One Year Housiversary Tour (Past, Present, and Future Plans) – House Exterior, Front Yard, Back Yard & Garage

Today I’m continuing the one year house tour with the exterior of the house and the garage. Over the last year, the amount of work I’ve put into the exterior of the house is very minimal. I’ve done practically nothing.

My original plan was actually to use this summer to get lots of projects done outside (especially in the front yard and the front exterior of the house) to add some curb appeal to our blank slate. But then I started my two-week low budget kitchen makeover, which somehow turned into a full blown kitchen remodel that has lasted several months, so that kind of ruined my plans for the exterior projects I had planned. So it’s still kind of a sad, neglected blank slate one year later. But I’ll show it to you anyway, and hopefully you can see the potential like I can!

Front Exterior/Front Yard

The first time I saw the house, the front exterior didn’t impress me at all.  In fact, I almost walked away from the house altogether, but the more I thought about it, and the more I looked at the photos I had taken, the more I could see the potential.  Here’s how it looked then…

And now?  Well, it looks pretty much the same.  I did remove the dark storm doors from the front door and the side door, the hand rail from the ramp, and I also removed all of the boxwoods from the front.  So really, it’s looking even more drab and colorless than it did when we bought it.  😀

one year house tour - exterior front 6

On the picture above, the window on the far left is Matt’s game room, to the right of that is my office, and the large window to the right of the front door is the living room.  The windows on the little section set back between the main house and the garage is the breakfast room.  Here’s a floor plan again for reference.

house floor plan - july 2014

The whole house needs a good power washing, but beyond that, I have so many plans for the exterior.  It’s a blank slate just begging for some color, landscaping, and so much more.

one year house tour - exterior front 4

My absolute least favorite thing about the exterior of our house is the vinyl siding.  I can’t even express how much I loathe it, and you have no idea how much self control it has taken me to not rip it off.  I’m almost certain that there’s wood shiplap siding underneath, but I have no idea what condition it’s in.  The optimist in me wants to believe it’s in the same great condition that the shiplap siding in the breakfast room (originally an exterior wall of the garage) is in, but the realist in me thinks it’s probably more like the condition of the shiplap siding in the sunroom, which is old and crumbling, and both are probably covered with lead-based paint.

Either way, the plan is to remove all of the vinyl siding and replace it with a long lasting composite wood-look siding.

house exterior - HardiPlank lap siding via HouzzTraditional Porch by Chicago Building Supplies James Hardie Building Products

In fact, there are a few ideas from that photo that I’d like to implement on my own house. Not only do I want the new lap siding, but I also want the white trim, the wood (or wood-look) front porch, and the white columns and porch railings.

But back to the vinyl siding.  Replacing all of the siding will cost a small fortune, and that’s something that would need to wait until the sunroom is removed and rebuilt to create the laundry room and family room so that everything can be done at the same time.  Who knows when that will happen, so for now, I’m stuck with vinyl siding.

I think I’ll be happier with it if I can just paint it for now.  That yellowish cream color is just awful, and I want it to be more of a tan color with no hint of yellow.  In fact, if it leaned more towards a hint of gray, that would be perfectly fine with me.  Just no yellowish cream!!

As far as adding color and personality to the front, this is a mock up that I did (obviously using a photo taken before I removed the boxwoods) about a year ago, and I still love it today.

possible paint colors 5

Who knows if I’ll still like it when I finally get around to working on the exterior, though.  Remember, all of my plans are subject to change on a whim and without any prior notification.  😀

My absolute favorite thing right now about the front of our house/property is the massive red oak tree.  It towers above our house.

one year house tour - exterior front 1

And then next to it is a pecan tree that I’d love to cut down right now.  Not only is it leaning, which annoys the heck out of my perfectionist/OCD personality, but pecan trees are self-pruning, and that thing drops limbs constantly, and sometimes they’re very large limbs.

one year house tour - exterior front 2

(Ummm…please ignore those sad, neglected gutters and grass climbing over the curb.  In fact, just go put on your “this has so much potential and will eventually be awesome regardless of how it looks now” glasses.  Please, and thank you.)  🙂

One of the things that was almost a deal breaker for me with this house was the lack of a paved driveway.  Seriously.  I just couldn’t imagine why there wasn’t an actual paved driveway leading to the garage.  But after giving it some thought, I realized that that might actually be a blessing and not a curse.  The lack of paved driveway meant that I can design any kind of driveway I want.  I can be creative and come up with something other than the standard massive expanse of concrete.  I have no idea what I’ll actually end up with, but I’ve always really loved the split path driveways like this…

house exterior - split path driveway via HouzzTraditional Exterior by San Francisco Architects & Building Designers Madson Design

house exterior - split path driveway via Houzz 2Craftsman Garage And Shed by Charlotte Home Builders Saussy Burbank

I think those are so much more charming that just a massive expanse of concrete, and the look fits well with the age and style of my house.

Now when it comes time to do the landscaping, I’m going to have to work with a professional.  I can do interior stuff, but when it comes to landscaping, I’m completely out of my element.  I have a basic idea of what I want — lots of textures, levels, a manicured look (no wild English garden for me) etc.

One issue that I have is that our property is so large, and there’s just so much area that needs attention.  Our side yard on the left goes all the way to the end of the boxwoods on the left side.

one year house tour - exterior front 3

And then on the garage side, we have this side yard that extends about four feet to the left of the gate.  (Ignore my trash pile.  We made two trips to the landfill yesterday, and couldn’t get the rest before they closed, so I put it there until we can make another trip).

one year house tour - exterior front 7

So our property is very wide, and our front yard is quite large.  And since I don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars each month trying to keep that much grass alive during the hot, dry summers, I’d like a very good mix of grass, hardscaping, and planting beds.  But other than knowing generally what I want, I have no idea how to actually go about it and design something that looks and functions like I want.  So I’ll be counting on a professional to come up with a plan that I can implement over time as I have the funds.

Back Exterior/Back Yard

There’s really no need to show before pictures since this back yard and back exterior of our house look exactly the same as they did a year ago.  The only thing that has changed back here is that we added a dogrun to the side.  (Actually, my father-in-law built the fence when he was here in February.)  It’s nothing fancy…just a fenced off area where my dog can spend some time outside each day.

one year house tour - exterior back 3

The funny thing is that that dogrun is about the size of our entire back yard that we had in Oregon.  Our entire lot in Oregon was 6,437 square feet.  Our lot here is 43,560 square feet.  (Our current house is also 1,o00 square feet bigger, and we paid $55,000 less for our current house than we did for our house in Oregon.  I love Texas!)  So we could easily fence off about 1400 square feet for our dog, and still have more than enough room in our back yard for whatever else we want to do.

And speaking of back yard…

Lots of people over the last year have asked me, “Kristi, why this house?  It needs so much work, so why did you choose this one?”

The answer is simple.  The lot.

When we decided to buy a house, I knew I wanted three things.  First, I wanted an old house.  I don’t like new build houses (for me), and I wanted something old that I could fix up.  And secondly, it actually needed to be a fixer upper.  Under no circumstances did I want to buy an old house that someone else had already fixed up, because more than likely they’d pass along those costs to me in the sale price of the house, and I’d still want to redo everything.  So that would have been money wasted.  And third, it needed to be cheap so that I wouldn’t feel guilty about spending lots of money over the next five to ten years fixing it up.

I got those things (we paid $82,000 for our house, and as you can see from the pictures, it’s definitely a fixer upper in desperate need of some lovin’), but I never in my life dreamed that I could find those things sitting on a one-acre lot inside the city.  Of course, you can find lots of land in the country in Texas, but I’m not a country girl.  You couldn’t pay me to live in the country.  Nope, I’m a city girl.  So I feel like I have the best of both worlds here.  I probably could have found a house that I liked better, but I certainly couldn’t have found a house that I liked better that sat on a one-acre lot in the city.

So yes…it’s the land that sold me on this house.  Not the house.  In fact, my attitude was, “Well, I can work with the house, but I want that lot!”

If you’re new around here, here’s an aerial view of our our property outlined in red.  The 1400 square foot dog run is marked off in yellow, and you can see that it barely made a dent in our back yard.

arial view with dog run

I have so many plans for this back yard, but I have a feeling it’ll be one of those projects that I’ll literally be working on for decades to come.  The row of trees from the right side of this picture to the middle of the picture is the same tree row that cuts the back yard in half in the aerial view above.

one year house tour - exterior back 5

Right now, there’s a brick fireplace with planters on each side right on the patio.

one year house tour - exterior back 4

We’ll keep it for now, and we might even build a fire in it this fall.  But eventually this will all be removed.  When I said that on the original house tour a year ago, several people tried to convince me to keep it, but it simply won’t work once we tear down the sunroom and rebuild it.  That room, once it’s rebuilt, will be the same height as the rest of the house (right now you have to step down into the sunroom), and it will also be extended about five feet towards the back yard.  After that room is raised up level with the rest of the house and extended, the plan is to build a deck off the back so make it easier for Matt to get in and out.  So this fireplace will be in the way and will need to be removed.

But my plan is to rebuild something very similar, and also to add lots of hardscaping in the back yard as well.  In addition to the deck, I’d love a patio area or two off of the deck that are created with pavers or bricks.  Something like this is what I have in mind.

house exterior - hardscaping for back yard, via HouzzMediterranean Patio by Carlsbad Home Stagers Suzanne O’Brien

Again, I want to have a good mix of hardscaping, planter beds, and grass. And hopefully not too much grass, because again, I don’t want to spend the rest of my life paying for water to try to keep grass alive in the Texas summers. But some grass is fine.

Here’s a peek at the back part of the property just beyond that row of trees that cuts it in half.

one year house tour - exterior back 7

And here’s a view with me standing at the back corner of our property looking back towards the house.

one year house tour - exterior back 8

The back of the property (which we refer to as “the back forty”) is where I’d eventually like to have our veggie gardens and chicken coop.  Matt also wants to add lots of fruit trees, and he’s even talked about adding a pond that we can stock with fish, but I haven’t checked yet to see if something like that is allowed in the city.  I would guess that it’s not, so he might have to be satisfied with chickens, fruit trees, and a veggie garden.  🙂

And now I’ll end with the saddest, ugliest thing.

The Garage

Oh, this garage will eventually be amazing.  One side of it will house my workshop, and the storage room at the back will be so organized with my tools, paints, and whatever else.  Here’s how it looked a year ago.

And unfortunately, here’s what it looks like now.

one year house tour - garage


I know I should probably be deeply ashamed to show you my mess in there, but I’m not.  I know that my garage in its current state looks like about half the garages in America.  Sadly.

Plus, I’m only one person, and I can only do so much.  🙂

If you look closely, you can find the old cabinets that I removed from the kitchen.  Those cabinets will eventually be used to create lots of storage and a work bench for my workshop.  I’m pretty excited about getting all of this cleared out and getting some organization in here and getting my workshop set up.  I want to make it a priority, but when you live in an old house and everything needs work, it’s hard to know how to prioritize things.  When everything is a priority, nothing is a priority.

But it’ll get done eventually, and it’ll be amazing (to me).  Just like the rest of the house.  🙂

That’s all for today.  I’ll have more interior rooms to show you tomorrow!




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  1. Kristi — everything seems to take at least twice as long to complete as you think it will. And really it would have been too hot much of this summer to work outdoors so the timing seems about right to me to start working on the yard when you complete the kitchen. When I lived in Austin I had my landscaping done in the fall and it was able to put down nice deep roots all winter and when spring and the rains came it really flourished. I’m sorry to hear you aren’t a cottage garden type of person — your house would be perfect for that. BUT I highly recommend that you consider a natural habitat. The folks at Lady Bird Center can help a lot with that. I had a natural front yard with Texas plants that can stand the heat. Little real grass. Maybe some native grasses. Too hot to mow in Texas!!!! Don’t be embarrassed about any part of your house. It has such great potential. I too hate vinyl siding so I totally understand how you feel about it. But at least you have a double garage. And the possibilities are endless with that property both the house and land. I too love the driveways with green in the middle and yes it would look great with your house. My driveway is cracked and I’ve considered one of those and also a paver driveway. Anyway, long winded post to say I too would have chosen this house over something else. What you have will be totally yours and totally amazing.

  2. I think your house is very cute from the outside. The ideas you have are great. As for the yard, it can wait until the house is finished. (or mostly finished) I would not be surprised to see you delve into landscaping with a passion after you complete your home. The garage looks better than most of the garages I see. LOL I love looking at what you have in there and wondering “How is she going to refinish that?” I understand that this is a big project but selfishly I know that I will have years of blog posts to read from you. So I am somewhat happy about that. LOL You are doing an amazing job. And I love seeing the house from 1 year ago and today. Can’t wait to see the finished kitchen and what you decide to work on next! As always. You are AMAZING!

  3. Hi, I think you made a great purchase. Land and location are the most important things when buying a home. You cannot improve the location or the size of the lot, but you can do just about anything to the house that is on it. When I saw the size of the lot, I immediately thought Pool. My next home is going to have a pool since it is going to be in a hot weather area. I couldn’t even see you in the picture where you were in the back of the property. I was also shocked to see such big trees and grass. I have only been to Dallas so I do not know much about TX. Not at all what I was expecting. We have friends who moved to Buda TX outside of Austin and She harvests pecans and does all kinds of things with them. I think she has an Etsy page where she sells her pecan pies and spiced pecans. I think that is cool. I also did not know you could grow fruit trees in TX. Guess I am a bit of a no nothing unless it is the NE. I am learning. What is the biggest city you are close to? I can’t get a feel for where you are located. Anyway, you are doing your thing, I think getting the kitchen done at this point ended up being a great idea. Now it is done, and though it probably won’t be the hardest part, it’s and important part. Blessing

    1. Kristi is in Waco, Texas. That is where Baylor University is located. It is right off of I-35. To the South is Austin and to the North is Dallas.

  4. That is an amazing piece of property, Kristi, and I am so glad you didn’t pass it up! Since I don’t have a garage, I would say my basement = your garage at this point and, someday, it will be a useful, roomy place with a workshop! Love your inspiration pics! I have 1.11 acres and the mow-able part is currently a bit over a 1/2 acre – me and my push mower = 3.5 hours. At this point, I regard it as exercise! May look into some hardscaping in the future myself. I figure I’ll be tired of mowing the lawn by the time I turn 70…lol

  5. You can paint the vinyl. We had an old historic two story home with the original wood siding. Previous owners built a kitchen addition and finished the outside with vinyl siding. Sherwin Williams makes a paint that is meant for vinyl siding. The man at the SW store and our painter told us that we could paint the siding the new house color and it would be fine and not peel. The only caveat to that was the color could not be significantly darker than the original color of the siding or it could cause the siding to buckle (darker colors absorb more heat causing the siding to expand more). If I remember correctly there was some type of chart the paint store had that had the reflective values of the different paint colors….. it may have been called something else but it helped us make sure the color we chose wouldn’t absorb more heat than the original color.

    I absolutely love what you have done with your home so far and I love reading your posts. I can’t wait to check your blog everyday for your updates.

  6. I think your home would look better with white trim around the doors and windows. Its a small improvement but would go a long ways toward curb appeal.

    A yard (front or back) is a work in progress for most of us. Ours has changed significantly in the 12+ years we’ve been in our home. I’ve gone to more perennial beds and borders as we age and have less energy to put into it.

    You’re doing great and you can only do what you can do. Give yourself a break.

    Also happy to see you saved your old cabinets for use in your ‘to be’ workshop in the garage. That’s awesome!

  7. I have to agree with Shiela F……. Lots of projects to look forward to!!

    What I found really exciting though is that you have a dog!! I never realised that, thought you only have cats.

  8. Love your ideas for the house. I’ll still be here when it’s finished 🙂 The driveway idea is so great, love the railing idea for the porch, and as far as the landscaping, do that in the cooler months when you won’t have a heat stroke. Also, tree planting is best done in fall or early spring. If it were me (and, OK, I know it’s not), I would get that garage in shape so that when you are working so hard on your house, you have a place to store your tools and you’ll know where things are when you need them. I spend an inordinate amount of time just searching for what I need. Drives me nuts.

    As I’ve said before, I am having a wonderful time following the progress on your house. Take it easy, tho’. It’s not going anywhere!

  9. Wow! I can’t believe you’ve had the house for a year now!! That definitely went by really fast.
    And also, I had no idea you had a dog…


  10. Kristi, I absolutely get it. We bought a dated 1989 Drivit skinned house but it sits on a 1.25 acre lot and our next door neighbor has a 30 acre estate! We have beautiful fine-bladed Emerald Zoysia and also plenty of woods. There is no substitute for elbow room and peace and quiet and trees and birds and all the other wonderful things that come with some land. The difference with us is that it took us until our 4th house to get so smart, you realized that the only thing you can’t change is the land right off the bat.

    Doesn’t it drive you nuts when you watch House Hunters and the dopey young house shoppers go on and on about pain, carpet, yada, yada?

    We will re-skin and restyle this house with something classic and beautiful. I can’t recommend James Hardie products enough. They look great and they hold onto the paint for a very long time. We had a house with Hardie plank and after 10 years the paint on the Hardie plank looked new and fresh. Another home exterior product we will consider is Boral Brick, check it out http://www.boralbricks.com/images/Users/1/PastelCote/PastelCoteR%20Application%20Guide%202009.pdf.

  11. Kristi….do you realize how blessed you are to have those trees in the front yard! They are God’s natural AC…please DO NOT …DO NOT take them down. You might get them trimmed but that oak must be over a hundred years old and if it is healthy…DO NOT take it down. You would immediately see the difference in your AC bill. The pecan …I can see letting it go, it looks scraggly and perhaps that might be the best thing for it and the oak as well. You might invest in a tree trimmer for the oak. Texans see it as sacrilegious to take down a tree! We need all the trees we can get. In fact you are soooooo blessed with all of the trees you have…what a find you have…..a bit “jello” here over the trees. All the houses we are looking at have zero or few trees…*sigh* makes me sad. Here in Atlanta we have trees that are over 100 ft tall…they are gorgeous and I will miss them “tears tears tears” ….
    Blessings,….your house and garage and all of it are amazing….as you are as well.

  12. I truly enjoyed looking at your property, it is a blank canvas for you to get to eventually!
    That red oak is wonderful.
    And, what a gem of wisdom on “priorities”. Some days I wander about muttering to myself, “indoors or out, indoors or out?”. 🙂

  13. I love how much work you’ve put into your home and how it’s turned out, and I admire the vision you have for your home! Though, I do have a question: Let’s say, theoretically, you get the house in the exact condition you want it, with all the beautiful fixtures and features and colors that you’d envisioned implemented into the design. Everything is finished beautifully, all the necessary (pre-fab) work has been done and there are no problems to be fixed and everything is wonderful. Will you continue adding on to the house and making it even better than you had already made it, or will you start doing things like this as a personal, hands-on business? I’m curious to know!

    1. No, there won’t be any adding on to the house just so that I can have projects to work on. 🙂 The house is plenty big for us, so we won’t need to make it larger (other than the things we already have planned, like enlarging the sunroom to create a family room, and tearing down the existing “master bathroom” and building a proper master bathroom), and once it’s finished, I’d like to just relax and enjoy it. As far as turning it into a hands on business, I’m honestly not sure if I’d want to do that. So we’ll see when that time comes. For now, I think I still have a minimum of five more years of work on this house to get it finished…more if you count all of the outdoor projects I want to do. So I won’t need to consider “what’s next?” for quite some time. 🙂

      1. Make more cooking vids, eventually. The first one was a hoot! And I learned what charro beans are from you. I want to try to make them soon.

  14. Love it… I LOVE your lot!!! I think your whole lot is bigger than the block I live on with 5 houses and the 5 houses that back up to ours! I envy your garage… I have a 2 car sardine can. We did buy new and believe me while I say I love the “newness” oh how it lacks personality that no amount of decorating can bring out. I have been helping a friend and her elderly mother spiff their yard of their classic mid-century split level to put it on the market and while it is older and needs work- ohhhhh the personality of that house just makes me drool. The details, it’s just so full of personality!

  15. Such potential. I can see the wisdom of waiting until you have a real plan/vision for the outside landscaping. I would recommend doing a little research and planting trees sooner than later, especially along the border you want to privatize, like the back along that road. We bought property 12 years ago and talked, talked and talked about planting trees. Had we done it at the beginning, we would have had beautiful trees by now. The time goes too quickly and you will look back and wish you had. I certainly do. Buy little trees, space them thoughtfully, and you will be stunned at what you have in five years.

  16. Thanks again for sharing. You are awesome, honest and inspiring. I learn from your website continually. We have been remodeling houses for 25 years. At first, to make them into what we wanted and couldn’t afford to buy. Now we are newly retired and doing it because we love to buy old houses that need everything and make them great again. I think your home is beautiful and full of wonderful potential. Anyone who has ever done much DIY fully understands what a mess it is. You have to tear it up to rebuild. Your and Matt’s home looks like a future full of great expectations and realizations to me!

  17. I can’t imagine dealing with a yard that size. I’m overwhelmed just looking at your pictures and the job isn’t even mine to handle! I moved from a much larger house with the correspondingly larger yard to a tiny house with unfortunately, a large still larger than I would like. We’ve worked on our front yard, partly for the neighbours benefit (since they have to see it more than we do) and also to clean up the mess created by a huge winter ice storm we had last winter. The cutting down of ravaged trees had to be done and left nothing but huge holes from the removed stumps. Since yard work can only be done part of the year here in Canada, our ‘house renewal work’ gets priority when outside work can be done. Winter will provide opportunity for the inside.

    I love what you’ve done so far and am impressed with your never-ending energy. I love how you’re able to research, plan, and re-assess what your needs and wishes are to come up with perfect designs suited perfectly to Matt and your needs. Your kitchen was a massive undertaking and it is….almoooost complete! Yeah Kristie!!!

  18. I’ve been reading your blog for awhile now, and must tell you. I enjoy it; your wit, style, imagination, your plans and so on. Best of luck in your remodeling; you’re doing a great job.

  19. You are sure working hard!!! Acre lots in the middle of town are wonderful aren’t they? BUT, to keep them neat and enjoyable is a LOT OF WORK. You just have to keep after everything all the time…whew!!
    This weekend is going to be tree trimming time on the homeplace, and I am NOT looking forward to all that work….but……it has to be done and it will look a lot better later :^)
    Blessings to you,

  20. Our house was built in 1859 and added to during the years. We started in 1958 to undo all the bad workmanship and around 2000 we put Hardie Plank siding and we haven’t had to do any painting or anything. The composite we had put on in the 1970’s didn’t hold up and we painted almost every other year. We also have replaced all windows with Andersen windows and some are even custom made and didn’t cost as much as some of the cheaper ones at the big box stores. You’ve cut yourself out a lot of work.

  21. This was just what I needed to see and you sound so much like me. We also owned a house in Oregon that was very pricey but here it would be affordable because we… Moved back to Texas where you CAN find a fixer upper, which is exactly what I look for because new construction is just, well, not good. The house we live in now was built in 1931 and there are days I get so impatient with getting the renovations done. You, Kristi, have made me feel alright with the time it will take and letting it be known that it’s OK! In order for a house to become a home, it can’t be done overnight (cause that’s what new construction is these days). Thank you for sharing your talent and being HONEST along the way. You have inspired me more than you’ll ever now!!!!!

  22. I think you should be offered your own TV reality show featuring your remodeling talents, visions and creative abilities. The monies would greatly help you with your budget and you would be able to complete your home sooner than five years. I would watch your show faithfully. As for that huge yard…I do not envy you the size or the work it will take to whip it into shape nor the work it will take to maintain it. We have a large yard and I nearly kill myself every growing season trying to keep it maintained. While I enjoy the time I spend setting out when weather permits, (we live in Northern Montana where the summers are short and winters are long and cold) the older I get the harder it is to maintain our property. I would truly sell our place in a heartbeat and find something smaller with less yard and as maintenance free as possible, but ‘husband’ says no way. Lol…he doesn’t do any of the work…

  23. Great yard! Plant the fruit trees NOW so they can mature while you’re busy in the house. Then, when you have time to enjoy the fruits of your labor, there will actually be fruit!

  24. I’ve been following your blog for over a year and this is the first I’ve heard of the dog. Pictures please! 🙂
    Also, I love the split path driveway idea. It’ll look great and it’s eco-friendly since it’s less concrete/pavement and allows the water to drain back into the ground.

  25. Kristi, I hear you on the land… when we first saw this house it was ugly in a way your house can only aspire to on its best days. But it sat in the middle of about 10 acres of paddocks, with another 80 acres of bushland up the hill behind the house. I could work with the house, but I wanted the space and privacy.

    I also hate creamy yellow, and both this house and my first house in Tasmania were painted creamy yellow. I picked a dusty pale green for the house in Fentonbury, but for this house I wanted a tan or grey colour without any hint of yellow. Check out the exterior of our house (still unfinished):