My husband had been hankering for the past couple years to do some remodeling/renovating of our 20-year old home. For those two years, I thwarted him as best I could. Change, was not my strong suit.
One April 29th, 2019 when the excavators rolled onto our property, I knew I had lost the battle. OK, I’m being a bit dramatic. I knew the trucks, tradesmen and huge work equipment were coming — I had studied the stages of the blueprints with Phil and the architect, Marc. Phil and Marc started working on the architectural plans a year before we broke ground. Phil provided design concepts and example photos for inspiration and Marc did a wonderful job translating the concepts, ideas and vision into the detailed plans that our builder was able to bring to reality.
I had met with the builder. He is the best builder in the Twin Cities and my husband, who had worked with him on another project, was able to wrestle him out of retirement to take on this project.
The genesis of just how intrusive and involved this project was going to be came to me slowly. At first, we still lived in the house because most of the initial work was taking place outside. As they began work inside, we’d shuffle furniture into the middle of rooms and cover with sheets, roll up the rugs, etc., until all the furniture et al — upstairs and downstairs — were moved to the guest house garage! It looked like a warehouse! “Come one, come all, to the emporium –take your pick!” We, too, had moved ourselves into the guest house. I’m not complaining…yet…because who can complain about being able to stay on-site, in a lovely, fully-equipped, fully-furnished, guest house?! But the moving of stuff! We were going to be there a while, so the kitchen had to be stocked with food and more cooking equipment; our clothing had to be transferred; our desks, paperwork, had to be shuffled into new locations. I put my little desk in front of a window overlooking the back yard and back of the house.
At first, I thought I could keep my distance from the project — keep on with my daily life. But as the project progressed, I was pulled into the realm. I found myself becoming an integral part of daily decisions and feeling a pull to just wanting to be around everyone and the house. There was such an energy, a life force, a happy community that surrounded us all.
Over the course of months, we all became one happy family. It really was painless in that regard. Everyone was nice, respectful, caring; we joked with one another, understood each other, and took an interest in each other’s lives. No fighting, no yelling; if something needed to be changed or revised there was no finger pointing, just…”let’s figure this out.”
I made sure to keep on hand, daily, a fully stocked refrigerator in the garage where everyone could grab a water, gatorade, apples. A couple of bowls on the patio table, now in the garage, always contained breakfast bars, granola bars, trail mix, raisins, beef jerky, etc. And always, the baker that I am, freshly made cookies, brownies, bars. On Friday’s (not all) either the builder, Bob, a wonderful man — one couldn’t ask for a more knowledgeable, friendly, calm, great relationship with all the contractors, person to work with — or myself, would bring pizza’s or sandwiches for everyone.
The work was extensive, inside and out. A couple of trees had to be felled — tragic (we will replant this spring) to make way for the 12-foot addition on the side of the house and extensions/new roof lines on the front of the house. The exterior of the addition was natural stone and cedar shakes to match the existing home; a roof was put over our existing patio and we added a stone fireplace; a vestibule was created for the front entrance.
Inside was a mess. So much was changing, but for the better. I barely know where to start — new windows, new moldings and door casings, new doors, new carpeting in the lower level, upstair floors refinished, ceilings smoothed out and re-plastered, fresh paint, paneling. Oh, and the iron work — hand done, beautiful! And funny, as much as I say “new” it was all created to look “old.” To take on the look of an English manner house.
I haven’t even gone into “selections”– knobs, pulls, door handles, paint colors, tubs, sinks — or furniture purchases, fabrics, etc. All I can say is that without David, our interior designer and great friend, the house would not be what it is — and that is, perfect! We worked together to create a comfortable and elegant home that we felt instantly at one with. (sorry for the dangling participle. I’m from Chicago where it’s very normal.) David was the one, being such a good friend even before the project, who caught my moods when I was overwhelmed, or couldn’t look at one more fabric or make one more decision. But we got through it.
I can’t thank all the “master craftsmen” who worked on this project — the stone masons in particular! A big shout-out to Pat, John and the crew!
Almost seven months later, the project was put to rest until spring. One week before Thanksgiving, and a day before an early snow storm, Phil, myself and the builders, along with their helpers, moved a good portion of the furniture — remember, tucked away in the “warehouse” — back into the house. It was such a task and something I will never do again. I won’t even go into the piano…
I will start uploading photos tomorrow.
#homerenovation #remodel #homeaddition
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