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Monday, May 7, 2018

Our New Home- Part 1

Today is my birthday.... well I should say, "when I started writing this blog post it was my birthday." If this post goes like all the rest, I will be well into my 40th year of life before I finish it and hit publish.  But anyways, I tell you this because last night Rory, with the help of some of the best friends a girl could have, threw me a surprise party in our future home. It was so sweet and could not have been a more perfect way to kick off this next chapter of my life and home.

Cake Cred to Patty Cakes. Is it not the cutest!?!  Look at that little carhart hat and SBH t-shirt.💓

"Wait?!! What?!?!" you say.

Yes, it's true.... I am 40 YEARS OLD! Hard for me to believe too..... Huh? What's that you're saying? Oh..., that's not the part that surprised you? Oh!!! You want to know about our future home.

Well ok, but I'm going to need to take you back several months to get you caught up. so let's get started.....

Last year, after the dust had settled from the sell of Caldwell, and I had brain space to process that we had actually really attempted to sell our beloved home, the idea of moving started to sink in, and it kinda got me excited. You see we have lived inside the walls of Sister for the last 9 years, which is a long time for the Thompsons. Prior to this home, the longest we had lived in a home was 4 years and the shortest was 7 months. Our past moves had been motivated by a need for more space and/or an itch for a new project. But with Sister, we have had all the space we need and thanks to the birth of Storybook Homes my project cup overflowith, so thoughts of moving had not crossed our minds.... until it became part of our back-up plan to stay financially afloat during the Caldwell renovation. (If your new to the blog, you can read about that plan here.)

Once the idea of moving was rooted in my head I pitched the idea to the family. On an excitement scale of 1 to 10 here is how my family ranked on the thought of moving:
Colby- 2,
Cohen - 9
Rory- 5
Me- 9.999
So with an above neutral average I took that as a sign to officially begin our house hunt. To help elevate all excitement levels and to live out my House Hunters fantasies I took an inventory of everyone's wish list for the new house.

⬜ Within biking distance to school and friends.
⬜ Workspace for Colby's Creations
⬜ Mancave (excuse me while I try not to roll my eyes)

⬜ Carl Stuart school district because that is where the majority of his friends from sports and church will be going
⬜ Basketball goal (inside room and/or outside)
⬜ Mancave (I'm not even going to try to hold back an eye roll...he's 10 years old!)

⬜ Tiny House - "we just need to get rid of a ton of "junk" (aka all Niki's seasonal decor and stock pile of home goods) and live simply" 
⬜ next breath... "I need my own personal office, a personal storage room for all my hunting/camping gear, a large garage with NOTHING but cars in it." (quotes from Rory)
⬜ New construction (shot to my heart)
⬜ Land for a horse and donkey 
⬜ and of course (say it with me....) A mancave.

⬜ Must be a fixer upper! The uglier the better
⬜ Must be cheap! I want a large budget to work with
⬜ Want enough land for a shop- I'm tired of driving across town to get to my tools
⬜ Close to Kroger! Once you have lived within a mile of Kroger, you can't go back!

So with my House Hunter wish list, I started the hunt! At first, I stuck with the traditional routes of finding a home: realtor, zillow.com, realtor.com, and drove the city looking for sale signs. But after a few months of coming up dry, I expanded my search to homes NOT currently on the market. That's right, no home was safe from me trying to purchase it. If it met a large chunk of my family's wish list, I would AR County data the property to find out the name of the unsuspecting home owner, then I would use my sleuthing skills to track the owner down on FB, and last I would send them a message asking if they would consider selling me their house. While waiting for the owner to respond back I would draw out a dream floor plan based on the perimeter footprint provided by AR County data, and I would daydream about how I would decorate and furnish it. Not creepy at all! Surprisingly, not one person was willing to sell me their house*

* If you were one of the people I approached about buying your home, I promise I am harmless. But should you ever decide to renovate, I have a plan already drawn out and a full Pinterest board I'd be happy to share. 

Because I let myself become emotionally attached to each home I approached, each rejection took a toll on my spirit and I was beginning to get really discouraged. Then one cold morning in February, on an early morning run, I ran across a FSBO (For Sale by Owner) sign. Now, you should know, that I am the most oblivious runner (and driver) on the planet. You could come within 1 inch of running me over and I won't notice but I can spot a FSBO sign a mile away!

What is crazy about this particular property, was that I had literally been running past this house since my college cross-country days (20+ years) and I had NEVER noticed its existence before. I snapped a picture of the phone number and then I waited and watched the seconds tick by for 2 hours until it was an acceptable hour to call the number on the sign. No answer. I left a voicemail, then a text, then another voicemail just for good measure. Finally at 2pm that afternoon I got a call back from the owner and we set up an appointment to see the property later that afternoon. While on the phone she warned me that the house was very dated and would need some work... I tried to play it cool but inwardly I was doing backflips.... "dated and needs work" are 2 of the most important qualities I look for in a home!

My parents were in town visiting, so my Mom and Rory went with me to look at the house. The house was dated but minus the stained carpet it was very clean by storybook home standards (in other words, it didn't stink). I tell you what.... instead of just describing it, I'll take you on a quick tour of what we saw:

When we stepped inside the front door we walked directly into the carpeted living room.

Here is another picture of the Living Room.

The living room is open to the dining area...

and kitchen.

Here is a close up of the kitchen.

Off the dining area there is a powder bath

Then down the hall...

are 2 bedrooms

and a full bathroom

Then back thru the dining area and the kitchen we found the master suite which was obviously a enclosed garage conversion

Stats: a little over 1800 sq. feet, 3 bed, 2.5 bath on 0.41 acres. And to help orient you a little better, here is a rough floor-plan of current house:

What do you think? Could it be the Thompson's DREAM HOME!?!?! As far as the Thompson Family wish list: it met all of the location requirements, but the current floor-plan checked off very few of the space requests. For me, this was part of its charm. I knew I would LOVE the challenge of rearranging the walls to meet my family's demands desires.

Rory has stressed to me the importance of keeping a poker face when looking at a house, so without giving any of my excitement away I let the owner know that we would discuss and get back to her in a couple of days. Problem was Rory was leaving on a mission trip the next day so I knew if he hadn't had an immediate attraction to the house, it would be a whole week before I would even get a chance to launch my persuasion tactics on him. And in the world of real estate, we might not even have a house to discuss in a week. So the second we were out of ear shot of the owner I tried to get a read on how he liked the house. His response was, "Crunch some numbers and see if you can make it work." Yep, he gives me the same real estate poker face that he gives home owners. I think he feels he has to keep things detached and neutral to help balance out my immediate obsession and passion for every home I tour.

So the second I got home, I sketched out a rough floor plan that would satisfy almost all my family's wish list (minus the horse and donkey) and then made a speculative budget for how much money it would cost to bring the vision to life. The renovation total plus the owner's asking price equalled a number just outside our target price range. I presented the numbers to Rory that night before we went to bed along with my rough sketch of what I was thinking the end product would look like. After looking things over he liked it enough to give me his blessing to make a long shot offer that the owner was not likely to accept but would land us nicely in our price point comfort zone.

Now normally after I am first introduced to a house, I will spend a blissful but sleepless night laying in bed trying to keep up with my racing mind as visions of floor-plans and light fixtures dance in my head. But that night, my normal house thoughts took a detour from the cosmetics of the home, and instead I could't stop thinking about how the house might function. The more I thought about how we might use this house the more excited and convinced I was that this property was destined to be our next home. The next morning as I drove Rory to the church to leave for his mission trip, I shared just a little of my vision for the property with him. He didn't say much (again with the poker face) but I could see the wheels start to spin in his head, and once again he blessed the decision to submit our agreed upon offer with the owner, but added that he would be praying over it and encouraged me to do the same.

The next day, I met the owner back at the property to submit our offer. Before I gave her our offer I accidentally told her about all the plans I had for the place. I mean I went on and ON and ON which totally broke Every Last Rule Rory has ever tried to teach me about real estate negotiations. I kept thinking "Niki, STOP TALKING" but I couldn't help it...remember Rory was out of the country so besides the brief conversation we had had on our 6 minute drive to church I had been all alone with my thoughts for over 48 hours so it all just came pouring out at the feet of the seller. So by the time I actually gave her our offer, she pretty much knew we had all but moved into the place. Despite this, she did not outwardly laugh at my offer, but rather she said she loved the vision I had for the property and that she would think about our offer and get back to me.  

The next day, while waiting to hear back from the seller, I started spreading the news among my friends that I thought I had found us a house! Everyone was excited about the news until I revealed where the house was located. At this point, in EVERY conversation, the excitement plummeted and the talk turned to warnings against purchasing the property. Not one person thought it would be a good idea. (Well, I take that back, ONE friend was on board but this friend is as sweet as honey and I'm not sure she is capable of saying anything negative.) But seriously, EVERYONE else I told about the house basically said we would be crazy to purchase this property because of its location. In fact, I had so many negative reactions I was almost relieved when the seller called with a counter offer that was well outside our comfort zone. 

That night, when Rory called from Belize, I let him know about the counter offer, and I also communicated all the negative feedback I had received from our friends. I was fully prepared for him to tell me we just needed to walk away, but instead he asked "Do you think you could adjust the design to make the counter offer work within our budget?" At this point we must have entered the twilight zone because while Rory was trying to make this house work for us, I heard myself argue, "I just don't think this house makes good financial sense for us." THIS folks, has NEVER happened in our marriage. It was a complete role reversal. But instead of being swayed by the warnings of our well meaning friends or by my completely out-of-character prudent financial concerns Rory simply reminded me of the vision I had shared with him about the place and suggested that I not be so quick to reject the offer but rather to continue to pray about it until he got home and we could sit down and look at the numbers together. 

Three days later, after continuing to listen to wise counsel from those familiar with the area, I called the seller to let her know I just didn't think we could make the counter offer work. I did let her know that Rory and I would discuss further when he got home, but I did not want her to hold the house for us.  At this, she offered to drop the price a little more. Now putting us just slightly out of our target range.

That night, I called Rory to tell him that I had tried to walk away because I just did not have a peace about the location, but that she dropped the price to $X amount. As soon as I said the number, Rory said "do it." I was like, "what?!?!" He said, I want you to call her back and tell her we will take it. To which I, fully embracing my new role as the voice of financial reason in our marriage, responded "Let's just continue to pray about it until you get home and then we can sit down and really discuss. If the house is supposed to be ours, it will still be there" (although after listening to the onslaught of warnings against the house all week, I wasn't too nervous the house would be swept up by another buyer before Rory and I had time to have a looooong conversation).


I will share with you how Rory confirmed that this house was to be part of our family's story as well as my vision for the space in part 2 of this blog. 

But because I already spoiled the ending with my opening paragraph I will let you know we went under contract the day after Rory got home from his mission trip and officially made this house our own on April 20th.

Do you recognize this house? Do you know why our friends might have been a little concerned about its location? 

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Oliver Update

Warning: It's a long one, you might want to bookmark this chapter and come back when you have plenty of time to read or if you're having trouble sleeping some night. 

Exciting times are on the horizon for Storybook Homes this Spring and Summer, and I can't wait to tell you all about it; but before I can get to all that, I feel I need to spend some time updating you on Oliver. Remember Oliver?

Back in February, I put out an ALL-CALL looking for a homeowner for this gem. And Guess What?!?! Despite the scary pictures and being greeted by this in person:

We had multiple families interested in the place and ended up shaking hands with the first couple we met. Crazy, huh?!? You know what is even crazier??? We truly thought finding a prerenovation buyer was going to be the biggest challenge of the project! Boy were we wrong.... (blatant foreshadowing folks... read on)

The couple adopting Oliver could not be more perfect. If you have spent any time on twostorysister, you are familiar with my slight control issues. Because of this, I have been VERY apprehensive to leave the flipping model to work with homeowners because this would require me to put someone else's wishes and priorities over my own (I get it, I get it... their money, their house). Gosh, that looks awful in writing....not proud of this personality trait, however "honest" is another trait from which I suffer so I have this need to share EVERYTHING with you or I feel like I'm lying. 

Anyways...the couple we are working with understand and respect my need for control and are really trying to let me take the lead. But here is the cool thing, they have contributed some really great ideas too! For example, at our first meeting when I presented my hand-drafted plan, they suggested in lieu of the soaker tub we incorporate a larger "doorless" shower. I LOVED that idea! My dream shower is doorless too and I had only put the soaker tub in to satisfy the masses so I was totally on board with this change.

We also moved some closets around to create a doorway to the backyard. Easy Peasy. And they wanted to add a 2 car carport to the plan. After we reviewed the proposed floorplan, I pitched the story idea behind the house design and provided a few inspiration pics to let them see how this might play out in terms of color and overall feel. Here are 3 of the pics I showed them:

I'm afraid this last one might have scared them a little, but you see HE was the essence of the story. For some reason, this house had always conjured up images of Ken and Barbie, specifically Ken and Barbie in Tennis wear. 

This was going to play out in the cutest vintage preppy craftsman. I even had vintage tennis rackets stashed away for staging. However, upon sharing the inspiration pics I learned that she was not a fan of green and was nervous to try out some of my other color ideas. I'll admit I panicked for a second because I could feel my story slipping away and I was terrified to attempt this project without a story as my guide. But then something happened.... before I left that meeting she graciously took me on a tour of their beautiful home and pointed out some of her favorite furniture pieces that she would like to see incorporated into the design of the house. During that tour it became clear how perfect her favorite things would fit into the space we had just reviewed and I realized that I would not have to navigate this renovation without a story after all.... the new homeowners ARE THE STORY! Their wishes and ideas would form the new story of this house!


I know this seems like an obvious answer to most of you, but it was a real "ah-ha" moment for me. I'm sure this story will evolve throughout the construction process as I get the privilege of working alongside this couple but at this stage of the game, I can reveal that the home has moved from whimsical preppy to a slightly more traditional timeless cottage. It's going to be great!

(Don't worry, I'm sure Ken and Barbie will resurface on a future project.)

With the plans approved and a clearer direction for the design of the house, the next step was to submit the plans to the historic commission for approval of the carport. This process delayed the project for about a month but during that month I worked with a real-life draftsman to draw up official plans for the renovation. Guys, I wish I had time to tell you about Bob the draftsman, he is a hoot and when we don't want to kill each other we have a real good time BUT this blog is already turning into a novel and I haven't even gotten to the drama so Bob will have to be revisited on another day. 

Fast forward to the Friday before the Monday Historic meeting.  Rory and I scheduled a meeting with our concrete man and framer to discuss the best approach to repair/replace the foundation so we could be ready to roll the second the historic commission blessed our plans and we could pick up our building permit.

From the picture above you can see we were FULLY prepared and budgeted to replace every interior pier and beam and pour new footings inside the house AND we knew we would need to replace some crumbling brick on the perimeter skirt with block BUT what we were NOT prepared for was when our concrete friend starting sticking his metal rod deep into the ground around the entire perimeter of the house and discovered that this home had NO (none, zero, nada, not 1) concrete footing under the entire house. WHAT?!>? How can that be? How has the house stood for the last 90 years on wet dirt? I mean even a 4-year-old knows wise men build their house upon the rocks, therefore their house stand firm BUT foolish men build their house upon the sand and eventually that house goes splat! There's even hand gestures to prove it! (if anyone needs help with this illustration, here is a youtube link to help you out https://youtu.be/cZlirVKALJ0)

Guys, I felt sucker punched. I just stood there frozen in complete shock as Rory and the concrete man continued talking. I finally came to when I heard Rory say "we just need to demolish and start over" What?!?! Nooooo!!!! We CAN'T demolish and start over! I mean, our storybook tagline is "we give old homes a new story thru renovation and design" NOT we build NEW homes! But even as I argued, I knew that it was just not financially feasible, responsible, or even safe to try to lift this 90-year-old home with its creaky bones to pour perimeter footings under her. Nor would it be even remotely ok to continue the renovation knowing it was not sitting on a firm foundation. So really we had no other options.
I'm not going to lie. This realization felt like a failure. I felt we were tasked with the job to save this house and we had to admit defeat. But if I'm being really honest, what hurt the most was my pride. I can't tell you how many subcontractors had visited the site and volunteered their opinion that we should just tear the place down. This is a common sentiment shared by visitors at the majority of our prerenovation projects and it used to hurt my feelings and make me doubt our ability to do the work but after so many projects under our belt, I now just smile and thank them for their opinions while I think to myself "you just wait and see buddy, You just WAIT AND SEE." (Again, not proud of this arrogance, but feel obligated to confess it to you.) So thinking about all the "I told you so's" that would be coming my way, caused a bad case of humble pie induced indigestion.

Plus on top of all that, I am terrified of new construction! I have been told by a number of real builders that new construction is easier than remodels BUT I know that my strength is in being able to look at something and figure out a way to make it better NOT making something great the first time around! So let it be known. This is NOT an announcement that SBH is branching out into new construction. I have already told myself I am NOT allowed to like it. This is just a very special circumstance. The only thing that makes me feel better about this new construction is that it will be based on the floorplan we already had drafted for the old house.

So, after finally accepting the inevitable, I made the first of my "hard phone calls" to the future homeowners.
Guys, let me pause right here to tell you "hard phone calls" are no joke! It is like the worst! I get physically ill when I have to make one of these phone calls to the homeowners and I have the easiest, nicest, most understanding home owners on the planet! I can't even watch Chip and Jo make the phone calls anymore without getting sick. 
I think I led with "you are under no obligation to go forward with the purchase of this property" before I went on to explain that we would no longer be able to provide them with a brand new fully renovated 90-year-old home, but rather all we could offer was a replica in the form of new construction. They took the news like champs and let me know they were still all in!

With that phone call behind me, the next hurdle I had to jump was with the historic commission. I had no idea if I would even be able to present the plan now that it had turned into a new construction project. But by this point the clock had ticked past the city's quitting time so I would have to wait until Monday to find that out.....

Over the weekend I crunched out what I thought would be a worst case scenario budget to present to the future homeowners to show them a side by side comparison of the original renovation budget vs the new construction budget. I did this to make doubly sure they still had no reservations about going forward with the project before I "hopefully" presented the plan to the historic commission....and again they said to march on.

SIDE NOTE: This "worst case scenario" budget would later come back to haunt me when I actually started getting subcontractor and material bids and realized I had no idea how much lumber costs had increased nor what a new slab foundation would cost. Holy Moley! These shocks to the budget resulted in at least 2 more "hard phone calls" to the homeowners which taught me 3 things:

  1. Going over budget with someone else's money feels a trillion times worse than when it is your own money at risk.
  2. In the future, I am going to take my worst case scenario budget and at least double it before I present it to homeowners.
  3. I am working with the sweetest, most understanding, gracious future homeowners on the planet. Instead of getting upset with me, they actually tried to make me feel better and have on multiple occasions been such a great source of encouragement. And despite the fact that I have given them multiple opportunities to back out they continue to remain excited about this project.
Ok, back to the story. 

First thing Monday morning I called the City to get an appointment with the City Planner to find out if I could go ahead and present my proposal for new construction at that night's historic hearing or if I would have to reapply and wait until the following month's meeting. Praise the Lord, he said I could go ahead and present that night since I was planning on building back the same structure in my proposal. Then, that night, although they too were sad to see an old home demolished, the historic commission voted unanimously in favor of our project! Yippee we were FINALLY ready to get this project started!...... or so we thought...

The next day I filed my application for demolition and while there I casually mentioned I would be picking up my building permit the second the house came tumbeling down because I was BEYOND ready to get going on it. That is when the next bomb was dropped. I was told because the project was no longer a remodel but new construction, we would have to have a "licensed contractor" over the project.


What?!?! You see, as a renovator of old houses we do not have to be licensed contractors as long as we only work on homes we own, but apparently, the same rules do not apply with new construction. The rules state that you can only self-contract on new construction if you plan to owner occupy the completed home. This, of course, was brand new news to me. So at this point I had a decision to make, I could either hire a licensed contractor who would allow me to still be the project manager or I could put on my big girl panties and get that license myself- which was already on my long-term goal list I just thought it would be waaaaay in the future when I had more experience and was more confident and ready to branch out from our flipping model to work with clients. But what the heck, I decided to go for it.

The next day I filled out the application and had it in the mail in time to meet the next licensure board meeting. All that was left to do on my part was to take the contractor licensing test. The test was open book and every man I talked to who had taken the test before assured me they did not even crack the book before they sat down to take the test. Well, that is not how this chick rolls. If there was going to be a test, I was going to study for it. I didn't make a 4.0 GPA in college by winging it folks. (Yes, my 4.0 GPA is completely irrelevant to the story but gee whiz I worked hard for those grades and NOT ONE time have I ever been asked my GPA on a job interview, so when the opportunity presents itself I try to work it into everyday conversations just so I don't feel it was all for nothing.) Anyways, the week before my test I accompanied Rory on a business meeting in Las Vegas and while he was in meetings I sat in the hotel room and read that book from cover to cover. And guess what?!?! I still needed to use my book for 95% of the questions. But I did make an A (not that anyone at the permit office will ask me about my grade when I go to pull the building permit).

So at this point, I am just waiting for the licensing board to approve me, to be ready to roll. Assuming they do, I'd appreciate it if you would keep the fact that I am a real life Licensed General Contractor to yourself. Just not ready to advertise that.... although I do plan to get my Carhart hat, tool belt, and maybe some overalls monogrammed with G.C. to wear at the job site- you know, just to gain the respect of the other subs on the project.

But in the meantime, while I wait for my license, this happened...

Moment of Silence for Oliver, please.

Thanks. And a big Thank You to the sweet neighbor who sent us this footage because it happened so fast I missed it.

2 days, a broken water line, and a stuck tree truck later this is how she sits.... just waiting for her building permit....

So now you're updated!

But before I sign off on this forever long blog post, I want to get your take on an idea I had. Because this project is spoken for and our very patient future homeowners will be anxious to move in the second we wrap this project up, I will not be hosting an open house at the conclusion of this project. Which means no dramatic reveal. So in light of this, I'm playing with the idea of letting Colby do a weekly video recap on what happens each week at the project since he will be out of school pretty soon for summer break. He has been trying to get me to do a SBH YouTube channel for over a year, and I keep telling him "no one watches YouTube" but he insists people do. So anyways, I think this would be a good project to try it out on. What do you think? Do you click on video's when they show up on FB or Instagram?

Just to test it out... here is a video Colby made shortly after we purchased Oliver. You can tell by the twinkle in my eye and the excitement in my voice, I was completely ignorant of the impending doom awaiting this little duplex when this video was shot.

Woo Hoo! Thanks for hanging with me to the bitter end of this loooong blog. You're dismissed! Until next time....

Monday, April 9, 2018

Coming Soon....

I am in the process of writing up a juicy blog about all the fun things in store for Storybook Homes over the next 4-5 months, but wanted to pause just a second to get the news out that Sister is going back on the market sometime really soon..... just waiting for the frost threats to go away so I can put some flowers in the dirt before I stick the sign in the yard.

If you remember, we attempted to sell her last year during the Caldwell renovation as an insurance policy that we would not go bankrupt with two large house payments if Caldwell failed to sell. But before we even finished the Caldwell renovation we ended up taking Sister off the market because 1) it was just too much trying to keep her show ready while living at the Caldwell project and 2) Quite honestly, it hurt my feelings when no one wanted my baby in the first few weeks she was listed. I know, I know.... that's ridiculous, BUT when you personify your house and treat it like your 3rd child you kinda take it personally. It was like that feeling you get when your kid is chosen last on the playground or doesn't get asked to the prom. I mean, Really?!?! Can't these people see how special she is?!?! 

BUT this year I am ready. I have worked on detaching myself emotionally from Sister this house and have prepared myself that she it might not sell for a while- and that is ok. I get the fact that our home might not be the perfect fit for every family. I do, I REALLY do. BUT just in case you are new to the blog (the blog coincidentally named two-story sister... after this house...but whatever....no biggie, it's just a house) and happen to be in the market for a nice family home I thought I would give you a little sneak peak of Sister before she is presented to the world on Zillow in a few days. This tour will highlight the before and afters of some Sister's biggest makeovers. 

Exterior- bye bye Colonial, hello farmhouse.

 You can read about the exterior transformation here.

 I blogged about the kitchen here and here.

Office: Sorry for the terrible before pic, this is all I could find. The office was renovated at the same time as the Kitchen. 

Dining Room- no links

Bedroom: Reno occurred before the blog.

Master Bedroom: No blog post for this one, which is a shame because Rory and I did all the board and batten.

Master Bathroom- now this is a fun renovation read. Click here.

Playroom- Kickin myself for no before pics or blog on this one. It got quite a makeover. 

Living Room: This weekend project was one of my favorite Valentine presents. Click here.

Oh my, those pictures brought back memories, not to mention all the pictures of my boys growing up in this home that I just weeded thru to find some of the before pictures. I may have shed a few tears. It truly has been a great family home for us.

PS. I am also going to be practicing my Instagramming by posting lots of pictures of Sister over the next couple of days leading up to her listing. So if your not following on Instagram, you might want to check it out @ storybookrenovations.

Have a great week!

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Donaghey Before and After

I'm so excited to report that it looks like our 1117 Donaghey Project is going to have a happy ending. The most precious young family has her under contract and are set to close in the next couple of weeks. So the last thing I need to do to officially close this chapter of Storybook homes is to document a few before and afters. So here we go......

Starting outside.... 

And my idea to help move her out of the trailer park?

Here is Pepe's crew making the dream a reality.

And a few more "during transformation" pics.

 And here is the finished product:

Big thanks to Tommy of TPA metalworks for patiently working with me to design the modern metal railing that wasn't "too tall" or "too short" and to Martin and his team for the brickwork. Oh! and B&B Siding and Windows for the board and batten and new facia and soffits.  

Can I just say, end of winter is NOT a fun time for landscaping! Landscaping is usually one of my favorite milestones in the renovation process.  I am always amazed how a few plants and sod can clean up and breathe life into a home..... but not this one.  Now, this is no fault of Travis, he did a great job, as always. It's just plants are kinda dead looking and ugly right now and grass is brown. When I ordered red azaleas to surround the perimeter of the cottage, I was prepared for the flowers to not be in bloom yet but I was still anticipating a bright, green, happy foliage that would pop off the dark skirt of the house; so when Travis unloaded these I was less than thrilled. BUT I have been assured that the "happy" green will arrive with Spring, so I will look forward to driving by her in the coming months. I did go ahead and have Travis add in the daffodils just to cheer up the beds in the meantime. Despite the plants, I am thrilled with how the exterior turned out.  

Let's move inside.

When you walked in thru the front door this was how she looked before...

And after we knocked down a few walls...

And the living room now:

Here she is all dolled up for the Open House, courtesy of Waterhouse Market.

I usually like to save the best for last but since it is peaking out from behind the rooster in the above pic, I'll go ahead and debut the kitchen/dining area next.

Here is the dining and kitchen before:

Here is an action shot of Rory and I framing up the Range nook.

I seriously don't know how this house would have been completed if I hadn't been there to hold that stud in place. I should mention, that range nook project was supposed to be part of my Dad and I's WWYWWW project for this house but that week Harrison was expecting ice so he had to leave early. But he does get credit for helping me install the reclaimed pine shiplap feature wall in the kitchen.  (Wood reclaimed from ceiling runners found during demolition.) After Dad left, Rory was happy to have an opportunity to use the framing gun, and we knocked that project out in record time.

And here is what that space looks like now:

That blue and white tile makes me SMILE every time I see it! And this picture shows some of the custom art Redeemed Home Goods brought to the Open House to perfectly illustrate the story. And once again Jeff Perry did a fabulous job on the construction of all the cabinetry in the home. The hutch was a crowd favorite at the open house.

I'd like to point out 2 things in the next picture:

First, let's take a second to reflect on my "Open House Outfit". Guys, you need to know I am clueless when it comes to fashion. The ONLY time I go clothes shopping is before an open house. I try to find an outfit that compliments each story. For example:

Bruce Street Bohemian- Torn jeans, oversized baggy sweater, wavy hair with loose braids.

Caldwell Manor- Purpleish Flapper Dress

Donaghey Irish Sheepfarm- Plaid shirt reminiscent of an Irish kilt.

(As I type the fact that I dress myself to match my house, it is just now occurring to me how dorky of a practice this is...... not that this realization is going to stop me...... I'm just proud that I recognized it.)
Anyways.... When I was thinking about this Open House I knew I wanted to wear something "sweet" to reflect the "Sherry Style" of the story so I thought of this pink dress I had hanging in the back of my closet. Unfortunately, I did not try it on until the day of the Open House. Had I done a trial run on this outfit I would have realized I looked more like a stewardess than "sweet." But alas 2 hours before Open House on a Sunday.... I just went with it. 

But more importantly (and relevant) I want you to take a look at that island in the picture.  (I'll give you a second to scroll back up to look.....) That island was constructed by Rory and me just 3 days prior to the Open House. You see, I had originally purchased a metal cart for the space but when I unpackaged it I realized it had all sorts of dings. 

Plus, the real-life version of the cart did not live up to what I had envisioned for the space. So with a final punch list a mile long, I set off to find a substitution. I shopped every antique and flea market around town looking for something that would fit the space. I finally found some antique spindles at The Peddler and convinced Rory to help me build this island after dinner. 

The next day Donna Benton picked er up and worked her magic mixing the perfect concoction of stain to match the new wood to the old spindles. The new island was delivered to the space just in the nick of time and to me it looks like it was meant to be there all along.

And here is the new dining space:

Ok, let's move on to the bedrooms and bathrooms.

The 2 kid bedrooms simply got new sheetrock, paint, fans, trim and refinished hardwood floors.


The master bedroom received the same treatment along with new hardwood floors and cute staging by Waterhouse Market and Redeemed Home Goods.


When we purchased the home it had 1 bathroom and this was it:

Here is that bathroom now:

During the renovation we stole some space from the existing house to add a master bathroom and closet here is the result:

So there she is! I am so pleased with how she turned out AND in record time with ZERO tears!

In addition to the talented people I have already mentioned I want to add the following people to the list of credits:

Electrician: Donaco Electric
Plumber: Robert Shearer
HVAC: Maulding Heat and Air
Tile: David and Alex
Hardwood Floors: All Wood Floors
Countertops: Countertop World
Painting: Nicks Painting
Extra Helpers: Cole and Reese