Renovating a kitchen can be super stressful and very expensive. The options out there are endless. The pressure to choose the perfect cabinet, countertop, and backsplash and then tie it all in with hardware and fixtures is exhausting. The biggest factor is usually budget and as with all of our renovations, we try to do it for as little as we can without sacrificing style, functionality, and practicality. My dream kitchen would look something like the one in the above photo crisp white shaker-style cabinets, brass fixtures, and white granite countertops. Except I'm no fool I would even consider myself a realist in most cases and honestly my kids ( and husband) would destroy it in a month. I started doing my research I had drawn up a basic plan of the kitchen with accurate dimensions on graph paper. I knew where the sink would be we only had one spot possible for the fridge without sacrificing countertop space and so that roughly gave me an idea of where I should place the stove so that the kitchen would have a good ebb and flow. When you walked into the kitchen it was cut off by the laundry room and the kitchen window was tiny. My dreams of a bright open concept kitchen were going to be some work but it could be done. So we got rid of the laundry room, sized up the window, and since I already bought the kitchen island top that I had fallen in love with I designed the kitchen around it.This is what we started with.(See Below)
With all major appliances mapped out I was able to measure the spaces in between to see what size cabinets I would need. Searching for cabinets became a kind of obsession. I knew I had to make decisions sooner rather than later but the thought of making the wrong decision and wasting a ton of money made me sick so I would leave no rock left unturned. My final top three came down to Cliq Studio, Home Depot & IKEA. I love IKEA, alright I said it. I am constantly defending IKEA to people who have never stepped foot in their showroom and go by only what they've heard about it. I've had people say not pleasant things about IKEA while sitting in my house on an IKEA sofa surrounded by IKEA photo frames. IKEA was the front runner but I had no experience in anything kitchen. When I got each of the estimates IKEA not only came in significantly lower but also included countertop & installation and they were holding their semi-annual kitchen event where you can receive up to 20% back on IKEA gift cards.DONE DEAL! Our kitchen lacked ... well, everything. Character, openness, and light
Looking at my kitchen plan I created a list of what I would need in what cabinet example: next to the stove I would want pots/pans, mixing bowls, cooking utensils, possibly in the island I would want a place for my plates/bowls maybe even cutting boards and knives. The idea is to make your life easier and easily accessible. Before heading to IKEA I searched online what cabinets they offered in what sizes. The things that stood out were the sliding drawers and drawers within the drawers...fancy. After I put together a list of the sizes and styles of the cabinets I liked it was time to head to IKEA...woohoo! Walking through the showroom I was leaning towards the gray cabinet(Above right ) but the more I thought about it the darker the better especially with all the tiny hands in the house. I ended up choosing the SEKTION base( which was a new system at the time and more of a universal cabinet ) with a cabinet front(Left above). Choosing a dark cabinet allowed me to go with a white stone countertop for contrast. The drawers and cabinets have not only held up after 5 years of consistent use but also I use one of the lower larger drawers as a snack drawer for the kids who are not gentle at all and usually are placing most of their weight on the drawer itself when its opened. Things I love the most are still the drawers in the drawers, I think it makes a huge in making our kitchen space less busy. I enjoy not seeing fingerprints or dirt and only realize when I take a Mr.clean magic eraser to them every once in a while what I would have been seeing on the daily with white cabinets and I love how tough they are. We are a family that spends the majority of our time in the kitchen cooking, eating, and dancing and they look just like they did the day we installed them.
Which leads me to my last and biggest reason to go with an Ikea cabinet.
My husband has been installing kitchens his entire career and he was blown away at how easy installation was. I of course put each cabinet together and the more I tell people this is not something that anyone enjoys doing, so we're strictly talking install but easy is not a word he throws around lightly. The installation is based around the metal rack you will install using a measuring tape and level. Once that's installed to the wall and into the studs, the legs will be placed on the cabinets and will simply slide on and then fastened together no need for shimming or multiple people. The kickboard was my favorite it's the same color as your cabinet and has little clips that will simply click onto the legs of the cabinet. so unlike any other cabinet, you simply unclick and can vacuum and clean under your cabinets which are amazing when you spill liquid or food. Alright, remember that piece of wood I bought for the kitchen island well it wasn't just any old piece of wood. It was a giant piece of raw redwood that I fell in love with at first sight. This thing was big and heavy and every time we were working on something like flooring we had to move it out of the way .... we moved it a lot but I knew it was going to be worth it.
and it was. It's the first thing you notice when you walk in and I love it in all it's imperfections every crack bark and all. So here is my honest review of IKEA kitchen cabinets, I will be using IKEA cabinets in the future and will most definitely be installing them in our one-bedroom AIRBNB rental that we are building and would highly recommend to anyone that is on the fence and that's coming from someone that is in no way affiliated or sponsored by them but a girl can dream right?!
We got the call that one of two of our baby goats was born yesterday. We will be first-time goats owners and are over the moon with excitement to bring them home in 8 weeks. So as we prepare for our new family members we are realizing we have a lot to do in 8 weeks.
We currently have an excavation team here cutting in our new driveway to the garage, lowering our entire grade of the property and clearing woods. As soon as their done we will lay stone for the new driveway and loam where we will be putting grass. First on the agenda is cleaning up and clearing behind the shed. It will give the goats shade and a place to rest.
I've also been mapping out where we will be creating the new "goat zone" I never realized how many different looks for fencing there are. We will be creating a room within a room you might call it under the shed overhang. Somewhere we could put them at night to make sure predators don't hurt them and also somewhere in extreme weather they will stay safe and dry.
I've also been mapping out where we will be creating the new "goat zone" I never realized how many different looks for fencing there are. We will be creating a room within a room you might call it under the shed overhang. Somewhere we could put them at night to make sure predators don't hurt them and also somewhere in extreme weather they will stay safe and dry.
The kids are over the moon excited, we've been working on a chore board ideas. Making a schedule around here is basically the only way to stay on track or to remember to do anything. The kids are now at ages where they're able to read and enjoy it, so I will remind them to look at their board but it'll be up to them to see what needs to be done for the day. For the most part, we've avoided any animals that would require the kids to have any responsibilities. Let's face it they're usually on top of something for the first two weeks and then the excitement wears off and it's left up to parents to take over. So I have no idea how this will go but I think I'm ready, I think we're all ready.
Alright so back to goats. Thank goodness for my friend Paula, who we are getting them from. She's amazing! She has goats herself and is a great resource of information which makes me less nervous about all of it. Above is a photo of us visiting the goat where he stays with his mom for now . Paula says we should visit as much as we can so he can get used to us . If you're ever in the area Barnstable feed & pet supply located in West Barnstable there is a great space for kids to visit the animals first hand and they have anything you would need for your pets or mini farm. They have ducks, goats, chicken and even a beautiful peacock. This is our guy below , we're still working on a name but it's coming . We could spend hours here but pretty soon we won't have to and we can spend our days with our own little babes.
I'll update to keep you updated once we have the fenced area up and the home built. If you have any helpful information about your experience of raising goats I would love to hear about it.
This might have been one of my favorite projects we have done it a while. Mainly because I could think outside box, it's a shed no judgment, right? We've been thinking about what to use this space for some time. Storage, kids outdoor junk maybe a sauna? but realistically we needed an area for summer storage. Things we use when we go out to the beach and on the boat, items you don't necessarily want to pack away because you use them often but you don't want to leave on the front porch all the time either. Coolers, beach bags, beach toys, a grill, life jackets, and a small table. Using this large shed for part-time stuff left me always feeling like a waste of space. So I somehow convinced my husband to turn this baby into a guest room for friends and family that visit, but if you met my brother you would understand.
We had taken down 4' X 8 sheets of beadboard from the ceiling from the front porch attached to the main house and had been storing them in the shed for almost a year. This was the perfect project to re-use a lot of materials we had leftover from other projects. As you all probably know by now I have an obsession with pine I tend to use it in any way possible. Things I like about it is paintable, stainable, sandable and if you leave it natural every time you walk into the room you can smell it, I know I'm a total weirdo. SO first things first we started with the beadboard. I cleaned out the entire shed of everything that's been stored there for months and we're off to the races.
We started with the beadboard, some of the sheets were in much worse shape then I remember we trimmed off any rot and then cut to length. Once installed I used painters putty to fill any holes from nailing and any gauges that we made from the initial removal.
It took me about three hours to sand and repeat until I was ready to paint. I chose was Iron gray-Benjamin Moore. Can you spy the pine we're using on the ceiling and walls? Above you'll see we stored the pine in the shed for three days to let it acclimate to the temperature of the shed. We do this because pine will expand and contract, you need to condition it to the space that it will be installed in.
I like the contrast when designing a space I call it a balance of opposites. In this case, it's the contrast between the light pine and dark paint. After the installation of the ceiling, I decided to gray wash it. I used leftover paint from a separate project and added one cup of paint to one cup of water. I usually just use a rag and just dip it in, ring it out a bit and while wearing plastic gloves I use my hand. It's easier for me. All in all, probably took me about 2 hours to finish.
This is me in my element. Not pictured is my not-so-hot cup of coffee and music blasting. It only took me about 3 hours to complete two coats of grey wash. I will do this process a lot. I think it allows you to change the look of the pine, take away the "yellowness" that most people don't like but still allow the natural beauty of the pine to come through. It works for all sorts of looks whether your going for a coastal theme or you're deep in the woods on N.H this will always work. If at a later date you decide to paint, no problem! You would just paint right over the gray wash no matter what color you're using.
After finishing up the walls we got started on the flooring, our flooring was free from a family member who had it in his garage for a million years we didn't quite have enough for the entire project so we used up the leftover pine we had and made a border the entire perimeter of the floor. and then laid the maple flooring within it. With a light sanding and sealing it, it will be ready to start decorating and making it a space that our friends and family can enjoy while they are visiting us. Two things I took away from this mini remodel are 1. Everything has a purpose, reusing many of the materials we already had kept our budget for this very low. 2. Even small spaces can make a huge impact, doesn't matter what space is if you show it the time and energy it deserves you can turn into anything. Stay Tuned for full reveal....
Even though we have large projects going on it doesn't usually mean we don't have about five smaller projects going on at the same time. It's usually with the changing of the seasons I start making lists of the "need to do's" and the " Want to-dos" . I also have my separate lists (Did I mention I love to make lists) I make for myself that doesn't require my husband and I can get done myself during the days while he works. Recently working remotely from home has allowed me to check so many things off my list, one major thing stayed and that was the shed.
When we bought the house the shed was in rough shape. We thought about tearing it down and rebuilding but at the same time couldn't afford to lose the storage space because at that time we didn't have the garage so it was a catch-all summer/beach stuff, gardening tools and kids outdoor toys in the winter. So we decided to keep it. We replaced all the rotten trim, installed new shingle siding, and replaced the old three-tab roofing with new architectural shingles. We used two windows that my father in law removed from a job site. It wasn't much but it was night and day to what was originally there. If you're looking straight at the building we removed the small room to the left of the shed. It wasn't built properly and obviously was added later on. We thought it would make for a good spot for our chicken coop since we wanted to utilize the space behind the shed for chickens anyways. To the rear of the shed, someone has built a makeshift wall by piecing together pieces of plywood and using windows with older single pane glass. Most of the windows were broken and need serious attention. One day my husband went to work and I was watering our garden, I took one look at the wall and knew I had to take it down. I know what you're thinking but my husband is used to this, I don't think there is a day he comes home and doesn't ask what I've been up to....that's gotta be a good sign?
It didn't take me long to get a majority of the walls down. Each tiny piece of plywood was screwed on but luckily was no match for me and my drill. Over the plywood was layers of asphalt roofing that I removed by hand along with the broken windows. When my husband got home from work we used 2 X 4's to brace and support the overhang while we cut out the remaining wall and posts to make way for the new cedar posts.
Once the exterior wall was completely removed we dug down an additional three feet so that the headspace under the overhang was enough a 6-foot man could comfortably walk under without ducking his head. For the new post, we used cedar 4 X 4 posts. They're usually around $25-$30/post depending where you live. I kind of have an obsession with cedar. It fit so well with my modern farmhouse look and light sand and stain and they're good as new.
With the new posts in, we're ready to empty the stuff we had stored underneath and get the rest of it dugout. Next, we will focus on staining the posts and the sidewall on the back of the shed. We are planning on getting goats and chickens so we are looking for something that is "farm proof" I'll let you know what I come up with .
Alright everyone remembers the siding inspiration I had been drooling over? You know over a hundred pictures saved in my phone that were all telling the same story white farmhouse, board & batten style then the day came I got the phone call ... thanks to my father in law once again he happens to be at Harvey's building supply making an order of his own and asked about this mythical siding I kept talking about and guess what just so happens the universe is my best friend - a company had used this siding on a recent job and ordered too much and they had some there in the warehouse leftover for purchase. Want to know something even better than that? I was able to go up and check it out in person and it was everything I had ever dreamed of. It was fate.
Big smiles today because you guessed it ....it's siding installation day!
Why is siding choice to important ? The right siding can dramatically boost your exterior appearance. Whether you're renovating or building new, you'll want to choose the house siding option that best suits your home's style and meets your needs for maintenance and durability. Here are the points we went over when choosing the siding for our main house & addition :
Let's say thank goodness for Youtube. I watched videos over and over and when I would find good ones I would show Tucker and we would watch together. After all the talking and planning we realized the only way to figure it out was to just do it. That's when we realized all the J-channel (pieces of plastic that are formed to the shape of a J & required to hold the siding to the building ) were the wrong sizes. After a couple of weeks of returning and re-ordering, we were finally ready to go. Our next issue was because we were dealing with the vertical batting we were trying to space them properly so that when you're looking at the face of each area the batting would be spaced evenly. Easier said than done. you would think each piece of siding is 12" so you would calculate the total length of the wall and divide by 12 ...not so fast. Because the batting is a different thickness than between them when it falls on the one you need to use 1 1/2 " but if it falls on inside of a batten it requires 3/4" plus the 1 1/2" ...have I lost you yet? yeah, same. So when we initially measured we forgot to factor in the j-channel width. When we re-did everything I stood back and realized what would matter more to me is where it landed on the windows to keep a consistent look. Back to square one. The easiest way to do this was to cut the boards to length and use the cutoffs. We attached them all and stood them up and simply moved them until they all lined up on the windows the same. I wouldn't recommend this way but it worked for us. Another side the one with the two garage doors for instance we just started with a full panel. Cutting the J-channel for around the windows was another tedious task. You can find the video that we used here : https://youtu.be/geQVbvuiNw0
We started with the windows at the back of the house for practice but after two windows my husband got into a rhythm
I tried multiple times but found out if my measurements or cuts were not 100% it would not connect correctly or lay against the building right while installing so I left that to my husband. When installing the J we found the best way to start was bottom first, sides, and top last even for the windows. It tucked closely to our trim we had previously installed. I'm not saying we enjoyed any of this but it wasn't as hard as we initially thought and we learned something new. I think our biggest hurdle was ourselves. Getting out of our heads worrying about how and just starting somewhere . Every wall was a huge accomplishment at the end of the day I stood back and took a picture and fell more and more in love with the choice we made.
Below is the rear view of the entire house & new addition, you can see where we cut back our existing Hardieplank lap siding(https://www.jameshardie.com/) which is a cement product and blended the new Vinyl. Lucky for us the color matches up but I did realize that my trim color needed to be changed and matched to the siding. The color I chose years back was more of a creamy white(Benjamin Moore-Dove White) as opposed to a crisp white. Here are pictures of when we first bought it
We chose shingles for any walls that were East-West and Hardieboard in Arctic White for any wall North-South. Since we had just purchased the large bay window you see on the left-hand side of the house we wanted to reuse it. I loved the idea of having it in the living room so that we could see out to our backyard. So we removed the smaller one and used it in the garage because they were the same size and replaced it with the bay window
The window ended up being the max size we could fit there. We didn't want the interior door to open into the window and on the right, we had a post for framing that there was no way we could move.
Even though we had to move wires and carry the heaviest window in existence it was all worth it . I enjoy walking into the living room and watching nature in the backyard. With the window in, we were able to finish up all the J-channel and start on the siding. It took us a total time of two weeks to complete the entire lower half of the garage front and back. We decided to wait for the upper area until we build the new deck for the rental. So 4 full days(weekends only) and the rest a couple of hours after work each night. I have to say I did kind of feel useless in the process, I mainly carried boards and helped install. I also helped the J-channel install that ran along the waterboard, but anything that required a cut I was no help at all.
Next up on the home front is finishing up the sidewall (shingles ) and we're beginning a huge excavation project. We will be cutting in a driveway to the new garage, removing the existing island that is located in the middle of the driveway when you first pulled in and lowering the entire grade of the front of the property.This is going to make an enormous difference to our property. Once that's finished up we will start on decks back and front. It will make the world of difference to have easier access to the rental both for us and sub-contractors.
So as stress levels go I think nothing stresses me out quite as much as measuring,choosing and ordering windows/doors. On our existing house, we had Andersen 400 series in dark bronze so we knew we would keep with the look for the addition and garage. Because we had changed the number of windows/door and sizes along the way I was nervous I had given the framers the wrong measurements somehow and we would have to re-frame. We walked around the property to each opening and as my husband yelled out measurements and I kept track of how many we needed of which size, simple right? The doors on the other hand were a struggle. I had to choose three doors. One door used to get into the garage from the exterior and one into our rental upstairs and then one what would eventually be our new entryway into the house. Doors are another story for one there are many different styles, then I had to decide color and glass configuration. Doors are not cheap either so even a base model with no bells or whistles will start around two thousand dollars. Now keeping with my modern farmhouse look I was drawn to french doors instead of a slider. Which is also more expensive. My father once told me I had naturally expensive taste, there could be ten items all the same but I would choose the most expensive and I don't think that has changed much. I found one photo that summed up everything I was looking for. A mix of vertical Board & Batten and shingles for siding
So I started hunting for the right finish on the door. My father in law brought me an Andersen Door and window book and I created a Pinterest board named Addition & Garage and would spend my days searching farmhouse doors. Here are some photos of inspiration After a week or so I looked through my board and realized I was pinning the same door over and over just in different colors. It was a full glass door with what they call two over two because the panes are separated that way.
The hardest decision I had was whether the door was going to be wood or color matched to our windows. Final decision was the door was to be color matched to the windows. I felt this would give a clean look and make a statement against the white siding. The other two doors I chose to match would come primed and I would paint them to match the existing door on our current entry.
Next decision was siding but that wasn't hard at all. From the minute we began this project I already had this decided.I wanted a white vertical Board & batten . Because this is not a typical siding used here on Cape Cod it was not an easy route since people are apprehensive of what they're not familiar with. I had many people along the way say why not just use shingles, or are you sure? but I was sure. 100% sure. For me it was just about finding the company to order it from and choosing the final size of the batten . I decided on a product called Certainteed Cedarboards Rough Cedar 12" in Colonial white and surprise its vinyl! It comes 1 square / box which makes ordering a breeze.
We installed windows first. Everything fit like a glove, it took us two days to install 13 windows. up next were the doors we started on the singles and I was absolutely in love
and then the day came we were finally installing my Andersen french door in dark bronze. It was like Christmas morning for me. We asked a cousin to stop by to help with the lifting because this thing was massive and getting it into place was going to take all hands on deck.
If happiness was a door for me this would be it. We installed the lead pan, lifted the door into place one guy held it while the other installed it and well I couldn't but stand back and admire it all the while snapping some photos of course. Everyday I walk into what will be our new entryway and admire these doors. That tells me I chose right . Siding install and reveal needs it's own post so stay tuned. I'll go through trial and error of installation , nothing quite learning something new!
Alright so with the foundation for the new addition and garage poured and ready we were ready to rock and roll. We used our local building supply company Shelpeys for all our building needs. Not only do we believe strongly in supporting local business' but we enjoy giving our business to companies that give back to the community and Shelpeys is one that goes above and beyond. We were paired with a sales agent that took our plans and gave us a page by page list that is broke down into stages with all materials and cost. It gives you a clear idea of what your build is going to cost with no surprises. Before we started our construction we had a general idea of our entire project budget. Again some people don't have budgets they're renovation is usually set around their wants as opposed to numbers, but sadly we are not those people. Having broken down our project by stages I then was able to get competitive estimates from different companies. Have I mentioned I don't like surprises? I'm also someone who likes to stick to a plan. I mean little variances here and there are good, you need to be flexible when it comes anything really. But usually, when it comes to my budget I'm pretty much on the nail.
Initially, we were going to frame the project ourselves. Then after some thinking and coming back down to earth we realized if we wanted to finish this project within a year there was just no way we could frame it and finish it ourselves ( considering we are both full-time working and only have weekends available. ) We found a builder who gave us an estimate just for framing and we would still take care of the lumber drops and material. This is not very usual, a builder will usually want to order his own stock. For many reasons but some of the main ones being they have their own accounts and receive discounts that they are able to pass onto you, they make sure they have everything that they need when they need it. They can't have a crew standing around with anything to do because the shipment wasn't placed properly and if there is a problem with the shipment/lumber or anything it makes it easier for them to contact the supplier directly in order to perform a return or replace anything that was damaged during shipping
Framing is something you want to invest in. It's the base for your entire project. Making sure everything is square and all measurements are right will ensure a smooth build. When they started framing I can't tell you how great it was to watch something being built before your eyes. Not to mention we've not performed the work ourselves, So I would leave to bring the kids to school, and when I would return the difference was drastic for me. You'll notice that during the framing I made some quick decision changes. Walking around the space on the top of the garage I realized quickly that we had too many windows planned. I would have no wall space to place the wall mounted T.V I had planned. So we removed one window from upstairs and one from the bottom and evenly spaced them apart. The other change I made was the original entryway door was a standard 6-panel door with a side-lite. Watching the framing come together I would stand outside in the driveway and stare at the space in between the existing house and new garage. It was boring and un-inviting it also didn't balance the space out. So instead we opted for an Andersen french door that was color-matched to the existing dark windows. and then balanced it with a window on each side of it and it was the best decision I think we made. Seeing something on paper and in real life is very different, It was also very cool to see the actual size and what your building is going to be. It took two men a week and a half to get it framed but the day they left we were sad, you get used to waking up and seeing them every day, and also it was nice seeing the project take shape so quickly. Another thing I think is super important and I learned from my husband as he was a laborer for many years before becoming licensed and that is thanking the workers that were on-site and not just the one contractor you hired. You have to remember that the general contractor you hired is making the most money, but the individual workers are making an hourly wage, and even if its a small gift certificate for a coffee shop they appreciate this.
with framing completed and our team gone we were up to bat. Windows were ordered and we were waiting for delivery. I could finally stand back and start to get a feel for new space. My creative mind overflowing with ideas and excitement. I don't know if I mentioned this but the space over our garage will eventually be a one-bedroom apartment that we will rent out seasonally with Airbnb, which in itself makes me want to lock myself in the bedroom with a notebook and Pinterest for hours of fun. ( What can I say designing these projects is the cherry on the sundae for me) Stay tuned on window and siding choices... sometimes things are not always what you expect
Do you have that one property that inspires you? A picture or vision from a magazine or t.v show that is exactly what you would do to your dream house? Well, this is mine, I came across it on Pinterest and no matter how many pictures of houses I've seen this is the one that has stuck with me. I guess if I were to have to name it I would call my style modern farmhouse with coastal touches? Our house is not the typical quintessential Cape Cod-style house. If you take a drive around the Cape you will see a cedar shingle siding, white shell driveways, and onion lanterns overhanging the front doors. There is a mix of Captain houses, ranches, and a two-story Capes that people now also use across the country to describe the style of a house. So when I started talking about dark windows, board and batten siding, and a farmhouse porch I'm not always greeting with understanding even from my husband. It took a couple of years and Pinterest for him to start seeing the light of day. I also learned early on two vital things that have probably kept us going this long. Number 1 is only talking about the project at hand. Even if we are doing something simple like staining a deck it's not wise to bring up the next three projects I have going in my head. I think it's when I throw to much at him and bury him he can't see the light and it doesn't make for a great motivator. Number 2 you make them think that doing the project my their idea. Even though I know before I start anything all of the logistics that are involved and how exactly I want the end result to be I will still add a "What do you think or how should we do it? Something about that makes him just as excited about the project as I am.
Last year we decided we were going to build an addition to our existing home. We were initially toying with the idea of buying and flipping a second house to use for a rental property. The rental property market on Cape Cod is very reliable because it's high a tourist destination. At the same time, we struggled because we needed more storage space for all of his "Man Stuff". We figured two birds -one stone we decided on a 28 X 28 Garage with a one-bedroom rental above, along with a 16 X 10 new entrance that will connect the current house to the garage.
Since it's sometimes so hard to just get started I thought I would explain what I went through and the beginning steps of what it's like to get an addition up and running for those of you thinking about managing one yourself.
First thing's first I started by sitting down with the architect to start designing, for this you will need to know at least 80% of what you are looking for. Not knowing what you want in some shape or form will make this an extremely long process and there are so many options available and questions they will ask it will make your head spin and you'll start to second guess why you started this
. Before I met with him I had drawn and designed the garage with ideas for the rental that I thought would look good for our house. It took a week's worth of sit-downs to finalize plans. That was because he was able to take my sketch idea and then use the standards for the local residential building code to get things up and running. Some of the big items you need to think about beforehand are the size of the entire structure, location of doors, and possible window placement. He will help you using the RBC (residential building code) & IBC ( International building code) which is the standard of what is "allowed" and with their computer-generated programming your design will come alive right before your eyes. It's pretty amazing actually. Your 2-D rendering can with a click of the mouse become 3D and you're able to even take a tour of the inside of the structure. It will also show an aerial view of your before & proposed structure. Watching something you dreamt up in your head become a reality is probably one of the coolest things you'll experience. It's also super frightening. I was the only one designing it with the Architect so the entire time I'm thinking oh boy what if Tucker doesn't like this. Thank goodness my husband is easy going and trusts me to make big decisions, but it didn't stop me from thinking things like what happens if we start building and the garage is too small? I just trusted my architect would steer me in the right direction.
When you're happy with the design next up is contacting a land surveyor, he will survey your current piece of land with existing structures, plot the proposed new structure using the dimensions from your architects' plans. You will receive an "existing & proposed" set of plans this can take a little while. So while that was happening I made a call to a local septic company that preforms septic inspections you will need this first before heading to the building department for your permit. Below is a picture of my proposed buildings placement. It allows the town to see if you're within the towns set back requirements from the property lines.
The health department has to sign off making sure your current septic system is compliant and is in good standing order, with their certificate in hand your set of architect plans and your new surveying plans you're ready to head to the building department to get a building permit application...woohoo! Listen as intimidating as it sounds it really isn't, the application itself is very easy to understand, some towns even have it online now and in my experience, our local building department staff is always willing and eager to answer any questions that you might have. It usually takes a couple of weeks for them to review and issue your building permit. After you will get a call that's all set you pay your permit fees, pick up your placard that must be placed in plain view and you're ready to hit the ground running.
So all of these steps vary from town to town and state to state. Before beginning any big project the best place to get any information is right from the source so head to your local town office and talk to the building department, most of the time they have a check-list & requirements pack that can help you get your project started.
I couldn't tell you how excited I was to begin. Another thing to keep in mind is while the town is reviewing for your permit it's a good idea to make yourself a list of all the contractors that you will need for this job and start contacting them. Many contractors are booked months out, but connecting with them and sending them a copy of the architects' plans either hard copy or via-email they can give you an estimate of cost and an approximate date they will be available. Having already done this once I had the permit I was able to give a call to my excavation company and let them know I had the permit and was ready to go. We never set any dates of when this addition needed to be finished since we knew we would be doing most of the work ourselves. There are things you can't control, like the weather or sickness we knew we would just try the best we could. When the excavation company showed up and started the dig for footings & foundation it was a dream that was quickly becoming reality and for the kids better than anything that was on T.V. And so it begins......
I didn't grow up in a house where HGTV was always on or with a mom that changed pillow covers out with the seasons. Our house stayed most of my life, for the most part, looking the same. I remember in my mid-teens my mom decided to freshen up the kitchen by painting it pink (It was the 90's) came home and started painting. The only problem she started painting mid-afternoon and well into the night by the time she finished it was probably around midnight. We all woke up the next morning to a kitchen that looked like dusty rose had thrown up everywhere. They re-painted the next day and that was the end of that. I did, however, have a dad who was a builder, he built most of the houses in our small little town including the one I grew up in. Watching my mom and dad become a team to build a house together from the ground up was something at the time I didn't think much of. Seemed like that's what all families did. Not until later in life when my husband and I took on our first rehab/renovation project together did I understand. It's not for the faint of heart or the faint of a marriage. I think it's easily underestimated in today's T.V world which will show an entire house renovation or flip in 30 minutes and we are filled with before & after images that make it seem like the process is so seamless. When I started this blog I knew right away I wanted to steer clear of projecting only those images instead my hope is this more of a process blog, what it's like working day to day, waking up in the morning in a house with no flooring or bathrooms or walls or sometimes hot water because been there done that.
This life isn't for everyone and I have some days where I think it's not for me either. I will be in the middle of finishing something important and will have kids whining at my feet for snacks or dinner, three loads of laundry stacked up, and a garden that needs attention. Some days I wake up to three kids in the bed and that's where I want to stay for the day watching movies and cuddling and let me tell you a little secret ...I do just that. In the beginning I can remember pushing to get the project finished. Now I know there is always tomorrow and it's better to quit while you're ahead. It's not an easy road by any means, but it's a rewarding one. Appreciating things you probably would have never notice in the past. As a realtor especially having the opportunity to walk through so many people's homes and I now take the time to really look around. How do they decorate, what finishes did they choose what colors are the walls? These are things that people put their hearts and souls into to express themselves it's not always a total house rehab sometimes it's paint colors, bathroom curtains, and light fixtures but even minor changes have a process. I believe what the ultimate end goal comes down to is turning a house into a home, how we get there is half the fun.
I have no idea where this love came from or when it began or why it fills the space in my head daily. I think there's a part of me that likes to challenge myself and whether it's making cushion benches or re-designing a bathroom the idea that I'm capable of anything I put my mind to sets my soul on fire. I also go back to my childhood and remember my mother no matter how large the task always at least tried to do it herself without asking for help. I'm sure as I sit here some of that is now in me I'm just lucky enough to have a husband that believes in my crazy ideas with a willingness to try new things because even through all the hard times I don't see us slowing down anytime soon.
Ever since we started the reno I had been itching to try a super easy and simple way to achieve high wainscotting that I came across on Pinterest. Now on the grand scale of things it came in as not high importance so over the years we pushed it aside. This past winter usually when it gets too cold outside we start making a list of things that need to be done inside. On the very top of my list was the upstairs hallway. Because we chose to move in while the house was under construction we tackled the second floor first so we could have a clean living area. We removed all the carpets, repaired drywall, and a quick paint job. Initially, we removed the door you see here at the end of the hall and part of the wall above it. It worked well for about 5 years but we knew we wanted to remove part of the wall so that the woodstove heat would be able to travel to the end of the hallway into our master. So we got to it. We had direct access to the attic to make sure no electrical wires were running through this wall to elsewhere in the home. It took us a day to remove the wall between the hall and the stairs, we had two options. One was to remove it completely and replace it with stair balusters. In this case, I would have probably preferred a round or square black iron baluster with a wood rail. The second option and the one we ended up going with was cutting it down to a half wall. The reason we ultimately went this route was a weekend project so the thought of tearing up the wall and having to then patch flooring kind of burst my bubble. and Second I knew the wainscotting would be white and felt it would lighten the space to have more light then dark and because of the limited wall space, I was to unify the area using the batten and board look.
For the board and batten wainscoting, we used 1 X 4 pre-primed pine product that is sold at most lumberyards. We started with the top piece. I didn't measure how high I would like it I simply asked my husband to hold up a piece and told him where I liked it. He then used a level to mark around the entire space and then started with the vertical pieces. First were outside/inside corners we then spaced the others where they made sense visually. I know a lot of DIYers that lay them out perfectly, and it looks great. For my space, I want it to look natural and all that matters is if you're happy with the result. We will be doing this again in our future mudroom and on a longer wall I will lay them out evenly. As you can see where the ceiling was removed left a hole that had to be patched so we simply used sheetrock and mud and patched it ourselves. It's not my favorite thing to do and we usually leave that up to the professionals on larger projects. Only because it takes years and years to learn a good technic. Most drywallers it's all they do. They're the only occupation is installing sheetrock, mudding & taping, sanding, and repeat. Smaller projects are good ways to practice.
After we installed the vertical battens all that was left to do was paint...easy enough, right? Well, wrong to make it look like custom and not cheesy I first had to use white caulking on every crease between the wood and wall. Caulking if you don't know is a painter and DIYers dream tool. It's perfect for sealing cracks around windows, doors baseboards, moldings, and trim. It is flexible and paintable. I prefer to use the ALEX All-purpose Acrylic Latex caulk and buy it cases at a time. I then used a wood spackle for the nail holes let dry and sanded. I'm going to let you know a secret about me, chances are no matter the project I don't use a primer. If I added up all the hours I've spent painting it would add up to years. Instead, I always use a quality paint such a Benjamin Moore. It will require fewer coats, covers easily, and very easy to clean. In this case, it took two coats and minor touchups and it covered nicely. This may have been the quickest project we turned over but it was top 10 most impactful. I used to walk through the hall to get to the next stop, Now I find myself admiring our hallway every time I walk into it. Up next recessed lighting and a runner we love.
Let's be honest the idea of selling or buying a house is to some stressful in itself. Then add a global pandemic and it seems near impossible, but it's not. Just like many other obstacles we have faced during this pandemic we have also found solutions. Many people buying and selling as we speak it is not impossible it's simply just not business as usual. Currently as we have adapted each state has its guidelines for essential workers and safe social distancing practices. We see things are changing week by week but here are some things that have allowed us to keep everything moving.
Choosing a realtor that you are comfortable with that you trust will help guide you through all of the uncertainty. From my experience the most important thing is helping make the selling or buying experience a positive one above all else. Understanding that most of the time when someone sells or buys a home it's during a big transition in their life. Whether it be expanding because of marriage/kids or downsizing for retirement ,choosing the right realtor will allow you to focus on what's important. Click the link below to see properties currently listed and for more help on buying or selling your property:
First thing I have to say is thank goodness you can't smell these stairs through the computer. When we first looked at the property climbing these stairs were almost my breaking point. The carpet was spongy and stained and there was one door at the bottom and the one at the top both with padlocks. I had a small pocket flashlight a could barely see anything but in cases like this it was better that way. All my experience with real estate said "Keep going, huge potential" but everything I've learned from watching Oprah about a women's intuition told me to RUN. The stairs are centrally located right off the kitchen on the right is a small hallway that leads to what they used as a bedroom what was intended to be a living room and the left was what they used as the living room where they had another door leading out to the side of the house. Because the house is entirely electric with no gas hook-up we knew we would eventually be installing a wood stove somewhere in the house for heat back up. I grew up with wood-stoves in Canada and after living in Maine for a couple years my husband fell in love with having them. That being said the closed-in staircase was not ideal because it wouldn't allow for the heat to travel to the second floor.
We removed the carpet, doors and began opening the rest of it up. The post at the bottom was weight-bearing so we had a couple of options we could wrap it with sheetrock and paint, we could wrap it with wood or we could replace it with a post. We ended up replacing it with a 6 X 6 old-growth straight grain fir post my father in law had it leftover from a previous job when I went to take a look I knew right away I loved the look of it. When it comes to interior finishes I enjoy using raw/lightly stained wood products whenever I can for interior finish. It gives the room a sense of warmth and inviting feeling, personally, I enjoy the smell as well pine or cedar reminds me of a cabin in the woods. For the treads we used oak treads because it is a hardwood and super durable, they will withstand years of up and down, and easily cleaned. They were stained before installation with a Minwax stain special Walnut #224. In the background, you'll see that we got rid of the side door and framed it in we used the corner area for our wood stove and the heat rises nicely to the second floor. We used wide pine in the hallway between the kitchen and living room. Lately we've been thinking about opening the other side up as well but that's another day and another project!
I didn't grow up in a house where HGTV was always on or with a mom that changed pillow covers out with the seasons. Our house stayed most of my life, for the most part, looking the same. I remember in my mid-teens my mom decided to freshen up the kitchen by painting it pink (It was the 90's) came home and started painting. The only problem she started painting mid-afternoon and well into the night by the time she finished it was probably around midnight. We all woke up the next morning to a kitchen that looked like dusty rose had thrown up everywhere. They re-painted the next day and that was the end of that. I did, however, have a dad who was a builder, he built most of the houses in our small little town including the one I grew up in. Watching my mom and dad become a team to build a house together from the ground up was something at the time I didn't think much of. Seemed like that's what all families did. Not until later in life when my husband and I took on our first rehab/renovation project together did I finally understand. It's not for the faint of heart or the faint of a marriage. I think it's easily underestimated in today's T.V world which will show an entire house renovation or flip in 30 minutes and we are filled with before & after images that make it seem like the process is so seamless. When I started this blog I knew right away I wanted to steer clear of projecting only those images instead my hope is this more of a process blog, what it's like working day to day, waking up in the morning in a house with no flooring or bathrooms haha been there done that. This life isn't for everyone and I have some days where I think it's not for me either. I will be in the middle of finishing something important and will have kids at my feet asking for dinner, three loads of laundry stacked up, and a garden that needs attention. It's not an easy road by any means, but it's a rewarding one. Appreciating things you probably would have never notice in the past. As a realtor especially having the opportunity to walk through so many people's homes and I now take the time to really look around. How do they decorate, what finishes did they choose what colors are the walls? These are things that people put their hearts and souls into to express themselves it's not always a total house rehab sometimes it's paint colors, bathroom curtains, and light fixtures but even minor changes have a process. I believe what the ultimate end goal comes down to is turning a house into a home, how we get there is half the fun.
I look around my house and see my husband and myself in every choice we made. This house now represents our personality and who we are. I needed our house to be comfortable , for people to walk in and be able to make their selves at home. To sink into a chair and enjoy a book or grab a pillow on the ground and play a game of UNO. There are many other ways of renovation. I have friends who have a contractor who get a set of options and choose what they like best. At the end they move into a house that was pieced together by choices , those choices made it a home. Don't think for one second building a home that way is any less stressful either. I do look back and see how far I have personally come. My style and taste has changed is ever changing , I've learned you don't have to be just one thing and stay with it you're allowed to change your mind whenever you want. I've learned to trust the process and in every renovation there are steps whether you know it or not, not having patience or skipping steps will result in wasted time and wasted money. Last most important thing is Don't settle. If you settle you will never be 100% satisfied. There were many projects I knew that I wanted and I wouldn't budge , I was willing to put in any work that was needed to figure out how to make it happen but they wouldn't have turned out half as good if I would have just settled on the easy route.
Cape Cod like most places starts to come alive in the spring. Today we woke up and started with virtual school meetings, house cleaning & laundry. It's been raining here for what seems like forever (all week) and although April showers bring May flowers the kids start to get anxious like they have ants in their pants but with attitudes. The oldest will start picking on the youngest, they start getting whiny and restless. We finished half their daily schoolwork (about all they could sit for) and I told them to get dressed we're going for a ride. We headed to our favorite place to let off steam, the beach. On the Cape we're surrounded by 559.6 miles of pristine coastline,130 beaches, and a 40-mile stretch of unspoiled sandy beaches on an outer beach called Cape Cod National Seashore. It was low tide and dreamy the air was crisp but the sun was warm on our skin. The kids took their shoes and socks off and ran around in circles on the flats. I sat down on the moist sand and my youngest sheltered himself from the wind in my lap. It's exactly what we needed a little Vitamin D and a glimpse into the summer to come. Where our weekends are filled with boat days and campfires. Outdoor showers and ice cream for dinner. Music in The Port ( Harwich Port tradition), BBQs and 4th of July celebrations, and all of the above surrounded by family and friends and hugging, lots of hugging. It's coming I just know it is. For now we are just living for these little time outs.
When you walked into the front door on the left-hand side was a small 10 X 10 room that had laundry hookups. I knew right away it would have to go. The kitchen itself was on the smaller side I knew I wanted to eventually incorporate an island to balance out the shortage of storage in kitchen cabinets but no matter how I mapped it we couldn't gain kitchen space. As for the new entryway I knew we needed storage for shoes, jackets & possible space for charging devices. It was a non-structural interior wall so down it came, we were lucky there were no electrical wires and the plumbing was easy enough to re-route. The only issue was inside the first two feet of the wall was the bathroom vent pipe that ran straight up. After we finished the demo, with the new-found knowledge I had to re-work the initial plan. Instead of my original plan of kitchen cabinets extending into the new entryway I would have to start them where they started originally and instead of cutting the wall back to two feet we rebuilt it at the same depth of a standard lower cabinet. I knew we were going to build a bench of some sort, something I could plop kids on to take on and take off their shoes with ease, somewhere to place daily shoes and then somewhere I could store seasonal footwear without it looking like a total mess all the time. With the new wall we wrapped the bench around the corner to create an L-shape. Left side lifts and has two large baskets for seasonal storage and the right side has two small areas to keep everyone's shoes.
Initially I was going to use the wall space for either a family picture or coat hooks. But let's get real for a minute when it comes to kids and their "stuff" added to all your "Stuff" and your husbands "Stuff" there is nothing we need more than storage. So Pinterest to the rescue, I found a basket storage idea where they used it as the bench itself and added a cushion to the top and I thought to myself why not build this right into the wall. I reached out to my father in law who happens to be a retired builder and master craftsman( once again how lucky am I) to pick his brain about the best way to go about this. He took measurements and within a couple weeks he returned with the unit pre-assembled, all we had to do was get it in place and screw it to the studs. My husband and I later finished the look with some crown molding & used a 3/4 MDF beadboard for the backing. I made the cushion seats myself ( buying them custom was super expensive)which I will post in a quick and easy tutorial and my baskets are from IKEA -Knipsa $14.99/each I use the baskets for more seasonal gear and I rotate. Lower level would be Summer hats, sunglasses, summer bags, baseball caps & bubbles. Upper-level winter hats, gloves, mittens and scarfs. As the seasons change I will switch them for easy accessibility.
When it comes to our home renovations my husband and I do all the work ourselves except for electrical & plumbing (we let the experts handle those). I'm ridiculously lucky that he goes along with whatever plan or DIY I have cooked up and that he's able to speak Pinterest. After we closed on the house we tore it apart. We had to remove anything that was rotten or could make us sick which was 90% of what was in the house. We started demo (Tuckers favorite) it took three adults two weeks and four 40 yard dumpsters and we were left with a shell(no insulation just framing and siding ) From there I created a plan (#1 thing I tell everyone before they start a project-MAKE A PLAN) you need to know the flow of your house. What are you looking for? What rooms do you use for what? What kind of storage do you need? What kind of furniture are you working with? We didn't we had to work with we had sold our previous home fully furnished and only had daily necessities. Since we were living in the shell of the house while we were renovating it we had to do everything in stages. So we "cleaned up" the second floor for our sleeping area while we worked on the first floor. The most important thing to us was after a day of hard and disgusting work was to be able to have a hot shower and relax in a clean area with the kids. Every night when the kids got to bed I would get to work planning the next days' to-do list. Tucker at the time owned his own construction company in between projects for other people this was his full-time job. I bar-tended nights, a typical day for us would be waking up with kids 6:30, breakfast 7 AM, attack a project, stop to feed kids a million snacks, lunch 12 PM, finish up project & clean up 3 PM, shower and get ready for work, make dinner, leave 3:45 PM, get home from work 2-3 AM.....next day starts all over again.
Did we enjoy this? Not every single day. Were we exhausted? Absolutely. But when I look back I think to myself I was incredibly lucky to work next to my husband while he taught me something new every single day, I was able to stay home each day with my kids and not worry about them missing me while they slept while still providing a great income for my family. I was also super lucky that the people I worked for and with were so understanding. If I was late because of feeding my kids dinner, if one of them were sick or had a birthday they never questioned it always just supportive.
The house was a mess and we knew how far we had to go. When you take an entire house renovation on yourself it's important to not look at the whole picture. Break down each step, each project. When you complete them...CELEBRATE! I still do this. I'll stand back and talk about it, and how beautiful it came out or what a pain in the ass it was and acknowledge the hard work that was put into it.
UP NEXT some of my favorite before and after projects along the way stay tuned!
So why start a blog? When you start anything in life, you should figure out how and why you are doing it. We're in the middle of a global pandemic. I'm a Real Estate Agent and right now I'm at home with three kids -a preschooler, kindergartner and a first grader . My husband is still working full-time because he is deemed essential and to be perfectly honest... it's terrifying.
We have always hoped for the best and prepared for the worst , but this not anything we've ever been through before so we have no idea how to prepare. We've been focusing our energy more than ever on our home but that's nothing new. When we first bought our now forever home it was bank-owned, condemned and uninhabitable - more of an abandoned house than a home. I can't remember driving up to it and at the time we had a newborn and a two year old. My husband said says " I'll go first " so he headed in with the realtor quickly came out and said "Absolutely not" .We had previously discussed when we started this house search that we wouldn't take on a full house rehab again. We had just finished renovating a 3000 sq ft 1800's farmhouse in Maine and I think he was looking for a "Needs a fresh coat of paint" type of house . So I began to walk through and knew right away the scope of this house, total gut job, right down to the studs.
I don't even think I walked through the entire second floor to be honest because after the first bedroom with walls and ceilings covered in chicken poop , I thought for sure someone was about to jump out at me.
I walked past chicken coop room back down the stairs and past the giant black mold carpets and out the door. I sat down next to my two year old exhausted from our day and said " This is a lot" he shook his head up and down and then said "but do you hear how peaceful it is here?" we both looked around not a neighbor in sight and the only sounds were birds. Just like that I looked at the realtor and said " We would like to put an offer in "
Oh ya have I mentioned we're absolutely crazy...but in a good way of course. We closed on the house on our 4th wedding anniversary which happens to be on June 4th. I'm a big believer in signs and I knew it was meant to be.
HI, I'm Meagan -aka Meg, I'm here to share what it's like Living, Working & renovating life on Cape Cod . We're making our house a home one renovation at a time. Home wasn’t built in a day, but the journey is half the fun.