Our New Home. Working One Room At A Time.
It’s a new year, and we’re finally celebrating it in our new home! As I told you in this post, getting here was a long journey for us and something we worked hard for. As it is with all good things worth waiting for in life, it’s paying off.
Since we moved, last April, we got a lot done in the house as it needed a fresh coat of paint and repairs both inside and outside, fortunately, nothing major or structural. As I’ll be sharing the decorating and organizing projects that I’ll be tackling, I thought would be a good idea to share with you how we first saw this house when it was on the market which was our starting point for the many changes that will take place.
From what I had first seen online, I didn’t even want to come to see it in person as it is a much bigger home than I would like to live, not to mention to care for. But one day we were walking Tuff, and the open house sign was up, and we decided to come back, with the boys, to check on it.
As soon as we entered the house, Addie and the boys immediately fell in love with it. They spread out and starting walking on their own exploring the house, something my kids had never, ever done in an open house. So, with them already smitten by the property, I decided to give it a second chance and look at it through their eyes.
The house was indeed very bright, airy and has this amazing light that comes from the huge windows on the back. As you go upstairs, the open loft lets all that light shine through the entire house, making it welcoming, even on the dreariest and grayest winter days. Remember, we are now in IL, North of Chicago and not in sunny California anymore!
When we moved from San Diego to Glenview, we first rented a house and it while it was a very comfortable home, it was so dark inside. My home-office was so dark that I needed lighting all day long to work there. A huge contrast with my new sunny and bright home office, as you’ll see in a future post.
So, as I walked around and made a list of all the positives, I also kept thinking how much time I’d have to spend to maintain such a large home clean! (PS: I developed some mad tricks since!) Our home in San Diego had the perfect size for us, no more, no less. It was also straightforward to maintain, and I had that cleaning routine down to a T. But here we have 2 thousand square feet more, and we must add to it the muddy shoes rainy spring and snowy winters bring.
The house also had some extensive repairs on siding, roof, and windows that needed to get done. Did I mention the front and backyard needed an overhaul? Well, this all not only adds to expenses but it also consumes a tremendous amount of time, my time.
With all this in my mind, we walked back to our rental, started thinking and talking about it, showed it to our relatives, and they all convinced me it was going to be 1. a great buy, 2. an excellent house for our family.
And I’m so glad I believed them because now, eight months into it, I absolutely love the house.
It looked sad outside, it felt neglected, and it had some bad juju to it, but with our love, attention, excellent Feng Shui advice, and effort it is turning out to be our favorite home ever. And you know, I moved to and decorated seven homes in the last 16 years! 😉
Let me show you around!
I’ll show you room by room and tell you what needs to get done, what I’d love to do and in future posts, I’ll share the progress of the decorating and organizing projects.
The entire exterior of the house needed a lot of TLC. We repainted all siding, removed the shutters and all the plants, including a full and tall hedge that separated the sidewalk from the yard.
We had a landscaper design the new front yard, and since we had other priorities to address, for now, we have been planting seasonal plants next to the entrance to spruce up. Last November we had bulbs planted, and I can’t wait for Spring to see them all showing off!
Here is what we’d like to get done:
- Build a broader, paved, walking path leading to the front porch.
- Replace all light fixtures.
- Install new planting according to the landscaping plan.
This is the back of our house, and where we live, there’s an alley system, so all the garage doors and driveways are actually on the back of the house. It’s very convenient, and I have to admit that I prefer my front door to be “front and center” and not hidden in a corner next to the large garage doors, like our home in San Diego was.
The lawn was a complete disaster, taken by weeds, and we had to treat it several times. It finally picked up, and it looks beautiful, except when we have a long dry patch, like last fall. So, we’re considering installing an irrigation system.
The backyard is large, and anything here will be costly, so here are our long-term plans for it:
- Move the AC units to the side of the house.
- Build a patio or a deck. We can’t decide on that! Addie’s sister is very talented (she’s the queen of DIY!), and she offered to help us build a deck so that we might take her up on that. She made her deck, and it is gorgeous.
- Install trees, plants and a small vegetable garden on the side of the house.
- Replace lighting fixtures
- Should we fence it? Since we don’t have small kids anymore, we don’t see why we should do that.
The entrance is large and airy, and it has a small coat closet and passage to the family room under the front stairs.
Considering the size of this house and the weather of its location, I find it hard to believe that an architect wouldn’t plan for a large coat closet and mudroom (you’ll see what I mean). That proves the point that you should always consult a professional organizer when building or remodeling. (Ha! I had to throw that out there!)
Here is what I’ll be working on at the entrance:
- Install organizing system for the coat closet
- Change light fixture
- Find a console I love
The Living Room
The living room has great afternoon lighting and is an intimate space I love to come to. Sipping my morning coffee here is a treat, and I enjoy the quiet of the day just rising outside while the house is still asleep.
I want to create here a cozy space where we can sit, entertain and gather with friends at night. I’m going with dark walls, gold accents, and neutral furniture.
My to-do list for the living room is:
- Color/ paint walls
- Window treatment
- Light fixtures as there’s no overhead lighting here – something that continues to be a mystery to me is why American homes don’t have overhead lighting in all rooms!
- Hang art/mirror
The Dining Room
One of the main reasons we moved to the Chicago area was to be driving distance from family and now that we’ll be celebrating many occasions together, I’m happy to have a room we can all gather to eat and enjoy the delicious dishes Addie makes for these special dates.
We already celebrated Thanksgiving 2017 here and it was quite special! I loved to prepare the house and make it beautiful, decorate the table and have everyone with us.
My list for this room is:
- Color/ paint walls
- Window treatment
- New chairs
- Remove carpet and install hardwood matching the rest of the first floor
- Light fixture
- Hang art and/or mirror
- Create an orchid installation as a centerpiece for the dining table or console
The kitchen is large and has plenty of storage, however, if I have a weakness it is for table setting and china sets. I love them, and it must be because I love using them when we have friends over! We used to entertain a lot in San Diego and they were always in use so I never felt it was clutter. I’ll have to see how active our hosting/partying will be here to justify my many sets but for now, I’m keeping them for another year.
Back to the kitchen: after all these months of living in the house we already identified what drives us nuts in the kitchen and maybe one day we’ll take care of it as I am NOT looking forward to a renovation in the kitchen. 😉
Renovation or not, I still have to go back to each cabinet and drawer, as well as the pantry, to organize things better, install tools that will make our lives easier and place things where they make more sense. On the move-in week we place things where we thought would be best and that’s pretty much where they’re until now.
Here’s my To-Do list for the kitchen:
- Organize the pantry
- Review each cabinet for placement
- Organize a baking area
- Install organizing tools where needed
- Install handles on drawers and cabinet doors
The Family Room
This is “the room” where we gather every night. The boys hang out here while we cook and get things ready for dinner and where we catch up with the news or our favorite cooking shows and movies with a bowl of popcorn.
There’s not much that needs to get done as we love a wide, clutter-free space, don’t own CDs or DVDs and our books are, for the most part, work-related and are in our offices.
So for now, the list is short and sweet:
- Entertainment center for our TV
- We’re considering a sectional or new couch and chairs
- Window treatment – We can’t decide if we should go with curtains, blinds or shutters since we love the light that comes from the windows and no matter what we decide for we’ll lose some of that.
- Hang art
- Create a landing area for the boys’ backpacks
The Sun Room / Home Office – Helena
As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, my home office at our last house was a very dark room. Add to it the sub-zero temperatures of Chicago winters and you have the perfect brewing space for winter blues. And since that’s what happened to me (you can read how I overcame depression here), when we walked through this house and I saw all this light and felt the warmth of the sun through the windows, I claimed it for me.
Here is what I’ll be working in this room:
- Paint color
- Window treatment
- Light fixture
- Storage – that was something I loved at our rental. I had a closet, that I organized with an Elfa system and it held all the office supplies for the family. It was great, and I will make sure to post about it.
- Seating for reading
- Table lamp
- Area for my plants
The Home Office – Addie
Addie’s office is as large as mine but it doesn’t have the same amount of windows. It is also a South room and has less light. Since he doesn’t work from home and uses his office mainly for studying and research, it’s not a problem for him.
Here is what we’ll work in his office:
- Storage for his many books
- Seating for reading
The Laundry / Mudroom
It’s hard to tell you how difficult it is to arrive with groceries on one end of the house and have to cruise with it to the other side of it. Now imagine that and three large guys kicking their shoes off at the same time, dropping their binnies, gloves, you name it. This is our mudroom and laundry room, and I have grand plans to it. Let’s see if I’ll succeed!
Here is what I want to get done in this room:
- Tile the floor
- Install hooks and a bench
- Install lighting fixture
- Remove cabinetry
- Tile wall behind sink and washer/dryer
- Stack washer/dryer (I am also considering to move it upstairs)
- Replace sink
- Install storage with an Elfa laundry room system
The Boys’ Bedrooms
Each boy got a room in this house and life got a lot quieter, I must admit! As much as I loved seeing them together, now that they’re all taller than me and stronger than their father, it makes sense to give each their own space.
Since I don’t like clutter (I call clutter anything that accumulates dust! LOL) and I’m the one who maintains/cleans the house, I always keep their bedrooms with only what’s needed and almost no decor, except for curtains, a nice table lamp, and bedding. With rare exceptions, they don’t bring stuff to the house, except when they buy something on a trip, for example, and that makes things easy.
Their rooms’ list is:
- Window treatment
- Beds/mattresses – they all outgrew their twin beds 🙁
- Desk chairs
- Closet system
The Master Bedroom
Ah, the master bedroom! It seems to me that’s always the last room to be addressed in my long list of to-dos but I plan on making our new bedroom a priority this time around.
Our bed and mattress were purchased at Ikea when our 3rd son was born as we knew more monkeys would be coming to our bed. I love our king size bed, but after going around the globe and around the country twice it’s time to change it! I keep flirting with beds but I can’t seem to make up my mind. Do I want an upholstered bed or a wooden bed?
Here is what we have been long looking for and what I’m thinking of doing to this room:
- Blackout curtains
- Console for TV
The Master Bath
Our new master bath is large and very comfortable. It also has one of the best views of the house making you wonder why you’d give such prime real estate for a room where you need your curtains closed when you’re there.
Rantings aside, here is what I’ll be working on to update this bathroom until we decide to tackle a renovation:
- Remove large mirrors
- Replace light fixtures
- Replace hardware
- Remove the shelving unit between the sinks
- Remove towel handles on the doors
- Install blinds
And there you have it! As you can see, we will be working on this house for a long time if we were to tackle all projects, but of course, I’ll be taking it slowly as this could be a full-time job.
Thank you for making all the way to the end of this post with me, and I can’t wait to start sharing each new project with you.
I hope it will give you ideas and inspire your projects at home!