Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Designing with my Daddy

I'm sure we all remember the age old question, "What do you want to be when you grow up?". Well I was the child that liked to dance to the beat of my own drum and I didn't want to do what everyone else was doing. Pretty much every woman in my family is or was a teacher so obviously I was not going down that path. My father is an architect and I was not the most artistic child so that was also out of the running. When I arrived at my freshmen orientation for the University of Tennessee, I went to the shortest line because I was trying to get to dance team practice. The line happened to be for the College of Communications and I later found out that my Public Relations major required the least amount of math, so I was all set! It wasn't until I met Chris and began working for HGTV that I realized my passion for design. I always enjoyed decorating and would take a lot of time covering the details. This was my way of making where ever I was living feel like home since I moved around quite a bit after college. I chalked it up to me being OCD about living in clutter and liking all my stuff to have a place. Now looking back, it was because I had an eye for design and loved putting the pieces of each room together. It would have been nice to realize this when I was trying to decide what I wanted to be when I grew up, but I guess better late than never!

I remember when I was younger asking my father if he would design a house for me one day. He always laughed and said 'Only if the price is right!' Growing up I watched my father design homes and renovate spaces, including our home. He has so many amazing ideas and I was able to see the best go into our home over the past 30 years. My parents bought their house when I was born and have slowly renovated every room. There was a period of time where I lived with my grandmother while my room was being renovated into a guest room with a walk in closet. Side note-I am an only child and yes I got a walk in closet. :) The carpenters, Bobby and Ronnie, are part of our family and there are definitely photos of me growing up with them at our house during some point of every year.
Finally, this summer my dad finished the outdoor space and with only a few pieces left to fine tune, I think the house will finally be finished. Although, I did hear my mother planning her master bath remodel so I guess the cycle will begin again. I always swore I would not live in a construction zone since that's what I grew up with, but seeing my parents house now, it was totally worth it and inspires me to have a home that my family can grow into. I now understand why it took my father so long, because he wanted it to be perfect and he didn't skip out on any detail. I'm quickly learning just how many options there are and how many decisions have to be made. Time should definitely be taken to ensure you will be happy with the final product.

When Chris and I got married and I moved to Cape Cod, we began our life together in his home that he bought from his father right before we were engaged. It is a beautiful, traditional Cape Cod summer house that was built in the late 1800's. We later found out it was a catalog home by Sears and Roebuck. Chris's parents added a beautiful kitchen and covered porch to the home when they bought it. When we became the owners, we knew it would need some updating to suit our needs and the needs of our future family. So I sat down with my dad and we began the design process.

Over the course of two years....yes we have been planning a LONG time.....we went through plans for a renovation that would begin with lifting our existing house and digging out a full basement. The original house was built right on the sand with very little supporting underneath. It has stood through blizzards and hurricanes so clearly they were doing something right back in the day. However, the house was sinking in the sand and we could roll a marble across the floor with the tilt that was going on. It wasn't insulated since it was originally built as a summer cottage and wasn't used in the winter. There was a lot we needed to do to bring the house up to code and into this century! We wanted a master bedroom, bathroom and closet upstairs, so that was planned to be the addition on the back while just gutting the front and updating the interior. Pretty basic, right? Well, fast forward to present day and the old house is completely gone. Yup, you read correctly! We tore the entire house down and we are starting from scratch, sort of. After planning and talking and meeting with builders it came to our attention that it would be more cost and time effective to just tear down and start over. You never know what you are going to find when you open walls that were built in the 1800's and I didn't want to take the risk. We loved the design of the house and wanted to keep the integrity of the Cape Cod style, so while we are tearing down and building new, the design is actually staying the same as it would have with a renovation. The biggest difference will be that building new will allow us to have higher ceilings for my tall husband and his very tall family. We will now have peace of mind in knowing every detail that is going into the foundation, framing and insulation. This will be better for the long run and I am so happy with our decision. My hope is that our grandchildren and great grandchildren will be able to enjoy this home one day so we need it to be done correctly the first time around!

This has been so much fun to do with my dad and it really makes the house so much more special for us. I will always remember this process and I will appreciate the little things in our new home that my dad came up with that I never would have thought about. He is a details man! I'm very lucky to have his expertise and help through this process. There are so many horror stories about construction, but I feel confident that we have the best of the best working for us and this is going to be a fun and very enjoyable process. Stay tuned as we build and design....lots of pictures and details to come!

Here is the before shot......

Watch it come down...crazy how quickly this process is!

Now we are left with a blank slate......

I can't wait to see what this turns into!!!!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Spring Cleaning-Fresh and Fun!!

The sun is finally shining and while I am thrilled to be able to go outside, I need to get the inside of the house organized. It's time to clean out the closets, get rid of unnecessary items, and put away those winter coats until next season. Today I will take you through my plan of action to get the house ready for summer and visitors.

Sometimes I have a hard time parting with clothing and especially shoes, but it's such a waste of space to hoard items that you haven't worn in years. My rule of thumb is if it wasn't worn during the previous season and it's still in the closet then it should go. So when I enter my summer section and find pieces that were never worn last summer, they will go to Goodwill. They deserve to find a home where they will be worn and loved, not stuck in a closet year after year.
For my larger items, like boots, sweaters and winter coats, I prefer to pack these away in plastic bins for safe keeping. If you have a basement or storage space tuck these items away until next winter. To keep them fresh add a cedar block or hang on cedar hangers. My parents are lucky enough to have a cedar closet in the basement and I hope to add this to my home one day. But until then, I will use a pack similar to the photo below. You can get these at Target, Container Store or Bed, Bath and Beyond for $10. Stick them in your storage bins or add them to your drawers. They will absorb moisture and repel insects.

Dust Removal
Before you turn on those ceiling fans, make sure you remove the dust from the top of the fan. An easy way to do this without buying a bunch of fancy dusters is by using old socks. My dryer is always eating socks and I am left with a handful of mismatched styles. Make a pile as you clean out the closet and use them to quickly wipe down the fan blades and blinds. Put one on each hand with some dusting spray and quickly wipe everything down.

Homemade Cleaners
In an attempt to get rid of clutter in my bathroom and under the kitchen sink, I am making my own multi-purpose cleaning spray this year. I am also trying to clear all the toxic mess out of our house so making your own allows you to know exactly what you are spraying in your home. Distilled vinegar has a high acidity so it is perfect for killing mold, bacteria and germs in every part of your home. There are many different recipes so choose what scent you prefer, but all are basic and easy to make.  My favorites are lemon, orange, grapefruit or lavender.

For an everyday spray, boil white distilled vinegar and pour over citrus peels in a canning jar. Allow to sit for a couple of weeks or speed up the process by soaking in a water bath as you would when canning vegetables. Leave it sealed overnight. Pour the vinegar through a strainer into a spray bottle and add water. Depending on the size of your bottle, I recommend 1 cup water to 2 cups vinegar. This is all natural and non toxic so safe for kids and animals to drink. Probably won't taste very good, but it won't hurt them. For harsher cleaning, use baking soda. This is great for clogged drains, disposals, refrigerators, microwaves, ovens, dishwashers and washing machines. Mixtures of baking soda and white vinegar can clear the cloudiness from your glassware, clean buildups from tea and coffee makers and polish brass.

Use just straight white vinegar for cleaning showers and toilets. You can also spray vinegar around door openings to repel ants or leave a bowl on the countertop to get rid of fruit flies. This stuff is amazing and we should all just be cleaning with white vinegar solutions instead of toxic cleaners that cost way more than a bottle of vinegar and box of baking soda. For more information and uses, go to  They have 1001 uses listed so I'm sure we can all benefit from the ideas there!!

Now I'm off to tackle the closet while my cleaning solution is marinating. Hope this will help to make your spring cleaning a bit more fun!!