Welcome to the Grotto

As I mentioned in my last post, we bought a new home! The home shopping process was very casual, we had a year lease at an apartment so we wouldn't be rushed, so mostly online browsing and the occasional open house. Moving to a new city can make the home shopping process a little daunting. You don't want to fall in love and subsequently buy a house in a bed neighborhood. Or even a neighborhood that isn't quite right for you. With that in mind, we just kept an eye on Zillow to see if there was anything that sparked our interest, and also popped into a few open houses to get a feel for the typed of homes we were looking at. At one point Matt had convinced me that we could live in a high rise apartment on the waterfront. After checking one out, the allure quickly started to fade (only 1 parking spot!). Anyway, long story short, we found a cute little home that we couldn't stop thinking about and now we are living in it! Let's just get to the pictures.


This is the living room. It's open concept so this is the view from the kitchen area with room for a dining space in between. I think my favorite thing about the house in in this photo, the windows! I just love them and feel like my dreams of living in an Anthropology window display can come true with these babies. There's a wood burning fireplace as the focal point, and a cute but tiny spiral staircase that leads up to a loft area, which I'll show you later.



Looking back at the dining rooming kitchen area from the living area. The exsisting kitchen is slightly closed off due to cabinets, but we've got plans for days on opening this up. At the very back of the house there is a door to our back yard. A real one this time! It's still little, but there's soooo much more potential than our last baby yard.



Here is a closer look at the kitchen. It's tiny, that's why you can only see half at a time. At least it gets great natural light (when the sun is out. Hello Portland winter, good bye sun).



If you take a slow and methodical trip up the spiral stairs (they're tiny) you'll find this adorable loft space. It's just a funky little space that we think will be a fun little lounge area someday. Matt has a desire to get a record player and an Eames lounger so he can sit up in the loft an be sophisticated. So far our plan is 50% lounge, 25% hair salon! and 25% office area. The lounge area will be the main part where the railing is.



If you turn around you'll see another back door that leads onto the deck. That little cave-y area on the right will be the office area, and my salon chair and stuff will go in what is half way a closet on the left.



Now, take an even slower trip down the stairs (because they are terrifying the first time), and we can check out the bedrooms and bathrooms. First up will be the master. Apparently we have a thing for giant mirror closet doors. The nice thing is that it makes getting the whole room in a picture easy. This room is much smaller than our last bedroom. It's actually very cave like and dark, but I don't mind. That makes it easier to sleep in on the weekends. I think having the deck directly over our window contributes to the darkness in here. We would love to add some wood planking underneath, and maybe if it was lighter it would reflect more light into our room.



E may have lost square footage in our bedroom, but we definitely gained some space in the bathroom. And look, it's all in one space! I spent at least a day cleaning this space like a crack head before we moved in because Ew! I can handle my own dirt, but not other peoples. I even took off the glass door frame, scraped the old silicone off and reinstalled it just to be sure. Also, how do I get rid of the soap scum or hard water stains on the glass? I have tried clarifying shampoo, Bar Keepers Friend, some soap scum remover from HD, Cleaning Bubbles, Mr. Clean Magic Eraser, a razor blade, and this weird Eco Stone thing made from recycled bottles that just seemed to scratch at it a little.



The guest room is toward the front end of the house and doesn't have the cave like qualities our room has. The window looks out the the front entrance. The wall is the exterior of the living room, you can see just a little bit of the window on the very left. I'd love to create a living wall to pretty up the view from this room.



This room has a decent sized closet, but those doors. Ew! I'm not saying I want more mirrored closet doors, but these are just sad.



And now for the final stop on our tour, the main bathroom. I don't really have anything positive to say about this bathroom. There is a laundry closet in there opposite the bath tub as well. For now, it is what it is.



Well that's it for now. Sorry I didn't take any shots of the back yard. Maybe if we clean up all the leaves back there and there's a nice day (#longshot). Oh, and stay tuned for kitchen updates. I'm not promising a timeline or anything, but things are happening!


Nikki Kelly


Oh Hey There!

As you may have noticed, I took the summer off. Selling our home in Denver was kinda sad for me and I just didn't want to talk about it. Tears were shed when Matt and I stood in our home for the last time. However, we are no longer homeless because we just closed on a new casa this weekend! So yay for that. But before I introduce you to our new home, I want to share some parting shots of our first home.



It's actually a little weird looking at them since it's been almost 5 months since this was our home.



Here is the kitchen where I last left you. I really miss all the space our kitchen had. What I don't miss is that is was completely separate from the rest of the house. Those countertops though....




This bedroom was never actually used. The "bed" is literally an inflatable mattress ontop of some boxes and leftover plywood. Classy!




This bathroom got a brand new tile floor along with some new baseboards.



Our sad bedroom was like this until the end. Real bedroom furniture is in our future of reals this time. We already have a bed and bed side tables, and a new dresser is just around the corner. Getting rid of our bedroom furniture helped to light a fire under our asses to remedy this embarrassment.




New tile floor, paint, and baseboards for the tiniest bathroom in the house as well. When we got our new kitchen countertops people asked if we wished we had done this sooner. I did, however the bathroom floors were so gross and embarrassing that they were the winner of the "I wish I had done this sooner" contest.




The guest room really didn't change at all, it was probably the first room to look "finished".



Again, another area that was never fully realized. We had dreamt of building a wall of pipe shelves on the right hand wall. Also, never used this fireplace.




Did you know we had a basement? Well we did and it was huge but we never used it. Matt's brother was a life saver and basically took care of the basement for us. Paint, clean, stage.








And that just leaves the backyard. It was way overgrown from this point. The tree was probably double this size and needed some trimming. The spring growth spurt was just crazy.


Ok, so now that we've said good bye to the old, here's a quick sleek peak of the new!



I'll give you the full tour next time!


Nikki Kelly


Kitchen Complete!

The kitchen marathon is over! I had hoped to get it finished before I went back to work last week, but it just wasn't quite there. Probably like 95%, but that's not enough when you're getting ready to list your house! That's also the reason I didn't post last week. I've been slaving away until at least 9 most nights to get it done, and I've just been too tired to do much else.

So, what ended up getting checked off last weeks to-do list?

  • The backsplash is done!
  • Toe kicks are done (no more black holes to eat up all the kitty toys)
  • Cabinets have a fresh coat of paint
  • The outlets and switches are blindingly white

The big fluorescent light fixture didn't get replaced, but I just don't care anymore. So really the kitchen from about 4" down is beautiful. That's what cropping if for, right? Speaking of cropping, let's just jump to some pretty after pictures!


I just love how the backsplash turned out! Don't let this picture fool you, the granite is not that yellow. It's not quite as white as the tile, I think the artificial lighting made it look that way. It's more accurate in the picture above. And I really love that the's little brown flecks scattered throughout. It's like I picked the paint for the cabinets just to match (I totally didn't).


I just love this little corner so much! I chose to bevel the tiles around the corners of the window (just like you would with baseboards) and I think it looks so clean. I also love how perfect the new switches and outlets are. Seriously, they were pretty sad looking before. I'm also forcing some tulips in water in hopes that they will be blooming when we list the house.


Now for my attempt at listing photos. Our realtor (and Matt's brother) said we should have a professional shoot our listing photos, but I thought I'd give it a shot anyway. It will be fun to see the difference.





So now that the kitchen is ready to woo a buyer, I'm moving on to our sad little bathroom situation in the master bedroom.

Nikki Kelly

P.S. Just for funsies here are some real early before (pre move-in) pics of the kitchen.




Even The Kitchen Sink

While I was working on the stairs I finally had had enough of this situation.



Yep, that's two buckets under the sink. On the left we have a garbage disposal with a crack in the housing, and on the right the sink strainer was so stripped that it would not attach to the drain pipes. The bottom of the cabinet had pretty much disintegrated from water damage. At this point I had cleaned out the remaining cabinet floor and created some support for a new sheet of plywood. Oh, and don't worry about water damage. I didn't use the water for a couple of days and it was bone dry.


Sadly the sink cabinet wasn't the only one needing a little work. When we removed the old flooring in the kitchen (before we even moved in) there was this nasty commercial carpet attached to the toe kicks. When we pulled it off some of the toe kicks came with it. Right now they are blocked off with some wood, but I plan on painting some 1/4" plywood so it looks like the rest of the cabinets. No more lost kitty toys, well in the kitchen at least.



As boring as toe kicks and under the sink messes are, they were a way of preparing for new countertops! Smell ya later leaky sink.



We went with a company called Granite Direct because we had heard from a few friends that they were the least expensive in town. Part of that reduced rate was having to remove the exsisting countertops, and installing the sink. Since I like doing what I can, I didn't have a problem with that at all.



These little water droplets were quite the victory! It took me about 3 1/2 hours to get the sink installed. It was a totally new experience for me. On the front side of the sink I only had an inch gap to get the little sink clips attached, and I dropped a screwdriver on my face. All while crammed into a sink cabinet. Now that I've done it, here are a few things I would do differently: get as much of the water lines connected first, and put the little screw parts of the clips in place before dropping the sink into the countertop.



The countertops are great and all, but they need a backsplash. We picked out a simple beveled edge subway tile, and I set to install them yesterday afternoon.



I've got it almost finished.



I still have a partial row under the cabinets and the area under the microwave.



And I have to do this on the other side of the window. It's two rows of tile, metered corners, and all topped off with a schluter strip.



I think I'll link up to Sara's Dueling DIY post, you know, since I'm kicking this kitchen's ass.

Things left in the kitchen before we list the house:

  • Finish installing backsplash tile and grout
  • Paint and install toe kicks
  • Touch up cabinet paint
  • Replace outlets and switches
  • Replace main light fixture

I'm trying to focus my attentions on one room at a time in an effort to get the house ready to sell. That way I don't have a million little finishing touches left at the end.


Nikki Kelly