The Windows

In the last blog post, I posted these two photo with a sneak peek of my latest projects…

It’s our new old windows that we brought back from Memphis. Sue and Karl replaced the windows in their 40-year old house this year and saved us some for some fun projects.

The first project was this pair of windows that I put over our outdoor seating area. I found some tropical prints to adhere to the backs of the windows for this whimsical look.

I found those cute candle holders at Hobby Lobby to flank the windows and give some atmosphere when entertaining.

I love the new look!

I placed another window on the fence by our fire pit area and affixed some colored starfish.

I love this look too and it’s finally cooling off enough that we may be able to have a fire soon.

One last window went over our master bed, decorated with a wreath and flanked by candle holders again.

I like how the window and picket fence headboard give a sweet, cottage feel.

I really had fun decorating each window in a unique way in three different areas.

Which one is your favorite?

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Weekend Project

On Saturday, I posted the following on Instagram…

That was the kiss of death because shortly after that my sewing machine died. After trying to fix it, then giving up, borrowing a machine from my neighbor and watching numerous YouTube videos to figure out how to work it, I was finally back in business.

What was I working on? Remember these outdoor lanai curtains from painter’s tarps I made early last year after seeing them all over Pinterest?

What the Pinterest posts failed to tell me was that the humid Florida weather would make them look like this in just under two years…

curtains (1)

curtains (2)

Because they are so big and bulky, I can’t really wash them. Plus, even if I could, they’d be extremely wrinkled and need to be ironed and that’s just not going to happen. When I accidentally buy something that needs to be ironed after washing, it immediately goes into the donation pile. Ironing is just not my thing…ha!

So after trying to figure out a replacement solution, I had the inspiration to make new curtains out of shower curtains, which would be moisture and mildew resistant. However, they were too short right out of the package so I had to find a water resistant fabric to make a border at the top, which I found on clearance online.

After about 8 hours on Saturday, I had beautiful new replacements. Here is a comparison of the old and new curtains…

And here is the finished product…

I love them so much! And because this material is so light weight, they can be easily washed in the washing machine with no ironing needed. Hooray! I am really hoping that they will last longer than the other ones.

The only negative is that the fabric on top is only one sided. So there is no pattern on the back side.

But I still think they look better than the dirty, moldy tarps.

I started another project this weekend too which I will be sharing after I finish them up (there are some hints in the photos above if you are observant). Stay tuned!

Have a Seat Update

The new couches have arrived! Let’s remember what it looked like earlier this week…

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And this is what it looks like now, (sort of because the color is really off)….

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This is the other angle…

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But this is the best part….

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A double reclining couch, so now Carl and I can both stretch out our legs! And that last photo is the best representation of the actual color.

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Did you also notice that I got a new rug? A larger rug also enabled me to push the furniture back further. The previous couch had to be placed just so to cover a large hole left in the carpet by the previous owners (they gave us a carpet allowance to pay for that but we haven’t quite gotten around to replacing all the carpet yet). This new rug is not only beautiful, but it covers that annoying hole.

We lost some seating going with two couches instead of the sectional. But for the 85% of the time that it’s just Carl and I relaxing and watching movies together, we will be enjoying our new couches.

Have a Seat….

When we moved to Jacksonville almost three years ago, we left behind our 15 year old family room couches and Carl’s beloved recliner since they were worn and not in the style that I was going for in Florida. I found a nice imitation leather sectional and new accent chair for the family room and I painted/restained our old tables for that room.

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Since Carl gave up his recliner, I let him have the use of the corner lounger section on the right side in the following photo.

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That left me with the section on the left. So for TV viewing, I had to sit with my feel resting on a cushion on the coffee table (you can see the cushion peeking out from under the table) or lying on my side.

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It was functional but not overly comfortable, especially for me. So a few months ago, when I noticed that the material covering the couches was starting to disintegrate, I started dreaming of a replacing this crappy set with something that was more comfortable and durable.

Here is the worst section on the back of the sectional….

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And here is what the entire seat cushions look like across the sectional….

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I returned to the store where I bought it, just because it is the closest furniture store to our house. When I told the saleswoman my sad story of needing to replace crappy furniture just under three years old, she said “let me pull up your account.” After looking at it, she said “oh, you paid for the 3-year protection plan.” We NEVER pay for the protection plan so I was surprised. Yay, me for thinking ahead to this very moment! I was even more surprised when she said “we had a lot of complaints about that set. We don’t work with that manufacturer or carry any imitation leather products anymore. Since you paid for the protection plan and it is under the 3-year warranty (just barely), we will give you a store credit for 100% of what you paid for that crappy furniture.” Okay, maybe she didn’t say it exactly like that but you get the point.

SAY WHAT?! Thank you Lord! I just love those cool little blessings when you least expect them. I was prepared to fork over the full amount for replacement furniture and here we are getting all of our money back after using the furniture for 3 years because Kristy-of-3-years ago made a great financial move in paying the extra $100 for 3-year protection. The new furniture arrives later this week so stay tuned for new photos :).

 

 

 

Let the Sun Shine, Part Two

After receiving all of the renderings from the awning company, we fell in love with the Bahama Shutters. I used Photoshop to create a rendering with the Bahama shutters and a red door awning.

Awning

That was the clear winner! However, we did not fall in love with the price. After doing some investigating, I found that we could order the Bahama Shutters on our own and Carl could install them, saving us over $500 dollars.

This spring, Carl installed the Bahama Shutters.

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We love them! They have made a huge difference in the heat coming into the house, with no noticeable difference now felt in my office. Since we got them 3/4 of the way down the window, there is still plenty of light in my office and I can still see out my window while working, which is really nice.

Earlier this week, after about 8 weeks in production, the door awning was finally installed. We actually didn’t go with a bright red as shown in the photo above. The guy said that type of fabric with a solid color is more likely to show fading and wear. The fabric we choose is actually a very fine black and red tweed that he said would hold up in the sun much better.

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Here is a photo of the whole front of the house.

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You can see the extra shade the awning is providing in the afternoon sun in the photo below….the top two-thirds of the door is now shaded. Time will tell if the heat at the front door is kept at bay with the awning.

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This is what the awning looks like when walking out the front door.

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Side note: I’ll be so glad to NOT see Anthony’s pick-up truck parked on the driveway when he and I drive it back to college next month! After having it sitting out front for the past school year, I’m not going to miss it!

It’s nice to see my glass door once again, without the paper shade covering it.

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We are really happy with our improvements to the front of the house. Functional and pretty…a winning combination!

Let the Sun Shine

This is what our house looked like when we first saw it and fell in love with it.

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The big problem was those lovely, large front windows and beautiful glass front door are all west-facing. That means that the brutal afternoon Florida sun came pouring into the house all afternoon, heating up those rooms. My office is the behind the window on the right in the photo, which means that I bake while trying to work in the afternoons. My office would be a good 10-degrees warmer than the rest of the house.

We tried using room-darkening shades on the front windows and a black paper shade on the back of the door. This is the paper shade after being on the window for a year…notice how the lower portion is not exposed to the sun and therefore is still black while the rest is completely bleached out from the hot sun. I like how it even shows the shadow from the lead in the glass.

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So earlier this year, we had a company come out and give us estimates for awnings for the front windows. Below are some renderings they gave us of what it *could* look like.

Option One:

Miklas, Kristy - 1-rendering

Option Two:

Miklas, Kristy - 3A-rendering

Option Three:

Miklas, Kristy - 2-rendering

And then, after they sent all those, we threw a last minute curve ball and asked them about Bahama Shutters for the windows so they sent us this….

Miklas, Kristy # 4-rendering

What do you think that we picked? You’ll have to come back tomorrow and find out!

 

Our Rental Properties

If you are related to me or have been a long-time reader of my blog, then you know that Carl and I have owned two rental properties back in Minnesota for 11 years now in an attempt to diversify our portfolio. We were going to buy some houses, rent them out for a number of years and then sell them later at a nice profit. We bought our first rental property, a 4 bedroom, 2 bath single-family home in a highly desirable rental market in August, 2006 for $256,000 (I showed a tour here and here and then revealed the new bathroom we put in the basement). In December of that year, we then bought a little 2 bedroom, 1 bath two-story townhouse in a great location the next town over from us for $145,000 (I showed a tour here).

And then the housing market crashed.

At the bottom of the housing market fiasco, the house was worth around $203,000 in 2011 and the townhouse plummeted to about half of what we paid to around $75,000.

We have waited patiently since then for the two properties to recoup their value so we could get out of the rental business. We have been incredibly blessed and are extremely grateful that we have had steady, decent renters that have covered all of our expenses and even put a little money in our pockets each year making this experience tolerable.  But with living in another state now, it is difficult in maintaining the properties (and relying on paying service people) and managing the whole rental process from afar. The final kicker was two major expenses at the rental house this spring, including a $2,800 bill for a new furnace and a $2,000 bill to replace the sewer main line.

So about a month ago, we had a realtor visit the rental house to give us an estimate of the value. And we were thrilled to find out that we could finally get our money back out of it if we were to sell it now. The only problem was we have tenants in there with a lease through the end of the summer. When I contacted them to inform them that we would be selling the property, they stated that they wanted to buy it! So after hiring an attorney and doing some negotiations, we now have a Contract for Deed with the current tenants. What this means is that Carl and I are financing the purchase for up to three years while they work on building credit and securing their own mortgage. They have “purchased” the home from us, are making monthly “mortgage payments” to us and our responsible for all maintenance, taxes and insurance. However, we hold the title to house until their final (balloon) payment is made. If for any reason they can’t make the final payment, we get to keep all money they have paid, including the down payment we required of them, and the house reverts back to us. So it’s a win-win and actually is a good financial arrangement for Carl and I.

Now, the townhouse is another story. I do not believe that we will ever recoup the money that we paid for that property. It has slowly climbed up to around $100,000 to maybe $110,000 (if you believe Zillow) but it will be many, many, many more years before it makes it back up to what we paid. Since that property does not have a mortgage, we just plan on keeping it and living there for the summer whenever Kelly decides to get married and give us some grandbabies. Ha!

Side story: The previous renter of the townhouse was actually on a month-to-month lease since his lease expired last summer. He contacted me a few weeks ago to give his required 60-day notice but stated that he was actually interested in leaving ASAP if I could find a new renter. Within one-hour of listing the property on Craigslist and posting the ad on Facebook, it was rented, sight-unseen by a friend-of-a-friend who was interested in moving ASAP. So we actually ended up with a new tenant in the townhouse less than 48 hours after the old tenant moved out with just one-week’s notice! I just love those little gifts from God.

So we have sort-of sold one of our rental properties and are saving the other one for our summer home in Minnesota during our golden years. YAY! God is so good.