Friday, August 12, 2016

#ProjectCheekwood: The Before

Let's start from the beginning... if nothing else this will help me appreciate how far we've come in the renovation even though when I walk through the house it seems like it's getting worse by the day 

I'm sure in her hay day, she was a good looking dame of a house. The siding is in decent shape but the shutters, roof, and windows are all being replaced. 

Plaster walls and ceilings, original lighting (which in this case also meant original electrical wiring)

This is to the left of the entryway and is our future master bedroom. We are closing in the casement off the entry and taking down the wall to the original music room to extend the space.

Another view of the formal living room, for the new master bedroom we will update the fireplace surround and refinish the mantel. The french doors to the left of the mantel are the entryway to the new master bathroom. The wall to the right of the fireplace is gone now and is the new master closet. 

This was off the formal living room and will be the future master bathroom with a few square feet added. 

The dining room was to the right of the entry way and will be the future living room.  The wall to the left is gone now and this room is extended into the existing butlers pantry to make it larger. 

The butlers pantry was off the formal dining rom and is now going to be part of the living room. See the floor change? Hear about all the walls coming down... this is the part where things get expensive. 

Now this is where it gets really expensive. You see those floors? We thought we found gold underneath them when the walls started coming down, but it wasn't hardwoods, it was rotten hardwoods/plywoods. You see that ceiling? That's a money problem too. We had always planned to replace it with sheetrock, but when it came down, we found major plumbing/rot issues on the guest bathroom. 

There were about 100 hooks in the ceilings and we haven't been able to figure out what they were used for. Drying meat? Hanging herbs? Either way, the ceiling was dropped into a different slope so that' s been brought up to the 9' height as the rest of the house. This wall where the washer/dryer is has been blown out. The wall to the left we were all thinking and praying was going to be OK behind the plywood, but oh no, it all had to be replaced. Mo money, mo problems. 

You see that fire extinguisher? For some reason, there were about 20 of those things posted all over the house. To the right not this is the existing powder room. Too tiny to even photograph. It's being extended and reworked where someone can use the bathroom with the door closed... not possible before. Everyone needs a little privacy. 

Note the two fire extinguishers. 
This house is the traditional four square and all four bedrooms and two bathrooms were upstairs.

It's actually a little bigger than it looks in this photo, but this will be Maines bedroom. Closet is to the left of the photo. 

Weird/tiny bathroom and no closet. We are reworking the closets in the entire house and extending this bathroom to be the kids bathroom. 

The tiniest master bathroom... we are extending this and stealing a little square footage from the kids rooms to make their new bathroom larger. 

This will be Tilley-Gray's room. The walls (minus wallpaper) upstairs are in good shape and luckily we can do the electrical through the floor and the ceiling since those are both going to be open. 

Tilley-Gray's new room


The bumper stickers are from the 1980s. I feel like these are like a scrapbook of some teenage life and feel bag about getting rid of them but 100% am not using them. Toss them? The bumper stickers are pretty epic in this room. 

We thought we would be able to salvage this bathroom... the one spot in the house that we could lipstick. It actually is full of rotted floors and walls and is now down the studs. 


Such a mess, right off the kitchen. It has boat awnings on it that my drapery workroom said they made 15 years ago. This whole porch was ripped off and we are starting from scratch. 


We've got big, long term plans for the yard, but so far we cleaned up the pool and actually have been able to swim. 

A few questions I've gotten over and over these past few weeks: 

How did you REALLY find the house? Did you REALLY want to renovate?
We purchased this house in a little bit of a round about way. Gray and Baxter (Gray's brother) looked at it a few years ago. Gray, knowing good and well not to show it to me because of the price it was then and how much work it needed, didn't really tell me any details except it needed a lot of work. Fast forward after two more moves and living in a home we knew we bought as an investment and were so ready to sell, I still REALLY needed to be convinced and didn't walk through it with Gray until Channing, our architect took a look at it first. Gray and I work really well together once we have a plan, but he's knows a little bit about a lot of things and says exactly what he's thinking immediately. When he walks through a house (or sees things he knows he can fix) he just starts talking a million miles a minute, and I'm the very opposite. I like to take my time, quietly, and then talk about ideas a little later. Once we both walked through it separately, Gray and I both knew it was the house for our family. That's the best (and only) marriage advice I have y'all... architects and interiors designers are worth every penny. 

The other question I've gotten that's surprised me, more because it's such a bold questions is:

How can you DO THIS to your KIDS? Moving so much will stunt their development. 
Writing about our renovation and including snippets of Tilley-Gray and Maines is public, yes, but I can't believe how many people have commented on the number of times they have moved and how we are such bad parents.  I moved dozens of times (30 to be exact) when I was growing up and as much as I hope that this house is a long-term home for our family, I don't think it defines the kind of parents we are or will define how Tilley-Gray and Maines turn out.  They  have loving parents and are surrounded by a community of friends that are like family that love them.  I like to think that a house or the things that are inside it do not shape a childhood, but more the parents, the people, and the experiences they have. If anything, our kids are adaptable and grateful and that's at the tip top of important traits for me.  

Are they going to film another episode?
I have to say, I'm so so thankful for the sweet comments and encouragemnt we have received about the house. The experience we had with PieTown was awesome and I'm not sure if we will film another episode or not yet, but if you'd like to see more, let them know so!  When the crew left, they were all pretty excited about the project and hopeful that more would come from it.

Where can we see the show?
If you missed it, I don't have a link yet to the show. Once I do, I'll be sure to share. It came on again tonight at 8pm so you'll have to just look out for it on HGTV!

So that's the before and a few questions... up next the first draft of plans. What do y'all want to see? Selections? Budget? Let me know! 

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

UPDATE: A TV Show and and an update on #projectcheekwood

Babies, design projects, a store, and just life in general are all trump cards when it comes to blogging, but I'm dying to document this whole renovation on more than just instagram so am going to try my best on the old bloggity blog. Let's pick up where we left off last time with a little intermission called Hunting Vintage. 

Back in January, Gray and I filmed with Pietown Productions and HGTV for a new pilot series called Hunting Vintage - Think House Hunters with a vintage twist. We have always loved historic homes, especially since selling our first home (featured in HGTV magazine here) and have had our eyes on that part of town over our last four moves in the last three years. Yes... FOUR moves over the last THREE years... while I was pregnant. I think Gray should give me some kind of medal.... or a great vacation for letting me actually go through all of this craziness that I insisted on. :) 

Anyway, Pietown Productions contacted us and were interested in learning more about our project and after a few Skype conversations and emails we were set to film the show. Gray and I were nervous but the whole process was so much fun. I think 95% of that has to with the amazing crew we had. It's like going on a blind date at first but by the end of the first day it felt like we had been friends forever. The show aired two weeks ago and the response to it has been so positive. I'm not sure if we will film any more shows yet documenting the progress but as soon as I can, I'll put the episode link up and my next post will give more details about the show.

Ok, so just to catch up from the very first post.... 

If you follow along on instagram, you may have seen a few posts of my newest project, a 1928 home that hasn't been touched (except for maybe a few updates in the 1960s) that Gray and I just purchased. Gray was at the house meeting the utility companies to set everything up in our names when he came across this coffee mug that was left behind. He sent me picture of this mug with a few choice words. Demo hasn't started yet and we are already getting warning signs. Yikes!

The goods news is that our general contractors are a dream. It's a husband/wife team. That's right... a female general contractor that is a wife and a momma. She knows what I'm saying when I'm not saying it. She understands preschool pick-up times and why I really think it's important to have a mom drop zone with a charging station. I have a few other construction teams that I work with and love here in Wilmington, but Stephannie is a good friend and between running a design business, opening a store, being a momma, and renovating a house, I know I can just say "just do what you think is best" on those little decisions and she will make the best decision. I have to focus on my clients and answer those little questions on their behalf and I'm glad that I have the Pioneer Group to do that for me too. 

Speaking of little questions.... this is the existing kitchen.  It is ugly. No way around it. My mom and grandparents were in town last week and I walked them through the house. My poor Memaw and Mom just kept telling everyone..."just don't touch anything... Lindsey it's going to be gorgeous when you are done but please don't walk those youngin's through this house!" The house isn't a crack house for goodness sakes, just a few water bugs here and there!

 I promise this is the worst of the house... the rest of it has beautiful details and great bones.... the floors (except the kitchen) are even in great shape and we just have to refinish them. The kitchen looks like a different house, but it's still the house. Y'all just send good vibes over. The architect and my positive attitude hopefully will get us a long ways because that's where that coffee cup was found and Grayson Cheek isn't quite so confident today!

The reason we are so in love with the house is the back yard. It has this massive oak tree that just feels like home. The yard is big and it needs a lot of work and it has a pool that makes me so terrified but I know that with the right work and the right design, it will all amazing. The backyard is more overwhelming to me than the house because it has two sheds, a basketball court, a green house, a pool, and an exisitng garden. Right now, it looks more like a swamp and an overgrown jungle. This is more of a long term project, more because of budget than anything, but I'm actually most excited about this than anything else. I've started an entire Pinterest board for our landscape designer and luckily, he is totally stoked about the whole thing. 


We knew it was going to be a tough renovation budget wise.  The words "moving target" are talked about a lot and to a designer, those words are no fun. We knew going into this it we would disagree, we would have have some hard conversations, but acknowledging that upfront, I can say it's not been too hard on our marriage. Y'all budgets and renovations are no joke. With a new construction, you can go over budget by adding more square footage, great finishes/tile/lighting/etc. Renovating a 100 year old home, we've had to spend money on things I will never actually see like new footers. The words "load bearing walls" are like a curse word to me now. Everytime I hear that curse word, I just have to strike off another gorgeous light fixture or millwork detail I had plans for and put that on the "phase 2" list... but I'm OK with that. I don't expect to have my dream house at 33. I'm beyond thrilled that Gray and I are able to have such a great house that we can work on long term. It won't have all the furniture and all the wallpaper and all the artwork that I'd love for it to have, but that's what makes it exciting to me. We will be moving into a home that has 100 years of history, renovated by a team that we love dearly,  and year by year we will add the layers and our own history to make it ours. 

Quick tour of the main areas

existing dining room will be our living room

existing living room/music room will be master bedroom

existing office will be master bathroom (adding square footage here)

existing entry walls will be opened up

Patience has been on our side through this renovation as we've run into some major hiccups due to boring things like steel beams, rotting wood, and crumbling footers. Tens of thousands of dollars that none of us will actually ever see have been spent (bye bye herringbone floors and steel windows) but at the end of the day, we are still happy to own this house. 

Renovating a home that's almost a century old is like running a marathon hung over. Almost every day I feel like we've had bad news but we just keep our chins up and make necessary adjustments and at the end of the day, we know that this home will be a great place for our family. Adam, who is the husband part of The Pioneer Group, lovingly said that maybe it was all of our  fault. All the problems that we've run into have been because this old dame of a house  heard us talking about making her more modern and she reared up and gave us a hard time.  Hopefully now that we are just giving her updated bones and a new foundation she will be happy with her face lift and a little nicer to us now.

Renovating has been such an eye opening experience and something that I've really enjoyed. I'm blessed to work with great clients that have beautiful homes, but there is something about bringing a crumbling old home back to life, the imperfection and ugliness of it all is so rewarding. I went out of town last weekend with the kids while Gray worked on the house and my one request was that the refrigerator in the back yard with the rotten pickle jars be gone when we got back. Baby steps....