When we first bought our house in Portland, Oregon, I kind of muddled my way through all of the post offer/pre close items on my checklist: negotiating on a price, setting up inspections, buying appliances, etc. The other thing I did was spend a LOT of time online searching for inspiration to try and decorate our house on a dime. I was still unemployed at the time and we’d just taken every last bit of savings we had and dumped it into the down payment, so we were desperate to decorate the house beautifully but cheaply, which roughly translated to doing everything ourselves. I’m not sure HOW I ran across this website, but it was probably using a search string like this:
“before and afters” OR “makeovers” OR “painting techniques”
Lo and behold, I stumbled across the website/blog, Young House Love
I’m sure MANY of you know of Young House Love – probably because a crazy friend (might’ve been me) told you about it at some point. I was one of those stalker people who just found them doing a random Google search back in the day when their website was still called “This Young House” (which they had to change in mid 2009 due to a copyright battle with This Old House – no joke!) and before baby Clara was even a glint in their eye…Yea, I’m a little obsessed, I admit it.
If you’ve never heard of them before, they’re essentially a young (about 31-ish) married couple with a house, a Clara and a Burger (their shenanigan-loving Chihuahua that I want to steal to make puppies with my Maggie). The kid and the pup are top notch, but their house….mmmm…not so much. So they decided to do the young married couple thing and renovate not one, but TWO down-and-out houses that needed some serious love completely on their own – i.e. – these people are not professional renovators or contractors. They’re just a couple of Marketing geeks that know a thing or two about using the internet and library to their advantage and don’t mind getting their hands dirty trying to do it all by their selves! Couple all of that with their easy-to-follow tutorials, misadventures in renovating, hilarious writing style and personalities and it makes for a pretty good time killer over my morning coffee everyday.
I also credit them in a huge way with inspiring me to start THIS blog. After finding (and completely devouring) their blog back in 2009 we tackled so many projects that were directly influenced by their tutorials and advice and, dare I say it, balls-y-ness. Everything from their bathroom remodel which gave us the guts to tackle our bathroom remodel and even painting furniture like our old hutch that needed some serious love and a grody old bookcase were done entirely using their painting method tutorials! And in a weird twist of life imitating art, I then re-shared my hutch makeover story with them and they featured ME on their blog way back in 2009! Crazy, huh?
Long story short, to say that I am obsessed would be an understatement. Hence, the title of this blog post, It’s like MEETING Aerosmith!
Yes, I’ve met them! And I may or may not have been a little star-struck the first time. You read that right. The FIRST time. I’m a bit of an obsessive fan so I’ve actually met them TWICE! Once last year when they visited our previously quirky home of Portland and the Portland Home and Garden Show (photographic proof below).
While we didn’t register a mention on their blog when we met them (we’re sort of low key and shy people), the whole thing was sort of an out-of-body experience because not only did Sherry recognize me and give me a big ol’ glorious hug like we were BFFs, but I got recognized by OTHER bloggers who were there and shouted, “Hey, Tell’er All About It!” John and Sherry were just as nice as could be and we got to chat with them and compliment them on how much they’ve influenced us to be more gutsy in our renovations. It was nice to come full circle. Meeting other bloggers, however, was definitely an out-of-body experience for us. A few people gushed over our bathroom remodel that had made the rounds in Bloglandia and were excited to meet US – so much so that they wrote a blog post about it on THEIR blog! Ack! Now we totally get what John and Sherry say on their website when they get all shy and blush-y with fans. Dr. J and I felt TOTALLY awkward. We have groupies! But THEY think I’m hilarious! That’s right, naysayers, I AM hilarious :-).
Fast forward to a few weekends ago and we got to meet John and Sherry a SECOND time at the West Elm in Palo Alto for a book signing for their brand new book! Yes, now they’re bona fide published authors! So all of you technophobes will now think of me as slightly LESS of a stalker because I happen to like a “book author” as opposed to just a “blog author”, which still doesn’t seem any less creepy, but there ya have it…
Look! I’m wearing different clothes in each picture so you KNOW it’s taken on separate days! Haha!
The best part? They recognized us from their Portland adventure the previous year! Which really confused them. I think it was easy for them to remember Dr. J because he’s probably one of a handful of guys that considers himself a fan (although, I think he just says that to make me feel good). But their first question was, “Wait, do you live here or there?” Imagine their confusion when we said, “Well, both!” Because it’s kind of true – haha!
But onto the book signing! Because it was a lot of fun!
It was held on an absolutely GORGEOUS winter California day. Beautiful sunshine and crisp temperatures. The line started well before we even got there and we showed up around 10am! In fact, when we showed up it was looking like this snaked all around the building – crikey!
Fortunately it wasn’t raining, but it WAS a little chilly. So the West Elm staffers kept us warm by coming out with trays full of cookies, hot chocolate and other nibbles and bites! I may have overloaded on these uh-ma-zing turtle bars that were oh-so-friggin-good, though I abstained from the hot chocolate because it just didn’t contain enough calories or sugar – haha! It was fun chatting to people around me about the blog and to meet like-minded people who if I pointed to some random guy on the street and said, “Doesn’t he look JUST like John?” then they would totally get where I was coming from! Seriously, there was this guy wandering around who could’ve been John’s brother and it kept throwing me for a loop…ANYway…
The line gathered a lot of attention from passersby in the street and somebody came up to us and asked, “What’s the line for?” to which I responded, “Aerosmith! Or, rather…the Aerosmith of bloggers!” After explaining it a little bit more, the guy sort of nodded weakly before walking away shaking his head and then I realized, “He’s probably not the type of guy to DIY his bathroom shower so he wouldn’t really get it.” This WAS Palo Alto, California after all…
Once the doors opened, we were allowed to snake inside the store (thank goodness – it was chilly for California at like 55 degrees! Haha!) and wait our turn to get to chat to John and Sherry. The line took forever, but we were able to get a few snaps of them while we were still waiting:
…and then the main event was being able to chat with them for all of 60 seconds, get recognized immediately from Portland the year before and then eject the purse and coats so we didn’t look fat (Portland pictures = lookin’ like fatties!) and smile big and wide after they had signed OUR book:
Lookie, lookie, I got an autograph!
Thanks, YHL! It was a blast! Next time we move, maybe we’ll get to meet you there?
Oh, and just to prove I’m not the ONLY completely obsessed uber-fan out there, check out these blog links to see other fans talking about the YHL run-in! Click here, here, here, here, here, or here! Apparently, I’m a little late to the party, but at least I’m in good company!
Well, the time has come! It’s time to show off the new pad in California! We are so excited to show you what it looks like all empty and ready for our mountains (literally) of furniture and belongings! We feel so fortunate to have found a rental that not only has oodles of potential but also has everything we need and nothing that we don’t. It’s a 3 bed, 1,800 square foot condo with a 2-car garage (oh, God bless you, garage!!). The whole layout is spread over three floors with the garage and a bedroom on the first, bedroom/kitchen/living on the second and the master on the third. There’s no yard, but Maggie is adjusting very well to having 4-5 walks/day and we could definitely use the extra exercise, so we’re not complaining!
Dr. J took a few pics with his phone so all apologies to the quality of the images and lack of views in certain areas. Everything is much more clearly understood in the YouTube video which you can access by clicking here. Enough chit-chat, let’s get this tour started!!:
There’s one bedroom on the first floor and it’s going to be the “flex space” or “Room of Requirement”, used mostly as a man room, den and guest room when needed. It also has a full bathroom attached to the room with a pretty sizable shower, which is perfect for guests when the room is not filled to the brim with boxes – haha! You can get a better idea of the bathroom layout in the video tour. We’re lovin’ the beautiful plantation shutters which are all throughout the house. We may paint this room down the line, but the color will work with some of our furnishings so it’s not tops on our list to change right away.
So here are two views, one from the door looking towards the front of the house:
..and a view from the window wall looking toward the bathroom door (you can just barely make out the door handle from the hallway on the left of the photo)….
We didn’t get a lot of pictures of the downstairs hallway before it was overrun by boxes and belongings, so we covered the rest of it on the video tour.
You go up the stairs to the second floor (again, the layout is much clearer in the video) and you immediately are in the family room, below. The colors are sort of a warm honey beige color which we may or may not paint. It’s a big room that has a great layout and those plantation shutters give it so much architecture and personality. There’s a small patio off of this room where we’ll set up our grill and cafe chairs for morning coffee and meals alfresco. Gotta love California!
In the photo below, you can see the stairwell to go upstairs on the left and the opening on the right of the photo is the top of the stairs from the first floor and the hallway leads down to a powder room (just visible) and the office. The alcove in the center is perfect for a TV (and potential Media Cabinet building project later on – WHOO!) and the floors are an engineered hand-scraped floor that *might* be Hickory or maybe Heart Pine? Either way, they are absolutely GORGEOUS:
In this photo, you can see the hallway down towards the powder room and office on the left and the opening for the kitchen in the center, which is very, very red!
The kitchen is just off of the family room and is a decent size for one or two cooks. We have just enough storage for what we need but clearing out some clutter on our parts will make this kitchen work for us in the long run. Fortunately, the wine bar and pot rack practically doubles the storage and the counter top space, so that’s definitely a bonus and we’re so glad the landlord left it! The floors are a beautiful rustic porcelain in sort of a taupe-y-gray tone which we are lovin’! There’s lots of potential in this space and this may be our first makeover once we get unpacked!
We have significantly less dining space than the previous house since there’s no real breakfast bar, but our little dining table fits perfectly in here. Oh, and those “stained glass” vinyl decals on the windows are already gone. Haha! Again, lots of plans for in here. We can’t wait to get started!
This room is just off of the living room in the little hallway adjoining the living room to the office. It’s a full bath with a tub/shower so it’s really much more than just a powder room. This room is also going to get a fresh coat of paint to lighten/brighten the space since there are no windows and it’s a pretty small space. That same beautiful porcelain taupe-y tile that is in the kitchen is also in here so it gives us lots of potential!
Just down the hallway from the living room/powder room is what we’ll be using as our office. Since I work from home nearly every day and Dr. J works from home occasionally during the week, it’s vital for us to have a dedicated office space with two work stations so we’re already elbow deep in the building phase of setting it up. The owners left those cute tic-tac-toe bookshelves which will come in handy. It’s a pretty tight space so we’re going to have to get creative when it comes to storage and the walls were never painted in here so if we have the energy, this is a space I’d love to amp up a bit…
Upstairs Master Bedroom/Bath
The Master Bedroom and Bath are way up on the third floor and just over the office/kitchen area. It’s so nice to have it be far away from the hustle and bustle of the city streets below and on the quieter side of the house. It’s a big space too so our furniture has fit in pretty nicely! We are going to need curtains for that window and possibly paint the walls, but it’s a great space that’s working out very well for us so far.
From this vantage (which is taken in the opposite corner to the photo above), you can probably pick out my biggest pet peeve of this space, which is that the bathroom has no door except for the water closet. This is kind of a pain since we both wake up at different times in the morning so when Dr. J is showering and singing at the top of his lungs (haha!), then I am desperately burying myself in the pillows to go back to sleep. We may have to address that issue, especially when the dark days of winter are fully upon us, but for right now we’re just living with it until we decide otherwise:
Overall, the master bath is a great size and the shower is deceptively large, which we are loving! We have a frosted window in the shower that gives us plenty of California sunshine and ventilation, two sinks and lots of storage. We have a few plans up our sleeves to make this space slightly more functional for us, but overall, it’s really perfect for our needs.
So that’s the house! We also have a video tour, here! Dr. J took this with his phone before we officially moved in and before I physically saw it so his dialogue was really directly addressed to me and the quality isn’t awesome, but it should give you a rough idea of the layout.
Believe it or not, I never saw this place until the night before the moving truck showed up (!!). With Dr. J and I both working full time and needing to wrap up our house in Portland before moving down, there just wasn’t enough time for me to run down to California and take a look at it. Also, we’ve found out that real estate in California is hot, hot, HOT! So if you don’t jump as soon as possible, then you’re probably going to miss out. We learned that lesson from previous experience so Dr. J jumped on this place as soon as he heard about it. Also, I actually kind of trust my hubby, so that helps too :-).
So I’ll bet you’re wondering what changes we’re going to tackle first? Well, we do have a few small plans that we’d like to tackle – most of them involve just getting unpacked enough so that we can move around our space without tripping over boxes and debris – haha! And since I just saw this place for the first time a few weeks ago, I’m still in the “live with it first before tackling any projects” phase, though I do have a few changes in mind, as always. Honestly, I’m most looking forward to just painting a room or two. We haven’t painted anything seriously since we painted the master bath in our first house a whopping year and a half ago (!!). So to say that I’m itchin’ to get behind a paint brush again would be the understatement of the century. We are also still trying to figure out the whole “function” thing in terms of making things work for us, which is part of the fun of moving into a new house!
So there ya have it! Lots to do to get the house even remotely put together enough to actually show a home tour with it furnished. Every day it’s a little bit better, though. Hopefully we can get things roughly in shape by about the 1-month standpoint so stay tuned for that!
Well, I promised a posting with a few pictures of the house all empty. I didn’t take pictures of all the rooms, but this is to just give you an idea. And, for good measure, I’m including some pics of when we first moved in just to give you an idea of how far some of these spaces have come…
Here’s the family room prior to us moving in three years ago:
…and here it is when I snapped a few pics of it before we closed the door that last time. It’s amazing how much more homey it feels with curtains:
Our dining room/front hallway when we moved in:
…and here it is after lots of paint and a new chandelier:
The room of requirement, looking pretty dark and bleak at move in time:
The Guest bedroom, looking pretty sparse on day 1:
..and here it is three years later, with beautiful crown molding and beadboard that we installed ourselves:
…and the Laundry Room, way back in 2009, sans washer/dryer and cabinetry:
…and loaded up with storage, lighting and cabinetry galore that we installed awhile back (more on that project here). We also purchased a couple of used appliances to be used for the future renters that might call this place home:
…and, of course, last but not least, the Master Bathroom back in 2009, all grody and boring and foreclosed upon:
…and here she is all beautiful and gleaming and glamorous. You’re welcome, bathroom. You are definitely proof positive that sometimes things do improve with age:
It was an emotional walk-through. Mixed feelings doesn’t even begin to describe it. When you put so much of your blood, sweat and tears into a house, it’s hard to see it as “just a house”. At the same time, I’m also super excited to be tackling a “new” project down in California, but since we’re only renting, it will be interesting to see how we can manage that without, ya know, tearing down walls. This house was most definitely ours so tackling a massive project like the bathroom or the laundry room required only the limits of our imaginations and our pocketbooks. Le sigh…Goodbye, house! You were lots of fun, lots of Maalox and lots of Painkillers…but you were worth it. 🙂
We’re looking for a renter for this house. If you live in the Portland area and are interested in renting it, then feel free to email me privately at tellerallaboutitATgmailDOTcom (replace ATs and DOTs with you know whats) and I’ll put you in touch with our Property Manager. You can see a full house tour here and even a video house tour here.
I’m not gonna lie. Leaving the house in Oregon was pretty difficult. It was a very bittersweet goodbye not only to the house, but to Portland, Oregon in general, a city so quirky that even I fit in! Add to that my overall exhaustion last week of getting the house prepped and ready to move plus a missing Dr. J for some of it (he was still in California for a portion of the madness) and there were a few emotional and tearful nights for me.
On the house itself, though, I’ll be back later in the week with more of a “goodbye, house” post. This one is just to show you the madness that we had facing us during the week and some pics for good measure. It was a sprint to the finish line. We both took the whole week off and we hauled ass from sun-up to sun-down *every*single*day*.
Here is the basic rundown of our week last week Here is a 2,384 word rundown of our week last week:
Sunday – Dr. J was still in California, so I had a mountain of things to do on my checklist and a lot of it I couldn’t do with just two hands (or reach with all 5’2″ of me). So I put a plea out to all of my friends in Portland and I had a house full of eager volunteers at one point. To those of you that showed up (Jill, Katie, Whitney, Amanda + family, Al + family, Keri & Phil), I just gotta give a HUGE THANK YOU to all of you! By the end of the day, we even got to the point where there wasn’t a whole lot left to do and so I fast-forwarded to my weeklong checklist (like clean up dog poop in the backyard) and Amanda gladly volunteered! I mean, talk about dedication! God, I love that girl! I was almost in tears because everybody was so generous with their time! It was so great to be able to have people there with open arms and willing to help and made both Dr. J and I feel truly blessed. Sunday night was unfortunately pretty restless for me, though. I think I got maybe two hours of sleep because there was still *so*much*to*do* in the morning….
Monday – The packers showed up bright and early and I was already exhausted. No sleep, no coffee left in the house so I didn’t get my morning caffeine until at least an hour after they showed up. *Groan*…. There were five packers working ALL DAY LONG to pack up roughly 110 (_HIO!) boxes of everything from dishes to clothes to decor items. I calculated that 5 people working from 8am-5pm with only one hour of breaks total = 40 total hours of packing. And these are professionals! So you know that they packed like fiends. Regardless, they were a good group of people, we had a lot of laughs and they even came to my aid in a major way when one of my nosy neighbors stopped by to tell me that it was, “against HOA policy to post a FOR RENT sign in your window.” I just about spit in his face I was so mad. Do you SEE all of these boxes? Do you SEE that I don’t have time for your busy body ways? I mean, there is a tactful way to approach somebody about this situation and this simply was not it. One of the packers stepped in (without me asking) and told him to leave and quit heckling his customer. There was yelling. There was shouting. It was epic. And I’ll love that man forever for doing that! After they left, I ran Maggie over to a friends’ house because she was already a nervous wreck just from packing and sat pretty much with me all day in a manner like so…
I.e. – she sat in my lap while I watched the movers do their thing OR she was underfoot to the point that I was tripping all over her. So she spent Monday night and all day Tuesday at their house getting sexually harassed by their dog, Dexter:
Then I drove home to an empty house (no Maggie and no Dr. J) and only a bunch of boxes around the house to keep me company:
….and then Dr. J arrived home later that night and woke me up from a dead sleep to say he was home. Talk about relief…
Tuesday – Loading Day!! Big day! Dr. J and I woke up early and had some last minute things to take care of, including trying to pack up boxes and suitcases filled with our “emergency supplies”, which may or may not have included some 24 odd bottles of Whiskey and Wine:
…again, we just tried to stay out of the way but also be available. It was so nice, though, to have a partner in crime. At least since there were two of us here, somebody could make a coffee run while the other one was busy doing other stuff. Monday I had no such luxury. There were a few odd repairs that needed to happen like fixing the door lock mechanism on the stove so that we could self-clean it. This repair was a highly scientific process of jiggling the door until it locked – who knew?!?! We did a lot of running around the house, cleaned out the fridge, patched holes and touch-up painted before they loaded the ladders into the truck (this was one very highly coordinated dance, lemme tell you). Speaking of highly coordinated dances, check out MINE:
We also tried to keep the movers informed/happy. I accidentally stole one of their “spare parts” boxes to load up one spice cabinet that the packers forgot (it happens) and then I was on the loaders shit list for most of the morning as a result. Haha…le sigh…though they said I was surprisingly easy/low key by comparison to a lot of people they move, so that made me feel pretty good. I blame the Valium…
…but through it all, I didn’t really have any time to feel sad or upset. I was just too busy and plain exhausted. But they got pretty much everything loaded onto the truck and then we both took one last shower in our bathroom as kind of a ceremonial “goodbye” to our favorite renovation in the house. Then we headed over to our friends, Trish and Rylan’s, to be re-united with The Magster and to spend the night at their house for a few days since our house was essentially empty. Exhausted doesn’t even begin to describe it…
Wednesday – With the house empty, we really didn’t have much else to do aside from letting the cleaning lady in to do a final clean-out and then packing up all the leftovers into the cars. My cleaning lady, Shari, has been like a second Mother to me in Portland so she got us a card and even a goodbye “Prayer Plant”. It was so sweet. While Dr. J worked on his master packing skills, including unpacking all of the boxes of wine that I had crappily packed the other day and just loading them into the half dozen or so empty suitcases that we had to fit into our two cars for the drive down, I finished up more touch-up painting/repairs and oversaw a rental showing of the house in the middle of the day as well (still no word yet!). **Update: We also oversaw a delivery of a new washer and dryer as our set had been loaded into the truck the day before.** We ran to the recycling center a few times to drop off mounds of extra boxes and trash, transported our Compost Bin across town to a friends’ house and made sure to put the trash out at the end of the day. We also gassed and loaded up the Mazda full of everything we needed, parked it in the (now empty) garage and got it all ready for the drive to California. Shari took a moment at the end of the day to take an exhausted and sweaty picture of Dr. J, Maggie and I in front of the house one last time:
I ran through the house and snapped a few pics of the house empty (*sniff*) and then we left the house that night – empty and alone. And this is when exhaustion just took over me and I started to cry. Thinking of leaving the house and leaving Portland and moving to another state (which, let’s face it, California may as well be a foreign country) and all of the great friends we’ve made over our four years here. Blerg! It was just a lot to take coupled with the stress of moving (which, I guess, is essentially the same thing). Even though I knew I would see the house again in the morning (SUPER early, in fact), it was hard to leave it and just think of it as bricks and mortar. I could see so much of US in that house. And every little reno that we did over the past three years just brought back memories of projects both good and bad. But it was bittersweet. Because I was also so happy to be leaving it in a better state than when we found it. It’s so improved over what it was when we purchased it. I always knew it could be beautiful. But not without a lot of work, duct tape and spit polish. But enough about that. I didn’t have time to mourn….
Thursday – Our last morning in Portland and we were up WAY before dawn. We had to be at the house prior to 7am (and we were coming from the Eastside which ended up being about a 45 minute commute) to let the carpet cleaners in. This was a HUGE relief to us, actually. We were really afraid that the carpet cleaners wouldn’t come until late in the day and one of us would have to stay to let them in and not be able to drive down to California until Friday – blerg! Fortunately, we called ahead of time to get them scheduled as early as possible and they were in and out in less than an hour. It gave us enough time to snap some pictures of the house from the car while we camped out across the street with the dog.
…then our neighbor (the one I like!) came over before she left for work and gave us a Panera gift card and a goodbye card and lots of hugs. So good to be able to say goodbye in person! And that Gift Card came in handy later on…
Then the carpet cleaners left and we walked thru the house to survey it cleaner than it had probably ever been! Haha! We also closed all the windows and drew the blinds, turned the heat WAY down (we can’t shut off the utilities until the renters move in), took a few more pics of it one last time:
…loaded up the cars…
…loaded up the Maggie (her face echoed our sadness)….
….and said our goodbyes. I shed one tear in the car, but then driving through rush-hour pretty much jolted me out of my emotional stupor. We had to run a few errands before we left Portland (dropped off our cable modem and gassed up the Audi) and then we were on the road by 915 or so for the 12 hour drive down to San Jose, California. It was a pretty uneventful drive for me. Dr. J had Maggie in the car with him and I had the plants in the car with me. They don’t make very good conversation partners, but that just meant I could listen to a good audio book (Carrie Fisher’s Wishful Drinking, if you’re curious).
We thankfully managed to time our trip such that we missed rush hour (mostly) in Portland, somewhat in Sacramento and entirely in the Bay. I don’t remember what time we got in, but we managed to have enough time to unload the cars somewhat, walk the pup, take showers, and crash on the air mattress on the floor of the new master bedroom never having grabbed dinner. No rest for the weary, though….we had to be up (again) before dawn to wait for the movers…
Friday – the movers show up (geeze, they booked it!) and managed to introduce us to the neighborhood by blocking every single garage on the street…
Haha! Hi! We’re your new crazy neighbors! You have NO CLUE what’s coming your way…muwahahaha…
Now when you are moving with a professional moving company, they have you “Play Bingo” with the checklist. There’s a “Box list” and an “Everything else” list. We had roughly 110 boxes and approximately 200 items.. As they load things into the truck, they assign stickers with numbers. My job is just to sit there and check the numbers off as they come off the truck. However, we learned one lesson the hard way when we did this the first time (moving from Ohio to Oregon) which is essentially not to TOUCH anything until they leave. They need to be sure that everything gets off the truck and if there is a missing number (which almost always happens) at the end of the day, we need to go searching for it through the house, which can be pretty tough if you’ve unloaded a box already and thrown it away. So I sat outside all day with the pup while Dr. J directed traffic inside when needed.
By the end of the day, this is what our kitchen looked like:
…though we did have just enough time and energy to unload the bedroom enough to be able to sleep in our bed..
…it was a very nice ending to a REALLY stressful week. And now we’re in San Jose, California, desperately trying to unpack boxes as much as possible, although now that we’ve got the kitchen, office and master bedroom mostly functional, we’ve cut back to about 1-2 boxes/day (hehe – we sound like smokers!). I’ll be back later with some pics of the new house empty and possibly a video tour as well. But for now, I’m signing off. It’s been a stressful summer and, boy, am I glad there’s a light at the end of the tunnel…