This year we tackled a large project to update and in my opinion upgrade our home's appearance and energy efficiency.
Craftsman's Choice, Inc.
We used Hirshfield's in-home design service for our window treatments
Flor rug for entry
I have wanted to create a custom Flor rug for a long time. The modularity and wide range of colors and styles appeals to me but I've always had decision paralysis and never made it passed flipping through the catalog of browsing online.
I discovered their new design assistance and filled out the form requesting help creating a runner by the front door. My goal was to extend the entry for taking off winter boots so the material needed to be rated for high traffic. I am embarrassed to admit that it took contacting the company through their website for me to discover that they now have a store in Uptown Minneapolis, less than 5 miles from my home.
My design assistant, Stephanie came up with eight combinations of the Made You Look line which has more than 75 color options. Though I loved all of her designs, I still couldn't make a decision so I went to the store in person. That made all the difference. Stephanie showed me a couple of my favorite designs from her original eight. By moving the tiles around we came up with a completely different design. We pulled colors from the Otomi fabric and balanced the bold colors with three shades of gray. She ordered the tiles pre-cut which added expense but saved my sanity. The tiles arrived five business days later and I installed them in less than 30 minutes. I have left-over squares of the bright colors which I may use in the office.
More wall art
After documenting the furniture purchases we made for the house anniversary post, I was motivated to add a couple of framed prints to our walls. One of the prints is a Summit poster that Liz Hruska gave us in 2008! I love the colors and it complements the Otomi fabric in the dining room so I hung it on the opposite wall.
Awhile back I purchased a couple of posters replicated from 1854 chemistry illustrations. I thought they'd work well above Scott's favorite chair, the orange Boden.
I didn't expect 11 months to pass between posts. Our one year house anniversary is today so it seems like a good time to get back to the blog and document all that has happened in our new(ish) home.
This past year in our new home has been better than I could have ever imagined. Both Scott and I still can't believe that selling our old house and buying this one worked out so well. After walking through our old neighborhood (less than 1.5 miles away), we are so thankful we did not have to live through the two-year road construction project.
One-sort recycling finally!
Believe me, this is a highlight of the past year. Shortly after we moved in our beautiful blue container was delivered to our alley driveway.
We try to recycle everything that Hennepin County and the City of Minneapolis will accept and this makes it a lot more efficient.
There is an organics recycling pilot happening now in select neighborhoods of Minneapolis. I am hopeful that it is a success and we can expand our recycling. In the meantime, we're considering a compost in our backyard.
Furnishing and decorating our new home
After moving in, we settled into our new digs pretty quickly and started investing in quality furniture since we have decided to make this our "forever home". I am so glad we have a Room and Board in Minneapolis (headquartered here!) and their delivery truck was parked in front of our home several times this year.
While living in our old house, we bought an orange Boden chair and ottoman, the Sinclair media console which we kept in the living room and the Metro sofa with chaise which we moved to the basement. With the help of an awesome Room and Board designer, we added several pieces to the living room: Jasper sofa, Gibson cocktail table, Parsons end table, Echo floor lamp, Echo table lamp, Brazo Floor lamp and case study planter and cable wool rug.
I have added several houseplants to the living room which makes me so happy since all of the plants I had in my old house died no matter what I tried. Mantle decorating is surprisingly difficult for me and since I didn't have a fireplace in our first house, I am still trying to figure out what to do. There is a lack of wall art in our entire house but it is most obvious in our living room. We have several options of framed art and we have a picture rail so it's just a matter of taking the time to make it happen. Hopefully this winter.
We have a small dining area off the living room and right outside the kitchen. Selecting our dining table and chairs was one of the hardest decorating decision we have made. I originally wanted a large rectangle table with a bench and chairs or upholstered chairs. Since our room is so small, it made more sense to get a table with leaves. We ended up getting the Ventura extension table and Jansen chairs. I decided to pass on having a rug under the table since I hate vacuuming.
To add texture and color, I added an Otomi textile to the wall. It was purchased by the owner of Zinnia Folk Arts for me while she was in Mexico. I also potted some colorful cacti and am making Erlenmeyer flask salt and pepper shakers.
It is so great to have a dedicated room on our main level for an office and den. We chose the Elke convertible sofa so the room can accommodate overnight guests. I wanted bright colors against the neutral paint so I purchased or was gifted pillows from Anthropologie, Jonathan Adler and Zinna Folk Arts. I have always wanted to create a "places we've been" map and the Essential Geography of the USA map from IMUS Geographic is perfect. I had it mounted on foam core and framed without glass at FrameUPs.
The desk was a tough choice and I pinned several options on my "office pin board" but ended up with the Rustic Storage Desk from West Elm. I also wanted a side table for the sofa but it is such a small space that I chose the Peekaboo C Table from CB2. I'm also working on organizing my home office and will add shelves to the small closet for binders, files, craft and gift supplies and a wireless printer.
I honestly think that this house has boosted my mood significantly and my attraction to bright colors is one of the side effects. When we decided to add a TV to our office/den, I chose slim bookshelves and a media console in ocean. I'm still adding books and items that make me happy to the shelves. One of my favorite recent purchases is the phrenology head which doubles as a place to store things (marbles!?).
We started using our sunroom quite a bit after we traded in our old dining room and chairs for comfy furniture. Because the windows and door are not particularly insulated, I played it safe and purchased outdoor furniture. Scott likes the green recliner that was originally my grandparent's so we've kept it. We recently added a curtain rod that goes around the room and I'll be adding white curtains to add a bit of privacy. I will also string lights including the paper lantern lights that I temporarily hung from a hook that was left from the previous owner.
We never purchased "adult furniture" for our bedroom in our previous home. After furnishing the living and dining room, we worked with the same Room and Board designer to select our bedroom furniture. We chose the Webster bed, and two dressers and side tables from the Hudson collection. The lighting is pretty terrible so I added the large glass jug table lamp on one of the dressers. Now we need to add wall art and other decorative/functional items to the dressers.
Our upstairs is one big room with a half wall separating the space where our bed is from the bathroom. The bathroom has shelves but the pedestal sink lacks storage above, below or on the side. I am hoping to add a medicine cabinet but in the meantime, I use the vanity I purchased from West Elm (discontinued, apparently).
The backyard landscaping had been abandoned by the previous owner so we wanted to clean it up. There was a rain garden/pond to the east of the sunroom that was disgusting so we hired Earthworm Lawncare to remove the railroad ties and use the small boulder rock as a border around our gardens.
I've always wanted a flowering tree so they added a dwarf Eastern Redbud tree. Our backyard is shady thanks to the HUGE cottonwood and our neighbor's Oak so we added shade loving plants and made the western half of our backyard into one big mulched perennial garden.
Earthworm also moved the perennials around in the front, removed the arborvitae evergreen from the western corner of the front of our house and dug up the buried stepping stones on the eastern side of our home and added mulch.
Next steps: Creating a master plan
We haven't made any significant changes to the guest room, main floor bath, kitchen or basement. I'm holding off any major projects because I will be working with Margaret, a designer from Building Arts to create a master plan. I originally met Margaret at home on the Minneapolis/St. Paul Home Tour. She had designed a half story owner's bedroom/bathroom suite that has features I wish ours had. It was clear she pays attention to details which is something I value in making home improvement decisions. We are beginning our work together this month and the first step is that Margaret is going to take detailed measurements of our home and creating a CAD design of the home as it exists. I'm excited to document this process since I've always wanted to work with a designer and an architecture firm.
Getting ready to hibernate
I am proud of what Scott and I have been able to do this past year. I am now ready to pause and enjoy our happy, warm home just in time for the impending snow. At least I think our neighborhood is gorgeous in the winter thanks to the Minnehaha Creek/Parkway, pedestrian bridge and trails being so close.
It feels like the night before Christmas only with a bittersweet twist. I've been dreaming of and planning for a move for many years. Now that the time has come it is full of emotions I didn't - but should have - anticipated.
The best decision I made was to take the entire day off of work. I was able to start the day slow and get some more last minute packing and cleaning taken care of. I also scheduled my last hair cut with Zoe at Juut Salon Spa at the Gaviidae in Minneapolis. She has been my stylist for five years and though I've had some great cuts in my lifetime, she tops the list for knowing how to work with my thick, course, wavy/colicky hair. This has nothing to do with my move - it is just a coincidence that Zoe is also moving. She has a fantastic career opportunity with Juut and will be in California. So, we've been trading moving/career change stories for the past couple of months.
The afternoon was spent boxing up our electronics which we will be moving ourselves - along with 125 bottles of Scott's home brew. I do not watch a lot of TV these days but it is strange not to have the option - even if it is only for 24 hours.
In the afternoon we had our final walk-through of our new home. It was gray and dreary so it was the first time seeing the home when the lights needed to be turned on. The weather and bad lighting seemed to also darken my mood. I was suddenly seeing flaws and things I'd want to change whereas the other previous visits left me feeling like we'd hardly have to lift a finger after moving. I shuffled from room to room in a daze and became overwhelmed. I'll also admit to feeling sad and scared. Did we make the right decision? Why are we leaving a home that has three recently remodeled rooms? Why didn't I realize that the office doesn't have a door? Why doesn't this original 1950's bathroom seem charming today?
It didn't help that the seller and his team of buddy movers were there. I wanted to take my time going from room to room snapping photos and imagining our own furniture and belongings in each space. That romantic vision was not to be. That said, the seller was very nice and showed us how we can make use of the built-in speakers on the main-floor. He lived in the home for 17 years and highlighted all of the benefits of the neighborhood and the excitement I've had since finding our home returned.
After we were done with the walk-through we ran over the details of the closings with Brian. We are closing on our current home at 9:00 AM and using the proceeds of the sale towards the down payment of our new home which we close on at 10:30 AM the same day. Brian decided to make our afternoon extra fun (read: stressful) by mentioning that if the final numbers are off that we'd need a cashier's check from our bank. The title company will only accept a personal check up to $2,000 and while I was confident the proceeds from our current home would be more than enough at closing, I live by the motto "it is better to be safe than sorry" so off to the bank we went.
On to the next stressful task - picking up the UHaul cargo van. It actually ended up being a quick and pain-free experience so we were in and out of there in no time. We returned home to pack the van with our electronics, computers, cleaning supplies and beer. Originally we were going to use the van as a way to save street space for our movers but at our walk-through we realized that was a horrible idea. Scott backed the van up to our garage so you can't get the back doors open and then parked his car next to the side doors so you can't get those open. We also left our garage security lights on.
Soon after we finished loading the van, I got a call from our mortgage guy and he went through the settlement statement (HUD documents). It was a huge relief to know that instead of having to write a check to Title, they will be writing us a check! Time to celebrate.
We went to the only place that made sense for the last night living in Armatage - we had to go to Pizzeria Lola. We had a lot of fun and it was great to decompress before heading back to our empty home. Our neighbor Karen graciously agreed to take care of Stewie during our actual move so he is having a sleep-over at her house. She has a new dog, Louie so hopefully they're either getting along or ignoring each other.
I wish I would have been able to sleep through the night but much like the night before Christmas it is impossible.
I'm testing the Weebly iPhone app for this post. I could see this being quite useful when I'm onthe bus or on vacation.
On my mind today is the remaining tasks on the moving to-do list.
Tonight I'm donating our refrigerator and freezer food to a Co-op on campus. I had great intentions of using it all in creative recipes but of course decided Gandhi Mahal take-out was a much better plan.
I'llalso bring our remaining boxes to the garage and clean.
I'll probably also manage to drive by our new house for the hundredth time...
For years, Scott and I have gone back and forth on whether or not to move. Since the home was purchased near the height of the housing market, there were several years in which we wouldn't have been able to sell it even if we tried. During those years, we kept ourselves busy with making home improvements. Recently the thought of moving started nagging at me again and after a false start this spring, we finally listed our home on August 15, 2012. Five days later, after only one open house, we had our first offer - which we accepted.
The process of getting our home "show ready" made us fall more in love with it and surprisingly made the hunt for our new home more of a challenge. After looking at 50+ houses all over south/southwest Minneapolis, St. Louis Park, Edina and Golden Valley, we have found our next home. It is a mere 1.5 miles away from our current home and is in one of my favorite spots in Minneapolis.
We close on both properties on October 19 - a day that is guaranteed to be insane. Before that crazy day arrives, I'll take a look back on our time in my little green house and document our transition into our new home.
The Nivens Family