To Google and Beyond

Hey y'all. Haven't heard from me in a while? I have a good excuse. I've been trying to find the end of the internet. There's something you should know about me. If there are 317 pages of cement floor tiles, I'm not content to look at 11 or 12... I must see ALL THE CHOICES. This is a problem when you're not just picking new countertops or backsplash. I'm picking every single finish in my home from floor to ceiling! Plus, I'm the girl that can change my cocktail order three times before the waiter leaves the table. I can remember being in high school at the 7-11 in front of the wall of sodas and Snapple and driving my girlfriends crazy with my indecision on what I would drink that particular afternoon. It's annoying, I know. Why not get help from a professional you ask? Well, because I'm super opinionated about style and nobody understands my aesthetic better than I do. 

So over the last month or so, while I should have been shopping online for Christmas gifts, I was perusing the internet for bathroom vanities, floor tile, shower tile, and lighting. Lots and lots of lighting. I can't explain the sensation of picking everything for my house and actually having it in the budget, essentially paid for (well, over the next thirty years, but who's counting?). My builder did a really good job of estimating line items for us. For example on appliances I'm $1000 over budget, but with lighting, I'm $1000 under. So far, so good! I have found so many incredibly pretty things for my new house that I wanted to make a post just showing you my purchases. I have bought everything with a specific purpose, but once I actually get into my house and start decorating, I'm sure I'll move things around a bit. 

Let's start with lighting, since that is what I've bought the most of. I have done great with the lighting budget because I found some incredible sales and, I have really inexpensive and funky taste in lighting. I grew up with paper lanterns that looked chic and modern and boho all at the same time, and that formed my taste for lighting that thankfully doesn't cost too much. There was one chandelier I found on Pinterest that I just had to have until I found it was $5000, but luckily I found a pendant I love almost as much for $300, so alls well that ends well!

On the left was the budget busting but I'd buy it if I was a millionaire option. The Fiona by Ro Sham Beaux for $5000. On the right is the very beautiful and funky alternative I found from Serena and Lily for only $300. This will be hung over the hand-me-down Saarinen tulip table from my aunt in the eat in kitchen.

To round out the kitchen lighting we have a few well placed cans, but the island will have three milk glass and brass pendants in medium and one in small over the kitchen sink, all from West Elm for less than $400 total.

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I was very surprised to find incredibly good lighting deals at Pottery Barn. I tend to shy away from PB because it is expensive, and tends to be a little more traditional than my style, but I fell in love with both of these chandeliers and got them for less than $500 for both!

On the left is the Dalila crystal beaded chandelier which I got on sale for only $200, but it is back to it's  normal price of $299. I wanted something in my original living room that was beautiful, old fashioned, and that wouldn't interrupt the view of my double mantel. On the right is the Savannah antique crystal chandelier which I am so in love with, I wish I'd bought two. I found it on Pottery Barn on sale for only $260 from the original $400. It's no longer available so I'm very grateful that I bought it when I saw it on sale! I bought this for the vestibule leading from the original living room into the rest of the house, because Bryan thought it would be cool to put a chandelier there, but I think it may be too pretty for that spot. I might want it somewhere that I can look and admire it.

The next light is somewhere on a container ship in the Pacific. It was shipped at least 5 weeks ago, but has yet to arrive. It is a repurposed fish trap from Thailand, and I hope it I love it. I plan on putting in in the new family room, but we'll see. I feel a little bad about the footprint coming from Thailand, but I guess its not different from all the stuff we by from China. I found it on my go to Etsy- hopefully it won't end up on Regretsy! 

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The last piece of lighting I got is one of my favorites. It will go in the master bathroom so that I can now take a bath with a chandelier. Because if you have a clawfoot tub with out shower curtains crowding it like I had for the last 15 years, then you really should have a chandelier in your bathroom. Right??

Wood bead chandelier from  World Market

Wood bead chandelier from World Market

Along with this fabulous wood bead chandelier are the new vanities, my tub is getting re-glazed inside and out... still not sure if I'm keeping it white or painting the outside a color. As you know, I couldn't have the gorgeous cement tile I picked because the tile guy talked me out of it due to upkeep and location. I have now found a wallpaper I love instead of a statement floor. We are reusing the bead board from Sam's old bedroom for the bathrooms- turning it vertical and a small ledge from about 4 ft down. I will paint it white with this paper above, and likely just a ceramic wood tile on the floor. Perhaps in a herringbone pattern. Our vanities are very inexpensive from Home Depot- nothing I'm crazy about, but I'm happy with the style and size because I was afraid of overpowering my pretty claw foot tub.  

In the new family room, I have a new sectional that I found at the Habitat Re-Store here in Apex. I've always envied a huge sectional, but when your entire house is less than 1500 square feet, it's just not practical. Now I have a huge family room I have to fill up. It's pretty ugly now, but it will be beautiful in a shade of either blue or green (or knowing me, a green-blue) velvet.

Sectional I bought for $105 at the Habitat Re-Store. My awesome upholsterer, Marc at AFC Upholstery,  has quoted me about $1500 including fabric to recover. The sectionals online I was drawn to were in the $8000-10,000 range- not that I ever would spend that!

Sectional I bought for $105 at the Habitat Re-Store. My awesome upholsterer, Marc at AFC Upholstery,  has quoted me about $1500 including fabric to recover. The sectionals online I was drawn to were in the $8000-10,000 range- not that I ever would spend that!

The same week I found the sofa, I found a credenza that I thought I could paint in my teal color I love, but I have now decided on having Steins Furniture in Raleigh lacquer it for me in the color scheme below. I paid $35 for the solid wood credenza and will pay $350 for the lacquering which is well worth me not ruining it with my messy painting habits. This will house the entertainment for the family room.

Also in the new family room, I am putting a hanging basket chair in the corner. I grew up with chairs similar to these at the beach house and they are still my very favorite place to sit in the world. I think this will get great use in the corner with the new windows on both sides.

The hanging chair I got while I was supposed to be Christmas shopping with my girlfriend, Bec. I will love  having this inside the house! The  Swingasan, from Pier 1 .

The hanging chair I got while I was supposed to be Christmas shopping with my girlfriend, Bec. I will love  having this inside the house! The Swingasan, from Pier 1.

The last of my purchases to this point are the counter stools. My very boring (aka timeless) kitchen is going to get jazzed up with some fun gold accents and as always, my ever present indigo. I'm hoping these chairs bridge the gap between traditional and boho style. I believe whole heartedly in mixing styles. If you love things of different styles, don't be afraid to put them together- you'll love them together!

So that's about it for now. I have many many more decisions to make, but feel that the hardest part is done. I have loved every minute of it, even if my girlfriends who have to listen to me obsess over every decision haven't! Thanks for following along and all of your help along the way.  I really do love asking Facebook for advice, even if it's not necessarily what I want to hear!

xo Susie

Happy Camper

Yes, it's true... we are living in a camper in my aunt's backyard. But let me explain why! I have a problem- I'm a sucker for a big-headed dog. When I walk through the animal shelter and see row after row of pit bull mixes it breaks my heart and makes me want to take them all home and cuddle them. I've always wanted my own cow, and a big headed pit bull is about the next best thing. When we were ready to add a dog to our family after the passing of our boxer-pit mix, there was no question that we would be getting another pittie of some variety. The shelters are full of them and they have a very hard time with adoptions because of their horrible reputation. When I walked the aisles of pit bulls four years ago, one face had me at hello.

T-Bone the day we brought him home from the shelter at 5 months old. Somebody had to love him.

T-Bone the day we brought him home from the shelter at 5 months old. Somebody had to love him.

Pit Bull advocacy is one of my passions, but that's not what this post is about. One of the many challenges of owning one of these "vicious" dogs is that most apartment complexes and many HOA's don't allow "aggressive breeds." It's called "BSL" or "Breed Specific Legislation" and usually covers Pit Bulls, German Shepherds, Rotweillers, Dobermans, and Mastiffs. We found ONE short term rental in our town that would allow pit bulls and the rent for a 2 bedroom apartment there for a short term lease was $2400/month. No way, no how was this going to fly. So you see, moving into a camper for six months isn't nearly as crazy as getting rid of my beloved dog.

I originally went on the neighborhood NextDoor site and asked about renting a camper. I found one lady who was interested, but after thinking longer about it, I thought four of us, plus a big slobbery dog might actually trash her trailer, and that would be bad. I started looking on Craigslist and other sites at buying a trailer, instead. It's shocking how much these babies cost! I decided if we spent only $5-6k on one, that would only be a few months rent at the apartment complex and we could make our money back by selling it afterward. Plus, I had just had four closings in one week and I was feeling flush. But what would a trailer at this price point be like? Are they insulated somehow? What about electricity? What do you do with the poop? SO MANY QUESTIONS. 

As I was driving down the dirt road in Sanford to see the used travel trailer, I realized that maybe I should have brought a friend along. I shared my location with my husband and prayed for the best. The first one I saw was better than I expected- it was hideous, but it was pretty clean and didn't smell bad, which was frankly, my number one priority. The second one was nicer looking and in better shape, but smelled like we might all need lung transplants after living in the thing for an extended time. The third one I saw left me feeling like I needed a shower. I convinced my husband to go back out to Sanford with me to check out Trailer #1 and see what he thought. We bought it that day for $5800. Home sweet home!

Before Pictures

My wheels were turning by the time we got back home... how much would it cost to reupholster the furniture? Can you paint over wallpaper? What are these walls made of anyway? How many coats of paint will these ugly fake wood cabinets take to cover? How will I convince Bryan to let me do this? You see, it's not that I need fancy, but I do need pretty. The thought of living in the above environment for the cold gray months of winter was entirely depressing to me. If I had four close walls to look at, I needed it to be cute and fun. Luckily, Bryan is used to my hare-brained ideas and fell for the repeated statements about "resale value" and let me get to work.

I had recently met Marc, with AFC Upholstery in Raleigh, when I popped in there after my plumbing fixtures appointment at Fergusons. I have a storage unit full of furniture that I want reupholstered and he sells great fabric for only $8/yard and has the best pricing on upholstery services in the area (trust me, I've checked everywhere). He makes beautiful transformations on actual furniture, but I knew he also does car interiors and marine upholstery, so I reached out to him about the camper. We agreed on a price, I picked a funky fabric that I thought would be really fun and brought him my cushions, cornice boards and fold out loveseat to get started. 

Meanwhile, I found a couple of camper renovations on Pinterest to figure out how to paint this thing. One woman mentioned painting over the wallpaper, so that gave me the permission I needed to just slap some paint up! Little did I know... I bought the cheapest gallon of primer I could find, a gallon of pure white paint plus primer in satin finish for the walls, and a quart of high gloss paint for the cabinets in tiffany blue. My girlfriend Becca came over on day two and helped me get a lot of the priming done. I should have realized then how hard this was going to be! There are basically no flat walls- it's all window cutouts, outlets, indicators, etc. and tons of cabinets- all very time consuming and not very enjoyable painting. I ended up having to buy another quart of turquoise and used every last drop of both gallons as well. The cabinets took one coat of primer and three of paint, the walls took two of primer and two to three of paint. I was in here painting for two weeks solid- my girlfriend Shannon came to see me unexpectedly during this time and I put her to work with a paint brush, too. (Thanks, Shan.) It was well worth the hard work though! After a very busy few months in real estate, I was happy to have my business slow down just in time to get this work completed.

I took off all of the cornice boards and had my upholsterer Marc recover the basic boxes, leaving the additional triangles off of them. I knew it would be easy to put tension rods for curtains in and I wouldn't need to replace the banged up mini-blinds. I have an online fabric shopping obsession and had found a few cute possibilities to go with the orange and turquoise color scheme. I asked Facebook for help picking the fabric and it was an overwhelming majority in favor of "Woodland Animals" by Carousel Designs which is actually a nursery themed fabric, but perfect for a camper.

It was about this time that I had the realization that some of my very good friends think I'm crazy. I was painting away trying to bust it out the last bit when I got the following text:


It literally never occurred to me before this moment that this seems weird to people, but when you say it like that, I guess it does sound a little crazy! I found this to be just hilarious.

I do not sew. I gave it a good go about a decade ago, but I don't do well with machinery or technical stuff. The bobbin was the end of me. Luckily, my girlfriend Rebecca is a fast and talented seamstress and just so happened to return from her summer in Australia the week before I needed curtains. We spent an entire day (literally 10am to past midnight) catching up while she sewed an entire camper's worth of curtains for me. It was a great visit and I can't thank her enough for all of her hard work. Best friends are the best.


So with that, here is the finished project! I would love to have replaced the floors, but that will have to be phase two. What I found is that with a camper, if they needed five staples, they used five HUNDRED. I knew that without Bryan's help (he's busy working on our actual house, so the camper was all my doing) there was no way that me and my frozen shoulder would be capable of pulling up all that carpet. Some day we will replace the floors with whatever laminate the local Habitat Restore happens to have in stock. For now, I'll just look at all the prettiness above floor level...

The After Pictures

So in order to make this work, I realize that hooks are my friend. I ordered self adhesive hooks for every possible wall space in the camper. It would be easy to say, "just use one coat per person," but folks, we live in North Carolina where the weather can be semi-frozen precipitation one day and 70 degrees and sunny the next. We pretty much ALL need four coats a piece. Then there are the ball caps... my husband is almost never without one, and he has dozens that he rotates through. I have hung robes for going back and forth to the main house, necklaces, backpacks, towels, and you name it.

I have also discovered that campers have storage galore. I am keeping my clothes under one of the dinette seats. Charlie's are under his bunk. Bryan's are still inside for now, and the top bunk is housing bags of dirty clothes and whatever other random things I stick up there. Did I mention that my teenage son refuses to stay in the camper and has chosen to stay in the house in the extra bed with his 86 year old great-aunt as his housemate? That's okay, son... more room for us!

I have to say, I actually really love this space. It makes me happy. It feels like we are really camping. There is a fun feeling climbing into bed at night and waking up to the early bird sounds. Remind me that I felt this way in a few months when, no doubt this lifestyle will be getting old! I always say that the only people who are enamored with the tiny house movement have never actually lived in small houses. Shockingly, even some of our neighbors and friends have come over for fires in front of the camper. Turns out the baby monitors reach our yard! Sorry to the folks who live behind us for the 2 a.m. ruckus- I promise we usually retire by midnight. Seems like everyone wants to hang out by the camper, and it brings out the wild side!

As far as total costs go, even though I dropped some coin on this reno, I think we are still going to make out at the end. The plan for now is to sell it when we are finished, though we have had many people ask if we will rent it out at the end. Had we not bought a fifth wheel trailer that requires a special truck bed-mounted hitch, that may have been a great idea. Other thoughts are an accessory apartment or Air B&B, but I don't much like the idea of strangers in our backyard. Whatever the case, it's serving as a nice place to live for the five months or so until our house is finished. This is self imposed homelessness and at the end we will have an incredible home, so we are very fortunate. And we get to keep our dog.

The Breakdown:

2004 Keystone Springdale Fifth Wheel Trailer                  $5800

Trailer hitch                                                                           $300

Run 30 amp electric box                                                     $500

Reupholstery of all furniture, etc.                                       $1200

Paint and supplies                                                               $100

New mattress                                                                       $200

Fabric                                                                                    $87

Curtain Rods                                                                        $30

Hooks, etc.                                                                           $70

Total investment                                                                 $8287

*Projected cost of 2 bedroom apartment for six month lease $14,400

As always, thanks for reading and sharing along on this crazy adventure!

xo Susie (and T-Bone)


The Plans

Where to even begin? I guess showing the plans is the best way. Remember from the previous post, the existing (well, not anymore because the old addition is officially gone) is as follows:

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For an in-depth explanation, see "The Before."

From the outside, it looked like this:

North side view with old kitchen and mudroom addition

North side view with old kitchen and mudroom addition

Since last weekend, it's looked like this:

The original back wall of the house- kitchen addition and mudroom are now gone.

The original back wall of the house- kitchen addition and mudroom are now gone.

The old addition- problematic for several reasons, has been removed to make way for the new addition. The kitchen addition appeared to be much older (and better built) than we originally thought, however, the layout was unworkable for a modern kitchen, and the crawlspace was only inches deep, so it was nearly impossible to get under the house to make repairs. We knew many years ago that trying to build onto this addition didn't make sense. We wanted to start fresh and have the freedom to design what we wanted, and do it right. I'm so glad we did considering what we found:

You can see all of the termite damage in the floor up the wall beam and into the ceiling.

You can see all of the termite damage in the floor up the wall beam and into the ceiling.

The mudroom and back bedroom addition seemed to be newer and was so much an afterthought that it was never properly attached. We had roof leaks and termite problems that were even worse than we knew. Luckily all of the real damage we found in the house as we unearthed her bones was in the part that we had planned on tearing off.  This is GREAT news for my contingency, though I know better than to count my chickens before they're hatched!

So what is changing???

Well, for starters, we are excavating (we being my husband, Bryan) the new foundation to be a below grade crawlspace that we will actually be able to access. I don't understand how this will work exactly, but my husband is a site work and underground utilities project manager, so I'm pretty sure it's safe to defer to his knowledge on this one.  Here, you can see the new footprint of the future home.

Photo taken before Bryan tightened it all up. Right now it looks as perfect and square as if Mike Mulligan himself dug the hole with his steam shovel. You get the idea, this is the footprint for the new addition.

Photo taken before Bryan tightened it all up. Right now it looks as perfect and square as if Mike Mulligan himself dug the hole with his steam shovel. You get the idea, this is the footprint for the new addition.

We are going from a little less than 1500 square feet total, to a lower level of 2016 square feet with a second level of 774 square feet for a total of a little under 2800 square feet. Now to be clear, my dream home was about 2200 square feet, but because we didn't have savings, only equity, we needed to make the numbers work. For a construction to permanent loan, we needed preferably 80%, but minimally 90% value based on future appraisal. Construction loans are much tricker than conventional loans- my lender, Ryan Eldridge with Citizens Bank was awesome. He helped me think outside the box to make this happen and held my hand through the entire process.

The original plans called for a large screened in porch accessed by both master bedroom and kitchen with french doors almost like a courtyard. Because Downtown Apex has such wildly unpredictable appraisals (I'm a real estate agent, so I know this firsthand) I knew we needed more square footage based on the cost estimate to build the original plans. The numbers would never get us where we needed to be at only 2200 square feet. We decided to take this central screened porch and turn it into heated space, aka a family room. We also kicked out the foundation wall another three feet, just because we could and it would help our numbers. Seems crazy to build a bigger house than I wanted just to afford the loan, right?! But that's the way it works in real estate.

In the long run, I'm going to love this space, but I really wanted us to use the space we had in the front of the house unlike so many old house remodels that are basically a museum in the original house and all the living space in the addition. I do really enjoy my time away from television, so I think I will use my original living room. I hope so. Come over and hang out with me in the old part of the house sometime, will you?

Here are the new plans for the lower level:

First floor plans. Most of the walls are moving, and an extra 500 or so square feet is being added on from the existing dining room back.

First floor plans. Most of the walls are moving, and an extra 500 or so square feet is being added on from the existing dining room back.

One of the biggest, yet simple changes is the fact that the front door is relocating. We have always walked up the steps on the left side of the front porch directly into the living room. The stairs are moving to the center along with the door to make more of an entry. My walk in closet becomes the hallway into the home. The doorway shown to the left of the fireplace is actually going to be closed up for furniture placement. We really wanted to keep a seating area around the beautiful double mantle fireplace. It's too special to not enjoy...

Charlie on one of the "birthday shirt" pictures that we always take in front of the fireplace. I am standing in front of the front porch door. The doorway to the left will be closed and it will be more of a sitting room, and less of a hallway. 

Charlie on one of the "birthday shirt" pictures that we always take in front of the fireplace. I am standing in front of the front porch door. The doorway to the left will be closed and it will be more of a sitting room, and less of a hallway. 

To the right of the front door will be a powder room (say what???) and there will be a wall guiding you into the hallway that leads to the rest of the house. I like that this front room will be completely separated from the rest of the home. In my opinion, the open floor plans that are so common now are beautiful, but highly over rated. I like my music, my people like their TV. 

Through the hallway, there will be an alcove to the right for the master wing. (This deserves another "say what???") Our master bedroom will be Charlie's old room plus his closet- large enough to comfortably fit a king sized bed and a couple of dressers, but no larger. Our new master bathroom will house two small walk in closets, two vanities, our original clawfoot tub (we will have it refinished) and a walk in shower.

I don't know if you fully understand what all this means to a girl who painted her horrible laminate floor-weird cabinet-jack and jill-shared with her two kids-single-sink bowl bathroom a bright tomato red just to have fun fourteen years ago but never got around to changing it, because, seriously, why bother?

To the left of the alcove will be the only fully intact room left in the house. In my previous post, I talked about my love affair with my dining room. The doorway to the hallway/alcove will move over a few feet and the original back door opening that led to the old kitchen is widening to receive the original pocket doors from the living room, but other than that it is staying the same. This means plaster, people! I love plaster so much. I love the cracks, I love the texture, I love the imperfections. It's like the difference between honed marble and quartz- both are beautiful, but the organic, textured feel of the marble is entirely different than its manufactured knock offs. If you are looking for me, you will likely find me sitting in the dining room with a glass of red wine, admiring my imperfect plaster dining room walls because the rest of the house will, unfortunately, be sheetrock. 

My beautiful dining room at Christmas time. The new hallway door will be where the black and white picture of my grandfathers are in this picture. The precious little coat closet will stay, because, why not?

My beautiful dining room at Christmas time. The new hallway door will be where the black and white picture of my grandfathers are in this picture. The precious little coat closet will stay, because, why not?

The kitchen deserves a blog post all of it's own, but the basic gist is that I'll have a wall of cabinets with sink, dishwasher, ovens and refrigerator, a central island with seating for three and extra storage and a gas cooktop. I didn't ask for this kitchen, but my designer is basically giving my mother-in-law's kitchen layout which just so happens to be my very favorite kitchen to work in! I know the trend is to have a sink in the island, but it is so fun to chop, sauté, and stir with loved ones sitting at the island with you. While we are on the subject, let's just mention my MIL, Joie. She taught me much of what I know in the kitchen and deserves a blog post of her very own. I can not wait for her first visit in the new home- we will spend the whole time cooking together! Look at the fun we have in her kitchen- mine will have essentially the same layout with the addition of the built in seating banquet designed with my hand-me-down Saarinen tulip table in mind.

Two of my favorite girls- my mother-in-law, Joie, and my sister-in-law, Erin. We spend hours together in her kitchen and I'm so happy to have a kitchen that mirrors hers.

Two of my favorite girls- my mother-in-law, Joie, and my sister-in-law, Erin. We spend hours together in her kitchen and I'm so happy to have a kitchen that mirrors hers.

Beyond the kitchen, there will be a small mudroom, entries to the driveway, and backyard, a separate laundry room, and a staircase to the new upstairs addition. The staircase is such a big deal for us, because both of my kids have always coveted houses with stairs (you just never know what they'll latch on to!). For me it means Harry Potter storage!!! My mudroom has always housed the corn hole boards, the card table and chairs, the beach chairs, the camping table, and whatever other random things people usually store in their garages. We have a tiny garage without a door and a dirty workshop that Bryan has filled with motorcycles of varying conditions and vintages. No room for corn hole boards in there! I'm so excited to finally have a closet to throw all this stuff in to. I covet the pretty mudrooms of magazines and model homes, and I very much doubt that mine will look that good, but I will try my best to keep it nice since it will be visible from the new kitchen. 

Downstairs we will also have a screened porch off the family room. Despite losing my centrally located screened in porch, I think that with the french doors (this is a change from the above plans) and all the windows in the family room, it will suffice. 

Working our way up the stairs, there will be a loft for the boys to hang out in and guests to overnight in (unless they want to stay in the camper!), the boys bedrooms, a shared bath, and an access door to our existing attic space for lightweight storage like Christmas boxes. 

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Upstairs will be really funky- I can't visualize it yet, but it will be all knee walls and slanted ceilings which is a look I've always loved. In college in Morgantown, WV, I always wished I'd draw the straw for one of the attic bedrooms with their nooks and crannies. I love that cozy look. We wanted to keep the 10 foot ceilings downstairs and I did not want to have a "peek-a-boo" addition. We wanted to T into the existing roof line and not have it visible from the front elevation. Our amazing designer, Gretchen Williams, carved out every inch of available space by making all of the height upstairs come from dormers. There was originally another large dormer upstairs, but we had to cut money somewhere, so it went away. If you look closely, you can see built-in window seats in both bedrooms- this is not for storage, but Gretchen's ingenious way of running ductwork in the very valuable space upstairs. Elevations here:

Above are the new elevations. She left the unchanging parts blank and sketched in the new addition based on plans. We will be moving the front steps and railings in the front elevation to make it look finished.

It is not lost on me that we are finally doing this addition we've talked about only two years before our oldest heads off to college, but the truth is, this is my forever home. We have a master down, on grade entry, and the space upstairs will be perfect for the boys when they come home to visit with their families. Yes, people, I am planning my addition for the far off future grandchildren! I remember how hard it was with babies and toddlers- staying in unfamiliar places without a space to go when the baby is wide awake at 3 a.m. and you just needed a place to go watch some Elmo! This upstairs will have the loft that the boys will enjoy in their teenage years, but hopefully will be a space that makes it easy for them to come see their old mom and pop once they have families of their own. 

So that's all there is to it! We will have an on grade patio or low deck out back, and the infamous Friedel fires will still happen regularly. We don't lose too much backyard, the patio and fire pit will just be moved in front of the outdoor mantle. It will be pretty!

Outside Mantle.jpg

We are hoping that our house is one where you have to ask, "is this the old part of the house or the addition?" when you are standing in a room. We plan to reuse as much wood as possible so that it still LOOKS like an old house even though it will essentially be a new house. I will write a post at some time showcasing the construction of the original house and all of the work Bryan is putting into making it perfect for us now. It really is cool to see her old, but sturdy bones.

This renovation is beyond our wildest dreams. As I talk about in the "Blessed House of Love" post, our original plan was to make a bigger kitchen, mudroom, and master bedroom with bathroom, but times have changed. This is a town that has become a place that can easily support all of the work we are doing. Being an agent, I know the market, I know the inventory, and I know there is nothing I could find in our all-in budget that would make me nearly as happy as what we have in store for our new house. The location and the ability to walk to Downtown Apex is priceless, as are our neighbors. We are so happy to be putting the hard work and hard earned money into this home that we have raised our children and love so very much.

I look forward to your comments and feedback!

xo Susie


The Before

I want to share a bunch of photos to show the house as it has been the whole time we've owned it. We did nothing but cosmetic work when we moved in- tearing down ceiling tiles to expose tongue and groove ceilings, patching plaster, painting, removing carpet, but nothing to the systems or the structure of the home. 

Even though the house is small, it has been livable for all these years for a few reasons:

1. Two walk in closets and decent storage which is almost unheard of in a 100 year old house.

2. All of the rooms are large. There is not a foyer or a hallway anywhere in the house- you simply walk from one room through a doorway into another room.

3. There are one and a half baths, not just one. This changes everything. Poop happens.

4. Did I mention the lot and location??

Here is the floorpan of our existing home:

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Paradoxal Tendancies

I’ve threatened to write a blog for many years, and I’m finally getting down to it! This is prompted by my desire to record and share our renovation journey, but for a long time, I’ve wanted to write. I've always enjoyed sharing my thoughts through the written word. I can be verbose, so I apologize in advance and will try not to keep it simple as to not lose my audience. My best friend has strong opinions about blogs- basically that they are egotistical and self-indulgent, and I agree to some extent… after all, who do I think I am that people want to read my thoughts? I’m certainly no expert in home design, architecture, or life in general, but I’ve got things I want to say!

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