If you follow along with my oh-so-average life on Instagram, you may have noticed that we welcomed a second beautiful baby girl into our lives on May 28th! Yesterday marked three weeks since little Miss Emma's arrival and we're slowly adapting to life as a party of four. There's been a few extra hours of TV and a few less hours of sleep in our days. Aaron will continue to be outnumbered by the Hess ladies and I will continue to use my new favorite/pointless hashtag, #eventhedogisagirl.
Prior to welcoming our newest Nugget, one of my biggest goals was getting the girls' rooms done. I hesitate to even use that phrase because is a bedroom every really "done"? Especially a kids room? I certainly don't think so (I DO expect to be asked for princess bedsheets or boy-band posters or something like that in the future...). So instead I will declare that they are done for now.
A few nights ago, Aaron finished installing the face frame on a new built-in bookcase I'd been envisioning for the last few months. Shortly after, he suggested that I write a new post, claiming I had a lot to share. "But nothing is finished!" I protested. I had enjoyed posting the progress of our gross foreclosure as we ripped out walls and tore down ceilings. The pictures were messy and tools were everywhere. But it was supposed to be messy. How was I going to convey the amount of work that went into our Fixer Upper without a messy backdrop for reference?
Six months in, its still a mess. Not in the same "help me I'm drowning in this mess" way that it was during the big overhaul. Nowadays its the mess that results from where our grand ideas collide with our measly budget (and where the power tools collide with the toddler toys). Ideally, we would go room by room, throw down the cash to git-r-done and be on to the next. Realistically, we cannot finish everything all at once. Lacking stacks of cash, we are instead ticking boxes off our project list in a much more strategic way. The progress is more staggered but still just as rewarding. Our addition of several new storage areas means that the last of our boxes has officially been unpacked and our day-to-day lives function a little smoother.
The blog updates are few and far between these days but believe me when I say that the work has not stopped. Whether it's cleaning out the nooks and crannies we skipped during the initial renovation or completely overhauling a new piece of our house, the project list remains as long as ever. Not to mention, being 6 months pregnant (with another little girl!) has brought on a serious urge to nest.
So thanks to a burst of second trimester energy, we tackled a piece of our house that is small in square footage but a huge center of activity: our back entryway/landing zone/mud-room-esque space. It was small, as far as overhauls are concerned, but it packed a punch. What was once a useless (and gross) part of the kitchen cabinetry now serves as a fresh and functional landing zone for keys, coats, diaper bags, and shoes.
It's finally time for a long anticipated update- a before and after! Though I can guarantee that this "reveal" won't be nearly as exciting or flashy as an HGTV reveal. That's mostly because although I am calling it an "after" it's really more of a "in transition". When I look at (some) of the rooms in our house, I can hardly believe what they were during our first walkthrough. Or that we bought something to LIVE IN that was so upsettingly gross. I am eternally thankful that we didn't actually reside in our mess at it's worst.
As the year comes to and end, it's pretty clear that we are on the upswing, the other side, alive. There have been no major injures, no disasters, and no casualties (relationally or otherwise). And for that, I'm thankful. After our final transition from the apartment to the house in October, the work pace dropped dramatically. In fact, it stopped. We avoided Home Depot like the plague and re-introduced ourselves to our dear old friend, Netflix. For a whole month we sat on our behinds and did absolutely nothing. Nada.
Once we had given ourselves some time to heal from the stress of a four month reno crash course, we started up with some smaller (more enticing!) projects. Aaron began the process of building and installing built-ins in our master closet. I white-washed the brick on the fireplace. The studio floor was finished with a natural wood and black checkerboard. We enjoyed our first Halloween in our new neighborhood handing out candy- we even managed to make it to a few neighbors with a reluctant little latte.
With Christmas now upon us, we are focusing on organizing and cleaning, both the house and our workspaces. Our aim is to start the new year with a clear idea of what still needs to be done and what can take a backseat (for now). Looking back over the chaos that has been 2016, I can't say for sure that we would ever undertake anything like this ever again. Despite having zero experience, we managed to fake it till we made it. We Googled, YouTubed, and most importantly, learned from those who knew what they were doing. Our DIY skill set has been vastly expanded. And we're pretty confident this house will stand to see another 93 years.
Although having an active infant made the process challenging at times, this season was the right one for this undertaking. We still had the stamina for those late nights and long hours. The flexibility to meet contractors through the day. And the proximity to travel quickly between house and apartment.
For those of you who've kept up as we've gone along, thank you! I plan to keep up with the blog for a little while longer, as we do the more "fun stuff" (like hang art!). And I'll be sharing some "before" and "after" photos for a look back at just how far the house has come. So without further ado...
And we're back! After a several week hiatus, I’ve finally got a moment to sit down and write an update on what the heck has been going on (although I’m not entirely sure). So here’s a chronology of the past month...
September 1, our planned deadline, came and went. We just accepted that, because it was pretty evident that we weren't ready to move, and extended the lease on our apartment for one more month. The best laid plans of mice and men, am I right? The disappointment of having to extend our lease an extra month was softened by our mini vacation weekend in Maryland. We attended a wedding, celebrated with good friends, and caught up on much needed sleep. Addie really enjoyed her hotel stay.
apologies up front for the corniest post title ever...
If anyone is ever interested in building their endurance in high stress situations, I highly recommend tackling a whole house renovation. We are now three and a half months into our biggest DIY ever. The house, while on the upswing, is still a construction zone. Meanwhile, the apartment is starting to resemble a small hoard as I empty our closets and drawers into boxes.
From as early as I can remember, I always loved to decorate my bedroom. I loved how a space could visibly reflect my personality. My first foray into room decor was in elementary school. I painted my whole room (ceiling and all) a denim blue AND I left it splotchy "to look like the sky". I'm giving my younger self a major eye roll. Though my "style" was questionable at times, my mom was supportive of my creative ventures. She drew the line at my "black walls with glow in the dark paint to look like outer space" idea; good call, Mom. As a high schooler I loved my room. Looking back, it was sensory overload. Two orange walls, another hot pink, and the fourth red. Band posters, stickers, buttons, collectibles... all thrown together to create my happy place. Incase you aren't imagining it:
You wouldn’t know from its current state, but our house has come so far from where it was at the time of purchase. Sure, the house had walls, decent flooring, and some cool details. But that was it. When we bought our house we had no amenities, nothing. Since it was a vacant dwelling for the better part of six years, all utility services to the house had been disconnected, shut off, or stolen (adios, copper pipes!). I had always pictured us buying a fixer upper but I never thought that I would have to reinstate the basic amenities.
Happy Tuesday everyone! There is literally so much happening and my life is in a constant state of disarray but somehow things are getting done!
Yesterday was August 1 and our move-in deadline is fast approaching. We still cannot legally live in our house. So come Septemebr 1, we may be squatters in our own backyard. In an effort to prevent that from becoming our reality, we’re kicking it up a notch. Last night we pulled our first late night at the house as a family. Addie spent her first night in what will someday be her bedroom while I tiled like a madwoman and Aaron worked on rewiring the second floor. To obtain our Use & Occupancy, the house does not have to be “done" so much as “safe”. And we've been working closely with our borough inspector to pinpoint just what areas we have to tackle before move-in. No matter what, we will be living in some level of reno well into the winter.
When I started this blog, I ambitiously though it would be easy to sit down and wrangle all my thoughts into one elegant blog post each week that conveyed the story of our house. Instead, I feel like I’m playing Scrabble and my little letter holder features six consonants and a “Q”. I’m trying to put something together, but it isn’t quite making sense. Six attempts at a new post later, this may come off as a little more stream of consciousness than ultra refined prose, but it’s better than nothing.
About the Author:
Tasha is a freelance artist, stay-at-home mama, and, in her husbands words, a lifestyle manager. She and Aaron are in the midst of renovating their 94 year old home while raising their sassy daughters, Adelaide & Emma.
Following along on Instagram? Look for #HessFixerUpper