5 Things to Look at When Buying an Old House

5 Things to Look at When Buying an Old House | Hannah & Husband

We get a lot of questions from people that are dreaming of buying an old house. Older homes can be overwhelming because they woo you with their crown moulding and ceramic sinks but their invisible problems can turn into monetary sinkholes. (In fact, Cary Grant made an entire movie about buying an old house for just this reason. It’s a little tedious, but you get to stare at Cary Grant & Myrna Loy for an hour and a half so… worth it.) So today, I’m giving you my list. The Let’s Be Super Realistic, Come to Jesus List that will take the sparkle off that old home and let you know if you really love her or if it’s better to be just friends.

5 Things to Look at When Buying an Old House | Hannah & Husband

Here you go: my top five items—think bottom to top or vis versa—whichever way your brain works.

1. Termites / Foundation: 

Termite protection is a must for any old house! Your inspector can also tell you about the foundation of the house. Things settle over time so it’s good to know if there are any structural issues that will cost big bucks down the road.

2. Plumbing

The obvious thing is to look for leaks and water damage. But it’s also good to know what material your pipes are made of, and common problems that may be associated with that material.

3. Electrical

Plain & simple: Electrical is a biggie because bad wiring can cause fires.


Know the age of your HVAC unit. This can be a huge expense that will inevitably come at the worst possible time. If your unit is more than seven years old, by all means have a little money in the kitty just in case it flakes out in the middle of a long, hot summer. Liz Taylor may look hot sweating in a silk slip, but you, my dear, are no Liz Taylor.

5. Roof

Ask about the age of the roof and have your inspector check it out. This is also a good time to ask your inspector about the insulation situation. Old homes are, by nature, less efficient, but there are plenty of ways to help this if you know what the issues are to begin with.

So that’s my list! What would be in your top 5? It’s so important to get a good inspector and ask a lot of questions! Everyone has their own threshold for what they’re willing to deal with themselves, what they have to hire out, and what is a non-starter. Hopefully, this will help you know your list before going in.

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Finding a Realtor

The 10 Stages of Moving to a New Place

The List Khloe & Kim gave Kylie when she decided to get her own place. 

Finding a Realtor

Finding a Realtor | Hannah & Husband

What? You didn’t make your realtor take a selfie with you at closing?

I’ve never had to date as an adult, but I’m pretty convinced that finding a realtor was a similar experience. Think about it.

There are two ways to meet your realtor. One is through the introduction of a trusted friend. The second is by noticing that you frequent all the same places. (i.e. You see a lot of their signs in your favorite neighborhood.)

Next, you vet them online. Who are they friends with? What have people said about them?

Finally, you start analyzing the details and looking for common interests. Do they specialize in a certain style of house? Have they sold several houses in the same neighborhood you want to be in? Are the pictures they’ve taken up to your standards?

When people found out we were looking for an old house, they’d say, “Oh, you must meet Jessica! That’s what she does. You’ll love her!” And they were right. We’d already picked the house we wanted, but we called Jessica because of her expertise. For instance, because she deals with old houses regularly, she hired an inspector who lived in an old house himself and would know what to look for.

Also, as a side note, her website was beautiful. I know I’m a bit partial because of what I do, but the real estate agents I’ve enjoyed working with in the past have easy to navigate, beautiful sites. They know I’m going to be searching listings at midnight in my pjs, and they’ve chosen to make the experience a good one. Plus, if they’ve taken the time to take good photos of the houses they’re listing, it says that they care that much more.

But, be prepared. Once we found the one, the dating feeling only got stronger.

4 Ways It Will Feel Like You’re Dating Your Realtor:

1. You have to find someone that “gets” your vibe.

2. You spend a lot of time talking about your ideas for the future.

3. You sometimes avoid text messages you don’t know how to answer.

4. You can spend an entire weekend with them and still not get lucky!

So hopefully this has given you some points to ponder if you’re searching yourself. The important thing is to find someone that you relate to and trust… because it’s gonna get personal.


New green door. | Hannah & Husband

Good morning! Happy Friday! Per the usual, here are a few of my favorite (& very random) TGIF! links from around the interwebs. Enjoy!

In less than two weeks, we have found our next house, listed our current house, sold our current house to the *cutest* family, and bought our next home. Whoo! So I’ve basically been watching this clip on repeat everyday this week.

While we’re in the Parks & Rec realm, have you taken this Buzzfeed quiz yet?

Kanye West or Jean-Ralphio Saperstein

Completely changing topics (remember I said “random”?), The New York Times was killing it this week. My picks ranged from 10 artists drawing their childhood pets to Angelina Jolie’s op-ed treatise on women educating themselves and taking control of their bodies (Amen!). But the one that gave me a “You go, girl!” moment that I can’t stop thinking about was Vanessa Friedman’s “For Michelle Obama, Girlie Clothes That Lean In.” Sometimes clothes speak louder than words, y’all!

Michelle Obama in Kenzo stepping off the plane in Japan to begin her Let Girls Learn tour.

“You can dress like a girl and dream about getting a Ph.D. (or a law degree, if we are being picayune), too.” Whoo!

Which brings me to possibly my favorite pick of the week: Evan Rachel Would.

The video is actually part of an ad campaign for the Portland based clothing company Wildfang. Wouldn’t you love to meet their marketing director? Or more accurately, whomever wrote this line:

Evan Rachel Would, Wildfang Clothing

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to listen to 4 Non-Blondes for the rest of the day because: Beth Ditto.

Oh! Before I go a quick PSA: Third Rock from the Sun is now on Netflix, and I’ll just go ahead and say it: Jane Curtain and John Lithgow are national treasures. That is all.

 Happy Friday!

3 Ways to Add Soul to a Room You Don’t Use

We all have those rooms–the ones we shut the door on and try to forget the Christmas gifts we’ll never use that are piled on the chair we meant to have reupholstered. Shudder no more my friend! It’s a new year. You can do this. Here are three ways to add soul to a room you don’t use. In no time, you’ll have guests thinking, “They just know exactly what to do with their space!”

For us, that room is an upstairs bedroom. We have the one guest room that is used for guests and the other one that is used for linen storage/books/that pile for Goodwill. Sure, we could have kids some day and this space could come in super handy, but at the moment we think of it as that one other room we have to vacuum. So one weekend we took a few easy steps to add a little soul, and now it’s known as our “sitting room” thankyouverymuch.

3 Ways to Add Soul to a Room You Don't Use | Hannah & Husband

The gallery wall and rug in our “sitting room.” If you want to learn how to make the upholstered bench, click here.

3 Ways to Add Soul

Cozy things up

ie: Buy a cheap rug. You can sometimes find vintage orientals on Craigslist* or in antique malls. Another option is salvage stores. My instinct is always to look for color and pattern (hides the wine drips). But if you want a lighter look, find a white rug with some seriously soft texture.

*The one rule here is to make sure they don’t smell like smoke.


Hang some art. Better yet, hang a lot of it. Gallery walls are a great alternative to painting walls. (Hello, renters!) When we first bought our house, I was paralyzed by the fear that I would hang something in the wrong spot. Remember, if you don’t like where you hang something, you can always move it later.

Click here for an easy way to hang a gallery wall.

Next: Books, board games, and linens. Extra rooms are a great place for storage (thus all the piles) so why not embrace that? But (pro tip) this is not the place to put your DVD collection. Think of tactile personal objects that add warmth–a shelf full of clean quilts ready to be grabbed for a spur-of-the-moment picnic perhaps!

3 Ways to Add Soul to a Room You Don't Use | Hannah & Husband

We picked this vintage hanging light up for $5 and redid it. Here’s how.

Look at Your Fixtures

Fixture: A legal concept referring to something that
is permanently attached to a property.

Think door knobs, light fixtures, outlet covers, even the hooks in the bathroom. What one fixture could you replace to make things feel a bit more you? Regardless of what you choose, this is an upgrade that makes a big impact with less than an hour of effort!

Pro Tip: Scour the vintage shops for fixtures. They always come with a bit of the story, and that’s just what you need.

Finally, a little recommended listening for your room redo. Trust me on this one…

Haint Blue on the Porch Ceiling

Haint Blue | Hannah & HusbandHow cute is this guy? I was trying to take a picture of my afternoon view (staring at the porch ceiling above the pages of my book), and this pic was just too cute not to snap. But for the actual post…

This time of year (or really any time the thermometer reads over 60°F) the front porch is my very favorite room in the house. We spend hours out there–reading, chatting, listening to the radio. I’ll give you a peek at the rest of the porch another day, but right now I want to talk about the ceiling.

Haint Blue | Hannah & Husband

If you call up your house painter and ask for “haint” blue, you’ll find that most of them keep a standard shade on hand. Driving through Southern towns, this light blue adorns the porch ceilings of the smallest of shacks to the largest of mansions. And, like many pieces of Southern folklore, haint blue ceilings have become such a tradition that most people have forgotten where it started.  The tradition originated with the Gullah people–descendants of slaves spread from South Carolina to Louisiana.

haint: a spirit lost in the physical world yet to pass over to the next realm

You can think of a haint as a spirit that you really don’t want to mess with. This isn’t a friendly spirit that will guide you in life, it’s one that will haunt your dreams. The one catch? Haints can’t cross water. So the idea was that if the ceiling of the porch was painted this blue, a shade that is light and slightly aqua, the haint will be tricked into thinking that it’s water and move on to another home.

While I don’t really believe in the superstition, I’m a sucker for a Southern tradition with a good story! What about you? Is your porch ceiling blue?




We Have a Mouse

Husband staring into the kitchen. 

Me: You see a mouse, don’t you?

Husband: Yes, but he’s a little guy if that helps.

Me: So all cute Beatrix Potter style?

Husband: Yes, but he shits in our house so don’t get too attached.

Posted on in Uncategorized | Tagged ,

Evolution of a Home Pt. 3

Evolution of a Home Pt. 3 | Hannah & Husband

The monogrammed metal container holding the roses was actually something my mom made for the end of a few pews at our wedding.

Two or three weeks before our wedding, we completely overhauled our house. And by “we,” I mean Husband, me, and numerous friends and family.  They came in and stripped up layers of carpet (adhered to the floor with what I’m sure was at least three times the recommended amount of nails and staples), painted ceilings stained yellow, and gave every wall a fresh coat of paint. And while they did all of that, I spent days steaming and scraping the strawberry contact paper off the kitchen walls.

Evolution of a Home Pt. 3 | Hannah & Husband

These pictures are from a little tour that I made for my Aunt Vangie our first winter. Looking at these always makes me laugh. When we bought our house we were so young. Neither of us had ever lived by ourselves, and we had no idea what our personal styles were–let alone what our styles would look like when they were combined!

So I went through folders full pages torn from magazines and sketches of houses I’d been designing since I was 12. From that I pulled a color palette I knew I liked–very American, very Cath Kidston, very homey. Here it is…

Evolution of a Home Pt. 3 | Hannah & Husband

Painting by me. Arm of the chair eaten by puppy Dexter.

Evolution of a Home Pt. 3 | Hannah & Husband

Evolution of a Home Pt. 3 | Hannah & Husband

Please note Loverboy’s Specialty Cake on the counter! Click here to get the recipe.

Evolution of a Home Pt. 3 | Hannah & Husband

Evolution of a Home Pt. 3 | Hannah & Husband

Evolution of a Home Pt. 3 | Hannah & Husband   Evolution of a Home Pt. 2

   Evolution of a Home Pt. 1

Cleaning Up the House

Who said housework has no glamour? This gal! I’ve gotta tell you–you can streamline, you can organize, but cleaning your house will never be as glamorous as vintage ads make it look. And, trust me I’ve tried. These gals have a serious case of the clean-up crazies!

There are the ladies that look like they sniffed a little too much cleaning product.

The ladies who seem to be a little too excited about their cleaning products or tools. (If you have ever laid down beside your vacuum like the lady in this vintage Hoover ad, please comment below.)

And then, there are just the women that lie to you.

What’s with the crown?! Have you ever gotten a crown, tiara, or sparkly jewelry for doing housework?

(Speaking of crowns & tiaras, we should probably just take a moment and watch this clip. You know you were thinking about it too.)

So back to the story:

This weekend, when the family all went home and the turkey had been packed away, I went to town. You  might call it my own version of cleaning crazy. I like to call it…

I don’t know what it is about this time of year. Maybe it was the fact that we had a crowd for Thanksgiving in our tiny little dining room, and I got closterphobic. Perhaps it’s the fact that the holidays are starting–that special time of year where we put brightly colored, sparkly things on top of our already brightly colored, sparkly stuff. Or maybe (and this is probably the most likely) it was the fact that we had a photographer arrive at our house at 9am yesterday to do a fun photo shoot for HGTV HOME.

The Great Christmas Clean-up of 2013 | Hannah & HusbandThe point of the story is I went crazy. Two trash cans plus the entire bed of Husband’s truck were piled high with stuff we are throwing away. The back of my wagon has been filled with things to take to Goodwill. The pantry has been cleaned, my studio has been cleaned, and we discovered an extra room upstairs. There were clothes I’ve had since middle school, appliances we got for wedding presents that have never been used, and a pile of videos that I assume were there for decoration because we haven’t had a VCR since 2007.

What does this have to do with crazy vintage cleaning ads? Maybe those ladies aren’t so crazy after all. I got a little high with every bag of trash I took out. We pride ourselves on the things we choose to fill our lives with–the books, the music, the well designed coffee grinder. Cleaning will never be glamorous, but it can make you feel awesome. (Maybe not lay-down-with-your-Hoover-awesome, but awesome just the same.)

If you’re buying gifts this holiday season, consider what you already have in your own home. Get rid of some stuff before you bring more in. Give it away, throw it out, sell it to your neighbors. You’ll thank me later.



Our Home Bar: Repurposed Steamer Trunk


The trunk (and floor) before a major overhaul

Hannah and I have always loved taking weekend drives up into the Smoky Mountains. Early in our marriage, while we were still trying to furnish our new (to us) home, we stopped at a little antique store on one of these drives. Filled primarily with the usual suspects, we did happen across one item that stood out: a vintage steamer trunk.

Joe Versus the Volcano

I’ll never let go, Jack!

We loved the look of it, and thought it would make the perfect end table or ottoman. However after a year or so, and a steadily growing liquor cabinet, we decided to repurpose the trunk. We removed four of the drawers, keeping the top for cocktail books & napkins, and creating shelving with the rest. We kept the fronts for the bottom drawers in order to hide the less attractive (or downright embarrassing) bottles. The left side had a perfect shelf at the top for a cutting board we already had, and underneath I put together a wine and glass rack with pine and a brad nailer. We liked the look of the unfinished wood enough that we’ve kept it that way.


The steamer trunk is a conversation piece, and utilizing it as a bar has given us a beautiful and organized way to store our wine & liquor.

Plus, when the house sitter comes over, we can close it.


Bar + Dexter photobomb on the far right



On a related note, Hannah has a post on DIY’s Made + Remade today that will help you stock your own bar for the holiday season.


Picking an Exterior Palette

Yesterday, I shared the Before & After of our recent paint job. Today, I wanted to share with you just how we got there.

Picking a color palette, especially one that is such a bear to get done as well as quite costly like your exterior paint, should not be taken lightly. However, I am also a firm believer in ‘just going for it.’ What’s the worst thing that could happen? If you are going with your gut, the odds are that whatever colors you choose will be great. Here’s how I like to go about choosing a palette.

First, I go to Pinterest. I look through all the images that speak to me at that moment and see if I can spot any similarities. Above is a collage of some of the pictures that were really singing when I was choosing the palette for our home.

Next, I go to the paint store and start looking. Live with the paint chips for a while. Carry them around in your bag. Get them out and mix them up. Odds are, after a couple of days, you will be looking at the same few every time you get them out. When you find a few that work, I highly suggest trying them out online. In the world of computerized everything, each paint brand has a way to “try on” their colors. We chose these 3 from Sherwin Williams.

Finally, look at accent fabrics. For this step, go back to your original set of pictures. What are the accent colors that are repeated in several photographs. Then, start sorting fabrics by what type of fabric you need (in this case we needed Indoor/Outdoor fabric.) and colors.

I chose the 4 fabrics you see above on Fabric.com, and then let Husband make the final decision. If you have a significant other, this is a great step to do together. To be honest, the fabric he chose was just one I’d thrown in the mix. It seemed a bit much for me at first, but now I am completely in love! Significant others have a way of seeing things that you may not even know you like, but you’ll be surprised at how much this stretches you!

Finally, don’t be scared! Try something new. If you don’t want to start with your whole house, maybe you just need some encouragement to liven up that old guest room. A little fabric and a fresh coat of paint can totally change your outlook. Just take my word for it!