Living in it

Our remodel is moving along quickly. This is our main floor before we began:

Main floor living room

And this was roughly the same angle of the same room yesterday afternoon:


Below we have the chimney exposed and the new doorway to the master bedroom cut out:
Chimney and to the right - new door to bedroom (can't see the left - but it's the bathroom)

I finally have all the lights picked out, fixtures for above the island, sink and in the hall way as well as in the master bedroom.

The first few days of the project were very messy – everything was every where and the dust was ridiculous. It found it’s way into closed and sealed boxes. I kept thinking about what a mess this was and oh my word – what did we do? And then I woke up one morning and thought “this is just stuff”. Yea, it’s inconvenient. But it’s a box of dishes, not the joy I find in life and that perspective change was timely.

We’re definitely excited for this project – we’ve been dreaming about it since we bought the house – but it’s just a house. It was fine before, it’ll be fine after. We’ll love living there – I won’t be moving any time soon – and our kids will grow up here and we’ll host parties and feed neighbors and friends and stain the floor and make mistakes. And it’s all just stuff.

The people living here matter more.

I’m pretty excited to watch the new bones of the house creak and sway with the motion of our lives. As we move furniture around and figure out the best place to build forts, as we host sleep overs and play dates, book clubs and all kinds of simple evenings where the stuff might show up, but the gathering of friends is what lasts longer …

Dinner with friends; by friends. #love

when we open our arms the way we can open our hearts and feel the greatness of letting in.

House progress and plans

You might remember our house when we bought it. (That post is here.)

first showing

We’ve done a bit of work to the house since then …


(Here you can read another post about some changes and progress we made over the last year.)

Last fall we completely renovated our basement and what once looked like this:

first showing

Now looks like this …


And the other side of the basement once looked like this …

first showing

Now sits like this …


Later this week the work on our main floor begins. When we bought her she was lovely and functional and her bones were perfect.

first showing

This morning she sits a little less put together:

Remodel demo stage one

We’ve moved out of the main floor and into the basement for the remodel. The kids will stay upstairs in their rooms.

Remodel demo stage one

We’re opening up the main floor – this huge wall in the middle of the living room/kitchen is coming out:

removing wall

removing wall

We’re moving the doorway into the master bedroom, making the room bigger and adding a closet:

New door in masterbedroom


The main floor bathroom is moving entirely; layout and walls and plumbing. The hallway that leads to the bathroom/master bedroom now will no longer be there. And the chimney will be exposed.


The last of the major changes are the fireplace coming out and being replaced with french doors to a deck outside in our backyard.

Main floor living room

Hopefully we’ll be adding a huge window above the sink in the kitchen:


And the builtin cabinets pictured below will be removed and framed out (floor to ceiling) for a pantry and storage:

Main floor living room

Phew. Aside from electrical and lighting and all the details, new flooring and what not. We’ll be living in dust for the next month or two. I’m prepared to be completely blind-sided by the amount of dirt and dust and we have crock pots ready to go for living with a less than functional kitchen through Christmas.

We’re nuts!

I don’t know how on top of it I’m going to be with updates on the progress, it’s a lot of work to photograph and explain this over and over so I probably won’t. Just being honest. But you can check Flickr for photo updates and Facebook or Instagram as well.

I’m excited and ready but so glad I had last night walk the empty main floor in the quiet. I’ve already memorized her secrets, this little house. I can maneuver her halls in the dark and I know where the floorboards give way to the weight of a family living out-loud. I’m glad I had time to say goodbye to the old, something I don’t usually practice, but something I’m glad I’m learning how to do.

Here we go!

where we live

We live here:

After! Happier and cleaner.

And have been doing little updates here and there. I painted the dining room from peach to petosky stone:

progress shots of house May 2012


Dining room

We finally added blinds and got rid of the overbearing curtains. It was all so temporary. This house that wasn’t supposed to be temporary has become a project of “until we can afford to do more” and we live in the middle of stages of progress.

Which: touche, life, is also where I am personally.

Last week I got super frustrated and instagramed this shot:

F is for completely Frustrated. So many ideas, personally and professionally, and so many mental road blocks. Instead I will paint our dining room. And scream.

F is for completely frustrated. I think it was also for Friday? I can’t remember that far back, lets not split hairs over it. You be the detective with your calendar and brain cells. But that’s the day I decided to paint this dining room. It cost me zero dollars because I already had the paint and supplies. It just cost me time, which I have a lot of this summer and yet not enough of. And it’s a cycle of crazy making proportions and waiting, always waiting.

We moved in to this house and waited a year before we did anything about announcing our address change. There were personal logistics to that for a long time. Some privacy issues, some other issues. And we, I say we – but I’ll speak for me, I felt like hiding. I wanted everyone to feel comfortable coming over but … not just yet. I needed a season. Or four of them.

And we’re making progress on this house. A renovated basement, landscaping, curb appeal. Line by line this little house is becoming the very place we’ve been dreaming up before we ever knew it existed and it takes time, sure. And money. It takes resources and allowances of more than currency.

But I got crazy last week looking around knowing what the end result was going to be and feeling completely powerless to effect lasting change. Everything is temporary. It is, I mean, that’s true. This is all temporary. But the changes we’re making “for now” and the “stop gaps” of not bleeding money vs. doing what we can for the time being started to feel like a never ending tick tock on a clock I couldn’t see.

I went a little ape-shit.

And I painted my dining room. In two hours. I had two hours, I probably had 4, but it took me months of having paint in the basement and being afraid I’d completely screw up the house by choosing the wrong paint to even TRY to start.

This dining room is the only room in the house that we’re not changing. We’re not knocking walls down or removing flooring, windows or doors. We’re not adding anything to this dining room or expanding it to a larger living area. This is the one and only room that will literally keep it’s footprint. It’s the one room in this house that wasn’t waiting for something larger to take place before we made it ours.

And I kept waiting to make it ours. Because what if I make it mine and don’t like it? What if I choose the wrong color scheme, the wrong window coverings? What if I wake up every morning and regret this room?

This is where we live. Right now, today. This is it.

It could change tomorrow (don’t tell me that) but it could. It always could. And I’d be ok with that, I’d be ready. But what I wasn’t ready for was wanting to stay.

Being ok with the temporary, being ok with the madness of waiting feels like a meditation I’ve been forcing on myself for 5 years. And things are finally sinking in. They’re fluid, flexible and able to change – but they don’t look so much like DIFFERENT at every turn any more. It feels the same with different colors on the wall.

Boom. #nofilter

And this is where we live.

A place to throw parties

Or eat, grill, hang out, have workshops, read books and grow a community … this place needed to exist.

We inherited quite the project of a yard when we bought this house – not that things were run down, just over run. It was over grown, poison ivy had taken over parts of it and things were large and in charge.

The home we owned before this one had a HUGE yard and it seems that wide open spaces aren’t my forte. I can’t really think in terms of “sections” unless given sections. Basically, I don’t have enough testosterone. When given a map or blue print of a building, I don’t automatically scale it and see it 3-d. But I digress … so our yard.

I’ve done a lot to the little shed out back (because it is my happy place, soon to be office and art studio and it’s MINE. It’s where magic and poetry and words are born. I love it so much.) but the property next to the shed was a mess:

Cutting trees down

And that’s after I took the mower to it and tamed the ground cover and bush.

At the beginning of last summer we had our Grandpa come over with his chain-saw to help us take the trees down and really clear things up:

Cutting trees down

Cutting trees down

Another view (the lean to):

this is my house

And then late last summer we went to a house in North Port, Mi and the patio (actually the entire house) inspired some major changes for our little house.

We pinned and dreamed and waited til spring to do anything and then we called Pete Gomez (Local’s: highly recommend him! Call 616-218-8447, Pete is retired and works only on referrals. He also only works 4 hours a day.) and boom.

It's begun! Pea gravel next week then a party. Because, yes.

Then we enclosed the lean-to and I jumped for joy:

Supah-stahhh!! (Also break time)

And today, this is what it looks like:

I'm already drinking beer.

Twinkly lights are ordered and we’re hunting for a grill (like this one know where to find it?). I have paper lanterns for the inaugural dinner party so we can all let them go after dusk. Because, we have to. Because, yes.

This house and all it’s possibility is so much fun. We should hang out.

Back to basics: Gardening 2013

Part of my Life List is to grow a successful garden every year. I wrote that the season before we moved. So, 2010. Maybe even 2009. We spent the gardening season of 2010/2011/2012 living in rental units, rental homes and finally settling in to this house. I had my concrete planters full of herbs but no other vegetables or plants since our last garden on Ardmore.

produce loot

growing, growing, growing

(And my baby was still a baby)

But twenty-thirteen is going to be a good year. My fingers can feel it.


I don’t have pretty photos (yet) but it’s planted! And we have …

Squash/cuc's/sugar snap peas

Summer squash, zucchini, cucumbers, sugar snap peas.

Basil! Tomatoes! Lettuce! Swiss Chard!

Basil, tomatoes, lettuce, swiss chard, celery (and just planed some green onions).

Kale, Brussels, cabbage, herbs, spinach ... cantelope? I think.

Melon, cabbage, brussel sprouts, kale, different herbs, and spinach.

In a smaller box not pictured yet we have raspberries and strawberries for the kids. I need to transplant my blueberries (I have two bushes) and at some point I’ll find a place for our 6-tree orchard. Pear, Cherry, Apple.

I might even get some bees.

On the flower front we have peonies, ranunculus, poppies, mums, a few things I don’t know how to spell, hostas, lily of the valley, lilac trees, some surprises, and tulips. I’ve started wisteria and hops for spreading vines and I can’t wait to throw dinner parties in the garden.

Gardening is church for me.

You’re invited.