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Move-In Day & Spending the First Night

The day we’ve been looking forward to since October finally came! We moved in on Saturday and spent our first night in the house.

It was pretty surreal to sit on our couch in the same living room where we once sat with our real estate agent, talking about the potential of the house. At that time, it had disgusting yellow carpet, old windows, and that ginormous fireplace. The house was barely staged with beige couches, a small pumpkin for Halloween, a fake orchid, and two candles. You can see them in some of our old photos.

We started the day off by going to Lowe’s to pick up some items, including garden fencing, paint, rollers, and a trash can that I’ve turned into a DIY compost bin!

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Then we went to Alex’s room to pack up the dogs and the suitcases we’ve been living out of for the past four weeks. The dogs were super excited to sniff our their new stomping grounds. The living room windows are the perfect height for them to poke their heads out and stare at the backyard. They were so excited to explore and sunbathe that neither of them napped all day. We set up a small fenced area for them along the patio and side of the house as a temporary dog run.

I used the heavy duty power vacuum to clean up all the lingering dirt and debris. Then Alex’s mom helped us wipe the floors down so we could bring in our furniture and things from the garage. Everything has collected dust in the past month so we’ll be vacuuming and wiping things down again and again for a while.

I tended to some of my succulents that got neglected and sunburnt in the backyard. Then we set up our bed, TV, kitchen stools, and couch before heading to Costco for dinner. Alex’s family has a tradition of eating pizza on the first night in a new house, so we gladly kept the tradition alive. By then, we were so exhausted and decided to treat ourselves with Yogurtland right around the corner.

It was the best night of sleep we’ve gotten all month. After all the stress and worry, it feels so good to finally be able to come home. This is probably how most people feel when they buy a house. But like I mentioned in my last post, we were so overwhelmed by all the work ahead of us that there was no time to celebrate. We were tempted to open the bottle of champagne that our real estate agent had given us along with our keys back in December, but we were (and still are) too tired. We’ll save it until we’re ready to have guests over. :)

Yesterday, we woke up to an amazing sunrise and a cup of freshly pressed carrot, spinach, and apple juice. We vacuumed, cleaned up some dead leaves, and finished applying the second coat of paint to the cabinets. We also taped and painted the wall above the backsplash.

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This morning, we removed all the tape, vacuumed, and wiped everything. Tonight, we’ll start to fit the drawers back in and line them so we can unpack and organize. I’ve outlined the next few weeks so we can put the house in a good place before we leave for Thailand at the end of the month.

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But now that we’re moved in, we can work on the house bit by bit, every single day!

Living Room Floors are In

We chose our laminate flooring in January, but it was a little more complicated than we expected. First, the laminate was made especially for Valley Carpet One & Floors. It was a great price, but it almost meant that they were the ONLY ones who provided it. So of course, when it came time to place an order, we found out that it was backordered and wouldn't be ready until 2-3 months. We were nervous about waiting that long, so we put down a deposit and our salesperson was kind enough to expedite our order. The people who had placed their order before us were on a more flexible timeline, so we were able to take their shipment when it arrived on a shipping container from China.

Finally, it arrived safe and sound, and all of the flooring is now in! You'll see some of the areas that they had to level out, plus the underlayment and insulation.

I got a little filter happy, but it's a light laminate with legit grain grooves. They're putting in the baseboards now. Can you believe the floors used to look like this??

This is the first time we're walking around the house with no shoes on. What a luxury!!!

Why You Should Make Mood Boards

Flipping a house can be overwhelming and expensive. There are a ton of moving pieces, but mood boards will help you stay organized and keep your eyes on the prize. Here’s a quick look at my process!

Instead of Photoshop or Houzz, I wanted to use something that I could constantly adjust and bring with me on-the-go. I decided to use Google Slides which worked out perfectly. I had the app on my phone so I could look at it wherever (furniture shopping, running around Home Depot, waiting in line, etc.). I could also export it as a PDF and show our vision to our families. But most importantly, I could keep it open at my desk throughout the day and add to it as I researched.

We're changing the front door and adding a wall sconce to the exterior entryway. It doesn't get much sunlight, so we'll be sprucing it up with fake plants and river rocks. Eventually, we want to paint the house dark gray.

We're changing the front door and adding a wall sconce to the exterior entryway. It doesn't get much sunlight, so we'll be sprucing it up with fake plants and river rocks. Eventually, we want to paint the house dark gray.

We knew that we wanted a neutral color palette (white walls, wood floor and ceilings, gray and black furniture). From there, I went room by room and scoured Pinterest to find photographs that matched our layout and mid-century modern aesthetic. The photo(s) on the left of the mood boards show what the house looked like when we bought it.

We're turning the former dining area into an interior entryway for guests to place their coats and shoes. There's also a mail slot so we'll be placing a bench and small basket to catch the mail.

We're turning the former dining area into an interior entryway for guests to place their coats and shoes. There's also a mail slot so we'll be placing a bench and small basket to catch the mail.

I’m not getting too hung up on furniture at this point. My main focus is the permanent fixtures: the flooring, tiles, hardware, windows, doors. As we make more progress with the house construction and purchasing appliances, I’ve been updating the mood boards almost every month. It’s a great way to see how everything will fit together at the very end.

These were some of my early inspiration photos for the kitchen island. In the beginning, we weren't sure if we could knock down the fireplace and adjacent wall so I pulled a lot of options just in case we couldn't achieve a fully open layout.

These were some of my early inspiration photos for the kitchen island. In the beginning, we weren't sure if we could knock down the fireplace and adjacent wall so I pulled a lot of options just in case we couldn't achieve a fully open layout.

This is an updated version with a rough comp of our blueprint, appliances, pendant lights, and countertops all together.

This is an updated version with a rough comp of our blueprint, appliances, pendant lights, and countertops all together.

I'll share more mood boards once we move in and put the rooms together!

Part 1: What We’re Learning about Remodeling a House

We’re about one month away from our projected move-in date, and here are just a few things I’ve learned since we started the process in October.

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Create your vision. When we were in escrow, I created vision boards for each room to have general ideas. I’m a huge planner and these vision boards were a great way to start projecting what was possible within our budget. Plus, our families were hyped to get a first look at how we would transform the house.

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Nothing will go according to schedule. Inspectors will cancel on you, window specialists/gas installers/kitchen island designers/etc. will show up late. As a result, your timeline will likely be delayed, and it’s gonna annoy the hell out of you.

You will get into fights. It doesn’t matter how much you love each other or how optimistic you are. You’re making permanent and often very expensive decisions. Just take it day by day and remember that it’s an investment for your future together.

It’s not like “Fixer Upper.” I’ve watched my fair share of renovation/DIY shows, and it still could not prepare me for what we’re going through now. There are tons of phone calls, messy number crunching, and meetings with your contractor in the morning or during work hours. 

You will learn new vocabulary. Rough in-valves, jambs, side lights, waterfall islands, jumbo slabs, bypass doors. It’s not “the big wall thingy above the sink”... it’s a soffit.

Finding hardware and appliances will not be easy. They will be out of stock or not follow specific guidelines. For example, California passed a law this year that requires all newly installed shower heads to be 2.0 GPM or lower. The vast majority were 2.5 GPM and seriously limited our options.

It will be expensive. We installed gas (yes, the house didn’t have a gas line), re-did all the electrical and plumbing, and are remodeling the kitchen and 2 bathrooms. Also replacing the front door and all the windows. The cost of the labor and materials is one thing… but there will always, always be unexpected costs. For us, we were hit with extra charges to remove molded walls. And because of that, we'll need more drywall and stucco to patch up all the holes. $$$

You’re going to think about things you never thought about before. Where do you want the bathroom sinks? Which windows do you want to keep or close up? Should they swing open or slide open? Do you want the door to open inwards to the right or left, or outwards to the right or left? Where do you want the light fixtures and switches?

Brushed Nickel vs. Stainless Steel. The finishes of your hardware will dramatically change the look and feel of the room. Also, there are huge price differences between finishes and matching them all together can be tricky.

Take lots of pictures. Even though it may not feel like it, you ARE making progress. Try to document the journey with lots of pictures and videos. It’ll make the final transformation that much sweeter.

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It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it.

Our learning continues this weekend when we pick out our quartz countertops. We’re also purchasing our kitchen sinks and toilets this weekend and trying to pack up our apartment as much as possible so we’re not overwhelmed with the move at the end of the month.

Meanwhile, the inspector has cancelled twice on us this week and is supposedly scheduled for tomorrow. Ugh.

Demolition Day

We’ve officially hired Jeremy Cooper as our general contractor! We met with quite a few other contractors, but we ultimately chose Jeremy for his rapport with Alex’s mom after helping her with quite a few projects.

The first order of business was removing the massive fireplace and water heater which occupied the entryway and living room. It was a 3-day process, but as soon as it was removed, the house instantly opened up with the light of potential beaming down on us. Now that it’s gone, we know that we have space for a 4 ft.x 10 ft. kitchen island with one support pillar integrated into it. Whee!