On the Hunt

Ya know, coming from the Ann Arbor Real Estate market (which is red smoking hot) I think Jay and I both thought that it would be easier to find a place to live down here in Durham. Although we had to wait it out a bit when we bought both our homes in Ann Arbor, it’s actually taking us quite a bit longer to find a pad here in NC. We’ve been scouring the market for a while now, and I’ve always had my eye on a set of reno’s going down near one of the downtown hot spots, called 9th Street. I knew we’d never purchase these homes since an investor was decking them out to the nines, but one of the units just came on the market and I just had to share all the amazingness with you guys. Buckle your seatbelts, it’s a beaut.

Flipping Real Estate

See that cute little blue number on the right? That’s the house – adorable, right?! (Keep in mind, I snapped these photos before it hit the market, so that front door and awning had not been painted yet). Y’all ready to see the AMAZING interior?

Right off the bat, you walk into a beautiful and open Living Space, complete with refinished floors and lots of natural light. I’m totally smitten with that glass tile around the fireplace as well.

Staged Living Room

Here’s another angle. Delicious. Love the double windows up front.

Staging Living Room

Off the Living Room, you’ve got hands down, one of the prettiest flipped kitchen’s I’ve ever laid my eyes on.

White Shaker Cabinets

MEOW. Look at those cabinets, the backsplash, just all of it.

White Kitchen Shaker Cabinets

So many perfect details.

Subway Tile Backsplash

I love that this house has a mud room off the back as well. With all the houses we’ve owned so far we’ve had rinky dink entries that definitely would not accommodate a space for a bench or any type of storage.

Small Mud Room

Capping off the downstairs, there’s a small little hall bath. Perfect for guests.

Small Hall Bath

Upstairs, you’ve got a roomy and gorgeous Master Suite. I’m a neutral’s girl, and usually find myself putting whiteish colors up on the wall, but man alive am I loving this seagreen color in the master.

Bedroom with White Oak

Here’s the room from another angle.

Bedroom with Dormers

Another one of my house bucket list items is actually having a bedroom big enough to put a pretty little bench in (it’s the small things, right?) So far, all our bedrooms have been so dang small that it’s really not possible to add a bench in.

Window Seat in Bedroom

Keeping it classy, they added a jaw dropping on suite. The door and that vintage chic hardware is just killing me.

Traditional Bath

You just can’t go wrong with a traditional subway tile pattern. It looks perfect against that light gray up on the walls. Notice the marble inset shampoo nook, too?

Bathroom with Subway Tile

And a grand finale for this grand tour of a grand old house is glorious little backyard. Although the landscaping is all new, it will fill out over time and make this a wonderful living space.

Side Porch

They even thought to put in some raised bed gardens! A renovation after my own heart. You can see from this back vantage view, that this house is divided into two identical duplex units, so everything you saw on this tour, is duplicated over on the left.

Raised Bed Garden

The dreamer and schemer in me would absolutely love to do renovations just like this one where no detail is overlooked. As someone that’s on the hunt for houses often, there is nothing that makes me cringe more than a poorly done flip with builder grade all over the place. Ahhh, but first, I’ve gotta find a place to land my booty – then I can worry about flipping some real estate! :D

Nadeau or Nadon’t

One of the absolute best things about moving down to a new location, has been scouting out all the haunts with the best goodies. From food (mmm pulled pork) to furniture, I’ve been on the hunt for our new favorite locales. Jay had last Friday off for the Easter Weekend, so we decided we’d take a little adventure and explore the Raleigh-Durham area to see if we spotted any gems.


The winner of them all, believe it or not, was nestled in a mall :D A very hip, urban mall, that is right up against a neighborhood in downtown, but a mall none the less. Now that we live down south, I guess I envision all of our score places being in some derelict building American Pickers style where we’ve gotta hunt for the goods. Nadeau, which is in Cameron Village for NC locals, does incorporate some elements of that hunt, since everything is packed up to the ceiling…

This place abso-poso-tively rocked my socks off. I don’t think there was a single piece of furniture in that joint that I didn’t want to put in my pocket and take home with me. Check out these cute little bar stools. Lovely wood tops, each with a unique metal base.

Unique Wood Bar Stools

For a slightly softer industrial look, this stool with a linen top also had me at hello.

Linen Bar Stool

The best part about this place (other than their amazing selection) was that the prices were pretty hard to beat. I mean, the ultimate score is definitely finding things used (in my experience), but when you can find a place that has new items at about half what you’d expect to pay for a similar item new, that’s also a pretty solid win!

The dresser below reminded me a ton of this dresser from Home Decorators that I’ve been drooling over since my eyeballs spotted it a few months ago. Only thing holding me back? The dresser I love online is $849 …. um YEAH.

White Painted Dresser

That white stallion of a beauty above? $320!!!!!! Well helllloooo, to you! See what I’m sayin?! I could seriously do some damage at this place once we land in our new abode.

This dining table below reminded me a lot of Restoration Hardware table’s I’ve seen before (upwards of $2k!), this one is below $800. With some linen upholstered chairs, that table would look oh so fine.

White Wash Dining Table

I blame it on all my interior design clients, but I’m totally on a console table kick right now, I just can’t get enough of them. So when I spotted this console table with an inset beveled door, I started scheming on how to fit that baby in our apartment, so I could eventually move it into our imaginary home that does not yet exist. The husband gave me a firm N. O. (It better be there in the next few weeks for me to come back and grab that beaut…)

Light Wood Console Table

For a larger space, this one also caught my eye. Don’t you just want to lick it? It would look oh so fine with some jute baskets underneath and a styled top.

Light Wood Console Table

If you were looking for a pop of color, this guy would look great in an entry, or for extra storage in another location in your abode.

Green Hutch

Now, if I can pull it off, I totally want to have an office in our next house. It doesn’t have to be anything large, I could even settle for the corner of a living room or kitchen, I just desperately want a dedicated desk space where I can spread out and make the magic happen. This dark wood desk would fit that bill up and down and all around. Yum.

Dark Wood Desk

One of my favorite finds the entire day, was this ginormous cabinet. I think something large and in charge like this would be awesome for a pantry if you were short on cabinet space. Since we usually buy homes as old as the Earth itself, we’re usually low on cabinet space :) Throw some baskets in there, and voila, custom little pantry.

Large White Cabinet Hutch

For a space that’s a bit smaller, this lean little number would be lovely, too! (Can you tell I’m loving the light wood look right now?)

Light Wood China Cabinet

(Psst. good news for everyone else, it looks like they’ve got stores in a few urban centers throughout the country!! Here is their webpage if you wanted to check and see if they’ve got a shop near you!)

Say Hooray for Earth’s Special Day! | Giveaway

Happy Earth Day, America! In honor of our dear mother earth, I found the absolute perfect giveaway to help us all celebrate. Blue Bird Heaven crafts the coolest household goodies, made from reclaimed wood and antique parts and pieces.

Her shop is seriously special! In addition to offering one lucky reader the chance to win one of her beautiful pieces of artwork, everyone has a chance to score 10% off by typing in “EarthDay” at checkout. Huzza!!

Here are just a few of the beauties from her shop.





And for one lucky winner, this whimsical and (so!) fun key holder! What’s not to love :D


Here are all the details.

Win:  “Keys” hanging rack (above)
When: Today, April 22nd – Monday, April 28th
Winners: Announced on this post, next Monday!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Fancyfing This Joint

Actually, there is very little fancyfing (fancy-fi-ing) :D going on in this specific joint, but by George, the rest of America is getting in on some of that action. I can’t even tell you how much my palms are twitching over here with all the design work I’ve been doing for the rest of y’all. Let’s just say my little brain is stirring with all sorts of ideas for our new space once we’ve well, got a new space to move in to. Oye. Patience Mary, patience… :D

In the mean time, I thought it would be fun to swing in with my monthly round up of designs I’ve been busting out for clients. I can tell you one thing. Once I’ve got my own little home sweet home, you betta bet that I’m putting a mood board together to get my mojo going. In the past, I more or less had an idea of what I kinda sorta wanted to do in my head, but seeing everything down on paper and producing finished rooms for clients has me taking a whole new approach on how I plan to attack our new spaces once we get settled.

Probably my favorite room to design this month, was my very first mini human room. Not little tike room for the pre-schoolers getting their first big kid bed, nope, this was the fresh out of the womb, just pushed that wrinkly beast out, welcome to the world type of room. Yes siree, my very first nursery. SQUEEEE!!!

Nursery Mood Board

Have you guys seen the Sharon Montrose Animal Prints? I loved using these for this space and think all the art is adorbs. Like this little monkey print – so dang cute. I’m pretty smitten :)

Monkey Print Nursery

Another fun, and very different project for me for was designing a fancy little loo. Being the big picture lady that I am, I really take a darn long time to get around to nice little spaces like my b-room. I think I need to change that – look at all the fine details that got added in this room.

Bathroom Mood Board Not going to lie, this next client pretty much has the best set up EVER for her bedroom. It’s got a sunroom attached that was pretty much the size of my last bedroom. Oye. Jeal-ous. What I would DO with that much space, I can’t even begin to tell you.

Bedroom Layout

Crazy sauce amazingness, right?! This is what I came up with for her space.

Bedroom Mood Board

I rounded out the month with another living room design board. I’m a total sucker for the little details in a house and totally fell in love with the sweet bay window Kristen had in her living space – perfect for a quaint and peaceful sitting area. (She lives near the ocean (!) , swoon)

Living Room Layout

Although each design board comes out very different, and with it’s own unique twist, I think you can tell that I really like the white drapes with bamboo blinds look :D Especially on a beach house! ;)

Living Room Mood Board

As always, if you’re ever interested in designing a space you absolutely love – I offer 10% off to all my lovely readers! Just type in “THANKYOU” at checkout! :D


Downtown Durham has so many lovely neighborhoods. From Trinity Park to Forest Hills, there are plenty swankafied areas to call your own around here. After our grand old tour of Bull City on Wednesday, I thought it might be fun for all of y’all to see some of the neighborhoods we’ve been house hunting in as well. For a full disclaimer, this is (in no way) a full representation of all the great, and very diverse Durham neighborhoods out there, only the one’s that we’ve been searching in during our little house hunt.

Remember this little heartbreaker, the one that got away?

Durham Real Estate

This sweet little home that we almost called ours is right along the edge of one of the local favorites – Watts-Hillandale, which is the first official stop along our Durham city journey. This neighborhood has way too much cuteness to scrunch into one little blog post, but it’s at least a sampler for all of you to kind of see the areas we’ve been searching through on our hunt!

So that you kinda have a lay of the land while we’re virtually exploring all of these neighborhoods, I thought I’d put together a nifty little map to go along with all this goodness.

Durham Neighborhood Map

That hunka chunka pink up to the left is Watts-Hillandale. My map kind of cannibalized a neighborhood called Old West Durham, which is technically in the bottom portion of the pink. Sorry Old West Durham, my bad.

Watts-Hillandale is all kinds of gorgeous and was definitely the neighborhood where we focused our initial search. Being that we were from out of town, we depended heavily on our awesome Realtor Eve to help guide us toward the winners.

Watts Hillandale Durham

One of our favorite parts about this neighborhood is this gorgeous (huge!) park, called Oval Park, which is basically centered right in the middle of this section of town. The park is constantly full with families playing, and twice now we’ve seen a mobile farmers market truck stationed there, too. (SO cool!)

Oval Park Durham

The houses surrounding the park are exquisite. Total leave it to beaver babes that just suck the breath right out of you. Like this yummy number.

Oval Park Watts Hillandale

Seriously. If I don’t own this home sometime in my life, I might just die from the disappointment of it all. I LOVE. Even though this house more or less looks like it’s in a rural setting, it’s super close to downtown. Sweetness.

All the blocks are tree lined and completely gorgeous. This is a shot of Club Avenue, which is one of the prettier streets in Durham. Every house is so well maintained, and they all date back 100+ years.

Watts Hillandale Neighborhood

Some of my personal favorites that dot the landscape here in Durham are the craftsman bungalows. These suckers had me at hello.

Watts Hillandale Homes

Right?! I know, they are just too scrumptious for words.  I couldn’t help but keep clicking away.

Homes in Watts Hillandale

Down here in the south, those big old front porches get lots of use! :D

As for back of the house entertainment – Jay and I were both fancying this set up! Built-in grill and a pergola – mmmm, yeah, I need that.

Pergola on the Garage

Right on the edge of Watts-Hillandale, there’s lots of activity around the 9th street corridor (one of the favorite shopping districts in the town). In addition to the high density developments I mentioned on Wednesday, there are lots homes being rehabbed into really gorgeous properties. This little group is one of my favorites.

New Developments in Durham

They’re single family homes that are being converted to ultra-classy duplexes. It’s super evident that the developer is really paying attention to the details with this reno. They’ve been refinishing a lot of the details on these homes, vs. just hauling them and replacing them with something pre-fab. I’m super interested to see what these land up going on the market for, since they are gorgeous!

9th Street Durham

And to round out our tour of Watts-Hillandale … another craftsman. I just can’t get enough of them! :D

Craftsman Bungalow

Up next week, I’ll have a tour of the Forest Hills neighborhood, and the week after, I’ll finish up with Trinity Park!

Getting to Know You

Ah, Durham. How we love you already. It’s kind of amazing how quickly you can feel at home in a place when you’re surrounded by familiar things and friendly people. Although we’ve long been smitten with the state of NC, I’m so happy to say that after a few weeks here in Bull City, we’re loving calling this place home. I eluded to it when we started looking at properties here a few months ago, but this area is literally bursting at the seams with growth and young, fresh energy. Ready for a quick little tour of our new town?

Everywhere you look in the neighborhoods there are signs like these, which always made the heart of the house hunter in me skip a beat :D The older neighborhoods seem to have  a few houses each block undergoing extensive renovations, including these gems.

Real Estate Durham NC

And everywhere you look a few blocks further, once you’re right along the main city corridors, you see these.

New Urbanism

There are currently more than a half dozen high density developments going up here in Durham, all focused at bringing back walkable, livable, thriving urban centers, and the urban planner in me gets totally geeked when I see all this awesome development happening. Plus, with all these young (and old!) professionals and families, come shops that cater to them – it’s a great urban renewal circle of life if you will. :D Take this area.

9th Street Durham

This is 9th street, which is one of the hip strips here in Durham. Lots of eateries and coffee shops, almost all local, which is awesome! Right across the street, you’ve got this shopping center that just went in with lots of apartments being added as we speak. Since we adore living right in the thick of the action, and like to walk everywhere when possible, it’s beyond cool to see grocery stores getting added to this mix of retail and living centers.

Development in Durham

In addition to having the more conventional grocery options right here within walking distance from the main residential neighborhoods, one of our favorite ways to get fresh local produce has always been our farmer’s markets. I can’t even tell you how in love I am with how much this city embraces the rural areas around us – there are SO MANY amazing farms with much longer seasons than we were used to when we lived back in the mitten. It makes my heart so dang happy.

This year, for the first time, we signed up for a CSA, which is Community Shared Agriculture. Now instead of getting our fruits and veggies and eggs and cheese from the store, we’ll get them from a Farmer that lives a few miles down the road!

Durham Farmer's Market

The Farmer’s market is a few blocks away from the main downtown drag, where there is a ton of vintage tobacco warehouses have been turned into pretty sweet office spaces and eateries. Since Durham was a city that was hurting for so long after Tobacco got the heave ho as a ubiquitous part of our society (ya know, we’re no longer puffing those cigs Mad Men style…) a lot of the history was preserved when other cities got developed. A bummer in the sense that this city had to kind of pick itself up by it’s bootstraps and reinvent itself, but pretty darn cool in the sense that much of the architecture is original and has been re-purposed instead of torn down.

Brightleaf Square is one of the best examples of that rejuvenation. I took this photo over a week ago – all the tress have bloomed completely now, so it’s even more gorgeous!

Brightleaf Square Durham

Right over by my work is another set of offices with an original mural still preserved alongside the building.

Durham Murals

I think the city has taken a liking to these bright, artistic additions, since I’ve noticed a fair share of newer murals around town, too. Like this one.

Murals in Durham

Although my work office is closer to downtown, I’m right up against the Duke Campus, which is incredibly stunning.

Duke University Campus

Nice, right? :D Since we basically turned into fat little frozen eskimos up in Michigan, we’ve been trying to stay more active now that we’re down south by running through campus a few days a week. Can’t beat the scenery!

Speaking of jaw dropping destinations, we’ve also been by to check out the Duke Gardens (free admission!) where there are tons of gorgeous flowers and paths. Spring is obviously extra special, with all types of new blooms popping up every day.

Duke Botanical Gardens

Since we’re in the process of hunting for houses in more or less (3) different neighborhoods here in Durham, I thought I’d also give you all a little taste of the residential areas here by doing a weekly feature on some of the sweetest blocks in town. Y’all, get your bibs, because you are going to be drooling when I start posting photos of some of these pads. They are insane. If you all are as crazy sauce about scoping out the real estate in town as I am, get ready for a barrel of monkeys worth of fun! :D

The Stars to Guide You | Giveaway!

It’s always so darn fun for me to feature giveaways for items that I’ve already got in my home, since I know even more that you guys will love them! I’m sure you all remember these lovely lookers that I purchased for my home on etsy after using them for a design client.

DIY Constellation Art

Truth be told, I loved them so much that I contacted the shop owner stat and asked if she might be willing to offer a few for all of you! And being the infinitely awesome human being that she is, Elise agreed!! Y’all up for grabs are (2) of the same prints above as 5×7′s. How much happiness does that bring all of you, right?!

Here’s another close up of that beauty!

Constellation Print

I’ve also got a 4×6 (in a darker color) that I’m totally smitten with :D

Recycled Wood Frame

Ready to win? Enter below!

Win:  (2) 5×7 prints
When: Today, April 15th – Monday, April 21st
Winners: Announced on this post, next Monday

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Number Cruncher

Well – late last week our house officially closed. Since we had to move down to NC before the buyers were ready to occupy the property, we presigned before we left and they came through and did their round of paperwork later. I thought I’d feel kinda sad about it come closing day, but in complete honesty it feels so incredibly good. Like a complete new and fresh slate is before us, just ready for us to write the story. It’s quite invigorating and I’m so dang excited for all that’s to come.

Selling Home Quickly

Since you guys were along for almost all of our Michigan house journey, I wanted to provide a really comprehensive cost breakdown of how much we put into the home, and how things looked at the end of the day as we walked away from the property. Renovating a house is expensive. Even though Jay and I have always tried to do everything that we’re able ourselves, it still gets so pricey and adding it all up can be quasi depressing at times! ;) Since this blog is all about the good, the bad and the ugly (aka full disclosure) I thought all you renovating fa-reaks like me out there would appreciate a thorough cost breakdown.

Let’s start with the biggest ticket items … our kitchen.

Persian Rug in Kitchen

This room was a complete gut. Not a single thing, other than the walls and the plumbing stayed put. Well, that’s not even completely true since a wall in the middle of the room got the ax, as well. :D We wanted this to be a selling feature for the house some day, so we decided to go with higher end finishes, but it definitely came at a price.

  • New Gas Line: $250
  • New Appliances: $6,041 – $750 rebate = $5,291 (DAGGER, Dagger to the heart)
  • Diamond Cabinetry: $5,018 – $565 rebate = $4,453 (Yeah, I think that’s another dagger right there)
  • Counters: $2,050 ($71 per square foot)
  • Sink: Free!
  • Faucet: $220
  • Hardware: $45
  • Herringbone Tile Installation $39

Total out of pocket: $9,998 – (After sale of our appliances and old kitchen and rebates)

We got $1,500 for the counters and cabinets, and $850 for all the old appliances and racked up $1,315 in cash rebates. All in all, we had a total savings of $3,665 from craigslisting our old stuff, and submitting rebates. Snap dragons and lollipops, I’ll take it.

Our general theory with this space, was to splurge on some things we knew we didn’t want to live without. I.E. Matching appliances and nice counters. And save where we could, too! Like the $45 total we spent on all hardware.

Where to Splurge and Where to Save

Our attic was the other big ticket item in this house. Although it was quite the before and after, it was a hunka chunka change to make the magic happen in this room, too.

  • Insulation: $1,175
  • Drywall: $1,270
  • Built-in: $325
  • Stairway: $350
  • Board & Batten Wall: $20
  • Closets: $170
  • Carpet: $1,800

Total out of pocket: $6,590

Converting Attic into Bedroom

We also installed a half-bath upstairs. Turns out when you put a bath in a space that was bathless before, that’ll cost ya. Y’all seeing a theme here? :D

  • Wall framing: $74
  • Pocket Door and hardware: $65
  • Door: $70
  • Vanity: $518
  • Mirror: $28
  • Faucet: $139
  • Marble Floor (including backerboard, grout and mortar): $212
  • Paint: $18
  • Board & Batten: $20
  • Toilet: $168
  • Sconces: $82
  • Art: $12
  • Basket and Towels: $30
  • Plumbing for Second Bath: $690
  • Total: $2,126

Staging Bathroom for Sale

And although this space is so teeny weeny wittle, I know that it without a doubt helped us to sell off this little home of ours, so I’m very glad we made the investment. The slanted ceilings and cozyness of this space aren’t ideal but people, it’s real. This is what 1940′s charm and character is all about – just watch your head! :D

My favorite feature in this space is definitely that lovely looker of a floor.


The attic and the kitchen took the most out of our wallets, but we had lots of other projects that still put in a dent :) Our downstairs bathroom, being one.

  • Marble Flooring (including grout, mortar, a new tile blade, a few new tools and sealer) $296
  • Subway Tile $84
  • Backer board $42
  • Paint – Free! (used a color already in the house)
  • Sconces – $80 (Lowes)
  • Built-in (including wood, supplies, veneer and accessories) $74
  • Sink (splurge…) $282
  • Tub Hardware $108
  • Sink Faucet (including plumbing) $162
  • Spray paint for tub hardware $4
  • Privacy screen for window $17

Grand Total: $1,149 

Not so shabby, since this room was a complete gut, too! :) Ahh, such fond memories. This room is where my love of herringbone tile began ;)

Bathroom After

Down in the basement, we had a few projects that we were able to keep a bit more reasonable through lots of elbow grease. We had the built-in, the bathroom and some sprucing in the laundry room. Everything down here came in under $1,000. Shake your booty like a Polaroid picture – shake it, shake, shake, shake, shake it. That’s right under $1k for the whole shabang.

This wall of holy hotness makes me miss our Ann Arbor home a little too much.

DIY Built In Bookcase

In our dining room, the main cost (pretty much only cost other than paint) was installing a new set of french doors. This room felt so dark and dreary before, so we were really happy with our choice to put in these new doors. Including some labor, our total for this improvement was $1,100.

French Doors Off Dining Room

Even though we hired a contractor to cut through the brick, it helped that we did a lot of the pre and post work ourselves. Although we knew we didn’t want to take on certain parts of the reno, offering a hand in the process brought our total out of pocket costs down a lot.

Here’s Jay in full on Bob the Builder mode :D

Framing Around French Door

In addition to doing some major reno work in each of the rooms, one of our larger tasks was refinishing our hardwood floors through the house from orange to dark mochalicous. Since this one was all us, the cost was not too steep… Phew! :D At the end of the day, we spent $480 on the stain, poly and sander rental. Not insignificant, but certainly less expensive than hiring someone to do it!

In complete honesty, although this DIY turned out a-ok in the end, it wasn’t our best work in my opinion. We went into it a little over confident (since we’d refinished floors in the last house) and found this house had a few monkey wrenches in it for us. Namely, after almost 20 hours (yep, not a typo!) of sanding, that tricky stain and poly was still not coming up in some areas (JESUS CHRIST, you’ve got to be kidding me was all I said and thought for like 48 hours straight during that reno) ;) AKA, lesson learned here, I think I might splurge and have someone come in for the sanding part next time around to save us some heart ache.

Here are a few shots of the floors, after.

Installing Trim Under Door

Dark and lovely – but high maintenance, too!

Dark Wood Floors

Alright, y’all ready for the moment of truth? We are so humbled and keep pinching ourselves, but we totally made a killing on this house. Chalk it up to the red hot Ann Arbor market (we had FOUR offers (!), but we walked away with more than double the cash we put down when we purchased the house. Hot dog with a side of onion rings – that makes me one happy little lady.

Although we put tons o’ cash into this joint, much more than I’m normally comfortable with, it paid off big time when we went to sell. The good news is that extra cash allows Jay and I to put down a much more substantial down payment on the next house, thus reducing our overall mortgage and keeping our monthly costs really manageable.

Thinking it over, I’d like to put in a few caveats to why I think we we’re able to do so well with real estate, after just (2) homes (and 4 years…)

  1. We are SO lucky to have gotten into the real estate market when we did. We avoided the nose dive that most people had to deal with, which helped us build equity quicker
  2. We always bought in markets that we knew would sell when we needed them to. Although our expenses (taxes, the actual property) are higher, it’s always paid off (so far!) for us to invest in urban centers where there is high demand for property. Plus, we love the environment and all the amenities and wouldn’t have it any other way.
  3. We pinched our pennies and saved like a boss. We could only afford to put down just north of $10,000 on our first house, but we scraped what we had together and kept scraping! No matter how little we could save, we always did, and after 5-years some of those investments are finally starting to generate interest.

Well folks, I think that’s a complete wrap for our sweet little Ann Arbor bungalow! Time to shift gears and start searching for our NC home!

Oops I Did it Again

Oh, Mary. When will you learn. To slow down, to pace yourself, to take a chill pill, to take one step at a time. Chalk this one up to the next round of lessons in that big fat book, I just lost myself $500 big ones. See, it all started out with this cute little house nestled away in a sweet little neighborhood in Durham.

Durham Real Estate

See, isn’t it cute! :) (A little yellow – but you can fix that!) Now, when the hubster and I were down for our first round of interviews, I got it in my head that it might be fun to swing by some of the homes for sale in the area and just check out the neighborhoods and see which areas in the town we liked. Given the fact that we’d never been to Durham before in our lives, I’m super glad we did this. It gave us an opportunity to see the different areas for the first time – and to visualize ourselves in a home there. Alas, my visualizing skills are sometimes a bit too keen, since we decided to put in an offer on a house all lickety split.

We were totally excited about the house. 4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, room for an office, walking distance for me to work, a quick bike ride for Jay to work, steps away from the farmers market, the downtown shops and all the amazing things that any urban center can offer you. We’d signed the paperwork and we’re just headed to the land of the pines for an inspection before we totally committed to this home to being ours.


Jay and I got to the house a few minutes before the realtor got there, just to give us a second to view the property one more time. We popped into the backyard to talk through some of the plans we had for it and our stomachs kind of did one of those pit dropping heart lurching things when you just realize that this little space is just not right for you. See one thing we failed to notice in our quick run through the first time (when we fell in love with the property) was that one row of houses past our backyard was a pretty darn busy street, with tons of road noise. A biker’s convention just happened to be shooting through that afternoon, so we had the pleasure of hearing rev after rev of the engines coming through.

After the initial panic hit, we tried to think of things we could do to “solve” our problem, or at least work with it. Here’s the backyard.

Getting Rid of Road Noise

First thing we thought about was adding a solid row of evergreens to help with the noise and the visual. Although the noise was obnoxious, the worst part about it was how you could see it. Instead of just being a white noise in the background, your mind was able to connect car to the whir around you. It just wasn’t the peaceful backyard experience we had hyped up in our heads when we thought about warm summer evenings with a margarita in hand.

Here’s a kinda sorta (ok, not realllyy) simulation of what things would look like if we planted a bazillion little evergreen shrubs. It helps with the visual, but doesn’t really kick out that noise factor.

Blocking Road Noise with Shrubs

The biggest stumbling block for us, and the one we just couldn’t get around in our minds, was how high the house was from the road down below it. Great for water drainage – not so hot when you’re trying to block the view of the busy road 200 feet back. Each level we went up things just got worse. Although you could definitely hear the road noise down in the backyard, every time we went up a level, we could see it too. This is a view from the deck, which is the first story.

Road Noise Behind House

After lots of teeth gnashing and stressed out sighs, Jay and I ultimately decided that it was better to wait for the next house to come along and chalk this experience up as a very painful lesson. The biggest pain in the tuckus about passing this house up though, is that over 3-weeks later – nothing has come on the market that we’d want to actually jump on. It’s awful, guys! For a girl who’s ready to tear down the next wall in her life, this waiting period is just all kinds of painful.

Let’s all (tearfully) wave goodbye to the house that almost was …

Watts Hillendale Real Estate

And believe you me, we’ve definitely been looking (pretty hard core!) for the past 2 months now. Oye.

There have been a decent amount of contenders, like this one.

Real Estate in Watts Hillendale

Cute as a button, right? The basement had a few trouble spots – as in – maaajjoooorrr issues with our good southern friend, the termite. Us northern folk have been in for a barrel of monkeys on that front.

And this one … so cute! But already done, and the layout was funky, too.

Old West Durham Homes

So in closing – could someone please list their house in Downtown Durham so we can buy it?! Please and thank you :D

Spring Fever

Now that we’re down in some warmer temps (wooo hooo!!) I’ve got a built-up shopping tick for cute/warm/summer clothes that I just can’t kick. Spring, my friends, has finally sprung. After living north of the wall this winter, I can’t even tell you how good 80 degrees felt last week. So, inspired by our new locale, and by the fact that old man winter seems to have finally left most of the good U.S. of A until next year comes knocking, I put together some pretty little numbers for all of us that are ready for summer sandals and breezy blouses.

Y’all ready for my spring look book?

Spring Style Guide

LOVE that pop of red. Found a similar blouse at TJ Maxx the other day, but it had a weird flair at the bottom, so I passed.

1) Blouse $19.99 | Target
2) Slacks $34 | Old Navy
3) Bag $29.99 | Target
4) Necklace $16.99 | Target
5) Earrings $6 | Charlotte Russe 
6) Shoes $19.99 | Target 

Looks for Spring

1) Blouse $17.95 | H & M
2) Slacks $34 | Old Navy
3) Bag $39.99 | Target
4) Watch $15.99 | Charlotte Russe
5) Earrings $6 | Charlotte Russe 
6) Shoes $19.99 | Target 


Spring Fashion

1) Blouse $19.95 | H & M
2) Skinny Jeans $29.50| Old Navy
3) Wallet $19 | Layla Grace
4) Watch $15.99 | Charlotte Russe
5) Earrings $6 | Charlotte Russe
6) Shoes $19.94 | Old Navy
7) Necklace $3.95 H & M

Spring Fashion 2014

1) Shirt $22.95 | Gap
2) Skinny Jeans $29.50| Old Navy
3) Necklace $16.99 | Target
4) Earrings $6 | Charlotte Russe
5) Shoes $15.95 | Target
6) Bag $14.95 | H & M

Swoon, right? Sign me up scotty cause I’m ready to buy every. single. item. in the mood boards above. Hold me back.

I’ve got to say, one of my absolute favorite things about the styles coming out this season are the accessories! I’m absolutely loving all the accessories, like this grouping of necklaces.

Inexpensive Bib Necklaces

Meow. :D

From Top Clockwise Across

1) Green Bib Necklace $16.99 | Target
2) Glam Jade Necklace $12.80 | Forever 21
3) Geo Bib Necklace $11.80 | Forever 21
4) Silver and Green Statement Necklace $16.99 | Target
5) Shimmering Stone Necklace $10.80 | Forever 21