Saturday, February 23, 2013

In The Best Light

I am a sucker for the pretty nature photo.

When I am browsing at houses online, I tend to overlook things like carpets or counter tops. All of those things can easily be changed. A beautiful yard and garden, however, takes a lot of time and money to achieve. I look for gardens, trees, water features, paver patios surrounded by flower beds. Show me a pretty garden, and I'm sold!

And therein lies the rub. We'll be listing our house in early spring. Let's face it. The garden will not be very pretty, even if a few brave daffodils decide to make an appearance.

Lucky for me, I happen to be a nature photographer. Okay, not a REAL nature photographer. I'm an amateur with a cheap digital camera that likes to take photos of my yard and garden. I can pull up old photo files to use when it is time to list.

So instead of seeing this:

A potential buyer can see this:

Instead of poky branches sticking out of the snowy ground:

A rose garden!

Sad flower beds:

Happy flower beds!

A realtor will tell you that your typical buyer does not have the best imagination. They can't visualize what a house or garden could look like. You have to show them. Thankfully, I will have something to show for all of that faithful digging, planting, mulching and watering.

And for all of you who are looking at that view of the vine-covered arbor and thinking "Wow. She's going to miss that view!" Trust me, I know. It's been a joy to watch the seasons change in the nature preserve.

I'm praying now for my next house and my next garden. And Lord, if it wouldn't be too much trouble, could you please give me some really good soil? No clay, please. Thanks, God. You're the best!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

It All Started With A Lime

I had to slice a lime the other day. I was about to do my lazy method of cutting it right there on the counter top when I stopped myself.

No, I don't have granite counter tops. So if you are one of those whiny babies from House Hunters who walks into a kitchen and crabs "But it doesn't have granite counter tops!", then don't even bother coming to my open house. I bought you stainless steel appliances, even though I really don't like them. Seriously, folks. Y'all aren't Giada and Paula in the kitchen. You're no food diva, so make do!

But I digress.

I was about to cut into that lime lazy style when a voice inside of my head said "You better grab a cutting board. You wouldn't want to nick these lovely, perfectly functional and tasteful (okay, I'm getting heavy on the adjectives here) laminate counter tops before you sell them."

And that's when it dawned on me. I am in full real estate mode now.

Real estate mode switches over so subtly that you often can't pinpoint its onset. You only know when you're full-on into it. Kind of like the flu.

You start to look at your rooms with a critical eye. Too much clutter. Better make a list to remind myself to remove the family photos. Wow, those baseboards are scuffed. Must buy a Magic Eraser.

In normal, day to day living, you could care less about scuffed baseboards. But when you have a case of real estate flu, it makes you hyper sensitive.

The fever comes to a peak shortly after the For Sale sign goes in the front yard. That's when you find yourself in the crazy ranting phase.

"Who left the dirty glass in the sink?!"

"No, you cannot fry bacon! That smell will stay in the house for days!"

"THIS is why God made Chlorox Wipes, people!"

I'm not looking forward to that phase, even though I know it's inevitable.

And did I mention that my husband will be living in temporary housing during the week while I'm home alone with a child and a dog, trying to keep this place clean and open house ready at all times? It won't be pretty.

I'm tiptoeing into this phase now, looking at bathroom cabinets and overstuffed linen closets with a jaundiced eye, giving a little attention to one neglected space at a time. I know I'll need an extra dose of grace in the days ahead.

When real estate flu sets in, grace is the best medicine.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

A Room Remodel

Just a few weeks back, when we were still debating the move, we decided that it wouldn't hurt to call our realtor and have him assess the house. After all, it wouldn't make sense to move if the housing market was lackluster (he assured us that it was not) or our house had not appreciated in value thanks to our whole house updates (he promised us that it had).

As we walked through the house, I told Mike about all of our updates...paint, lighting, fixtures, fencing, landscaping, etc. We have painted nearly every room in this house in the past five years. And when I say we, I mean mostly my husband. What can I say? He's cheap manual labor! Make him a good dinner, put on an action movie in the man cave, and he's paid in full.

Of course, leave it to the realtor to make a comment on the ONE room that had not been painted...the laundry room.

"You should probably paint this room," he said. "Moms these days are looking for mud rooms, a place where the kids can hang up their coats, dump their shoes, and deposit their book bags."

Is that a challenge? Well, I accepted that challenge! I can turn a laundry room into a mud room. No problem! After all, I have the live-in labor to help make it happen!

Here is what the room looked like when it was still a "laundry room":

Yes, it was pretty sad. I must confess, I was holding onto stuff that I had absolutely no use for. A bottle of Dreft baby detergent? I haven't had a baby in nine years! Silver cleaner? You know, for when the queen comes for tea. At the end of that cleanout, my recycling toter was filled to the MAX! After a good cleaning and painting, here's the new "mud room":

That looks much better!

My good friend, Martha, came to the rescue. (I can call her Martha because Ms. Stewart and I have been like best buddies for years now!) Martha had a fun line of organizational furniture and accessories at Home Depot. We picked up this storage bench, matching storage shelf with hooks, and all of the colorful fabric baskets for under $200 dollars total.

I added a few of the fabric baskets over the washer and dryer, too.

I wish I had done this remodel years ago, especially when you consider how much I love to do laundry!

I learned a few lessons in this room remodel:

*For Pete's sake, make your laundry room in the new house a cute place to be! After all, you'll probably spend a lot of hours there, so make them happy hours!

*Fresh paint is always the cheapest remodelling trick with the biggest impact.

*When shopping for room accessories, keep your paint swatches handy. I found these items while making a stop for ceiling paint, and knew they'd match because I had my paint swatch in my purse with me.

*A room remodel doesn't have to cost big bucks to make a big impact.

*When selling your house, clean, declutter, and then declutter some more. Set the stage!

*Finally, listen to your realtor. He/she knows the market and what the buyers are looking for in their house hunt.

A fresh new start for a fresh new room. One step closer to the day the "For Sale" sign goes up in the front yard!

Friday, February 15, 2013



It has been cited as one of the top three most stressful events in a person's life, following close behind the death of a loved one and divorce.

Buy a house, sell a house, pack up your belongings, and move to a new state.

Sounds like fun, doesn't it? Well, let me tell you, it has its highs and lows.

My family is about to embark on our third corporate relocation in an eight year period. Yeah, you could say we're becoming pros at this. Mind you, we're not anywhere near the level of transient living that our military families experience on a yearly basis (God bless you!). But we have learned a lot with each move.

This week, we made the decision to accept a job offer. We will be moving from Noblesville, Indiana, our home for the past five years, to a new home and a new life in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. We're excited to embark on this new adventure.

I've decided to start this new blog in the hopes that our experiences will help others navigate their way through the tricky minefield of relocation. If this move is anything like the others, you can expect to find posts on:

*selling a house and home staging

*buying a house

*finding good schools

*finding new churches

*saying goodbye to old friends

*saying hello to new friends

*staying sane while trying to start life over again
I've officially christened this site with the name This End Up. Whenever I see a moving box with the arrow pointing upward, it is going to remind me to keep looking up. As a christian blogger, my faith plays a big role in my every day life. I know that God has plans to prosper us with this move, and not to harm us. He has given us hope and a future. He promised me that, so I'm holding Him to that promise. So I guess you can expect this blog to be equal parts HGTV and Inspirational TV. Like watching House Hunters on television while simultaneously listening to KLOVE on the radio.

I hope you will enjoy this journey! Please share this blog with a friend who is moving. Even if they're just moving down the street, I promise to include some tips that will make the transition a little easier. And if I fail miserably, then you can all laugh right along with me. Or laugh at me. I'm cool with that, too.

Keep this end up, friends!