I don’t know why, but I love this quote and when I saw it earlier today I knew I just had to use as a way to talk about this transition we’re in. In life, specifically, but also as it applies to this space. Story time.
When we started this blog, it was a way to document - mainly for family and close friends - an adventure as we were leaving our corporate America jobs behind and doing what a whole heck of a lot of people often talk about but seldom actually do. We wanted to be world travelers. Explorers. Truth seekers. Adventurers. Taste new things, meet new people, push ourselves outside of our comfort zones. And for a while we did exactly that and documented everything here. Then corporate America and responsibilities came calling, we moved back to the city we call home, and reentered the daily grind. But always with our time abroad in our hearts and top of mind.
Fast forward to today, we have an incredible, beautiful, healthy daughter who is five months old. We bought a house, renovated a house, sold a house, bought another house, and are about to start renovations again. One of us got a kick ass new job. One of us got promoted. We have plans for future travel and both know that when we set our minds to something, it happens. But as of now, we’re very much in a season of wanting to be settled. Or at least until the next adventure pops up.
So that leads me to here. This space. This blog. Some of you - and we know you’re out there, Google Analytics tell us so! - might have been following along from the beginning. Others might have found us somewhere along the way. Others might just want to see what we’re up to and this is your way of checking in on us, which is totally fine. But I’ve been battling back and forth with what Here, There & Elsewhere should become. Because, right this very moment, we’re very much here. Our hearts might be there or elsewhere and we can’t wait to introduce our daughter to this world we live in. But for now at least, we’re here. So do we become a family/lifestyle blog? I don’t think so, because I can’t get my shizz together enough to cook dinner during the week let alone document the day-to-day. A home renovation blog? That doesn’t really seem like a right fit either. Style? If showering on the daily is a requirement, then that clearly cuts me out.
But maybe this doesn’t have to fit in a category, in a linkable tab on Blogger or whatnot. Maybe this can just be a space where we can share with you our dreams and hopes, and hopefully inspire someone along the way. I mean, that’s what I want to teach my daughter one day anyway, right? That categories are just categories and that she should never feel like she has to fit into one. So what if one day she happens to stumble across this website and read about what her parents were doing when she was a baby or a mere twinkle in their eye? Most likely she’ll be embarrassed, especially if she comes across the picture of her dad in the bathtub in France, but also I don’t want her to read forced words. I always want her to feel empowered and inspired to daydream and create.
So maybe we started looking for pear trees and golden rings, but right now we’re in a beautiful season that’s wrapped up in the cherished little moments. Where quiet nights are spent on the couch scheming and figuring out ways to make our dreams a reality. And we’re so excited for this new chapter.
It may not include passports, planes, crazy ladies who live with chickens, or navigating foreign languages (at least right now!), but it’s an adventure nonetheless.
B, L + e
image via anthro
I looked at our blog this morning, and saw that our last post was four months ago. Four months. Oh, how much has changed.
For one, our little girl is no longer a newborn. She is an infant who laughs and smiles and coos. She is sweet and curious. She loves her dad and likes to fall asleep in her mama’s arms. She is pure love.
I also read the first paragraph my husband wrote in our last blog post: “Both Laura and I really loved renovating our house and would do it again if the right opportunity presented itself.” Well…
We sold our house in November. Bought a new house in November. Close on the new house in a matter of days. Start renovations February 1. All with a new baby and me going back to work.
Are we crazy?
That’s been the general consensus when we’ve told people about our living situation, but I wouldn’t say that Bryan and I have ever been super conventional when it comes to life in general. One thing we both see is the bigger picture in situations, not just the discomfort of a move with an infant or the annoyances that come with living in a temporary apartment. We were able to do something that was extremely important to us - pay off our student loan debt - and put together a plan to be on the offensive in terms of future goals that we have. And all that other mess? It’s temporary.
So that’s life in a nutshell, sweet 12 blog readers. Sorry for our sparse posts. On the bright side, you have a new renovation to look forward to. As well as lots of cute pictures of the sweetest baby on the planet.
B, L + e
We did it. Our house has mostly been transformed into a home. It took almost four months of renovation, but we’re done…for now. Both Laura and I really loved renovating our house and would do it again if the right opportunity presented itself.
Soooo….check it out.
And there you have it. Our home. Finally done. Thanks so much to Redo for their awesome skills and my dad, Ronaldus, for drawing up our vision. We can’t wait to settle in, especially now that this little munchkin arrived last week!
Meet Eleanor Violet DeLuca, the newest member of our family. She says hello.
Proud new dad
This renovation is all but wrapped. Just a few final touches before we move in. I know Laura is jonesin’ to get this thing knocked out so she can start making it look good.
We’ve only got a few pictures of this final renovation stage pre-move. We’ll chalk that one up to impatience and anxiousness to get settled in our first home.
Bathroom hardware is IN. Again, thank you Overstock.com
Pedestal sinks in the guest bathroom are plumbed and ready for some good hand washin’ and teeth brushin.’ Also, ‘pistachio’ walls.
Granite countertops and farmhouse sink (Ikea).
You can see our new gas range and we have some great counter space to work with.
That’s it for now. Our last renovation post, complete with everything in its place (for the most part), is coming at you soon. But you know what’s coming sooner? Our baby. Like, tomorrow.
Almost a new dad
We’re almost done with the renovation. At this point, things are getting done at a torrid pace. *record scratch*. That is, until we got to the part where we had to paint the entire interior of the house.
We got several quotes - two from professional painting companies and one from a couple of random guys who paint a lot. We went with the random guys, who were half the price and did a good job. But that good job meant a lot of babysitting and going over a several rounds of mistakes. Hindsight, it would have been worth it to pay full price for half the headaches, rather than half price for the frustrations we/I went through of having to constantly buy more and more paint and mark tons of missed spots. The thought of the experience still makes me cringe a bit. But it was a valuable lesson learned.
Ultimately, the painting held us up a few extra days, but ended up looking great. Even if we had to hand-hold a bit. Here’s where that left us.
The kitchen cabinets got dressed up with a white coat of paint and some fancy hardware.
The first appliances were installed. Laura finally got her double ovens. Victory.
You see this? These are shavings from the hardwood floors being hand-scraped. Aside from tiling floors, this is the other job I would never want. I respect the hell out of people who do this day-in and day-out. I guarantee they all are muscular…maybe I SHOULD do this? I also felt a little bit guilty watching seven dudes scrape my floor. I even gave one of them the working dishwasher that came with the house. Respect. The house did smell amazing though. It was like walking through an inside forest.
The interior is painted. Finally. We used a light gray for the walls and a classic white for the baseboards. Also, chandelier.
Another shot of the chandelier. Laura found this gem on Overstock.com.
The beam has been stained to match what the floors will be. Also, we’re using a shop-vac as a chair. So artsy of us. Just kidding. I know you really thought that was our chair.
Laura found these great pendant lights on Etsy to hang over the pedestal sinks in the guest bathroom.
We found this killer double vanity for our master bathroom at Restoration Hardware.
All the floors have been stained. We are loving the floor. Probably the single best thing we did in this whole renovation.
We’re so close to the end I can taste it. If you’re wondering, it tastes nothing like chicken.
Don’t step on my newly stained floors
Now that the foundation debacle is out of the way, we’re full steam ahead on the renovation. Let’s go.
Since we’re putting hardwood floors throughout the whole house (except for bathrooms), here is one of many massive piles of the wood flooring.
Floors are down! Woot! It’s starting to look real. We also widened the new entryway to the kitchen (on the left) and added a wood beam to span the length of the wall we took down.
A look back towards the hallway at our column. Also, one of many nasty fans has been removed. The smell of moth balls is receding. Thank God.
Six-inch baseboards were put in throughout the entire house as well.
Master closet being built out.
Holy master shower, Batman (Ben Affleck)! It’s a little larger than we thought, but no complaints here. Carrera marble wall tile and two wall cubbies for all of Laura’s shower stuff (we should have made 4 or 5 ;)).
Master bath flooring. We went with this gray wood-plank-looking tile and my favorite thing…a black pebble shower floor. It feels amazing on your feet.
Kitchen cabinets have arrived and are installed! We did custom shaker style cabinets that are strategically placed for efficiency (whatever that means).
The outside of the house is getting some love as well. These sconces flank both sides of the front door.
It’s time to choose our floor stain. Hint: The one we picked rhymes with ‘schmantique.’
At this point, it’s starting to look like a house and everything is coming together very quickly. Awwwwww, yeahhhhh! Stay tuned for a valuable lesson learned in hiring a painter to paint the entire interior of the house.
The House Whisperererer
Sorry guys, it’s been a while. Our computer with all the renovation photos on it went dark for a while. Luckily, a guy we refer to as ‘The Mac Whisperer’ and ‘IT Jesus’ fixed me right up. Saved a bunch of scrilla (what the kids call money these days) by not having to go to the Apple Store. Victory is ours.
That’s neither here nor there. We’re going to finish up this renovation nonsense pretty quick so we can get to the good stuff - the results. Mainly because Laura could have our baby any day now. I know, I know. The blog comes first. Good point.
Ronaldus (my dad, Ron) and I took on a couple of the projects ourselves, since he built his house with his bare hands. Seriously. We took care of the master closet and the guest bathroom floor. This is the new wall to the master closet. Drywall is heavy and awkward.
Woot! The new master bathroom shower is taking shape.
Speaking of bathrooms (great segue), we decided to install two pedestal sinks instead of a double vanity. Plumbing is complicated.
Here you see the freshly grouted guest bathroom floor dad and I did. It could use a good washing, but you get the idea. I learned throughout this process that there are two jobs I could never do. Tiling floors is one of them. Feel the burn in the glutes.
Can lights in the house!! We love can lights. You’ll see soon enough.
You know that part in home renovation shows like Property Brothers when they find something really wrong with the house and it costs a lot of money to fix? We experienced that first hand.
Basically, when we tore up all that old brick out of the kitchen and living room, four-inch chunks of concrete came up with them. Uh-oh. We brought out a foundation engineer. Apparently, the house was built on a pier and beam foundation with a concrete slab poured over the top of that. I guess there was a fire when they built the house in that area and the concrete wasn’t structurally sound quite yet. This put the overall project on pause for a whole month. No bueno. This is the result.
They had to dig a 24” trench all the way around the perimeter and center of the affected area.
When the digging was done, they made this fancy setup.
At least in the end, the new concrete was as smooth as butter.
Once the concrete was settled, we started laying the wooden base for the new floor. Also, we ripped off the nasty wood planks from the wall. Because they were wood planks.
Stay tuned. ‘Cause tomorrow we’re bringing the thunder (or another blog post).
One of my favorite parts of doing a home renovation is the demo. Not many things make me feel manlier than bashing apart a wall, old appliances or moth balls with a sledge hammer. Conversely, not many things are funnier than seeing Laura wield a miniature sledge hammer and hold it up like Thor after spending what seemed like 10 minutes trying to get one cabinet door off an old cabinet (I WISH I had a picture). I’m just proud of her for at least giving it the ole college try.
When we originally looked at renovating the house, we had two main objectives: hardwood floors throughout the house and a new kitchen. Anything else was icing on the cake.
Apparently we like a lot of icing, because our renovation essentially became a complete gutting of the house. We left two of the four bedrooms completely intact, but everything else was more or less gutted. Kitchen, laundry room, a large wall that separates the two living areas, both bathrooms, the master closet and the shifting of two bedroom sizes. We were determined to leave no trace of the previous owners. See for yourself.
After the first day of demolition…
Clearly, these trash cans did a lot of good. Not.
After a week or two, here’s where we stood:
The guest bathroom. We decided to keep the wall heater…I can’t even type that without laughing.
We decided to make the old master closet and awkward sitting area into one bigger master closet. And because it made sense, we didn’t want our guests walking into our master closet. So, we did what should have been done originally. Wall in the guest bathroom. Boom goes the dynamite.
Remember that awkward corner hallway shelf? Gone. This allowed us to shift the doorway to bedroom #3 over substantially. It now sits directly across from the master bedroom doorway and gave us plenty of room for an additional hall closet.
Looking from the master bedroom through the gutted new master bathroom (see massive hole in the floor for plumbing re-route) into bedroom #3. Rumor has it that you can travel down this very hole and get to Mordor.
A look back into the Kitchen after the demo has been tidied up a bit. As you can see, we decided to remove the wall.
Another look back into the kitchen from the formal living room…wait a second…
Yeppers, we did it. We took down not one, but two massive walls. Let’s open this biznitch up and hope the roof doesn’t cave in!
The next level of demolition is comin’ atcha soon. Stay tuned on the internets.
The non-handy handyman
Before we move on to the actual demolition phase of the house, we wanted to show you the rest of it, pre-renovation. You know, the places where ‘the magic happens.’ But really, we’re pretty sure no magic happened in this house for a long time.
Remember, as you look at each picture, to smell the aroma of moth balls. You’re welcome.
Off we go.
This is the guest bedroom. Every room in the house had lower wall vents that didn’t work anymore because now there were ceiling vents. So really, they were just decorative. Good call.
This is the office. Nice vertical blinds.
The guest bathroom. This is Liberace’s mirror. Not. Even he wouldn’t have had this in his bathroom. Nor would he have wasted so much counter space for one sink. At least the previous owners were nice and left us the hand soap.
Your eyes are not deceiving you. That is indeed carpet in the guest bathroom.
And this. This is the heating unit for the bathroom. Because it makes sense.
Just a standard, sliding door shower. And of course, there’s no need for a bath mat. Because carpet. Duh.
This is the master bedroom closet. That can be accessed from the guest bathroom. I mean, why not? With a makeup-sitting-area-thing in between. You’ll see what I mean in a second.
The master closet is actually pretty good size. See that breaker box? It was recalled back in the day because it was notorious for causing fires in a lot of houses. The inspector will love that one.
Remember that makeup-sitting-area-thing I mentioned? This is it. And it has the strongest light source in the house. You could hear a buzz when the lights were on. Not good for the power of the house. Great for seeing massive pimples.
Here it is. The master bedroom. In all it’s glory. You can even see the glow from the makeup-sitting-area-thing in the background. Hey previous homeowners, thanks for leaving us that awesome clock!
Looking out of the master bedroom, into the hallway. At the awkward angled closets that were there. These people also loved their full-length mirrors. This is the 5th one in the house.
Awkward hallway closet. Different angle.
The fourth bedroom. Not the master bedroom. With it’s own en-suite bathroom. I would have loved to have been the child that had my own bathroom while my siblings had to share with my parents.
Just kidding. I think I would have rather shared the bathroom with my parents. While we were a little grossed-out with this bathroom, this part of the renovation definitely required the most thought and creativity. We can’t wait to show you what we did.
You’ve now reached the part of the roller coaster ride where you creep to the top really slowly, preparing for the initial drop, not knowing if you’ll throw up.
It has to get a little worse before it gets better.
Next up. The plan and demo. AKA, the part where Laura stayed away so she didn’t freak out seeing all of the carnage in our house.
And…boom goes the dynamite!
Before we get started with the all the goods of gutting our house to smithereens (I’ve always wanted to use that in a sentence), we want you to get a glimpse into what it looked like after all the previous owners’
nas-tay old-school furniture was removed and before we touched anything. You know, so you can get a clearer picture of what we were dealing with.
We’re breaking this up into two parts, primarily because it makes sense to separate the front of the house from the back of the house but also because it was taking a long time to upload all the pictures. That, and I had a couple of adult beverages last night that could have made this an even more interesting post.
On to the goods…
This is the company who we hired to renovate our house. We’ve never used anyone else, but there’s no way they are not one of the best Dallas contractors. They have since become our friends and we are big fans of them and their work. You should also know that my dad (the infamous Ronaldus) is an architect and translated our vision onto special paper and used a lot of terms that we don’t understand. He is also good at math.
This is our entry. WIth this awesome/not-awesome piece of art they left hanging on the wall for us.
This is our dining room/formal living room. Complete with a blue-ish stained carpet. Yummy.
A better view of the stains, the rad chandelier and, if you look close enough, one of all switch plates that are surrounded by some weird plastic shell. Oh, joy.
In case you didn’t get enough of the uh-mazing carpet, here’s another angle. You’re welcome.
This is the kitchen. With carpet in it. Wut.
Kitchen/living room. Nice telephone jack on the side of the kitchen cabinet.
Angled view of the kitchen and the awesome cabinets we didn’t want to touch. See that microwave? That’s the one the owner cooked his steak in while we were looking at the house for the first time. He didn’t offer us a bite. Shame.
The other side of the kitchen. I love how the white cabinets match the soiled white carpet. Soiled is kind of a gross word. Sorry.
Back to the living room. The wall on the right was previously occupied by a stuffed marlin. Too bad they didn’t leave it for us.
These brick pavers were hiding under all the carpet in the living room and kitchen. Not a bad find.
This is looking back at our front door. I love how the light comes through the ornate front door (sarcasm). Yes, the same front door that the owners asked if they could take with them. Double wut.
View of both living rooms from the hallway.
This would be our laundry room. That is our hot water heater. When you walk in to the room you have to move so you don’t run into the hot water heater. That will be fun.
We have a semi-detached garage. And more plastic covers under the switch plates. And an awesome slatted entry door.
This is going to be a blasty-blast. And even more fun to watch Laura swing a sledge hammer.
Stay tuned for ‘The 80’s called. They want their house back: Pre-renovation - Part 2,’ where you’ll get to see things like a bathroom that doesn’t make sense, overloaded outlets and a custom string that hangs from a ceiling fan so you don’t have to get out of bed to turn off the light.