Sunday, August 30, 2015

A Before and After Tour of the Lower Unit in the Grey Apartment Building

I've been meaning to do a tour post on one of the apartments for quite some time now. Actually pretty much since I started blogging as you can see in my About Me and in my first post where I write all about why I decided to start a blog. 

Well there's no time like the present and better late than never is what I'm telling myself now as I type this. I also have come to realize I have done absolutely no posts on anything apartment related at all. Shame on me, really. That was one of my main reasons for starting a blog in the first place, to document all the progress and DIY projects from the apartments so we could have pictures and information that we may forget over time and to be able to look back on all the good, bad and ugly (and of course pretty too!).

I realize these pictures are not recent, as you will see in some of the photos ;).  However I still want to put tours of all of our apartments up on the blog so not only will we have a catalogue of sorts of finished apartments (until one needs to be updated once again!) but so I can show you all our DIY renovation progress throughout the years :).

So I mustered up the courage to look through 20 SD cards full of thousands of pictures to find as many before and after shots as I could so I could finally get an apartment post up. This could be the reason why I haven't written one yet. Although I love reminiscing and looking at photos, it is a lot of timely work.

So enough about me hanging my head in shame and on with a before and after tour of the lower unit in the grey apartment building.
I found this photo of the front of the grey apartment during a typical snowy Illinois winter. While we complain about the end of summer heat, and say how we can't wait for fall "hoodie" weather (I am not included in this, I prefer the heat of the sun beating down on my soul), this beautiful scene awaits us in just a few short months...

I unfortunately could not find very many before pictures of this particular apartment. Cory has admitted time and again how he is not very good at recording history much less taking pictures. In my search for all the apartment photos I could get my hands on, I could now see how very true this statement was. He also didn't take many photos of entire rooms until after the remodeling was done, when he needed them to advertise an apartment for rent.

I will include some before pictures from when one of the "bad" tenants moved out. There have been many bad and many good tenants during Cory's 20+ years as a landlord. It just goes with the territory.

He has had several destructive tenants live in the lower apartment in the grey building. One had a small fire happen that may or may not have been intentional, that scorched the wood floors in the dining room. One ripped the wallpaper in the kitchen (which was really a blessing in disguise, because it had to go!!) One stole all kinds of things from the garage from Cory and the other tenant. A few tenants scratched the wood floors up so badly they had to be refinished. One left used cat litter in the apartment, in the heating ducts (I don't even know what to say about that) and all over the basement. Most have left behind belongings they no longer wanted. The list goes on and on but I'm not writing a book so I'll spare you, for now ;).

Pretty much every bad tenant leaves behind a filthy mess. Above all they never clean the oven which always looks like they've cooked a thousand greasy meals that exploded all over and never wiped up a spill.

This dirty oven really isn't even a bad one!! You know what's so crazy about this? This apartment has a self-cleaning oven.



Most of the time tenants just leave us a mess to clean, but there have been quite a few times that Cory has had to spend months completely renovating an entire unit because of damage done. Cory has also had many good tenants that required nothing to be done on Cory's part and the next tenant could just move right in.


This was not even the tenant that left behind used litter in the basement. However this tenant did throw their cats outside when they moved, to fend for themselves on a busy street. Cory tried to catch them with a trap so he could re home them but all he caught for his trouble was a possum and a giant angry alley cat.


People leave stuff like this mattress behind all the time. Sometimes we get lucky and they leave something behind like a Dewalt drill with a dead battery or some furniture we can up-cycle or sell.




Cory had just refinished these floors by himself right before these tenants moved in. It was painstaking work, hours on hands and knees. They lived there for less than a year. Needless to say he used our floor guy this time around.







Cory decided after those tenants left that the whole apartment needed a fresh coat of paint. A weeks worth of work and a few gallons of paint go a long way to make any apartment look fresh, clean and beautiful.




After a thorough cleaning our floor guy refinished the floors. Hopefully this time around the floors won't get scratched up so fast (if at all) fingers crossed!


Cory did all the necessary plaster repair, which also seems to go with the territory of owning old buildings, and any other repairs to make the apartment ready for a new tenant.


I just love all the character and uniqueness of old Victorians. From the original woodwork, to the alabaster light fixtures, all the detailed door knobs, to the pure, hard skilled labor that obviously went into building a home during that time period. The list goes on and on. These are features that you really cannot get in new construction. 


We use a lot of neutrals and classic colors when painting so that not only does it look nice but will match with most tenants furnishings and decor. It looks so much better than the standard "white" walls that so many apartments have. I believe that the living room is painted a light beige color called "camel".



The dining room is painted a light shade of sage green that compliments the woodwork nicely.






It's too bad we didn't have a before picture of the kitchen from when Cory bought the place. It had horrendous wallpaper with ugly primary colored flowers on a white background. I absolutely love the mocha color that the kitchen is now.



Cory painted the large bedroom a calm light blue color.






He also painted the bathroom a light blue to compliment the stained glass windows.



I think Cory finally ran out of steam when it came to the back smaller bedroom and he just left it white.




That ends the tour of the lower apartment of the grey building. I did find a couple candid shots Cory took of me and his mother. I left most of them out but I had to include a couple of big ole pregnant me. I totally look like I'm about to give birth at any second!! I guess Cory finished the renovation project on this apartment just in time :).



I'm hoping to stick more apartment related blog posts in here and there since Cory is currently doing a complete renovation on our only vacant unit. Hopefully I can talk him in to letting me take a few pics and telling me all his handy man secrets so I can share them with you all!!

Until the next time,

-Sherri :)





















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Tuesday, August 4, 2015

DIY Simply Sweet Hanging Birdcage Planter

Before I begin I must confess to some extreme summer blog slacking on my part these past few weeks. But in my defense we finally had a heat wave here in Illinois along with a couple sunshine filled weeks during this oh so rainy summer. So what's a girl/mom to do on her days off but go to the zoo, swim, boat, fish, you get the picture. Pretty much as many outdoor fun-filled summer adventures we can cram into this nice weather while it lasts.

That doesn't leave me much spare time to work on projects, much less blog about them. Although my numerous, half finished projects (that are patiently waiting for me to finish, and blog about) are always on the back of my mind ;). With that being said, on to my post:


Are you guys tired of my birdcage obsession yet? I hope not because here's another DIY up-cycled birdcage project :)!

Now you're probably thinking either A: Yay!! I love birdcages and I can't wait to read about another birdcage planter!! Or B: What is wrong with this girl and how could she have possibly found yet another way to put plants in a birdcage.

I really hope you all are thinking A but I do realize not everyone shares my giddy excitement for all things birdcages. Even if you are thinking B, read on because this is one of my easiest projects with an instant wow impact to any yard! 

While my idea and execution are not really a new one this particular project was so simple and required such a minimal effort on my part (literally 15 minutes of my time) that I had to share it with you all. Although I did seriously debate on whether it was blog worthy or not. In the end it turned out so pretty and really was one of the quickest, easiest DIY projects that I've done in a while so I decided it was indeed. Plus I have done absolutely nothing to my yard this year and I had to show someone besides my dogs and neighbors.

My idea came to fruition earlier this summer when my Mom and I went to a local flea market and I scored several birdcages and many other vintage treasures ;). One of the birdcages was pretty large and I knew right away it would be perfect as a hanging planter.


The only problem was it was gold. Gold just wouldn't do for the look I wanted. Plus I had picked up a shepherd's hook that was black and it would flow much better if the birdcage was black too.


So I grabbed a can of black spray paint, some newspaper and a sanding sponge and headed out to the backyard. I gave the birdcage a light sanding and wipe down before spray painting so that hopefully the paint would adhere and fare well through the outdoor elements.


I then spray painted the birdcage black (and the grass/weeds) while Jackson played on his play set in the backyard. He took breaks to come by and check out my progress a couple of times.


A few days later when the paint on the birdcage was dry and I had some spare time I gathered the last bit of supplies I needed to finish my planter. I had to brainstorm on what kind of pot I could squeeze inside since I only had a little door on the side of the birdcage to put whatever I wanted inside of it. The top, unfortunately, didn't flip open like a lot of other decorative birdcages. So I bought a molded coco liner and a clearance petunia plant hoping they would work out.


The coco liner fit in almost perfectly. I then transferred the petunia plant by sections through the door and wove the delicate flowers through the bars to hang outside of the birdcage.


Here's the finished birdcage planter (if you find your eyes straying to the claw marks on our fence it's not from crazy coons or other wild animals, it's from our Amstaff Darwin, he's a jumper!).



Such a simple and quick DIY planter! I think it turned out very elegant and sweet looking. Not bad for 15 minutes of my time!

Until the next time,

-Sherri :)

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