Saturday, November 21, 2015

The Finished Wall

I don't think I ever showed a picture of the finished wall job my husband completed. It's such a big difference- we actually have a usable front yard now. I'll have to get better pictures to show, but for now here's a few.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

A New House, A New Start

Guess who's buying a new house? This girl. Well, technically my husband is, and I'm his realtor. And to be more technical, we're still in the negotiation process, so realistically I shouldn't be counting my eggs till they hatch (we don't close till around Christmas). But, I just figured I'd tell you because while I'm super excited about this particular opportunity, I know that even if this one falls through, there will be others. 
A lot of you who know us personally know that we've been talking about moving to Florida for a while now (I'm from Jacksonville, Fl, in case you didn't know). So why buy another house in Pittsburgh, you might ask? Well, we've decided to split our time in both places and see how it goes. I'll be getting my Realtors license down there, as well, and my husband will continue to run his landscaping business from afar. We figure we can rent the house here for nine months of the year (perfect for a student or young professional looking for something temporary), or list it on Airbnb. It's low in the South side slopes, so it's a great location for walking to say, The Cheesecake Factory on a Friday night, or the really cool garage coffee shop at the bottom of the hill. 
Our current house in Forest Hills, while we love it's character, we feel like it doesn't have the same appeal to renters as this other house. Plus, the mortgage would be too hard to carry if it didn't work out. So if you or someone else you know might be looking for a great house in Forest Hills, send em my way- it'll be hitting the market first thing this spring. 
Alright, enough talk... here's a pic and some ideas (because that's more exciting!). 
We like this house because it's simple. It has two large bedrooms plus an office, a living room, kitchen and bathroom, and that's it. It's very plain-Jane, but most of its issues are cosmetic, and that's my specialty. 

 You walk right into this ho-hum living room then into the kitchen, which right now is nothing short of a cave. They're both good sized rooms, but lighting is an issue so we're planning on opening that wall up between the two rooms to create one big space.
 The kitchen will get a fresh coat of paint on the cabinets, new countertops, and new appliances. I'm also planning on adding this antique apothecary-style medical exam table as an island with stools around it for seating. I've been saving this piece since my days as a shop owner, knowing it'd make the perfect kitchen island. I also recently purchased these two club chairs from an auction. They're covered in green velvet and I think having a crisp black and white color scheme will work great with them. Here's my inspiration below.


via Elle Decor Magazine
And because I'm slightly psychotic about designing a new space, I create floor plans via homestyler to see where all my furniture will go. It's fun!

So there you have it- our plans for the next several months. This will keep us busy, I'm sure. 

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Switching the Living & Dining Room [back again]

When we had our first child, I switched the dining room and the living room in order to see my baby while I was in the kitchen. Believe it or not, that post received some of the highest traffic in the history of my blog. I guess there are a lot of people out there who want to know if there's some rule against switching rooms. Well there's not. And that worked for us for a while, but if you've been reading my blog for a while then you know I thrive on change. Thus, I changed it back (plus, we've been through a bunch of different tables and couches since that last post).
While I miss not being able to see my kids from the kitchen, one huge, unforeseen benefit has been that we now actually eat at our dinner table verses eating on the couch. Bonus! Who would have thought? 
Here's the room before (slightly cluttered if I do say so myself)... 
 ...and here it is now as we speak. I mean type. 

We had to take a section of our super-long sofa out to fit. It sits nicely in the corner now as an arm(less) chair. Next time I'll post about my new (old) dining room. 

And just in case you were wondering how many times I've changed the layout, here's a recap from the most recent to the oldest:

 All the way back to our very first set of couches we ever purchased (that didn't even fit the scale of the room).

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Ikea PAX Wardrobes/ Master Bedroom Redo Part 2

Our bedroom's been repainted and we've been enjoying our new Ikea PAX wardrobes for a couple weeks now, and I think I'm in love. If you'd like a little recap of the process you can click here for wardrobe info and here for paint color info. Otherwise, let me show you in pictures the {almost} end result. *Update: Part 3 here.

 The wardrobes. After living "doorless" for a couple weeks, I've been thinking more about getting doors to obtain that hidden built-in look from my original inspiration picture, but I know a certain 3 yr. old who's ecstatic that she can now reach mommy's makeup.

I painted the inside of the "vanity" with a latex paint. It did not adhere well to the wardrobe at all. Primer was definitely necessary, but somebody got lazy (me). I hand painted little red flowers to match the mirror. This was just an ordinary oak mirror I bought at construction junction before I took some of my Cherry Jubilee to it. I'm not entirely satisfied with this part, but it's just paint and I can always change it later.

I bought new lamp shades from Target to go with these awesome hammered gold bases my mom bought me a while back for $4 each from a grocery store of all places! The shades look like a Van Gogh painting when not lit. The left end table is vintage and the right one my husband got from a hitchhiker he picked up one time. Random, I know, but he gave the guy a ride home, and he gave him this adorable Moroccan inspired table in return. Thank you hitchhiker Bob! 

I think I need to invest in some pretty Euro shams for the bed, and maybe a more neutral rug option. There's a lot of pattern going on here, although it's somehow not quite as overwhelming in person. The walls take on a neutral effect. It was hard to capture the shade of the room with my camera and the bright light streaming in through the windows, but I'm very happy with the color.
Our next step: hanging pictures gallery style on the wall adjacent to our bed. I already bought two fun paintings from a thrift store today. Can't wait to get hanging.

Ikea PAX Wardrobes/ Master Bedroom Redo Part 3

Decorating is always such an on-going process. We've had these Ikea PAX wardrobes for over a year now, and while I've loved having them, I wasn't quite sold on the "exposed" look. I decided to repaint the center console to blend in with the wall color. It's just a sleeker look in general and I love it. I've also been using the "KonMari" method (without even realizing it) for the past few months getting rid of the clothes (and other stuff) that just take up space. I think I've donated about 4 bags of clothing so far. It feels so refreshing to clean out what you don't really use.

*the new rug was an ebay score for $40! It's really soft. 

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

What It Takes To Become a Realtor

I've been getting this question a lot lately, coupled with, "I've been thinking about getting my real estate license." And, "How much do you really make?" I'm pretty much an open book kind of person, so I figured I might as well do a blog post and divulge all this.
First off, finding an accredited school: I did a pretty basic google search and found a school that was unaffiliated with any brokers. I went here for my two months of classes. I found it helpful to take the class in person because you can interact with everyone, but I know people who have taken the class online. It costs about $315 if I remember correctly. If you have a company you know you want to work for already, they might pay this, or sometimes they even hold the classes in their office.
Next: You have to pass an exam at the end of each class, and then register to sit for the national/state exam. This is a fairly hard exam that people have been known to not pass on the first try. It's all about the laws of real estate, and there are two parts: the national and the local test.
My book for class

Finally: Once you have your license you can pick a broker to work for. A broker must hold your license- you can't be out there on your own. The way each company is structured might be different, but all realtors without a broker's license are under someone. I chose Keller Williams after interviewing with a few different companies. It came down to two things in my decision process: the atmosphere of an office, and the commission split.
At Keller Williams it seemed pretty cut and dry what I would take home on a sale. I make *64% of my completed sales. This rate can go up, the more volume I produce. But right off the bat, I thought that was a pretty decent number compared to some of the other companies I spoke with. We do have monthly office fees, however-kind of a bummer when you're not getting any sales, or when you're first starting out.
*Two little tid-bits.
1. My commission comes from the seller,even when I'm working with a buyer. Not everyone knows this, so I thought I'd throw it in there.
2. The commission is negotiable. Talk to your Realtor when going to list and see what they say. Generally speaking, most people do 6%, but I've seen higher and lower. The 6% gets split between the buyer's realtor and the seller's realtor. And then further split with the broker.
One thing I didn't realize when becoming a realtor is how difficult it is to drum up business. I assumed the company you worked for threw you leads, but that just isn't the case anymore. To be truly successful you have to be on the phone, or sending out letters to put yourself out there. Word of mouth is really the best way I've found business. There's also different real estate websites that you can pay to get your picture and contact info on, like the realtors you see on zillow. Those people pay money to get their faces next to that house you clicked on. Some can even "capture" leads that way.
I've really enjoyed this career choice so far especially since it allows me the freedom to conduct my schedule around my kids. I couldn't quite survive off of it at this point, but business has steadily picked up as I've gotten my name out there. Thankfully, my husband is supportive (and has a full time job!). So if you're considering becoming a Realtor or just curious as to how much we actually make, I hope this was helpful in some way. Let me know if you have any questions that I didn't address.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Pardon Our Mess...We're Building a Wall

If you live by us and have seen our mess, I'm so sorry! No, a tornado did not rip our yard apart...we're building a new wall. And like every other family I know, our projects take way longer to complete than expected (especially in monsoon-like conditions). Here's our new wall!

Just kidding! That's our old, very cracked concrete wall. 
 We knew we'd have to address it someday, and my husband just so happens to build walls for a living (a very handy trade to know in a city of walls). So what might cost us $15,000 to redo, we're getting for the cost of materials. It literally took my husband and another worker a week to jack hammer the entire wall. Once they got the steps out, we discovered this not-so-little hole:
 He dug it up and it's actually about a 6'x3' foot opening. My best guess is an old cistern? I was hoping for a secret passage way, but no, just a huge hole.

 So that's about as far as we got when the massive rains hit, and we've seriously gotten all of three days in the last month that were dry and sunny. Thus the mess and the apology to our neighbors.
 We're thinking of expanding the top level section where the huge bushes were and adding a nice water feature to drown out some of the traffic noise we deal with. Either way, the finish product will be way worth the wait. I'll be sure to update when it's done. 

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Give Cool Stuff, Buy Cool Stuff, Support Pitcairn

Hey everyone- just wanted to let you know about a little fundraiser that's near and dear to my husband's heart. PitCare, an organization in Pitcairn, where my husband grew up, is teaming up with ayptoday to raise money for their cause. Their purpose is to 

"help break the chains of generational poverty, strengthen families, and bring hope for the next generation, through education, job training, counseling, and Spiritual guidance".

 They are buying and redoing houses for people in their home-ownership program, as well as all kinds of mentor programs for children.. It's pretty neat, and I'd encourage you to take the time to read about it.
Here are two ways you can help. 
1. Donate
Donations will be collected on these dates:

Saturday, June 6—9:00am-Noon

Sunday, June 7—9:00am-Noon
Tuesday, June 9–6:00pm-8:00pm
Friday, June 12–10:00am-Noon
Saturday, June 13—9:00am-Noon
Sunday, June 14—9:00am-Noon
Wednesday, June17—10:00am-Noon
Friday, June 19—10:00am-Noon
Saturday, June 20—10:00am-Noon

Please bring them to New Covenant Church (2225 Grandview Ave., Monroeville) on the stated dates and times listed below. Shout out to Turner's Dairy for the use of the truck to store the items until the Auction Date.

2. Sign Up & Bid On Items at

I will update you with the auction date. 

Sterling Silver
Household Items
Solid Wood Furniture
Sports Equipment
Outdoor Equipment
Art (Signed and Numbered Prints)
Antique Maps
Video Games and Consoles
Outdoor Furniture
Unopened Anything
Man Cave Items
New Upholstered Furniture
Valuable Sports Cards
New Clothing with Tags
Flat Screen TVs
New Appliances
Lawn and Garden Equipment
Metal Signs
Complete and Clean Childrens Toys

Used Clothing
Old Upholstery
Tube Televisions
Broken Electronics and Appliances
Upright Pianos
Christmas Items in Bulk

Monday, May 25, 2015

Real Estate Monday: Central North Shore- 2 for 1

Are you finding that investors are getting more creative with their flips? I am, and it makes me happy. I'm actually contemplating working with one, and if so, you can be sure I'll lobby for some unique features. Here are two homes- one of which isn't necessarily a flip- but both fairly creative, fitting in perfectly with the eclectic area that surrounds them.
915 Peralta St. Pittsburgh, Pa 15212 for $245,000.
It's got three bedrooms and two and a half baths. I love all the exposed brick, the open kitchen floor plan, and the different wood tones throughout the house. Take a look:

Now for a super- kitschy house in the same area...
607 Middle Street listed at $250,000- 2bed/1bath
It's more of an artsy, loft-style house, with an open master bedroom occupying the second floor. The third floor has this barn-like ladder to access it, and these neat pull out bins. It'd be awesome for a young teen, I'm sure. All the details in the house have been well thought out. It definitely caters towards my need to be more minimalist.

 Which one would you pick?

* 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, please contact me via email or cell and I'd be happy to schedule a showing for you. 


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