Monday, August 29, 2016

Bliss Cottage-THE RENO is Rolling!!

Our first summer in Bliss Cottage-2013
I shared with you last time our path to getting to our dream of Lake living! We have been here for 3 summers!  We knew when we moved in that the house had quite a few projects. We jumped right into updating all the switches and outlets, adding lighting that was more functional and up to our taste! Plus painting over old wood paneling in all the rooms, knowing that someday the paneling will be replaced!  We set out to tackle the BIG projects as money allowed, as well as we prioritized them according to importance! After our first year of living here with a 30 year old furnace and around $2000 in propane costs we knew the #1 BIG priority was making this 1965 Mid Century Modern house as energy efficient as we could!

Fast forward to today!  

WINDOWS: The former lower windows were aluminum framed louver-style windows. It appeared that at one time the previous owner had covered them in the winter with plastic and duct tape. They were very drafty!  The upper are aluminum "storefront style" solid double pane, none of them open. When it is very cold in the winter frost builds up on the frames...burrrrr! In the summer it is like living in a green house!  The windows at the peak are GOLD diamond patterned glass which we believe is original to the house. At some point someone came in and added single pane clear glass to the interior using L-brackets. I am sure that they thought it would help with heating and cooling!  

Our first summer here we replaced the lower sliders with Pella 450 series

The next summer out came all the lower windows, we replaced them with Anderson 100-Fibrex composite windows and BOOM big difference in the warmth of the lower level!  

This summer we have removed the upper Groovy GOLD windows and replaced them with walls.
OH BABY! They are so GROOVY!!!

Out with the GOLD and in with the new!
We had a few bids for contractors to do the work, yet in the end, we could not swallow the cost and took on the project ourselves, and with a little enlisted help! After we got all the Groovy Gold windows out and the new walls put up, Tim and I insulated and made the decision to put Shiplap up!  We wanted it to look like it was always intended too be there and to have the rustic appeal we were going for! Because the ceiling was stained tongue and groove we did not want to stain the shiplap and chose to whitewash it with the same color we have used throughout the entire house,  Valspar "Cream in my Coffee", a yummy cream color that works with the brightly colored accents throughout my house and blends well with the natural limestone we have on our upper and lower fireplaces.
Our Son working the nail gun!

Our GrandBug helping Daddy!

Shiplap in and painted! WOW what a difference!

We hunted for just the right shiplap product and in the end decided on a product that Home Depot sells called Barnwood Shiplap Pine board. It has the perfect touch of Rustic Cottage that we wanted! There is a huge difference already! 

This weekend, we're taking out the four windows at each corner and putting in walls. This will give us more wall space and the opportunity to expand the kitchen! The new walls will be finished half way down with the shiplap and then will have cupboards installed; the far left side will be a buffet/bar and the far right will be the kitchen expansion. We will also be able to add exterior lights beside the sliders as there is currently no light on the lakeside deck. (More on both those projects in the future!)

FURNACE & AC: As I noted above the propane cost was unbelievable that first winter!  We knew we had an old furnace and old windows but boy oh boy it was bad! So we added a pellet stove to the lower level. It made a good difference yet at night, this "Hot Flash Momma" could hardly sleep as it was a little bit too cozy for my tastes!  However it reduced our propane bills to almost half!  This summer, we made the decision and moved the pellet stove to the upper level! I'm gonna be saying hello to a better night sleep for sure! 

Last winter we bit the bullet and had a new furnace and AC unit installed! It was NOT as easy as just switching the old with the new! You can see in the above pics that our ceiling is pine tongue and groove, it is a solid 6 inches of is the lower level.  So here lies the problem, there are only four registers in our entire house-Two upstairs near the kitchen and two on the lower level directly under the ones above.  This house was built to be a cottage, so there are independent electric heaters on all walls in all rooms.  Due to the solid wood ceilings we were unable to add duct work that could be hidden within the floors or ceilings.  We talked with the HVAC company that was installing our units at length prior to the install on how we could have exterior ducts put in.  The upper level was not a great option because of the possible ice issues it could create on our roof in the winter. We were able to install lower ducts, yet we still have to box them in to hide them. 

OH the joys of buying a 1965 Mid Century Modern cottage...We are getting there peeps! 

I will update this post after next weeks window to wall project is complete!  

Sixth Time is BLISS-Lessons learned in DIY & in ME!

I mentioned before that we are in our sixth home We have so many treasured memories from each one. All of these moves have helped develop my Simply Blissful Mindset.  Not only with us as a couple, yet individually as well.  

Our first home was a 1950’s small ranch in the city, it was perfect to bring our babies home to. 
  • LESSONS LEARNED- DIY: How to build a garage and wallpaper!  
  • SELF: How to be beginner parents & great neighbors. How to NOT buy house number two until house number one is sold...ya OUCH!

Seven years later, with kiddos at five and two and a half years old, we doubled the size of our home and moved into a sweet 1958 brown cape cod. Yep….BROWN!  We endured orange shag carpet, brick look linoleum in the kitchen that sported brown appliances and one and a half bathrooms for a rough 10 years!  
  • LESSONS LEARNED- DIY:  I learned that the wallpaper that was avocado, turquoise and gold with birds on it and spanned two stories was a challenge to take down! Did I re-wallpaper...uhm NO!  I could see the razor blade marks from scraping it off every time the sun shined! We learned how to gut a kitchen and replace it with a beautiful reconfigured one. 
  • BONUS VALUABLE LESSON: Do not turn the power back on when your hubby and best friend still have to wire up the 220 that runs to the stove….almost electrocuted the best friend, he does not let me live that one down!  *SIGH*
  • SELF: Raising a family is more valuable than DIY projects.  Taking in a couple extra teenagers reduces the life of wallpaper in the only full bath, yet is one of the best decisions we made, they are ALL wonderful adults now!

After twelve years there, we desired to have a slice of heaven and moved to the country. Six sweet wooded acres, a newer home…still a cape cod, yetit had a beautiful three car, two story garage!  We celebrated our daughters graduation from high school right after moving in and our son was entering his junior year.  As far as DIY, this home needed nothing but color so we painted! I know this may sound weird, yet this home was the one I never bonded with. I can’t put my finger on why, yet I sometimes think it was the lack of sun shining through the windows.  We had no reason to complain, however, after three years we felt like it was too much home for the 2 of us as well as we wanted to reduce our debt load. This house was the biggest mortgage he had ever had.  It’s not that we couldn’t afford it…it’s that we desired to simplify our life.  We seriously had conversations of, “Are we crazy?” and, “What does it look like to live a more simple life?” This transition developed a new line of communication between Tim and I as well as defining our dreams and hopes as a couple as we moved into the “empty nest” chapter in our life.  
  • LESSONS LEARNED- DIY-Taking a break is fine…yet a bit boring. I basically established some gardens where there were none.
  • SELF: Launching teenagers into adult life is very hard, yet we learned more patience than we thought we were capable of. We learned to lean on each other through some challenges that tested our unconditional love of our family, yet we came through it with a perspective that everyone has their own story and they need to walk out the path before them to develop that story. After all, these paths and choices are what shape our character, right?

So, on we moved! We were looking at the prospect of the Hubs getting a job that would be taking him on the road. So we began looking for a house that would become a place that I could maintain on my own, that would reduce our debt load (again) and would be a place of comfort as we grew older…..YA-RIGHT!!!  At this point I am sure you figured out we are not wired that way!  Don’t get me wrong, we loved this sweet house built in 2007.  It was a ranch, on a cul-de-sac, we were in walking distance to our best friends house, what more could we want?  *Insert crickets chirping and the answer bubble to pop!* You got this one?  Lemme help you out!  3 years in, after the project of finishing our “dream” basement with built-in surround sound and a bar area…we listed our house! Our attitude is, “You’ll never know unless you try!”  It took 6 months to sell. One of the best parts of this story is a really special person would enter our life and help us make our dream of BLISS grow and develop. 

OK Kids, circle round and I'll tell you a little story! Imagine me working in a Title company, designing marketing materials for area realtors.  I had a great working relationship with a area “Hot shot” realtor, creating flyers for the MANY listings he had.  We hit it off!  He could call, tell me the house and I knew what needed to get done to market the property.  BOOM! SO….six months into having our 2007 ranch house on the market, I mention to Hank (you’ll hear more on him as we go!) “Could you just sell our house please?” It was clearly a comment made in passing! Next thing I know he had a couple interested! YOU GOT THIS ONE!!! Hank sold our home!  

LESSON LEARNED- DIY: We do a pretty good job of me casting the vision and Tim trusting me on it!  We took a basic empty shell of a basement and turned into something amazing!
SELF: Remember my reference about everyone has a story they have to walk out? Well, we lost three VERY Valuable people in a six month period of time while we lived in the house as well as almost losing our son to a freak, scary accident. It changed the way we view how we love and live. We realized what we desired were deeper connections with family and friends, and being MORE open minded and hearted with all aspects of our life. 

However, the story is not over! We still have house number five!  While house four was still on the market, we still had not found a place yet.  Tim’s job situation did not change like we had expected and the neighborhood we were living in was quite “tight”. We still had not found “that place” that made our hearts happy.  Once our house sold and we are feeling very pressured to find a place.  We did not like that feeling.  One could possibly say that we settled for house number five, yet I feel that it was an adventure that we needed to be on in order for our story to get worked out…or for our hearts to tell us what we had known all along…we just hadn’t really listened!  At the “final hour” we found an amazing 100 year old farm house.  It had been lovingly restored, for the most part, and sat on 3 acres of meadow!  We were in the heart of farm & vineyard country and only 20 minutes to Lake Michigan. How can that be so wrong, right?  We had some wonderful parties and memories there!  Now, remember my first blog post?  I wrote about sitting on our front porch, sipping wine and dreaming of living on water....the funny & amazing thing about Tim and me is that we come to the same thought/heart point in our individual journey's almost always at the same time. We both felt that being near water was calling us.  We had always loved being on or near water.  When we had our revelation that evening, our hearts screamed out that dream that had been bubbling up. It was time to find our spot, our Blissful water home.

For all of our other home sales we called on a realtor we had known for quite a few years. YET this time, I suggested we call Hank Avink, my realtor buddy from the title company.  Tim was open to that, after all he sold house number four!  We met with him and he HEARD and VALIDATED our dream.  He asked us what plans do we have in the event we sell the farm house and have not found the Lake house….we said we would do short term rental, but this is the direction we knew we had to go in. 

We had dreamed this dream for far to long.

The Lake search had actually been going on for most of our married life!  We both were always “curious” about lake homes that were on the market. We even checked frequently in northern Michigan because we loved to camp Up North. Yet when it came down to it, we wanted the Simpler life and owning two homes would not fulfill that goal.  So our radius was one hour outside of the Kalamazoo area. Tim and I both worked in the city and we were willing to commute.  We saw sooooooo many houses! We would map out our routes each week and take off to do drive-by’s before we scheduled any walk throughs. It’s a good thing we did…WOW was all we could say many times! Now please hear me…our goal was to AGAIN reduce our debt load AND our mortgage amount.  We were CHOOSING to buy way below what we could afford.  AND due to the amazing low interest rates we were choosing to take a 15 year mortgage with the goal to pay it off in 10 years.  

In order to go after your dreams you must have a plan!  

Oh baby we had a plan! It took around seven months to sell the sweet farm house.  We had to do some fast looking or we would be going to Plan B-moving into short term housing.  I combed the web hourly looking for new listings or ones that we loved either being reduced in price or just coming on the market.  We found one that looked great and it was in an area we had fallen in love with.  Turns out we put an offer in and it was excepted.  Right after the time for inspections to be completed, we found out some “hidden” news about the home and after I investigated a bit, we had to back out of the sale.  We felt the issue was worth losing the small amount of money we had already invested in the offer process.  We were now forced to move to an apartment. Was it ideal, heck no, we had 2 biggish dogs! We were going to pay more rent per month then on any other home we had owned. Yet, we knew it was a part of the dream. We put all our belongings into to two storage rooms and began again!  During this adventure one of the most popular songs on the radio was “Pontoon” by Little Big Town.  Tim and I embraced this song as our theme song for the journey!  Every time we'd hear it we would crank it up and sing along!  We could not wait to own our own Pontoon and float on our own lake! The day we moved into the apartment a house came “Back on the Market” and we knew we had to look at it! It was about 3 miles away from the one we passed on and it sat on a lake we had loved at least four houses ago, Bawker Lake in Barry County Michigan! My sister was in town, helping us move to the rental so she tagged along on the walk through along with our daughter, Lindsey.  While Hank and Tim were unlocking the door, Mary, Lindsey and I walked onto the deck and gawked into the sliders…we all gasped at the same time…THIS IS IT…screamed my heart….it screamed in Lindsey and Marys as well.  We wrote an offer that afternoon.  We were not going to mess around on this one. The listing realtor had to cancel the other three showings for the next day. We wanted this house! 

LESSON LEARNED- DIY: Join me on my next post: Bliss Cottage-THE RENO is Rolling! 
SELF: "You are never to old to to set another goal or dream a new dream" ~CS Lewis