Brandon and I recently celebrated one year of living in our house. Before we moved in, we two significant cosmetic changes: replacing the carpet with laminate, and repainting all of the interior walls. We’ve made lots of other changes since then, so today, let’s take a look at what we’ve done over the past year.
I’ve divided these improvements into four categories: appliances, cosmetic, yard work, and structural. As far as appliances go, the first thing we replaced was the oven, which was running cold and taking forever to cook anything. We got this one on sale, and includes both a setting for bread proofing and a built-in air fryer, which Brandon especially enjoys using. As we found out after using it, instead of making an alarm sound, this one plays a song when it finishes preheating.
We’ve had a few other appliances installed or updated over the year. Brandon kept hitting his head on the lights in the hallway (one of the perils of being 6’6″) so we had those replaced with lamps that are flush with the ceiling. Around the same time we had the oven replaced, we bought and installed new toilets that were taller than the old ones. We also had ceiling fans installed in the bedroom and study where Brandon keeps his computer equipment. In a humid climate like Virginia, air circulation makes a world of difference in the summer, so getting those fans in place was a priority.
I’ve also been making cosmetic changes to the house through painting. The most creative work has been the birds and other animals I’ve been adding to different rooms throughout the house, but that’s not the only thing I’ve done. Before I painted the birds, I went through and painted all of the electrical outlet covers with leftover paint from the walls, since the beige covers no longer fit with the color scheme. I also painted the doors on the cabinets in bathrooms using leftover trim paint to brighten their look. Around the same time I did this, I added a new coat of paint to each of the interior doors to brighten them up.
We’ve also been doing some work on the outside spaces. Before the weather started warming up, we removed the rusted-out screen door leading to the patio and installed a brand-new one. In the front yard, we started our renovations with simple upkeep, since the yard hadn’t been weeded or trimmed since the sale. We removed the old groundcover and replaced the white, plastic hedging with sturdier ones made of brick. We also picked up a pair of garden shears to keep the bushes trimmed, and purchased a small shed to store all the garden equipment we’ve been getting. Given how dark it gets at night here, we also installed walkway lights. In the future, I’d like to add native plants to the front yard to attract pollinators and benefit the local wildlife.
While many of these changes were planned, our biggest renovation was unexpected. In August, I noticed a bulge in one of our bathroom floors near the toilet. As it turned out, a broken flange had resulted in water seepage from the toilet, causing damage to the floor. In order to get our toilet back, we had to do the following:
- Remove the damaged floorboards
- Have the subflooring dried and disinfected
- Have new floorboards installed over the subflooring
- Replace the top layer of the bathroom floor
- Replace the broken flange
This ended up taking several months, and we didn’t reinstall the toilet until early December. While the job itself was small, no single company could do the whole thing (and we didn’t want to invest in the equipment needed to do it ourselves). The plumber couldn’t dry out the floorboards, and the person who could do the drying couldn’t replace them. Neither could the person responsible for replacing the top layer of flooring because it veered into construction territory. For each part of the job, we had to locate a different vendor, and the next part couldn’t begin until the previous task was completed. Getting someone who could replace the floorboards was especially tricky, and for several weeks, we had to cover the area with trash bags since it was next to the shower and we didn’t want it getting wet.
As a result, we were beholden to the schedules of many contractors, which extended the whole process. It was a frustrating but important lesson on the other side of home ownership. Yes, you can do what you like with the house, but when something breaks, it’s on you to find someone who can fix it. Still, it’s great to have a fully functional bathroom again, and personally, I think the new floor goes even better with the paint job.
Overall though, we’ve enjoyed living here. We really like the space, and the changes we’ve made have made it more comfortable and livable for us.
So what are our plans for the coming year? For now, we’re not planning anything ambitious. Last year ended up being rather expensive with all the changes. While our home insurance did cover most of the bathroom damages, we still spent quite a bit of money on all of our projects. This year then, we’ll focus on maintenance and saving money for future repairs and improvements. Rather than make any more big changes, we’ll enjoy the house we have and save those larger undertakings for the future.
All in all, though, I think we’ve managed to accomplish a lot during this first year and we’re happy with the results.