Week 13 Journal: Pack 'em Up, Move 'em In

Moving in day at the Curbly House
Nine months ago, Alicia and I walked into a house with lights that wouldn't light, windows that wouldn't close, and a stale pall of neglect that was evident in every corner. And for some reason, we both decided we liked it. Not as it was then, of course, but as we pictured it could become.

After many months of hard work, bits of good and bad luck, and sleepless nights (thanks, Baby Z), we're finally living in the place, and we couldn't be happier. Read on to watch our video journal, and find out how we made the final push to get into the Curbly House.

Normally, remodeling projects have a pretty distinct end point. But this one is a little different. Since we were on a pretty rushed schedule to get into the house, it wasn't so much about 'finishing' everything as it was about getting things 'close enough'. We reached that point last week, after we painted all the walls and installed all the light fixtures. Sure, there are bits and pieces of trim that still need work, and lots of paint touch-up to do, but the house was basically done.

The living room, basically finished

So we sent out a mass e-mail to our friends and family asking for helping cleaning up and moving in. E-mails asking for help doing unpleasant things are a delicate thing; if you're planning one soon, I recommend using a mix of extreme politeness and mentions of beer. 

We started by vacuuming the bejeezus out of every surface in the house. Pro-tip: when vacuuming newly-painted surfaces, prevent scrapes and scuffs by putting felt pads on the vacuum hose head.

Vacuuming the bedrooms

Next, we pulled up the floor coverings. First, the sheets of plywood that had stacked up everywhere. Those went flying off the second-floor deck. Then, I pulled up the brown construction paper that had been covering the hardwood since the very first day of construction. It was great seeing the gleaming hardwood again.

Pulling up the floor coverings

Next, we did another round of vacuuming, this time using a backpack-mounted vacuum with a HEPA filter. After all that construction (and demolition) you don't want traces of lead dust or other contaminates hiding out in the seams of the flooring (or anywhere). So you can't really be too thorough with the vacuum. Redundancy is your friend.

At that point, the majority of the house was ready to go. Meanwhile, at our old house, Alicia was holding/feeding/changing the baby, while simultaneously directing a small army of packer-uppers. She had spent most of the summer packing up what she could, but there was still a lot to deal with. Enough to make someone like me want to renounce materialism and become and ascetic hermit. Maybe next year ...

created at: 09/14/2012

Back at the Curbly House, Alicia's mom spent about six hours scrubbing the months of grime and dust off the kitchen. It was a room that had basically served as a dumping ground during construction, so this was a herculean task. Fortunately, she was the right woman for the job.

Every move is bittersweet, and seeing our living room emptied out was definitely that. With the help of many friends, parents, and siblings, we started making a little ant-like procession of cars, shuttling boxes over to the new house (it's just eight blocks away). 

created at: 09/14/2012

We left all the really big and heavy stuff for the movers, who came the next day. Best. Money. Spent. Ever.

created at: 09/14/2012

Actually, even with the movers taking all the big stuff, there was still a lot of little stuff left over. It's just mind-boggling how much crap we had in that house. In the end, I didn't get done moving "stuff" until late Sunday evening. 

But that night we officially 'slept' at the new house (I'm qualifying that word, because our two-week-old abhors the concept, so I'm using it in relative terms).

If you've been following our series from the start, I hope you can tell how happy, proud, and relieved I am to have finally reached this point. There are very few traces of that old, bedraggled house left here. Instead, we're starting to fill the place up with all our stuff (yes, you can live out of boxes for a surprisingly long time), and also the sounds of children playing, and smells of good food cooking. 

It already feels like home.

And we're not done yet! Over the next few months, we'll be doing full-before-and-after reveals of every room. And pretty soon we'll start sharing the details of our BIG ADDITION plans (kitchen ... mudroom ... master bedroom!). 

Thanks for sticking with us. Here's to a few good nights of sleep.


A special thanks to all the wonderful people who helped us: Lin, Mike, Delia, Ben, Grisha, Dan, Dan, Alex, Alex, Kate, Josh, Leah, Harpreet, and Sally. We love you guys!


This is a post in the Curbly House series! Follow along as we document every step of our complete home makeover, from gutting the walls to putting up the finishing touches. And don't forget to let us know what you think in the comments! 

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bruno on Dec 31, 2012:

Thanks Laura! We loved working with Sherwin Williams for the paint, and so far it has held up really well (keep in mind we have a four-year-old who likes to color on things).

Laura on Dec 31, 2012:

I found it via week 11. Thanks for all of the great pinterest pins!

Laura on Dec 31, 2012:

I love the color of the walls, ans was wonder what type of paint, and what color it is?

Esther on Sep 17, 2012:

Felicitaciones!! Los he estado siguiendo desde el principio... y he quedado maravillada con la obra. Que la disfruten!!!

Un saludo desde Buenos Aires. 

Jinessa on Sep 17, 2012:

Congrats! I've been following you from the start as we were going through the same sort of story.  House, construction dust, move = exhausted, but well worth it as you make the house a home.  Looking forward to the room reveals! Congrats again!

bruno on Sep 16, 2012:

@stephanie - thanks so much! It's really great to know someone out there is watching, and getting inspired. Hopefully when you get to your big project you can share with us!

@stacey - no problem ;) We did a few spot lead checks using those instant lead-check kits, and tested negative for lead. That's not to say some of the older layers of paint might not have had some though ... with old houses you never know. 

Stephanie on Sep 16, 2012:

My husband and I have been following the Curbly house from the start and It looks FANTASTIC!  We would love to do this ourselves one day (old houses just have so much charm!) and you have provided so much inspiration.  Sometimes the idea of such a huge project can be so daunting you don't even know where to start, but you guys have done an incredible job.  Congratulations!  We can't wait to see the individual rooms!

Stacey on Sep 15, 2012:

I always seem to have obscure questions!  Did you do an official lead paint tests, or did you just assume it was there (probably a safe assumption)?  How did you dispose of any potential lead debris (because I know there are all kinds of new federal laws on this kind of thing)?

I can't wait to see the reveals, it looks gorgeous!

KeLLy aNN on Sep 15, 2012:

Congratulations! Looking forward to the rest of the reveals and rehab.

Great job!

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