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).
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.