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Day 80: I finally understand move-in ready

September 16, 2012

Calin sat outside, a sliding glass door keeping him from me and his brand new, hand-me-down box of Legos. Moments before, tears rolled down his cheeks while he begged, “but I can just wear a face mask,” like he’d seen my mom do days before. Now, he just sat there, stony faced and silent, sleepily staring in. I felt horrible forcing him to stay outside all by himself.

But my grandpa was coating the wood floors with polyurethane. It goes straight to my head, inducing a throbbing headache and nausea. The smell seems to stick to my nostrils for hours. I can’t imagine what the fumes do to my lungs – so I protected Calin’s four-year-old body and asked him to play outside in our (amazing!) fenced-in backyard. Meanwhile, I Rug Doctored the carpets to prep for the furniture move and contemplated the meaning of “move-in ready.”

When I started my house hunt 14 long months ago, I was firm on buying something move-in ready. Over the course of the hunt, I wobbled, thinking a $60k home and a renovation would be fun. Luckily, I always snapped out of it, returning to my move-in-ready notion.

Every once in a while, however, I felt a bit snobby, maybe lazy, whenever I mentioned I was looking for something that didn’t need work. To me, a ready home included wood floors, a decent kitchen and aesthetically-pleasing wall color. Basically, I wanted something that was updated in the past decade and didn’t need any major work.

My new Alger Heights home swept me off my feet. The yard, the layout, the updated living room: it was perfect. I looked past the wallpaper and carpeting. Suddenly, the move-in ready definition transformed into clean, well-maintained and sturdy. What’s a little wallpaper and carpet?

As I’ve discovered in my two weeks of homeownership, move-in ready definitely got its spot in real-estate jargon for a reason. Tearing down wallpaper sucks. You tear, you steam, you tear some more, you spend hours peeling glue. And it’s still not over. Next, the walls need to be washed and primed, edged and painted. Then you realize all the glue you steamed off is now stuck in the carpet which will take another few hours to pick out piece by piece. With the paper now out of two rooms of walls only half covered, the thought of removing the entry/hallway/stairwell combination makes my stomach queasy. There’s quadruple the amount of wallpaper hugging those walls.

The kitchen in all its wallpapered splendor


The lime green dining room walls were a bit too loud for my liking.


Paint sampling


A near-finished paint job, thanks to my mom and grandpa.

Fortunately, we discovered nearly perfect hard wood floors hiding beneath the gluey mess I created in the carpeting. My McNabb parents spent hours picking out staples. My grandpa showed up with sandpaper and polyurethane to shine Calin’s bedroom floors up. He did the same to my kitchen floor and is now working on the dining room (my ambitious mother tore out the dining room carpet).

If it weren’t for my family with years of do-it-yourself experience and my handy, painting-pro grandfather, I’d still be sitting in a lime green, carpeted dining room, staring at the kitchen’s purple floral wallpaper, wondering where the heck to start. Thanks to them, the hardest part for me was picking out paint colors (don’t even get me started on how difficult this was).

So move-in ready for a single mom? Move-in ready for anyone? Um, yes. No need to feel lazy or snobby (or maybe that’s just me). While the “minor” cosmetic updates turned out to be more work that I imagined, this really was the perfect house for me after looking at more than 100. You can’t help what you fall in love with!

Unfortunately, poor Calin has had to endure my choice of purchasing a not-so-ready-to-move-in home. For him this means lots of play dates with friends, a mom too busy to play and an extra-late bedtime for many consecutive days.

Instead of a story and snuggle time that evening, he was staring through the sliding glass door at bedtime. I caved to his sad eyes, turned off the Rug Doctor and called it a night. He fell asleep snuggled into my arm moments after I started reading his favorite book.

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