Sunday, August 28, 2011

the bathroom

As you may recall, I posted on my plans for our (possible) future back yard space here, and some assorted interior decor ideas here. (And most recently I noted how my wallpaper ideas have evolved following my receipt of some samples here.)

It seems like as good a time as any to resume the redecorating planning posts, yes?


There are 1.5 baths. This is the only photo I have, of the full bath (obviously). As you see, it has a nice claw-foot bath. This also has a shower attachment. My DH hates it (he wants an enclosed shower and believes this one is unsafe); I, of course, love it. The sink appears to be a clam-shell one in this photo, but it actually isn't. The sink and toilet are new, but in a sort of older style, which I'm happy with. As you can probably tell, they redid it relatively recently - those are real hardwood floors (not my first choice for the bathroom, but they're in good shape so far), but of course not original to the house. So it doesn't need any major renovation or anything.

It is, however, very small, and maximizing space will be necessary. There's already a hotel-style towel rack behind the door (which of course is invisible in the picture). I think there should also be a cupboard or shelves over the toilet (outside the frame on the right-hand side). I also have a little bitty three-drawer chest that I use in our bathroom now. I may paint it a color that matches the new bathroom better (currently it's off-white), but that will help to hold toiletries and so forth.

I am still debating about the walls. I've been thinking about wallpaper, obviously. This was my absolute favorite print:


But the factory was out of stock and they won't even send me a sample. After I finished sulking, I decided it was just as well. I'm looking at one "accent" wall of wallpaper for the bedrooms (and all four walls above the chair rail for the dining room - but that will make a bigger impact, so I think it's worth it), but all four walls for the bathroom. Though the bathroom obviously is not large, I think that adds up to about ten rolls of wallpaper. The favorite print is about $28 per roll, but there are a number of prints in the $11-12 range, so I've decided to focus on some of those. (The one I got a sample of and hated was $11.) Currently I'm looking at this one:


Although it's a little bit fussy. I like damask, but I would prefer to go with a damask with cleaner lines for the bathroom (since the space is small and I don't want it to look overwrought). This one has much cleaner lines:


...but maybe it's too modern? And then there's this one:


A bit cleaner lines, not too modern, but the print is on a very large scale. I don't know whether that will look awesome or insane. (I have yet to order samples of these. Soon.)

And then, as before mentioned, I am still thinking about just keeping it simple and painting -something like this color:


So that leaves textiles, which make for fairly dominant decor in the bathroom, I think. To balance my eye-catching wallpaper, I plan to go simple there. I have white fluffy bath and hand towels. And I recently bought super-pile white cotton bath mats:


And I am (have I mentioned this before?) kind of oddly in love with this shower curtain:


I don't know why, I just think it's completely awesome. It's designer, so it's way too expensive, and also, my husband hates it. But I do also like this one:


I think in view of the fact that I showed him the octopus first, he said that the tree is not so bad. I know, contemporary design is not usually my cup of tea. But I just find them charming. And I think it's reasonable to buy a few textiles with a more contemporary bent, since they wear out so quickly - the more durable things will be more traditional. I originally found the tree on houzz.com (love!), but it's available here.

And then I had a brilliant inspiration: the clawfoot tub requires two shower curtains to go all the way around. I can put the tree one on the back most of the time. On the front I can put something plainer - I just bought this on clearance:
(Mine is white.) And then when I'm feeling a bit more whimsical, I can switch the tree to the front. I also bought these shower curtain rings (that's chrome):
OK. I think I'm pretty well squared away here. Maybe more of a rainshower head for the bath, but that's about it.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

your awesomeness

This morning I stepped out of the shower, with 20 minutes to check out of my hotel room and meet some colleagues to drive to the airport. I wouldn't usually answer the phone when I was in a hurry, and I never answer 800 numbers, but for some reason I did - towel in hand, dripping all over the carpet. It was my buddy at the VA, who told me that he was waiving all the conditions of the appraisal. Not pending verification that we made all the improvements as soon as we moved in - just waiving them, period.

Now, of course we are going to take good care of this house. Of course we are going to make sure it is in good repair, and make sure there's no water in the basement, and fix all the peeling paint, and resurface the roof, and repaint the eaves before winter. Of course. But, as he pointed out, all the issues identified as conditions were very small things, and the house is substantially sound, and they were saying it was unsafe on account of these little issues! God bless him.

We're not out of the woods yet - we still have more paperwork to do (even before closing), and wretched BoA still has not responded to our request regarding the appraisal price (not even to say no. They just haven't responded, in an entire week. And they know closing was scheduled for tomorrow). So who knows how that will go. But this time yesterday, I thought this deal was all over but the crying. And now it really looks like this could still happen.

(Also, as my DH points out, moving during a hurricane would be other than ideal. So maybe the date change will work out for the best.)

And I want to thank all of you from the bottom of my heart. Even with little things like a house, I'm not that good at praying for myself...maybe I do a little...but I have a hard time believing. And you guys are hoping for me, and invested for me, and praying for me (even though this is just a house, and not the life-and-death situations that affect a lot of the other bloggy ladies), and I can't tell you how grateful I am for that.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Bank of America can kiss my @$$

So you know this house we're supposed to close on this Friday, and move into on Saturday? No. No, we're not. It's a long story. It exhausts me emotionally. Here is the short version (really): after all the insanity and the six months since our offer and assorted nonsense, we were scheduled to move and had done all our inspections. Thursday last, we got the appraisal report. Came in $10,000 under the contract price. I was surprised, since the contract price was about $40,000 under the tax assessment. We asked the sellers' lender (BoA) to take $10,000 off the price. Have they answered? No, of course not. Why do that?

Worse, the appraisal came with all sorts of "conditions" - things that must be fixed or the VA will not guarantee our loan, as these conditions make the property unsafe, unsound, or unsanitary. Take a moment and think of conditions that you think would rise to that level. Keep thinking. No, really, come up with a few really good examples.

Did peeling exterior paint make your list? No? Really?

Yeah, it made our list of conditions. So did adding a handrail to the service stairs (because they're missing a step, so that first one's a seam-splitter). But those stairs are redundant - there is a main staircase. Also, there's some water in the basement...and the eaves need repainting...and the roof needs resealing. And they think we need a handrail on the front porch stairs (I disagree). But here's the kicker: in a normal sale, the seller would get all these things done quick-fast so the sale could go through. In this (SHORT!) sale, the seller has no money; the approving bank (the aforementioned Bank of America that can kiss my @$$) is not going to pay for it; and I am not going to pay for repairs to the place until I live there, because before that it is not my house, and I do not undertake repairs to other people's property. For the record, there's a potentially serious liability issue there - do not do this.

So we requested a waiver from the VA...they denied it in two hours, but we didn't hear for three days...today I called and heard that they had not denied (or even received) it and I don't understand this news; we've extended our current lease a month; we're scrambling to get estimates for these repairs; I've re-submitted the waiver request to the VA; everything we have is in boxes. I've absolutely had it - I was at the limits of my patience before the latest round of drama started. I don't even want a house any more; I just want all the people connected to this transaction to be repeatedly run over by a truck at low speed.

And then my realtor told me that Bank of America has, on previous occasions, charged buyers $100 a day for delaying closing. (They can't do so here, because as the closing date approaches, they haven't even responded to our request to drop the price and therefore as of yesterday our contract is technically void. Nice job, geniuses at Bank of America. You have an entire legal department; I have a senile realtor and no experience in real estate law. NOT IMPRESSIVE.) I have heard that BoA recently lost an outrageous amount of money in what even I think was sort of a frivolous lawsuit on behalf of foreclosed-on homeowners in the Pacific Northwest. Good.

At this point I am open to renting until we move out of the DC area altogether and take up teleworking from an island off the coast of Maine (I would also consider an island in the Chesapeake. I'm very open-minded).

Moving this post to a lighter note, I am also courting small disasters in the shape of the foiling of some of my home decor plans. You may recall my endless wallpaper debates, and, as I mentioned, I've actually started ordering samples. They finally arrived - quite a few of them. Some are winners; some, not so much.

Let's see...for our bedroom, I've been set on this for ages and ages:


It totally doesn't work in person. I want something very crisp - sharp edges, with solid, even color - and this is almost "painterly," with watery color and feathered edges. Plus it's not as greenish/turquoise as it appears on the screen. It's out. Unfortunately, hours and hours of searching through wallpaper images have not revealed to me a worthy substitute. Woe.

I had intended this for the upstairs bathroom:


In addition to being a great price, I loved that the print was relatively simple and clean for a damask. I also thought that it was a faint gray-on-gray. Tragically, no. While the sample had the crispest printing anyone could ask for, it is a horrendous beige-on-beige. With apologies to anyone who feels the opposite, I loathe beige for home decor applications. A really resonant ivory seems appropriate to me in some circumstances, but beige I cannot countenance. And this one is a shiny, almost pearlescent, beige on matte beige. It's truly horrible.

Almost as long-standing as my (now abandoned) choice for our bedroom is my preference for the dining room:


That had one flaw that was foreseeable even from the on-screen version - namely, the background color had a parchment-y tone, rather than completely even color. And I absolutely loathe faux finishes on wallpaper - cloudy prints, "aged" finishes, any kind of thing that's supposed to look like bricks or wood or whatever. And sure enough, in person, it's parchment-y...but not really moreso than it appeared online. And from a distance of even a few feet, I don't think that would really be visible. And I think it's still a great choice to go above white wainscoting. So, I'm sticking with it. One room down.

For the second bedroom, I ordered a sample of this:


I loved that it had insects. That really said "Victorian grotesque" to me. I was concerned about the luridness of the background color. Again, the sample was a surprise in person. The background color was very toned-down and totally workable. The print was also much larger than I realized. Some of those flowers are the size of saucers. I think maybe the scale alone makes the print seem more modern, and that troubles me. I still love all the bugs. And I love the greeen. And I love all the different intense colors in the flowers - it would make it easy to bring in other colors in the room as accents. But...now I'm second-guessing whether it has the feel I want. I want wallpaper with a really historic sensibility, without making it look like the house is inhabited by 90-year-olds. I know that to most people's eyes, any wallpaper automatically reads nonogenarian, and I'm OK with that - I just have to get it to read artistic and interesting, rather than "museum," from my point of view.

For the third bedroom, as you may recall, I am working from this inspiration photo - I want three walls in this apricot color:


And then the fourth wall will be some wallpaper in the right color. And as I've mentioned, my point of inspiration is this paper (I need to find an affordable version, in a lighter shade):


I ordered two different shades of what seemed like a likely print, figuring they were both approximately apricot and I would pick the better one. One was ivory and the other was metallic gold. I'm not sure how that happened. My exhaustive search for a replacement has been largely unsuccessful, but tomorrow I am going to order this:


I think it has potential. HOWEVER. It also turned out to be a portent of disaster. You see, it's made by Pierre Deux, which company makes some of my very favoritest home decor prints. Wonderful things. And it is going out of business. It looks like there is still some stock in a lot of the papers available to buy - but only for a short time. So I was thinking that maybe I should look harder at Pierre Deux prints for the rooms as to which I'm still undecided, but I haven't really had much success with that.

My husband likes this print:


And I see where he's coming from, but it's very dark, too dark for a house with little rooms. And I love this print:


But I think it would be too much for our bedroom, and I want something with a lot of green for the second bedroom. So I am torn.

I have settled on a few other things. I want a warm, light-to-medium, yellowy-gray color for the living room. I'm not going to use wallpaper in that room at all. It has the uneven plaster that would be difficult to paper, and I want to use a lot of different vibrant colors of vintage velvet-upholstered furniture, and I need a neutral background.

I'm also thinking that I might just need to paint the upstairs bath the color of my Platonic Bathroom (and skip wallpaper there altogether - sad though that makes me):


Gast Architects: Projects traditional bathroom


I've got some ideas on specific paint colors, but still working on it.

And, in answer to your obvious question, if we don't get the house, I am just going to break into someone else's home and repaint and paper their walls.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

hi again

First of all, do you remember Jerry Seinfeld's stand-up routine on moving? People don't get Seinfeld references in the way they used to (and should). This is iconic, and brilliant, and everyone old enough to read an IF blog should remember it. "I love the smell of cardboard in the morning!"

We have plenty of boxes now, by the way.

Not much to report. We got the termite inspection done (no living termites and prior damage was repaired), roofer comes out tomorrow to give an estimate for re-sealing the roof and probably claim that all sorts of other things need to be done too (which I will conclude is fraud and ignore, like I do with my car - I've never been wrong, BTW). As previously mentioned, the regular inspection is done.

Got all of the paperwork done for the loan - plus apparently my plan to lock in a low interest rate early before they climbed was not as ingenious as I thought. Because - the rates dropped. And the nice lender "floated" us down to the lower one! (Which is really low. I am impressed.) I believe the appraisal is also done. The bank ninnies (not our lender, the current owners' lender) still have some paperwork or other to do, but we are scheduled for closing on August 26th and they have been advised of this.

We reserved a moving van (at a good rate - I was surprised) for August 27th. My husband found some local guys to help us move stuff. (I would much prefer we do it ourselves and am willing to move every box myself if need be - we are renting a little hand-truck so I could totally do this - but my DH absolutely insists that we are never moving without hired help again. He is not as sporting as I think he should be.)

I also ordered wallpaper samples (almost a week ago - why haven't they come?!) and I've started picking out paint chips at the big orange store. I haven't bought sample paint cans yet because we'd just have to move them, but they're only $3, which I thought was quite good. I also have to narrow down my color choices before I buy sample paint; but I show my husband sample chips and he acts like I'm trying to get him to read Sanskrit. So I will give him veto authority, and other than that, you guys are going to have to help me decide, OK? Also, I only got six or seven wallpaper samples (I probably needed more like 12) because they are EXPENSIVE. It was $42 for just the ones I ordered! Annoying wallpaper people. The other site from which I want to get wallpaper doesn't even offer samples. I need to call and harass those people.

I have worked on restraining my furniture-shopping ways since we found out this was actually going through. Every night I come home from work and pack a few boxes and it seems like there's more left to pack than there was before. (And it's also a problem that there are so many things I won't pack because "we'll need them" - toiletries, pens and pencils, ALL my summer clothes, baking ingredients, spices, pots, pans, and most of the baking dishes - and we're moving in 16 days [!!!] and I just need to reserve the bare essentials and pack it all already.) So even the amount of furniture we have (which is sort of a lot) is daunting. And with boxes everywhere there's no floor space left. I need to be patient. It's difficult.

I'm also being sort of good about IF stuff - I haven't taken my temperature in months (possibly in all of 2011?) but whatever. I started my HCG shots on time this cycle (last cycle I couldn't pinpoint peak day and gave up), so after this I want to do them for four more cycles - six total. I'm months overdue getting my blood drawn but the lab is open Saturday (p+7) so that will be good. I suspect I need more thyroid - I feel more tired than I should, and diet and exercise don't really do much to my weight. All summer I have been trying to fit into a cute summer suit. Sigh.

And I need to get off my seriously obsessive What Not to Wear marathon on youtube. If I didn't watch...well, several...episodes a night, I would get a lot more boxes packed.

Friday, August 5, 2011

...and

At around 10:30 last night, we heard from our realtor that the bank and investor approved our offer - or, more accurately, our attempt to paraphrase the bank's counteroffer (which it refused to make in writing, forcing us to do our best job of drafting on the bank's behalf. Weirdos). Of course, I haven't heard anything from the seller's realtor yet today (she and I are in regular contact), so I'm starting to worry that our realtor hallucinated it.

Assuming our realtor still dwells in reality, this means we just need to finish up the appraisal (which is already underway), get a termite inspection (scheduled for Monday - apparently we don't have to be there), and get a roofer out to take a look at the roof.

Oh, and move. Today I will be reserving a moving van, getting a bunch of boxes from a friend who just moved, and, ah, packing. I started packing last night, and after I'd gotten about 75% of the crystal, china, and linens into a tub and packed all my winter clothes, and my DH had packed several boxes of books, I sat down to make a list of all the categories of things that will need to be packed. It was almost two pages. Good grief. I thought I'd been downsizing these last few months (and in reality, that list would have been so much scarier if not for that), and I can't believe we own all that crap. I really need to get to work.

Of course, I could tell myself that I won't have to move again for a very long time, but for some reason I suspect that's not true. I do think I won't have to move lock, stock, and barrel again for a while, and might get to enjoy a permanent address for a good long time - but somehow I don't see being stationary in our future.

Anyway...thanks all of you for your kind words and well wishes. I am so delighted this insane short sale process is finally (mostly) over, and I am looking forward to having a space to decorate in real life! (And, yes, there will be pictures!)

Thursday, August 4, 2011

still not dead yet

Redundant, yes, but it seemed appropriate.

So I am still alive and faintly less delinquent about blogging and commenting. But, not so's you'd notice.

My pregnant friend is no longer pregnant; she had her baby on Saturday. To celebrate her transition out of pregnancy, my husband and I went and got ice cream with the folks whose wedding we attended in May; I believe she's in her second trimester? Or just about? No, no, that's not really why we got ice cream with them :). He...the husband...was/is a good friend; the wife I'm fond of but know far less well.

Of course I vividly remember a year or so ago - well, March of 2010, actually, because he and I went shopping for the party we were all co-hosting, at which he met his wife - when he was talking about how difficult it was to be single still, and how you don't know that God's plan for your life will actually include marriage, and I made some very general comment about having kids being the same, and I got the standard "oh please God no don't bring that up I swear I will fake a heart attack right here in Costco" face. OK, bud.

Obviously that wasn't just my paranoia, because though he said nothing at the time (other than changing the subject), when first he saw us after their wedding (they've been all over visiting family this summer), he didn't tell us. And then later that night when her old roommate (and a friend of ours) was about to stop by where some folks were hanging out, he made his announcement in a great hurry. Points for recognizing that you'd look like a prize jerk if we heard about your wife's pregnancy from her friend with you sitting right there. Points for recognizing it was a sensitive subject with us. Some leeway for not knowing how best to broach something like that. But I have to say...he therefore announced it in front of a dozen people (as you may recall, that's my pet peeve, having to be on display with my initial reaction); he was too uncomfortable to announce it to just my DH and me. Because, what, we'd outnumber him? You have to be in the fertile majority when you drop a bombshell on these poor people?

And I had already figured out that she was expecting (I mentioned this in a prior post), so when it was just the three of us hanging out and my DH said something about it probably being for the best that we don't have kids (because so much of our lives is up in the air - but our friend is about to be between jobs and is stressed about it, so I would take that hard if I were him), I said something to make him feel better, to the effect that there are bad things about not having kids, too. Maybe I should just try to make other people feel rotten about having kids? (If I'm going to do that effectively, I need to get on a better fitness program. Note to self...)

I whine a lot. There are some good things too. This week I had discussion groups on both The Poem of the Cid (on which El Cid was based - it's an 11th century epic poem, I believe), and the Iliad. That was awesome. I only got through book IX (of XXIV) of the Iliad, but I finished the other. I am promising myself I will finish the Iliad soon - and work more on my law review article, and on the painting I started but made very little progress on. But all this is difficult, because I really need to be packing (my husband and I have a packing date tonight, which I'm actually looking forward to).

This is because it looks like we're finally moving on this house. Every milestone we've looked forward to as "this will mean it's a done deal" has come with an "oh OK, now that we've done this we can get it to the final approval," which of course is only the prelude to a different approval. However, we've signed and initialed piles of documents in the past week, and we've chosen to behave as if this were actually going to get resolved. This Monday we gave notice to our landlords that we were vacating effective August 31. Saturday we had the new house inspected. I started processing the final approval on our loan ten days ago, before we even got word from the bank on the short sale (the non-final final word; we're still waiting for the slightly-more-final word which I'm sure will also not be final), and we locked in a 4.5% interest rate. (Yes, I am VERY proud of myself for that. They went up the next day.) We've requested the appraisal, and next I shall begin agitating for the termite inspection and a roofer to come out (we know there are some issues, we need to know the extent). We're hoping to close August 26. Actually, that's really about the only time we can close. Prayers for cool weather that weekend for our move would be appreciated.

So maybe soon there will be posts of me decorating my house...maybe. We'll see.