renovation diaries: getting started and demo

renovation diaries: getting started and demo

SO!  let’s get down to business with this renovation stuff so i can show you the final result, which we are living in now and LOVING.  (refresher: the BEFORE)

before i get started, you need to meet margaret.  here she is at a recent charity event we attended together.

margaret & i margaret and her husband jason are two of our very favorite people – and how lucky are we to live a mere five houses down from them?!  i met margaret years ago as one of jen’s roommates (and interior design classmates at georgia), and then became neighbors almost three years ago.  let me tell you, it is SO FUN living down the street from a good friend!  we always carpool to girl’s dinners and a quick pow-wow is oh so easy.  love it!

you may remember i blogged about her and her interior design company a while ago here…and commissioned her to help me with the kitchen and master bath renovations.  OMG she is the real deal.  i was SO impressed with her professionalism, relationships she has built with vendors and laborers, and all around great taste.  i had a loose idea of what i wanted (white kitchen, marble with pops of brass in the bathroom) and could point to things i liked, but had NO IDEA how to go about finding said things (and in my budget), finding people to then do the work, and just pulling it all together in a workable timeline.  enter margaret long designs, who solved all of these problems!

here are images that i used as inspiration…

i loved the bump out on the vanity cabinets:

marble and brass together = lovely:


a white kitchen:

72aa12e979f50ab532b4e1a580718a63white kitchen take 2:

185773553349897945_f5KCde21_cwhite kitchen take 3:

090113_hf_private01075to get started, i enlisted some of the vendors that were referred by margaret, and some that were referred by friends.  (of note: a good lot of the vendors were margaret’s contacts that she uses exclusively for her clients, so i will not be sharing them here.  i am happy to share the others, though!)

first up was cabinet guys.  my friend lindsay had recently completed a renovation (which was featured in JEZEBEL magazine here, and done by blake shaw homes) and i had always loved her kitchen.  it is so pretty…

lindsays kitchen 2i knew she had done inset cabinets (as opposed to overlay) and loved her cabinet people, and asked if she would refer them to me.  i am so glad she did – they were absolutely wonderful to work with.  andy perkins with custom kitchen design is the man.  everything they do is custom, so you’re not getting pre-fab cabinets at all, and you can customize every inch of them.  i can’t wait to show you what they were able to do!  we started with a consultation at my house while the old kitchen was still intact, and went over what i envisioned in the final space…and there was a lot of measuring.

next, countertop peeps…never knew a slab yard could be so fun!!

photo-196 copythen, there were electrician visits, plumber visits, tile layer visits, tile samples, a frantic search for faucets (will expound next post) and look-sees at lighting and hardware.  oh did i mention i acted as the general contractor?  yes, ME.  i used to work for a construction company doing marketing and would always get in trouble for wearing heels on jobsites.  (i mean, who would wear tennis shoes with a skirt suit?  ever?)  in actuality, it really made a lot of sense – i was the one that would be home all day and could “direct traffic” so to speak, and get in touch with the subs if we needed something, or to tell them it was their turn.  turns out there is a LOT of in and out in home remodeling; i felt like sometimes i just acted as a butler opening the door all day.

but i’m getting ahead of myself.

margaret only works with one tile layer; she has found him to be the best in town…and he could squeeze in our job in mid-november between two other jobs.  he told us this in late october when we contacted him, so that meant we needed to MOVE.  i was literally calling people and saying, “yeah….so i heard you do demo?  can you by chance demo my kitchen and master bath…this monday?”  we miraculously found someone to do it that was recommended by a neighbor.  and just like that, we were on – ready or not.

****  best advice margaret gave me:  she said THINGS WILL GO WRONG.  of course she did not know what, but something during a renovation of an old house ALWAYS GOES WRONG.  while scary, this was great to know going in – i was expecting bad news.  it can’t all be good news all the time.  ****

demo begins without incident on november 5th.  it is to take 3 days total.  i delight at the old wallpaper (complete with bad-a border) found behind the cabinets in the kitchen:

photo-196 copy 4

i chuckle at what a heap of junk our kitchen looks like broken down:

photo-196 copy 5i think “how charming!” when original black and white tile is uncovered beneath two layers of linoleum and one layer of plywood:

photo-196 copy 6…and then on day 2 the demo guys proceed to pull up the original black and white tile…which is from the 1940s…which is 9″ x 9″…folks, that all equals ASBESTOS, i now know.  eek!  let me also add that 1) the kitchen was not taped off by plastic (i asked but was told that taking out kitchen cabinets and vinyl flooring doesn’t create all that much dust),  2) we were living through this renovation…like 3 feet down from the kitchen entryway and 3) the guys on the demo crew actually doing the work were all new, bless their hearts.  so all of a sudden, asbestos-laden dust has been spread all around our house and my kids who live there are breathing the air.  before i could even begin to freak myself out reading what all there is to know about asbestos exposure on the internets and how my kids will be stunted in growth and development forever, i had some sense talked into me by several calm and reasonable people who all told me that it’s definitely not ideal, but as far as asbestos exposure goes, this is a best case scenario.  our demo guy (the head of the company) felt TERRIBLE and had his cleaning crew come over with a HEPA vacuum and go over every single surface in our home…and the sweet ladies told me they took an extra long time in the babies’ rooms to be sure they got every little particle (which made me cry).  he also had his environmental crew come in in those space suit-looking things and take up the original hardwoods that were underneath the tile, covered in the black tar that contains asbestos at no extra charge (margaret said this is generally very expensive).  he also paid for an air test to be done, which came back 100% negative for asbestos particles – yahoo!  so everything was fine in the end, but a tad stressful for a few days there.

see why i am so glad margaret told me not to expect all good news?

here is the kitchen after stripping it down to its skivvies (the subfloor).

photo-196 copy 11…and the bathroom too!  this is the side with the vanity and sinks.

photo-196 copy 9and the tub/shower/toilet.  (sorry so dark, i must have taken these at night!)

photo-196 copy 10more bad news to come, but i’ll save that for next time :)