I haven’t posted much about my house in ages, because, well… I haven’t posted at all in ages. Long story short, I had a baby (yes, that’s my excuse) and was trying to work full time, and act like a normal person on zero sleep, so really couldn’t find the time to post or brush my teeth on a regular basis. Now that we’re back up and brushing – I figured it was time for a little update!
We completely redid the outside, new porch, siding and windows (will post photos of that later) and then decided to gut the entire house inside (am I crazy? YES… but it is what it is). I’m super excited for the plans our architect put together, we changed a few things around but here is the plan so far. You know you’ve got kids and are over 30 when you’re MOST EXCITED about having a mud room… I literally asked for a new vacuum for my 34th birthday… hello loserville, it’s me your new pal Hillary.
Anyway… Check these out.
Super excited to see it all come together. We had this huge fireplace in the middle of the house that was so dated – we went back and forth on removing it or not because it was a big expense but ended up taking it out. It really opened up the space and gave us more options for the living room and allowed us to grab a bit more space for the kitchen.
What’s the most important thing I’ve learned from remodeling houses and doing construction projects?
Whatever your budget is… double it. Legit, this is not a joke.
Whatever you think it will cost… it’ll cost double – for sure. And once you take something down or move something it inevitably leads to something else being wrong that you have to fix. So just plan on it being a shit show and break out the wine while you contemplate how to turn your tears into dollar bills.
And I forgot to mention, I’m living at my parents house while this all takes place. I know that I should be super grateful that they live close enough and will take me and my gaggle of children in but… I’m living at my parents house with a gaggle of children… know what I’m saying?!!!
Have you ever gone to Home Depot looking for something unique and just can’t find it? Don’t get me wrong, I’m obsessed with Home Depot just as much as the next DIY woman, but it’s generally all stock material and it can get boring if you’re looking for something different. I was lucky enough to ride along with a contractor the other day and discover and amazing hidden gem right here in MA that I wanted to share with you. Anderson McQuaid in Cambridge is a super cool local business that creates custom moldings, trim, lumber, flooring and what not. Which is basically like finding someone who can build you your own custom unicorn!! So cool. You can pretty much design any pattern you want and they can make it for you. Or if you travel somewhere and see some amazing trim that you want to recreate…Anderson McQuaid can do it (if you’re not on a Home Depot budget).
Moldings can really make a huge difference in setting your home apart from every other stock house, and working with a company like Anderson McQuaid it gives you the opportunity to really get creative. Plus, you can support a locally owned business which is really where it’s AT!
You can check out their website which is not that great (1997 called, they want your site updated) but they’re located at 170 Fawcett st. Cambridge, MA . Although, don’t be surprised if you get yelled at by the guys that work there. I was running around trying to snap pics and kept getting yelled at, which was obviously worth it so I could share a few photos!
Located in Cambridge
All kinds of lumber to choose from!
Ok this is really cool. It filters out all the saw dust from the wood being milled and designed/cut. Basically a massive dust collector.
I had just opened my office when I got referred by a local attorney to help a client of his. His clients sister had sadly passed away suddenly and he was handling the estate which his client had now inherited. Since his client was out of state and unfamiliar with the area, he suggested she use me as her agent to get the property sold, knowing I’d go above and beyond to get the job done.
Being the bright eyed new entrepreneur that I was I jumped at the idea of getting a new listing in the highly desirable area of Arlington MA, just outside of Cambridge and Boston. This area is not only highly sought after, it’s super close to downtown, filled with architecturally unique properties, rich people, and a lot of buyers on the hunt. The only down side was that with traffic it could take me an hour and a half from my office on the South side of the city to get all the way North. But when you’re young, hungry, trying to build a reputation of doing a good job, and in need of money, one tends to put themselves out there on the corner for the taking, and I did just that.
I had set to meet the seller at the property when she was up visiting and was prepared with area comps, recent sales, price per sq.ft, the listing documentation, a cute outfit and an attitude that I was going to sell the sh*t out of this house. So when I arrived in the area and saw the amazing houses on the street, I thought, pfttt I GOT THIS. Much to my dismay I pulled up to my potential listing and saw that the house was a little, well let’s just say it had “deferred maintenance.” Shrubs were overgrown, window shades were down, grass hadn’t been cut in months, abandoned BMW in the driveway, front door was half falling off, gutters were rotted, and the list goes on. I however am a BELIEVER, I do not give up at first, second, or even fifth glance.
I burned every "before" photo in hopes of selling the place, so here is one after a little touch up.
So I walked up to the front door with my can-do attitude and rang the bell, no answer. I rang again, nothing. I knocked, nothing. Waited, then pounded the door, and heard footsteps slowly approaching. Expecting to see an I love Lucy esq mother in pearls answer I smiled my real estate agent – please like me – smile. As the door opened an older woman smoking a cigarette answered. “Hillary, come in” she said, and I happily did.
From the moment I stepped I wanted to turn and run, I started gagging, but had to hide my gagging as to not offend my potential new client. It smelled like dead people, urine, trash, dust, and years of not opening the window molded into one scent and multiplied by 134. I was about to barf on the seller when she started to explain that she hadn’t visited her sister in 20 years and during that time she had become a cat breeder. Apparently, she kept hundreds of cats in the house that were very “special” and high end, and were the kind of cats that were on the Fancy Feast commercials. On a side note; why does cat food so closely resemble vomit? Like really? Is that necessary? Anyways, my potential client was a wreck because she didn’t realize her sister was living in such a terrible state, the house was covered in things, pictures, furniture, dust, dust, dust, wall paper was falling off, the ceiling was coming down, the floors were stained, nothing in the kitchen worked, and to top it all off, the place smelled as if these cats had taken over the house, peed on everything and then died on the floor and were left there for 10 years. Disgusting doesn’t even describe. It was as if I stepped into an episode of Animal Hoarders and Hoarders and Property Nightmares all mixed into one. I felt myself leaning in closer to my client so I could inhale her second hand cigarette smoke in hopes of masking my need to sprint outside and breath any air that wasn’t laced with cat urine and death. Fortunately, my potential client was so sweet, and as she smoked she pushed her oxygen tank along side her and described her health ailments and how she needed this house sold ASAP to help pay for her medical bills. Never one to leave a person in a lurch I sucked up my disgust and took a tour of the house. As I reached the second floor I was started to accept that despite the smell and cosmetic ailments, the house had good bones, a nice lay out, and potential. This wasn’t a project for the faint of heart, but it could be done, and done well.
The Stairs going up
Dining room after being emptied
And then I had to do it, I had to open THE ROOM. (I often think back on this moment and remind myself that money will get me to do a lot, but I don’t think I could go in that room again for anything less than $100K, also, why did I not take any pictures of this atrocity?). This room was wall-to-wall covered in cat cages, I mean like filled with cages, covered in cat hair, cat rags, cat urine, food, all kinds of nasty. My eyes started watering and I was getting dizzy from lack of oxygen, no joke, I had stopped inhaling and was living off my final breath. As I pushed the seller to show me the back yard I got to thinking, what is my plan? How will I get this sold immediately? This certainly isn’t for Suzie home maker and her first baby, I had to find a contractor or flipper that would look past the disgust and see that this house could be turned around.
About a week later I found him! It was half luck, half he knew the area and knew what he wanted. He walked through the property and in 15 minutes said, “i’ll have an offer to you tomorrow” and he did, and came through the whole time. My client was happy, the buyer was happy because he was in the business of taking drab to fab, and I was happy because despite multiple trips to dead cat world, I had gotten my job done and made my client very happy.
One afternoon just before closing, while waiting at the property for my client to swing by I took it upon myself to look in the freezer which was still functioning. Hoping to find a stray Choco Taco I rashly opened the freezer. And there sitting patiently and kindly wrapped in plastic, were 8 dead cats, frozen for later genetic use… or perhaps dinner.
Pictures of the AMAZING, JAW DROPPING, New house, courtesy of Olde New England Properties. If you’re looking to buy or sell in the Arlington area, I can not recommend Jonathan of Old New England Properties enough! This man is a miracle maker, check out his after shots:
Adorable, added garage, redid exterior
Added a second Bath
Pocket door to living area
You have no idea what a transformation this is!
Love, Love, LOVE!
Refinished the attic and also made some rooms high ceilings
Hello New world!
I am so happy that this home had new life breathed into it! It’s amazing what some ingenuity and hard work can do to make something totally DRAB go to totally FAB.
So I live in Squantum, MA, which is the most Northern Part of Quincy, MA. Right next to Dorchester, and 5 Miles from Downtown Boston. I effing LOVE this place and have no idea how I managed to live here because the houses fly off the shelves in days. When I go out for jogs I take pictures of random houses that could potentially be something good for a client etc.
Six months ago I was just moving into my new house and was out strolling the neighborhood. I saw this total dump that looked like it was about to be torn down, so naturally, the dump loving woman I am, I took a photo:
Parke Ave. Before
So naturally time progressed and I watched them build a cute house. You know, the classic box house, square, garage, nice front walk way. Cute, nothing extravagant but cute. Being the house stalker that I am I continued to walk by, watch it be built and wonder who my new neighbors would be. I thought it was going to be this couple who I always saw at the property, walking through it etc. But then the house went up on the market For Sale.
FIVE DAYS later, the house is under agreement. What price was it listed at…???
Are you effing with me? REALLY?! 5 Days?! $800K?!! My trailer chic house suddenly looks way more fab.
Pictures from MLS on the new house they built:
Exterior at night
I LOVE coffered ceilings!
Neutral greys are super popular right now
Cute, but you can get that light fixture at Home Depot for $98.00. I want a nicer one if I'm paying $800K!!
I have recently become insanely obsessed with Coffered ceilings. They are an element that really brings an entire room together. They’re a perfect mix of design esthetic and cozy home feel. Coffered ceilings can come in a series of patterns and have been around since the ancient Greeks and Romans (who made theirs with stone). Today you can have jaw dropping ceilings in a contemporary or country home; I mean these things work ANYWHERE.
Looking fabulous in the kitchen!
Sort of romantic/Gothic...I'm into
I just sold this super cute house in Quincy, MA. Loving the living room!
For as long as I can remember I wanted to own my own house. I’m not into drugs, but I might as well be, because I look at real estate like a crack smoking , street walker…Can’t get enough…MORE, MORE, MORE, NOW! So when the day came that I closed on my first house, I was so excited I sweat through my brand new Calvin Klein dress bought specifically for the occasion, pounded 6 cups of coffee (not an exaggeration), go lost 3 times going to the registry of deeds I had been to multiple times before, and puked in my mouth a little. Needless to say it was one of the best days of my life. Seriously, AMAZING. I had worked so hard for that day and it was finally here. I signed the papers, grabbed the keys and ran to my new house.
Having worked in real estate for a while I knew the “buy the worst house in the best neighborhood” lecture pretty well , because I gave it to my clients on a weekly basis. Taking my own advice, I negotiated the price down on the cheapest house in my DREAM neighborhood to what was a ridiculously good deal so I was pretty confident in my decision even though I knew there were things I had to fix.
It’s funny how when you’re shopping around at houses you see all the good things, but the day it becomes yours you suddenly realize all the flaws (kind of like boyfriends, really perfect, until they’re yours, every day). So when I walked up to the front of my new fab-pad, and the front door literally broke off, I thought it was probably just a lucky sign of how smart I was in purchasing this house.
It seemed odd when I walked into the front porch that everything looked more crooked than I remembered it at the walk through. Closet doors seemed off their hinges, shelves were slightly off, and what I thought were “beautiful hardwood floors” were floors that hadn’t been refinished since the year I was conceived.
I didn’t have time for “buyers remorse” and besides, this is what I do, so no regrets here. But I had to evaluate how I hadn’t noticed cracks in the ceiling and separated beams just the morning before. Was I losing my mind? Perhaps… but seriously? And then it occurred to me, the first earthquake in 100 years had just happened in Massachusetts two days prior! And suddenly it occurred to me that my 1903 salt box, bungalow had seen better days.
Let the project-ing begin! Stay tuned, but for now, enjoy (and by “enjoy” I mean “cringe at”) some “before” pictures:
My nasty bathroom... oh dear.
Kitchen, kind of yuck, but i've seen worth.
I hate laundry, this room isn't helping with that.
Pristine hardwood floors!
Don't even get me started!
Right after the 100 year earth quake. My closet totally busted...AWESOME!