Home Ownership Happiness

We bought our home sight-unseen. Yes, we realize how insane that is. After two trips from Seattle to Boise to see homes, and two offers on homes that were quickly beat out, we had to take a different approach. As with many places in the country right now, the inventory in Boise is pretty limited. If you have a limited budget, it gets even smaller. We had a lot of trust in our real estate agent (she is the mother of a lifelong friend of Zach’s), so we had her and Zach’s mom check out the home. They both gave it their seal of approval, and sent us video from their phones of the walk-through so we could get a feel for the layout. It was enough for us to feel nervously optimistic about making an offer. The home was well within our price range, considerably lower than the other two we had made offers on because it was in an area farther from where we’d been hoping to end up. We were looking at a very narrow window to move in, as Zoey didn’t finish school in Seattle until the very end of June, but school in Boise would start mid-August. That basically gave us the month of July to move, with no leeway, if we wanted the girls to be able to start school on time.

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As luck would have it, the home had been on the market for a little while (probably due to the location not being in the top three most desirable neighborhoods and the seller not being willing to negotiate on price at all). Our offer was quickly accepted, inspections commenced, and we were able to sign the paperwork and receive the keys July 20th. We got our chance to do a walk-through of the house that morning before we signed, and we both breathed a sigh of relief. While the carpets were in a despicable shape (they were the original, thirty-year-old carpets) and there were definite things we would need to fix or improve, the house had “good bones” as they say, and a layout we really liked. To top it off, it’s in an adorable neighborhood. A tiny, dead-end street with the sweetest neighbors and a view of the foothills straight out from the front of our house.

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A “before” view of the kitchen and dining room, and the mustard yellow of the living room.

The first thing we did after all the paperwork was drop the kids off with Zach’s sister (yay for cousins to play with!) and buy some painting supplies. My mom had come to Boise with me so I wouldn’t have to do the long drive with the kids alone, and was eager to lend a hand (thank you Mom!!). We set right to work covering up a reddish-orange brick color in the front room with a soft French Blue. The girls’ room was already purple, so we added teal to a couple of the walls ala Disney’s Frozen. Alden’s room was fully repainted with a bright, cheerful green (his favorite color and one of his deepest obsessions). The living room was already yellow, but a bit more mustard-like than I would like so we gave it a lighter, sunnier shade of yellow. We also bought some bright apple red for the kitchen that would be done later.

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Getting ready to paint. That color had to go. Note the awesome, 30-year-old carpet as well. 
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No more brick! This front room is now my “Yoga/zen room” (no toys allowed!) and the French blue is much more fitting.
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The girls’ purple and teal “Frozen” room.
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Alden’s green room. All the ratty blackout shades are still on our “to replace” list.
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A lighter, happier yellow in the living room.

Next up was the carpets. They were disgusting! I rented one of those Rug Doctor shampoo machines and did my best to do a deep clean on them all. Alas, they were beyond help. Long after we had moved in, our feet and socks would still turn black from walking on the filthy carpets. In November, we had them all ripped out. We put in some beautiful hardwood red oak flooring in the kitchen , dining room (which had previously been carpet!), and entryway. We also created a hardwood walkway from those areas to the entrance to the garage, which had been the absolute worst area of the former carpet (an obviously high-traffic area). The final sealing of the hardwoods was done while we were in Washington for Thanksgiving and we got to come home to our beautiful new flooring. The kids were delighted by the ability to slide and spin around on them in their socks.

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Under the laminate in the kitchen was not one, but TWO layers of ugly old linoleum.
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The new oak flooring, before sanding and sealing.
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Pretty new steps leading from the kitchen/dining area down to the living room and hallway to the garage.
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Slipping and sliding on the new wood floors.

A week later, we replaced all the carpeting with super-soft, plush carpet. We decided to keep the main stairway carpeted for now, to reduce noise and the chance of little toddlers and kids slipping and falling down them. The previous carpeting had included a one-foot high, diagonal carpeted board along the wall, running the entire length of the stairway. Why on Earth would anyway carpet a wall??? When the installers removed the carpeted board, it left a one-inch thick gap between the stairs and the wall. There was no time or money left to essentially rebuild the stairs, so the installers and I got creative. They stuffed the gap as well as they could with extra carpet padding and then laid the tack strip as far as they could over the gap. So far it seems to be working well, as I don’t see the carpet sagging down along the wall line anywhere.

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Good riddance, filthy old carpet!

 

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Hello, pretty new CLEAN carpet and hardwood walkway.
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The bizarrely carpeted wall along the stairway.
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My finished zen room.

As soon as the new carpets were in, the kids all immediately stripped down to their underwear so they could roll around on the plush carpet. I guess they wanted to fully enjoy it’s softness with every inch of skin possible.

We’ve had various other “joys of home-ownership” projects to keep us busy. The garbage disposal died shortly after moving in and had to be replaced. The kitchen faucet leaks and make a horrendous squealing/shrieking sound whenever you run hot water through it. Zach is currently installing a new faucet as I type this. The electricity to the outside of the garage (powering our front-of-garage lights and an outlet by the front door) stopped working on Christmas Eve, and we have yet to determine where the wiring fail is (yes, we checked the circuit breakers). We had to have exterminators out to spray for ants and remove wasps. Twice.

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We decided to spruce up the laundry room with some of the extra teal paint from the girls’ room.
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The laundry cabinets were also about an inch too low to be able to open our new washer fully, so Zach shortened the laundry shoot and raised the cabinets. He also removed the bar between the cabinet doors so I could put a basket in there to collect the dirty laundry.

Overall, though, we are very happy with our new home. Putting all the new carpet and hardwoods in drastically changed the look of the house and really made it feel like “ours.” All of our neighbors are retired or soon-to-be retired age. They’re all thrilled to have little kids on the street again and have gone out of their way to give us the warmest welcome. One neighbor brought over homemade soup when we were all sick with a stomach virus and in the middle of the hardwood floor install. Another made a Thanksgiving-themed snack mix for the kids, and walked Eleanor home from the bus stop when I was too sick with the flu to go out. They all made special purchases of Halloween candy for our kids, the only Trick-or-Treaters on our private lane. And they were all delighted to purchase cookies this weekend from our two newly-minted Daisy Girl Scouts.

We took a risk buying this home without seeing it first, but we definitely won the gamble. The location has been very convenient to many things (perhaps a touch longer to work than Zach would like, but definitely an improvement upon his old commute in Seattle, and it will be a nice, short drive for me when I’m ready to work here). The neighborhood is beautiful and the neighbors wonderful. While it will definitely take awhile for the city and the state to feel like “home” to me, this house already does.

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