In January we drove up to Virginia to look at houses. I had found three houses I really liked on Zillow, and we toured them back to back. I felt like we were on an episode of House Hunters. The first house was a yellow Victorian that reminded me of the Dragonfly Inn on Gilmore Girls and I LOVED it, but it was way out of our price range. The second house was move-in ready and priced well, but lacked charm and was on a busy street with a lot of foot traffic. The third house was a 1910 Victorian fixer upper boasting one of the lowest prices in the neighborhood. It had charm but also needed work, and we weren’t really sure if we wanted to take on a project.
We talked it over for a few weeks, and were inquiring further about the second house, when the agent from the fixer upper called and told us the seller was dropping the price even lower. Since we are raising support and want to keep our monthly budget as low as possible, we simply couldn’t pass up the low price of the fixer upper. A few issues were found upon inspection, but the seller made the necessary repairs to the foundation and gave us a credit for a new roof which will be put on soon. Overall the purchase of the home went very smoothly and we know this is the right house for us.
Welcome to our new home, my very own mint green gables.
We have lots of ideas for improvements, but since our budget is more Design on a Dime than Fixer Upper, for now we will embrace the shabby and make the most with what we’ve got. The one project we are having to take on (I say we, but it is all Phillip) is the downstairs bathroom and laundry room. They were such a mess that Phillip had to literally rip them out and rebuild them from the floor joists up. I am so glad he knows what he’s doing.
We moved in one month ago and I have to be honest, I felt a little discouraged those first few days. The house felt even shabbier than I remembered, and I wasn’t quite sure if it would ever feel like home. But now that we’ve unpacked (mostly) and have been doing real life here for a few weeks, we have all grown more comfortable and it is finally starting to feel like home. I know that once I paint and hang my curtains and pictures, it will look more like home too.
I wanted to take you on a little moving in tour today, and then I plan to continue blogging my way through my decorating process over the next few months. (Years?)
So without further ado, let’s step inside.
When we bought the house, there was a 15 light “french” front door and it was not very secure. We needed a new front door but wanted one with character and were so excited to find this door at an antiques store with a lower price tag than a new standard front door. So we saved money and gained charm!
I don’t know if this gold wall in the entry was meant to be some type of faux finish or was just a sloppy paint job, but it has got to go! I have already purchased paint and I plan to tackle it this weekend.
The floors in the house are original pine, but are in baaaad shape from 106 years of wear and tear. They are so worn in some spots that I don’t think refinishing is an option. I’m sure we will lay new floor down on top of them someday, but in the meantime I plan to just buy a few small rugs to cover up the worst spots. I am also thinking about painting them, but not sure yet.
To the right, is a parlor. We are using this room as a downstairs playroom for Kate and a creative space for me and the boys. I have been calling it our Atelier, which is the French word for workshop or studio, but the boys keep looking at me like “really Mom?” so we’ll probably just keep referring to it as the school room, even though we don’t really do much homeschooling school in here.
I am using our old dining room hutch for my craft and sewing supplies and since we do not have a breakfast nook at this house, I am using my old kitchen table as a sewing table and desk.
I really wanted Jack and Aidan to each have a space of his own for independent school work and personal creative projects, and these desks from IKEA are perfect!
For years I have wanted a set of Waldorf playstands, but they are so expensive! Thankfully Phillip’s dad is a hobbyist carpenter and he built Kate these playstands for her birthday.
A friend from our church in Georgia designed and built the arched tops and I added a rainbow playsilk and fairy lights to complete Kate’s little house. She loves to play in here and cook for us and her babies in her IKEA kitchen.
From this room, you can enter the living room. It is small, but the 10ft ceiling and tall windows make it feel bright and open.
To the right of the fireplace used to be the door to the downstairs bathroom. Since we needed to redo the bathroom anyway, we decided to reconfigure it so you enter from the laundry room instead of the living room. We plan to build some bookshelves on this wall to hold all of our books which are currently still in boxes hiding out behind the couch with other miscellaneous decor. Also behind the couch is a door that leads out to the wrap around front porch.
From the living room, you can enter the dining room. You can also walk straight from the entry into the dining room. I really love the floor plan and flow of the downstairs.
The dining room is so nice and big, but it feels very dark because the light fixture is small and the windows directly face the neighbors house only a few feet away. Because we will be using this room as our main eating and homeschooling area, I really want to brighten up this space.
Remember those bad places in the floors I mentioned? Check this out! There used to be a fireplace in the dining room and this is where the hearth was once located.
Thankfully this rug I found at the antiques store is the perfect size to cover it up!
From the dining room, you enter the kitchen.
The kitchen has been recently but poorly redone. I wish the house still had an older kitchen because I would love to paint the cabinets in a vintage kitchen, but whatever was here has been pulled out and were replaced by an awkwardly placed pantry and some basic box cabinets. They actually placed one of the cabinets right on top of the only HVAC vent in the kitchen. I guess I can use that cabinet as an old fashioned ice box in the summer and a warming rack in the winter. Haha.
However, I am thankful that the cabinets are clean and the pantry gives me a lot of storage. The oven and microwave appear to be newer and both work well. The dishwasher isn’t great, but after 3 years of not having a working dishwasher, I am just thankful to have one at all. The boys crack me up over the fridge. We have always had a fridge with a water dispenser on the front and they were so perplexed as to where they would get their water from when we first moved in. Phillip and I really started sounding like parents when we launched into a series of “When we were your age…” stories.
The doorway that is boarded up leads to the laundry room and downstairs bathroom which should both be finished in a few weeks. In the meantime, a weekly trip to Wash Land makes for a fun mother/son date night.
Someday I would love to find some old cabinets on Craigslist and restore a vintage kitchen with a retro-inspired refrigerator like this one from GE, but for now I will simply freshen up the kitchen with a lighter paint color.
We have a small bathroom upstairs with a clawfoot tub. The kids love taking baths in there, but showers are a different story. Needless to say, we are looking forward to having the downstairs bathroom finished.
There are three bedrooms upstairs, and they are all connected with no separate entrance to the center bedroom. I think this may be why the house sat on the market for so long, but it works great for our transitioned co-sleeping family.
Speaking of which, Kate is no longer sleeping in her co-sleeping crib but has moved to a big girl bed and she is doing great!
One of the things that worried me most about moving into this house is the fact there are no closets in two of the bedrooms. In fact, there are only two closets in the entire house. Coming from a house with tons of closets and storage, I wasn’t sure how we were going to manage.
Thankfully right before we moved, Phillip’s grandmother gave us two armoires and they have been a tremendous blessing for clothing storage in the kids’ bedrooms.
Kate loves her new room and wants me to paint it pink. Pink is her absolute favorite color. Pink fingernails, pink shoes, pink fork, pink cup, pink, pink, pink, and only pink.
I wasn’t quite sure if our bedroom furniture was going to fit in any of the rooms at the new house since our bed is a king and there is no true master bedroom. But Phillip suggested placing our headboard partially in front of two windows and everything fit perfectly!
The seller left these olive green velvet curtains and not only do they help diffuse the bright sunlight we get in our room, they actually coordinate with our bedroom decor so we have left them up for the time being.
Not pictured in our room is a closet and the pine armoire I had been using in our old schoolroom. We are now using that armoire as a linen closet. Unfortunately Phillip accidentally broke one of the doors on it when we moved in, but he promises to fix it soon. Fingers crossed.
Lastly, the boys room. It’s a mess, but what boys room isn’t. Am I right?
We sold all of the boys’ furniture on Craigslist before we moved and planned to get bunk beds and a new dresser once we were up here. HOPE received a huge donation of furniture from the local Naval base and offered us a set of bunk beds and small stackable dressers if we wanted them. The donated furniture was such a blessing and works perfectly in their room.
Since these bunk beds were used by the Navy, there was no safety rail for the top bunk. A man from our new church built a custom safety rail and did such a great job making it look like it came with the bed. We are using our Trofast shelves from IKEA for bunk stairs.
This is one of the armoires we got from Phillip’s grandmother. We have removed the doors so I can paint it and work a little DIY magic. The little makeshift closet on the side isn’t actually deep enough to hang clothes so we plan to simply add more shelving for their books and completed Lego models.
Speaking of Legos, I have tried so many ways to organize their Legos over the past few years with no success. I am not even worried about it anymore. The best thing ever…dump them all in two huge drawers and be done with it.
Right now their clothes are in an old dresser I plan to refinish someday. We are getting some more stackable small dressers from the Navy next week, so I am going to use those in their bedroom to match the rest of their furniture. I might use this dresser in the laundry room to act as a counter, but I’m not sure yet.
So that concludes the moving in tour of mint green gables, our new home sweet home.
As I mentioned earlier, the shabbiness of the house bothered me at first and took a little getting used to. But I also know the current state of the house gives me a lot of design freedom. The yellow house we first looked at was so well preserved I would have been afraid to even paint the walls in fear of messing with the history of the home, but our house is truly a blank slate and I feel complete freedom to have fun and fully embrace my eclectic decorating style.
To check out the house we just moved from, you can view that home tour here.
In my next post I will share a few of my decorating plans and I’d like to ask your opinion on one or two things, so stay tuned. Or better yet, subscribe here so you don’t miss a post.