Thursday, April 28, 2016

Good Reads - Food for your Soul!

Good morning!  

Man, I have just been all over the board on doing my blog posts. This whole moving thing has really messed up any sense of a schedule that I was trying to do. 
Well, I have a little time this morning to get one out real quick so here it is......

I really wanted to share with you a few books that I have been reading lately. They are not just good reads, but they are incredibly good for feeding your soul and helping you to live your best life - REALLY!

I want to start with One Year Chronological Bible (NLT). 

This is a life changing way to read and understand the Bible. So I know it's not January 1st (which is where the Bible reading plan starts), but I just started there and plan to read a bit extra every day until I am caught up on the plan. But really even I don't catch up it's not a big deal. Just reading the Lord's Word every day will be incredible whether you are on the actual reading plan or not. 

Really the best part about this One Year Bible is that it is chronological so that means it walks you through the bible as the actual events happen so it jumps around from book to book as needed.  It is such an amazing way to get a new understanding of the Bible and God's Word. 

Another book I am really enjoying right now is Looking for Lovely by Annie Downs.

What a raw, honest, insightful and inspiring read this is. I am only about half way through the book, but I can not recommend this enough for every woman to read. Whether your struggles are the same ones as hers or not we can all relate on some level because we all have our own struggles. Her words will resonate with you - I am certain!  I love how she ties everything back to our Creator and biblical text and helping to show her readers that we were created for so much more than we often feel in this life.

So I show you this picture because this is how I was reading the other day - on the hammock in my back yard. It was a GORGEOUS spring day and the little ones were at school so I took advantage of a little relaxing (something I have not been doing much of since the move over a month ago!). 

So the third and final book I want to tell you about it this one:
To Love, Honor and Vacuum by Shelia Gregoire
(yes, I know it's not pictured above - I had already finished it by the time I was relaxing in the hammock!)

A couple of months ago I started a bible study/book club with some girlfriends and this is the book we decided to use.  It's been a great look at struggles that we have as women whether we have 5 kids or none, work outside the home or are stay at home moms, have lots of disposable income or none, have great supportive husbands or ones that we butt heads with a little bit more, etc. 

I think the best part about doing this book club with the women is the discussion that the chapters have us getting into. It's so good to know that we share so many of the same struggles and successes and are able to get ideas and solutions from each other.  It also has us digging into the Word and seeing how applicable it is to our daily lives. 

So in both pictures where I have my books grouped you see the Raising Grateful Kids in An Entitled World by Kristen Welch.  

I have not actually started reading this one yet - even though I keep carrying it around with intentions of cracking it open! I have read so many amazing reviews on this book. This very topic has come up several times in my book club meetings lately so I know that it is something that is not only heavy on my heart but on my girlfriend's hearts as well. 

With this is mind I am thinking that I may use this book for our next "book club book" to discuss. I plan to take a couple of months off for the summer so maybe this could be a good summer read for us all and we could go through it and share in the fall. 

Well, that's all I have for today.  I hope to get back to a more regular schedule for posting, but in the meantime I would love to hear from you and any comments that you may have. 

Have a blessed rest of your week!

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Moving....And the power of Staging a home!

Wow - it is hard to even really know where to start with this post so I will just start by saying we are MOVING!!!  Okay, well actually at this point we have already moved.  My last blog entry was on Feb. 24th and at that time I had absolutely no clue that I would be sitting here in my new office in my new house writing this blog entry about a month after my last one.

So we are in Real Estate - as in that is our careers, our business and the way we make a living, but it is also our passion and a career that we really love.  Having said that it is also the way we see a lot of homes and get the itch to move fairly often (we have lived in 8 homes in 20 years of marriage!).  I think after this last move we have decided we need to get into the business of buying, fixing up and selling OTHER homes instead of the ones we live in! Anyway, these moves have been motivated by many different things; investment opportunity, need for more space (nearly every time we have had another child - we have FIVE!), wanting a change of location and in this case it was much of all the above in addition to the fact that we were about to start on some serious remodeling projects that would have locked us into staying at our previous home for a long time.

Just before we made the decision to hire a contractor to get started my husband came home one afternoon - about a month ago - and said, "we are moving".  What?! He MUST be crazy I though, but he was ultimately right!  After showing a home to clients he said he just knew it was meant for us and was going to be our next home. He showed it to me the next day and he was right! I instantly loved it and knew it was the right move for us. It gave us so many of the things that we were going to attempt to get in a remodel on our current home and then many other things we would never be able to accomplish. And all for less than what we were going to have to spend on ours!

So the work began to stage our home and get it ready for sale. We moved into our new home 2 weeks later with half of our furniture (the rest stayed behind for staging) and put our house on the market the very next day after moving out. It sold in the first few hours on the market and for FULL asking price (Yay! for the BEST Realtor I know - I also happen to be married to him! :)

Anyway, in this post I wanted to share how we staged the house and some of the things we did to get it ready. It mostly involved a lot of long hours, hard work and lots of help from friends and family to pull this off in such a short amount of time.

I always loved this house but seeing it freshly painted, cleaned, organized and staged made me really excited for the new owners and the amazing family home they will be moving into.
And just to refresh your memory - many of you may have seen this post from almost 3 years ago when we first bought this home. This pin was shared almost 3,000 times and this pin almost 3,000 times and this one 300 times on Pinterest and the blog post was viewed more than 67,000 times and counting!

So let me show you some of the work we did to it over the last few weeks:

When bought this house we converted a second family room that was on the back side of the house into a "mudroom" or multi-purpose room. there are 3 doors off this room leading to the outside (back yard, garage and front yard) and one door way to the kitchen and the other to the laundry room which made it the perfect "catch all" room.  The room is about 22'x15' so it made a very large and wonderfully usable space for our family of 8 to dump shoes, coats, homework, mail, have our computers, extra overflow storage and even a large island space in the center of the room that I LOVED for wrapping gifts. Because it was the only room I allowed to collect junk in our home it definitely did collect! Check out the before and afters of this room's transformation:

Very functional but dark and crowded with all our stuff. The fireplace in this room is a second fireplace in the home and never used. Even so I always thought it was such an eye sore and had wanted to at least paint it to lighten it up.  I started by painting the brass fireplace insert an Oil rubbed bronze (already completed in these pictures - Below is the work in progress).  And then I painted the mantle our trim color.  Ultimately I would have white washed the brick, but I think it all turned out beautiful.  Check out the pics below for what the finished product was once we staged it! 

I used Rustoleum's Oil Rubbed Bronze spray paint from Lowe's for the project. It took 3 days for the smell to dissipate. I do NOT recommend breathing while you paint with this stuff! 
Insert turned out so nice and now matches all the other finishes in the home!
 Sanded down and ready to paint the mantle.  

Mantle painted, insert time to stage this room!
*Our whole house interior trim here was Sherwin Williams Muslin (#6133). I used their interior "Pro-Classic" trim paint in a satin finish to do the mantle. 

And here we are "Staged"

It is truly a dream space for a large family and now it just looks incredible and is about the most amazingly functional space ever!

Basement/Lower Level:
The next super large project we tackled was the lower level/basement area. It had been finished in the 90's with some really nice built-ins, a full wet bar and mini kitchen, 5th bedroom, bathroom and storage closet fully lined in cedar. It all looked great - for the 90's. It had literally not been touched since then. It looked like an oak tree threw up in there and I avoided spending any time down there at all despite the fact that it was nearly 1500 sq ft of living space (actually I did go down there - when it was dark and we were watching a movie in the theater area! :).  I knew what had to be done to bring it up to date and set out to get it done in a couple of weeks time with just the help of some friends and family. 
Here is the progression in pictures:

This was "Before".....

Painting is underway.  We painted ALL the built ins (I can not describe to you how many actual linear feet of cabinetry there was in this basement!), all the trim (baseboards, etc) and all the doors (all solid 6 panel oak). 

My 77 y/o father-in-law painting a "love note" to my mother-in-law....these two! ;)
And here is my 9 year old son and my mother in law (hidden behind him) painting one of the support columns. My best friend, Anna (not pictured), also came over and helped me get all the doors, railing, and all the walls done (painted in Sherwin Williams Nomadic Desert #6107) over a few days of hard work. 

And here is the finished project! 

  Looking into the theater area from behind the bar. 

  Looking back to the wet bar area from the playroom (not pictured but we painted all of it too!)

Theater area complete with popcorn and man were we ready to plop down and relax after all that hard work! 

Not only did we paint the ENTIRE lower level including the playroom that you can't see in these shots, but we also added all new frieze carpet, new light fixtures and recessed lighting baffles, new sink faucet and new door handles. 
All the hard work really paid off though!

For the finishing touches my girlfriend, Julie, came over and helped us do the final staging before we actually listed it for sale.  Not only is she an interior designer, but she is starting her own "staging" and design consulting firm called ASE designs. She has done a few now and has been very successful at it. I can't recommend professional staging enough to anyone who is selling their home. And if anyone is reading this in the Cincinnati, OH area and is planning to sell their home I would definitely check out Julie's Facebook page and get in touch with her. It is a fact that staged homes sell quicker and for more money than homes that aren't!
Julie also offers "virtual design" for anyone who is not in the area. You can see pics on her FB page of homes she has done through "virtual design" services. 

Check out the rest of the pics of our home when we were done:
A pretty traditional full brick Colonial built in 1979. It was located on a beautiful 3/4 acre level, partially wooded, cul-de-sac lot. An over sized 3 car side entry garage was the icing on the cake when we looked at this house to purchase a few years ago :)

Master bedroom - paint color: Sherwin Williams Kilim Beige #6106

Kitchen, breakfast room and hearth room - Paint color: Trim & cabinets Sherwin Williams Muslin #6133 and wall color Valspar Milk Chocolate #2007-9B (we redid all of this when we moved in 3 years ago...I LOVED this kitchen and always just wanted to be a little bit bigger for entertaining).

Master Bath - recently remodeled by Neal's remodeling (has a killer shower that isn't pictured)

Entry - Terracotta floor tiles, refinished stairway and remodeled arched opening into the kitchen (new light fixtures not pictured)

 Upstairs hallway - updated paint (SW Nomadic Desert) and new chandelier

Dining Room

Freshly painted all exterior trim, power washed all brick and concrete work, refinished blacktop driveway and freshly mulched and trimmed all landscaping.

I hope that this helps inspire you to stage or just to freshen up your home a bit. I know that in the three years we lived here we did a lot of remodeling projects, but had always talked about doing most of the things we ended up doing right before we sold it. It sure would have been nice if we had done those things earlier on and actually enjoyed them while we lived here! 

I will share pics from our new house and some of the projects we have already done here in my upcoming posts. We have been working on this house now for about 3 weeks and have done so many fun things to make it our own. I am excited to share those with you - including some fun new paint colors that I am absolutely in love with right now! :)

All the best,