The Moulding Saga, Part 1

The Moulding Saga, Part 1 via

Those of you who’ve been around awhile might remember that four years ago (FOUR!!!) I worked really hard to put new moulding into my daughter’s room.

Today? Today, I ripped all of it out. Which I admit is pretty shocking. But here’s the thing. When we put that moulding up four years ago? I knew within days that it was the wrong choice, but I didn’t know what to do about it. [Read more…]

The Story of My Home, Pear Tree Cottage

Original Listing Photo for My Home

Original Guest Bathroom for My Home

I have wanted to live in this area since I was twelve years old. My Dad’s friend had a place in the country, and we went to visit. I’ll never forget driving up the road toward his house. It was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. I knew at that moment that I wanted to live here.

I was 38 before we finally made it. We had careers and responsibilities in the city, so even though we’d looked at houses several times, over the years, we’d never made the leap.

Then came the summer of 2007. The housing bubble was bursting. The house we were living in was leveraged to the hilt. The clock was ticking. The only way out was to get a new house, get moved and get our house sold before everything fell apart. Like, NOW.

We decided to get a “paint and paper” job — ugly but cheap and easy to fix — as a hedge against the possible drop in value. We’d ride it out, put in our sweat equity, and buy a country property just as the prices bottomed out. It hasn’t worked out that way, but that’s where we were at the time.

So. We rejected “pre-war construction” (too expensive to fix up). We rejected two-story houses, or houses with stairs to the entry (my Dad is in a wheelchair and we wanted our home accessible to him). We rejected anything with a tiny backyard (kids! garden! BBQ!). Which left us with ranches from the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s.

Well, I say that like there were a bunch. There were three.

The first one sold to someone else the day before our scheduled trip to see it.

The second one had a large yard on paper, but in real life the yard was 200 feet deep but only 15 feet wide, plunging down between two apartment buildings. Um, no.

The third one, I refused to even consider on principle. It was SO UGLY.

You know the old rule, right? Kitchen, bath, curb appeal. That’s what you want in a house. And this house had

Original Listing Photo of Kitchen in My Home

Original Listing Photo for Bathroom in My Home

Curb Appeal:
Original Listing Photo for Curb Appeal of My Home

I rest my case.

Mr. Magpie, of course, thought this was the house for us.

Him: “But it’s the cheapest price per square foot of anything we’ve looked at!”

Me: “UGLY.”

Him: “But it has a whole bonus suite for your office and sewing space!”

Me: “Hmmm. No. UGLY.”

Him: (Going for the gold). “But has a huge yard!”

Me. “Hmmmm…… But, UGLY!”

(In retrospect, how spoiled was I? Yikes. But then, we hadn’t had the next five years yet, so I didn’t know yet just how lucky we were/are.)

Him: “Hon, I love you, and I know you have ‘aesthetic needs’ and all, but, um, we kinda need to make a move. Like, NOW.”

So we toured it. It had everything we needed, and I loved the yard. But I still couldn’t get past the flaws. But there weren’t any other options unless we looked at houses way outside our criteria. Like, houses with only one or two bedrooms (again, see spoiled, above), or houses with stairs that my Dad would never be able to come to. I didn’t want to do that. So I sat down one night at the computer, and had myself a good think.

I wasn’t worried about the bathroom because we’d renovated our last bathroom and I loved how it had come out.

Bathroom from Valentine Cottage

We had renovated our old kitchen, too, and I had loved the results there. This was the before (the original listing photo):

Original Kitchen Listing Photo from Valentine Cottage

This is how it looked when we moved out:

After Renovation Kitchen at Valentine Cottage

But the house Mr. Magpie wanted to buy? Honestly, I wasn’t sure it was possible. This was the original listing photo:

Original Listing Photo for Kitchen of My Home

I decided to do a quick and dirty digital makeover and just see. This is what I had come up with, way back then:

Original Listing Photo for Kitchen of My Home

Okay…. okay…. not bad, right? Once that big ugly bar was gone, the cabinets painted, a nice backsplash, some pretty paint, some nice appliances… Not. Bad.

Still, though, curb appeal, right? I mean, we were wanting something cheap and easy to fix up! Changing a roofline doesn’t qualify. Not at all. If we moved in, we were stuck with the facade as is. So I thought, “Okay, if I can make this cute, I can live here.” So I took the original listing photo…

Original Listing Photo of the Front My Home

…and made this:

Digital Makeover of Kitchen from Original Listing Photo for Kitchen of My Home

I called Mr. Magpie down to the basement (where our office and craft space was in the old house), and I showed him the makeover.

He said, “That’s cute, whose house is that?”

We made an offer the next day.

You know what? Five years later, I love my house, warts and all. And maybe we will change the roofline after all, someday. Maybe.

What about you? Did you buy the house you wanted to? Or the one you needed to?

~Angela :-)

True Confessions, An Update

Happy Place

I don’t know how many of you remember this, but a while back I did a post entitled “True Confessions of a House Gone Bad” where I got out of bed, walked around my house, and just took a picture of each room without cleaning, styling, or otherwise trying to make it pretty.

My goal was to capture the truth. Unvarnished.

It was embarrassing, but it was also liberating. Suddenly I was able to talk to all of you about the real situation my home was in and get help and advice on what to do about it.

Best. Decision. Ever. (And THANK you.)

Well, it’s been over a year, and I thought it’d be nice to take a look and see where we’re at. What’s better, what’s worse, what’s unchanged…

So again, I didn’t clean, I didn’t style, and I didn’t compose my shots. I just went from room to room and clicked. Here’s what I saw:

Living Room:

Living Room Before & CurrentThis is one of the first rooms I worked on, with your help and advice. I completely emptied the room and worked on furniture arrangements, then I did a digital makeover to play with ideas. Of course, then real life intervened and the couch got ruined, I got a new loveseat, then an antique cabinet for Christmas. Finally, my friend Krista helped me come up with a new floor plan that included the piano, and now the room looks like this:

Living Room

I still have tons to do in here — paint, trim, plaster, slipcovers… but at least it’s not embarrassing.

Verdict: Much better!

Dining Actually Just Part of Family Room

Having the dining room here was kind of an experiment that didn’t really work. We now just have the one dining room by the kitchen that we had momentarily been calling the breakfast nook. So this is really a picture of one part of our family room.

Family Room Before & Current

Verdict: Meh. I’m glad it’s not a dining room, but it’s really not very nice, either.

Family Room:

Family Room Before & Current

This probably looks pretty familiar since I just posted some pictures of the family room the other day, when I was trying to notice the positive things instead of dwelling on the negative.

Before I moved the piano, I had slightly different furniture in here. But I’m pretty happy with the arrangement in here now.

Family RoomAgain, the next steps are lots of painting, sewing and decorating — I want a cheery palette in here (what Mr. Magpie calls “Easter Colors”). But again, it’s cozy and makes me happy for now.

Verdict: Much better!


Kitchen Before & Current

Not a lot of changes showing here. BUT, since these pictures were taken, there’s been changes, and oh boy am I excited to share them with you! Hee hee hee! 🙂

Verdict: Oh, It’s Changed… You’ll See! 🙂

(The Actual) Dining Room:

Dining Room Before & Current

It’s hard to tell here, but there has actually been quite a bit of change in the dining room. We cut our dining room table down so it would fit in here and brought back our oak chairs. I also was trying to paint the whole cabinet before Thanksgiving last year, but as you can see, I ran out of time.

BUT, I did get the fireplace wall plastered and my salvaged door painted, and so the other side of the dining room looks like this:

Dining Room

Still tons of things to do, BUT, it’s way better than before. It’s so much brighter!

Verdict: Better.

Laundry Room:

Laundry Room Before & Current

Mostly we just added shelves in here. I have a plan, but it’s not at the top of the list right now.

Verdict: Marginally Better.

Craft Room / Office:

Craft Room Before & CurrentThis room actually got way, way worse before it got to the state it’s in now. BUT, in the process I reorganized the storage in here and though it’s hard to tell, the room is functionally much better.

Plus I have a comfy place to sit when I’m doing handwork, or for family to lounge. I’m still working on this room, and I posted a whole ton of inspiration posts showing craft rooms, furniture, storage and pin boards.

For now, I’m trying to just work on this one little spot:

Office & Craft Room

Progress is being made, just very sloooooowly.

Verdict: Organizationally Better.

Office Bathroom:

Office Bathroom

Not much to say. It hasn’t changed. Except that it’s messier (luck of the draw there).

Verdict: No Change.

Master Bedroom:

Master Bedroom

Only small changes in here. I rearranged the furniture slightly, and briefly considered making this my top project (I didn’t). A few weeks ago we started building the mini-library outside the room and I loooooove that. I’ve also been steadily adding more pink into the room, and you all know that makes me happy.

Chandelier in Master BedroomAs with all the rooms, there’s a ton I want to do. Banishing all that wood trim is very high on the list. But the room isn’t on the top of the list at the moment. We’ve got bigger fish to fry, as they say. 🙂

Verdict: Mostly No Change.

Master Bathroom:

Master Bathroom

Well, it’s cleaner, anyway! 🙂

Verdict: Mostly No Change.

Rocket Boy’s Room:

Boy's Bedroom

Now, this room is pretty much always a huge mess, so it makes it really hard to tell what’s going on in here. Plus we’re still lacking a couple of storage items so again, hard to tell. BUT, we actually completely cleaned out and reorganized and rearranged this room and it’s MUCH better in terms of how we’re using the space. We’re planning to actually finish this room this summer so we can finally give my poor soon a really great room that WORKS for all his stuff.

Verdict: Better (But Hidden In the Mess!)

Baby Girl’s Room:

Girl's Bedroom

Again, hard to see with the mess, but there’s been LOTS of changes in this room! I moved her chandelier in here from Rocket Boy’s room, then started fiddling with her artwork, which made me decided to go ahead and really DO the room, starting with all new trim (moulding) and wainscoting. We’ve also been (again, sloooowly) collecting things for her room, too, like her headboard, bedding, and furniture.

Of course, along the way there have been inspiration posts and posts about how I’ve tried to work with my toddler on the design of her room.

This is one of the rooms we’re actively working on because it doubles as a guest room, and we’re expecting guests this spring!

Verdict: On It’s Way to Way Better.

Guest Bathroom:

Guest Bathroom

And yeah, remember how I said we’re having guests soon? So yeah, we might need to step up our activity in this loooooooooooooong guest room project! (Seriously, anyone remember when we first did the demo? Yes, that was nearly four years ago!!!!)

Verdict: Mostly No Change, But Stay Tuned.

WHEW! That’s a LONG post there, Nellie! But it was therapeutic for me, and I hope (HOPE) interesting for you. You can see why I said the other day that we are trying to make this dream come true “one Saturday at a time” because we have to do things in very small chunks.

But the best part for me was to see how far we’ve come, just in the last year (plus). I am always thinking we’re not getting anywhere, but we did! Sure, it’s not a lot, but it’s quite a bit considering how little time we have to work on it. It’s nice to see that we ARE making changes and we ARE getting somewhere.

I might take the time and go back to seeing how far since come since we bought the place, too. I think that might help me really start to see that things ARE different than they were before.

Thanks for hanging in there with me, messes and all!

Updated: Of course, the BIG thing you might notice in here is that we have A LOT of STUFF (you are so right, gentle readers!) It’s a source of constant frustration and we do have a major purging operation happening now, too, which is hard to show on the blog, but definitely rolling forward. We’ll never be minimalists, but we have a LOT of room to improve. As I said on my Facebook page just a few days ago, “Holy Toledo, we have a lot of stuff, Batman!”


~Angela :-)

True Confessions (of a House Gone Bad)

A Happy Place

I have a confession to make. My house is a train wreck. Which is why I hardly ever blog. Because really, who wants to look at that? I sure don’t. That’s why I have pictures like the above. I don’t live there (though it is about 20 minutes from my house). That’s my happy place. I visit it often. Often.

But here’s the thing. In real life, my house is not pretty. First off, it’s a huge mess. I work late, so Mr. Magpie is with the kids until 10am every day. He’s a wonderful man, truly, but a housekeeper he ain’t. So you can just imagine the total destruction I face every morning.

Secondly, even worse, even if it were clean, it’s awful! Because the truth is that I have no idea what I’m doing. I managed to figure out my old house fairly well, but this house has me completely stymied. I don’t know if I’ve just been looking at it for too long or what, but I’m floundering. I have some ideas, but it’s all so overwhelming I don’t know where to start.

So I’m asking you, dear readers, to help me. I’m tired of facing it alone, all of this, and I’m so stuck I don’t even know where to start. So pick a room. Tell me, in the comments, which room to work on and I will work on it. And I will share my process with you — every mis-step, every mistake. There will be plenty, I assure you.

OK. Enough stalling. This is my house. My real house. My not-cleaned-or-fluffed-or-styled-just-got-out-of-bed-and-took-pictures-of-the-wreckage, house. (Let the humiliation begin…)

Living Room (Before)

Dining Room (Before)

Family Room (Before)

Kitchen (Before)

Breakfast Nook (Before)

Laundry Room (Before)

Office / Craft Room (Before)

Guest Bath (Before)

Master Bedroom (Before)

Master Bathroom (Before)

Rocket Boy's Room (Before)

Baby Girl's Room (Before)

Kid's Bathroom (Before)

Front Patio (Before)

Back Porch (Before)

So, there you go. The unvarnished truth.

It’s embarrassing. But you know what? It’s also kind of empowering. Because it’s the truth. And if I can figure this out, then hopefully someone, somewhere will learn something to help themselves figure it out too. I keep saying that anyone can do this. Theoretically that should apply to me, too.

So pick the room (or outdoor space) you want to see made over first, put it in the comments, and it shall be done.

It has to go up from here. One room at a time.

It’s time to wake up to a different view.


~Angela :-)