Friday, May 27, 2011

Last Photo of Boston House

After many delays, we are actually going to leave Boston tomorrow and head to our new life/house/job in DC!  Here's a quick photo of a room that was once a garish yellow.  Now, white trim, walls, curtains, ceiling.  What a room of possibility!  It took all I had not to go in in the middle of the night and paint it or color on the walls or something.

Go nuts in here, renters!
Won't post again until we have internet access in DC - happy Memorial Day!!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

What looks worse than a dirty door?

How about a dirty door that you paint bright white but don't properly prime so the paint peels off in giant sheets?
Yeah, renters don't like these doors.
 I thought to myself "wouldn't it be nice if these gross faded doors were a nice bright white?"  Well, it probably would be if I hadn't just gone nuts with the white paint and put three layers on.  Of course, the first time the door gets nicked, the paint layers peel off.  Now there is something oddly cathartic about peeling big layers of paint.  Kind of like trying to peel an apple in one long strip.  But after a couple of hours of peeling paint off with my newly manicured fingers and trying to scrape it all out of the lovely molding, the joy of peeling is over.

So, I did the right thing (the second time around).  I used TSP on the door to clean it off, then did soem test patches with 80-grit sandpaper.  I did tests where I sanded slightly, sanded hard, sanded over paint that wouldn't peel off, and paint that had completely peeled off (i.e. the original paint).  Then, I tested each patch with a layer of oil-based primer to see how well it bonded.

Test patches

Turns out, all the patches worked out great, so I went to work on the whole door, lightly sanding to get some grit, and then putting two light coats of the oil based primer (I used KILZ) on top. I thought about putting a couple of coats of white paint on top of that, but the primer is white, the door looks great, and why go too far?  Going too far too fast got me into this mess to begin with.  The doors are back to pretty again!

Yay, pretty white door.  Now if I had time to change that yellow wall color...

Time wasted, lesson learned!  What's a DIY mistake you've learned from?

Monday, May 23, 2011

Friday, May 20, 2011

Friday Tip Day

Making a house a home is a daunting task, especially when you haven't stayed in one house for more than two years in the last decade.  Since 2001, I've been through an apartment in college, a dorm room in Army training, a house in Germany, a warehouse in Turkey, an apartment in Germany, a trailer in Iraq, a tent in Kuwait, another house in Germany, an apartment in Boston, a rented house in Boston, and finally a purchased house in Boston.

But the easiest thing to make your house is home is to prove that you own it by putting pictures up.  Photos of places, friends, and family make any room feel like any of the other places you've called home.

My favorite picture is one taken by Mr. Move-a-lot's sister at our wedding.  A total random moment caught in a dance we were making up on a spot to a song we picked that morning.  It reminds us that even when we don't know what we're doing, we're pretty happy.   Our faces are all squinted up and weird looking, but who cares!  It's blown up and framed and currently in a truck headed to Washington DC!

Have a picture-filled weekend!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Lead It Be

 I keep wishing that we only had to pack and clean before moving, but we have to DE-LEAD the house.  Massachusetts, as it would turn out, has the strictest lead paint laws in all of the lands.  What this means for us is that we can't rent our house out to anyone with kids under the age of 6 when we leave.  Sounds simple?  A-HA!  Here's the catch: it's against the law to refuse to rent to someone because they have kids.  It's even against the law to put "Lead paint exists in house" when you advertise, because what you're really saying is "If you have kids under 6, you can't rent from us." 

Like any normal couple, we waited until we had no time to de-lead the house to de-lead the house.

Here's the process:
  • get an expensive lead inspection from a smelly man who takes 3 days to do it and keeps walking past you muttering "this house has a lot of lead"
  • find out your house is a death trap and your wallet is $400 thinner
  • discover that you can either spend lots of money and do work yourself or spend even more money and hire someone to do all of this for you
  • decide foolishly to do most of it yourself
  • kiss your husband goodbye because all of your free time is now spent to "the house"
  • take classes (expensive classes)
  • take tests
  • mail crap in to the Commonwealth and get permission to destroy your house
  • destroy house
  • go to Home Depot so many times, all of the cashiers know you, spending your infant's college fund
  • buy special paint for $60 a gallon.  Buy many gallons 
  • slowly put house back together again by replacing beautiful old door and window casings with new ones that don't quite match, painting three layers of encapsulant over most of your trim, tearing out windows, filling/sanding holes in the trim
  • go ahead and find someone to finish the work you'll never get done
  • interview all of those people
  • temporarily move your child and your three pets out of your house so you can do high-level lead removal. Who wants a dog, two cats, an infant, and a frazzled mom staying with them?  Takers??
  • consider burning the house down for the insurance money or selling it "as is" or inventing a time machine so we could either not buy the house or start this earlier
  • spend your last days in a city you love buried under housework.

So, be ready to rumble if you buy a pre-1978 house in Massachusetts.  I'm trying to be zen about the whole thing and just get as much as I can done without complaining (too much) and relish in the fact we will not be homeowners in DC for a while!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Vintage Find Keepsake

In a nomadic life, it's important to remember all the places you're been and lived and find a keepsake so you never forget! 

My husband was demolishing a closet in our current house to prepare it for renters and found this old old old business card inside.  I love vintage stuff, and it will definitely find a home in a frame.

According to this website John Story and his boots and shoes business was listed in the business directory of Swampscott, MA in 1856!  That's pretty old, which may explain why Swampscott is spelled differently than we spell it now.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Gearing up for the Capitol Washington, DC "capital" or "capitol"?  Too much Real Housewives and not enough CSPAN for me, I suppose.

EIGHT days until we roll out of Boston for good.  Time to stop living in denial and start getting excited for DC.  To make myself feel better, I started practicing using the letter "R" more and surfed around Etsy to find the cutest DC-related things I could.  It's important when you're a Move-a-lot to psych yourself up for your new town.

Goodbye Boston "T", hello DC Metro!  $49.99 from qacreate on Etsy

I love vintage maps and posters! $30.00 from Imagerich on Etsy.

Does this scream "tourist!" $32.00 from VintageHotCake on Etsy.

Mmmm...cherry blossoms.  $5.50 from LippincotSoapCo. on Etsy

Are these metro stops?  So many new places to learn!  $119.00 from WestEggStudio on Etsy.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Our Life at the Moment

Sorry for such a pathetic lack of updates, but we've had movers and packers in our house all week.  Which means we have to divide things, supervise, make sure pets don't escape (had a close call once!), all while continuing our de-leading work.

Off for the weekend to go to a wedding, but more posts coming!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Fun To-Do Lists

Well, sometimes they aren't FUN so much as OVERWHELMING, but as my sister's blog points out, they can at least be cute!

Click here to see how!  Reynolds Wrap Blog

Friday, May 6, 2011

Friday Tip Day

In the very very short amount of time that we have to move out of Boston and into DC, Mr. Move-a-lot and I are trying to de-lead our house.  Massachusetts has very strict lead paint laws and we are doing everything from throwing doors away to replacing walls to encapsulating baseboards.

My job is mainly the encapsulation process, which means that I put a special paint over things that have lead paint in one or more of its paint layers.  I originally thought that encapsulant paint (which is $50 a gallon, approximately - ouch!) was some super secret scientific paint that sealed off anything with lead paint in it.  Um, I'm reading too much sci fi.  According to the expensive deleading class that Mr. Move-a-lot had to take, it's just bad tasting paint.


Yes, it's just paint that tastes really really really horrible and so when kids put their mouths on it, they won't do it again.  I don't understand why I could crush some red pepper flakes up into my normal paint or rub a chili pepper all over the place (works for my dog!) but there you have it.  Three coats of encapsulant, which can ONLY be white, and then two layers of colored paint over it.

Oh yeah, the tip!  I'm not steady enough to paint without using blue tape to stop me from painting EVERYTHING, but I've learned a good tip.  If, like me, you tend to take advantage of blue tape and freely glop paint all over the place, you must pull your tape up between layers.  One the paint dries or even semi-dries, if it dries OVER the small crack between what you're painting and your blue tape, when you pull up the blue tape, it will take a little bit of paint from the area you're actually painting with it.  Then, you have to go back through with a tiny brush or an uber-steady hand and touch up.  Taping is time-consuming, so balance whether you'd like to retape or touch up, but it's a tip I learn and regularly apply.  I go through a lot more tape that way, but it really works!

Happy painting this weekend!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Three Days of Househunting

It looks so much more fun on Househunters, but I always wonder how many properties they actually see.  Surely more than three?

- House #1: Really pretty good.  A little smaller than we are used to, but a great start!  Painted in yellow, orange, red, all colors we adore.  3 bedrooms, 4 baths, and a big carpeted basement.  Cute back deck, minutes from my work, two car garage (nowhere to be found in Boston!).  The neighborhood is quiet, and a tiny bit rundown, but the house is really well maintained and beautiful. What a nice way to start our hunt!
- House #2: It will take months for this guy to fix this house, though he assures us it can be done in 2 weeks.  Mr. Move-a-lot was frantically mouthing "NO!" to me while holding Baby-Move-a lot.  Example: "So, in this bathroom, I want to take out the ceiling, walls, flooring, vanity, mirror, and fix the lights.  And replace these tiles."  Really?  That's all?  Yeah, every room was like that.
- House #3: Was amazing.  A complete dream home at an insanely low price.  We are talking master suite with jacuzzi and fireplace in a gated community.  But, too far for Mr. Move-a-lot to commute.  I don't want to talk about it.  It hurts too much.

- House #4: Not bad at all, cute yard, and every room had a chair rail, which was a little weird.  Odd choices of colors in some rooms, but a good start to the day.
- House #5: Pretty awesome.  Odd layout, and a bit small, but the living room has a whole wall floor to ceiling windows showcasing the amazing garden, pond, and woods.  Yeah, I'd rent that for the living room.  Had some things we didn't love, but we kept going back to the living room again and again.
- House #6: A townhouse, nothing special, and it turned out to be too far out for our commute.
- House #7: I hate people that are late.  Like 30 minutes late.  Especially when you're pretty sure the house isn't going to be great.  And, just as we were pulling out of the driveway to leave, she shows up and shows us the un-great house.  Waste O' Time.
- House #8: Another townhouse, but this time in a good location.  New carpets, a bit dated, but lots and lots of room.  Mr. Move-a-lot puts this one tied at the top of our list with House #5.

Wednesday: Having discovered what areas are good for us to live in and what aren't, we cancel an appointment, but do get to see
- House #9, 10, and 11: Three townhouses in the same complex, all managed by the same "move, move, move, don't care how cute your baby is" woman.  They are really really nice and located super close to downtown Alexandria, and all have new kitchens.  But, now that we've seen House #8, all townhouses are compared to it, and these are much more expensive and much less space.

So, we discuss.  A lot.  And we finally pick.....

House #8!  So, townhouses aren't really "us" but this one isn't too bad.  First off, it's 15 minutes for each of us to get to work.  Priceless.  It's also grossly underpriced compared to everything else we've seen, and it has twice the space of anything else town-housy we've seen.  Sure, it's only got one parking space, but we've pulled into the area at various times during the day and there are always 8 spots open in the visitor's lot.  Yeah, the bathroom has wallpaper that's pretty hideous, and the kitchen COULD be more updated, but it's got brand new carpet, a little tiny yard perfect for the dog to do his business, and a walk through master closet that leads to a master bathroom.  Of course, 4 bedrooms would be better than 3, but with two huge family rooms on two different levels, if another baby comes along, the bottom floor could easily convert to a temporary guest room.  AND, it's ready for move-in, so we don't have to wait for anyone else to get out.
We sent off the application and were given a 99% chance of getting the place from the property manager, so now we're just waiting for the official ok and we are set.

The big goal will be making this very beige, slightly dated but full-of-potential house a home for us.  We are very eclectic people, which was why it was tough to let go of House #5, but I'm ready for the challenge and to take blog readers on our journey!

It feels great to have something locked in (almost) for our move!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Rent This House! Dining Room re-do

Oh, how I wish we were not moving to DC.  For several reasons, but this new dining room makes it even harder to pack up and move!
Dining room before
Dining Room after
Another view
So, to go from stuffy Victorian dining room to fresh, airy beach dining room, we had to paint over wallpaper.  Yeah, I know.  It's not the best solution according to...everyone. BUT, we are moving FAST, and pulling wallpaper is very time consuming.  It turns out that painting over the wallpaper is an ok solution if the paper is very securely fastened to the wall, which this was.  It's just UGLY.  And has no alibi.

First, I peeled off all little tears in the wallpaper and sanded off any loose edges.  Then, I took a damp sponge and wiped all the walls down, but then decided to sand the walls down to give the primer something to adhere to.  Not sure if I should have done that, but Mr. Move-a-lot suggested it, so there you go.  I then got Kilz oil-based primer and gave it two good coats.  I didn't worry about taping TOO much, only around the gorgeous crown molding on top, because I have to encapsulate all of the door and window casings anyway during the de-leading process (I'll post about that at some point). The oil based primer smells pretty horrible, so I taped myself into the room and used a homemade air scrubber that Mr. Move-a-lot built to push most of that stinky air out of the window (and away from Baby Move-a-lot) which helped a lot.  One the walls were good and primed, I put two coats of Soft Sage, by Glidden on top.  Gorgeous. 

The hutch in the dining room had really great and pretty doors on them....that were all covered in lead paint.  Rather than try to encapsulate sections of the doors, we opted to just remove and discard them.  Sorry, lovely doors!  I painted the hutch the same Soft Sage (it was previously a dark red to match the wallpaper) and I think it makes a lovely display case and without the doors really opens up the room some more.

If I was going to live here, I would do more decor-wise.  As it is, I just bought some sheer white panels at Walmart for $5 each to hang in the windows and set out some flowers that people had brought to our going away party.  I would love to hang some weathered frames on some of the big blank spaces in the walls, but I didn't want to put holes it my pretty new walls.  We did buy a light fixture (Hampton Bay Brushed Nickel Five-Light Chandelier) for $40 because there was no light in this room.

And, totally not the point, but how much do you love this color combination?  Purple and light green (well, technically Soft Sage, by Glidden).  I love discovering new color combinations that I wouldn't normally use. 

I'm sad it won't be MY dining room, but how lucky are our new renters?  I hope this makes up for the pink carpet in the hallway......