Oh, The Glorious Bags…

May 2

…Donation bags, that would be.

No, we aren’t talking about this little pretty I’ve been stalking dreaming of…
A little off topic, but since we’re talking bags….I’m in desperate need of a good, solid tote for traveling. Yes, that would have been me you saw in SF sporting a stylish skip-hop diaper bag as a tote. as soon as i got home from our weekend away, I spent some free moments searching online for something better.
And I suppose I should move quickly on a tote decision becauuuuuuuse we had an offer accepted on a house.
And it looks like I’ll be traveling back and forth quite a bit between now and the move date.
I am pretty much freaking out for the following reasons…(Yes, I created a list of reasons why I’m freaking out. If that doesn’t tell you how my brain functions, I don’t know what else will! lists keep me a little more sane. And when it comes to Sam, sane is what we want. Just ask my husband.). These reasons are listed in no particular order because they are all equally suffocating me…
1. The house is fixer upper. Like big. Think really big. Humm, think “money pit big” actually.
2. There are major repairs that must be done BEFORE move in, which will be hard to manage considering I live halfway across the country. The plan is for me to fly out a few times to meet with a contractor, painter, pool guy, flooring people, etc – and then they will have to work with me over the phone. At least that sounds good when I write it out on paper. Who knows how willing someone will be to work with and help us when i’m this far away.
3. As far as what needs to be done immediately, it’s 3 big ticket items. Hardwood and carpeting throughout the house (see number 4), interior paint (share your paint colors with me! I’m looking for the perfect light gray), base mouldings (I may take on the crown moulding myself after watching John and Sherry recently finish up their home), and the pool (needs re-surfacing so we may just go ahead and add on a hot tub). Those 3 items, along with any other important inspection repairs and child-safety pool security features, must be done before move in. With 3 little ones home for the summer, the flooring and paint need to be done before we are there. We’d like the pool and related security to be completed as well because it’s summer and we’ll want to use it.
Aaaand it would be a great way to bribe families to befriend us. 🙂
4. The house has a terrible cat urine odor. There, I said it. I’m SO worried about this issue. It seems to be concentrated in the master suite area (lovely!) but I’m sure it’s throughout. We already planned to pull up the flooring and replace it, mainly because they have 4-5 different hardwoods throughout the house (??) and the bedrooms don’t have carpet. But I hope that the sub-floor won’t be too far damaged. Let’s not forget about the drywall too. Needless to say, I’ve been doing research on the topic…this article was particularly funny and helped lighten my mood. But I’m on the search to find the perfect remedy – so if you are aware of one, save me from obsessively googling “cat urine removal” and “cat urine detection” and shoot me a comment or e-mail.
5. One potential buyer/offer went through inspection and then the buyer backed out because the seller wasn’t willing to make necessary repairs. Repairs like $10,000 in termite damages. Or the fact their is an electrical issue with the pool. humm, not sure about you but the idea of “electrical issue” and “body of water” being in the same sentence doesn’t sit well with me. I’m hoping once we get through inspection we can successfully work with the sellers regarding any repair work.
6. The kitchen is pretty much original. It’s a galley style kitchen and while they updated the appliances (not sure how long ago) the size isn’t going to work for our family of 5. There is barely any cabinet space and no pantry. My husband and I decided we would live in the house to figure out the best Reno options (knock out the front window/wall to expand? remove the family room, which is on the other side of the kitchen wall as a means to expand?) and then manage the kitchen overhaul around year 1 of owning the home. That would give me the time I need to go totally nuts on pinterest and dream up everything we ever wanted in a kitchen…Because this is (hopefully!) our forever home. right???? (I’m hoping my husband will comment and tell me that yes this is in fact our final move. 🙂
7. We need a new fence. The yard backs up to 4 other homes and they each have different fences. Some of which are falling or deteriorating. Would be nice to have a pretty view when we look out into the backyard.
8. Landscaping needs a complete overhaul as well…Including the front drive needing new paving. But I would love to be there to live in the house for a while and figure out what would be/look best. There’s even room for a garden with raised beds! yes, I’m in la-la land and can’t wait to get going on projects I’ve been dreaming about for the last 7 years…Since we owned our previous California home. Although we loved our home here and implemented a lot of small changes, we never wanted to do anything major…Because we knew we wouldn’t live here forever. It was hard living in a home that we owned, but also one that we knew was temporary. whenever we thought about a project, we asked ourselves “will this help with re-sale?” or “will we make our money back on this?”. If this is OUR home then we won’t have to ask that question again!
9. There is one awesome patch of grass on our property that is screaming for a new swing-set and sand box. Can’t wait to pick out a new set with the kids!
…The list goes on. Only to be added to once the inspection reports come in.
Soooo, by now you might be wondering why I started this post about “donation bags”. When I’m stressed to this extent cleaning and purging help to calm me down. It allows me to think deeply while also getting my head into something more constructive. And not obsess on the things I can’t control. For the last several days of negotations, I’ve gone through every closet, each of the kids rooms, my closet and drawers, the pantry, the garage, the playroom, the kitchen, and office closets/drawers.
If the moving boxes out in the garage weren’t sealed and taped off, I might be rummaging through them as well. 🙂
Here are the bags going out the door today…

And some trash/recycling too…

In all seriousness, I am very excited about the idea of this fixer upper. Can’t wait to share all of the project before and afters here with you guys – the good, bad and ugly. You’re going to see it all – whether organization related or not. There’s mucho to be done and it will be fun sharing the entire process.
Oh and there are no organization systems in this house so I’m all amped to get my organization on in all the new spaces. including the very sad laundry room!

comments +

  1. jasi says:

    getting stuff out of the house is great as long as you're not replacing everything to start the cycle again. getting everything streamlined feels rewarding. congrats on your progress.

  2. Day Old News says:

    Sounds like a huge undertaking perfectly suited for an organized person ready for a challenge. You got this!

  3. Jessica says:

    Congrats! I am looking forward to following your journey. May I suggest All the Way Home by David Giffels? It'll help you keep it all into perspective. "It" being the chaos of renovating your house. 🙂 Also, I love Behr's Silver Drop, though it is greige and not a true gray. Good luck!

    • oooo, thank you so much for the book rec and the color idea. going to add that one to my list of prospects! thank you!!!! i am hoping for more of a greige color anyway because light tan and light gray really seem to go with a lot of our furnishings.

      thank you so much!!!!!

  4. Melissa says:

    Congrats on the new house! I can't wait to see all your projects that will be coming up! =)

    Purging is the best feeling, I love sending junk out of the house- it makes you feel so good!

  5. Jessica says:

    For cat urine removal, you'll have to spot clean. Use an enzyme remover. There's different DIY recipes or you can pick some up at a pet store. Also, cat urine glows under a black light so it might help you to get one of those so you know exactly where to clean. Oh, and try to air the house out as much as possible. If you can, just leave all the doors and windows open for a whole day. Hope this helps. 🙂

    • thank you SOOOO much for the cat urine removal tips. this sounds a lot like what i've been reading about online. but your comment regarding open windows and doors, i am certain that will help with a lot of the odor. the seller's are very strict about the cat not getting out so every door and window is sealed – which makes for the odor being worse. i can't wait to take ownership so that we can leave the windows and doors open while all of the improvements are happening. i think that will make a huge difference.

      thank you again!!!

    • Jessica says:

      Yeah, there's not really a fast AND easy way to remove cat urine. One of my cats is just getting over a bladder infection but he was peeing on my boyfriend and my's bed quite a bit before we got him on antibiotics. He ended up peeing on my down pillows. After getting them dry-cleaned, the cat urine odor was still pretty strong, which was when I decided to put them outside for a day. I also sprayed them with Febreze fabric refresher, which helped more than I thought it would but I think letting them air out all day is what really helped.

      By the way, kudos for taking on such a fixer upper! So many home buyers want move-in ready, but unless you're a millionaire, move-in ready with everything you want isn't really an option in CA. Plus, you get to design it the way you want with a fixer upper. 🙂

    • oh gosh – i can't imagine!!! i have to admit that i think once the house is ours, wonders can be done by leaving open the windows and doors. because the seller's have an indoor cat and they are totally strict about the doors being closed at all times, no fresh air is making its way inside. so, like you said, getting some fresh air in will help a lot. can't wait to do that!!!

      thank you! i'm starting to get really excited about the projects i'll be able to work on. and to finally have a house that is really ours…not a temporary home that we know we have to sell one day. we aren't planning to move again so i will be more excited to get things done. yes, with the way the market is right now – you definitely have to be a millionaire with lots of cash on hand in order to buy your dream home. we're super excited about this house! can't wait to share all of the projects in here. 🙂

  6. Aimee Lane says:

    Oh my goodness! How exciting to have found the house and had the offer accepted! That's huge! All the details will come together for sure! You'll organize a plan and we'll all benefit from all you share through the process! I'm so happy for you!

    XO, Aimee

  7. The California Housing Market is really a tough one right now. My daughter and son-in-law are attempting to buy their first home in the LA area. They have put in an offer on a couple of different houses and found out that they are competing with at least 40 other offers on each of the houses. Their realtor advised them to go down approx $100,000 on a lesser house and offer the same sum that they were offering on the original houses in order to win the bids! Yikes!! Obviously they are staying where they are for now… Good luck in your new endeavor! Can't wait to see the pictures of your new and improved home!

    • YES, it is! we actually put in an offer on a different home (before this one) and we were 1 of 12 offers. the market has suddenly come back, which is great don't get me wrong. but not the best timing for us. 🙂 the buyer who beat us out was paying all cash too. can't compete there!

      good luck to your daughter and son-in-law – it will happen! the process is tiring, but something perfect will come together just for them.

      thank you so much and i can't wait to share all of the projects in the coming months – and years!

      all the best,

  8. melissa says:

    Congrats on scoring a house (ANY house!) in this crazy market!

    Paint – we just remodeled our kitchen, and the paint color is a light grey (although it looked browner on the sample) called Zanzibar from Kelly Moore. If you want to see a pic, contact your friend Sara D. She has access to my pics on Facebook 😉

    Crown moulding – "Just say no!" to doing it yourself! OMG. It's so much harder than you'd think. We did it in our family room when we first moved in, and it was horrible. I added a little bit during this kitchen remodel, and we had the contractors do it. They knock it out in NO TIME vs it taking you WEEKS! Definitely one of those things it's better to outsource.

    All the best to you! And welcome back to the Bay Area!

    • thank you so much, melissa!!! your a friend of Sara's?? love her!!! thank you so much for reading here and leaving a comment!

      yes! in this crazy market we are SOOO lucky to have found a home that we love and one that we weren't competing to buy. our first home that we put an offer on had 12 offers….so tough!

      thank you SO much for the paint recommendation. i appreciate it – gray is so touch to pick. i'm going to add your color to my list of prospects and take a look at it. i really appreciate the mention. and yes, i know i'm SO crazy to even think about doing the crown myself – but i'm going to investigate everything before i jump on it. the house does have some odd angles to work with, so i may end up hiring out for the job. but we'll see.

      thank you so much again!!!

  9. Michaela says:

    Not to sound rude, but why would you buy such a fixer upper? Why not buy something semi-move in ready (at least)? The last two places you lived were *awesome* compared to my home. My home is like a 100 year old glorified shack compared to where you live. I guess after living in my fixer upper for 15 years, if I moved it would be into something more finished and amazing (not the other way). Why buy the cat pee money pit? I just have to ask, so please don't be offended!

    • hi!

      no problem – takes a lot to offend me! 🙂 your comment and questions made me smile – not get upset.

      well, have some answers for you…..reason our homes here (both the home we owned and are now renting) are so gorgeous is because we are living in pretty much new construction. the homes were built less than 10 years ago. so it's hard to find an old home around here. if you do find an older home, it is definitely in need of improvement. because we knew we wouldn't be living here forever, we just wanted a great home that had a great potential re-sale.

      reason we are buying a fixer upper in CA? because although my hubby is awesome at what he does, we don't have $2 million to drop on a brand spanking new home in SF. the housing market there is very competitive right now and we also have to consider where he is working/commute. so we are pretty much limited….and i'm not sure where we could even find new construction in the area near where he works. we did find a few great, already updated homes but they were close to $2 million AND they didn't have a yard. if you live in CA a yard is a nice feature – the weather is too nice and with 3 kids we need some space. so we are working with our budget and the fact that we wanted some outdoor space.

      now, our first home – which i haven't been able to share yet and was also located in CA…that was a fixer upper too! it was a mess and we made it perfect and just how we liked it. i loved the process of doing the projects over time and when we sold it, we had multiple offers. it was amazing the difference from when we bought it to the point of sale. so while it looks like we've been living in 2 great homes over the last few years – true, but not previous to that. the first house was a fixer upper.

      funny thing about the cat urine – it was in many many of the home we looked at. our top 2 homes that we loved – both had the cat urine issue.

      hope that answers some of your questions! 🙂 thank you and i am not offended at all!


  10. Andrea says:

    First of all – Congratulations on the house! Now on to the cat urine issue….We purchased a house that needed MAJOR work before we could move in. A family of cats was left in the empty house for a few weeks before the SPCA came and removed them. We had to replace ALL of the flooring in the house – the smell was overwhelming. We ended up stripping down to the subfloor, spraying all the subfloors with bleach in a spraybottle and let dry. Then I actually Kilzed all the subfloors (just rolled the paint on) – thinking that I would be covering up all odors and everything. It worked. We have two cats and a dog and I was very concerned about the cats smelling the other cat's urine and then spraying. We have been there for almost 8 years now and have NEVER had an issue.

    • thank you so much!!!!

      and thank you for the great info about the cat urine stuff. pretty much everything you have suggested is what i have found online. i too am worried about what charlie (our cat) might do in the house if the odor hasn't been totally removed before move-in. i told my husband and our agent that if the odor wasn't gone, he would definitely be spraying and that is NOT what i want after putting down new floors and new interior paint throughout.

      thank you sooooo much again,

  11. Julie says:

    Castle Path by Behr is the perfect greige paint color! I've seen an entire house done in it and it really is the perfect neutral.

    Congrats on the new house!


  12. Kallie says:

    How exciting!!! I'm looking forward to all of the great projects you will soon be sharing! We just found out last Friday that we will be moving for my hubby's job & your organized moving binder post has been super helpful!!

    • thank you!!!!

      wow! a move for you too?! exciting! so glad the binder idea is coming in handy for you. i've suddenly turned my from a home search/moving binder to a home improvement binder. now i have some contractors to stay on top of. 🙂


  13. apoulosky says:

    We used Sherwin Williams Mindful Gray when we remodeled our kitchen, dining room and family room. Love the color! I am looking forward to all of your posts on your new home. Good luck!

    • thank you SO much! i will add that color to my list, as well. i appreciate your input. gray is a hard color!!!

      thank you for the good luck wishes too! 🙂

  14. MelissaG says:

    I just used Sherwin Williams Pewter Cast in my new master. It looks fab with the white trim. I wouldn't call it a light gray though…more of a medium. Worth checking out though!

  15. […] a few handmade gifts…and even a couple big gifts that blew me away. remember when i shared this little tote bag? guess what magically showed up on our mother’s day table? someone is being sneaky and […]

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