Sunday, February 27, 2011

Weekend Project

I love projects that can be completed in one afternoon, but that pack a powerful punch! This project was just that!
I had always wanted a hood, instead of the ugly microwave that I really couldn't reach anyway. But we never really knew how to go about doing it with the cabinets and expense. Then one day our microwave stopped heating up. It was a huge dilemma!
Do we get the microwave fixed? Do we replace the microwave since we will most likely be moving to China? We decided to do a little research and found out they make a hood for exactly this purpose!
The price was right!
The installation was a breeze!
And it fit!

I Love it!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Beijing Series - "House Hunters International"

We weren't really on House Hunters International, although I totally pretended I was (not gonna lie)!

So a main reason to go to Beijing with hubby was to look at neighborhoods and homes. I completely surprised myself!

First, I thought that living in a one bedroom apartment above a fish monger would be "totally fine as it will only be two years". NOT! What was I thinking? I was very, very picky once I got there as you will see below.

Second, I had already made up my mind what district and neighborhood I had wanted to live in even before I got there. NOTE TO SELF...the internet portrays things much nicer than they really are! Even some of these pictures present better than real life. What you can't see in the pictures are the smells, and there are many smells that just make a negative impression.

Le Leman Lake- This was a house of someone I was meeting up with so I did not feel comfortable asking to take pictures inside her home. It was very spacious...

River Garden Villa- Both above and River Garden is in Shunyi, about an hour commute for hubby into the city. These houses run about $5,000 a month in rent. Like above, I was having lunch here and felt awkward asking to take pictures inside.
Hubby and I went back to River Garden Villa to arrange a tour. The way it works in China is you rent from a landlord. EVERYTHING is negotiable. They will knock out walls if you request it, change flooring, even revamp the entire kitchen. So it is important to remember that none of these homes would be moved into "as is". Very interesting!

River Garden House #1-

Funky light fixture but I liked the tall ceilings and tall window treatments.

An added on sunroom serves as the family room in this house. This room had a heated tile floor.

I liked this kitchen, straight out of the IKEA store. Yes, there is an IKEA store in Beijing! Whoot-whoot!

Nice IKEA bathroom too...but the entire upstairs of this house was stinky smelling.

This was a 4 bedroom home with 3 and a half baths. In every single house and apartment we looked at, there was a room and bathroom for your AYI (housekeeper/cook).

A street in River Garden Villa.

River Garden Villa House #2-

The floors in this room looked great, but the stairs were a disaster.
Outdated kitchen, not renovated YET

Another added on sunroom. I guess that's the "thing" to do.

This house was five bedrooms, three bathrooms and a neat loft area at the top of the stairs.
The cool thing about River Garden is that there is a grocery store in the main building.

Here is the indoor pool, there is an outdoor one too. There is also an indoor ice skating rink.

Seasons Park Apartment #1- Back in the city now. I had never wanted to even look at highrise apartments, but once I got there I changed my mind. I liked the grounds here and the apartments were okay. I just was not crazy about the neighborhood around the buildings.

I guess we only took video inside these apartments. They were both three bedrooms with three baths. The clubhouse looked amazing too.

Sanlitun Soho Apartment- This apartment is the most modern and the newest of everything we looked at. The grounds are not complete yet, but already there are multi-level malls and offices, as well as the apartments.

Below is a picture of the front desk area. This complex is a little different than others. Here all the apartments are decorated the exact same, so there is not the negotiating with your landlord like others. These front desk workers are like a concierge at a hotel. If you need anything, you just ask them.

Sadly, once again I only have video of these apartments. But here is the website and you must check out the apartment photos. No shabby chic here!

Beijing Riviera House #1- Our real estate agent knew we were very interested in the Shunyi district so he took us out to look at some more neighborhoods out in suburbia.

The entryway I liked to this home, with the black and cream tile. All the houses in Shunyi have vestibules (a false front door with an indoor area to remove shoes).
When you rent in China , everything comes furnished. This is where the negotiations come in again. The thing I loved about this house was all the architectural details. Lots of crown moulding and thick doorjams.
I don't think we saw one single room anywhere with carpet, even in the bedrooms.
One thing I did not like about this house is that the changed the garage into a room. There was an ugly carport out along the house to park.
Chapstick is a huge priority to Hubby!

This home was also five bedrooms.

Beijing Riviera Townhouse- In this same neighborhood there are townhomes as well as single family homes.
The kitchen was okay, but I'm literally walking through the door as I am taking this picture. Odd that the kitchen is the entryway too.

A funky room divider between the kitchen and dining room.
I liked these windows and this master bedroom had a nice closet area.
A few of the places we looked at had roof patios. Something that I think would be a waste of space.
Le Grande Villa II Townhouse- This townhouse was the swankiest place we saw. It was brand new and the complex was built by the richest man in China. You could tell that everthing was high-end. It was interesting. You enter the house from the parking garage. There is an nice door entry in the garage. Also, in the garage is the AYI area with her own entrance. Needless to say, this is the most expensive place we saw.
When you enter through the garage there is a big bonus room and a bedroom and a bathroom.

This level was the front outside entrance level with the living room, another bedroom and bathroom. The level on top with the glass overlook has the kitchen and dining room.
Nice closet and dressing room in the master bedroom. If I were on House Hunters I would say, " Honey, nice closet for me. Where are you going to put your clothes?" Every woman on that show makes that joke!

I really liked this kitchen. Above the kitchen and dining room level (level 3) there was another level with two bedrooms and bathrooms. Then the stairs led to a rooftop patio and the laundry was up there. That is 5 flights of stairs. I just kept thinking how one flight of stairs was impossible for me when I had broken my foot!
One of the many snazzy bathrooms in this palace.
Last, but not least- Central Park Aparment- We are back in the city again and by this time I was tired. As I bet you are by looking at this stinking loooong post.
I was so DONE at this point, but happy there was a place for the kids to play!
So in true House Hunters style, you need to guess which one we chose! Leave a comment about which one you think, and I will reveal in my next post. Hint, there are clues in my last posts and on Facebook.