Rage and tears on move-in day

We interrupt your regularly scheduled and curated DIY content to give you some real talk about home renovations: it is hard and stressful and anxiety-ridden. Today I’m going to be honest about some of the harder aspects of our renovation, especially in light of the fact that we moved out of Liz and Harry’s house before Christmas and have settled into our half-finished home.

We decided to move into our house after one bedroom and the guest bathroom were fully finished and our kitchen was almost fully installed. We moved in the week of Christmas and spent two nights in our home before traveling for 5 days to visit friends and go to a wedding in other states. When we arrived back to our house after 5 days away, I immediately lost my shit and burst into tears.  You see, we have worked on our house almost every day since August 15th, but we always had Liz and Harry’s warm and welcoming home as a safe-haven to retreat to each night. I feel like we have pushed ourselves out of the nest and barely know how to fly . But we wanted to move into our home when it became livable so now was the time.

In addition to feeling scared to live in a half-finished construction zone, I’m extremely upset with a major purchase we made that is impossible to un-do. I am fully unsatisfied with our new hardwood floors. I cannot believe how easily they dent and scratch. I feel rage pumping through my body every time I notice a new dent (which is constant), yet we are stuck with the floors now that they’ve been installed and our kitchen was placed on top of them.  The hard learned lesson that I impress upon all of you is NEVER to buy Birch floors. We had told the salesman our two priorities when selecting our new flooring were price and durability. He sold us garbage and I will never forgive him! But now I need to learn to embrace the “distressed” and scratched look, because it will be that way for the rest of time.

Finally, I am realizing that my beloved blue kitchen cabinets that I hand painted are very susceptible to dings and scratches. Cue more rage flowing through my body. I thought the expensive Benjamin Moore Advance paint (which is specifically marketed for painting cabinetry) would be durable enough but it is obviously not. So now I need to remove all the doors and hardware, and cover with a polyurethane seal. I’d prefer to wait until spring when the weather is warmer but then I run the risk of many more dings and scratches that would need to be painted over. UGH UGH UGH!! All I can say it thank GOD Jeremy has such a positive attitude, because if we were both miserable about these issues, our household would not be a happy place.

Besides being scared to live in an unfinished home and feeling frustrated at the floor and cabinets, I’m proud to say that our house looks pretty incredible. It’s only half done, but we have really brought it such a long way since we purchased it in the summer. We have a ton of work to accomplish this month, including installing the baseboard trim around the first level of the house, installing the toilet, sink, walls, and paint the soon-to-be new powder room, and put up walls and a ceiling in the back bonus room. Every week there is progress, and I have to keep reminding myself to control the tears and rage and look on the positive side.

Vacation highlights

We spent a week in Iceland and Germany with our good friends David and Catherine. It was a much needed break from the house, which was honestly starting to kill me.

Iceland was fabulous. I felt like an animal that had finally been let out of a cage after 2 months of being locked in our construction site. Iceland is a place to enjoy the wonder of mother nature.

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We drove all around the southern part of the country and took in some of the most incredible views I’ve ever had the pleasure of seeing. The cold air was refreshing and we actually got to see the northern lights!

In Germany, we spent three days partying it up at Oktoberfest in Munich.

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Oktoberfest is similar to a state fair except LOTS of beer and sausages. We made friends with some delightful people and came away with these incredible outfits to wear on Halloween for the rest of our lives.

We ended our trip in Berlin, where we learned so much about the fascinating history of this city. We also had a drink at one of the best bars in Europe. All in all, it was a great, restful, fun, and adventurous week that we sorely needed to remember what life can be like without construction looming in the background. Our next big trip will probably be our honeymoon in April, so please send any recommendations our way! I’d like to go glamping in the Amazon but I could be convinced otherwise.

Where to start?

signing papers

Today we closed on the house. It was not an easy process because the family that lived there for the last 65 years was still there down to the last minute trying to get all their stuff out. But after several frenzied and confusing hours, we were able to close the deal and get the keys. The house is still a mess but its our mess now.

The junk will be removed from the house and it’ll get the deep clean it so deserves early next week. Then…we get to work.

Where to start? A little real estate lesson for you first time home-buyers out there: it’s impossible to get a mortgage on a home that is not livable. So in order to buy this home, we were required to include a bunch of renovations on top of the loan for the house. So this month, our goal is to achieve the following:

1. Install a new roof to replace the old one! The old roof is…not doing so hot. See exhibit A in the upstairs stairway landing. The beam in the attic gave up on life and cracked in half, which I’ve been told is not ideal.

Big old hole in the ceiling

2. Bring the home into the 21st century with an electrical Heavy Up. This basically means updating the electric panel so the home has greater capacity to power things that didn’t exist 100 years ago (like dish washers, washer/dryer, AC systems, hot water heaters, etc.). Gone will be the days of the power outages when you dry your hair while someone is using the microwave.

3. Replace broken boiler system with a brand new HVAC system, including for the first time in it’s illustrious 100-year history, AIR CONDITIONING! I know a lot of people have a lot of opinions about the benefits of radiator heat over pushed air but this is my blog so I don’t wanna hear about it. We decided to remove the boiler and radiators for several reasons that were right for us, and that’s all that matters.

On top of all that, we were required to rent out our current home in order to get the mortgage for a new one (because we decided not to sell our current home). So we must.be.out. of our current place by September first. Where will we go? Only time will tell.