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.