Meet These Really Cool People

March 30, 2015   //  Posted in: DIY Network Projects   //  By: Emily   //  Leave a comment

DIY Network’s blog Made + Remade has an ongoing series dedicated to featuring the Creative Geniuses among us. I’ve had a couple of great interviews already this year and more scheduled over the next few weeks, and I wanted to be sure you checked them out, because if I found them interesting and inspiring, you probably would too.

First up is Michelle Meza. You probably don’t know her by name, but there’s a really good chance you’ve seen her work in person. She’s the co-owner of a company in a small niche industry that creates concrete environments for zoo exhibits and aquariums, as well as permanent backyard installations for private clients – think jaw-dropping pools and water features for the rich and famous. She’s a woman kicking butt in a male-dominated field, and for that alone, I definitely don’t make her sound badass enough. Meet her yourself by checking out the full post.

Concrete Environments featuring Michelle Meza

After that, get to know Nashville-based country music artist and vintage super-enthusiast Ruthie Collins. You’ll want to get a peek at her amazing, renovated Airstream trailer that she takes across the country for live concerts and tours, and see how she embraces shabby chic for a cohesive personal brand. (Come to find, she too is a Western New York girl and we grew up really close to each other!)

Ruthie Collins and her amazing Airstream "Amelia Earstream"

If you know of anyone who might make for a terrific feature on Made + Remade, please don’t hesitate to point me in their direction.

If you want to check out other Creative Geniuses featured written by the whole Made + Remade gang, there’s a whole section dedicated to it on the blog. Makers, innovators, all-around inspiring people!

For Sale

March 27, 2015   //  Posted in: Buying and Renting and Selling   //  By: Emily   //  12 responses

Hope you believed me when I wrote in January that I thought I’d retain ownership of that awesome little rental house for the long haul; that was the plan, Stan.

My old home, the original Merrypad, is a fantastic little place and property that I had no trouble renting out. Realistically I suppose, it could run itself for years and years. That said, I pulled the trigger and we are officially parting ways. Sayonara. Great experience. Exhausted. Ready to be financially savvy, focused on family, and explore the potential in our current home.

Living room, image by Gridley + Graves Photographers.

The succinct rationalization is this: I would rather focus on family for the next two decades, and eliminate the daily stress related to maintaining a rental property. I have ~12-15 years left on the mortgage. I am paying a little more against principal, because combatting interest is a great thing, even though it’s at the expense of not having pocketed anything for the 22 months that it was rented. Considering the additional upkeep and expenses that I would expect to incur on that property over that same time period, I would guess that it would take me an extra 2-4 years to pay my savings back with rental income from the fully-paid for property. When you think about it, that means I’ll be spending the next 14-19 years trying to pay off a mortgage, and paying myself back for the upkeep on my home. My daughters will be graduating high school and college by the time this house is “pure income,” and at that point, guess what, it won’t actually be “pure income” because there are still taxes, insurance (which is higher on dwelling properties than on your primary residence), and maintenance. Even on days when everything is running smoothly, I’m still going to be burdened by the possibility of something breaking, maintenance contractors who don’t follow through on jobs, hoping rent is on time, and inevitable repairs and tenant circumstances. I will have been stressed and nervous throughout my children’s entire childhood.

The financial reality that I’m considering is this (and it’s way deeper than I usually travel on this DIY blog, but I hope some of my logic resonates with other people considering rentals): If 20 years from now is when I finally have an opportunity to be socking some of this income away, will it have enough time to grow to pay off in retirement? What if I took the profits from the house right now and allowed that to grow further for 20 years? I think there’s some misnomer out there that rental properties are an easy retirement investment, but if that’s the case, I’m not convinced I’m “doing it right.” Thank goodness for financial advisors who can project figures and provide rational scenarios to help with planning. Retirement planning is more important than a lot of things, and I’m not trying to be like a Merrill Lynch advertorial, but I’d rather have a stable retirement plan of action now than spend 20 years thinking that my rental strategy might not pay off.

Scott McGillivray, I gotta have a talk with this dude. He makes the rentals seem like a fantastic idea, and I know I would have regretted not giving it a go, so for that, thanks man. I caught a lot of his HGTV show Income Property over the years–it’s one of my favorite reality shows ever–and I simultaneous credit and also teasingly blame him for being in this situation. I have newfound respect for all landlords, especially ones who operate multiple properties and are able to make good bank doing it. The reality of it all is that it’s scary, and it’s not easy, and those who say they’re doing great at the rental game… are they really?

As far as the sale is concerned, I have a plan to have it on the market this spring. I’m working with the same realtor who originally sold me the house (shout out to Michelle at Nothnagle), entertaining buyers who have already expressed interest, and hoping… for lack of a better term… that this can be an “easy out” so that I’m not fronting the full mortgage payment for too long without the support of my tenants. The tenants will be gone before it’s on the market, which is kind of unfortunate because they have it nicely decorated, and when they’re gone I’ll be left with a case of the empties (or staging costs), but the vacancy will give me some time to do pre-sale maintenance and cleaning.

Bedroom, image by Gridley + Graves Photographers.

One nice thing that came from the reality of the situation, is that photographers Anne Gridley and Gary Graves are willing to share their professional photos to accompany my listing. This duo came to photograph the house in November 2012 in its peak state. Their images accompanied an interview that ran in the Spring 2014 issue of Small Room Decorating, and they couldn’t have captured the home in a more perfect light.

They gave me their blessing to share the photos with you here too. If you know of anyone who might be interested in my old home, feel free to shoot me an email.

  • Living room, image by Gridley + Graves Photographers.
  • Living room, image by Gridley + Graves Photographers.
  • Living room, image by Gridley + Graves Photographers.
  • Living room, image by Gridley + Graves Photographers.
  • Sunroom, image by Gridley + Graves Photographers.
  • Dining Room, image by Gridley + Graves Photographers.
  • Kitchen, image by Gridley + Graves Photographers.
  • Kitchen, image by Gridley + Graves Photographers.
  • Kitchen, image by Gridley + Graves Photographers.
  • Stairwell, image by Gridley + Graves Photographers.
  • Bedroom, image by Gridley + Graves Photographers.
  • Bathroom, image by Gridley + Graves Photographers.


Art Attack #5

March 26, 2015   //  Posted in: Art Attack, Decor   //  By: Emily   //  one response

Wooden Bainbridge Frame with illustration by Magalie Le Huche for Djeco.

I bought a long, narrow puzzle awhile ago when my toddler was just a little bean sprout, thinking it would be a great piece of unisex bedroom art. I can’t remember where we found it now, but it’s from Djeco (warning, there’s music), featuring an illustration by Magalie Le Huche. Back at that day, I assumed that I’d find a sliver of time between birth and a year to put together a frame and hang it, but it didn’t happen, which I understand to be quite common. Frame day happened this week, guys, worth it.

The puzzle, which is oddly sized at 38″x13″, actually came with a matching poster too, something I realized when I finally cracked open the package after I had owned it for like, a year. This meant that I could keep the puzzle itself for play on a rainy day and frame the paper poster instead. I had looked into custom frames in the past, and reminded myself that they might be a good option back when I was researching Nielsen Bainbridge™ after having bought a bunch of metal ones for a few dollars each at an estate sale (I talked about them a little in Art Attack #3). As much as there’s something to be said about finding $5 frames and reveling in the awesomeness of saving money, when the need for custom strikes, best to figure out an affordable way of approaching the job.

Affordability is what I found in buying frame pieces, where I got a little bit of the DIY satisfaction without having to deal with tools this time around, skirting potential quality issues. The pieces sent are professionally-manufactured and easy to assemble, but at a fraction of the price that you’d pay taking a custom piece to a pro. That site I linked to above, Dick Blick, has lots of Nielsen Bainbridge options in the metal frame category, but they have a nice selection of Ayous Wood Frame Kit options too. They’re the kind of frames you’ll like if you flock to IKEA’s RIBBA design, and the pieces are sold in pairs so that you can customize the dimensions to suit your needs.

I did find that shorter lengths are more readily available at a variety of lengths. I had no problem getting the 13″ pieces I needed in a natural wood finish for less than $13, but the longer length of 38″ wasn’t available (lengths jump from 32″ to 36″ to 40″), and I didn’t dare to trim a 40″ length down to size, so I sacrificed two inches of the poster to accommodate a 36″ frame length for $25. Total frame price was ~$38 + taxes + shipping and I may have found a 15% discount code somewhere online, so poke around if you’re looking to save a few more dollars.

I had to figure out how to hang it on the wall myself, once I had it home and assembled with a dab of wood glue and the wedge connectors that supplied with the frame pieces. A few micro eye hooks screwed into the inside of the frame was my solution – strong enough to hold the weight of the frame, short enough to not puncture through to the outer edges.

How to hang a custom Nielsen Bainbridge wood frame.

I won’t fail to mention that you will have to source some glass locally to finish the project; a company I’ve been working with on a custom frame piece (big and investment-style and I didn’t dare to do it myself) cut a piece of glass for me for about $25 which brought the cost to ~$63, and he also popped some of those metal framer points in place around the inside edge so that I didn’t have to mess around with locking the art in place myself. To be totally honest, I have no idea how I would have made the art stay in place against the glass without those little metal tabs, but he was a step ahead of me thought-wise, and saved me some creative thinking. Now that I’ve looked into it, if you’ll be assembling a lot of these frames, or any DIY frames for that matter, investing in the framing point driver will be worth your while. He also supplied me a piece of cardboard to use as a backer behind the poster too.

Kid art in a custom Bainbridge frame.