Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Door to Archway - Thanks Josh Temple

Back in the old days, the more rooms a house had, the more prestigious it was – no matter the size of the room.  This is very evident to us after living in old homes.  I mean our fridge even has its own little room – it’s weird and it’s a waste of space for sure.  There used to be a doorway in between our dining room and living room.  As you can imagine this very much closed off the space and made it seem smaller.  Open concept is all the rage after all.    


I don’t have a true “before picture” unfortunately, but I do have pictures of the space after we started taking the door casing out.  Of course nothing is ever easy in an old house.  Once we took the casing out, there was an overlap of lath and plaster that needed to be cut perfectly (if we didn’t cut it perfectly, we would be using a ton of joint compound and spackle).  You can see the overlap here:



To make the straight line cut, we used a grinder to cut the plaster and a sawzall to cut the lath .  Our smoke alarm went off from the tools burning the wood (lath), so we had to temporarily disable it while we performed the work.  This was the result we were left with.




Now our house is full of arches and if we would just drywall in a square opening, one would be able to tell that it was an afterthought and didn’t go with the era of the house.  Since we want to keep the characteristics of the old homes, we decided to match the other arches in our house.  This is the particular archway we modeled our new archway after.
*ignore the different DIY projects going on in this photo.
We used a piece of cardboard to trace this exact archway shape and then scaled it down to fit the opening we needed.
Now we need to give credit to Josh Temple, the HGTV & DIY host of House Crashers, for giving us the idea to build the archway.  We first took two pieces of plywood and cut it to our “archway shape”.  Then we used 2x4s to serve as a surface to attach the drywall and brace the two pieces of plywood together. 


Next, we attached the "archway-piece" of drywall and cut it with a rotozip using the wood as a guideline.


For the center archway drywall we scored the back in order for it to bend in the shape we wanted.



Next we used corner bead for all the exposed corners
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From here on out it was just a lot of filling in with joint compound, sanding, and filling in, and sanding, …. – you get the jist. 


Here is the finished product!  Plus Teddy posing for a picture is always the cutest.
 


*Updated after*


Check out 50 Shades of Gray - okay maybe like 4 or 5 for information about the paint colors!



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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Antique Shopping

If you would have asked me even 5 years ago if you would catch me antique shopping, I would have said “No way!”  It’s crazy how much life changes and you change along the way.  Nowadays, one of Matt and my favorite things to do is to browse through antique stores and hopefully find a good piece or two for our home.  One needs to have an open and creative mind when walking through an antique store.  It’s not going to be set up like a staged Ashley Furniture store and everything is going to be cluttered and overwhelming. 

If you aren’t familiar with antique shopping, let me tell you how it works.  If you are familiar, skip this paragraph J.  Most antique stores are set up as little rooms called booths.  One person has usually worked out a deal to have that space within the store to set up their antiques to sell.  Thus, sometimes you may see a sign that says 20% (or any amount) off this entire booth.  That booth owner has elected to try to entice people to buy their stuff.  So keep a look out for discount signs within every booth!

Now I have a few words of advice for someone who is about to go antique shopping.

1.       Don’t get overwhelmed!  Look at individual pieces within a booth instead of trying to look at the whole booth at once.  If you have to stand at one booth for a while in order to take it all in, that’s okay!

2.       Think about the potential of a piece instead of the condition it is in right now.  Could you make a shelf out of that awesome old milk crate?  Could you use those old shutters as wall decoration?  Could you distress the frame around that mirror to make it look up to date?

3.       Almost always, the store/shop owner is willing to come down in price.  Even a 10% mark down is at least tax, right!?
Also, don’t expect to only find old pieces in antique stores.  Lots of times a booth owner will have already tried to spruce up some of their old pieces to look distressed, reupholstered, painted, etc. to fit with the current, popular, design styles.
Matt and I had some free time in between the ceremony and reception of his sister’s wedding this past weekend.  Lucky for us while we were driving to the reception site we saw an antique mall!  We were super pumped.  We found several things we liked but ended up buying one piece.



This beautiful chair was only $67!  At any big store, you can’t find a unique chair like this let alone for this price.  We are going to place it in one of our guest bedrooms as we are going for a French Country/City of Paris design themed d├ęcor for that room.


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Friday, October 17, 2014

Starting our Business - Mullens Home

We were very fortunate enough to recently buy our second dream home for a great deal.  We had bought our first home with the goal of turning it into a rental as it is in a perfect location and is a perfect size (not too big - not too small).  This process just happened a little faster than we were expecting.  That’s what life is filled with, though - unexpected things happening at the most unexpected times.  Luckily this unexpected situation was definitely for the better.  Since this process happened sooner than expected, we weren't as far along in the renovation process as we had hoped before putting it up for rent. 

Let me tell you, the overall process of "flipping" our home to be up to our quality standards is a TON of work when undertaking the renovations all by ourselves.  Matt and I come home from our “more than full time jobs” as engineers and immediately work on our rental.   This is very exhausting as we need to get this house up for rent as fast as possible.  Lots of friends have asked us why we don’t just show it in the condition it is in and the answer is simple… we want our products and name associated with a high quality product, not something that ‘we promise we are going to fix’.  Not that the house is falling apart or anything – it’s not, we just want it to be beautiful and pristine.  Our goal is to have the house be as maintenance free as possible for both ourselves and our renters.  The funny thing is we have fixed a lot of little problems that we wish we would have fixed when we lived in the house.  We used to have a blanket in front of our back door since there was a gap which air could get though which was super annoying.  Now we have completely fixed the weather stripping and threshold of the door to have no gap.  Man, do I wish we would have fixed that job way earlier.  


The top picture is looking down on how nasty and rotted the threshold used to be and the bottom picture is the proper way the door should have looked all along :)


Another thing we have done is completely re-wire and add electrical with new 3 prong plugs on the right breakers.  I am super jealous of our soon to be renters of having this amenity.  We had to have lots of extension cords and 2 to 3 prong converters all over our house.  The picture below is of a nasty 2 prong plug that used to be in the house and we had pulled Romex for a connection to a new, pretty, white, 3 pronged plug :).  


It is great having the peace of mind that we now know there is no knob-and-tube wiring and that everything is wired correctly with a ground.  

Doing this renovation work is not for the faint at heart as this has become our second full time job.  Our social lives have definitely taken a hit which can be hard when our friends invite us to go out and we feel bad constantly saying no.  The thing we remember is that this is a ton of work right now, but once we get the rental up and running, it will be self-sufficient for a long time.  There is no doubt in our minds that this is worth it, especially because we love doing it.


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Thursday, October 9, 2014

How I Got Here

Throughout growing up, I always helped my parents renovate their rental property homes.  They taught me a range of skills from plumbing to electrical, from landscaping to home maintenance, from carpentry to paying attention to detail and putting in the little extra effort to make something really stand out and shine to always taking pride in your work because it is a reflection on you and your product.  A quality product brings in more money, whether it’s rent or a sale price.  When it comes to rentals, my parents taught me to “never rent anything out that you wouldn't be willing to live in yourself.”

My parents helped me get into the real estate business when I was in college.  I owned my first home all throughout college and rented out the two additional rooms which completely helped pay for my living expenses.  With the updates I did to my college home and by taking care of it, we ended up selling the home for a huge profit.  I was involved with the buying, negotiations, upkeep, and selling of the home.  Here is a picture of my college home - not too shabby, huh?





Since then my husband and I have bought two homes For Sale By Owner.  We have had the opportunity to personally deal with the negotiations and legal contracts that are associated with real estate.  We have strategically renovated our first home to be neutral but stylish in order to appeal to the masses of renters and have gone through the process of putting it up for rent.



We try to increase value at this moment in our lives by doing projects ourselves instead of hiring someone else to do them.  Not only is it good experience for us to learn new skills (every project has its own unique problems), but it saves us tons of money, too!


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