Guess what?! We live here now!
It’s crazy because that day never seemed to want to come, and then when it did it all happened so fast and now it feels like we’ve been here all our lives. It was like one day we just declared: ENOUGH! EVERYBODY OUT – WE’RE MOVING IN! Was everything quite ready? In hindsight, no. But we had reached our threshold. Michael and I kept having conversation the week of the move about when the beds would go, but in the end, we went when the Keurig went. #priorities
So there’s that! BOOM.
We won’t even talk about the actual move because you know how I feel about moving. Just suffice it to say, we’ve yet to collect all our belongings from the various places we stashed them over the last year and a half. Ugh. But, we have the essentials and that’s what matters.
There’s also the fact that moving did nothing but ADD to our already impossibly long to-do list, so I’m sorry I’ve failed to bring y’all along. Every spare moment we get is spent working trying make this house homey. I’m afraid it’s going to take several more months (you know, or years) but at least we are here now and can work on it.
On days when I feel discouraged, I remember how far we've come. Before we share some of the finished photos before we moved in, let's all just take a little detour down memory lane (cue Started From the Bottom):
Now, I feel like you're more properly prepared to see these:
It’s been two months and we are still living amongst boxes and mismatched furniture. We continue to unpack and to organize. I still can’t find 50% of the things I look for and I’ve moved the junk drawer twice now for more space. Oh, and the cleaning. I mean, good heavens at the sheetrock dust! We’ve scrubbed, vacuumed, dusted, hired people to do the same and I still see sheetrock dust taunting me when the light catches any surface just right.
Because of the to-do list that punches me in the throat every time I come home, I’ve developed a new vocabulary word: “Love-Hate.” As in: Love-hate you, house. Love-hate you, yard. Love-hate you, boxes. Love-hate you, Weird Empty Living Room.
Weird Empty Living Room is a proper noun because it's become like a taunting ghost in my daily life. It’s a big, nice, gorgeous space and currently a total F-A-I-L. In my delusional mind, I never thought we’d get to the end of this project and have so little wiggle room left for buying furniture, so I gave most of what we had away. So, now…at the end of the project when we have little room left for buying furniture…we have this awesome couch Michael’s parents bought us for Christmas surrounded by the craziest hodge-podge in the world. The rug under the couch has been such a struggle and I finally landed on a navy number so I didn’t obsessively compulse over the juice, chocolate milk, and the occasional wine stain. I did find two pretty chairs that I couldn’t pass up. I looked at them for weeks on LuLu & Georgia and just couldn’t bring myself to buy them. THEN I found the exact same chair from Target for half price (thanks Pinterest lens!) They are pretty much white, though, so just…pray for them.
On the other side of the coin, I just can’t figure out what to do in this space and it’s giving me a mental block. I want it to be two spaces that flow as one and I’m not really clever at arranging furniture. I’m driving the struggle bus here. I know this is not a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but my OCD kicks into overdrive when I see this space. For some reason it’s the only one that bothers me even though none of the other rooms are finished either. WHATEVER. It’ll come together…one day.
The biggest redeeming part is our kitchen. It functions as a retreat and is where we spend the majority of our time at home. Thankfully, kitchens come fully furnished with appliances and all we’ve added are some barstools and a really cool little bistro table Michael built for us in the breakfast nook.
Here are the four things I’ve decided I can never again live without in a kitchen:
First world problems, I know. But dude those things are legit so do those if nothing else in a kitchen remodel.
We’re working on perfecting the use the gas range and the convection oven. We may have lost several dozen cookies to the dark side of the force in the beginning, but we’re getting the hang of it. So far, we’ve pretty much only entertained family and it’s exceeded our expectations so we’re working up the courage to invite more people over soon. Just ignore Weird Empty Living Room who will be trying to crash the party. Hah!
You guys know how much I stink at the blog thing, but as the rooms come along I’ll share our progress and any advice. For now, all I can say is if you find yourself deep into a home renovation…God bless you, friend. Call me and I will talk you off the many ledges on which you may find yourself standing. There is light at the end of the tunnel. We still tell ourselves that daily!
I just went back and re-read everything we’ve put out there from the beginning. First of all, you people are saints for sticking with this blog and this journey. Somedays it feels like it’s been just a few weeks, and other times it feels like it’s been a dozen years since we first saw the house that we decided would become our home.
As with most journeys, this one will never truly end. There are so many plans we had for this home that have not yet come to fruition and I’m honestly pretty excited about continuing to work on them into the future. There are some decisions we won’t even know we needed to make until we move in and others we did make that we’ll probably immediately regret, but I think that just comes with the territory.
Most of all though, I’m thankful to see life restored to this old house! It’s been like watching a child grow up when you see them every day. You don’t necessarily notice all the small changes that add up over the course of time and once you stop to look back you can’t believe it. That’s the best way I can describe the renovation. I can’t count the hours (and certainly don’t want to recount the dollars) that have gone into it, but it’s all worth it 100 times over to be this close to moving in and having a forever home that we’ve made our own.
I can’t wait to do some before and after comparisons, but I think we’ll wait until we’ve moved in and added some warmth to the spaces. Our final inspection is next week – we are so close!
Until then, we’ll talk about some of those fun “renovation things.” You know. The unexpected things that pop up on a Tuesday morning and stall work for the entire rest of the week. Or the projects that are supposed to be a quick-fix, but end up taking two months and two million dollars to just get back to square one. So, just in case you too have stars in your eyes about how you’ll take a home from zero to hero in one month on a dime like all the shows on HGTV – consider this your reality check.
Here are just a few of our experiences and pointers:
Whew I needed to get that off my chest. #itsfine
Next week we should really see the final product so I'll post more pictures to the photo journal then!
I killed the blog. Or more accurately, I let it die. I'm sorry y'all, but to be very honest, it was either the blog or a living, breathing member of my family and I really like them a lot.
But, here we are…resurrecting the story when we are nearing its end. SO MUCH HAS HAPPENED and like many millennials, “I can’t even” so I’ll start slowly and see how far we can get before my head explodes…
If you follow us on Instagram you may have noticed a pretty significant thing that happened while we were away. Yep! We had a babaayyy! Her name is Eleanor James Oliver and she was nine weeks old Monday. Needless to say, the addition of another human has really changed the game around here – for the better. She’s as sweet as pie, smiles and laughs easily, is a good eater and sleeper (compared to her sister at least!) and makes our hearts so full. It’s definitely been different to have a baby in the middle of winter vs. summer and during the holidays so I feel like her first few months have been a complete blip. We are, of course, busier than ever but so blessed and thankful for everything that contributes to that busyness!
Because of all the busyness, I could currently use at least half a dozen clones to keep all the proverbial cars in my life between the lines. One for each of my children, one for my husband, one for the renovation, one for work, one for all the remaining important people in my life and one to do nothing but sit on the couch eating double chocolate chip ice cream binge watching Gilmore Girls. But since cloning didn’t really take off, I’ll just have to deal with splitting myself into pieces between them all.
Anyway – about the house! Before Eleanor arrived we gave our builders permission to put us on the back-burner. It became clear around the middle of October that there was not going to be a “good time” to move until after Eleanor arrived, after the holidays and after my largest fundraiser of the year for work. All that brought us to mid-January, so sometime around Thanksgiving we gave everyone sort of a pass for a few months. Things move quickly and if you aren’t available for one day or you don’t communicate well, they start getting compromised and we just didn’t want work happening while we couldn’t be 100% keyed in.
But, a few weeks ago we all agreed that it’s time to get this project done and this family of four in their new home. We are seriously staring down the barrel of moving in at the end of this month. SOMEBODY PINCH ME. So surreal!!
There’s no way I can cover everything that's happened, but here are a few things that are semi-interesting (hopefully!):
The cabinets have been installed in waves and it’s fun when you go by and realize there are more than last time. It’s really made our kitchen come to life and I’m super pumped about the functionality of all our space. A must have was the appliance garage that we designed with Bodine Woodworks for the microwave and Keurig. It’s about 80% finished right now, but should be pretty cool. Another exciting feature is the kitchen island – basically because I’ve never had one before, but mostly because it has pull outs for the garbage and recycling!! Since we’ve moved to our rental house, our 13 year old Labrador incessantly knocks over the trash can to eat any morsels of left-over food every time you turn your back. To prevent this, we're forced to put the garbage on top of the counter practically 24/7 which is just gross and I’m sick of it. Poor thing, he’s 13 and knows by now that it’s totally worth the scolding to get that people food. And honestly, we just don’t have the heart to get onto him. But I’d like to see him try to pull that bin out when we move. SORRY BO!
The counter tops are absolutely my favorite part of everything so far. The marble for the kitchen did not disappoint and although I realize it won’t be pristine for long, it is amazing. That’s all I can even say about that. The floors run a close second. They lack one more buffing and being sealed and then they’re finished. I love how they are the same throughout most of the house and pull everything together.
And oh heavens, the fireplace. There was never a time when I thought the fireplace would be the biggest debacle about this house, but well, never say never. After we pulled out the insert like I mentioned before, we realized the fireplace was no more than a glorified hole in the side of the house. When we started trying to rebuild it, it got even worse. Apparently the flue had collapsed either during or shortly after construction 40 years ago and instead of really fixing it, a band-aid was put on in the form of an iron insert. Problem is, when you start trying to back all that out, the structure is extremely compromised. Extremely. There was a point in the fireplace "rescue" when I watched no less than 5 grown men stand in fear of touching the fireplace one more time lest it literally FALL OFF THE HOUSE and take half of the living room along with it. It's funny now, but I assure you it was not very funny that day. In the end, they jacked up the collapsed flue and pulled it out the top one heavy piece at a time. At that point it was technically impossible to insert another flue, so we've had to settle for gas logs. It was a bittersweet decision, because as much as I wanted a real wood-burning fireplace I honestly can't see myself ever building a wood-burning fire on my own. However, I can masterfully turn on a switch. The only let-down is that all this totally blew the fireplace budget so we'll have to wait a bit to get the gas logs. But good news is when we're ready for them, so is the fireplace and it looks a million times better than before. The resurfacing is gorgeous and taking the brick to the ceiling really makes it a stand-out element.
The tile work has been a little bit of a struggle too, but one well worth it. Between picking out tile that was back-ordered to requesting it be laid in an unusual pattern, I’m pretty sure our tile guy hates me. With very little tile in the house you wouldn’t think there could’ve been so many glitches, but when given the chance to complicate things I will always rise to the occasion. The biggest snag was the fact that I wanted most of the tile laid in herringbone on the floors. We kept running into tiles that were not exactly the same size and rooms in an old house that aren’t exactly square. But, once everyone got it figured out it was smooth sailing.
I also requested custom “nooks” for each shower. One thing I hate is not having anywhere for soap and shampoo to live in a shower. All our stuff is forever falling down from where we stick it on towel racks and on the sides of the tub, and I saw pictures all over Pinterest of insets with marble shelves which I thought would be perfect for us. Turns out that everything you see on Pinterest isn’t exactly easy to do. Or even possible for that matter. But our builder has worked really hard with the tile folks to make these boxes happen. They aren’t done yet, but I’m eager to see that finished in the next few days!
Speaking of our builder – I feel like this is as good a time as any for a little shout out to Rusty Walker and Stewart White of Walker & White Builders. They are up and coming in our community as one of the quality home construction companies and we have been honored to be one of their first major projects. Rusty has worked with my husband for years on various rental houses and corporate projects, and he has been our point person. They have all put up with hand-drawn blue prints, binders full of magazine clippings, indecisiveness, endless questions and crazy requests on a tight budget – all while taking care of us beyond what I can even express. We highly recommend talking to them if you plan to build or remodel!
Yep. That’s all my brain can handle for now and all the time I have. I did not resurrect this blog just to kill it again, so expect to hear more soon and keep tabs on Instagram, because that’s WAY easier to maintain. Bloggers: mad props (and a fist bump).
1, 2, test, test…is this thing on?
5 weeks without an update? I know. What happened?! Well, fortunately and unfortunately just about everything!
I knew that if our timeline got pushed to this time of year things would be crazy. The fall is a really busy time for our family. Just my job alone has required pulling off 4 major events in the last 5 weeks with one of our biggest is coming up at the end of October. Add the renovation demands, a short but sweet visit to New York with my brother, getting ready for a new baby/maternity leave and the start of college football season (remember, we do live in Alabama) and it’s been like….WHAAAT?!
So, our apologies for no blog updates recently! I’ve been trying to keep up with Instagram at least so hopefully you know sort of where we stand.
When we last left Reno 1432 we had decided on exterior paint, were working on interior colors and waiting on most everything else. Well everything else is starting to fall into place and when things start moving, they move fast!
Shortly after our last post…actually like an hour after our last post…our antique front doors were installed and are just beautiful! We are so pleased with how they turned out. Talk about adding some curb appeal! The custom glass I worked with a local designer on will be installed soon, but for now, they are boarded up again since they aren’t stained yet or weather resistant. I did manage to snap this picture before they nailed the boards back in place.
The next week, all the new windows were delivered and installed. If you’d asked me at the start if I would ever get that excited about windows, I would have laughed, but after realizing how much of the budget windows represent and seeing the difference they made…I’m not laughing any more. I’m giving praise hands. They look SO MUCH better, and all the moving parts work!
There are few more custom windows (with the diamond panes) we are waiting on for the kitchen and the master bath that will be here soon and that I'm really eager to see. That's one of those choices we went with our gut on and are keeping our fingers crossed that it doesn't look ridiculous.
Michael and I took a spontaneous overnight jaunt to Dalton, Georgia to pick out our counter tops!! Every man involved in the project says, "Whatever you do, don't get marble." Every woman I've asked says, "Get marble. No question." I know it's high maintenance. I get that it will scratch, stain, fade, prove difficult to clean, harbor germs and sprout arms and legs and take us all hostage one day. I know. But IT'S SO STINKING PRETTY, Y'ALL. I'm prepared to accept all the aforementioned terms and just be a little not-so-practical here.
I went in with an open mind. I gave the engineered stuff a chance. It just isn't for me. What I love about marble is the beauty of the movement. It looks so natural and you can tell where every mineral deposit has been made for hundreds of years. Each slab is truly a work of art and THAT'S what we wanted. So that's what we got. We did end up choosing a semi dark granite for the master bath, but went with Arabescato Venato marble in a honed finish for the kitchen, a breathtaking polished remnant of the same for the powder room vanity and honed Carrara (duh) for the girls' bathroom. I am so pumped and even more pumped about the great service we got from Saul at Kitchen & Bath Center. Saul, you are my new BFFL.
Let’s see…what else…oh, the exterior paint is finished and the garage doors are hung and working. Super cool to see that side of the house pretty much finished!
Brickwork is something we’ve been counting on making a big difference in several areas. As you might remember, we inherited a really large pile of antique wood-molded brick that matches the house and we really wanted to put it to good use. There were some small projects using the brick that needed attention, like some steps going into the garage and framing out some of the new windows and doors that weren’t exactly the same size as what was removed. But there are also some pretty big projects that require some expert brick masonry.
One of those is resurfacing the only fireplace in the house. Michael and I both like a regular old log burning fireplace and the original fireplace had an iron insert. So one day we decided just to take it out, and when we did…ugh…it was a mess. Of course. Nothing is ever as it seems with a reno!!! Turns out, this was just a brick hole in the wall posing as a fireplace. The brick isn’t rated for fire (whatever that means), there was no damper in the flue, and under the insert was just a gaping hole to the dirt underneath the house. The mantle that I was hoping to reuse apparently had too much termite damage and pretty much fell apart the last time Michael moved it.
We made the call that since the fireplace is the focal point of the family room it’s something we are going to invest in to get done right. Our mason and builders came up with a great plan for the whole fireplace area, but it’s not exactly the easy fix we were hoping for. Hopefully it will be a show stopper when all is said and done.
Seriously my favorite thing that’s happened since our last update is the new brick sidewalk!! It was laid while we were in New York and we (ah-hem, I) almost messed it all up. It was late Friday night and we were eating at this fabulous Greek place in Astoria when I looked at Michael and said, “Did I tell anybody I wanted the sidewalk in herringbone?”
Sidenote: Michael has been carrying this reno on his shoulders. He is the one who works with our builders on a daily basis when I don’t have the time, even though his job is more demanding than mine. He works like a maniac every spare second he has and when you ask Alice who is working on her house she screams, "Daddy fix my new house!" All I’ve done is pick out some paint and tile. He is seriously the best and I’m so glad he’s on top of things when I can’t be.
Anyway, his answer to my question is, “Don’t think so.” So, first thing Monday morning we semi-frantically call the brick folks and they’ve just started on the sidewalk. It wasn’t too much to redo, so they did and I’m so glad we caught them in time. The result is simply perfect. It adds such stately charm to the front of the home and they did a fantastic job bringing my vision to life. It’ll only get better with time, too. The head brick-guy (that’s his official title) said that people will be walking on this sidewalk 100 years from now. Hopefully it'll take a walker pretty well, because I plan on that person being me.
Also while we were gone last week, the hardwood floors were installed and again - couldn’t be happier with them. When we first sat down to talk about the project, REAL hardwood flooring (I’m talking site-finished, sand-in-place wood) was really important to us. Although we knew that piece of the puzzle, we talked for what seemed like months about what type of wood to get. We really loved the idea of antique heart pine look because it’s so imperfectly perfect and has loads of character. But the more research we did and after talking to others who had it we learned that pine is a pretty soft wood, so I became immensely concerned that our lifestyle (in a nutshell: two large dogs) would give the heart pine a little too much character. Plus, heart pine's color is naturally more red than I wanted. So after considering other options, we landed on white oak which should stand up to the pups a little better than pine. To give it the character we were “loosing” we ordered the boards in three different widths - 2.75”, 3.75” and 5” - and decided to mix them up so it wouldn’t look so…new.
Renovating is so interesting - especially in an older home - because we want everything to BE new, but just not LOOK new which can be a challenge. I hope we’re at least on the right track!
All weekend, Michael has been working with a Bobcat to dig a 3 feet deep ditch in the backyard so we can bury the electric/cable wires underground. He also cleared out the entire area behind the swing which was literally the same size as our entire yard at our previous home. We won't know what to do with all this yard! And talk about saving some money - this was a great place to do it. I know Michael was upset having to drive around this cool piece of heavy machinery all weekend, but I think he got over it quickly. ;) A little dirt to fill in some spots and the back yard should be ready for planting grass!
Those are the highlights and I’ll post some photos to the photo journal of all the fun progress. I’m going to do better keeping everything updated. From the way things are moving, if I wait 5 more weeks to post we may have a finished house…
That’s my optimism talking, but never hurts to dream!
About the author:
Andrea is an Alabama girl with a love for travel, tea and books. She is mommy to daughters, Alice and Eleanor, and wife to Michael. Together they are tackling a fixer-upper to make it their home for years to come.