In HOUSE FLIP

The Frog House: Before Photos & Progress

I’ve been posting about our latest real estate adventure on Instagram for a couple of months now, but I thought I’d write a bit more about the renovation process here.

A few months ago, Carter and I started to look for our next real estate project. We started our first house a year ago and we were itching to take on something else. We looked at a few but by the time we saw them, there had been multiple offers. Real estate moves so quickly here, especially properties that investors have their eyes on.

We looked at a property that had been on the market for an hour–a hoarder home in nasty shape–and when we called to place an offer, they had already received six! Since we are just doing this ourselves, we can’t be impulsive. It has to be the right fit because if it fails, we are the ones out the money. So we scanned MLS everyday and waited for the right one.

We heard about a house in our neighborhood that was going on the market the next day and we were able to see it before it hit MLS.  We basically begged the owner to sell it to us, and luckily, he did! He wanted to sell it as soon as possible, so he accepted our offer (after some back and forth)! We were stoked. It’s in walking distance from our house (we can even see it from our house), which makes it so much easier with a toddler.

We nicknamed this house The Frog House because the couple who lived here collected frog trinkets. There were thousands of frogs. Frog mugs, frog light switches, stuffed animal frogs hanging from the ceiling…so many frogs.  Oh and a frog the size of my child.

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So here is what we are working with: a ranch home built in 1953. The main floor is 2590 square feet with 3 bedrooms and two bathrooms. The basement is 1200ish sq. ft. and has a nonconforming bedroom (in order to be considered a bedroom, it needs to have a closet and a safe exit to outside in case of an emergency) and one full bath.

We will add a bedroom to the basement and a half-bath upstairs, while completely reworking the layout of the entire house.

THE EXTERIOR

IMG_2291The exterior is nothing to write home about, unless you like to write home about lame orange houses. It’s an orange house with orange shutters and a brown door. The shrubs are so overgrown that only one garage door is usable and the front door is hidden from plain view. The grass is dead and everything about the house says, “keep driving.”

We’re going to give it a nice paint job and some landscaping, and we are going to frame out the entrance to give it more visual command. All we have done so far is rip the bushes out, but it has made a big difference, both visually and practically.

FRONTDOOR

If you are saying to yourself, “wow that looks like a power strip taped to the exterior wall, not protected from water or snow or other hazards!” then you are right! Danger city. But at least we can see the front door now. Baby steps.

THE ENTRYWAYENTRYWAY
The entryway was SO closed off to the rest of the house. They had this weird four way wall that eliminated view to any room in the house other than the front living space. It was cramped, dark, and very sad.

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This is where we are today–much better already. Still have a long way to go, but it’s open and we can see into the kitchen and backyard. The beams you see above (both the vertical and the horizontal beams) will be gone. We’re waiting on a beam expert (no idea those existed till a week ago, but very happy they do) to come and place the beam in the attic. This will make the ceiling line all one height and the entry way completely open to the living space.

KITCHEN

kitchenbeforeThe kitchen is a total gut job. We are rebuilding it completely and adding a massive island. We opened up all the walls and will extend the wall above to the right and left. It will serve as the center of the home, both in location and in functionality. The design for the kitchen is the launch pad for the design in the rest of the house. I’m looking forward to seeing this one come together. kitchenprogress

MASTER BATH 

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masterbathprogress

So the previous owners added on a very strange and unusable addition. They basically added ten feet to the entire length of the house, but didn’t integrate it into the layout of the home. So it left a lot of unused space and weird kinks for us to figure out. One part of the addition was this massive utility closet. The couple was older and couldn’t have their laundry in the basement, so they moved it upstairs into this room. You can see in the above photo that there’s a window looking into this space. There are two more you can’t see in these photos but those were the original exterior windows of the home.

When we bought the house, the entrance to this room was right off the dining room, but we are converting it into a massive master bath. Like legit as big as my dorm room in college. The current master bath is tiny and depressing. It will become a walk in closet which will be accessed through the bathroom.masterbedandbathbefore

MASTERBEDWe wanted to leave as much wall space as possible in the master bedroom since it isn’t huge, which is why the entrance to the closet will be in the bathroom. We cut the window that used to look into the addition and made it into a doorway. The master bedroom isn’t massive, but the bathroom and close will be.

That’s all I’ve got for now! I’ll share the hall bath, mudroom, and basement next time. Thanks for reading!

 

In DESIGN/ LITERATURE

1 Year, 52 Books

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A year of books. I think this is the first resolution I have ever kept, at least one that took effort and commitment. I read 52 books in 52 weeks. My eyes are tired but my brain is full and it was an incredibly rewarding experience. There is nothing like getting lost in a story.

If there was ever a year to dive deep into books, this was the year. 2016 was a year of dread for politics, but a showstopper in terms of publishing.

 

The time commitment was a big challenge for me. A week after I committed to this challenge, we decided to flip a house. A few months later, we decided to move into it. There were a handful of situations that required a lot of brain space for me, and sometimes the commitment became more of a chore than a passion, but it kept me focused on filling my brain and my heart instead of zoning out to the tv. I was motivated to do this challenge for a few reasons:

1. Intellectual stimulation I was home with a newborn baby in the middle of winter, in the trenches of postpartum depression, and I was going a bit crazy. I needed more mind stimulation during the day, because I was stuck inside most of the time.

2. Less time on social media This was a hard one for me. Social media can be so tricky. When I’d get bored, I’d get on social media. When I nursed Marlow, I scrolled through Instagram. When Marlow was napping, I’d log onto Facebook. It was not contributing positively to my well-being in any way. I didn’t get rid of social media, but I wanted my go-to to be something that had depth. When I had an extra minute to myself, I wanted to pick up a book, not my phone.

3. Practicing Self-Care and Slowing Down I honestly didn’t have time to read. During naps, I worked on renovations. When Carter got home, we painted walls and screwed on cabinet doors and hung shiplap. I needed something that made me take care of myself, put down the paintbrush, and get in bed a few minutes early.

IMG_5785So, I read some incredible books. These are the best books I read in 2016:

Best Fiction: Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

Runners-up:
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
Swing Time by Zadie Smith
Commonwealth by Ann Patchett
Imagine Me Gone by Adam Haslett

Best Nonfiction: Evicted by Matthew Desmond

Runners-up:
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates 
The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown 
Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance
Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

Best Memoir: When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

Runners-up:
You’ll Grow Out Of It by Jessi Klein 
Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton 

Best Parenting: Whole Brain Child by Daniel Siegel

Runners-up:
Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne
Understanding Waldorf Education by Jack Petrash

 

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And here are all 52, in the order I read them, if you’re interested:

1. Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

2. Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne

3. Brooklyn by Colm Toibin

4. After Birth by Elisa Albert

5. Rising Strong by Brene Brown

6. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

7. The Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal

8. The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

9. Felicity by Mary Oliver

10. Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff

11. Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld

12. We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

13. Daring Greatly by Brene Brown

14. A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

15. The Wisdom of the Enneagram by Don Richard Riso

16. Epilogue by Anne Roiphe

17. Carry On, Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton

18. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison

19. Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg

20. Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton

21. You’ll Grow Out Of It by Jessi Klein

22. Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist

23. The Girls by Emma Cline

24. Whole Brain Child by Daniel Siegel

25. Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

26. In the Company of Women by Grace Bonney

27. Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

28. My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry by Fredrik Backman

29. Evicted by Matthew Desmond

30. Commonwealth by Ann Patchett

31. Upstream by Mary Oliver

32. Talking as Fast as I Can by Lauren Graham

33. The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown

34. Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance

35. Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

36. My Name Is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout

37. A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler

38. The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney

39. Garden Time by W.S. Merwin

40. Hamilton: The Revolution by Lin Manuel-Miranda

41. Modern Lovers by Emma Straub

42. Imagine Me Gone by Adam Haslett

43. Understanding Waldorf Education by Jack Petrash

44. Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

45. Swing Time by Zadie Smith

46Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit

47. Today Will Be Different by Maria Semple

48. Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

49. Upstream by Mary Oliver

50. Thank You For Being Late by Thomas Friedman

51. No Drama Discipline by Daniel Siegel

52. The Mothers by Brit Bennett

 

What should I read in 2017?

In DESIGN

12 Beautiful Calendars For The New Year

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Can you believe it’s almost 2017? I’m usually nostalgic this time of year, but 2016 was WEIRD. And after this week, it feels like a good time to start thinking ahead..

There’s nothing like turning over my calendar to a new month–a fresh start, days that haven’t filled up with activities yet, celebrations to look forward to. Hanging up a new year calendar is even better; so much promise for what is to come. Here are twelve calendars to make your days a little brighter:

2017-calendar

 

first row: navy letterpress / Rifle floral / modern shapes

second row: greenhouses / silhouette / ladies of literature (my pick)

third row: mixed media floral / modern abstract / coloring book 

fourth row: gouache floral / black and white quotes / blush watercolor

 

(top photo)

In motherhood

Let’s Talk About Postpartum Depression

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Marlow turned one last month and we couldn’t wait to celebrate. We ordered a cake from a local bakery, hung the birthday banner, and invited our family over. As I was dressing her for her party in a blue and white pinstripe dress, I caught a glimpse of us in the mirror. “Look at us,” I whispered to Marlow. “We did it. We are strong.”

When Marlow was born last September, I immediately knew something was wrong. Not with her—she was perfect, warm, and gentle. But there was something very wrong—with me. Continue Reading →

In DESIGN/ LITERATURE

7 Books To Read This Fall

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I’m way behind on cataloguing my 52 book venture, mostly because my eyes are so freakin tired from reading SO MANY BOOKS. So many books, guys. So many. I have stayed on track with my goal, though, so I guess my eyes can rest in January.

Despite having tired eyes, I read some amazing books this Summer. A few of them have become of my favorites of all time. Keep reading to see what I read, including a murder mystery that kept me up at night…

Continue Reading →

In TRAVEL

Kansas City Restaurant Guide

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Kansas City is a well-kept secret. When I first visited nearly a decade ago, I half-expected to just see corn fields everywhere…but it’s a metropolis with a thriving art scene, exceptionally kind people, and delicious food. Now that Kansas City is home for us, there are ten restaurants we keep coming back to. Here are our very favorites, including world famous barbecue and a coffeeshop that moonlights as a bar…

Continue Reading →

In motherhood

Baby Registry Essentials

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Marlow is almost a year old and we just finished putting her baby things in storage. She is no longer a newborn and soon she will be a full-fledged toddler. Over the past year, I’ve paid close attention to what I used every day and what we never touched. Every baby is different, so we held onto a few things that our next kid may want (like pacifiers, which Marlow never liked), but got rid of any clothing, blankets, books, gear, etc. that didn’t work for one reason or another. Here is what worked for us…

Continue Reading →

In TRAVEL

A Visit to Northern California: Monterey

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I grew up in Monterey (and my parents still live there) so we go back to visit pretty often. Marlow and I usually go for long weekends, but all three of us went this time and we were there for over a week. It was a much needed break from routine.

This was the first visit where we did activities specifically for Marlow. Prior to this trip, she was just so tiny and went along with whatever we did. Now she is curious and soaking everything in around her. It’s really fun showing her my hometown in a way she can understand. Here is what we did, if you would like to see…

Continue Reading →

In DESIGN

What to Read, Watch, and Listen to in August

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I am writing this at two in the morning. Today was a Tuesday that felt like a Monday so I had a Starbucks at 4. I couldn’t rally.

Now it’s Wednesday, but is it Wednesday if I haven’t gone to sleep yet?

Since I can’t be the only one producing thoughts about important things like Wednesdays, here are a bunch of things I liked this month.  Grab your wine  coffee and check it out, if you’re into it.

Continue Reading →

In DESIGN/ LITERATURE

10 Books I Read This Spring

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Summer is in full swing over here. Lots of hot days and pool visits and late night talks on the back porch. I love how late the light lasts and the lightening bugs that come out right before climbing into bed. With the hot weather comes busy and full days. We are checking off boxes around the house flip and planning our next steps, while Carter is working long days in the office (he did manage to hang a tree swing, though :)  I read some really great books this spring (this post is way over due), and my list for the summer keeps growing. Let’s pick up where we left off, continuing the count toward 52 books.

Continue Reading →

In FOOD

A Morning Smoothie for Marlow and Me

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Marlow is eating solids now and we introduce a new food about once a week. She still doesn’t like texture, so smoothies are a good way to add new consistencies. When my Mom was visiting, she made a morning smoothie and I’ve since been making it for Marlow and me. I make a base and pour out a portion for Marlow before adding some more things to mine like chia seed, greek yogurt, and sometimes protein powder or peanut butter. Continue Reading →

In DESIGN

Around These Parts

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Oh Spring, where art thou? Kansas City has had cold, rainy days lately; we had our heater on just yesterday. It’s supposed to jump up to 86 this weekend, though, so we are looking forward to getting out a bit. Maybe the park? My parents are visiting from California and helping with projects around the Ensley house. It has been great to have them here and Marlow is in Nana heaven.  Sometimes I think I have them convinced to stay, but eventually they will realize there isn’t a beach here?

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So stinkin’ proud of this baby (the plant) (I’m also proud of my actual baby). This is my third fiddle leaf fig and I am determined to keep her alive. She has new leaves! Look at her go! So happy about it. IMG_7314

The girl that never took a pacifier now wants to play with them, but she still refuses to put them in her mouth. She puts everything in her mouth, except the pacifier. If only she could understand irony. IMG_7329

We have developed a new bedtime routine for Marlow called the “B’s.” Instead of going to bed, we say, “let’s go do the B’s!” which is said in an annoyingly upbeat tone. She sees right through us. The B’s are bath, books, bottle (right now she is still nursing), bed. We will see how it goes. Anyway, we are working on reading with her daily. Polar Bear, Polar Bear, Who Is Coming To Our House, The Napping House, San Francisco, and Jane Eyre are in the current rotation. IMG_7171

The kitchen is coming along! It looks nothing like it used to. Remember the before pictures? There are still some obvious projects, but it is a completely functioning kitchen which is saving. my. sanity.

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We’ve got a stander! Shoot dang. This is a game changer. She’s looking down at the ground, like, “peace out.”

 

In HOME

The Ensley House: Kitchen Before Photos and Plans

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We are flipping a house in Kansas City, MO. This post is a part of a series documenting the renovation and what we learn along the way. You can follow our progress here and on instagram.

Let’s talk about the kitchen. It has great bones but some awkward features that make the space confusing. Our plan with this room is to enhance the great bones it already has and eliminate the less-than-ideal parts (mostly walls) so the space makes more sense for a modern family. The kitchen will be a focal point of this house so we are coming in with guns a blazin’.

The kitchen is in the back corner of the house with entrances from the garage (at the top near the range), formal dining room (to the left), and the den (below). We are keeping the basic layout but moving the entrance from the garage to the dining room (more on that later), knocking down the wall that separates the kitchen from the den, and relocating a set of base cabinets.

We have two main priorities in this space: update the overall feel of the kitchen while keeping its integrity, and make the breakfast nook more functional. The breakfast nook has potential but it is really cramped right now. It can seat two people uncomfortably and the chairs stick out in the already tight walkway. Taking the wall down and adding the right furniture will make this space usable and accessible. I’ve got my eye out for the right table and chairs for the space.

The majority of changes to this space are cosmetic. It will be a classic white kitchen with white cabinets,  light gray granite/quartz, and subway tile. We will add reclaimed wood open shelving to replace one upper cabinet. Luckily, this kitchen has a ton of cabinet space which is rare for an older home.

We’re working on a full house floor plan, but below is a side-by-side of the original layout vs. what it will look like when we are finished:

Continue Reading →

In HOME

The Loft on Delaware Street

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Kansas City had to grow on me, which had very little to do with Kansas City and very much to do with me. I went kicking and screaming, then pouting, then wallowed in self-pity for a while, until I eventually found a haven and let the light in.

The loft on Delaware Street was that haven. Shortly after Carter and I got married, we moved from California to Boston, then from Boston to Kansas City, then to another apartment in Kansas City, and another, and another. We moved 6 times in 2 years and I was losing my ish. Lucky number seven was this loft, and Lordy, Lordy, Hallelujah, Amen.

We only lived there for 15 months, but for in Posladek house talk, that is an eternity. Today was our last day in the apartment, and while we have some exciting things in the pipeline, I’m sure going to miss this place. Here are five memories I will keep close… Continue Reading →

In motherhood

5 Things I Love About Marlow at 6 Months

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SIX MONTHS. Whoa. Where did the time go?!

For the first few months, time felt soooo sloooowwww. This is likely due to insomnia (I didn’t sleep for, like, 50 days) and panic (whhyyyyy is she cryyyyying..?!). Quickly, though, time sped up. Everything started happening so quickly, and I was like, whoa, girl, slow the heck down.

Now she’s sitting up, laughing, and it’s all amazing because clearly she is so advanced. Here are 5 things I am loving about this stage:

1. Her cough-laugh Guys. This is a killer. She laugh-coughs (cough-laughs?) and it’s hilarious. She did it once for my parents and they cracked up, so now she does it all the time.

Print2.  Constant curiosity From the very beginning, Marlow was more interested in seeing the world than cuddling with us. She only likes to be carried outward and hates being unable to see what’s going on around her. She is so curious about everything–it’s all new! The mundane parts of the day become less mundane when your baby starts squealing at a park bench.

3. Face Recognition She is starting to know who people are and when they come and go. When Carter walks into a room, she will shriek with joy; when he walks out, it’s an utter panic. She smiles as soon as she sees my parents on FaceTime and starts flailing her arms, which obviously wins our hearts every time.

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4. Louie These two…they love each other. When Marlow is crying, I can put her next to Louie and nine times out of ten, she will stop instantly. She pokes his eyes and pulls his ears and he is so patient with her. It’s really the most endearing thing to watch. It will be fun to see how their relationship evolves as she gets older.

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5. Picking her up in the morning Going into her room in the morning and picking her up is one of my favorite parts of the day. I am so not a morning person, but her big grin really takes the edge off :)