A few days ago, I wrote a guest post for Courtney Price’s pretty corner of the interwebs, about the luxurious kitchen designed by Castle Homes for the Nashville Symphony Show House. It is huge and beautiful and practically perfect in every way. It is a design dream realized and Courtney’s readers, I know because of traffic spikes to see the rest of the house, thought so too. The whole house is exceptional, especially in its simple beauty.
After taking a hike around the neighborhood this weekend, I decided it’s time for me to come clean with you about getting my own house in order. I blame it on Thomas Jefferson:
Gah. Literally. Etched in stone.
I came upon his words while
trespassing strolling the tree-lined brick pathways of a tony all-boy’s prep school near my current place of residence. Coincidentally, it is also the alma mater of my former next door neighbor’s son and his friends, who erected this admirable personal hygiene “art” installation on our property in 1997.
I get that.
20 years of family life adds up to a lot of, well, a lot.
What? It’s a not weird thing to do.
It is a massive Chinquapin Oak that dates back to the Revolutionary War and I am truly grateful for time spent as it’s steward. It so old and big, it needs to be on the National Tree Registry and would get a tree hugging mugging if I could wrap my arms around it right now, but I can’t. It belongs to a new family. They kept the pool, too.
After more than 31 years together, we are an old family now and, in truth, our old house had outgrown us. As our three children grew up, moved out and had kids of their own, the house became way too big for the two of us. Rooms and hallways that used to be filled with arguments, accusations–Mom, he looked at me!–laughter, and love now echoed with silence.
When the Hubs and I were home alone we lived on the main floor, rarely venturing upstairs or into our teen dream basement. On more than one occasion, we texted each other from opposite ends of the house. It was a ridiculous thing to do and, coupled with our inability to maintain a property of this size anymore, we realized it was time to stop passing each other in the hallway, let go of the past and step into our future.
On closing day, Hubs and I realized we forgot to put in a change of address with the post office, so after signing our part of the paperwork we headed out to the old house to put a forwarding request in the mailbox.
It was a spectacular Spring day, and as we pulled in the driveway of the house that isn’t ours anymore I was struck by the beauty of the house and yard, so I snapped a quick shot to share on Instagram.
It sure is pretty.
As I went to put the post office form in the mailbox I received a sign from the universe. I later posted it on Facebook:
I swore I wouldn’t go back but, after closing on our old house yesterday, I realized the one thing I’d forgotten to do was forward the mail. We ran out to grab it and put a forwarding card in the mailbox (we don’t have Internet yet, so I can’t do it online). While I was checking to make sure none of it belonged to the new owner, I dropped some of it on the ground. I bent down to pick it up and my cellphone fell out of my pocket and on to the street. When I bent down to get it, the door to the mailbox came open, dropped down and hit me in the head. Seems the house was ready to get rid of me too! #consciousuncoupling #buhbye
Coming Clean:: I rarely shared my design work on the interiors with you guys…Y’all. The only people who saw it were house guests and family. I didn’t want it published because to me, Dirty Truth, it was never finished and it also felt highly personal. A lot happened in that house, during years spent navigating the day-to-day adventures of raising three spirited young souls or tending to the delicate dance that is marriage.
Over the last 20 years, we weathered a few storms, a once-in-a-thousand year flood, and two Cat 5 hurricanes. Storms are a normal part of life, the flood was a climatological anomaly, and the two hurricanes? Well, they were man made and nearly destroyed us.
They pushed us in to creating a “new normal,” and it was a push we didn’t know we needed. We made decision to view the move as an opportunity to make positive changes in our lives…a glorified Third Act, if you will.
We needed a place to live during this third act and, after taking time off, I needed a place to reignite my design career, so we purchased a 1940 challenge I mean cottage, well maintained but never updated. A full gut job is needed to remove asbestos and lead paint, rewire and replumb, and bring the layout and finishes into the 21st Century. It’s a big job, so for now, we are holed up in temporary digs.
Fair warning: Some of the images will be filled with dirt and debris. Remodeling is never pretty in the middle.
With the new house, I am going to share my design plan and selections for the interiors with you on a weekly basis. Design and writing occupy the same space in my brain, but I’m making a commitment to see you here on Wednesday’s to share the process and progress, and sometimes the lack thereof.
It’s going to take some time, planning, money, patience and perseverance, so we are going to be meeting here for a while. Brace yourself.
It’s also going to require the help of some sponsors (CALL ME!!! And by call I mean email.), a lot of elbow grease, some hazmat suits, and a sense of humor.
To whet your appetite, let’s start with a video tour of the kitchen, as is. It’s 28 seconds long, so you’ve got time to watch it. It would’ve been shorter, but I did two 360º turns to give you time to time to appreciate the difference between the Symphony House dream space and…well, this:
In the past, I’ve been accused of wearing rose-colored glasses. As a designer, this isn’t my first reno-rodeo, but it’s been a long time since I’ve undertaken a whole house remodel for myself. Rid me of my rosy outlook by sharing your experiences in the comments.
I love remodeling horror stories, especially when they aren’t mine.
Be sure to sign up for updates and follow the #sdgcottage progress on Instagram and Twitter too. I promise, there are “before” photos you don’t want to miss and, hopefully, there will be “afters” that reignite my idling design career. I’m good, but forgot that for a little while. Now that the man made hurricanes have passed, it’s my time to step into the sun and shine again.
Come with me? Say yes. Bring on the love!