Ravenna House // Tips for Saving Money On a New Roof (We Saved $5k on ours!)


I hate spending money on roofs. They’re not pretty or exciting and they’re so expensive. But of course roofs keep you dry and warm so even I can admit, they’re worth every penny. We recently got a new roof installed at the Ravenna House and I wanted to share a few tips on the process, what it cost, and how we saved $5k on the whole deal.

These photos are of the new roof on the Ravenna House. While the previous roof was technically fine (no leaks, holes, or glaring problems), but it was at least 15 years old and looked it. We’re planning to sell this house next month so we didn’t want a kinda-old-but-technically-fine roof to keep us from getting top dollar (and yes, the mailbox will need to be addressed too ;). Read on for a few considerations we made and how we got the best deal on our new roof.

Tear Off vs Roof Overs (added layer)

‘Tear off’ means removing the existing roofing shingles down to the plywood underlayment. If you’re in a really old house that has never had a tear off, it’s possible your underlayment may be skip sheeting (1″x6″ boards laid down with gaps), which would need to be replaced as well. Different municipalities have different requirements for roofs, but in Seattle you’re allowed two layers of roofing before tear off is required. However, after talking to some roofers, we found out that most people choose to do a tear off with every new install, regardless how many layers of existing roofing they have. It’s more expensive that way, since tear-off is a big chunk of the labor expense. But on the plus side, tearing off provides a better warranty and is just considered nicer. We chose to do a tear off and start fresh with a new roof.

DIY-ing Part or All of your Roof

Garrett actually worked for a small roofing company the summer before college, and we’ve done tear off and roofing for our own homes in the past. But roofing is a task we avoid if at all possible. We’ve found that the extended contractor warranty is worth the small savings by installing your own roof. Plus roofing is just one of those renovation tasks that is no fun. We would consider doing the tear off ourselves to save on labor costs, but opted not to on this project.

Type of Roof

There are a few options for roofs. In an ideal world, we would have gotten cedar shake. But alas, we did not. I care so little for roofs, that I let Garrett pick out this asphalt shingle. I’m fine with it. There are quite a few other types of roofing material out there including rubber, metal, clay, slate, and Tesla solar tile! Premium-level architectural (also called dimensional) asphalt shingles are a trending product that provide more relief due to increased thickness. Here are a few items for thought when considering whether to upgrade from a basic material:

  • Likelihood of selling in the next 10-15 years?
  • Is a remodel (that will affect the roof) in the 10-year plan?
  • Are you in a region that experiences extreme weather (snow, wind, hail, heat etc.)?
  • What materials are comparable neighborhood houses using?

We would consider going with something longer lasting such as metal for a structure we had high certainty was going to be in our portfolio in 30 years. This just wasn’t the case here, hence the standard materials.

Shop Around

We got 10 estimates on this roof. Yes, ten! That seems excessive, but it turned out to be worth it every phone call.  The first bid came in at $13k for this small roof and that contractor would only accept the job if they got all of the work (i.e. we couldn’t do the tear-off ourselves to save money). The second bid came in at $6600 for a roof over. And all the other bids fell in-between those. We ended up selecting a bid for $7700. If we had gone with the first bid, we would have spent $5,000 more on this project. Yikes!

For the Ravenna House, Garrett selected a driftwood color to compliment the house colors, but generally I prefer something more monochromatic, like dark grey/charcoal. Do you guys have a favorite roofing color? Anyone gone with white? We’d love to hear any money-saving tips you have for getting a new roof.


Durability of Marble Countertops // The Ravenna Kitchen 4 years laters


You may have noticed that there’s a lot of marble in the Porch House kitchen. But it’s not the first time we’ve used marble. Back when we were remodeling the Ravenna kitchen, some four odd years ago, we chose marble countertops. Yup, we put marble in a rental house. Of course it wasn’t a rental back then – it was our home – but we had a strong inclination we’d rent it out eventually. And sure enough, it’s been a rental for 2 1/2 years now. If you think we were crazy to put marble in, you aren’t alone. So today, we’re going to look at how those marble countertops have held up so far.

The Grit and Polish - Ravenna Marble Kitchen range table

By the way, these photos were all taken during a recent Airbnb turn. Sources and related posts are listed below. 

Four years ago, picking marble felt like a risky decision. So many people warn against the natural stone, citing staining, etching, and imperfections as pitfalls. At the time, neither Garrett nor I had personal experience with marble to draw from. But here’s the deal. I love natural materials. And I love the look of marble. I had high hopes that the so-called pitfalls of marble would feel more like a beautiful patina that got better with age, so I went with my gut and we purchased the marble.

Marble Nomenclature

Here we are 4 years later but before we look closer at how our countertops have held up, lets run through a few marble terms:

HONED // a matte finish on marble that has been dulled by sanding or acid bath. Honed creates a soft look that ages well (in my opinion). For many people, honed marble is easier to live with since it doesn’t show imperfections as much as polished marble. Honed marble is often sealed to keep it from staining.

POLISHED // a glossy, shiny surface on marble achieved by polishing. Polished marble won’t stain as easily as a honed finish will, but it shows scratches and etching.

ETCHING // dull spots on the marble caused by acid literally eating away a bit of the surface

STAINING // marble is a porous stone so things like wine or flower pollen can leave stains if not cleaned up quickly.

SCRATCHING // marble is a semi-hard stone, somewhere between soft soapstone and hard granite and can be scratched with hard objects like knives and belts.

All About Our Marble

The Ravenna House countertops are polished marble and they came with some sort of sealant applied, although we’re unsure of exactly what. In the past four years, we haven’t applied anything else to these countertops nor done any major maintenance. We cleaned the countertops with Meyer’s dish soap and countertop spray when we lived there, but of course the Ravenna House has been a rental for 2 1/2 years now. It’s hard to say exactly what the Airbnb and month-to-month tenants use, but it’s likely the same Meyers products since we leave them for their use.

What 4 Years of Wear and Tear Looks Like

Believe it or not, there is actually quite a bit of wear on the stretch of countertop shown in the last photo. It’s hard to tell, right? That’s the thing with marble etching and staining. Unless you’re really close and at just the right angle, you can’t tell it’s there. Here’s a closer look.

The Grit and Polish - Ravenna Marble Close Up

As you can see, our countertops now have a bit of etching, a couple scratches, and some subtle staining in this high traffic area. That original shiny, polished finish is now somewhere between polished and honed. But overall, these imperfections are hard to see. They’re definitely not obvious when you walk into the house or even when you’re in the kitchen. But if you bend down low enough and look just right, you can see them.

So What Are We Going To Do About It?

You may be wondering what we’re going to do about the wear and tare on these countertops, and honestly…nothing! The etching and subtle staining don’t bother me one bit. I actually like the patina of it all now. I’ve long preferred honed marble to polished, and the wear on these countertops gives them that same ‘aged gracefully’ quality. You could say, I’m a happy marble customer. I should mention that we’ll eventually likely re-seal these countertops just to keep them in good shape. It’s impossible to know how renters and guests will treat them so making them more durable is a good thing. But that’s not on the agenda right now and won’t be unless we notice a lot more staining and etching.

I’ve often heard that marble is not for perfectionists and I would have to agree. While the imperfections and aged-quality of the marble after 4 years doesn’t bother me one bit (or Garrett either), I’m sure it would drive some people crazy. So my advice: while marble isn’t particularly high-maintenance, it wouldn’t be a good fit the people that are perfectionists.


Cabinets: custom // Marble: GS Cabinet // Large cutting board: Hardwood Industries | Range: American, Albert LeeWarehouse Sale | Vent: Viking, Albert Lee Warehouse Sale | Dishwasher: Viking, Albert Lee Warehouse Sale | Fridge: KitchenAid, Albert Lee Warehouse Sale | Backsplash: marble laid in herringbone pattern, Home Depot | Chandelier: West Elm | Ceiling Lights: Home Depot | Blinds: Home Depot | Sink: Amazon (similar) | Faucet: Katom | Table: craigslist | Chairs: Industry West | Oak floors: Hardwood Industries | Blue printed bowl (with cherries), West Elm | Mercury Glass Candle: Anthropologie | Drawer pulls: Home Depot | Cabinet latch hardware: Home Depot |

Read More

Ravenna kitchen marble choice // marble backsplash // Ravenna kitchen before and after // Marble 101 from Remodelista // How to clean marble from the Kitchn


Bathroom Updates: Plants, Pictures, and Potty Training


Wilder is officially potty-trained so we hang out in the bathroom quite a bit.  Spending so much time in there was a constant reminder of all the projects I wanted to finish up but hadn’t gotten to.  It was the perfect motivation to get this room finished.  We didn’t do anything major, just some decorating and a chance to incorporate potty-training basics.

The Grit and Polish - Bathroom from hallway The Grit and Polish - Bathroom collageThe Grit and Polish - Bathroom from hallway 2I’ve always loved plants in the bathroom.  I think it helps liven the space up, and keeps a white bathroom from feeling too sterile.  Plus if there’s one benefit to having a window in the shower, it’s that you can grow a plant in there!

The Grit and Polish - Bathroom shower plantThe Grit and Polish - Bathroom plant

The open shelves were one of the things that constantly bothered me about the bathroom.  They are a leftover nook from an old medicine cabinet and always seemed like an afterthought and were full of too much stuff.  So I restyled the shelves, paired down the clutter, and I’m finally happy with them.

The Grit and Polish - Bathroom open shelvesThe Grit and Polish - Bathroom picture

The mirror is a new addition from Anthropologie.  We never intended for the previous mirror to be a permanent fixture, but it ended up there for over a year.  I always wanted something circular here, but never spent the time to find a replacement.  So when I saw this one hanging up on the wall at Anthropologie, I knew I needed it!

The Grit and Polish - Bathroom mirror

That brings us to the topic of potty-training, something we discuss way too often here at the Ravenna House.  We have a very essential item that we leave in the bathroom at all times for the kiddo.  We call it the Duckie.  Yes, it’s got red eyes and as my sister said, “it’s creepy as hell”, but heck, anything that gets a 20 month-old out of diapers is a-okay in my book.  It’s actually the same potty chair that Garrett and his sister’s used.

The Grit and Polish - Bathroom duckie on toilet

It’s kind of creepy, right?!  What do you think about the other bathroom updates, I’d love to hear!

More info on the Ravenna House bathroom resources and renovation herehere and here.



p.s. If you’re interested, we followed a modified version of this potty-training method.  The no-pants thing really worked for Wilder and the no-diaper thing really works for mama!

p.p.s. Zooey Deschanel’s Hollywood home. All I can say is that kitchen is wow!

p.p.p.s. And speaking of kitchens (aren’t we always?!) I really dig this classic, English kitchen!

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Ravenna Living Room Reveal (Take #2)


Well guys, as I mentioned last month, I finally won the debate and we now have a sofa in the living room. And let me just say that everyone – seriously, everyone – has mentioned how much better the layout is now.  Oh how good it feels to be a winner!

The Grit and Polish - Living Room CouchAdding the couch led to full on redecorating escapades that culminated the morning before we had some special guests at the Ravenna House.  Here’s a look at the new and improved living room.

The Grit and Polish - Living Room FireplaceThe Grit and Polish - Living Room Wingback ChairsI’m pretty obsessed with gallery walls.  I have a whole board on Pinterest dedicated to these lovlies and never ever get sick of them.  So I thought why not put one in the Ravenna House?  I built this one with black and white prints from Costco’s art collection and frames from Ikea.

The Grit and Polish - Living Room gallery wallLets talk about toy storage.  I bought two baskets from Ikea for like $20 a piece and they are a godsend.  Where we used to have toys strewn about the living room, hiding in every nook and cranny, they’re now almost completely contained in those two baskets.  Now if I could just get Wilder to put away his own toys…some kids actually do that, right?!

The Grit and Polish - Living room toy storage

If you’re interested, take a look back at our old living room layout.  What do you guys think?  Is the redo new and improved or just new?

Resources – Sofa: Pottery Barn, discontinued | Pillows: West Elm | Black, patterned throw: Anthropologie | Cowhide: Ikea | Red Alpaca blanket: wedding gift | Trunk: Vintage | Silver Candle: Anthropolgie | Toy Baskets: Ikea (similar to this) | Lamp Shades: Pottery Barn, discontinued| Wingback Chairs: Vintage | Bronze side table: Urban Outfitters | Mirror: vintage | Black and White Photography: Costco | Picture Frames: Ikea | Green inlaid box: Serena and Lily, old | Lantern: Ravenna Gardens, old | Blinds: Home Depot | Wall Paint: Benjamin Moore Revere Pewter, 50% tint | Doors and Trim Paint: Benjamin Moore Simply White



p.s. I’m down with Cuba!  Especially Justina Blakeney’s design inspiration!

p.p.s. What will become of Seattle’s most famous house?!  I’m secretly hoping someone renovates it and moves in!

p.p.p.s. Love this transformation.  What a beautiful LA home!


Backyard Before and After


After a long, long backyard renovation, we are finally done!  And I’m really excited to show you the ‘after’ pictures.  But first, let’s look back to a year ago:

Ravenna House Backyard 2 Ravenna House Backyard at House

Pretty awful, right?!  I’m a little embarrassed to even show you guys those ‘before’ pictures, but that’s what it really looked like while our attention was focused on the interior renovation.  Oh so messy and wild!  After a good 6 months of work, here’s what the backyard looks like now:

The Grit and Polish - Ravenna Backyard PatioThe Grit and Polish - Ravenna BackyardThe Grit and Polish - Ravenna Backyard towards houseThe Grit and Polish - Ravenna Backyard at GateThe Grit and Polish - Ravenna Backyard concrete name printThe Grit and Polish - Ravenna Backyard shed

We did a lot of work back here.  First we tore down the unstable garage, removed quite a few trees, laid a patio, fenced the yard, built a shed, and finally installed the gravel path and landscaping.  You may have noticed the patio is outside the fence.  The patio doubles as overflow parking for guests so we decided to only fence in the yard area–a compromise to allow a fully fenced space for little legs to run.  Unfortunately we did a lot of work during the winter, meaning we fought with the rain over the colder Seattle months.  But we lucked out with a couple nice Spring days this month to lay the sod.

The Grit and Polish - Ravenna Backyard sod The Grit and Polish - Ravenna Backyard sod projectThe Grit and Polish - Ravenna Backyard workers

We are absolutely loving having a space to play outside, even if it is small.  Wilder likes to run around in the grass and take care of the plants – or should I say stomp around in them?  He often goes into the shed and picks out a couple of tools to “fix” stuff with.

The Grit and Polish - Wilder in his work boots 22 monthsThe Grit and Polish - Wilder in his work boots 22 months 7

He’s a pretty special little guy, that one!  Those Timberland boots (aka his “work boots”) have been glued to his feet!

The Grit and Polish - Wilder in his work boots 22 months 5

Oh and lest I forget our other boy, Bubba is pretty satisfied with the new backyard too.  He likes to run around in the grass and bark – I’m pretty sure he’s just expressing his excitement to be outside without a leash!

What do you think…do you like the new backyard?  Please tell me you think it looks better than it did a year ago!




A Reclaimed-Wood Shed


While Garrett and I are busy working on the plans for the Dexter House, I thought it was a good time to show you the backyard shed we built at the Ravenna House.  If you follow along on Instagram, you know it took us a good 3 months of weekends to build this thing.

The Ravenna House is, like most small old Seattle houses, a little light on storage.  So Garrett and I planned on building a shed from the get go.  We discussed a few different design ideas, but ultimately ended up with a sloping roof with an overhang big enough to leave the stroller under, and salvaged-wood siding (saved from the garage tear-off).

The Grit and Polish - Backyard Shed

I should mention that we’d still like to finish out the shed’s soffit with some sort of bead board and add a facia piece, so we’re not 100% done.  But I’m really not sure we’ll ever get to it, so we’ll just call the shed done enough.  Did you catch that sneak peak of the fence and grass?  Don’t worry, I’ll get to that in another post!

Here’s what the process of building the shed looked like:

The Grit and Polish - Shed 1The Grit and Polish - Shed 3The Grit and Polish - Shed 4The Grit and Polish - Shed 5The Grit and Polish - Shed 6The Grit and Polish - Backyard Shed Siding

After the siding was complete, we built an oversized (about 40″x8′) door, hung it, and covered it in old fence slats (removed from the Bryant House), which we laid in a herringbone pattern.  I wish I had taken pictures of the chevron-laying process, but we installed it during one of Wilder’s naps, so we were a tad bit rushed.  The door actually turned out to be my favorite part of the whole shed, but really I’m happy with the whole thing.  It’s functional and big and a tad bit whimsical…perfect for a Poshusta backyard shed!

The Grit and Polish - Backyard Shed

Wilder, as always, was a big help on this project.  He “worked” on the shed, rain or shine, as long as there was a tool for him to hold and a dada to follow around 🙂  Really that kid loves tools and building more than any youngster I’ve ever known.  I’m not sure if building is just something that he loves or it’s how we’re raising him, but I often think that at the ripe old age of not-even-2, Wilder is already destined to become a contractor or an architect or something in the building industry.  Dare I say, it’s in his blood?!

The Grit and Polish - Wilder with Hammer 2

Who needs toys when you’ve got a hammer…!

Here’s a look back at earlier progress on the backyard and even farther back.  What do you think?  Do you like how the shed turned out?  Stay tuned for a full backyard reveal,  including that grass yard and cedar fence!



p.s. loved this eclectic house tour, especially the reclaimed shelves in the kitchen!

p.p.s. What you’ve always wanted to know: why asparagus makes your pee smell.  You did want to know, didn’t you?!

p.p.p.s. Best real estate markets for buyers and sellers in the US.  Seattle ranks 4th as a seller’s market.  Not super surprising, but still pretty crazy!

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New Addition in the Kitchen


I’ve been threatening to hang antlers above our range hood for a long time now.  Well that day finally came!

The Grit and Polish - Ravenna Kitchen Antlers

I wish I could say that these antlers have some personal connection, but they don’t.  We ordered them from Ebay.  Garrett mounted them on a wood panel, which we stained to match the floors (well kinda close to the floors at least) and that was it.

Yes, antlers in the kitchen of an old Seattle home could be considered strange, especially since we don’t hunt.  But I dig it!  Here’s the thing: my design taste tends to the feminine (something I’ve worried about in this kitchen before) and I don’t want our house looking like I’m the only one living here.  Garrett and Wilder and even Bubba get some input, so when Garrett said he wanted antlers, I was 100% in.  The antlers add a little masculine touch and bring in a down-home feel.  Honestly, I love them!

The Grit and Polish - Ravenna Kitchen April 2015 Update The Grit and Polish - Ravenna Kitchen Antler Close Up

Antlers deserve a name.  And I’d like to call these Wanda.  Cool?  Cool.



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What’s on Your…Coffee Table


This post is part of a collaborative series called, “What’s on Your…”.  It’s a real-life glimpse into 9 bloggers homes – the good, the bad, and the messy.  Each month we’ll focus on a new surface like a bedroom nightstand, a kitchen counter, or a bookcase.  And today, we’re looking at a furniture staple in the living room:

Coffee Tbale

Oh the living room.  This space has caused quite a stir over here at the Ravenna House.  We’ve had it arranged every which way, but we’ve finally settled on a layout that’s comfortable and practical.  This includes an old trunk that we use as our coffee table. It was Garrett’s mothers and has been in the family for decades. It’s got an aged patina and it’s big and boxy and the perfect height for lazy feet.  Besides, looking at the well traveled trunk gives me a bit of wanderlust, which is always welcome around this house!

The Grit and Polish - Coffee Table 2

We usually keep the coffee table top pretty simple. Just a tray, some reading materials, a candle, and whatever toys Wilder’s thrown on it.  I really love having fresh flowers up there, but we haven’t quite figured out how to do that without a certain someone tipping over the vase and pulling the flowers off the stem.

Currently, this book is my coffee table reading material of choice along with a stack of current This Old House, House Beautiful and Country Living magazines for those free moments of reading.  Okay, so free moments may be wishful thinking when you’ve got a wild toddler on your hands, but a girl can dream!  I top my coffee table off with my favorite Anthropologie candle and one of Wilder’s animal figures, which I tend to find in unexpected spots all over the house.

Check out these other ladies coffee tables!




Outside Projects


We’ve been really lucky to have 4 straight sunny weekends here in Seattle.  With so much of the nation experiencing record-cold-and-snowy-and-just-plain-awful winters, it doesn’t seem right that Seattle – a city known for wet and gray winters – should be having such lovely weather.  But there you have it.  I’m certainly not complaining!

Needless to say, we’ve been doing a lot of work outside lately.  First we built a shed and then a fence and now we’re planning landscaping.  I promise you guys more updates as our outdoor space comes together.  But for now, here’s a picture from Sunday’s gate-building project.

The Grit and Polish - gate construction

Yes, Wilder’s wearing snow boots.  He’s only been in snow one time this winter, so at least we’re getting some use out of them!

Hope you’re staying warm!!!



p.s. I am literally drooling over this salvaged house!

p.p.s. How to make your kid smarter.  Sure, why not.

p.p.p.s. I always love reading about real estate in Manhattan.  It’s just so old and lovely and expensive!

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What’s On Your…Kitchen Counter


This post is part of a collaborative series called, “What’s on Your…”.  It’s a real-life glimpse into 9 bloggers homes – the good, the bad, and the messy.  Each month we’ll focus on a new surface like a bedroom nightstand, a kitchen counter, or a bookcase.  And today, we’re looking at another hard working surface in the house:

Kitchen COunterOur kitchen is truly the heart of our home.  We spend a ton of time in here cooking, eating, playing, petting the dog, and everything in between.  And it often looks like it.  Usually there’s a stack of dishes drying next to the sink, apple slices on the counter, and a half-finished art project or two by the window.  Last week our countertop was full of baking supplies as I whipped up a loaf of cinnamon swirl bread.  This cinnamon swirl bread to be precise.  And yes, it was delicious!

The Grit and Polish - What's On Your Kitchen Counter 4The Grit and Polish - What's On Your Kitchen Counter 6

Later that night, Wilder and I hung out in the kitchen and enjoyed hot-from-the-oven cinnamon swirl bread.  It was glorious.  One quick look at our kitchen counter after all was cleaned up, because who doesn’t love a clean countertop (especially because this seems to only happen when company comes over…)?

The Grit and Polish - What's On Your Kitchen Counter 1

Don’t forget to check out these other ladies’ kitchen counters!

More on our DIY kitchen renovation and resources here.  Did you catch our Q&A about the renovation over at Bob Vila?



p.s. Do you follow Andy and Candis on Instagram?  Do it!  Get the back story on their old house renovations before their new show breaks on HGTV!

p.p.s. A beautiful new old farmhouse in Connecticut.

p.p.p.s. Here is some serious kitchen eye candy to get you through your day.  You’re welcome.

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