Alice has discovered Frozen. When there’s any downtime at our home (which isn’t very often) she says, “Watch a mofie!” and we’ll say, “What movie do you want to watch?” and she always says, “FROSSEN!” It gets even better because she thinks Olaf (the snowman for you lucky folks who have no idea what I’m talking about) is “Frozen.” At one point he falls from a cliff and she’s says, “Frozen fall down!” Just so stinking cute we can hardly stand to correct her.
Anyway, in the movie there’s this song called…Fixer-Upper! They actually happen to be referring to a man, but I can’t get it out of my head especially the line that says…You can fix this fixer upper with a little bit of love! It’s sort of my new mantra and I’m clinging to it because when it comes to our house I’m thinking it’s going to take a lot more than a “little bit of love.” But hey, makes for a happy thought.
So, this past week we’ve been doing a lot of work behind the scenes. We’re at the point where a lot of the demo is finished and there isn’t a lot we can do physically so we’ve taken to our graph paper and Sketch Up as our contribution.
When I say Michael is good at everything, it’s for real. I downloaded the free version of Sketch Up on my laptop months ago and tried several times to start drawing the house. After I couldn’t even get the little lady in overalls to go away I gave up and felt better when I heard that even architectural students spend entire classes learning the program. But about a month ago I mentioned it and Michael says, “Let me try.” And I swear to you that three hours later he had the entire house drawn in detail. Show off.
We are soooo not designers and it’s been super helpful to refer to as we’re making decisions and trying to configure all new rooms like the kitchen and the master bath. When we started this project people kept asking if we were gutting the house and we would say…No, no, no. It really just needs some cosmetic work. But after standing in the foyer yesterday and looking around – yeah, it’s gutted. Like the only thing left is the staircase and some puny cabinets in the laundry room. And the remnants of a brick fireplace. And three hanging pendant lights. And some doors and knobs. But that’s it.
EVERYONE told us this would happen. It’s not that we didn’t believe you, we just…didn’t believe you. We truly thought we could save some of the cabinets, maybe the foyer’s hardwood, keep the bathtub in the upstairs shower. But as time went on we considered the fact that this is the only time we’ll have walls and ceilings torn down and the real opportunity to make these changes. So things just kept flying out the doors and windows and the whatever the quickest route to the dumpster was. It’s left us with a shell and I’m slightly overwhelmed, but mostly just excited about putting it all back together.
Since we now have a shell, the timeline and the budget are (much like Sir Galahad) in GREAT PERIL!!! But our builders are seriously awesome and are working with us at literally every turn to make sure we stay on track. They’ve been giving us lots of homework recently which is sort of fun.
Last week we stayed up late into the night – until 11:00! hahah! – drawing up electrical and plumbing plans. Having never done a total remodel before I was not prepared to make some of these decisions quite yet. Wait, I have to know where every light switch goes right now? I really have to decide where I want all the furniture so we can have proper receptacles by nightstands and TV’s? Where will the Keurig live? Um, well, I was thinking it would be nice to have it tucked away somewhere. Oh, you have to know? Like, right now? Ok, give me 24 hours.
So we made it happen. Plumbing and electrical plans are complete, hallelujah! And that’s really a weight lifted. Again, so glad Michael is good with spatial concepts. I would’ve never dreamed how many configurations you can give a 3’x6’ island so that a sink, ice maker, and trash can all fits while still having room for some bar seating.
Speaking of appliances – we picked those out too! Really we got so many things marked off our list last week I’m getting smug just thinking about it.
We chose a combination of appliances (all in stainless) because there wasn’t one brand I liked for everything. We went with Whirlpool for the fridge, microwave and dishwasher, but I didn’t like the handles on the Whirlpool ice maker so it’ll be Jenn-Air. I’m most excited about the range – it’s a Samsung Flex Duo that still fits in the space of a single oven but has two separate dual ovens so we can cook a family favorite of crescent rolls and a chicken casserole at the same time. Just call me Martha.
It doesn’t bother me at all that the appliance brands won’t match, but the owner of the store said you’d be surprised at how many people order the decals for a higher-end or matching brand and put them on their appliances. Isn’t that awesome?! I think we’ll get Sub Zero decals and put them on all of ours.
Michael and I had a day-date on Saturday to visit lighting and plumbing supply stores in Huntsville and it was really productive. We priced all the faucets and fixtures for the kitchen and baths. As we were browsing we both kept coming back to the same collection of Delta faucets, Cassidy, which is a sort of antique looking collection that we really like. I joked at one point that maybe we should name daughter #2 Cassidy (because with all these other decisions for the house, who has time to consider baby names?!)
One of Michael’s must-haves is the ice maker and one of mine is a clawfoot tub for the master bath…which was by far the biggest ticket item on the quote. We’re going to shop that around a little so if you have suggestions for sources, we’re all ears!
Wrapping my head around lighting was harder than I thought just because there are too many stinking choices. We did hit up two lighting places and got some good ideas. I’ve heard Wayfair and Bellacor have really good deals and prices, so that could be another place we can save. Having a local, family-owned business we are really big on “shopping small” (plus you get way better customer service!) but I wouldn’t consider these places small so I don’t feel too bad scouring The Internets to save a buck there. Or again, up for suggestions.
I did fall in love with this Restoration Hardware piece for above the clawfoot tub, and look! It’s “on sale” for only $550. (Can you feel the sarcasm dripping from my fingertips?) Oh well, I’ll just find something similar somewhere. I follow this really neat blog called Copy Cat Chic that always has great finds like this, so I’m keeping my eyes peeled.
Our last stop after a yummy brunch at Another Broken Egg – y’all those biscuit beignets OMG – was Southeastern Salvage. We’ve loved this place for years and are so excited to be able to take advantage of it now with a project! Before we even owned the house we visited and I had a vision when I saw this Carrara marble tile mosaic for the master bath shower floor. We needed 16 sq. feet and when we got there we bee-lined for the tile section and snagged the LAST box with 11 sq. feet and after some digging came up with 8 more pieces at $6.88/sq. foot which is less than half what you can find it for in box stores or online!!! So that was a win for the budget, for the bathroom and my soul.
Yesterday we met with the cabinet maker. Originally we thought our builder had a guy on his crew that could take care of us in that department, but it quickly became evident that we have a need for far too many new cabinets and had to get someone specific for that job. I’m sure he thought I was crazy when I handed him a 24 page packet detailed foot-by-foot (with photo illustrations, of course) of how I want every cabinet in the house to look and function. But we were on the same page and he does great work.
We’re waiting on a quote to make final decisions and I’m already preparing myself to have to scale back from what I gave him, which I’ve learned is just part of this process. Ask for the Taj Mahal and land somewhere just south of there…like maybe the Maldives…
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.