Our House Hunting Trip in Arizona

After searching online and driving around with GPS & cell phones, we managed to collectively see 30 properties within the Chandler & Gilbert areas within two days. We created a "Wish List" which we referred to often in our search. And even-though some places had "space", it may have been in the wrong places for our lifestyle. Although I didn't get the fireplace I had hoped for, the area and home we found together - and not online - we actually found while driving around a neighborhood we liked and calling the simple sign we saw out front. WE made an appointment to see the next day, since it we had spotted this towards the end of day one. Here's some (but not all) of the other places we saw while house hunting in Arizona...












Some other kinks we spotted while driving around areas we thought to live in - that you can't see in pictures online: Some charming homes with space & layout we would have liked, were near TRAIN TRACKS. That's a no-no and no-go. One place we drove by, the front door was wide open, so we stopped and said, "Hello!?" and met a really nice property manager who happened to be there taking some pictures, and she let us in. 

On a sad note, some places we spotted... were Foreclosures. THAT was so sad to see. Overgrown, run down, and even a few weathered belongings left behind. When I realized what it was, I went back into the truck... but Jeff ventured off in the back yard where he said the pool was not only green, it had fish in it to help eat mosquitoes... I just wanted to leave. I know it's happening all over the US, but I don't like the thought that someone has had their life so disrupted. There were toys left behind... so that means kids are effected by all this bank none-sense too... 

Then it was time to snap out of it and move on with our search...

 A simple sign we spotted while driving around 
the community we found and liked!

Another place we saw had the key just sitting there on the front porch... so we did what any curious person would do - and then PUT the key BACK into the lock box (wish that Realtor would have done that). One of the signs we spotted, we called and it lead us to a Realtor named  Bill Johannes with Remax. If you're ever house hunting out in Arizona, look him up. On short notice, he was not only friendly, kind and professional, he showed us a sense of urgency by lining up five places to look at, after we selected them from three lists he emailed us to help narrow our search.



This place I had found online, but the layout didn't suit us... But we REALLY liked the charm of the neighborhood, so we kept driving around it...

There didn't feel like enough of a break when coming through the front door. It was like BAM! Ok - you're in, and you're in the kitchen. Plus what looked nice on the outside (symmetry) didn't work for furniture layouts or flow on the inside. The door inside would be better set off to a side...

But we didn't let that get us down... Driving around the same neighborhood, we spotted some more lovelies to see...

The area in Gilbert we're moving to is called The Willows. It has GREEN GRASS (yay!), tree-lined streets, charming curb appeal (yay! a stoop! like in Jersey - which ironically is where the developer headquarters is located!!), exterior finishes different from Florida, upgraded interior finishes (in comparison to some of the 1980's-1990's rentals we saw), a loft / studio space to use as an office with a VIEW (one north and one west of the AZ desert mountains!) - and one large enough for a seating area! Now we won't be as separated as we were here in Florida. I spent a lot of time in the office - Jeff called my hole. 


Still building... that's a good sign!


The new place also has a double car garage, which space wise, will make up the difference for our current attic: holiday decor storage. The three bedrooms downstairs will give our guests (and us) privacy - and I may turn the third space into a giant WIC :). The out-door space is here too. Just a few kinks & quirks to work through and our new place, but it will make a fine starter home for our first year living out west in Arizona. Plus the money we'll save from renting (vs. our current mortgage) will allow us to save for a down payment in a year - and give us time to get more familiar with places to live in Arizona.  I see a lot of potential out here to help people with their homes, especially since they are still building in this community and that's a really GOOD sign! (better than Florida - for sure!)


This place had the same layout as ours, but this one was for sale. We did toy with the idea of trying to buy, but with such a short window (and our short sale happening in Florida), the pluses quickly became minuses. But it had virtually everything on our wish-list - except for a fireplace...


 Updated finishes, open space, garage storage, architectural charm, curb appeal...


But our rental (seen here) has all that too. When we called the sign, we made an appointment and met with another really nice Realtor named Jenny Browne. She showed us this place, and let Jeff back in yesterday for him to make measurements & notes on floor plans I drew up, scanned and emailed to Jeff. From us touring the place  for a second time yesterday, via cell phone communicating, we even found a few more bright spots to like... More pics and details to come.

Dark wood Shaw laminate flooring, great natural northern light, and mountain views from all windows in the third level loft / studio space. LOVE it!




The location is GREAT too: Wonderful (and familiar) shopping & restaurants, thrift (already spotted a GOODWILL!) and close to highway to go north to Phoenix or south to Casa Grande for Jeff's work. We've learned North Tucson is loaded with artist, so that will be great to check out as well. I'll post more pics tomorrow of some of the details of our new place, and some thoughts for some quick updates to make a rental a  h o m e . . . especially for the upcoming holidays!




Goin' WEST my friends... And embracing the change!



I know everyone out in blog land is all up into decorating for Halloween, and getting ready for the holidays with some fabulous DIY projects to do ... so I greatly appreciate you taking the time to stop by, and check out what's happening on our new adventure - moving across the country and goin' WEST!

xoxox

Heading West

Packed and ready to go on my first trip out west. Although it's just for a few days, I'm anxious and excited all at the same time. I don't think I'll have access to blog post, so see you back on the blog in a few days. Plus, I'll be tweeting pics and sharing pics on Facebook of our house hunting out in Arizona!



Thanks for stopping by!


My Evolving Style - Then & Now - Dining Room

I mentioned yesterday I've been in the process of pulling together photos of the transformations around our home. We first visited this place in August of 2006, then purchased in September 2006 and moved in October 2006. I guess that may be why the move is a little sentimental to me. We actually signed to list for sale five years to the day we signed to close. Needless to say, if these walls could talk, they'd probably say, "Stop putting holes in me!!" from all the times I'd switch wall decor around... And the dining room would probably say, "Stop painting me!!" because of all the coats of paint I experimented with in there. But that's just what this was - an experiment and an experience. The space I like best is how the dining room is now...



2011

After we bought in '06, but before moving in, thankfully the previous owner let us come in to do some work the week of the closing. That week, myself, Jeff, his mom and a friend of hers painted all the rooms and trim. I had selected my colors from Ralph Lauren paints and they were inspired by an image of a west-coast (go figure??) rocky cliff. With the paints pre-selected, it made it easier to coordinate the right "taupe" to replace their carpet with. We went with a waffle Mohawk Berber with the EXTRA padding. It's been SO good to us -  Durable, modern and plush. We wanted to run wood on the first floor and up the stairs, but it was easier at the time to just do the carpet. Now, I'm glad we didn't invest anymore money here since we've lost so much needing to short sell.... Be that as it may, here's a look back at the dining room transformations. hopefully you can be inspired, and also check out several tablescapes that were created in this space (click TABLESCAPE tab above, just below header). I tried to keep the photos at the same point of view. It's come a LONG way, and I can see my style has definitely changed...  But simple changes here and there over the past five years created the big impact that changed the look, feel and mood of the space... without any major renovation...

2006



and the rest is history...



First attempt at "daring to be different" (5 years ago) I had these capiz window panels, but I used them on dowel rods I hung from hooks in the ceiling just in front of the wall...


I think I played it safe in the beginning... plus, we didn't even have a chandelier in the area we were using as the dining room. We added it and added it in Fall 2007. My mom had bought us this dining set as a combo Housewarming - Wedding present.  Since it was too much of a matched set, I eventually donated the end chairs...




Metal candle panels I found on sale online at Target (back in '07). When I got them they were an awesome rustic metal finish... but for holiday I painted them silver and added mirror tile to them for "bling" :)



Red shag rug I picked up at Walmart ($60 5x8) and runners
on the chairs I think were from Homegoods (or Ross)


Then I got into my pillow case chair cover and bamboo poles (from P1) phase...


And then the bench phase... I brought it in from the Living Room, but it actually was the match to our bed. Now it's covered with the drop-cloth slip cover my friend Jose and I made earlier this year...


Tried ottomans, but I think this was a fail...


aaaahhh.... but those pillowcase chair covers - picked up four in black... And switched out the frosted glass shades for lanterns - I just removed the handle and replaced it with a screw long enough to catch the lights bracket...


I liked the look of the lanterns so I kept them for holiday and skipped the bling chandy this year... But graduated to REAL chair covers :) Spotted the velvet beauties on clearance online at Pottery Barn...


And all these changes were without paint - just textiles and accessories. Some changes I don't have photos of. Since '09 was when I was let go of at JCP, I wanted to try something drastically different... so I tried a new paint color on the wall... and LOVED it! Again, from Ralph Lauren, Vintage Masters - Emperor. I did put back the frosted shades for a clean look, but later the Spring of 2010, I added these basket weave hurricane covers I spotted at West Elm...


The turquoise was not only the trend color of the year, it was a wonderful inspiration for several tablescapes I experimented with that year. One was combining pink & red with the turq - LOVEd it! The quad frames were something I had wanted to do and finally got a chance to make: The LOVE were letters I cut from some old Valentines Sale graphics and mounted to poster board, then set in (freebie) discarded fitting room frames... Later to be reused with fabric (earlier this year)...


The red & pink really popped and it was refreshing!


Here's a peek at another fail - tried the grouping of the NYC graphic I framed, but it just looked like a BAD 80's remake... so down it came (QUICK!) and made it's way into the half bath (I posted yesterday)...


I replaced it with the old faithful round mirror and trusty bamboo poles & pillowcase slip covers... Thrifted directors chairs I scored at the Salvation Army (for only $15 for the PAIR!) made their way to the ends of the table... Let the mixing begin - let's LIVE in the space :)



Summer brought on the urge for blue... so I remixed some paints I had in the garage,
and just switched a few accessories for a more minimal look...



Later for Fall, the bamboo poles were replaced with branches I found on the side of the road. I felt like Morticia Addams as I trimmed off all the real leaves from them out in the driveway... then brought them, sitting them inside smaller cylinders inside the urns... and then hot glued Dollar Store Fall leaves to them... Gray pillowcases replaced the white as slipcovers...



I went for GOLD accents last year for Thanksgiving... paired with pheasant feathers, branches and images of horses... I made the centerpiece from an old box planter I had, and used the pheasant feathers & small branches with acorns & moss as filler. I was feeling a winter wilderness moment, paired with the navy wall...  The inspiration came from the wintry white horse image I framed, after finding it in a $1 calendar I picked up at Michael's... But I wasn't feeling the blue wall anymore for Christmas - so I changed it :)


I reused the RL Crosby (chocolate brown) I have on the TV wall in the living room...
Luckily because we have tile downstairs, these little paint changes 
(in the dining room only) go pretty quick!


And for a change - I pulled up the area rug and went bare for a while. I rolled up the area rugs from both the dining room and the living room. They both fit tucked under the bed upstairs... And finally broke down and bought real slipcovers for the chairs, but I never really liked the way they fit (probably because they didn't lol). But they were so inexpensive (I think $40 for all 4) so I overlooked the bad fit and Jose and I were going to fix them... Maybe some other time...


After holiday, I still stayed with the winter whites and added my white blossoms to refresh the space. I painted my Studio trellis panels from black to heirloom white... but I wasn't feelin' this space. It was so crisp and sunny out, and this room just didn't feel sunny ... and more importantly - it wasn't a happy space - After the year I had just had, I needed some happiness, so I painted it a happy color: APPLE GREEN :)


As a matter of fact, I painted it green on
St. Patrick's Day (could ya get anymore green?? lol)
The day after I made the fabric focal point wall art...


The green was surprisingly versatile like the turquoise last year.
I added this years trend color PINK to it for some major doses of happiness...


Ok - Now THIS is HAPPY!
About two months later, after Jeff and I had taken a walk on the beach, I got inspired by the ocean... so I just did a white wash with a hint of last years turquoise over the green... and it worked to transition into Summer... Some fresh cut palm fronds added to my turquoise glass bottles plus my shell & starfish collection and I was feelin' all Calypso!


And after this summer... I did the biggest transition of all for the dining room. After painting the wall the same grey as the others, and then washing it with all three colors used in our home, I built a gallery wall from frames I had collected - mainly through thrift. Not wanting to use anymore photos, and to add some animal print to the space for Fall, I used some scrap book papers I had along with some fabric samples. My beachy wine bottles I painted earlier worked as a cluster on the dining table with a basket full of corks I've collected through the years (some even have dates & notes on them). For the showings through, I removed the cork filled basket and replaced it with one of the larger branches I found last Fall. I also relocated the black wooden candle sconces 9also thrifted) upstairs to the bedroom, to replace two personal photos I removed for the showing - but it still balanced out the smaller gallery wall in our bedroom ~ to be posted later, but you can see now over on HGTV's RateMySpace.


Our home taught me a lot, and helped with content for the blog to also help teach and share with you what I've learned. I would have loved to have done more of other peoples houses, but with Florida being in the top of the worst markets and people losing their homes, people weren't / aren't looking to put anymore money into them. Everyone around here is waiting to see what the next person is doing. In the meantime, paint was a quick fix to update a decor mix. And since this room is the first space you see when you enter our home, it set the tone - season or mood - for what else you would see.









IT'S JUST PAINT!
Some I had. Some I mixed on my own from what I had. I think I only bought two colors - the turq (and reused the second year) and the green. I can't take them with me, so they will be here for the next person to "play" with... But I would like to keep our pallet more-or-less the same neutral greys from Ralph Lauren (LOVE his paints!) And after working in retail for 20+ years plus thrifting - yes, I accumulated quite a bit of treasures that also helped set the mood, season or look. But many of them I re-used within other places around the house... It was that "Simple Shift To Shopping Thrift" that kept our home's style evolving to what it became today...


I'm heading out to Arizona on Monday - My first trip out there... So I won't be posting much here on the blog next week. But I'm sure I'll post pictures to Facebook and be tweeting, maybe even get a few moments to make a few pins. Jeff and I will be "House Hunting" out in AZ... I've gotten a few really nice contacts already from people out in AZ, I hope to get back to and maybe even meet up with during this visit... If not now, than during the next visit. We'll be looking for places in Chandler, but we'll be staying in Casa Grande, near Jeff's store. Goin' west - See ya next week!


Thanks for stopping by and enduring the journey...


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