For Sale

My parents house is under contract!!! Thank you baby Jesus in heaven. It went on the market early last week and within 24 hours my parents had an offer over asking price (there was a bidding war between two couples). The buyers can still back out, but it’s super, super promising to be under contract. I am sincerely hoping that it comes through for my parents.

When I last wrote, I showed you kitchen before pictures and promised to be back asap with after pics. And then I was absent from this blog for over a month. Whoops!

The past month has been one of the most exhausting months of my life. Getting this house ready for sale has taken six months, but the last month was undoubtedly the hardest. Tony and I basically didn’t have lives beyond work, school (in my case), and the house. We spent many nights and weekends painting trim, moving furniture, painting walls, cleaning up after renovation projects, and painting even more trim. I hate you, trim!!!

The other day Tony and I decided that no one will ever know how much work we did on the house. We can show before-and-after pictures, we can show people through the house, we can (and certainly have) complained about the months of work this house has entailed. But none of that could come close to conveying what the project has been like. Tony thinks we should have worn Go Pro chest cameras throughout the project, so that we could have video documentation of what we’ve done.  Those would be really boring videos, but he might be on to something. The next time we renovate my parents’ house from 1920, we will do that for sure.

The good news is, it doesn’t matter. Tony and I took from this project just as much (if not more than) we put in. We learned how to do a ton of home improvements, we learned a little bit about how real estate works, and most importantly we learned that we can do exhausting, stressful, and difficult things together and still (after we’ve both eaten something and taken showers, of course) love each a whole lot.

Updating this house was not a solo effort and many, many people helped, including my brother, brother-in-law, and (duh) my parents. Furthermore, a whole bunch of family and friends came over for a work day this summer, during which we all ate pizza, took down the wheelchair ramp on the front of the house, and (you guessed it) painted trim. According to the realtor, the updates we all made ultimately added $40,000 worth of value to the house. The total budget was less than $4,000.

But you didn’t come to Fawn Log to hear about my family’s hard work, did you? This blog is about results, and before-and-afters, and adorable fawns. That’s why I’m finally going to show you the after snaps of the kitchen (and also the before snaps, to refresh your memory). Take it away, Miley!

I came in like a wrecking ball/ Yeah, I just closed my eyes and swung. –Miley Cyrus

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As usual, my photographs are terrible. But you get the idea: the kitchen is improved. Sadly (?) the biggest improvement is the beautiful hardwood floor, which we actually hired out (although we helped by ripping up the linoleum). The cabinets are nice, too, though.

I really, really hope this sale goes through.

Either way, this chapter of our lives is closed, because Tony and I are moving again. (Yes, this is our third move in six months, not that I’m counting. Also, beggars can’t be choosers.) You might think we’d want to move into a nice, totally updated place to rest after our arduous work on this house, right? HA!

We’re actually moving into a house that my aunt and uncle own outside of town. The property it’s on is beautiful; it’s actually where Tony and I plan to get married next summer. The house is, um, kind of beautiful in a funky way? It’s a really solid, well-built house. However, it functions as a time capsule of 1970, complete with thick, baby blue shag carpeting throughout and strange, low-hanging light fixtures. The dining room area contains a wall of gold-flecked glass tiles that is straight out of a Miley Cyrus video. It is pretty awesome, and we’re super grateful to my aunt and uncle for letting us stay there.

We’re going to be doing some (minimal) updates while living there, and we’ve already started with the master bedroom. We ripped up the shag carpeting in there and are taking down the wallpaper. Here’s a taste to wet yer appetite.

I guess this is just my life now: moving from place to place, updating stuff, intermittently talking about it on the internet. I don’t quite understand why Tony and I don’t have a reality show yet. An engaged couple lives in funky-weird places rent-free in exchange for updating them? The episodes would write themselves!  Tony suggested we call ourselves the D.I.Winos, and try to drink more wine while doing projects. I told him I don’t like wine and he suggested D.I.Whinos, since I can be very whiny. Call us, Hollywood!

Posted in before/after, homely home | 8 Comments


Yesterday I started feeling nauseous after dinner. It got worse and worse, and I ended up spending most of the night barfing. It was terrible! I guess it was food poisoning, although Tony ate the same stuff and was fine. I’m still not feeling great today, but hopefully I’ll be better by tomorrow. Please be better, stomach.

The silver lining is that, thanks to my sick day, I finally had time to write a Fawn Log post. I missed you, Fawn Log!

Tony and I have big plans to finish an ongoing kitchen renovation project this weekend, and I thought it might be fun to post the “reveal” here on Fawn Log like the real  DIY bloggers do. In order to build suspense, I’m going to post the before pictures today. I hope this will ensure that people’s expectations are very low for the reveal posts.

So, my parents’ kitchen.  The realtor told us that we should try to update it within our small budget, since “kitchens sell houses.” I don’t think my parents’ kitchen is going to sell this house even after our updates, but at least it won’t cause potential buyers to recoil in fear? That’s about the level I’m aiming for, at least.

Here’s the lay of the land:

One of the things you might notice is the difference in color between the left and right sides. My parents had new cabinetry installed on the purple side in the mid-nineties. The cabinets and countertops shown in gray are original to the home (~1920). It feels more than a bit bipolar. There’s not a whole lot within our budget we were able to do to fix that, beyond painting the right side to match the left. More about that in a second.

Another big issue is the floor. Before our updates, there were two layers of linoleum down. The top layer looked like this:

In terms of the pattern, it could have been much worse. However, linoleum like this is not meant to last, and it was irrevocably stained in many areas.

We knew there was hardwood underneath, but we had no way of knowing what shape it was in. Also, we heard many, many horror stories about refinishing wood floors. At some point we pulled the dishwasher out and saw the floor underneath, which appeared to be in good shape. That was enough for us, and we started the process of ripping up linoleum.

Sorry for the extremely blurry photo:
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(Okay so here’s where I’m forced to admit that I did a terrible job on the floor plan rendering above and am too lazy to fix it. The “old side” in this photo is on the right, and it was  painted the bright purple you see here when we first started updating. I made the rendering unnecessarily complicated by showing the “new side” in purple. Also this photo was taken from the doorway into the dining room, so obviously I made the floor space look way bigger than it really is.)

The process of ripping out linoleum was actually pretty easy. It took my brother, Charlie, and I only 5 or 6 hours to get it done. The floor underneath had lots of old black glue on it, but otherwise it appeared okay.

We considered renting floor sanders and attempting to redo the floor ourselves, but after pricing what it would cost to rent a sander for a day and buy sandpaper, stain and polyurethane, hiring out the project started to seem really worth it. We estimated that, if everything went well, doing it ourselves would cost about $300 and take a week. A flooring company told us they could do it for $500 in three days. We’d heard enough about redoing floors to doubt our ability to successfully complete the project without any errors on the first go-around, and so decided to hedge our bets and go with the company.

Honestly, I’m really, really happy with our decision. They did a great job, it cost exactly what they estimated, and they got in and out incredibly fast. While it would have been nice to try our hand at refinishing, I feel confident we made the right call. But you’ll have to wait for the reveal post to see what I mean.

I mentioned painting earlier. Painting sounds easy, right? I used to think that, too. I was so naïve.

The old cabinets from the 1920s had, Tony and I estimated, never been stripped. There were at least seven layers of paint on them, if not significantly more. To cover up the purple, we would have needed to paint at least a couple layers of Killz primer before the layers of paint. That sounded like a bad idea, so we decided to scrape the cabinets first. Just scrape in areas of paint build-up. Sounds easy, right?

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Here’s the point in the story in which we take a wrong turn down a dark path. It turns out that, with seven or more layers of paint, there’s really no way to scrape away a consistent layer. About four hours into scraping, we realized we had made a terrible mistake.

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Tony suggested we try paint stripper. We bought it that night, applied it, and were up until 2am with a stripping nightmare on our hands. [insert obligatory stripping joke here].

It turns out that paint stripper– even the kind marketed as nontoxic– smells horrible. It’s also only effective on a layer or two of paint at a time. Basically, in our case, it made the first few layers bubble up, but didn’t do much for the layers beneath. We were pretty much just scraping, except now in a toxic fume-filled environment. Also, while we had intended to only scrape in areas that needed it, now we needed to scrape the entire surface area of 3/4 of the kitchen. What had started as a couple hours worth of work had suddenly become a horrible part-time job that we did daily for multiple weeks.

Tony scraping before golfing with his parents.

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Me after losing way too many brain cells from the stripping fumes.

Here are some progress pictures of the arduous process. (They also do a good job of showing the strange juxtaposition of the two sides of the room).

Eventually, Tony, Charlie, and I decided we’d had enough. It was time to fucking move on and STOP THE MADNESS. We borrowed electric sanders from Phil and our neighbors, and sanded the shit out of everything, even the areas that still could have used some stripping. It was 7 or 8 hours of pure hell, but we finished.

I texted Charlie to see if he had any pictures from that day, but he told me he’d just deleted them.

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The picture he replaced them with is a beautiful watercolor of a snowy mountain scene.

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Honestly, we’re probably lucky that no pictures exist from that day. Better to instead think about pretty mountain scenes than dwell on on our cabinet saga.

The good news is, we’ve finished priming and (hopefully) will be done with painting this weekend. The floor is finished, the fan is updated, and life is moving forward. If all goes according to plan, I should be able to post the final pictures early next week. Check back!

In the meantime, please help me say a big congratulations to Tony in the comments. In addition to being the world’s best scraper and the person who has kept me somewhat sane throughout this kitchen update, he is also the newest official copywriter hire at the ad agency where he was interning. I couldn’t be more proud of my (nice, non-misogynistic) Don Draper.

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Posted in before/after, homely home | 6 Comments

Open Thread: You and Your Sister (Submitted by Phil)

As always, email me if you want to post something on Fawnlog. Take it away, Philly! Love, Emma

Is this the prettiest song in the world? Or is it too pretty?

Either way, I’ve had it stuck in my head for 4 months.

Chris Bell recorded “You and Your Sister” after he quit Big Star in the 70’s.

I also like this cover by Kim Deal of the Pixies and the Breeders. I just found out she was also in a band called This Mortal Coil. Who knew?

I know Tony’s family really likes the Beatles, so I’d like to give them a shoutout.

Also, this can be an open thread about the prettiest song in the world. I won’t get mad or mean if you think there’s a prettier song out there.

Posted in Submissions | 6 Comments