2 Months In Washington & House Hunting

In a few days marks our 2 month mark here in Washington.  I’m anxious to find our next fixer upper house.  Right now we’re in Federal Way between Seattle and Tacoma in a rental house.  (A rental house we can’t refurbish furniture at or run a business from.  I’m going a little crazy.)  

The newness is wearing off.  It’s always busy here with a large population (as expected), but you don’t really understand until you’re living inside and become one of the many.  Blending in with people of varying backgrounds.  It’s exciting and overwhelming at the same time.  

Then there’s also a view of Mount Rainier from many of the areas we find ourselves which never fails to take our breaths away.  I’m known to ask why people in the other cars aren’t amazed-there’s a freaking mountain over there.  Or our drives to the Puget Sound with its spectacular water views (and real estate wowza) and there are those times where we’re hanging with my sis-in-law in Seattle.  She works and lives close to the Space Needle and Pike Place Market.  I find myself saying hey to both institutions.  I literally say hi.  Just so happy.  I love it here.

I’m obsessed with house hunting.  I’ve been researching and planning part of our future which involves rental income properties and another house to remodel.  To reach this, we soon need to find a place with potential in a desirable location…proving difficult.  

We met with our real estate agent a few weeks ago to peruse Tacoma.  She is wonderful and knowledgeable…our agent and the city.  It didn’t take long to fall in love with Seattle and Tacoma. They are laid-back with a small town feel but you don’t forget you’re in an urban, forward-looking, progressive locale.  There’s also nostalgia with nuance.  A pleasing, comfortable vibe…even when the fifth person asks you for money in an hour or person talking to themselves starts to yell at you or when a street performer completely embarrasses you in their juggling act (ahem).  There’s just something about it here.  

Back to the real estate though.

Greg and I are open for a house in Tacoma or Seattle.  That’s a pretty big spread and we’re still struggling.  A big issue with all of this is the cost (it’s very expensive and we don’t know how most people afford it)…then there’s the quality factor.

People live in conditions we can’t wrap our brains around-whether it be filthy, gross conditions the owner or tenant keep the house or the home’s structure.  Gross can typically be cleaned, but structure would take some doing and more moolah.

The roof is falling in and leaks, the house is sinking, you can’t actually use the 1/2 story upstairs, the stairs are too steep or built in such a way that leaves the upstair’s layout unusable.   You can’t stand up in the basement, you have to walk outside to get to the basement and that’s where the washer/dryer are or maybe the electrical box is located on the exterior of the house, the garage (if there is one) doesn’t seem safe to be in…things of that nature.  

You can have one section of a neighborhood be great then drive a smidge down the street and have the completely opposite condition.  There are various styles and ages of homes in the same neighborhood at various levels of maintenance.  It’s tricky to figure out decent from not-so-decent here which sounds strange, I know.  

These have been houses in our price range making it a bummer thus far.  Often the house location does not make it profitable either or you’ll be fighting other investors who make…you know…those crappy, cheaply remodeled interiors that don’t address the problems, instead masking it with shiny-yet-still bland finishes.  We’ve considered fixing what they’ve done, but there’s not been an ideal candidate for it.  

I never lose hope though.  Not when I have mountains and water to look at.  

 

 

The Pro Pics of the Minnesota House

As promised, this is the post with the professional shots of our old house.  It feels strange to write “our old house” because that place will always have a part of Greg and I.  It still feels a bit like ours.  Only 1,700 miles away.  And we probably won’t be back there ever again.

We did work our bums off for about 3 years on it, and shocking to us, had a full cash offer within 24 hours of listing the house which we happily accepted.  I still wake up every day having to remind myself that I’m on the West Coast.  This is Washington, I tell myself.  This is where you want to be, where you worked hard to get for the last 7 years.  Surreal moments.

I spend a lot of time trying to find a house these days.  So far no real candidates for our next fixer upper.  We are jonesin’ for our next project though and getting out of this rental would be terrific.  It’s aggravating not being able to make improvements and living with the quirks.

Anyway, have you spotted any cute places in and around Seattle?  Let me know.

Here are a few photos of the Minnesota house before our remodels…if you wish to see more “before” and “during the remodel” shots (besides reading most of the blog posts) see the Home Improvement Projects page which has links to the individual projects.

 

After…

 

 

The House Sold and We’re In Washington

Much has happened.  First, we are in Washington!   Yeah, it happened for real.  We are no longer in Minnesota.  We’d like to thank all of those who supported us during our 6 year stay in Northfield.  We are forever grateful.  It was there we found a calling and renewed our zeal for furniture and house design.  Our lives became more focused on how to create both in the future with this fiery, red hot passion in our bellies.  A business was made.  We feel better for it.

After listing the house in late September and accepting an offer the following day.  Let me say that again: we had an offer on our house within 24 hours.  Not just any offer, full cash asking price.  It blew our minds and quite frankly made everything after that go very very fast.  There were a few crazy weeks of planning.  Planning the move, planning a visit to see family and friends in Indiana, organizing belongings and packing, inspection and seller paperwork with our agent/team, and all those little things you have to do to move yourself across the country (with 2 weeks of “vacation”/driving in there).

The buyer wanted to be in the house within 4 weeks, so we set the closing date for mid-October (2 1/2 weeks of prep work folks).  We found a rental house with a short term lease in Washington close to where Greg works, packed up our Old Dominion truck, shipped the few belongings we had left, and scheduled those items to be stored before we arrived.  (It arrived 6 days ahead of us.)

Then we just left.

The day of closing we decided to head for Indiana (a day earlier than planned) with our 2 pups in tow as a sort of vacation for a week.  We had a great time hanging out with family-especially our niece and nephew, Nolan and Emma.  Then we left from Indiana for Washington state.

Thanks to airbnb.com we stayed in a house in Deadwood, South Dakota.  If you like casinos (not so much for us) this is the place for you.  The historic architecture was nice to see and we’d definitely go back.

This was after a drive through Bighorn Mountains and a stop at Mt. Rushmore (with views from the Iron Mountain Road).  I didn’t mention the hotel in Atlantic, Iowa or the very windy drive through South Dakota.  There isn’t much to say except I think I had the worst Chinese food of my life there and the city of Atlantic has a funk that rests on everything.  It was bad, people.

If you want to see more pics I took during the trip see me on Instagram.

The next night we stayed in the middle of nowhere outside of Cody, Wyoming in a little shack of a cabin tucked between the mountains.  It was windy and chilly and beautiful.  The stars.  Oh my how vast the sky is and those stars.  Sigh.  We’ll never forget that stay.

We woke up to mule deer running down the road and bison farther down the road on our way to Yellowstone.  There was a lot of mountian driving and absolute gorgeous scenery.

From there, we ventured to Missoula, Montana which is our kind of city.  We will be back there someday.  Our time was limited in each place but we tried to make the most of it.  Thanks to our host Maggie!  Her cottage was adorable and the decor was perfect.  Montana is a beautiful state in general.  That could be a potential spot for us later.

A short stop in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho was next (shoutout to Herta at the vistor’s center) which seems like a cool town.

On the 5th day, we arrived in Washington (Spokane area) where we rested 2 days in Leavenworth.  This is a faux Bavarian village with beer halls and lots of holiday-ness in the air.  Our haus was within walking distance to the shops and (most importantly after 40+ hours of driving) beer.

Then a short drive later and we arrived at our rental house near Seattle. We’re still organizing and gathering our wits.  Greg’s first day back to work is today.  So far people seem nicer, more mannerly, and laid back.  It truly has rained every day we’ve been here which is the first thing most people said to us when we mentioned moving.  There is amazing food for this foodie within 5 miles and loads of people.  There are a lot of people here.  I had no idea just how many.  We’re going to explore more and look for our next house.

I plan to share the finished house photos we had professionally done for the listing.  I intended to do that before we left, but it was hectic at that time.  I also have to prepare myself to go through those photos because our rental is a tad beat up and could use some love unlike our old house.  It’s a rental, a landing spot, Annie.

 

 

Basement Reveal

Yeah it’s September and I haven’t been around since mid-July. Whatev.  We’re finishin’ a house here.

Greg’s 30th birthday went by August 17th, my 32nd birthday is Friday, we have guests coming this weekend-Greg’s parents and youngest brother. We’re looking forward to a visit and doing something other than working on the house (although there will be some of that).

First, the afters….

Entertainment rec room

Bedroom #1

Bedroom #2 (storage for now)

We are 97% finished with the basement. Drywall, mudding, sanding, more mudding, etc.etc.etc..  I painted every day for 3 weeks then we had to level the floor and ta-da it all came together.  It was A LOT of work.  We had 4 days for Labor Day weekend (last weekend) and put in about 700 sq ft of vinyl plank flooring (some of you might have seen it on Instagram). I want to sit down for about a week and not move. Things are really rolling though, so it’s only going to get worse. Things have been non-stop goooooo since the last post (even more than normal).  Here’s the link for the basement bathroom renovation post since I included its after photo even though we finished it in December.

Now for the befores….

This is now the entertainment rec room.  We opened it up in place of a third bedroom (for a total of 5).

Bedroom #2 before

Bedroom #1 before

Our agent came through over a month ago and told us a few things to do to help buyers qualify with certain loans…which meant lucky us got to scrape the chipping paint from the exterior of the house and garage and paint a few exterior doors that had chips. He’s going to come in to do a second comparison and we’re going to finalize the listing price.

During….

We’ve been talking with an agent and lender in Washington for a few months now. Let’s just say a lot of numbers and scenarios have been played out. S-T-R-E-S-S-E-D. There is a story behind that making this transition from Minnesota seller to Washington buyer even more difficult. Go figure. We thought there were problems when we bought this place. I can’t bring myself to talk about it today. Just know it seems much better and we have a good team helping us now.

Greg and I came across 3 antique dressers in town for $50 a few weeks ago. They are sooo cool and were called “firewood” by the owner’s son…so challenges, or as we call it, business as usual.

By the way, the house is mostly finished. And until I typed that it didn’t dawn on me and now I’m having a moment. (A very long pause on my side.) It will be listed in the next week or two. (Another long pause.)  I’m going to need more moments to myself with this emotion. Talk to you again when things are less hectic.

3 Years Old

The Wits turned 3 years old today!

It’s hard to believe that this whole thing started 3 years ago in a rental garage after finding a few old dressers on craigslist to update.

I knew just what I wanted for them.  We set out to do the repairs and finished them without electricity or running water in that workspace.  Some people in the apartment complex stopped by to see what we were up to because they noticed two crazies working on something in their garage every evening and weekend.

The first dressers made their way to New York with a couple who told us that we are really going to be something in this field one day.  That message was a constant to us and very encouraging each time.

From there, we did a lot of customer jobs, delivered things out of state and shipped a few pieces on etsy to various persons around the U.S.

We wanted more space to live and work, to stop renting and also craved a big project.  In December of 2011 we moved into this house and never looked back.  After reaching one goal, we’d move on to the next and never stopped setting more goals.  We expanded our family to include two pups who don’t even blink when we start to make noise.

Our dream was to move to the Pacific Northwest.  The opportunity came up a little over a year ago with Greg’s job and we jumped on it.  We set out to overhaul almost every room in the place before moving.

The house is nearly finished today and I can’t wait to get back to refurbishing furniture regularly once we get to Seattle.   Greg and I love designing/improving furniture and homes so much that we believe it is our calling and intend to continue doing both.

3 little years.  I wonder where we’ll be in 3 more.