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The Exit Plan – Remodeling, Downsizing, and Preparing to Sell While Building

Today is the 3rd installment of 24 articles in our year-long series called “The Simple House Project” – including the secrets to downsizing.Every 2 weeks, we will publish an article or video covering the process from start to finish. From permits, plans, and construction of the exterior, to the complete interior finish – we hope to document the challenges, trials and tribulations of creating a simple cost-effective, energy-efficient and earth-friendly house.

With the new house plan well underway, one of our biggest concerns now becomes our current house – as in finding the time to prepare it for sale and deciding when to put it on the market. We also need continue to pare down to prepare for living in a smaller home.

The before. The kitchen as it looked on Thanksgiving night. I think it may be blurry from my inability to focus after a big meal

The before. The kitchen as it looked on Thanksgiving night. I think it may be blurry from my inability to focus after a big meal

The good news is that we have been preparing for this for a while – the bad news is that time is beginning to run short – and we need to get the house ready for sale at some point next year.

As many of you know – we are both big believers in using daily to-do lists and yearly goals to help motivate and keep us on track – and those have both played a huge role in helping us get the house ready to sell, and us ready to move. About 18 months back – when we first began our plan to downsize and build and live at the farm – we created a simple list of a few things we knew we had to complete.

The first was to begin to simply live with less “junk” – and for that the “One a Day – 365 Project” has been incredible. I am amazed every day how much better it feels to live with less “stuff”.  See: One a Day – 365 Project – Removing Unnecessary Clutter and Simplifying Life!

Second- we knew there were five major items we had to address in our current house in order to get it ready to sell. (1) A new roof (2) Updating the dining room (see:Dining Room Project) (3) Updating the screened in back porch and deck (see: Creating an Outdoor Room) (4) Remodeling / updating the kitchen (5) New carpet for the majority of house

 The painting of the cabinet doors - a long process!

The painting of the cabinet doors – a long process!

Up to this point, we had 3 of those knocked off – the new roof went on in the Spring of 2014, we remodeled and updated the dining room last November, and we completed the porch project this past Spring. That left us with the kitchen and carpeting projects to finish off.

As for the carpet – thanks to our beloved but aging and oft-shedding black lab Jazzy – that one will wait until right before the house goes up for sale. I swear at times that we could create an entire new dog from the piles of fur that can come off of her after a brushing!

So with a few days off and a long Thanksgiving weekend – we decided that instead of dealing with the craziness of Black Friday shopping – we would use the time to tackle the kitchen remodel.  The goal was simple – update the entire area to a new look without spending a fortune!  That meant a DIY weekend of cleaning, de-greasing, resurfacing, and painting.

The kitchen on Sunday evening - almost done!

The kitchen on Sunday evening – almost done!

Our kitchen has served us well – but 4 kids, a dog, and constant canning and cooking traffic has taken its toll – and it definitely needed updating before ever going up for sale. So after the last of the turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie left the table – we got to work.

First we removed each and every cabinet face along with all of the hardware. Then came a deep cleaning and de-greasing of the walls, cabinets and trim – followed by a round of sanding and more cleaning.  As a side note, does anyone else ever think they are a moderately clean person until pulling out refrigerators and stoves to find dirt and lost items that you never knew existed? 🙂

Then came the painting, and more painting…and more painting. Two coats of Kilz on the cabinet bases and faces was followed by another 2 coats of acrylic paint to get rid of the “old wood” look. Next, the walls and trim were painted to bring a fresh bright look to room.

Jazzy in the kitchen - she was quite confused with all of the remodeling

Jazzy in the kitchen – she was quite confused with all of the remodeling

Even though it sounds like a lot of work – to be honest – we actually had a blast. With a constant supply of football games throughout the weekend to keep us company while we worked – and a few breaks in between to enjoy a meal out – the project went surprisingly smooth. I think that without a doubt the key to any project is simply taking your time, staying relaxed, and having fun with it.

By Sunday evening – all that remained was to hang the new lights, and attach a few final cabinet doors. Followed of course by finally sitting down and enjoying a glass of much-needed wine! That’s not to say that with all of that “fun” there wasn’t a few sore muscles…well actually, a lot of sore muscles!

It’s funny though, have you ever noticed that every time you complete a project to update a room – how quickly something else in the room or a room nearby now looks “out of place” or like it needs to be updated? It can become a vicious cycle!

With the kitchen project now complete – the only question that remains is when to put the house up for sale. It’s actually a conversation we just can’t quite figure out yet. The dilemma – do we put it up for sale in the Spring  (a hotter housing market time) when beginning to build our house, or wait until later in the year as the house nears completion?

The one saving grace is that if all else fails – we can always find a place to rent for a few months to get us through. I know that we both would much rather have that option than the thought of juggling two houses.

Happy Building! – Jim and Mary

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