My First Rose Garden: A Cautionary Tale

This house is the first opportunity in my life to have a flower garden. I have never lived anywhere before now that included decent soil, space, and the time and money to grow something other than grass weeds.
And of course, I never do anything in small steps. It's go big or ... why bother?

So this summer I went and bought 18 rose bushes and planted them with PC's help:

 He even put in an irrigation system for me. This was serious. A big deal. I was so excited.

And they were happily growing for 2 months and I was happily watering them and cutting some for vases... and then...

Have you ever heard of "Rose Rosette Disease" ?

Me neither.

It's basically the AIDS virus for roses, and there is no cure. And suddenly all 11 of the pink knockouts were displaying the symptoms.

I couldn't believe it. And they infected the yellow roses (that were my favorites of course.)

I ripped out most of the roses and took them back to the big box store where I bought them. When I walked into the nursery I decided to look at the knockouts they were currently selling. I took this picture in the store:
They were actively selling roses with this disease and probably infecting every other rose that was crammed onto this platform!!

So my first rose garden got AIDS and died. But... there are a couple of the yellow ones left and I'm watching them carefully..
I took this photo so I have something to remember them by, in case they are done for. (PC says I am not very optimistic. SNORT. He is just now discovering the depths of my fatalism.)

So what is the lesson? Don't buy flowers from the big box stores? Don't buy large quantities at once? Do more research on diseases first? Don't plant roses?

I'm not sure. I am not interested in doing this again though so I've crossed roses off my list and I'm exploring hydrangeas, azaleas, and I ordered (ONE) peony just to see if it survives here:


From Drug House to French Chateau

It's taken a few years, but we finally figured out the history of this crazy house. At least, we've put a lot of the puzzle pieces together.  If you've read any of my blog posts here you may remember the gigantic satellite dish in the attic:
And I've mentioned the fact that there are a gazillion cameras all over the walls, in every room in the house, in the ceiling, and all over the exterior. Many of the interior walls were missing, as seen in this picture of the master bedroom (as we were closing it up last year).

this is a ServPro picture from the insurance company, after a plumbing disaster but before we owned the house. You can see the master bedroom was set up to monitor all the cameras and overlook the great room.

The guy who built this house also had a separate "control room" with a computer system and all the camera feeds went to that room. This was all built 20 years ago in the late 90's.

The neighbors all believed he was a lunatic, because he was constantly threatening the neighbors with lawsuits and was extremely aggressive. His teenage sons were known to the local police and there was clearly a lot of drug activity. We found glass drug pipes stashed all over the house in weird places.

I have heard stories from local contractors and building inspectors who dealt with this guy when the house was being built! Many things were not done to code, as we have discovered to our detriment. We are currently jackhammering up all the concrete to fix everything! But the lunatic moved into the house anyway without a permit, and made threats. So the building department just gave him the permit! This was back in the day when building codes were much more lax.

Apparently the lunatic purposely left all the window trim and detailing off the house in order to make it "modern". Which means it just looks like crap. Last winter I found the original plans in the attic:

When I realized that this house was supposed to be FRENCH, suddenly the architecture made sense and I had a plan to go by. This is why I have changed direction and I'm adding all the French elements back onto the house now.

Anyway back to the drugs. So I had some friends visiting this summer and one of them said "This was a counting house" in jest. Then my other neighbor told me this story 2 weeks ago:

Back in the early 2000's, the teenage boys who lived here would throw parties and there were large amounts of drugs involved. One of the former partygoers (who is now grown and an HVAC technician in the local area) was describing it in awe to my neighbor (as he was working on the HVAC)! He said there was a "RUBBERMAID TUB FULL OF WEED" and that the kids were shocked and asked how did you get so much? and apparently one of the boys said "My dad just really likes to smoke it".


FINALLY this house makes sense! Why did the owner spend such ghastly amounts of money building this fortress out of steel and concrete, wire it with 4 million cameras, and yet have horrendous taste??
And why did he seem like he had money, but then when he died he appeared penniless, the house was going into foreclosure and his wife said she was on Medicaid?

Why all the strange people seen squatting in this house at various times?

And the dope pipes stashed all over..

I guess this really WAS a drug house. But now it's going to be the French-chateau-in-the-tropics that it was always supposed to be. (If I live long enough to finish it.) HA.

It's a Vote: 1 Butler's Pantry, 5 Different Ways

So we visited Antique Appliances in the Georgia mountains last week, because I have been really stewing over the kitchen in this house. My appliances are 20 years old and are starting to break down, but this house requires something larger (and more expensive) than a $400 Samsung oven. As much as I wish that would suffice. :/

You gotta use your imagination here. This white 8 burner queen is a 1931 Royal gas stove. We put it on hold to be restored, but the wait list is almost 2 years! Which I figure is long enough for us to tear the kitchen apart.
While I was researching appliance options, I was also trying to decide on a design for the new butler's pantry (that doesn't exist yet). I previously wrote about the layout and floorplan changes that will make that happen, so here are the drawings I made for the main elevation. Our family already voted, but the more the merrier!
If I were building a farmhouse, this is what the pantry would look like, for sure. But I was wrestling with this house because it's VERY French in style. So next I tried the black and white floors in the kitchen instead of the wood.

And nobody loved this because the wallpaper was too much. So I tried lemons:

Which was better. But then I saw this mint colored mini fridge and decided maybe CHINOISERIE was the way to go!?

SHUT UP! THIS was my favorite! And then I revisisted the lemons. Because it seems like my family is not on the chinoiserie bandwagon that the whole internet is on right now. Hurrumph.

And then everyone saw this and said....that's fun!

I don't know. It'll be a while until I actually build this, so I was thinking I should choose the wallpaper before it gets discontinued but decision-making has always been my weak point. What would you choose?

My next post will be about more of the illegal drug history of this house because I think we figured out what was going on in this mess - CRAZY!  Happy BACK TO SCHOOL to all you parents out there -- I'm so happy this week!! xx

More Demolition, a New Floorplan, and a Butler's Pantry

The total destruction of the back patio is underway, and the master bathroom is still dragging on...
I'm currently stuck in "nail filling and sanding trim" hell. It's coming up on ONE YEAR since we started this emergency bathroom reno, and I just want to stop thinking about it. I still have so much to do in there! Here's the backyard today:
looking out the kitchen door to the screened porch

screened porch to upper back patio
 It's going to be months before this is usable space again, so all the back doors are locked. Thank God I don't have little kids anymore. My oldest starts high school next week!! Cannot believe it!
Ok so... the Butler's Pantry.
I'm trying to get organized and start drawing up floorplans for the entire house right now, because we are 18 months into hardcore renovations without them! This is because we are just putting out fires left and right -- the master bathroom was a mess because we had the plumbing disaster and we had to rip it out immediately (without a plan in place!) That is the absolute worst way to go about any renovation plan.

Here is the current floorplan of one half of the kitchen (with kids doodles) :
Here's the way that kitchen hallway looks right now:
 I know you're jealous right? hahahaaa!

The granite flooring has to come out and the whole bathroom is being torn down to the studs.
Ok so here is the current bathroom:
weird closet with air return

massive 36" doors everywhere

that bathtub has a hole in it that is currently covered with DUCT TAPE

Here is the new floorplan that is finally done! Just in case the bathtub finally disintegrates, I have a PLAN! I am terrified of what mold issues we will find when we tear out the bathroom since one of our boys (of course) was showering in there indefinitely before anyone noticed the hole in the bottom of the tub. :( I'm ranting "open your eyes" a LOT around here. Preteens are inherently only intelligent when it comes to their own interests, and have a peculiar blindness to everything around them. sigh. 

I crammed the bathroom into a smaller footprint because I need a butler's pantry! right!? (not sure where these first two pictures came from other than Pinterest, I couldn't find sources):

Marjorie Johnston
I think I need to carry the black and white chess floors throughout the bathrooms, laundries, and maybe this pantry. The rest of the house will be the oak flooring. I'm not restaining 5,000 sq ft of oak just because the trendy floors are dark now -- because you know everything comes back in style (as long as it's not horribly ugly).

The chess floors are my main nod to the French style of the house. French is not really my "thang" but I try to always honor the setting and the architecture of whatever house I'm working on. I am extremely influenced by turn of the century design, however, so any fixture or architecture from 1900-1940 is always going to find a way into my renovations. Thank goodness for that catchall phrase -- "eclectic" !

The next major renovation is going to be the library and the foyer. I will post those pictures and plans next. Trying to be all organized and stuff. :/

I ordered some of this wallpaper for the master bathroom and I'm trying it out... we'll see if it matches what I pictured in my head:
Kate Butler on Spoonflower
 Wallpaper can either be a hit or a miss, but not much inbetween.

Who's ready for the Solar eclipse!??? We're gonna be on the dock taking video because we are RIGHT in the path, this town is going to be a total madhouse with all the people coming here to see it!
If you're on instagram, connect with me here and I'll be posting pictures. Happy end of summer! xx

An update, and a Landscaping question: Knockout Roses

I don't know if I should even update this blog anymore, now that I've switched to Instagram!
The renovating continues, and the disasters never stop. Literally.
THIS WEEK, my AC unit in the attic leaked through the ceiling into my newly finished bedroom, and then the water main to the house ruptured! It's like this house is cursed by water demons.

But here we are, 9 months into a bathroom renovation:

It hasn't been fun, and I've decided we can't physically renovate like this anymore. We are officially too old for this. (He doesn't agree. But my knees may never recover) So this will be the last bathroom that we actually do ourselves. !
 What's that, you ask?

WELL. We hoisted the 300 lb marble vanity 12 feet in the air, on a rented steel lift thingy... I tore the railing off the staircase in order to get it up there... then we couldn't get it from the landing through the bedroom door so we had to "IMPROVISE".
We made a little platform that we could use to swing one end of the vanity  OUT. OVER. THE. FOYER.

Okay so enough of this. I am boring myself. We went to visit the Biltmore estate and while we were in Asheville I found a new artist I really like:
Bill Cole
I don't know why but this painting speaks to me. Maybe it reminds me of the Tybee house?

 We also had a malfunction on the boat, which caused it to ram the lift and break it. New shift cable + repairing the lift = yaaayyyy  :/  Honestly boats are not worth the expense and headache. Get a kayak or better yet, a floatie.

Okay but the most important thing --- what are we going to do with this wreck of a landscape? We tore out so many overgrown trees and I have a lovely new foundation plan, however I have to choose - between YELLOW knockout roses or the new CORAL knockout roses:
I have to pick one or the other. They will be in mass plantings so what would you choose? they will line the whole foundation...
 So long until the next disaster report...
 I hope you're all having a lovely summer 2017!