Monthly Archives: May 2013

a quick trip down memory lane.

Today’s the day.

It’s funny, I always knew it would come and that I’d probably be sad about it, but not for one minute did I expect to be where I’m at right now.  Today we close on the sale of the rowhouse we made our first home.  It’s been hard, and I’m sure some people are either sick of hearing about how sad we are or really want to just slap us upside the head because we had 13 showings in 7 days, an offer on day 3, and under contract in under a week for more than any comparable rowhouse of our size and statistics (and no- we didn’t even have a parking pad).  We should feel good and lucky to have had that luck and to walk away with cash rather than bringing cash to the table, and we do, and we are; and know we are.  But for me (and us) it is really about how this tiny little house has been a part of every memory, big and small, that we’ve had through our entire life together.  Yes, we bought a new house, a great house, in a great neighborhood, with great schools and still gives us a little bit of city life with the benefits of more green space.  And we’ve spent the last few months renovating it to be all that we wanted in a home.  To have everything we NEEDED in our old home but didn’t have the ability (or space) to do before.  Trust me, I’ve been the one reminding us that this is a GOOD thing and that we’re in a good situation.  But for today, today I’m going to let myself be a little sad about it all.  Feel free to not read the rest and wait for a new house update to come soon.  For those who want to stick around, here are some of the highlights from the last 7+ years.

I moved to Baltimore for work in 2005, joined a great firm and had an apartment in a great neighborhood.  Best of all, this very cute girl also moved to Baltimore for a similar job and sat right next to me.

Our First Date

We instantly became friends and I finally asked her out, 2/14/06.  A week later, I bought this house.  I was 23, what the heck was I doing?

Before

This house was a section 8 rental for many years.  It was to be my ‘3 year bachelor pad.’  The block was mainly vacant and under construction.  It was ‘north of the park’ and in the ‘up and coming’ area.  Would the neighborhood really turn around?  There were white tigers involved.  I was so excited.  So excited that this girl lied through her teeth telling me how great the house was/would be when I brought her to see it, really thinking ‘good for him, not like I’ll ever live here.’

I jumped into home ownership and spruced up the place.  A friend was moving in for the summer and I had to also impress this new girl I was dating!  The place got painted and the bath got a quick update.  The yard got cleaned out but the deck, which could only be described as being made out of rotting driftwood, remained and hosted many gatherings that summer.  Lots of scaffolding appeared on the street, it wasVERY exciting.  Many of the other homes on the little block were renovated and sold; lots of new faces on our little street.

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I fell in love with this girl and envisioned our future life as a couple in this house.   The ring was bought, it was perfect, and I proposed while on vacation in VA.  We came home engaged and told two of our friends while standing in the dining room.  There was lots of screaming.  Additional renovation plans began, her moving in was contingent on them!

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This little home saw lots of work.  We argued over cabinets, wall colors, wedding details, decks and windows.  I think we fell in love with our home more through the process.  We bought a new couch- our first major purchase as a couple.  It was a big deal and made our living room feel more homey.  We got a puppy!  She scratched the new floors and ate the new drywall.  We would get angry, but couldn’t resist her little face.  She loved sunning herself in the backyard- we really needed to make it nicer.

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New neighbors moved in next door.  They has just gotten married and seemed to be our age.  Perhaps we would ‘happen’ to be outside when we heard them, to make sure we said, ‘hello’.  We continually apologized for the way the yard looked while renovating and for all the noise.  They’re now our best friends.  We have sister dogs and built a little doggie door in the fence between our yards.

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Two years of planning and we got married!  After our honeymoon we came back to our little house as husband and wife.  Friends left us champagne and flowers in the living room and we cheered to officially starting our life together on Port St.  We loved coming home to this house together with Riese.

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The neighborhood was, in fact, up and coming and lots of young people had moved in.  We made really great friends in the neighborhood and they all live just down the block.  Between the park and our friends, this little house was perfectly suited for us.

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Barbeques, drinks on the deck, drinks on the front steps- we did lots of that here!  Our friends surprise us one night at happy hour and tell us they’re having a baby- we were so excited for them!  We went next door one night, and they ask me to be the Godfather to their little girl- we met really great people living next door- how awesome.  We got to watch their little girl grow up just over the fence.  Raquela moves to Baltimore- just 6 blocks away!  LOVE having her so close! Lots of birthdays, anniversaries, and festive get-togethers through the years. We gave ourselves a backyard makeover for Christmukkah one year.  Finally- our little slice of Fiji heaven on Port St.!

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Our last project is begun, the dirt basement gets finished.  There’s a “bug upstairs in the bedroom.”  The bug was a onesie and ‘What to expect…” book on the bed – we’re having a baby!  We closed the windows so no one on the street would hear our excitement.  It was 90+ degrees that day.  For weeks we had a secret within those four walls that we couldn’t wait to share.  Little Maki was on her way!  We were so excited for our daughter and our neighbor’s daughter to grow up together.  We couldn’t get much closer!  What- they’re pregnant again?  Now the 3 kids can grow up together!

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In came the crib, dresser, and rocker.  We painted the nursery with the cutest numbers mural and posted about it on our blog.  A digital magazine saw it and wanted to feature it in their pages.  Our little house was famous!  Where does all this baby stuff go in this little house!?

Photo Jan 16, 11 56 00 AM

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Naomi’s water broke while she was at swim class and she came home to tell me.  She stood in the doorway not sure what to do.  We ate, and ate, and ate.  It was like the last supper here on Port St!  We also did some laundry, finished the birth plan, and, of course, completed and loaded the music playlist onto the iPad.  Oh yes, and packed our bags- we’re having a baby soon!  Contractions did not kick in, so we slept (Naomi did – I was too nervous/excited) that night and headed to the hospital in the morning.  I had to go into the office to hand off an all-day meeting to a colleague, our neighbor drove me and then checked in on Naomi when he got back.  I met Naomi at the Dr.’s Office. Riese guarded the house while we were gone.

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The birth experience was crazy, our doctors aren’t there, but Dr. Lawyer and Dr. Apple (not even joking) deliver our beautiful baby girl.  Naomi did it all with no pain medicine.  After the first few hours, we longed to just be home in our house with our new little bundle.  We couldn’t wait to come home.

Family meets us at Port St.- so warm and inviting on the cold January evening.  We loved showing our little girl her now home.  Lots of friends came and visited.  This was our new life. It was exhausting, but our little house is perfect for us.

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We walked to work and spent the spring and summer adjusting to family life.  It’s great!  We’d bring the monitor next door to hang out with friends after G was asleep.  Spent lots of time asking for advice over the fence.  The holidays start to approach and the small space is starting to take its toll.  We talked about moving, but how could we really leave?

We found a great new house that needs a lot of work.  After some negotiations, our offer is accepted.  We’re very excited, but a small part of us feels like we’re cheating on our Port St. home.  We realize more and more how much we really do love it and living there.  It’s sad to tell our family, it’s even sadder to tell our friends.  We have a few months to enjoy it while the renovations occur at the new house.

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A whole year goes by and we celebrated a first birthday with close to thirty family members in these little walls- we make it work (by staying up late every night for a week straight, cooking and decorating- your first child only turns one once!) and it’s incredible.  We look forward to future parties in the new house with more space, it’s upsetting knowing this is the last one we’ll have there.  So many memories in those walls.

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We de-cluttered, cleaned, and listed our home.  Professional photos were taken and our little space looks amazing.  Had we been living there all these years?  It’s bittersweet signing the listing agreement.  We’re so proud to show off the house, but sad that it means someone else will move into it.  We sell in 5 days- it’s not a great experience and we learned a lot for ‘next time.’ (although, I’m told we are never moving again!).

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We packed everything up.  I did most (all) of the packing.  Naomi was too upset, it’s hard to let go of ‘our home’.  Will G and Riese miss or even remember this place?  The movers came and in a few short hours our life was moved to a new place.  It was sad and exciting all at the same time.

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Today we are closing on the sale of our little house, the one we made into the home for our little family.  We’re bringing with us all of these great memories and so many more!  It’s hard to imagine what this would be like when I bought the house as a single, 23 year old, new-to-Charm-City guy and vowed it would only be a 3 year house.  I’m not going to pretend that we’ll never think about Port St, we’ll probably talk about it every day.  We’ll even begin to forget all the things that frustrated us about the house and glorify how perfect it was in every way; that’s normal.  But we’re going to try really hard to hold onto the memories and get excited about all the new ones we’ll be creating on our new adventure.  I just hope the new owner doesn’t see us doing creepy drive-bys every now and then.  Also, she better not kill our favorite shrubs (in the planter we built out of brick with our bare hands) in the backyard!

G on upper deck

last shot at the house

We’ve loved every minute here!

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Floors and the BEST Saturday ever!

These side by sides shots of the floors (and rooms for that matter) are too great not to share.  Sorry if you don’t find them very interesting!

Entrance Foyer:

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Living Room:

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Master Bedroom:

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We never realized how ORANGE the floors were before.  SO happy that we went with the dark stain.  It really brought out the beauty of the original floors.  We put down carbonized bamboo floors in our previous house and they were great.  But there is something so much more substaintial about the original floors here, something more ‘real’ about them and the quality.  We’re really happy with them and even joke that we should make Riese wear little socks so she doesn’t scratch them up!

Now onto the BEST Saturday ever!  Why, you might ask?  Well because after months of renovation and purchasing items for our new home, we organized the delivery of our major purchases to all happen on the same Saturday.  It was like Christmukkah ALL-DAY-LONG!

Up first, APPLIANCES!

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Yup, washer, dryer, refrigerator, dishwasher, and stove…check, check, check, check, and ch….waiiiit.  That would have been too easy.  We ordered the appliances weeks before delivery and received a phone call the night before that the stove was not in stock.  WTF?  How is that possible considering the original delivery date was 2 weeks prior, didn’t they have it then?  This was very annoying so we got on the phone immediately to try and find the solution.  After bouncing around on the phone, the sales person was able to get one out to us on Tuesday.  Not great, but we had already planned to be working at the house (painting) that day, so it would work out just fine.  Also turned out that when the washer and dryer were being brought in, we needed to remove 1/2 inch of trim from the basement doorway for them to fit down the stairs.  So we arranged for them to come back and do that on Tuesday as well, so that the same crew could deliver the stove and place the washer and dryer in the basement.  No big deal, right?

Up next on Saturday, our new mattress:

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Yes- that is 18 inches of heaven right there.  With new, ‘cooling technology that releases the warm air and draws in cool air with the perfect blend of memory foam and pillow top…’ yada yada yada.  All I know is that we went out for date night to a really great restaurant, had some great food and drinks, and then decided it was the perfect time to head to the mattress store.  Admittedly a little buzzed, we laid on the computerized mattress calculator which printed out our mattress type (which could be complete BS for all we know) and off we went with pillows in hand jumping from one bed to the next.  When Naomi laid on this one, the sales person said, ‘her body just lit up.’  Clearly we had to buy it and next thing I know, we’re handing the woman our credit card and scheduling delivery.  It’s very comfy and definitely helps create the ‘hotel suite feel’ we want in our new bedroom.  A big upgrade from the full sized platform bed we’ve had for the past 7+ years.

And then we saved the best for last.  We purchased our new dining table 6 MONTHS ago and it has been sitting in the Pottery Barn warehouse all that time.  Waiting, just WAITING to be brought in and put into place.  And when the truck pulled up, I don’t think I had ever seen Naomi light up with such excitement.

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Yes, those are steel tension rods and yes, they are awesome. Oh and yes, these are terrible iPhone photos…someone was too busy ooohing and aahing over it to grab the good camera. 😉

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Massive and we love it.

Let me tell you, that table is HEAVY and so glad we waited until the room was ‘done’ before having the team deliver and assemble it.  There’s no way we would have wanted to move it from room to room as work happened around it!  It all started to feel like a ‘real house’ when these deliveries came.  We could finally start imagining living in the house.

The rest of the weekend we were busy painting and painting and painting.  Trying to get as much done before the big move as possible.  Tuesday came around and we were excited to have the stove delivered and the washer and dryer removed from the living room and placed in the basement.  As we learned from the previous delivery, it can happen at any time between 6am and 5pm.  We hadn’t gotten a call the night before to confirm the time block though, so we decided to call them first thing in the morning.  I hear Naomi talking on the phone, “blah, blah, blah, stove delivery, moving washer and dryer…WEDNESDAY!?!”  What!?  Apparently the salesman went into the system on Monday and changed the delivery date from Tuesday to Wednesday, for no reason listed and neglected to tell us about it.  We were pissed to say the least.  We spent the next hour or so finding a solution with the regional delivery manager.  We were offered a floor model from the local store after being offered a Samsung stove of some kind that was NOT the same as the Whirlpool GOLD model we ordered!  Um, no thanks, I paid full price and would like the Whirlpool stove taken out of it’s box in front of me at my house.  We were credited the delivery fee.  Well, yes, I assumed that’s the least that could be done.  And finally after ‘politely’ expressing that this was ridiculous and that we were not taking another day off from work for a delivery that should have happened on SATURDAY, the manager was able to locate 3 in a warehouse somewhere (in Delaware, I think), confirmed that at least one of them was new and in the box, and started making calls to delivery truck teams to try and get one that was not scheduled to work that day, to come in and make this special delivery.  He called us back a little over an hour later and said he had found a team willing to come in and we would be all set.

Really, should it be this annoying to purchase brand new items?!  In the end, everything worked out and we were the happy owners of some fancy kitchen gear, but not without yet another hiccup.  Good thing she’s pretty:

Image from the showroom where we first met 😉

2 Comments

May 24, 2013 · 3:24 pm

Creating the heart of the home.

Ok, ok, before I begin, yes, we have been a little slow in progress updates (ok- have not updated anything in weeks!) but we’ve just been overwhelmed with the renovations, packing, moving, and all while working full time and taking care of G.  So, yes, you can put us in a little timeout if you’d like but we’re going to try really hard to get everyone up to speed!

So let’s start with the kitchen!  I think last we left you it looked something like this:

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The original side door was closed up, the drywall was installed, and the wiring was roughed in.  Delicious, right?  The weeks following this photo were a whirlwind of activity. The drywall was taped, mudded, and sanded…

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just in time for the cabinets to be delivered:

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Now, a little disclaimer, the floors were actually refinished right before the cabinets were delivered and installed but you already got a sneak peak of those so we’ll continue on with the kitchen update.

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The cabinet installers immediately got to work installing them.  We went with Wolf Classic Cabinets with a simple shaker style finished in white.  We debated back and forth on the finish- white or stained wood.  The room is large and with the large double window over the sink, the side window, and the wall taken down between it and the dining room, the room gets a lot of light and is bright so we thought it could handle darker cabinets.  But in the end, we wanted a change from our old home (which has dark cabinets) and something that would be timeless, so white it was.  After seeing the dark stain on the floor, we were even more sure of our decision for the white cabinets because the contrast was so great!

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Like the new window? It’s the ‘garbage bag collection’ from cheap windows dot com. Kidding, of course!

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Level, measure, and confirm 85 times and in the end, we still had to switch out two cabinets so that the appliances fit properly and the room was balanced.  We also found that they delivered and installed the wrong cabinets for the island during one of our visits to the house to check in.  Not news the contractor wanted to hear since he couldn’t return the cabinets since they had been ‘installed’, but we stuck to our guns because the island was such an important feature for us.  We had specific needs for pot, pan, and drawer storage and the standard cabinets (which you can see above) were not going to do.

The kitchen install was supposed to be 3 days- quick and easy.  Right.  In the end, it was a over a week and after than, we still waiting for a back ordered cabinet.  Delays, delays, delays… all part of the reno game, as we learned!

Progress shot with the wrong island cabinets, but you can get an idea of the layout coming to life!

After the cabinets were installed and the island cabinets placed, we met with the contractor and his crew to finalize the island placement.  In order to make the island a bit more substantial in the room, we designed a very simple 1/2 wall on the far side of the cabinets and on the dining room side, a small set of built-in shelves.  The shelves would be a really convenient spot for all our cookbooks and by bookending the cabinets with ‘walls’ it would really ground the middle of the room.

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You can see here where the countertop will overhang to create the breakfast bar area.

The kitchen sat like this for quite some time before the countertop fabricator was able to come out to measure, place the order for the Quartz, and then install it.  Another process which we were told would be, “very quick, not longer than a week.”  Right, 3 weeks later we were finally getting part of our counters installed.  Probably best left for another post on why only some of the counters were being delivered and why we felt like we were taking over as the General Contractor and at the same time being blamed for every delay that had happened.  It was very stressful, especially since at that point, we were just two weeks from moving in.

So, you’re not going to get a complete before and after just yet, we still have a section of quartz missing and need to completely unpack everything, but these should hold you over a little bit :-).

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Originally thinking we’d go with granite, but in conversations, we kept coming back to quartz products for their durability and style.  In the end, we went with Caesarstone London Grey.  Full disclosure, Naomi actually had a Caesarstone rep. come to her office to show them their new product line.  She saw a sample of this new product and LOVED it.  I mean, could-not-stop-talking-about-it.  She showed me a tiny 3inch x 3inch sample and gushed over how beautiful it was.  We tried looking up images of it online and showrooms, but there were no real images (or good ones) because the product was new and no showrooms had it installed in their mock-ups.  So, with a leap of faith we ordered it, sight unseen basically, for Anthony.  The day it was being installed, we took a trip up to the house to check it out.  Naomi later revealed how nervous she was for me to see it installed- what if I hated it!

These images do it no justice but this stone is BEAUTIFUL.  It’s a light grey that has the appearance of a slight, tight veined marble.  Really don’t know how else to describe it.  So beautiful and really, we could not be more happy with our choice.

We have lots of recessed lights in the new space.  At first, we thought we went a little overboard, but they are small 4 inch can lights which are a little more discreet and now that they are in, we think it’s actually the perfect amount of light.  The other thing we LOVE are the pendant we chose.  They are the ‘Glass Jar Pendants’ from West Elm:

We went with the grey glass. Two of the elongated cylinders over the island and one of the rounded glass jars over the sink.

A little pricey per light, but they are really on display in the kitchen, so we splurged on them (with a coupon too!).  Don’t mind the regular light bulbs in the kitchen photo above.  We were just desperate to get some light in there before moving in.  We’ve since replaced them with large Edison bulbs!  There are lots of little things we can’t wait to show off about the kitchen and still need to figure out what we’d like to do with the backsplash- all in good time.

We really want to give you a great before and after, so stay tuned for those.  Full kitchen shots to come!

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May 23, 2013 · 2:55 pm