Thursday, August 28, 2014

My Crazy Solution to Ugly Grout Lines

Warning: this is not a glamorous post and y'all are probably going to think I'm nuts! I am pregnant so maybe I am nuts, but I have major beef with our downstairs tiled bathroom. I can scrub super hard, try a million different products, and still have dirty grout lines. Like gross, dirty grout lines. I'd love to retile the whole bathroom in some sleek, modern gray tile that hides all the dirt, but that's just not in the budget. Here's what I'm dealing with... isn't it lovely?
Well, about a month ago I was using the restroom at Crazy Mocha in the Southside Works, and they had pink walls and matching pink grout lines. It got my brain thinking, why not just paint my grout lines at home? It definitely seemed a much better alternative to re-grouting, and unless you can give me a real reason why I shouldn't have done this, I'm sticking with this solution as a home run. Anything's better than dirty, right?
Here's how I did it, in case you have the same problem.
Step 1: I cleaned the floor really well, and thoroughly dried it.
Step 2: I taped off just the edges so I wouldn't get paint on the molding. The rest I decided to free hand because our tile has wavy edges.


Step 3: Paint. If you use a really dry bush (ie. barely dip it in the paint) and have a fairly steady hand, then don't waste your time taping. Plus, paint wipes off the tile really easily. If you mess up just wipe it off right away and you're good.

I used the same color as the wall. It's a semi-gloss purpley-gray. I probably should have used a plain gray if I wanted it to look a little more natural, but I wanted to try something fun like Crazy Mocha did. Best part is, no more staring at dirt.
The final result- still ugly tile, but at least the lines shine! 





It's the little things that make me happy.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

To Swag, or Not to Swag: Chandelier Placement

I've been working on turning our downstairs playroom into the guest bedroom. It's been a slow process to say the least, but I think it's finally wrapping up. I've always had trouble with this room because the layout is so AWKWARD and it's completely tiled (yuck/cold). If you remember this post, I've even considered knocking out walls to make it a better working space. As a last resort, we tried squeezing the bed in the window niche* and to our surprise it actually fit! Granted there's virtually no space to climb in or out of the bed on the side, it still fits and allows some floor space to work with in the rest of the room.

My next dilemma was the light fixture. Originally the room must not have had a bathroom, and the light fixture was probably centered. Now it's so close to the bathroom door that I was afraid if I switched out fixtures, anything but a flush ceiling mount would get hit. But the room was so dark, and I hate dark rooms! My solution:a chandelier. My problem: where to swag said chandelier?


When hanging chandeliers there's all kinds of rules to abide by: how high to hang from the floor, where to place them, how wide is the proper width for your room size, etc. The list is kind of overwhelming, and we didn't really want to spend a crazy amount of money or time on a guest room chandelier. I found this cheap inexpensive "crystal" [plastic] chandelier at Home Depot (I think I might partially dip it in white to modernize it a bit).
Once we took the old ceiling mount light fixture down, we realized there was an unusually large hole where the electrical box is (I swear, hanging light fixtures is always the biggest headache in our house). We had an old ceiling medallion leftover from my shop. I could never figure out why it didn't sell... it's gorgeous! But I'm glad it didn't. We had to spray paint it white, but afterwards it worked perfectly to cover the hole in the ceiling. It's huge though- I'm a little uncomfortable with how big it is, but boy is it pretty! If you want an instant touch of glamour, I'd seriously recommend adding a ceiling medallion.

Anyways, we chose to swag it centered on the bed, although I've seen some hang more towards the foot of the bed. I was afraid of head bumping, but I read you can get away with hanging chandeliers a little lower than normal over a bed. Even after all this work, I'm not so sure about the swag so I thought I'd open it up to you. What do you think? Does it look off-kiltered? I almost feel like it's going to look off centered no matter what because the room shape is not a perfect square. Should I just let it hang straight down from the ceiling or do you like the swag over the bed look?

 It's really hard to get an un-distorted picture of the whole room (without a wide-angle lens), so please excuse my diagonal photo. 


*Side note: This just goes to show how important staging can be... back when we had our house on the market, we didn't have a bed in this room. People didn't think of it as a legitimate bedroom because they didn't think a bed would actually fit. Here we prove not only can a bed fit, but a queen sized bed! I'm not sure why, but rooms always look smaller than they are without furniture- thus the importance of staging when you're trying to sell! Alright, I'm done. 

Monday, August 18, 2014

Real Estate Monday: Edgewood

Today's pick is to prove a point to myself. To trust my gut. A lot of my seasoned readers know we bought a foreclosure on Maple Avenue before, and when I lost out on the chance to act again, I thought it'd be ages till another one came on the market. Then there was 440 Maple, listed at $105,000. I called my Realtor (I wasn't licensed at the time, still had a month to go) and asked her to see it. She then proceeded to give me all the reasons why it wasn't worth seeing. Mistake #1. I should have found someone else willing to show it to me. In her defense, I was looking on behalf of my parents, who aren't the quickest investors to pull the trigger, but I was determined. Insert sob story here.
Flash forward four months, it sold for over asking price at $123,500. Clearly other people saw its value as well to bid up the price like that. And I'm going to give you a little secret: anything on that side of Maple around $100k no matter what the condition is WORTH IT! Because once you put a little money into it, these houses sell consistently around the upper $300's. That's a huge deal!
I've been driving by the house watching the progress and it's finally back on the market at a whopping $455,000! Wanna see it?
Here's 440 Maple Avenue, Pittsburgh, Pa 15218
It boasts 5 bedrooms, 3.5 bathrooms. Here are some photos:
They re-stuccoed the entire front, and staged it with porch furniture & some flowers. 


I love this fireplace for some reason. Maybe it's the simple contrast of the white brick against those newly refinished floors. 


I feel like this is a very typical kitchen for a flip. You watch those shows on HGTV, you know what I mean, right? I would have liked to have seen a little more creativity here, but I understand, their goal is to appeal to the masses, not to little ole' me. 

How's this for a dressing room? 



Love fireplaces in the bedroom. So cozy! 


 Can you see why I'm a little sad about missing this opportunity? Oh well. C'est la vie.
As always, if you'd like to see this house, or any others on the market, feel free to call or email...we'll schedule a showing. And if you're a fellow investor/interested in flipping, I'm really good at finding a deal, and I promise to not talk you out of seeing something based on my own opinions (not. bitter. at. all)!


Friday, August 1, 2014

Kitchen Progress: Counters In/Choosing a Backsplash

It's been a while since I've really done any kitchen stuff. We got our new quartz countertops a while ago. It was kind of an all day event. Two guys came, measured a bunch of times, cut the stone on site, and glued it on. Honestly, I didn't share the results right away because I wasn't entirely happy with them. Bummer, huh? I didn't take into account the different shades of white between my appliances and my counters. They're slightly off, and it more than slightly bugged me.
Well flash forward about a month now, and it doesn't bother me so much anymore. Next step is obviously the backsplash. I went to a specialty store in Shadyside that was amazing, but quite frankly way out of my comfort zone price-wise. Then I went back to Home Depot to double check their stock. I just wasn't happy with any of their choices. So after much internet researching I came across a website called the tile bar. You can order five samples for $10 flat! So I ordered five and I'm so excited I did.
Here's what I ordered:







Not exactly "Moroccan mosaic" like I was originally going for... I realized quick that if I wanted to stay on budget, I had to sacrifice a little. BUT, these were a step up from what I found at the regular home improvement stores, so I'm happy. I thought I'd really like the marble, but it ended up being too drab against all my competing "whites".
Here's what a few of them looked like in real life.



I know it's super hard to tell from these pictures (it was hard to tell with how small the samples were), but I'm going to go with this last option- the Florentine Pearl Athens Gray Marble in the hexagon shape. It still sort of gives me that Moroccan feel I was going for, while also providing some much-needed contrast against all that white. I surprised myself with this one, but I'm excited to see it on a larger scale. Can't wait!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Animal Print Art & Chair for the Nursery

I'm working on getting the nursery together and I thought I'd share my progress. We decided to switch things up (and by we, I mean me) and put the guest bedroom downstairs in the playroom. The playroom is in Taliila's old room now, and the nursery is going in the old guest room. You lost yet? I think I win the award for switching rooms the most amount of times in one single house.
Here's the old guest bedroom:


Color-wise it obviously works really well for a boy's room, but in person our paint job was really shabby and needed another coat. Since I no longer had the same paint (darn), I took this opportunity to go with a whole new color scheme. Surprise! I'm always painting, I know. New colors are along the lines of a soft blue, white, and pops of red. It's my husbands favorite color combo so I thought that'd make him happy. 
The crib will go where the bed was, and I found the most fabulously, soft rug at Gabriel Brothers for get this, $65! I'll post pictures of that soon. We'll be using my husband's grandpa's old mid century modern dresser that I originally had for sale at the shop, but so thankful I changed my mind. And I found this chair on a facebook for sale or trade board (that I'm currently obsessed with perusing):
I know this chair is slightly old school with that flame-stitched pattern, but I love it. And how cute is that buffalo print? I knew I'd seen these animal prints on some blog before, but I wasn't sure where so I asked the seller if she minded telling me. It's from theanimalprintshop.com and they're all real photographs of real animals with photo-shopped backgrounds. I love the idea of a little collage with white frames so I ordered a few (the giraffe, elephant, and of course the buffalo that inspired it all in the first place). 



And then I splurged on this Ryan Berkley print for Taliila's room... I thought it'd be the perfect gift for her. We're a little obsessed with the personification of animals in this family :)
source
So that's it so far- animal prints, a chair and a rug. I have a little ways to go, but it's coming together nicely. 

Monday, July 28, 2014

Real Estate Monday: Fineview

I've been sick with a stomach bug for like 3 days now... turns out you don't fight things off so well when you're prego. So what do I do? Send my husband off to Kennywood with the 3 yr. old and blog/surf the web. Do people still say, "surf the web?" I'm not so sure.
Anyways, this past week I went exploring the Mexican War Streets to check out an investment condo I've been trying to talk my parents into. They're my toughest clients ;)
As I meandered up Federal street, I happened to find Fineview, yet another unique, little Pittsburgh neighborhood tucked away with a million dollar view. Hence the name Fineview, I guess. It's actually home to one of Pittsburgh's longest set of steps. If you want more info on its history you can click here for a great neighborhood profile. The views are seriously breathtaking.
The house I went looking for is a new build at only a whopping seven years old! It's curb appeal can't be beat, in my opinion. Here's a 3 bed/1.5 bath house for $159,900 with a view that's priceless.

1910 Meadville St, Pittsburgh, PA 15214

I wanted to make sure the neighborhood was decent before I took a client to see this house, and I was pleasantly surprised to see most of the homes were kept up quite nicely. There's a mix of both old and new as well. I especially love the mustard doors against the gray siding. 

 While I don't think the decor maximizes the potential of this space (those windows and high ceilings are amazing!) I still think you get the general idea of what a cute house this is.
I always want to paint those standard oak cabinets. Maybe some new light fixtures, too. Not a huge kitchen, but adequate for sure. 

I think this is the view at the end of the street. Not bad, huh? 




Another reason I like this house is that there's room to put your own stamp on it. The rooms are simple and clean. The bathroom needs a little updating, but with this price tag I think there's room for that. All in all, an adorable house with the comfort of it being a newer build sounds good to me. 

* I am not the listing agent for any of the homes I share on Real Estate Mondays, unless otherwise stated. I do not receive any compensation for these posts. If you'd like more information on any of the homes, I am a licensed Realtor, so please contact me via email or cell and I can schedule a showing for you. 

Monday, July 21, 2014

My Top 5 Used Furniture Stores (East End Pittsburgh)

I still get a lot of calls for my furniture business, which is both awesome and sad for me at the same time. Sad because, well, that's a season of my life that I've seriously cut back on (especially now that I'm prego). There really isn't a huge selection of used furniture stores in Pittsburgh to choose from so I'm going to share my top 5 go to's in the east end of Pittsburgh (sorry it's not a broader region, I live here, so I shop here):

5. Miller's Antique Mall: located in Verona, this place has 4 floors of different vendors. It has its ebbs and flows (like everywhere), but since it's so big, I usually walk away with finding something.

4. Thriftique: Located in Swissvale in conjunction with the National Jewish Women's Council's store Home Consignments. I find the consignment store to be a little too pricey for my taste, but the thrift store works off donations and tends to be a lot more affordable. My biggest score there was a mid century desk made by Hooker furniture.

3. Goodwill Monroeville: They have a pretty big furniture section (believe it or not). Sometimes it gets a little junky, and they don't seem to move out the old to allow for the new, but when something's hot, it's usually cheap and sells fast. I found a mid century modern daybed there not too long ago and it was MINT.

2. Saint Vincent de Paul's: I really like this thrift store, especially the one in Monroeville.

1. Second Fiddle: While this is quite a far drive out to Delmont, it always proves to be my favorite destination shop. This place has fantastic finds at amazing prices. The owner is great, and all the employees are extremely helpful (most of them contribute to the furniture finds themselves).

So there you have my favorites. I'd be curious to know yours, especially ones that are sort of hidden gems.
Also, while not a physical store, ayptoday.com has become another favorite way of both obtaining furniture and unloading furniture. They run local auctions almost weekly now, and often times you can catch a huge steal. 

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