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First Floor Tour: the Kitchen (with a tale of woe)

DSC_0046Dun dunna-nunnnn!! The first room I would like to present to you is THE KITCHEN.


As you can see, there isn’t much counter space, but that has forced us to do away with certain things like the microwave, which, in the long run, is actually a very good thing!


As I mentioned in the empty house tour, the kitchen is basically what sold me on the house. There wasn’t a whole lot we wanted to do to it, besides get our stuff in there.


Since we weren’t planning any kitchen renos, you might be wondering why there is a GIANT HOLE IN THE KITCHEN CEILING.

Well, lemme tell ya, this giant hole is not desired. Nope, we did not plan to cut a hole in our ceiling. We did not want this hole, but we had no choice.

About a month after moving in to the house, we noticed something strange. One of the light fixtures over the bar had what appeared to be a brown stain from some sort of liquid trickling all the way down its stem (cord? hang-y thing?) and settling around the bottom of the light bulb. It was dry when we noticed it. Not knowing what the heck it could be from, we promptly forgot about it.

A little while later, Jon said he heard dripping somewhere in the kitchen while I was taking a shower (the bathroom is right above the kitchen.) I looked everywhere but couldn’t find any water suggesting a leak. I didn’t hear any dripping when Jon took a shower, so again, we forgot about it.

Cut to a Sunday morning late in July, when I filled our tub hoping to take my first, much-needed relaxing bath in our new home. Just as I was starting to settle in while the tub filled, I heard Jon yelling from downstairs that I had to get out, NOWI sprang out of the tub and ran downstairs to see water all over the counter and floor, a wet line along the seam in the ceiling’s drywall, and water gushing down that same light fixture.

Turns out our tub had a leak.

We have a home warranty, and they sent out a plumber to assess the situation. Apparently the tub had been leaking for a LONG time, and the space between the new ceiling and the old (they lowered it) was absolutely covered in mold. The plumber guessed that the old ceiling had been holding in the water and finally burst, which is why we got a sudden gush of water and hadn’t noticed much else before.

We are still in the process of getting it all figured out (not an easy task when you’ve got lives to live) but in the meantime, we have temporarily patched the crack in the tub (with packaging tape—nothing but the best for House DeMonte), cut out the rest of the ceiling to clean out the mold, and are keeping it open so we can monitor the situation (and because, well, we haven’t fixed the tub yet.) Eventually we’ll get the tub patched properly and install the new ceiling ourselves, but in the meantime, we are living with a giant hole in our kitchen ceiling.

DSC_0047Despite all that, I still think it’s a gorgeous kitchen.

The House, before it was ours

I’m going to babble here for a minute, so if you’re just here for the pictures, scroll down! There are lots.

Jon and I first started talking about buying a house in spring of 2012. Truth be told, I had been thinking about owning a house for pretty much my entire life. My mother is an interior architect, and I inherited from her a deep love for old homes. Jon was more interested in getting a foreclosure or something equally affordable. We didn’t have much money at that point, so we agreed to wait a while and save money renting.

A year later, right in the heat of wedding planning, I had the house bug hard core. I’d convinced Jon that we should really take advantage of being first-time home buyers with a low-interest, minimal down payment FHA loan (I’ll write more about that at a later date). Unfortunately, many of the foreclosures we were looking at didn’t qualify, but with the help of FHA knowledge and two raises, we realized we could look at homes with a little bit bigger price tag.

This was our wish list:

  • Had to be in one of our top neighborhoods (we basically narrowed it down to three in Kansas City, Missouri).
  • Nothing built later than the 1930s (my personal style preference).
  • At least three bedrooms so that we could have office/studio space and a kid or two some day.
  • Had to have decent (for the city) yard space for potential gardening.
  • Preferably more than one toilet.
  • If major rehabbing was necessary (bad foundation, flooring needing to be redone, bad roof, etc.) then the price needed to be considerably lower than our top limit. Basically, if there was going to be any major project, our price point dropped by about $30k.

We looked at several houses. Size for the price was often an issue. A few didn’t qualify for FHA loans. Major renovation projects were a deal breaker a couple times.

Sooner than expected (about a month before wedding day, in fact), we found our house. At the time we made an offer, they were asking $14k more than our budget, but it had been on the market a while (at one point it was priced at $34k more!) We decided that we didn’t want to mess around. We offered exactly what we could afford. After some balking, they accepted it, and even ended up throwing in a new roof! The best advice I can give to potential homeowners is KNOW YOUR BUDGET, stick to it, and be prepared to walk away! Even though we have run in to some issues since purchasing the place (more on that later), we still feel like we got an amazing deal.

The house was built in 1910 and has likely been renovated many times in the last century. The most recent renovation was done by the folks we bought it from. It’s two stories with an unfinished attic and “finished” basement (again, a story for another time). It has three bedrooms and 1.5 bathrooms. It is in our top neighborhood, the same one I grew up in, close to work, school, and family. The backyard is large for the city, with potential room for a driveway or even a garage if we decide we need it some day. Basically, the house is everything we wanted!

Now before we get going with the tour, I’d like to apologize. We have lived in this house nearly four months and I have yet to photograph it furnished. You see, I don’t want to do it unless it’s clean, and it’s never all clean at the same time. Excuses, excuses, I know. I am kicking myself for not taking pictures the day we had our housewarming party. The house looked so presentable that day. But alas.

Actually, I am in the process of photographing it now, but since it could be a while before that’s done, I don’t want to get anyone’s hopes up just yet. So in the meantime I hope you are satisfied with this tour of our house, comprised of photos taken on our final walkthrough.


The exterior


The entryway, from the living room

What I love most about this house is the openness of the first floor. It’s somewhat uncommon in houses so old.


The living room and dining room

It was renovated for the purpose of selling, so yes, it was a flip. But the style of the work done is fairly consistent throughout the house: modern, but not so much that it loses any of its original integrity.


The dining room, kitchen, and living room


The dining room


The dining room and kitchen


The kitchen

The kitchen is my favorite room in the whole house. Standing at the sink, I can see out in to the backyard, through the dining room to the living room, and down the hall, through the front door to the front yard. Basically, the entire house. Standing in the kitchen is essentially what made me fall in love with this house.


The first floor half bath


The upstairs hall


Bedroom #1

As to be expected, due to its age, the bedrooms aren’t huge.


Bedroom #1

Fortunately for us, they have relatively decent closets!


Bedroom #2 (the smallest)


Bedroom #2’s little nook


Bedroom #3 (the biggest)


Upstairs full bath


Upstairs full bath

What is/was your wishlist for your first house? What renovations would you be okay with tackling? What are your dealbreakers?

Stay tuned for more updates, our visions and plans for the home, the trials and tribulations we’ve already dealt with, and (eventually) a furnished tour!