Archive | August, 2010

Trust Us. Walls Talk.

31 Aug

I am working with an a-typical contractor. He is working with an a-typical client. We are over-the-top and we can’t stop. I also moonlight as a rapper/rhymer if anybody needs a poem or anything.

The way things fell into place for us to work together is pretty much an act of God. Seriously. I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried. And I get paid to make stuff up for a living. So this act-of-God thing is a story (and video) for tomorrow because blog content is not easy to come by and I need to get mileage out of it.

Here’s the deal. We have very similar taste—if there’s such a thing as finishing someone’s sentence visually, we do. And it works. He’s not just a contractor—he’s a designer. I’m not just a client—I’m an idea hound, always looking for another way to approach things. There’s nothing cookie cutter about this project or our teamwork. Our individual visions for this house turned out to be one big vision. The house calls for certain things. So we look, listen, and find ourselves saying, “What if…” on a daily basis.

Brad suggested that this renovation just might turn out to be magazine-worthy. I am a writer. Why didn’t I think of this? The fact that we are sitting on a story began to nag me. So, I asked Brad what he’d think if I tried to pitch our story. He absolutely hated the idea. I kid. I kid. What do you think he said? I had an idea about how to pull it together. We got to work on refining our vision, our ideas, and gathering what we believe this house calls for in an idea book.

Here’s what we came up with—an over-sized book of our vision for several rooms in the house. Each spread includes what we’re working with, what inspires us, and our approach to a particular space.

As for the story…

Never mind that I—a young, single, first-time home buyer—went and bought a mold-infested house that absolutely must be gutted to the studs. Who does that? Never mind that Brad had his eye on the house and wanted to get his hands on it long before I found it—long before I knew Brad or that he, too, lives on Bradford Avenue. Yes. He lives three doors down. And, yes, he loved the house before I did. And, yes, people always say, “Are you kidding me?” when I tell them the story. Never mind that Brad’s business (HOM) is young and even though he’s been in construction for several years this is the first full renovation project for his company. Never mind us.

The real story is Bradford. This house on the corner has a mind and voice of its own. It calls for certain things. It has a way of weeding out the things it does and doesn’t want. Happens every day. Trust me on this. Some good ideas have gone back into the file because this house won’t have a thing to do with them. Doesn’t matter how much we like the idea, the house trumps us every time. Every time we stand in the yard, staring at the exterior,  Bradford shows us a little more of what’s in store. We’ve come to this unbelievable conclusion: Walls talk—at least they do on Bradford Avenue.

So, to whom should we send this? Where do you think our story fits in the grand scheme of home renovation/home magazines? Who would you call?

Pray tell. We’re listening and we just might do what you say.


Industrial Revolution

27 Aug

“Phase Two” of Bradford Avenue involves a studio space behind the house. Presently there’s a garage that I refer to as the Lincoln Log Garage because as far as I can tell, the roof is just sitting there the way the plastic Lincoln Log roof sits nicely atop a Lincoln Log house—it’s quality, I tell you. What I envision is pretty far from Lincoln Logs.

The trick to all this remodeling and building is dreaming. First things first—dream. Then with some guidance I make the necessary adjustments. As the Rolling Stones so wisely said, You Can’t Always Get What You Want. You get what you need. But since we’re dreaming here… might as well dream big.

From the kitchen to the studio, I’d like to incorporate sturdy and industrial pieces among the lovely. On my hunt for all-things-industrial, I ran across a  Get Back Inc. Funny, they only sell things I like—things that I can only dream of using to furnish a studio. I said this is about dreaming, didn’t I? And how can I resist a company that makes me think of the Beatles?

Do you have any idea what sort of dreams we could dream sitting around this table? I do. This table alone makes me want to call up my contractor Brad and say, “Pause on the house. We’ve got bigger fish to fry. Let’s build a studio.”

This fun, go-ahead-and-put-your-feet-on-me table is the product of brand MOJO interiors of North Carolina. (I admire their work and I like all things North Carolina. Mountains and oceans in one place—that sort of stuff that wins my heart. And, let’s be real. Nicholas Sparks put that place on the map—half the women in America believe it’s the Promised Land.) One things for sure, the furniture situation is promising—check the brand MOJO etsy store for proof.

And, there’s a heap of smart design at Hudson Goods. Apparently the man behind Hudson Goods went and did something crazy—he quit his day job. Who would do such a thing! And he started designing things. Really good things. There’s much to admire about his work. I’ve come to realize that I like things on wheels. I have no idea what this is about. I’m going to go with it until I find something else to obsess over.

And, finally, I ran across this table on eBay. Seems to me this needs a few stools and a few folks who want to sit on stools and talk about big ideas. Or, chop vegetables—this could be an island.

Surely something from this post will make its way into the hive of creativity that will eventually exist in the back corner of the Bradford lot. Surely.

Decisions. Decisions.

24 Aug

Should the roof be charcoal gray? Should the roof be green? These are the questions I ponder daily.

This house brings out my thoughtful side—these days I think about EVERYTHING. A lot. So much it hurts. So much that I actually get tired of myself. Because it is nothing for me to lay in bed and think about shingles until 2 a.m. These things matter.

I think a charcoal roof is classic; a green roof is cheerful. Since this house is a classic, I decided on charcoal. You know I love cheerful but cheerful houses need red doors. And, as much as I love a red door, this is not the house for a red door. I decided on classic. In my mind I decided. But my heart moved over to the green side without telling my mind. Sometimes the heart will outsmart the mind, folks. I couldn’t stop thinking about green. And then my like-minded contractor said something along the lines of  “I’ve been thinking about green again…”

The roof will be green. I am sure. Heart, mind, contractor—all on the same page. Now the question is… which green?

Here are a few samples. Any of these would look great but my favorite is the middle sample. The first option feels a little vintage to me (it’s got a little Coke-bottle-green feel to it), the last option has too much black. The middle sample is crisp. A crisp roof it shall be!

The old roof came off yesterday—totally and completely off. My house is presently sheltered beneath a tarp.

Things are moving right along at what feels like a speedy pace.

More to come this week—doors, windows, framing, cabinets and lots of other things to consider. (And, I’ve seen some really pretty things lately that I cannot wait to pass along. Sorry I’ve been MIA. I was on a mission. More about that later.)

Weekend Progress

16 Aug

I spent the weekend in Lexington. Men in white suits and masks spent the weekend in my house scrubbing mold. Clearly, I had a better experience than them this weekend. When I saw the picture, the site of these guys in their white gear and serious face masks made me think of the Ghostbusters—who you gonna call?

Here are a few of the pics/updates I got this weekend while I was off the grid:

This afternoon, I’m going in. I have been waiting patiently and finally it’s safe to go in. Prior to this clearance, I’d say the only safe way to go in there would be to hold your breath and run. Unless, of course, you have an in with the makers of  the fancy white suits/masks our mold-busting friends wear.

I will surely update you on what I find—that is, if I can somehow manage to look upon all that potential and live.

Walls? What walls?

12 Aug

I haven’t gone near Bradford since demo started. Let’s be real. Amy + mold + asbestos = trouble.

Yesterday a friend mentioned the chutes coming from my upstairs windows and I thought: That’s it. I have to drive by.

Confession: the sight of a dumpster has never made me so happy. I stayed away from the front and the plastic chutes–I didn’t want any trouble. But I peeked in the back windows and practically flipped out. The jungle green bathroom is gone, my friends.

Here’s the update I got this morning–a picture taken from the front door.

This makes me happy.

This is unfortunate.

11 Aug

When I imagine the movie of my life—Because we all do that. I know you do—I see myself living in a house with exposed brick walls. I sort of see myself in the house from the movie The Time Traveler’s Wife, (minus a husband who vanishes and reappears spontaneously—that’s gotta be inconvenient). If you haven’t seen the movie, trust me, the kitchen in their home is, well, movie-worthy.

Wouldn’t you know that Bradford has some brick hiding under the walls—what can I say, this house is nothing short of generous. It just keeps on giving. Too bad this brick is in the middle of a wall we’re knocking out. Oh, well. Pretend you never saw it. That will feel better.

It’s unfortunate. The only thing that would be more unfortunate is that big pile of brick standing in the middle of my forthcoming kitchen. And that’s how you get over something quickly folks. This is all you’ll see of that brick wall because it simply cannot stay.

Thanks, Brad, for nabbing this picture. And a special thanks to Steve Jobs and all our friends at Apple, for making ridiculously smart smartphones that allow us to take pictures like this from a phone. What could be more handy when renovating a house—I know you were thinking of this project when you came out with the latest iPhone. We do appreciate it.

Lucky me. Lucky contractor. Lucky house.

6 Aug

That, my friends, is the building permit hanging in the window! I don’t know that I can wrap the right words around this moment but I will try.

Turns out that life has these redemptive seasons and good things unfold right before our eyes gathering us into the story that’s being written. Before we realize what’s happened, there we are, in the middle of landscape of opportunity and promise and blessing that leaves us in awe of the gracious way that God brings things, people, projects together.

That’s how I feel. Actually, that’s not just how I feel, that’s what’s happening. It’s what I know to be true. Everywhere I look, no matter which way I turn, I get the feeling that something good and lovely is happening, something that I couldn’t screw it up if I tried. All I have to do is participate. Be present. Breath in and out.

And, now, I am thinking of Donna Fargo. I know. I am so normal, right? My mind moves from God to Donna Fargo—my mind is a world of its own; I practically need a permit to go in there. Back to Donna. If my life had a soundtrack, this would be Donna Fargo’s moment to steal. “Shine on me sunshine. Walk with me world…. I’m the happiest girl in the whole USA.”

And I have this feeling I haven’t seen anything yet.

Lucky me. Lucky contractor. Lucky house.