Laundry Living | Guest Post

Y’all know how crazy I am about Zillow (ahem, house hunting addict) so when Jennifer approached me about putting together a guest post for you guys, I was down! This isn’t a sponsored post, I just thought it would be fun for y’all to get some tips and tricks from the masters of real estate themselves. Here she is!

The laundry room isn’t exactly a favorite space among homeowners, and it sometimes lacks the interior style reflected in other areas of the home. Perhaps the laundry room goes ignored because it’s less frequented by guests. Or, owners might be hesitant to incorporate fixtures and accessories vulnerable to spills. Luckily, practical equipment and designs exist to create efficient, fashionable laundry spaces.

To create useful and beautiful laundry rooms, consider the following five tips.

1. Add Workspace

Laundry Counter
Source: Stephen Alexander Homes

Sorting clothes, pretreating stains and folding clean laundry is difficult without proper counter space. Small laundry rooms benefit from freestanding tables and carts that easily move out of the way, while larger laundry rooms can incorporate built-in cabinets with accompanying counter space. Add freestanding countertops above front loading washer/dryer sets as a budget-friendly solution.

2. Create Storage

Laundry Storage
Source: Zillow

Most homeowners use the laundry room for more than just washing and drying clothes. Laundry rooms are home to batteries, tools and linens, depending on available square footage and storage. Designate different baskets or containers for extra towels and sheets, home improvement accessories and household products. Make sure to label each bin for easy access. Laundry rooms appear brighter and more inviting when organized, and homeowners won’t have to struggle searching for what they need.

3. Replace Machines

Energy-efficient appliances are more common in homes on the market today than in the past. For current homeowners, replacing old washers and dryers is a great way to save money on energy and water costs. For sellers, new appliances always attract potential homebuyers looking for modernized abodes. More advanced models even have steam-cleaning options and other features to best care for delicate clothing items. Stackable sets work better for small closets since they free up floor space for storage units. Front-load machines are preferable as tops provide folding and sorting spaces, and owners don’t have to move garments aside when opening or closing appliances. Plan laundry layouts based on personal routine and available square footage. For instance, stacked machines are best for tight spaces and second-story laundry rooms are ideal when most bedrooms are upstairs. Choose the best-fitting models and styles accordingly.

4. Upgrade Flooring

Laundry Floor

Source: Sue Adler Team

Laundry floors must be highly durable, water and stain resistant and easy to maintain. Further, homeowners should steer away from floors with slippery finishes, especially since laundry areas tend to get wet and accidents might occur. At the same time, opt for a stylish finish that matches the rest of the home’s décor. Vinyl is an inexpensive option for homeowners on tight budgets, and ceramic tile is known to be an extremely appropriate option for laundry spaces due to its ability to resist harsh chemicals and water damage. Sealed brick is a rustic option sure to withstand everyday damage. Although aesthetically pleasing, genuine hardwood floors are susceptible to water stains and permanent warping. Limit hardwood floors to living spaces and bedrooms without plumbing access.

5. Repaint and Decorate

Laundry Decor

Source: Zillow Digs

A fresh coat of paint can illuminate even the darkest spaces. Consider bright, clean colors for the laundry room walls, such as pastels or neutrals. Don’t be afraid to go bold with eclectic, modern or contemporary design. Hang artwork or window treatments to complete the space. Although primarily utilitarian, the laundry room is a part of the home and should be a reflection of personal taste. With a pleasant room to work in, homeowners might even be inclined to wash clothing more frequently!

We all have to do the laundry, so why not make it a more pleasant experience? Remember to do ample research before completing any large home improvement project, and talk to professionals about plumbing and electrical connections to avoid do-it-yourself damage.

   

Adoring Anek | Giveaway!

Happy Tuesday, readers! I’ve got a pretty great giveaway lined up today with the amazing Ana from Anek. She’s offering a $90 gift card to her etsy shop!

Here is a small sample of her beautiful work:

Giveaway

Here are the details:

Win:  A $90 Gift Card to Anek
When: Today, August 26th – midnight on Tuesday, September 2nd
Winner: Announced on this post, next Tuesday!
Where: This giveaway ships worldwide!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

When in Rome

You know when you find something that fits the bill in the most perfect way, and it’s, like, a steal of a deal to boot. Is there anything better? Folks, I’ve gotta share that JCP, as in JCPenney has the best roman shades known to man. And they’re cheap, y’all. So, so cheap.

Truth be told, we’ve been buying blinds from penneys since our first house, and although I was impressed with the price on our first set from them, the quality didn’t bowl me over. I mean – it was absolutely fine – just not custom quality or anything like that. And for the twenty bucks a pop we spent – you can’t really lay much blame there, right? Here are some of the bamboo shades we had in house numero uno.

Lenda Curtains

Our second house actually had custom blinds installed in all the windows on move-in day, and even though the style wasn’t my favorite, the quality was solid, so we didn’t even think about replacing them.

Enter our current house, with – not a single functional window treatment on a single window – and let’s just say we were back in the business of window shade shopping. ;)

For the vast majority of the house, we’ve settled on these guys.

JCPenny Roman Shade Classy, understated, super easy to use and starting at $30 a pop, I couldn’t resist! Plus, I can tell you that after comparing these to our custom shades in the last house – that the quality is nearly identical. Sa-weetness.

Low and behold, since our house was built in 1939, and has not a single standard window size (that should be fun when we got to replace them), we had to get creative after our new window treatments arrived.

Remember this guy, that we used for our little door detail demo?

Using a Dremmel

Our $20 tool came in for the win again, this time to notch out a small piece of the window frame so that we could get our abnormally shaped windows some shades.

Installing Roman Shades

Once we took a small section out of the window, we were able to slide those babies right on in. After a few screws, we had some fine looking window covers.
White Sheets on Bed

The roman shades have the nicest folds in them when they’re open, and they’re blackout shades, so when they’re down the room is quite dark.

JCPenney Roman Shade

Now, if you look closely at our windows you’d notice that they’re not quite there yet. This room was a creamy dream when we moved in (aka not white trim), and I guess the pictures tell the story on how far we’ve gotten on that front ;)

Cordless Roman Shade

One of these weekends, it’s going to happen!

Since these shades are cordless, they’ve also got a handy little handle/cover that you place over the fabric, to keep them from getting soiled by dirty paws as you grab them to bring the shade down at night.

Roman Shades from JCP

To keep our costs more manageable, we’re doing one room at a time. For under $100 though, I’m pretty pumped to have some chic window shades in our bedroom. Heck, I’m pretty happy to have any window treatments in our room!

Money Honey

It’s no secret that home ownership has a pesky habit of taking all your moolah and making you wonder where you put it. This house, well, let’s just say it’s been all that and more, on steroids.

It started with the basement, see ya later $3,500!

Fixing Basement Wall with Ramjack

Then we moved on to a furnace. In July. In North Carolina. Just where you want to be spending your dollar bills in the middle of summer. Farewell, $5k – nice knowing ya!

Converting from Oil to Gas

And now we’ve got our kitchen, which after appliances, new cabinets and counters, will be setting us back north of TEN THOUSAND DOLLARS. I may or may not be weeping as I type this.

Cortina Counter Top

The good news is, we’ve gotten a lot of big ticket, necessary items out of the way on the front end of this house, which gives us 1) more time to enjoy said improvements and 2) less concern that a big old expense is looming around the corner.

Ok, scratch #2. There are always expenses looming. ;)

The bad news is that in the last 3-months, it’s been feeling like we’re hemorrhaging green backs faster than we can replace them. And I’m not talking the George Washington variety, I’m talking the Benny Franklin crowd.

The last two months, we’ve had credit card bills over $10,000. Y’all, I made less than that two months of spending my entire YEAR of working the first year out of college. That’s a lot of money, it’s too much money and it was starting to freak me out. Like whoa.

Now most of this spending was planned. We sold our Ann Arbor house at a profit and we were able to use that money for a solid down payment on this house, along with a bit of extra cash to help with these known expenses we’d have walking into this fixer upper of ours, but still. It wasn’t something I felt comfortable with and I told Jay that starting in August a new sheriff was in town. :)

Downpayment on House

When we did sell our house, we took about 85% of the profits to pay a downpayment on our new home, and squirreled the rest away to pay for pending projects. Overall, I’m super glad we kept some cash on hand to help with some of the more unexpected extra costs that hit us (ahem, washer 2.0), etc.

Jay and I have always been really big savers, so luckily we’ve been able to pay for all these expenses from our savings, but truth be told, watching our savings account whittle down these last few months has been a bit frustrating. I know that they’re all temporary expenses and I know they’ll all improve the value of our property, but still – spending that much money is just hard for me to stomach, yo!

In general, our monthly breakdown of where the dollars go, looks like this.

Budget Breakdown

That little pie above has been our general budget since we’ve both been employed, and it works out great for us. We treat our savings account as a house slush fund, too, so it’s general $$ that we throw into our savings account each month to use for unanticipated + planned house/life/other expenses. We always keep a set minimum in there though, as an emergency fund.

Even when we have really bad months, where I’m slamming my head against the wall, I’m so thankful for a few things Jay and I put in place early in our marriage that have really be crucial to being pretty financially independent at 27 years old.

Steps to Financial Freedom

1) Live Off 1-Income: Ever since we’ve been married, we’ve always treated my income as our “non-essentials”. Jay’s income pays for necessities, mine pays for all savings. We started using this strategy early on in our marriage to pay off $30,000 in student loans, and just kept bank rolling it forward to pay for house down payments, car loans, etc.

2) Save Early, Save Often: Our first influx of money as a couple was from wedding gifts. Instead of going out and buying big ticket items – we put the money in the bank. We’ve followed suite since.

3) Pay off debt! I felt overwhelmed by the amount of debt Jay had coming out of college (nearly $30,000) – but by prioritizing our expenses and consistently placing needs over wants, we did it. In less than 2-years. Did I mention I made less than $20k my first job out of school?! We were not in fancy well off jobs – very normal – very moderate pay! Any tiny bit you can do, helps! We started payments at $50 a month (before legit jobs) and then started using my income to pay it off quicker once employed.

4) Simple Living: If I could give any new couple, or seasoned couple, one bit of financial advice it would be to live as simply as possible with a lifestyle where only one income is needed. In our 5 short years of marriage, it’s made such a difference for us. If you can’t pay for it in cash – don’t buy it! (mortgages withstanding…) ;)

5) Identify End Goal: Now – not everyone wants/needs to be Bill Gates, right? Jay and I know we’ll always be looking to live a modest lifestyle, so although saving is the name of our game, we’re not looking to buy a yacht, ya know? If that’s your goal – that’s awesome! But keeping your financial goals in perspective can help to keep you motivated and going strong.

Creative Ways to Add To Income

 

One last thing I’ve found to be helpful with financial security – ya got to learn to hustle, y’all! Get creative! Figure out something special you can offer to generate extra income. Sell stuff on craigslist, babysit or do lawn work for neighbors, open an etsy shop.

Along that vein, last month was a really big month for me with my design business. As of the end of August, I’m going to be bringing in almost as much as I was making when I was working full-time. Whoa. Crazy, right?! It’s exciting, and it’s also been a bit overwhelming to learn how to balance the demand that I’m getting for my interior design service. I’m totally humbled, and definitely up to the challenge, but it’s been a pretty crazy ride this month – that’s for sure! Although it’s never easy to start a business, it is very rewarding to see what some hard work and dedication can do over 6+ months.

This is our first full month of being back on track, and I’m happy to report that our financial situation is finally back where it needs to be to keep us in the black. No more kitchen renos or furnace replacements for a while, that’s fo shizzle.

How do you guys keep your finances on track? Any tips and tricks to get into good financial shape?

Tiny Home

Maybe it’s my pragmatic ways or my frugal nature, but the movement in the real estate world toward simple, functional spaces completely speaks to me. I’ve always vastly preferred a 1,200 square foot bungalow on a tree lined street to a 3,500 square foot subdivision abode. In fact, our current house (at just under 1,700 square feet) is actually the largest we’ve owned to date!

Have y’all heard of the Tiny Homes popping up around the country? Their cottages, all below 1,000 square feet, are as big as their homes get! What they don’t have in square footage, they definitely make up for in function and character.

I mean, tell me, what’s not to love?!

Tumbleweed Tiny Home

This home is an absolute treat – all 557 square feet of it! Like this perfect little entry. You’ve got to optimize every square foot!

Tiny Home Entry

After you enter, you come into a big open space that houses the kitchen, dining room and living space.

See the loft space above, as well?

Open Room

That kitchen pretty much left me speechless. The details on this house are perfection!

Tiny Home Kitchen

Right off the kitchen, there is a great dining space that has bench seating (with storage underneath – smart!).

Little House Dining Room

And then a stones throw away from the kitchen/dining space, you have a cozy little living room.

Little House Living Space

This house has two tiny little bedrooms. One of which is used as a flex office space for the home owner.

Again, this home owner optimized space by using clever storage solutions under the bed. Genius.

Tiny Home Bedroom

And this little back porch. I think the chickens seal the deal ;)

Tiny Home Yard

What do you think? Would you ever do the tiny house thing? Jay and I talk about buying some property in the mountains, and I’d love to build something like this for a vacation spot and then perhaps have it for retirement in the future. I’m personally completely smitten!

Want to read more? Here is the Tumbleweed website, and here is the blog for this homeowner!

Water Boy

Things that make me feel fancy these days include, but are not limited to: dishwashers (that wash your dishes!), counter tops, and running water – coming out of your fridge. I know, it’s like sci-fi out of this world, right? To me, I pretty much feel like I’ve been updated to Kardashian status, not going to lie. Growing up, we never had a water dispensing, ice making machine – and since Jay and I have been married, we’ve been in that same boat. Which, ya know, was actually totally good! We got along just fine without it! But folks, I’m thinking it’s like the day my great great grandma got her indoor plumbing. Once ya got it, there’s no turning back. ;)

Ice Ice baby.

So first things first, we had to move our hunka chunka fridge out, which was actually pretty simple since it’s got wheels up on the front of it.

Moving Fridge

My favorite part of this whole boon doogle was that it only set us back ten bucks for some ice cold, freshly filtered water. I call that a win.

Other than 10 feet of PEX (pictured later) this is what we needed for our little water install.

How to Install Water Line

Oh and this guy. We most definitely needed him as well. Here he is with his gear all ready to go into the crawlspace (fun!) to connect the lines. Snicker.

Installing Water Line in Crawlspace

But before we could get to that, we had to do some fancy footwork upstairs as well. Namely, we had to connect all our pieces together so that we could feed our PEX into the basement and have a finished line to feed the water into once we turned it on.

One upgrade we made with this install, was purchasing a shut-off valve for right at the fridge. For $5 extra, we both liked that it provide some peace of mind in the event of a water emergency. The last thing we wanted around all our brand new cabinets was a bunch of water leaking!

Shut of Valve on Water Line

Before we fed the PEX down into the crawlspace, we had to add a small hole behind the fridge so that we could access it.

Making Hole for Crawl Space

For this job, Jay used his favorite drill bit, which has a sharp screw on the tip, for extra biting power. :D Looks like a torture device, right?!

Drill Bit for Wood Floors

After that, we just had a few small connections to make and we were game on.

We had the PEX, which went down into the crawl space, the braided water line, which connected directly to the fridge, and the shut off valve, which sat at the floor as the final piece before the crawlspace.

Shut off Valve for Water Line

Here is a close up shot of Jay making the final connection, with the metal connector piece to attach the fridge line, to the braided line that will eventually sit right behind the fridge. We used a shark bite piece for this – super easy!

Connecting Water Line to Fridge

And then … the moment of truth was upon us. Jay fed the PEX line (the blue line) down into the basement and the cat and I waited on baited breath.

Installing Water Line

Malcolm was ha-larious. He heard Jay talking and scuffling down in the crawlspace and was well, pretty perplexed by the whole thing :D

I think he thought the floors had eaten his daddy-o. ;)

Cat Being Cute

For how incredibly simple the upstairs component of this little DIY was, the downstairs component was considerably less pleasant. Jay can barely fit in our crawlspace, so seeing him awkwardly shimmy down there (amongst who knows what) made us both wince a bit. He told me he definitely can’t gain any weight if he’s going to have to pop back under there again!

Needless to say – this is as close as I got for Jay’s action shot. ;) See that light shining way there in the back? That would be my husband. Thrilled as can possibly be.

Installing Water Line in Crawl Space

But the good news, y’all? Mission SUCCESS!!

We now have water coming out of our fridge – whatttt?!!!

Water Line for Fridge

Paint Me a Picture | Giveaway!

I love walking into people’s homes and seeing their custom touches to decorate the space. I love it even more when those little details are personalized. Wedding pictures, photos of babes, you name it – I dig it.

So when Rachel from a Little Bit of Me found me via instagram and suggested a custom family portrait for this week’s giveaway – I was down my friends.

Check out this sweet family portrait she put together.

Family Potrait

And this adorable custom pet portrait. Oh. My. God. How much do you need this for fluffy at this very second. :D Adorable, right?!

Dog Portrait

One lucky winner will win a custom print! Enter below, and don’t forget to check out her amazing etsy shop, here!

Win:  A custom family portrait 
When: Today, August 19th – midnight on Tuesday, August 26th
Winner: Announced on this post, next Tuesday!

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Counterpoint

Being that we’re going on two totally renovated, gutted to the studs kitchens in two years, I think it’s safe to say we had a pretty good idea of how we wanted the room to look and feel after we were done with it. Been there, done that type of thing. In the name of keeping our sanity intact, we’ve made a few decisions on the space that are the exact same as our last kitchen (like the faucet, and the hardware) and we’ve made a few decisions that are different as well.

One of those happens to be the counter tops – in all honesty, you’d be hard pressed to tell though, since they landed up looking so similar!

It’s always nerve racking to spend a wad on something and not be sure if you’re going to like it when everything is said and done. Y’all, I thought the counter tops in our last house were as good as it gets, but man am I glad we shopped around this time, because I’m thrilled with how these turned out.

Sans backsplash, the entire kitchen now looks like this:

Cortina Counter Top

And this is how the room looks, peering out from the Dining Room. (oh, how I long for some finished backsplash!)

Cortina Counter Tops

Now, as much as I love (LOVE) the look and feel of marble in a kitchen, Jay is the cook and he gave me a firm n.o. on that one. Not happening.

Although I know many people have found ways to work around the whole etching, staining, scratching ordeals associated with marble counters, I just didn’t want to be in a situation where we were freaking out when our friends spill some red wine or something, ya know?

So again, we opted to go with Quartz counters, but this time we purchased Cortina vs. Lagoon.

Cortina Quartz Counters

Added bonus. Lagoon was over $70 per square foot, and Cortina comes in at $59. Along with the free color promotion they were running, we were able to score this bad boy for around $50 a square foot. Bam.

Oh, and they threw in a free sink, too. :)

Sink Not Under Window in Kitchen

Just like the lagoon counter, this is a gray based counter top with subtle veining throughout – similar to the look of real marble.

Cortina Quartz Counter

Here’s another shot of it up against the edge, so you can see the detail there as well.

Very subtle veining.

LG Cortina Quartz Counter

For comparison, this is what Lagoon looked like in our last house. A bit more gray, and the veining is just a tad more pronounced as well.

Silestone Lagoon

And another shot of Lagoon, from a bit further out.

Silestone Lagoon Counters

In all honesty, one of the most exciting things about putting the counters down was removing all of the brown paper we had down to protect the floors.

Man, it feels good to be reunited with my little vintage Persian.

Persian Rug in Kitchen

Confession. The corner of our kitchen (where our future eat-in will be) currently looks like this. Rome wasn’t built in a day. ;)

Organizing Kitchen

Any one else out there in kitchen renovation mode? It feels good to be coming around the final bend over here!

Calling All Faucet Fans

Truth be told my friends, I’ve been holding out on you. We’ve had countertops in our kitchen for about a week now. Which has meant a week with a dishwasher and a sink (!), and blessed counters to put my bagels on as I butter them. Life, is good.

Now, I’m going to hold out on y’all a little bit longer to show some close up shots of our counters (coming Monday!). Today, I’ve got almost as exciting of a reveal though. May I present, our kitchen sink. Drum roll, pa-leassse.

Traditional Kitchen Faucet

It’s awfully purty, isn’t it? Here’s another shot of it, from the back, looking out toward the kitchen.

Traditional Faucet with Sprayer

For those of you that have been along on our renovating journeys since day one, it probably looks a wee bit familiar, no?

Oh, ya know – like this faucet. ;) Yep – it’s totally the same faucet from the last house! No, I didn’t steal it from our Michigan house … I went out and bought a new one. :D See we landed up with the same guy due to almost having a faucet emergency. We were told by the counter top company that we needed to have a faucet on the day of installation or they wouldn’t cut the holes for us in the counter top. Problem was, we found this out about 48-hours pre-install. Screeeeech.

CRAP. No faucet was chilling at our house. Enter in Mary running around like a crazy woman to try and secure faucet. ASAP.

So although I had my mind set on a different faucet this time around, truth be told, the fact that this one was in stock at our local Home Depot helped to sway me toward this guy.

We got right to installing it, since we’ve been itching to have a dishwasher and sink!

Installing Faucet

Jay insisted on wearing his mining light. Hi ho, hi ho it’s off to work we go.

After he had all the drain lines connected for the dishwasher, sink and garbage disposal, our area under the sink looked a bit cluttered, but definitely better than our last house, where the sink and garbage disposal came down much further and took up most of the storage space. Over time, I think I’ll ask Jay to secure the drain line for the dishwasher up to the top of the cabinet as well, so it’s not cutting through the middle like it does now.

Storage Under Sink

Thanks to our wall removal efforts, you’ve got a nice view of the dining room and living room from the sink. This room is so much more open concept than when we bought the place and it just feels much more updated now.

Open Concept Kitchen

Here’s a shot of the sink further out, with a full view of our peninsula.

Sink Not Under Window in Kitchen

And another final view, of the handles on the sink. Can you tell I’m smitten?

Vintage Style Faucet Now, if I had a few more weeks to pick out a faucet, there were definitely some other contenders in the running. Here’s a round up of some of my favorite options.

Best Traditional Kitchen Faucets

Danze Cross Handle Faucet // Hampton 2-Handle Faucet // Danze 2-Handle Faucet // Moen Faucet

Whiter and Brighter

I’ve got a thing for crisp, white, bed sheets. Ya know, hotel style? Perhaps I like them since in my mind, they usually correlate with someone else doing the laundry and making the bed, but something about a crisp white set of sheets kinda throws me over the edge.

See, as of late. Our bedroom was looking sorta sad. Insert below picture.

Mounting Headboard to Wall

We hadn’t mounted our headboard yet, so that was kinda disappearing into the ether, our main bed sheet was all stretched out and yellowish, and our pillows.

Well… they were mismatched and not looking so hot either.

How to Move Headboard Up

So after scoring a few sets of the brightest, whitest, crispest sheets at the goodwill for $1 a set (WHHHAATT???, I know, right?!) I thought that it was high time we gave our bed a little updating. Normally, sheets at the goodwill are something that you might have to settle for a few stains on (I mean, people usually don’t give away brand new stuff) but I’m pretty sure a hotel went out of business, since they had a ton of matching white sheets for the taking.

I put a bug in Jay’s ear that I wanted to raise the headboard when we put the new sheets on the bed, and after hearing power tool noises coming from the bedroom, I come into the room to see this.

How to not find a stud

Now, y’all, to say Jay got the stink eye from me for this level of shenanigans, well, that would be a fact. My response to a thousand holes in the side of my wall was: Jay – what the hello dolly do you think you’re doing. His response: Well, trying to find a stud!

Holy man.

Let’s all look at the picture above and nod our heads in unison as I say. Not the best way to find a stud. I think he needs a stud finder for Christmas. And some joint compound. Jeeze Louise.

Mounting Headboard to the Wall

Eventually he did find that stud, and just used a scrap piece of 2×4 to screw in the back of our wood, DIY headboard to the wall.

In addition to being solid as a rock now (no wiggling), we also raised up the headboard so that it’s, well, normal height.

Looks better, right!

White Sheets on Bed

Here’s another shot from the side, so you can see that the piece of wood (or the ten thousand holes Jay made) are not visible (unless you stick your head back there to investigate)

White Hotel Pillowcases

While we were on this update, I thought it would be a good time to spruce up our bedside tables a bit, too. I’d been wanting to frame our anniversary card (5 years with this hole crazed man this June) – so now we have some art that personalizes the space, too!

A Bicycle Built for Two – Me and You.

A Bicycle Built For Two