Renovations Begin Part Two

Welcome Back!

So. In addition to the master bathroom, the hardwood floors, the fireplace reface and the cabinet work, we wanted to re-jigger a couple of things.

I doubt anyone out there could look at this front porch and not find it cringeworthy…

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Ted never found it as objectionable as I did, but he agreed it really wasn’t very attractive, and since my solution was a fairly inexpensive re-face, he succumbed to my whining and voila!

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this is before it was even grouted!


Here’s a close up of it, once it was grouted…

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Quelle improvement, yes?  Yes!

Meanwhile, back in the house… there is a closet/cupboard thingie that our sellers were using as a pantry.

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Doesn’t look too bad, until you actually open the doors and have to deal with ugly, awkward, in-the-way bi-fold doors. Bleah.

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Add this to the list of things Ted didn’t really find as objectionable as I did, factor in some more whining on my part, and voila!

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The perfect solution.  A barn door over the shelving, that slides right across the doorway to the stairs when open. 

Stairs that used to have a baby gate that I ripped off the wall the first day we moved in (no babies have ever lived in this house, so don’t ask us…). 

Here’s a pic of the hardware when it first went up, before the door was added…

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Meanwhile, outside the house, Tim the Painter was busy making all the goofy add ons the same color (the ramp our sellers put in and the stairs we put in).

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Big improvement there, too, once the shine wore off that bright white- which didn’t take very long.  :)

We had a dumpster delivered to hold all the garbage that came out of the house.  The guys working on it took the old shower stall, bathtub, vanity, doors and toilet, but all the tile, carpet, wood and stuff went into the dumpster.

We filled it.  I forgot to take a picture of it full but use your imagination…


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And now all that’s left to show you is the master bath renovations! I don’t have all the pictures for it yet, so sit tight and I’ll be back with Part Three before you know it!

The Renovations Begin…

Ted went back to Jakarta and I stayed behind in Alabama and we braved a 7 week separation in order to take care of the two biggest renovation projects on our list (replace ~1000 sq ft of flooring with hardwood, gut the Master Bath) plus take care of a little pile of smaller projects.  I definitely got the better end of that stick… even living through major renovations couldn’t dampen my love of this house and this lake- and now the people who helped me in so many ways to get it all done, from the pest control to the insurance.

[As always, you can click each picture to make it bigger]

The house had, inexplicably, three different floor coverings on the main floor- a whitewashed engineered wood, grey carpet, and grey tile.

They were laid at odd angles, had nail pops, stains, and a bad case of ugly.  So job #1 was to pull up everything that would not eventually be replaced with new carpet and put down oak hardwood floors. 

Since all our cabinets and trim were glossy white paint, we chose a cherry stain for the oak.

Here’s the floor we objected to:

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Note carpet “shaping”. The tiny bit of floor on lower left is engineered wood.

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This is the engineered wood- entry, hall and kitchen. You can’t see the nail pops but trust me, they are there.

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Don’t ask us. Someone apparently had a plan, or some sort of logic, or maybe just a tic…

It made no sense to us, we didn’t like it, and it had to go.

First we had to remove the hideous track lighting/speaker setup…

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…and then paint the ceiling and walls. 

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The painter tore down the tracklights, masked the cabinetry and painted the ceiling a fresh white.

Then my new best friends (plumber/electrician/carpenter/handymen) came in and ripped all the ugly floors up and tore the boring white ceramic tile off the fireplace…

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The fireplace as it looked when we were househunting…

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And finally they painted the walls a color called ‘stepping stone’ which made the white window trim look brand new!

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Now we were finally ready for some beautiful new hardwood…

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In and around the floor work, the guys were putting slate tile up on the fireplace and converting the TV shelves to bookshelves…

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So we ended up with a painted room, new wood floors, a re-faced fireplace and hearth, and re-purposed shelving. 

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It was messy, dusty, loud, and painfully slow, but they got it done.  Mostly.  We are still missing the wood trim around the hearth, because it has to be milled and wasn’t high on the priority list, so…

If you are enjoying the renovation narration, stick with me and I’ll take you through the rest in digestible chunks.  

If you aren’t, I totally understand and I hope you will come back when I switch from “getting ready to move in” to “life on a lake in Alabama”.

It promises to be a colorful one if the last two months are any indication.  :)

Lake Perks

Something I’ve always loved about being on a lake is the morning fog when the air is colder than the water…

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I was up at 2am last night for various unimportant reasons,  and it seemed uncharacteristically dark outside.

Usually I can see lights in yards around the lake, reflected moonlight, just… light- however distant or faint.

So last night I had to investigate this new dark and I went out on the deck in the (literally) freezing cold.

I couldn’t see the lake.  I couldn’t see my railing!  The fog was close and thick and moving and it was blocking out all the lights on the lake.

And absolutely silent.

Then I looked up and 5 feet above my head was sharp, clear, black sky filled with thousands of stars.

I stood there and watched the fog swirl until the cold seeped too far into my skin.  It was like standing on a cloud.

Now you know why it will be worth visiting us in the fall.  :)

The Work Begins…

Obvious statement #1       We have a lake house!

Obvious statement #2       We should go down to the water!

Not so fast, my friend.

Small problem…

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Let me digress a little.

Our new house is about 15 years old, and we bought it from the people who built it.  Their names are George and Judy so we call them the Jetsons.

The view from our deck is awesome.  It is what causes people to come to our very ordinary home and say “This is a beautiful house!”.

It isn’t.  It’s a vinyl clad box with no windows on the north side at all.

But from everywhere in and around our house what you see is lake and stone cliffs and trees by the lake and more lake, so people give the actual house a pass and declare it ‘beautiful’ because of our view.  Go ahead, click on it for full screen awesomeness.

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We assume this was the draw for the Jetsons.

Because while we do not understand people who can live right on top of all this watery beauty and not need to partake of it, that is exactly what the Jetsons did.

Look, but don’t touch.

Yeow!  Pure torture for the people of my tribe.

So we are currently having steps built down (24 ft) to the water’s edge where we will be installing a dock next spring.

Here is the area we have chosen to sacrifice to the stair gods…

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and here we go….

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That’s Kevin, my contractor, inspecting the progress.

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Next spring, our beautiful new floating dock will attach to this landing and we will be 100% water accessible. Yay us!

DSCF1146…and you can’t see it here, but directly to the right, tacked to a tree ——> is our dock permit!

So far, so good!

Begin at the Beginning. We buy a house.

Retire? Are you crazy? We are still young!

Okay, we are just starting to be old.

Shut up. We are not retirement age.

But…

…the serious, responsible, practical boy I fell in love with started planning his retirement 4 minutes after starting his career and now the much less serious, still responsible, practical man I married is soon going to be ready and able to leave behind the joys of corporate America.

So we are retiring in about 18 months and we had to figure out where to do that. 

We have never chosen our location before.  

Not once in 35 years.

It has always been dictated by choice of school or by what cities and countries the company was offering, but never have we been faced with the entire planet and had to answer the question, “Where are we moving to?” without any input from outside entities.

Much thinking, planning, emotion, illogic, practicality, wishful thinking, magical wishing, and blind optimism finally led us to the place that made us smile and shake our heads at our own stubborn refusal to see the obvious.  

We are going home to the place we almost never had a chance to experience… the Deep South. 

Many years, 3 cities and 2 countries ago, we had the great good luck to move to rural Mississippi.  In our current sum total of 15 homes in 11 cities 6 states and 4 countries we have never felt so welcomed, so at home, and so much a part of the local fabric as we did almost immediately in Brookhaven Mississippi. 

So for House #16 we began to search the lakes of Mississippi because having a home on a lake was our one retirement requirement.

Turns out the lakes that suited us in size and condition in Mississippi did not welcome motorized vessels, which would put a serious crimp in the water skiing, tubing, and general watery transport.  

So we looked east to Alabama which shares a culture with Mississippi, not to mention temperate climate, low taxes, and a seriously good college football program. 

We found Lake Lewis Smith in the Northwest part of the state.  A pristine 21,000 acre lake with 500 miles of shoreline run by Alabama Power that’s spectacularly deep (almost 300 feet in places) and just waiting for us to take up residence. 

Then we began the house hunt.  

Online.

We waded through cabins, homes, fixer uppers, and really creative pictures and descriptions that ultimately had nothing to do with the actual property for sale. 

After looking for almost a year, we put a canary in our mineshaft: my sister agreed to make a four day visit to the local environs to look at some of the houses we thought could be suitable- since we are 12,000 miles away and weekend house hunting is beyond our abilities right now. 

She doggedly visited a list of more than 10 homes for us.  

As important, she explored the little towns and back roads that make up our little corner of Alabama heaven and pronounced them just peachy- a reliable assessment given that she found Mississippi just as terrific as we did, much to her surprise. 

Fast forward a few months to our latest trip to the U.S.

Looking at available homes for sale including two of the ones my sister found, wishing we could find something just perfect

(because retirement is coming up fast!)

and hoping we wouldn’t

(because retirement isn’t coming up fast enough!). 

…because if we found one we would have to buy it and then figure out what to do with it until Ted’s actual retirement date, which is still down the road all the way to mid 2015. 

And of course, the House Gods were laughing at us as they have been wont to do over the years, and in the middle of day 2, house number 12, we found it. 

Our choice of country, state, city and house.  On a two lane country road with 250 feet of water frontage, much of it lined with solid rock. 

We looked at each other, rolled our eyes, scoured the house for fatal flaws, held hands and jumped. 

On August 23, 2013 we closed on what we hope will be the last home we ever buy. 

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