Tuesday, June 20, 2017

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!

Posted by Katy On 9:01 PM 10 comments READ FULL POST

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

[ I wrote this a couple years ago when I was digging through my local real estate market looking for fixer uppers -- I discovered that my entire community had been ravaged by terrible house flippers and I was posting pics here as evidence and exposure of what not to do. Sick and tired of people screwing up properties! All of the original houses in this area have been "flipped" and now the cheap builders are throwing up vinyl-clad "trailers" on all the leftover acreage - I insist that there is a way to build nice looking homes and neighborhoods and still be profitable! Counties should be able to demand basic good design from these cheap builders! These houses are no longer investments - they are too much like buying a car now.]

{See part 1: Cheap Renos, -where we use Google earth to investigate the true before and after pics! and part 2: Color Blindness - where we see the local house flippers painting everything badly}
and I also posted an example of local luxury real estate craziness, here.

Here is another "flip" currently for sale. I know some potential buyers who went to look at it. They did not make an offer, and I wouldn't either.

Bad bones. The architecture of this one was just a mess. Nothing classic about this at all. Hard to tell where the front door is, not to mention there isn't a garage or anything. And this house is priced exactly the same as a comparable home from a local new home builder.

I'm going to show you the staging so we can have a giggle:

I think those are elephant heads.

So what have we learned here? Personally I'm not upset that they flipped this house because the architecture wasn't anything to get excited about. It's the flippers who screw up the good houses that really burns me up. If you're thinking about flipping, I hope this series was useful to you.

Final thoughts: your buyers are smarter than you hope, so design accordingly. Hardwood floors in medium brown tones will sell your house faster than all other hard finishes combined (as long as they are continued throughout the main floor).  And for the love of Pete, if you don't know how to stage and you haven't got any money left -- don't bother. Get some Yankee Candles (cinnamon roll!) instead.
Posted by Katy On 1:36 PM No comments READ FULL POST

Monday, December 12, 2016

Well now that I am tits-deep in an emergency bathroom renovation, I've been burning up google and Youtube to research my shower options. It's been a long time since I installed a new shower - the Tybee house had one shower, like so:
So ... this bathroom calls for something quite a bit larger and more expensive. :(

August, the hideous steam shower before the demolition.

November - wall has been moved forward, new door openings framed, and that room behind the shower is now big enough for a laundry. It was originally intended to be either closet space or a sauna!

currently - working on tile now!
Here is what I have discovered about all the new shower trends.
Martha O'Hara Interiors via Home Bunch

This crap is really hard and expensive to bust up when a pipe bursts and you need to fix flood damage. End of story. I'm going to end up installing something similar to the above image but with a couple of insurance upgrades.

After all of my feverish research, the Schluter-Kerdi shower system appears to be the best for waterproofing a shower these days, and the easiest for me to install myself. I bought one of the kits and we're through the worst of it and into the tiling.

The shower pan in the Schluter kit is a lightweight styrofoam. That means that if your pipes burst and your whole bathroom is destroyed, you won't have to break your back trying to bust up a concrete pan with a pick ax!!

So. I have the Schluter-Kerdi kit. I have my new plumbing fixtures. I have (almost) decided on the tile.
But whats up with this new "frameless glass enclosure" tidal wave on Pinterest and design mags? I am not sold on it. I don't like being on display when in the shower, like a goldfish in a bowl. So that's why I have pony walls around the shower. Kinda like this:
Brooke Gianetti

Another consideration is that we have hard water. Which means all the glass is going to look like crap in a year. I want to minimize the amount of glass, the amount of nakedness on display, and the amount of back-breaking work to fix it in the event of a plumbing event.

More and more I realize: I design everything based on the worst-case scenario. Which might be an engineering thing, but it might also just be paranoia. When the shit hits the fan, how expensive will it be to fix? Because I am a glass-half-empty sort of person. Or, as Prince Charming likes to say: "waiting for the other foot to fall off" (shoe to drop, thank you.)

Bathroom renovations are crappy but at least it's not the kitchen yet!! (knock on wood!)
Posted by Katy On 5:21 PM 4 comments READ FULL POST

Friday, October 28, 2016

I am just going to slap this up here and call it DONE so I can move on to the bathroom disaster in peace. ha.
If you follow me on Instagram you've seen some of this, I cannot figure out how to photograph interiors so that they dont look weird and dark!? But this is my best shot:

Okay so this is the before shot of this bedroom - it was an open loft to the great room. Totally awful.

The noise, the echoing, the HEAT, the lack of privacy - it was hideous. I asked every woman who saw it if she would ever buy this house (and keep in mind the view:)

and they all said "no. this is weird".

Which is bad news if you want to flip a house. Men don't care about the house - all they care about is the location and the view. Every man would stand at these windows and go "wow". If you pointed out any of the giant holes in the walls and floors they would go "uh huh. look at that view."

Clearly, my only market was men without wives. Which is way too small.

Things are looking up around here. PC moved the attic stairs from over in that corner, to the other corner of the bedroom ceiling. It was a nightmare, I screamed a lot and would run away from the ladder when I was supposed to be holding stuff up because I was scared I was going to be crushed and killed. PC says he's never moving attic stairs again as long as he lives. But he still likes me! #winning

But then he moved the pot lights and the vent forward so I could build my snazzy closet. I drew the palm tree design on paper and then my laser cutting dude transferred it to 1/8" plywood. Then I painted them and stuck them up there with hot glue. Seriously. Because someday I may want to clean those mirrors. Maybe.

This is from instagram and for some reason it flips the image like its a mirror. Everything is backwards

We were sleeping on a mattress on the floor for the first year of our marriage so getting a bed was a nice change:
Switch plate hole in the wall on the left - we still have to relocate some things because the bathroom is on the other side of this wall and we are currently demolishing it!
I got this old oil painting at a secondhand shop for $50 but the frame was really ugly so I painted it the wall color. The bed was $500 from JCPenneys online! This is a big improvement over the before:
I literally walked into this bedroom the first time and snatched that scarf off the wall!  I still have the weird strip of black granite flooring around the windows though -- one step at a time!!

The furniture layout is giving me problems because the room is an oblong shape. I need to put chairs in front of the bed but when I tried it, PC whined "it's in the middle of the room" -- sigh. I know it's not perfect yet but I was trying to explain furniture layout to him... and I had a FLASHBACK of when I was 15 years old... and I kept pulling the sofas in the living room away from the walls and putting them together in the middle of the room with the coffee table in front... and then my dad would walk through, shove all the furniture back up against the perimeter walls. Like a game of Twister was going to bust out any second and we needed the room clear?? WHY DO MEN NOT UNDERSTAND THAT FURNITURE DOESN'T ALWAYS HAVE TO BE PRESSED UP AGAINST THE WALLS. I will come back to this problem in the future when I have less pressing concerns, and maybe when he is on a business trip. (lolz)

BACK TO THE SHOWER! He's mudding the drywall for me because I suck at that really bad. Then I am painting and finishing the ceiling first before I build the new shower:

YAY. Plumbing is done, walls are moved, subfloor replaced, and now it's almost time for the KERDI! I will post about my new waterproofing love affair after I install. This will be my first try at a Schluter-Kerdi system, so wish me luck. I'm sure something disasterous will happen, so I'll film it so Caressa can watch it on Youtube with popcorn. ;)

And YES, I really did fracture my thumb busting up the tile and my thumb is all deformed and still hurts. :( I was hoping the bump on the bone might go away but maybe that's not realistic. I can't wring out rags with that hand anymore. Bet you didn't think my pretty bedroom post was gonna end this way huh? ;) SNEAKY! Happy Halloween!

Posted by Katy On 12:52 PM 4 comments READ FULL POST

Saturday, October 8, 2016

I feel like I'm in mourning! I am praying that my neighbors there are okay. I know they would have evacuated but several of my neighbors had very old cottages that were sitting right on the ground in the flood zone! :( How terrible! You can only get flood insurance if your house is built to current hurricane code. I want to cry!!

I remember Tybee peeps telling me that the last big hurricane to hit the island was way back in the 1800s! And that statistically, they should get hit once every 100 years! When I heard that I thought... hmmm.... wouldn't that be my luck. You know?
Corner of Naylor and Wilson.

My mom during the build. She fought ovarian cancer all this year and is in remission, thankfully.

the kids' treasure spot in the bedroom

this is Jeff and Scott's house across the street. They just renovated an old cottage and it was totally brand new in 2014. Very pretty!

Once upon a time, I shared the story on this blog of how I sold my house in Texas right before the whole neighborhood collapsed down a hill.
I never got to finish that house, only the first floor was done..
Last year when I sold the Tybee cottage, I was depressed that I never got to finish it all the way...
Recently, given the disaster of a house that I am currently working on, I briefly whined to God about this pattern. "Why can't I ever finish anything before I've got to leave it behind???" I cried. THEN I TURNED ON THE NEWS.
lots of weddings on the beach
My last trip to Tybee before I closed on the house - it was just me and my daughter.
I can't believe how little she looks here, even though it was only last year!
I almost lost my mom to cancer this year and I've spent a lot of time on my knees for better reasons.  I'd much rather be tearing out this horrible shower right now than worrying about rebuilding on Tybee. And that is saying something.

OKAY - Let's not be all negative and stuff. LOL! RIGHT! Let's believe that God is leading us on a winding path that we can only appreciate years after the fact, and can only wonder at all the near misses and catastrophes He has brought us through.

 :( and I really hope Sharon and Jeff and Scott and everybody on Tybee can overcome this. What a shock!!

Posted by Katy On 8:35 AM 3 comments READ FULL POST

About Me

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For many years I was a mechanical engineer by day, a house renovator by night, and a single mom. I previously built a tiny house on Tybee Island that I sold in 2015. Then I lost my day job, met Prince Charming, and now work full time demolishing (fixing) his lake house. ;) Stop by for the house stuff, stay for the never-ending disasters, pianos falling out of the sky, floods, threats of financial ruin, & panic attacks. It's like house flipping meets the zombie apocalypse! with lots of kids!

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