Are we there yet?

You guys.

Today was a big day.

A very big day.

The kind of day you don’t know is going to be big. It’s only big in hindsight.

Today was the day that Travis and his crew at Stonescapes finished our landscaping.

Even though I am sick with the worst virus ever and didn’t get out of bed all day…I got out of bed for this. So for all of you cool peeps in town who were driving by and honking and waving and giving me a thumbs up this afternoon…there was not a photographer zombie in my yard. It was just me. And if you knew it was me but were worried because I looked like the walking dead… I think I’ll be okay, thanks for asking, but I do feel like I might die.

But I did take these pictures and am writing this blog post because sometimes you DIG DEEP BECAUSE YOU UNDERSTAND IT’S A BIG DAY.

I’ll let the zombie pictures speak for themselves…and I can’t help but including some true “before” images. As in…before we actually paid actual real money to buy this place (the fact that we did might actually be more shocking than the transformation).

South side

Before

After

 

East side

Before

After

North/Northeast side

Before

After

 

West side

Before

After

See.

Big day.

In fact, even though we still have a tiny bit of paint and exterior work left…

…and we didn’t have quite enough left in the budget to sod the whole yard, so we seeded some of the less-traveled areas and won’t have real grass over the whole yard until spring…

…it kind of felt like we crossed the finish line today.

Mark it down.

November 6, 2017.

 

 

 

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Off Center Landscaping 

Today started off like any other ordinary day.

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But it wasn’t an ordinary day.

It was LANDSCAPING DEMO DAY!

img_9785When these guys rolled up with a truck loaded up with GIANT rocks…I knew they weren’t screwing around. And I moved my car. 

I took a round of pics around 8 this morning, before Travis and his crew from Stonescapes showed up. Then I took another round of pics after they left. You can scroll through the slideshow below to see the “before” and “after” pics from today.

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Travis said it looked like a bomb went off in our yard.

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Charlie came home from school and said it looked like a war zone.

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I say it looks like progress.

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Unpacked

As moving week/weekend winds down, I’m kind of feeling all the feels. 

We still have a long way to go…but it feels pretty surreal to be (almost) unpacked and finally living in the space we dreamed about for over 2 years. 

My body is tired, but my heart is filled with gratitude for the friends and family who watched the boys during moving week, all the folks who have already brought food & wine & friendship to our new space, and – most of all – for my husband who has an uncanny knack for seeing hope and possibility everywhere…even an abandoned old house in the middle of northwest Missouri. 

Cheers to new beginnings, friends!

Welcome home 

Our housekeeper and friend, Kim, and her husband Mark gave the Off Center Revival it’s first top-to-bottom cleaning in awhile, so Joe and I decided to take a little quiet walk through before moving day chaos descends on us tomorrow.

It’s amazing what a good cleaning and a few moments of peace and quiet can do for the soul.

No time to get too fussy and edit photos – movers arrive first thing in the morning – but I’m too excited NOT to share a few (unedited) snaps of the space.

But my favorite is our very first housewarming gift…a perfect little note from Kim & Mark.

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Welcome home.

Floors, part 3

The downstairs floors are finished.

We deliberated over a color for days, but ultimately went with Dark Walnut. It’s perfect.

We’re moving in next week, people.


Bringing the house back to life…one baseboard at a time

One of the things that made me fall in love with this house – and ultimately go along with Joe’s hair-brained scheme to buy it – was the woodwork. It is beautiful, mostly unpainted, and full of character. Much of it is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. When we bought the house, we knew we wanted to save as much of it as possible (chips and all).  We also knew it would take a special kind of trim carpenter to “get” our vision for the project, and have the skill to bring the old woodwork back to life while creating new pieces that look like they could have been there all along. We found that in Keith, a retired wood shop teacher from a neighboring small town.

After Keith basically worked magic when he refinished our doors, we knew he was the one we wanted to do the rest of the woodwork and trim. Although he doesn’t fancy himself a “trim carpenter” per se, he agreed to become ours (with a little coaxing).

Once the walls went back up at the house, I was extremely excited. But I was also a little anxious that in gutting the house, we had also gutted the character. As much as I love some of our new finishes, I didn’t want a new house (as I’ve said at least a thousand times, if I wanted a new house I would have built one…and it would have been faster and cheaper). But once Keith started putting the old trim back up – and even creating new pieces – that anxiety went away. We have been so lucky to find so many talented folks to help us with this house, but Keith is the one who brought it back to life.

First the old stuff.  This all got pulled off the wall during demo. Keith has cleaned it back up and pieced it back together and figured out how to fill in strange gaps and weird angles. It’s almost 140 years old, and it is chippy and full of character and I just love it all. As usual, you can just click on any pic below to view it larger.

 

And the new stuff. Most of the bedrooms either had no trim (or rotted, totally not-full-of-character boards nailed to the wall). There was a piece that needed to be replaced in the dining room and a bar cabinet that needed to be trimmed out and stained to look as built-in as possible. And, of course, we added two bathrooms and a large opening to the kitchen. So there was lots of trim that needed to be created. Two of the most “WOW” moments for me were:

  1. When I saw the trim Keith created for the large opening between the dining rom and kitchen. That was totally his idea, and I think it looks like it could have been here 134 years ago.
  2. When I saw how he trimmed out the bay window in our bedroom. It is simple white trim and may not look like a “WOW” moment to you, but that window was an ugly MESS when he started…and he made it beautiful.

So, in addition to being a heck of a nice guy and extremely skilled, I’m now convinced Keith is an artist.

Cheers to you, Keith.

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Shedding a little light on the subject…

The moment I knew we needed help from a designer was the moment we started trying to put together a lighting plan. Not only did we have to think about how much light we wanted/needed, but also where we wanted lights placed, switch placements, dimmers…and fixtures. I actually sort of enjoy the design side of things and I don’t think I have a horrible eye, so I probably could have problem-solved a room or two on my own. But an entire house was just too much. And lights in a house felt a little bit like shoes for an outfit…it seems like a small detail, but can make or break the whole thing.

Sadly, there really weren’t any cool, save-able fixtures in the house when we bought it. And the electrical had to be completely redone. We were starting completely from scratch.

So lighting was one of the first things our designer, Erin McKenna, jumped in to help with. And let me tell you, she was a lifesaver. I’ve posted several posts and pics with our light fixtures, but haven’t ever done a specific post about lights yet. And lately it seems I’ve had a lot of folks asking questions about our lighting (especially the chandeliers you can now see from the street). So here is a round-up of all the fixtures (with links) we chose for the house, expertly installed by our awesome electrician, Owen of Minutemen Services.

Entry

This French beaded chandelier is probably the most “period” style fixture in the house. In fact, many folks who have seen it have asked if it were original. I was a little unsure of this one initially – it’s a little bit “traditional” for me. I tend to gravitate more toward industrial and/or modern design. But I love the look in the entry and the burnished brass is perfect.

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Over the bar, we have a crystal flush mount fixture. We also used this same fixture in the downstairs bath. It fits perfectly, and I love how it reflects flecks of light. I’m thinking about replacing the basic bulbs with pink or another color just to add something fun. We’ll add crystal knobs to the bar to mimic the crystal in the fixture.

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Dining Room

We chose a pair of crystal chandeliers (which match the flushmount lights under the bar and in the downstairs bath) for the dining area. The table will be centered underneath them. I love the drama of the two and how the light reflects, especially when it’s dark. We’ve got these on a dimmer, which will will be a fun way to control the “mood” of the space.

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Kitchen

The globe chandelier was definitely a more industrial, non-traditional choice for the kitchen. Joe was a little on the fence about this one at first, but I think it’s grown on him. I love it (industrial!) and think it will be even more perfect once we’ve got our tile done and appliances installed…next week (sneak peek of the kitchen tile & trim in the second pic)!

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Bathrooms

Starting with the downstairs bath…this is a small, full bath but we wanted it to have a sort of old-world, powder room feel. The ceiling light is the same crystal flush mount that is over the bar, and we mounted a brushed brass single tube sconce on the brick wall (this will be next to a mirror hung over a pedestal sink).

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The boys’ bathroom has pretty simple fixtures. We chose a chrome double tube sconce hung horizontally over the mirror, and a simple schoolhouse light on the ceiling. Because these are in the boys’ bath, they are pretty cheap and I can’t even remember where we ended up getting them…probably Wayfair or Houzz.

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In the master bath, our original plan (as pictured) was 3 double tube sconces, with 2 mirrored medicine cabinets centered over the sinks. As I’ve already posted, we didn’t get the cabinets and countertops designed properly for that (totally our fault), so the center sconce will go and there will be one large mirror between the two that are left. The ceiling fixture is silver with seashell-like glass circles.

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Upstairs hall

One of my favorite light fixtures in the house is the “explosion” chandelier in the upstairs landing. This will be my primary office space and a general work/reading area for the family. We’ll probably follow the style of this light with a little more mod decor in that area.

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In the hallway, we just did a couple of simple single sconces with linen shades. Right now, only one has a shade on it because the other will get smacked with the attic door…and that’s still in fairly regular use at this point.

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Master bedroom

Last but not least…the master bedroom. We mostly did recessed lighting in that space, but we did install a pair of brushed brass swing-arm sconces. The bed will be in the window, so these lights will serve as bedside lamps. These are actually a knock-off of the more expensive fixture our designer suggested, and I sort of hate the shades (but plan on replacing them…maybe with black linen).

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If you’re wondering about the boys’ bedrooms and the downstairs bedroom/playroom, they just get basic ceiling fans with light kits. Those were backordered and just came in, so no pictures. But they’re not that exciting anyway.

Trim work is wrapping up and tile is being laid right now. Next week, it’s plumbing fixtures, cabinet hardware installation, and clean-up in preparation for hardwood floors refinishing the week after.

We’re almost there…

Off Center Anniversary

Exactly one year ago today, Joe and I signed the papers to buy a very old (and VERY abandoned) house on a tiny piece of earth in the middle of the USA.

We might have been a little bit crazy…but we’re not afraid to bite off way more than we can chew.

It’s probably not the most financially sound decision we’ve ever made…but it’s one of the most fun.

To be sure, there have been highs and lows, stress and excitement, weeks of monotony and several unexpected surprises… But I can honestly say I haven’t spent even a second of the last year feeling sorry that we took on this project. And I’m happy to say that we are getting pretty close to the finish line (at least on the inside).

In honor of our very first Off Center Anniversary, I dragged the fam over to the house today to recreate some of the photos that we took during those very first days after it became ours. I created a little “before & after” mosaic below, with all the “before” images in the left column and the “one year later” images in the right column.

As always, you can always click on a photo to open the full image and to to see it larger & in more detail.

Floors, part 1

There are a lot of things we haven’t been able to save in this house, but we’ve always tried to repair and restore rather than replace.

When we bought the house and pulled up the carpet, we thought the downstairs hardwood floors could be saved. But then we learned just how dry and brittle they were…and that there was no subfloor underneath them. In the dining room, the floors started to break in some spots, and we had to cut some holes in them to do the basement work.

So we realized we’d have to replace the dining room floors…

And then we realized we’d have to replace the living room floors, too…

But we thought the entry floors could be saved…until we found out that there were hundreds of nails that had been driven into them over the years – probably to silence squeaky boards. Driving the nails down deeper split the boards…pulling the nails up split the boards…

So we realized we’d have to replace the floors in the entry and downstairs bedroom/gameroom, too.

So that’s how we ended up with all new oak hardwood floors downstairs.*

It wasn’t exactly what we had planned, but they sure are gonna be pretty.

*This is the unfinished hardwood flooring. It will be stained to match the woodwork and mimic the old hardwoods. The stairs and upstairs hardwoods will stay original and be refinished.