Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Decision to Sell (or rent) Our Church



Road Runner - The Bigger from Matt Costa on Vimeo.

You're probably wondering why I put a random music video on my blog. If you look closely, it just so happens to be filmed in our building. The hole in the wall doesn't look so bad when it's the backdrop for a cool indie rock band. I wish I could have posted this sooner because Road Runner is playing at the Brillobox tonight. It's looked down upon to bring a 3 yr. old to a club, so I'm home blogging about it instead.

Since selling off my store's contents back in August, we've been renovating a little (did you see the shiny floors in the video?) and racking our brains with ways to use this super, cool building. All along the main plan with buying this property was to build a garage for my husband's landscaping company (we were able to do so on the other side of the property). For awhile I ran my store by appointment only in the church, but decided to close that to focus more on redoing custom pieces vs. having to run a store. The actual church building has remained unused aside from this fun music video opportunity. We decided to list it for sale and see how it goes, but we're also open to renting it out if y'all know anyone interested. The acoustics are great for music videos! Read on if you're interested in details of what was done thus far to fix up the building.

For some background information [read: boring stuff] we bought this building as a foreclosure and knew nothing about it's history until after purchasing it (click here for before pictures). After chatting with some neighbors we figured out the previous tenants had a constant problem with water in the basement. This was a huge learning process, but thankfully I have a very capable husband who knows how to run really big machinery. The property next to the church was a big sink hole where water would just collect, and, thus, run into the basement of our building. Tony dug it out, installed a leech bed/drain so the water would properly run out to the street. He then filled in the hole with dirt making it a usable piece of land.

Inside, he installed a french drain and a sump pump that pumps any water that gets past the outside drain back to the street. The walls were also dry-locked and all repainted. There used to be a kitchen down there, but we stripped everything out since there was previous water damage. It's not perfect down there, but the water situation is under control and at least half of the basement would be able to be finished without concern of it getting flooded again.

The sanctuary was painstakingly repainted a more soothing color. There was a lot of purple and gold to cover up, even purple carpet. We recently sanded and polyurethaned the old floors.  The bathroom was a total gut and redo, but all our paint and materials were recycled from other jobs, from my shop, or purchased from Construction Junction. Half the windows were replaced on the side of the building with glass block. Half are still original, including the lead glass windows in the front of the building.

We had to completely replace the gutter system outside and now that (and the roof) is in pretty good shape. Those are the basics. Let me know if you have any more questions.


1675 Laketon Rd. Wilkinsburg, Pa 15221

Monday, February 17, 2014

Real Estate Monday: Edgewood

I've been reading a lot about minimalism on the web lately. It fascinates me. I love cleaning things out and tossing what I don't need, but I'm not sure if I could ever fully commit to a 600 sq ft space and love it. My husband and I had that with our first house and we could never have more than one person over for dinner because there was simply no where to sit. Maybe in New York City, but we're in Pittsburgh where every house is huge by comparison.
Today I chose a house that sort of reminds me of how to live minimally in a 1400 sq ft home and not have to forfeit style. I know 1400 sq ft isn't THAT small, but it is compared to the average size home being over 2300 sq ft in the US.
Here's 146 Oakview Ave. Pittsburgh, Pa 15218:

It's on the back side of Edgewood on a fairly quiet and private street. A lot of these homes sit up high on a hill with lots of steps, but this one happens to have a driveway. Bonus (especially for when you have deliveries). It's a 3 bed/1 bath house for $134,900.

 Ok, you got me, I really picked this house because of how it was decorated. But seriously, isn't it adorable. Not the biggest living room ever, but they've made the most of it providing seating for at least four adults. And I love the cow hide rug.
 Next, the dining room. What could have looked dated, they've made look modern by pairing this huge, oak china cabinet with a sleek concrete-esque table and chairs combo. The super modern table would look out of place had it not had the wood to balance it out, but I think it looks great here.
 The kitchen sports some retro cabinets, an exposed wood ceiling, and stainless steel countertops. Again, not the biggest space ever, but totally workable and it looks like there's plenty of storage for all those things you don't really need (we're being minimalist, remember).
 Clean, updated bathroom. I really like the slate-like tile with the white grout. The house plants around the house are a nice touch, too, don't you think?
 Here's the spare bedroom. Super relaxing...makes me want to climb right in.
 They've used the third bedroom as a den.
 And last, the ultimate man cave. In the basement. Where it should be. Just kidding. Kind of.
 I think this house really goes to show how important staging is. No room looked small because clutter was moved out and everything had a streamlined look to it, without feeling cold. By mixing some vintage pieces with modern pieces they created an eclectic atmosphere that says, "I could live here"- unless you like the non-minimalist lifestyle, in which maybe this wouldn't be for you. To each and their own, right?


Saturday, February 15, 2014

Food Poisoning and Kitchen Remodeling

If you like sagas, I have one for you. If you'd rather just look at pictures, I have some of those, too. I must warn you, however, remodeling is not for the weak of heart. I have no finished product- it's a work in progress still, but I do finally have appliances and a story to go with it. Perhaps if you're contemplating a kitchen remodel for yourself you should read on to catch a glimpse of what you're in for. Or on second thought, maybe just check back in a week when I have the finished pictures up.
Here's a before picture of one side of our kitchen. We've decided to get a bigger fridge, among some other things that allows us more counter-space.


Saturday night: Husband disconnects all old appliances. Kitchen's a wreck!
 Sunday 9am: wake up to a blizzard- husband's out snow plowing. Call guy from Craigslist to make sure he's still coming to buy disconnected appliances.
Sunday 10:51am: Craigslist guy shows up late, but does come after all. Pays me $1300 for everything and loads them up. Deal!

Sunday 11:45am: Craigslist guy drives off into blizzard with his new appliances. Bon voyage! Kitchen's still a wreck, but at least one can navigate through it.

Sunday noon: get to work cleaning under old appliances. Previous owners had a huge Saint Bernard. Maybe this is where the mystery smell was coming from. That grey stuff isn't dust... it's pet hair! Same thing under the fridge, oh joy! 

Sunday 1pm: Lunch time with this little girl down the street at Drew's. Best french toast and strawberry sauce ever. 
 
Sunday 4:30pm: We go to Sears Outlet in Monroeville to pick out a new fridge. I've been there three times already so this process is short and sweet. I find the lady who goes over (and over) why I need an extra coverage plan, I deny, and buy the fridge, but she does talk me into paying the $20 extra charge to get the fridge delivered early. Tuesday morning, so not super early, but earlier than the alternative Thursday. I oblige her with my info. Everything's good to go.

Monday noon: We go to Perlas appliances in Swissvale to buy our stove and dishwasher. I've already been here, too, so this is a simple trip as well. Great family business. We walk in, tell them what we need, they told us it'd be delivered on Wednesday (no extra charge).

Monday evening: Call from Sears about our delivery. Confirmed.

Tuesday 6:45 am: Call from delivery guy asking if we salted our driveway. Yes, we just had an arcade machine delivered the other day no problem. See pic below with our old pantry and new arcade machine in playroom. Awesome.


Tuesday 7 am: Delivery guy said there's no parking on our street and he can't fit up our driveway. Husband points to two hour parking sign. Delivery guy does a lap around our neighborhood. Husband asks him to just stop and leave fridge at the bottom of our driveway. Delivery guy says his truck is too big for our street. The street he's already on.

Tuesday 7:05am: Delivery guy leaves with our fridge.

Tuesday 7:07am: I call his cell phone and leave a message because he won't pick up my calls. I'm basically crying (slightly ridiculous, but I'm a girl) saying I'd like my fridge back and that we paid extra to get it "early".

Tuesday 7:15am: Manager Bob calls me, tells me they can't get it out till Saturday, offers no apology. I told him we've never had this problem before and we've had plenty of trucks bigger deliver things. He hangs up when I threaten to cancel the order.

Tuesday noon: I call store back, get in touch with new manager of Pittsburgh store who actually helps. Asked to reschedule for Wednesday morning and took off delivery fees. Thank you, Diamond!

Tuesday night: I eat a salad with ham and cheese in it. Bad idea. Ham went bad.

Tuesday 8pm-1am: Food poisoning strikes again. Second time this year, I'm afraid!

Wednesday 2am: I feel like death!

Wednesday 11am: Husband wakes me up (he let me sleep since I was sick all night). I couldn't get out of bed. He told me delivery hadn't come yet. I called. Manager said it was supposed to already come. She called and found out the entire transaction was cancelled when my delivery fees got credited back. Fridge was back at Sears Monroeville.

Wednesday noon: Sears is afraid to answer my calls or call me back.

Wednesday 4:30pm: Someone finally calls and says our fridge is coming in 30 min. Perlas is already here delivering our stove and dishwasher. No problems. *I went white and slightly retro, see post here about my choice to mix and match appliances.



Wednesday 5pm: Fridge is finally delivered, no problem. It's amazing how a different delivery man makes all the difference in the world. I would have kissed him had I not been so sick! He got a tip instead. Had the first guy gotten out of his truck, we'd never have had this problem.

Wednesday 6pm: Sears calls because they realized I have a fridge that hasn't been paid for. I'm too sick to pay in person. They need my social and I won't give that over the phone, so they have to wait till tomorrow. Plus, the drink dispenser on the fridge doesn't work. I ask them to put in a free service call.

Wednesday 7pm: Sears calls again. Sweating bullets, and apparently afraid I won't pay. No really, I'm in excruciating pain and can not come in. I paid you once, I'm not a thief, I will be in tomorrow.

Thursday 1pm: I go to Sears to pay. No apology for my inconvenience. I had to re-explain everything because the manager was on a conference call, and the guy couldn't figure how to ring me up. Also, I asked about the service call that was supposed to be scheduled. No one scheduled it. Next one isn't available till Wednesday. Perfect! Considered passing out- not just for added affect- still feel weak from lack of food/water.

Thursday 1:45pm: Finally left the store. Reward my three yr. old with Chuck E. Cheese for being so patient.

If you've made it this far in my story, God bless you, you poor thing. Here's a cleaned up version of our new kitchen. Still waiting on our special order convection microwave. Yeah, you read it right- a microwave that convects! It's gonna be awesome. No more toaster oven.


Doesn't it already looked bigger? I'm really pleased so far. Minus the whole fridge experience. And food poisoning.

Next step in the reno process is our countertops, then backsplash. I'm trying to persuade my husband to take a trip back to Morocco for some authentic, mosaic tile for the backsplash. He laughed. I guess that's not quite in the budget, but I thought I'd try.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Mix & Matching Kitchen Appliances

We live in a day and age where our kitchen appliances no longer have to match to look good and I like it. We're redoing our kitchen on a shoestring budget, and I think I've got all my stainless (looking, they're actually not "real" stainless steel) appliances sold off thanks to Craigslist. Oh where would we be without Craig? [Side note: The appliances came with our house. They're in good shape, so I've often been reluctant to change them out for purely aesthetic reasons, but we've decided to get a bigger fridge and that just opened an entire can of worms. Decorative worms]. 

Anyways, I've got about a week to figure out what I want to replace them with or else we'll be using our sun room as a walk-in cooler- totally possible with this weather. I've been thinking about this for a long time and  I think I'm going with a glossy white fridge, a white and stainless gas range, and possibly a stainless dishwasher. My theory is the stove will have both the glossy white and stainless, thus allowing me to mix and match the fridge and the dishwasher. I may change my mind come buying time, but I've been doing my research and I really like the new white refrigerators. Am I wrong, or does stainless seem to be making its way out? It's all personal preference, really, but I tend to feel a little overwhelmed with all that metal. And the fingerprints. Did I mention I have a three year old?

I took a trip to the Sears outlet the other day and they had some great options. I think my only splurge might be the range. Gotta have a pièce de résistance.
Here's a couple fun inspiration photos that got me going. I'm also contemplating painting my maple cabinets. Decisions, decisions. Meaningless in the scheme of life, yes, but projects like this get me through these dreary winter days. Amen?

These three pictures are from HGTV's website. It's a country, cottage redo by designer Sarah Richardson. I always seem to like what she designs. This kitchen is no exception. Except maybe that stove, but other than that, I really love the sweet, girly vibe. The mosaic tile is exquisite, and I'm always a fan of brass hardware on painted cabinets.
 See the white microwave? I think had she chosen a range similar to the microwave, it'd be a more seamless look. I don't like how the black on the stove breaks up the white lines on that back wall.
 Something really neat HGTV does is give you a shopping guide as to where she bought everything. And I mean EVERYTHING. It's pretty cool.
 And this is a kitchen I found that not only mix and matches appliances, but cabinet colors as well. It works for me.
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What are your thoughts on mixing appliances? Am I crazy for wanting white?

Monday, February 3, 2014

Real Estate Monday: Where are they today?

Is it spring yet? Doesn't feel like it. My husband's out plowing snow as we speak (I mean type). Seeing as we're about to run out of salt, I declare no more snow for the rest of the season. So that's that!
And with the (slight) rise of temperatures comes fresh, new real estate. Yay! I was getting really bored with the lack of options to share, thus the break in Real Estate Mondays, but alas, I think our options are growing and my plan is to start back next week. Before I do, I thought it'd be fun to take a trip down memory lane and see if and how much my previous posts sold for. Sound like fun? If you'd like to see more pictures, I've provided the old link to the houses.
Do you remember this cute, little condo in Deutschtown? It's still on the market for $150k...I have a friend who might be pretty excited about that.


 This gorgeous house from Highland Park sold for $475,000 back in December after an asking price of $499k! Not bad. 

 This one in Bloomfield has a sale pending at $219k, I believe asking price was $229k. 


 This ranch in Monroeville sold for $113k back in December. 


This designer home in Edgewood sold in December for $263K, asking price $279k. This was one of my favorites! I'm a sucker for that Wedgwood blue color in the dining room. 



 This was an awesome redo by some architects in the Wilkinsburg part of Regent Square. They sold it without a Realtor for $200k. $20k short of asking price. I'm slightly jealous of the new owners. What a great deal. 


 This house in the Southside was a total gut! The owner had it listed at $189k, but ended up remodeling it himself and renting it for $3,000 a month. Here's a facebook link he sent me of the remodel. It must have been quite the job. 

This is the same room redone- it doesn't even look like the same house.


 And my last house to share is this little guy in Stanton Heights. Sold for $175k last November (asking price was $179k). 



Those were just a small sample of all the Real Estate Monday posts I've done. If you're ever curious about a house, I usually list the zillow links and they give the sale prices and dates if they've sold. See you next Monday with a new home. 

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