7.08.2019

We Bought a New House!

Today, we will close on the purchase of our third house. Eek! Super excited.

If you've been following this blog for a while, you know that I started it while we were living in our first house. It was a great first house! We loved it. We lived there for three years before deciding to keep it as an income property and buy a new house for ourselves.

We searched for quite some time in a competitive real estate market before finding our current house, and we have lived here for six amazing years. We started our family here and it holds an incredible amount of memories.

We bought our new house under slightly different, more unexpected circumstances. We were really happy in this house, but we would daydream about having two things that this house doesn't have: a big yard for the kids to play, and a three-car garage for Scott's workshop. One of our best friends is a realtor, so we asked her to let us know whenever a house on an acre of property popped up. They would come up every now and then, but they were always out of our budget.

The first week of June, she emailed me a listing that looked really promising. It had both the yard and the garage and was the right amount of "fixer upper" that we like to tackle.  I almost didn't ask her to show it to us because it was a two-story house, and one of my parameters was that I only wanted a one-story. But the listing photos were interesting, the bones looked good, the yard was amazing and most importantly, it was in our budget!

Long story short, we bought it! And shortly afterward, we sold our house. I promise to tell the longer version in my next post when I show you photos of the new place, but I want to wait until the keys are in hand before I show you.

As for our current house, we frantically readied it to go on the market in a little over a week (phew) and by the end of its first weekend on the market, we had 9 strong offers. We picked the best offer and sold it above asking price. it's really been an incredible whirlwind filled with blessing after blessing. It feels like God opened doors for us to feel good about moving into the new house, which is such a relief because this house is very hard to leave. To say I'm emotionally invested in this home is an understatement. But, now I am excited about the new house and also thrilled for the family who is moving here. (They wrote a sweet letter with their offer, and our realtor met them and got to see how much they wanted the house, so I feel like I know them a little bit.) It feels like our house will be in great hands, which is exactly the closure we needed to start a new chapter in a new home.

In honor of this house, I thought it would be fun to look back on our six years here by comparing the real estate photos from when we bought the house back in 2013 to the images we took a few weeks ago when we listed it. Much has changed! (And the quality of photos has gone way, way up. Ha!)

Let's start with the curb appeal. It was always an adorable house in a charming, tree-filled neighborhood. But we added the shutters, updated the paint and of course, put in that glorious new front door that I'm so sad to leave!

2013
2019
2019
 And once inside the door, you see the formal living room. We did a lot of decorative touches in here, but the main improvements were refinishing the hardwood floors, added recessed lights and installing the new chandelier and sconces.

2013
2019
 
2013

2019
In the dining room, our work was mostly cosmetic. 

2013

2019
The kitchen got fresh paint, some new glass-face cabinets, new backsplash, lighting. Can you believe they had three different shades of yellow in here at the same time?


2013
2019
The den became one of our favorite rooms. Goodbye, baby blue walls and original wood tones. We also ditched the smelly carpet for some travertine.

2013

2019
They didn't even have photos of the third living space in the listing back in 2013, but this awesome room stayed mostly the same, minus some fresh paint, new windows and refinished floors. You may recall that we've been using this room as a playroom since the kids were born, but we staged it as an office for the showings. 

2019
Outside that door in the office, the deck has always been there. But we've upgraded the entire backyard to take it from a giant dirt pit to actual usable space. This part of the house has actually undergone the most transformation. Literally nothing was here when we moved in except the wooden deck and the wrought iron fence to the creek. We added the patio cover, the dog run, flower beds, turf, slate patio and most recently, that play set that we customized for our kids (and sadly, will be leaving here with the new owners).

2019


2019
 Over in the master bedroom, we realized quickly that the master closet was way too small, so the husband built himself a custom closet around the windows.

2013
2019
In the master bathroom, we just made aesthetic changes.

2013

2019

The front bedroom used to be the twins' nursery, but it was converted to a guest room once we moved them into their own rooms.

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2019
Fun fact: The previous owners had twins too! Their twin girls were sharing this room. Little did we know that three years later, we'd double our brood in one fell swoop just like they did. 

2013
2019


This TV makes this photo look even older than it is! Also, a lot of the "playroom" ended up in poor Evan's room once we converted the third living room from a playroom to an office.

2013
2019

And just for fun, here are some of the other great photos the real estate photographer captured for our listing that don't have any direct comparisons with the previous listing. Shout-out to my mom who helped me stage the house while I was working - she did a great job! This was a total team effort to pull this off with two destructive and messy toddlers around.

How did we keep it clean for showings? We moved out temporarily! The showings started on a Friday, so we stayed at my mom's house that weekend so they could show the house all day long for 3 straight days. BEST. DECISION. EVER. We could have never kept it shiny and fresh if we were actually living there!


















It's really satisfying for us to look back at how far this house has come. It took all six years of living here to bring this house to its fullest potential, and I want to remember that so I can be patient with the improvements at the new house!

Speaking of the new house, please follow me on Instagram at @jordanG106 for live updates from our renovations. We'll be doing a decent amount of work these next two weeks before we officially move in, and I'll be documenting it there in real time. (Blog posts take way longer and will be fewer and farther apart than Instagram posts.)

Thanks for reading! Can't wait to show you the new space and start doing some major projects again!

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3.13.2019

Major Front Door Upgrade



Most of our best home improvement projects are the ones we never planned to do – the projects that just drop into our lap and cannot be resisted. This is one of those projects.

It all started because we were doing a one-night vacation at a local AirBnB in a different part of Dallas than we normally frequent, and we had some extra time on our hands after we checked out the next day. had the idea to swing by the local Habitat for Humanity Restore. After all, we were toddler-free for a few hours and had nothing better to do. Plus, this part of Dallas has really cool older homes, and I thought we might find some good treasures. (Spoiler: I was right!)

We bought several cool things at Restore that day, including new lighting for our foyer (this $20 Secto Design pendant that retails for $820 and a chandelier for $25 that’s normally $900) and kitchen, but there was one thing we did not buy: a giant, beautiful arched front door hanging out on its own dolly in the door section. It was 4 feet wide, 8 feet tall, made of 2.5”-thick solid wood. It was only $200. We admired it. We posed for photos beside it. We tried to think of someone we knew who would have a place for this awesome door. WE ended up leaving it there because, what would we do with that big door?


Fast forward 24 hours and I was still thinking about this lovely door. I looked at the space surrounding our existing front door and realized we could fit the big door if we were willing to basically rebuild the entrance. As you can see in this photo, our previous door was standard size but was surrounded by siding, a window on top and a window on the side. All of that would have to go to accommodate the new, oversized front door.



We kept thinking about it for a little while, and finally Scott decided to call to see if they still had it. Sure enough, they did! He hopped in his truck and drove 45 minutes to buy this door (after successfully negotiating it down to $100 – SUCH A BARGAIN), bringing lots of pillows and blankets to make sure it didn’t break on its way back to our house. It was so heavy – you should have seen the efforts needed to get it in and out of the truck!


That purchase kicked off a frenzied sprint to get this door installed. We had basically one week before football season started, and my coach/husband is too busy with his day gig to tackle big projects during football season.

I don’t want this blog to be a novel, so I’m going to do my best to keep it brief. I’ll start by saying that even though the door cost $100, this was not a $100 project. Keep reading to see the additional costs that need to be factored in if you’re thinking of doing something similar.

You know we’re DIY people and my husband’s always adding to his DIY arsenal, but this was not a DIY situation. We needed some tradespeople who had expertise in framing, drywall and siding. Doors are notoriously hard to install, and this was a full rebuild of the wall that housed our front door. Plus, the door was far too heavy for one guy to install it. The crew ended up being my husband and two other specialists – the framer who helped us build our back patio, and a drywall/painting specialist that the framer recommended.

Once we had the crew committed to the job and we found a Saturday (the only Saturday left before football started) when they could all work on the job, they planned to tackle 90% of this project in one day.   

I don’t have a lot of photos of the process because it was my job to take the twins out of the house for the day so the guys could get this job done without toddlers underfoot. About 8 hours later, I rolled into my driveway and was welcomed by a beautiful new front door!

It wasn’t a simple process. Making that door work for our house required quite a few steps:

-       Remove old door. (As this was happening, our neighbor walked by and asked if he could have it. YES, please take it! So now it’s still in the neighborhood.)
-       Demo the front door area by removing the framing, windows and siding around the door without compromising the structural integrity of the entryway.
-       Remove door knob on the new door and patch the hole where it was installed. (We needed the doorknob to be on the other side of the door in our front entry configuration, and we needed a "door lock extender" because the new door was so thick. I had no idea those were a thing!)
-       Install new door knob on the right side of the door.
-       Install new framing, including perfectly curved door frame (an additional challenge compared to a rectangular door). Our neighbor, who works for a lumber yard, helped us source the flexible casing that we used for the top trim. You can bend it to fit curved doors. It's very cool! 
-       Install new siding around the door (exterior).
-       Install new drywall around the door (interior).
-       Install the new door. (All three guys were necessary for this step. You have to get everything lined up perfectly so your door swings smoothly, and I hear this is really a pain. Kind of glad I wasn’t there!)
-       Install new door threshold.
-       Install trim around the door, inside and out.
-       Weatherproof the new door.
-       Raise the height of the chandeliers both inside and outside the front door to accommodate the new door’s height.
-       Install trim around the door, inside and out.
-       Paint the door, trim and siding, inside and out.

What this bulleted list omits is the agony over paint colors for the door, whether or not to add trim and other hassles that inevitably pop up during a project of this magnitude that’s also under a time crunch. It was a bit stressful! Let's walk through it in this collection of random iPhone photos...


This project wasn’t exactly cheap, but we tried to keep costs to a minimum. I didn’t save receipts or anything, but I asked the husband to summarize our costs and this is what he gave me:

  • $100 door
  • $700 labor to frame and install door and new exterior siding
  • $800 labor to install new drywall and paint the entire area (walls inside and out, trim, door)
  • $100 miscellaneous: paint, trim, weatherstrips, door lock extender, etc.



Total makeover cost: $1,700

I almost titled this blog post, “This is the story of how a spontaneous $100 purchase turned into a $1,700 renovation” but that seemed too negative to represent how we actually feel about the project. I just didn't want to be that person who's like, "Wow, I upgraded my door for $100!" when really it was just the door cost and there are many more factors that up the project price. Still, it’s important to note that this door would have easily cost $2,000 by itself, so we still feel like we got a steal.

We love, love, LOVE our new door. We would absolutely do it over again because it completely changes our house, and we feel it adds to our resale value. The glass part of the door really brightens up the inside of the house, and everyone comments on the door when they come over. We’ve had random strangers ask us about it while they’re walking by. Our old door was fine and I never had any thoughts about replacing it, but it’s fun to have something that’s a bit more wow.



Once we installed the door, we couldn't help but laugh at our previous door wreaths and floor mats. They looked so tiny with the oversized door! I did find some affordable 48" door mats we really like - we use this Target one outside and this Houzz one inside.  Like most things, it's more expensive to buy doormats and wreaths in bigger sizes. I ended up making my own DIY wreaths for fall and Christmas and I love them so much!

The new front door makes me so happy every time I pull in the driveway! I hope this post helped you if you are considering upgrading yours. 


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