yet.  

So, B and I went on a hunt to find my vision.  And we came up empty.  The options I found via google were either too ornate – with gross scrolls all over them – or available only in Europe.  So I figured we had failed, and prepared to roll out last year’s pots.  

While packing for my trip to San Fran last week, I realized that I’d be staying near IKEA.  And we all know how that goes.  So, I consulted the IKEA website to look at everything online that I’d be seeing in the stores the next day, and, while I was surfing, I came across the plant section.  And saw GALVANIZED FLOWER BOXES.  I went crazy.  I woke B up.  I packed the tiniest clothes I could find into the biggest suit case I own in preparation for my return trip.
And on my first trip to IKEA, they were out.  The website had told me they had 32.  The website lied.  I was furious.  I even asked the worker and he said “We’ll get some in next week”.  And I said, “Well, I don’t live here, and I came here specifically for my job these”.  He said “Well, you can just come back then”.  And I said “I live in Colorado.” And he said “Oh, that’s a long drive, you’re crazy”.  IKEA needs some customer relations work.
But, on my mom’s advice, I made one final trip down the street to the Emeryville IKEA before leaving.  And I saw an employee putting out 3 planter boxes.  I grabbed them out of his hands and ran at full speed to the checkout before anyone could stop me.  I only needed 2, but I wasn’t taking any chances.  Whew, that was a long story to say: I finally found what I was looking for!!!

Mr. B got them up immediately upon my return.  And because I’m flower challenged, and he was raised by the flower lady and would probably have 30 pots in our yard if he could, I told him “As long as you don’t bring home Impatiens you can pick the flowers”.

And now for the grand reveal of our little porch – porch swing, rocking chair and some galvanized flower boxes.  Happy Hour’s on our front porch tomorrow – swing on by, I’ll pour you a glass of Fish Eye.

Copycat Pottery Barn Duvet

I’ve always loved this duvet from Pottery Barn. I haven’t always loved the price. King Sized Duvet: $229 Shams: $98 for two


So I made my own copycat version. Two flat white sheets, two spools of brown grosgrain ribbon, some wonder under and a couple hours of patience and I was done. I was planning to buy plain white shams and just add the ribbon, but shams are expensive – seriously, who knew? So, instead I cut up a $4 white twin sheet and made my own.

There will be a second sham someday, I just have to find the extra grosgrain.

Duvet: $32. Shams: $4 with fabric to spare. Between my $38 DIY headboard and my $36 bedding, we’re really living the high life over here at imperfect. The cheap, lumpy comforter we have under the duvet is my main point of contention – maybe I’ll actually make a Christmas list this year and put a nice new comforter at the top of it.


Now, please take note of Pottery Barn’s description of the duvet cover:

“We employed master artisans at one of Italy’s finest mills to create our Morgan Duvet Cover and Sham. This 400-thread-count set has an exceptionally crisp, smooth hand. Tailored with flat piping and a slim mitered border that creates a handsome frame for an embroidered monogram. May be monogrammed with one or three initials for an additional charge. Monogramming is centered on duvet and standard shams and top placement on euro shams. Duvet cover has hidden buttons, interior ties and a 6” flap to enclose duvet. Sham has envelope closure (insert not included). Shams are sold individually. Machine wash. Made in Italy.

My version would go something like this:

“We grabbed whatever white sheets were on sale at the local big box store and some brown ribbon. This unknown thread count set looks pretty good if you smooth it out with your hand every morning. A border of grosgrain ribbon creates a handsome frame for an embroidered monogram, except that we don’t offer monogramming because we have no idea how to do that, nor would we be willing to spend money on an embroidery machine if we learned. Duvet cover has no mechanism for keeping the duvet enclosed, so plan to do some frequent fluffing. Wash at your own risk. Made on the border of Westminster and Broomfield.”
Update: Actually washes really well. Way to go team.

Now, who’s duvet would you want on YOUR bed? I mean, really.