Mashie Lane

Home + Decor + DIY + Real Estate

Cottage remodel: The sequel

We’re back….

Be sure to check out our past progress of the cottage remodel:

A Little Place Called the Cottage

The Cottage Remodel Process

The Big Cottage Reveal

While we did a major remodel of the cottage last year, there were still some minor touches that hubby and I figured we’d eventually get around to. We made a decision earlier this year to rent out the cottage once our tenants were out of the main house. This meant that we needed to finish those things that we’d “eventually get around to”.

We started off behind the eight ball. Our original plan was to have our handyman start immediately after the tenants moved out of the house because we were looking to have someone move in to the cottage by May 1. I had spoken with our handyman two weeks prior about all the items left in the cottage to complete. For some reason, he wanted to talk to hubby about it and all of that info got lost in translation. He also started working on painting his own house so we had to wait until he was done with that. That set us behind a week.

The one major item left in the cottage was to replace the 28 year old ac unit. We have a great ac tech who replaced a unit in the house last year and has done other work for us at the rental properties. We also decided to install the Nest thermostat so we can monitor the usage and be alerted to any outages. Of course we ran into some issues.

The first one was that when the original unit was put in, the wood box was built around it. This meant ripping out the wood before the unit could be removed. This also meant that we would have to have some wood work done once the new unit is installed.

Unfortunately we found some mold that we had to treat.

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And then the old beast of a unit came out!

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Hey there!

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Shiny and new

In the end, it all worked out and it’s much less humid in the cottage. We had our handyman and his brother install some wood to seal up the unit. You can’t even tell it was there. Well, you’ll notice that spot isn’t as dirty as the rest of the exterior.

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Now you see it…

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Now you don’t!

Here’s the rest of what we did. Not pictured is fixing a couple spots on the wall and a fresh coat of paint in the back bedroom.

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We torn down the old dilapidated fence in the front, as well as installed new plants and mulch; new cabinet and faucet in the bathroom; new ceiling fan in the living room and a new stone path and mulch in the back and last but not least, a smoke and carbon monoxide detector. Voila! We are finally finished with this project!

Houzz Clutter-Clearing Plan: May/June Edition

As you saw in my last post, time has gotten the best of me. I’m here with a double edition of Houzz’s Clutter-Clearing Plan, May and June. Yes, May is over but hey, you didn’t know about the challenge!

If you are new around here, or want to take a look back at this year’s posts about the clutter-clearing plan, check them out here:

January’s Results

February’s Clutter-Clearing Plan

March’s Clutter-Clearing Plan

April’s Clutter-Clearing Plan

Curious about the whole year? Check it out here.

For April’s challenge, I already had our medicine cabinets and bath/beauty storage under control. When I was snowed in over January, I took care of it here and here.

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June:  Family room, playroom, media, art and schoolwork. The end of the school year is a good time to review collected artwork and school papers, and choose a small number of special pieces to save in a portfolio or document box.

  • Edit schoolwork and art from the past year
  • Gather a bag of DVDs, books and CDs to give away or sell
  • Sort through toys and games; get rid of those your family no longer enjoys, as well as anything missing key pieces

Habit to cultivate: At the beginning of each school year, pick up a simple art portfolio. When your child brings work home, enjoy all of it for a while, but choose only a few special pieces to put in the portfolio.

May Madness

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Goodness, it has been too long since I have posted. Things have been just as crazy this past month, so I hope I can wrap it up in one post!

The renovations have continued at our house and I’m guessing that they will continue on for another 6 weeks. Lots of stuff going on and I’m thankful that we’re not living through it. The good news for the month is that we finally found the right tenant for the cottage. She loves the place and I couldn’t be more thrilled to have her there. And she has no pets – score!

I flew down mid-month over a weekend to do the move-in inspection/key exchange and work on some things at the house. Of course, my list was much longer than I had time for and I got in over my head. I decided to go to IKEA to buy a dresser for the bedroom. I thought that I had enough time to put it together, but it literally fell apart and split in several places. I could have thrown it out the window. I was rushing and trying to get so much done.  Stuff was scattered throughout the house and I kept doing circles. I would attempt to work on one thing, only to discover that there was five things in front of it to finish first.

When I got back to DC and settled the next day, I went to find the check that the new tenant gave me. Well wouldn’t you know, I couldn’t find it! I was positive that I didn’t leave the house with it, but after asking the handyman to look around, he couldn’t find it. Hubby was not pleased. I knew that I was going to go down over Memorial Day weekend, so my top priority was to look for it then. I was nervous that I had thrown it away and lost it. Yes, I obsessed over it every day.

We decided that it was best to have me drive down for the holiday weekend with a load of stuff from the apartment. July is just around the corner, and that is when we will need to move to a smaller apartment since we are keeping the house.  We are anxious to lock down a new place in the same complex. Unfortunately, the complex is starting a five year remodeling project and raising the rents on all apartments. That was not part of the plan. Sigh….

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Memorial Day weekend was upon us and it was time to bring a load of stuff to the house. I decided to pack up all the kitchen stuff that we were moving as well as all the fragile and awkward stuff. I was able to get almost everything that I wanted into the car. I got very lucky with traffic and only had a small delay out of DC.  As soon as I arrived at the house, I made a beeline for the kitchen and sunroom to see if the check was stuck somewhere. Sure enough, I had stuck the check in the box of supplies that I had picked up shortly before I was wrapping the day up. Phew!

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My two goals for this trip were to get the kitchen and master bedroom set up. I was able to unpack everything, line the shelves, change out the knobs and get organized. While on a ladder to line the top cabinet shelves, I noticed exposed wires for the light above the kitchen sink. How did this ever pass inspection? Gee, I wonder why that light isn’t working.

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The next goal was not so easy. I still had the remnants of a broken IKEA dresser in the bedroom. I decided to take a chance and return it. I was in luck. No questions asked! I returned to the store to get two nightstands, an 8 drawer dresser and a 3 drawer dresser to set our tv on. Oh and two vases and sticks for the living room. They look great, of course I forgot to take a picture!

I spent most of Sunday assembling all the IKEA furniture. I started around 12:15pm, took a break for dinner, then finally finished up at 11:30pm. I was happy that I was able to finish but I paid for it the next day. My hand was swollen and my back was sore. I’m glad that it’s done. Here are the results:

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It feels great to finally have a room put together! Well, for the most part. There’s still some decorating and organizing to do, possibly a different rug and such. But at least all of our clothes are finally in one place!

I left the day before hubby did (he’s en route as I type this) and I missed the other rental property issues that came up today. One tenant came home last night to an ac unit that’s froze up plus water in one of the bedrooms again. The short version is, is that when we had the gutter installed a few months ago, they didn’t install a long downspout, allowing the water drain away from the house. We also found a couple spots on the fountain that needed to be sealed up.

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This isn’t going to work.

At the other rental property, the tenant discovered that the fence is coming apart. We need to get this taken care of asap as they have a dog and no one wants her getting loose.

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We are wrapping up May with a bang. Here’s to June being a bit calmer!

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Gotta love lawn day!

What’s Up?

Here it is, almost halfway through May, and I’m just now getting motivated to write. The past 6 weeks or so have been chaos, to say the least. We knew that this past month would be busy, but life through us some curve balls just for fun.

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The first half of the month was spent getting the tenant out of our house after 4 years. I don’t want to go into too much detail, because there will be future posts on what transpired. We were taken aback by the amount of filth and damage that was left behind. Even as seasoned property owners, we were left speechless. Let’s just say that we started Phase 1 of remodeling our home a bit earlier than planned.

If you follow us on Instagram and Facebook, you have already seen some of the fun and excitement that we’ve had. For those of you that solely read my blog, here is a bonus:

For those times when you just don’t feel like cleaning, add some Christmas Tree air fresheners around the house. They’ll freshen the place up real quick.

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This was one of the more lighthearted discoveries that we made. The others were disappointing, frustrating and downright disrespectful. I’ll leave it at that for now.

We spent the second half of the month coordinating vendors to do work at our house and listing two properties for rent. That doesn’t sound too crazy, right? But believe me, having both of us work on it in person and remote was more stressful than anticipated.

We had a tenant who decided to break their lease earlier than they had originally told us. I made it clear to them that in order to get their security deposit back, they needed to show the house and leave it spotless. Just coming off cleaning up our own house, I was not in the mood to spend another few days cleaning up after someone. I should have known when they were still “cleaning” at 10pm the last night they were there, that there was trouble ahead.

I will say that they patched most all of the holes in the wall. If hubby had seen the condition of the walls when I dropped off the paint, he would have died. It wasn’t horrible but he is particularly sensitive about this property since he just remodeled it 6 months ago.

That said, I was very disappointed when I arrived the next day to “touch things up”. I spent from 10am to 6pm cleaning, patching more holes and touching up paint throughout the house. They only lived there 6 months! Unreal, especially since the girl had a real estate background. The mildew in the bathroom was disgusting. They also left a massive amount of trash and recyclables, most of which the garbage folks would not pick up. We decided to haul off the old trash can along with the bags and boxes. When hubby turned the corner, the can spilled all over the car. The car smelled like a poopy diaper for the next few days. It was awful! Zep Air Freshener to the rescue!

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What came up from the kitchen floor, after the tenants “cleaned”. Yuck!

We only had one day to turn the property. The new tenants were moving in the next day, thank goodness! There were a couple small things that we did not get to, but it’s nothing that can’t be fixed with a few phone calls.

We also are in the process of screening tenants and conducting showings to rent the cottage. We have a ton of interest, but not everyone is excited about the layout nor the lack of a dishwasher.  I know we will find “that” person, but it has been very frustrating thus far. Everyone either has multiple pets or wants a roommate situation. Based on past experience, and again, just coming off of doing two move outs, we are being picky.

Back in DC for a few weeks, we are still reeling from the past month. The renovations are continuing at our house and we are working on some things for the other two rental properties. It never stops!

I will be posting soon about the monthly Houzz challenge as well as the sequel to the Cottage Remodel. After all, it has to be perfect for our new tenant!

The Big Cottage Reveal!

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Are you ready?

In case you missed the first two posts, get caught up here:

A Little Place Called The Cottage

The Cottage Remodel Process

It’s the big reveal!

I am so excited to share with you how the cottage turned out. It doesn’t even look like the same place! Take a look!

The Cottage Reveal
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Living Room

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Stairs to storage

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Kitchen

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Kitchen

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Re-surfaced kitchen countertops

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Front Bedroom

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Front Bedroom

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Back Bedroom

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Back Bedroom

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Back Bedroom

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Completely different, no?

We found a company that could re-surface the kitchen countertops. This proved to be more cost effective than completely ripping out the old ones. They look beautiful!

Now for the not so exciting part of home remodels: the costs. This was the first remodel that hubby and I did together and we didn’t do a budget. Fortunately, the costs weren’t out of control, so not having a budget was a terrible thing.

Our handyman did most everything, said for our help here and there and outsourcing the countertops:

-Paint top to bottom & patch holes in entire cottage (except for the bathroom and back bedroom), including laundry room area.

-Paint stairs to loft.

-Caulk various holes & gaps.

-Make cabinet door to cover electrical box.

-Paint all kitchen cabinets.

-Replace cabinet hardware.

-Repair caulking in shower.

-Replace weatherstripping in kitchen and back bedroom doors.

-Paint interior side of kitchen door.

-Re-surface kitchen countertops

Total cost, including labor and supplies, was $2, 480.22.

It’s amazing what some paint and updated finished will do for a place. I am in love with how the cottage turned out!

The Cottage Remodel Process

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Under Construction

We’re back with Part 2 in the Home Remodel Series: Cottage Edition.

I bet y’all are wondering what the cottage used to look like. The wait is finally over!

 

The Cottage: Before
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Living room

Living room

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Living room ceiling

Living room ceiling

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Front bedroom

Front bedroom

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Entering the kitchen

Entering the kitchen

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Kitchen counter and cabinets

Kitchen counter and cabinets

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Back bedroom

Back bedroom

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Laundry area

Laundry area

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Behind the cottage

Behind the cottage

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There is so much to comment on.

The red paint. The kitchen wallpaper. The crappy kitchen countertops. The yellow laminate  flooring in the back bedroom. All the crap behind the cottage. And the laundry area. Unfortunately I don’t have a picture of the pink floral curtains that use to hid the breaker boxes.  That was a sight! And we can’t forget the inconvenient location of the telephone next to the AC unit in the kitchen. Oh my!

Hubby did some updates in 2011. He updated the bathroom with bead board, a new light fixture and fresh paint. He also put in laminate flooring in the back bedroom.

We decided that we wanted to use our standard paint color that we have in all our rental properties: Behr Navajo White. We knew that we would rent the cottage again someday, so we had to keep that in mind. We didn’t want to come in and remodel the place with expensive finishes and custom touches only to see them torn up by a tenant.

One lesson that we learned (after two remodels) is that we need to create a budget before the work starts. Money was disappearing left and right and it wasn’t until the project was complete, that we had an idea of what we spent. This remodel wasn’t horrible on the wallet. Our next one was.

We were lucky to have the time to do some of the work ourselves. Our handyman did alot but we were able to work alongside him, learn a trick or two and save some money. Our handyman has known hubby and his family for many years. It’s nice to have someone that we can trust and that does a fantastic job.

We started in the front bedroom. There was that awful red paint to deal with, so that required priming the walls. Once that was done, we could paint and work on patching up some of the damaged spots.

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Next we started painting the living room. We thought that this was going to be easier that the bedroom, but it was not. It was going to take more time, because we not only wanted the walls painted, we also wanted the wood beams and stairs to the storage area painted.

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While this was going on, I was working on painting the kitchen cabinets.  Boy, were they a mess! I discovered that the kitchen was gray at one point. And that curry powder bleeds through paint. Apparently somebody spilled some in one of the cabinets at one point. I also wanted to replace the knobs with something more modern. I kept the old hinges because they are classic.

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The back bedroom didn’t need much work. Just touching up where we removed a tv stand and painting the built in book case and baseboards.

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Last but not least, we decided to update the laundry area.

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In our next post, I will reveal the final results of this remodel. Wait until you see how it turned out!

Houzz Clutter-Clearing Plan: April

I am just getting to writing about Houzz Clutter-Clearing Plan: March results and April. The month is already half over! This has been our busiest month yet. We are almost over the hump. Stay tuned for updates!

If you are new around here, or want to take a look back at this year’s posts about the clutter-clearing plan, check them out here:

January’s Results

February’s Clutter-Clearing Plan

March’s Clutter-Clearing Plan

Curious about the whole year? Check it out here.

March’s Clutter-Clearing Plan was all about clothes and accessories. This has always been an on-going project for me. I have thinned out my closet several times, yet I still have many clothes that I don’t wear, can’t fit in to, or are just “hanging” around. Haha! I took this past month’s challenge seriously though, because I really cleaned house.

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Looking for a new home

The clothes pictured above are ones that I decided to try and sell on eBay. They are name brand and in good shape. Unfortunately, I only sold four pieces. The rest I decided to donate. The next step was going through my closet to thin it out. I took a bunch of stuff that I want to keep but currently can not fit into to Florida earlier this month. Eventually my goal is to fit into these clothes someday. I realized that I had alot of clothes that I was holding onto, in hopes that someday they would fit. I have been justifying this because I got the item for a great deal and it was “nice”.

Here’s what I ended up getting rid of:

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Buh-bye

Two large bags of clothes. Gone. You wouldn’t recognize my closet. It feels good to let go and get rid of faded, worn, ill fitting and non-fitting clothes. As for my accessories, they are organized and in decent shape. If anything, I need to update my jewelry as well as actually wear what I have.

So what’s up for April?

Bath and beauty products and medicine cabinets. Give your daily routine a spring cleaning by sorting through all of those bottles and jars hiding in medicine cabinets, on counters and in drawers.

  • Toss expired makeup and skin-care items, as well as anything you do not use or like
  • Clean drawers and shelves before returning items
  • Store heat- and moisture-sensitive items (medications and some skin-care products) away from the bathroom

Habit to cultivate: Keep a list of your favorite bath and beauty products and order them online rather than shopping in person. This helps avoid overshopping.

Well, wouldn’t you know? I have been working on this one without even knowing it. Come back and see me at the beginning of May for the results.

 

A little place called the Cottage

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The Cottage

Welcome to Part 1 in the Home Remodel Series: The Cottage. It seemed appropriate to start with the Cottage in our home remodel series, as it was our first remodel. The cottage is essentially an 825 sq ft mother-in-law suite. It is next to our primary home. We were renting it out until last year, when we decided to keep it for ourselves. I was not able to be there when the tenants moved out, but hubby was. Boy, was he in for a surprise! As most tenants will say when they move out, “I thoroughly cleaned this place. Afterall, I want my security deposit back!”. Well, you decide by these pictures if they thoroughly cleaned.

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Makes you wonder if they ever cleaned in the 3+ years that they lived there! I think hubby used 2+ bottles of scrubbing bubbles to get everything clean.

After the deep cleaning, the next step was to get this place sealed up. We had a HUGE problem with bugs while the tenants lived here, and after leaving the cottage vacant for a couple months, we learned how bad it really was. The good thing was that pest control was finally able to get to these spots. They were never able to before, because the tenants had so much stuff in the way.

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Hubby got the pleasure of getting on his hands and knees to caulk the gaps in the floor and walls and paint the baseboards. He was not happy. I knew that it was bad because of how much the tenants complained, but he got to see it firsthand.

Meanwhile, our handyman was tasked with painting every room except for the bathroom and back bedroom. The bathroom paint had held up, and the tenant had painted the back bedroom since she had painted it a color that she liked (with our approval, of course). There were also several spots on the walls that needed repair long before any tenants lived there.

In the midst of this remodel, hubby’s dad passed away. He had been sick for several months, got better then took a turn for the worse shortly after our wedding in January 2015. Despite this devastation, it was good for hubby to have something to focus on during this time.

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Hubby, his Dad (Tom) and Nephew. Tom was a great realtor and introduced Hubby to real estate.

A day after the funeral, I ended up with food poisoning and was out of commission for a few days. We had planned to go to the beach to decompress, but that was out. I could barely stand up! In the end, it worked out because Hubby also had to do some work. When I finally felt human, it was back to painting cabinets and working on miscellaneous tasks.

In our next post, I will talk about the remodel process and share with you what the cottage looked like before the remodel.

Photo Organizing

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How your desk drawers may look

Back in February, I promised you a post about digital organizing. February got the best of me and I fell behind. Digital organizing was part of Houzz’s February Clutter-Clearing Challenge. I didn’t participate in this one because I am already organized!

Papers pile up and can get quickly out of control. Memorabilia and photos sit, untouched, never to be organized or arrive at their intended destination. I know many of you can speak to this all too well. That said, there are many aspects of organizing. In January, I wrote about pantry, closet and bathroom closet organization.

Today I am going to share how I organize my photos. This can get out of control quickly, especially if you are a photo hog and sentimental fool like I am. One weekend day, I decided that it would be a great idea to scan all of my photos, toss the duplicate ones and keep only the ones that were old family photos. As I got into it, this was what my desk looked like.

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I took a moment to look at the mess that I made. I was overwhelmed with the amount of photos that I had. What was I thinking?!? I underestimated the amount of time that was needed for this. It ended up taking a whole weekend and a couple weeknights to scan and organize all these photos. Never, ever again will I let this happen.

Voila! This is all that’s left.

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Once I had everything organized, I created the following process to keep myself organized:

  • Once I return from a trip, I immediately upload any photos that I took to Picasa (now Google Photos). For most of our trips, I am the photographer. For our last trip, hubby took over 400 (yes, 400) photos. I asked him to upload them to Picasa then share the album with me so I can create one master album. One of the great features of Picasa/Google albums, is that you can share them.
  • I upload photos to Picasa while on vacation. To save data, it’s best to do this when you have a strong wi-fi connection. Depending on how many photos you upload, this can either be quick or take awhile. I generally wait until I am at the hotel at the end of the day to do this.
  • I regularly clean out the photo folder on my phone. This can build up quickly. When I have a free moment, either waiting in line somewhere or on break at work, I will delete what has either already been uploaded to an album or pictures that I no longer need or want. Like when I accidentally take a shot of the floor.
  • In the event that I get actual photos, I either display them on our fridge/corkboard at work or frame them. If they are photos that I want to keep but not display at the moment (or at all), I scan and upload them. This also includes any holiday photo cards that we receive.

At times, it feels like a full job to manage these photos, but it’s worth it to me. Pictures tell a story and being able to look back and reminisce is priceless.

Home Remodel Series

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Under construction

Hubby and I got a double dose of home remodeling experience last year. We decided to remodel the cottage after tenants that had lived there for 3+ years left. I knew that it was overdue for repair but hubby got a real eye-opener when he started working on it. We also had a tenant leave at another rental property, who had lived there for over 4 years. We both knew that that house was way overdue to be upgraded. It wasn’t in stellar shape when it was rented in the first place (hello, pink tub!). We ran into quite a few problems as the remodels progressed and they took much longer than anticipated. It was quite the spring and summer!

We are about to embark on another home remodel as tenants in our home are leaving after 4+ years. This was something that we initiated as we are ready to be back in our house. We also know that after 4+ years of wear and tear, in addition to having an aging 1938 Colonial, that we will have our work cut out for us.

In addition to fresh paint, carpet, re-sanding/finishing the wood floors and some minor touches, we are also contemplating whether or not to replace the windows and repaint the exterior this year. In the short time that I have been around, I have watched it deteriorate at a surprising rate. This is a MAJOR expense.  It’s so bad that when it rains a certain way, water is getting in through some of the windows.  I pray that there is not mold or other damage. Now, not every window needs to be replaced. We did replace 4 windows on the west side of the house in 2014. However, there are 35 windows that are up for consideration. I think 2 of them are ok. But the rest? They aren’t in great shape.

Here’s a glimpse of the windows that we replaced in 2014. I have yet to get a close up picture of them!

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And here’s some of the wear that we need to take care of stat.

Mashie Exterior
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Bay window

Bay window

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Bedroom window

Bedroom window

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Back exterior

Back exterior

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Bedroom window

Bedroom window

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Bathroom window & exterior

Bathroom window & exterior

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Each time that I see this, it breaks my heart a little. Sigh…home ownership.

Over the next several weeks, I will be sharing our journey of each remodel. Stay tuned!

 

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