Demo Days

We are doing the demolition ourselves to help cut some cost from the overall budget.  Plus, let’s just say it makes Matt “feel like a man” when he gets to bust through the walls and make quick visual progress opening up the space.

Here is a little teaser that I posted on Instagram to celebrate the 4th of July since Matt worked on the house that morning:

First, I put large “x’s” on anything I wanted removed, and green tape on things I DON’T want ruined saying “keep.” This isn’t just for Matt, but also other trades when they are there so important things don’t get trashed.

We even took off this old Margaritaville switchplate as a memento to keep from the old version of the house.  Not sure where we will relocate it yet, but it will return somewhere since we think it’s so hilarious someone actually bought this!

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Now for more demolition pictures:

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This is the picture that makes me really happy.  I can finally see the whole kitchen without that wall there.  Below it is a rendering of what I’ve been imagining for how it will look when finished.

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This is what you do when you’re done for the day:

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Empty House

What does a teenager do when they have an empty house with no parents in town?  Throw a party of course!  What do we do when we have an empty house just sitting there waiting to be remodeled? Have pizza parties with multiple sets of friends, and let the kids color all over the walls of course!

Now, hopefully, the kids understood the idea of us repeating “don’t do this at your home!”

He gone.

The huge tree in the backyard that provided more shade than I even realized was not in a good location, and would be very difficult to remove later once the back addition is there.  It was right in the center of the yard where the kids will be able to play.  We thought the chances of it surviving after roots being cut up for foundation was slim anyway, so buh bye big tree.

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Don’t worry, we will plant prettier ones in the future.  Our top fave decorative trees are: Sweet Bay Magnolias, Bracken’s Magnolia, Dogwoods, Ginkgo, Weeping Cherry, and Japanese Maples.

Hopefully, some more sun in the back will help our future luscious lawn grow since the front is way too shady to grow grass very well.

 

I’m trapped in a glass case of eeemooootion!

To quote the uber-intelligent Ron burgundy in Anchor Man above, this process is quite the emotional journey… and we haven’t even broken ground yet!

It’s interesting to be on the client side of things.  I’m not sure I like it.  I mean, I like having my own project to make my own, but I’m so used to DIY in the past where we had complete control that this scale of a project using architects, engineers, and a contractor is totally out of my control.  I collaborate with these people all of the time, but now I depend on them.

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I tend to describe my job as 1 part designer and 1 part marital counselor.  Usually, I am talking my clients off the ledge when they are tired of delays, expenses, not having a working kitchen for 3 months, or just helping a husband and wife compromise on decisions.  I actually like that part of the job.  I definitely have empathy and the ability to relate with them during the stressful process that remodeling is.  No one ever said it was easy to beautify you home (except HGTV).  But the process of restoration and redemption is always hard, dirty, vulnerable, exposed, raw, and destructive work before it becomes neat, tidy, orderly, awe-inspiring, rejuvenating, and peacefully joyful in carefully designed spaces.  This is not a surprise to me.  I can handle the dirt and grime.  But right now there is no one to talk me off of my cliff.  I am that person. And I cannot talk myself down very well.

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Now that it’s MY money, MY time(line), MY family, MY aesthetic preferences, and MY expectations, which will always fight with one another, clearly I will be going on some emotional rollercoaster rides for a while.  I usually tell clients that these things will always be at odds with one another:

  • Budget
  • Scope (how much you want to do)
  • Quality/Craftsmanship
  • Timeline

Usually, it takes a bit of mental processing time for people to sift through their wants and needs before they can figure out which ones are most important to them, because you can’t have them all.  Period.

You can have high quality work, at a fast speed, for a large project, SURE, if you sacrifice lots of $$$.  You can have a quick turn-around on a tight budget, but usually sacrifice some quality.  Especially, when really talented tradesmen are in high demand and have their own schedules you have to work around.  Sometimes you might need to use a bit lower “attention-to-detail” trades.  Or in my case, I do not want to sacrifice quality or design detail, and I have a very limited budget, so I have to cut back on my scope and time-frame.

We started cutting back on things we could add later, parts we can DIY in the future, choosing some less expensive materials/products, and having to nix some ideas we really loved, but just didn’t fit in the budget.  A few of those things being: a concrete-encased master closet as a tornado shelter, the bar, high triangular angled windows under the roof eave that would’ve required metal structure, not replacing all of the windows now, using a typical water tank rather than tankless, leaving a powder bath unfinished that we can finish later on our own, etc…

I’m totally fine with these decisions.  They just don’t happen quickly or instinctively.  They come as you talk through pros and cons, as you try to imagine yourself living in the space in the future and wonder “what will I regret most?”  They are an up and down emotional process that is unavoidable, and a bit unpleasant.

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To be honest, the biggest emotional hit for me hasn’t been that process of cutting back for sake of budget so far.  The biggest wave was holding on too tight to a time frame.  It’s probably not a good choice to buy a house that needs work done everywhere before you can move in (while living with your parent’s for over 8 months).  I do not recommend that.  It’s much better to live in a space for a while and update it later in pieces, after you’ve stared at it, lived daily life through it, and slowly pondered the possibilities.  That’s when you learn where the sun hits through a window at just the wrong time of day, how air moves through the space inefficiently, or how a certain path you take through an exterior door and again through a screened-in porch door to get to the grill drives you crazy.  We do not have this option.

I longingly wanted the architectural process to be quick, the structural drawings to be fast, and the city to approve our permit in record time so we could get our little family out of my parent’s house and into our own before our Annual Oktoberfest party this year.  But instead, drawings take time and revisions, engineers go on vacations, multiple vacations, and the city doesn’t care how fast you want to start just the order of when your application hits the pile.

Don’t ever plan a finish date for a holiday or party.  I repeat: DON’T EVER PLAN A FINISH DATE FOR A HOLIDAY OR PARTY!

I’ve had so many clients do this and we try our best to accommodate, but it’s not always possible.  Many have wanted to be done to host Thanksgiving, to be done for graduation parties, Christmas, or even pregnant bellies about to pop before baby arrives.  Ok that one, you can’t really do anything about, but it seems to happen often.

 

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I regained happiness and got rid of stress and emotional lows when I finally gave up the idea of Oktoberfest in my brain.  When I let go of trying to hold onto the timeline myself, when I just let go of control!  That’s a hard thing for a designer to do, but I had to.  And now I am joyful, relaxed, and excited for this construction process to happen…

Until the next bump in the road when I go through the wave of emotions all over again!

 

 

 

Teaser

The YouTube Channel is up and running now.  It will have videos that I will link to throughout the construction process, design tips, as well as before-and-afters eventually (when we have an “after”)!

Be sure to check out the first video my talented brother, Trevor Frets, made as a short teaser of the house in it’s “before” state.

Check out more of Trevor’s work at www.trevorfrets.com!

We’re Crazy…

Let me first start off by saying: we’re crazy.

It all started when a bright orange and gray house (same colors as ours) down the street went on the market.  I admit my guilty pleasure is perusing the real estate market for fun to see what’s out there.  When this particular house became available it got me thinking.  It had some pros and cons compared to our home, but I realized how much they could get out of it and how the market was climbing.

We were perfectly happy in our house.  It served us well, we’d improved it a bunch, and we came to love it.  Unfortunately, we knew it wouldn’t be a long-term home for us.  It was 3 bedroom/1 bath/1 garage, and we already had 2 little kids.  So we were torn on trying to take advantage of the market to hopefully make a larger profit, or staying and practicing the art of contentment.  I didn’t really feel like there was a wrong choice.  One was cumfy and predictable, and the other was scary as well as exciting.  I felt like God was saying, “either be grateful and content with what I have given you, or have faith and trust that I will provide – I am there regardless.”

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Our previous home lovingly called the “Kersten Haus”

Needless to say, we decided to jump.  We up-rooted our family from our routine and moved in with my parents.  Luckily, they were our saving grace for deciding to even move this direction.  We knew in this market we would have to have no contingencies when we did find a home, and would need to sell first.  Then we searched, and searched, and searched.  Not unlike many people today in the same predicament.  Our gift was time.  Living with my mom and dad bought us time to look, but our downfall was budget and style.  Let’s just say we are extra picky.  Thankfully, we had the best realtor that was patient, but persistent.  Lindsey Haymond and her sister Kelsey Bradley went on this wild adventure with us enthusiastically… and boy do we have some stories!  We didn’t want this scary free-fall to feel like we were settling for something that wasn’t worth the headache.  We were particularly looking for the lower roof lines of mid-century architecture, but also wanted a project to make our own.  We looked at homes worth demolishing, foreclosures, as well as scary vacant hoarder-like homes that looked more like a storage unit for furniture and spiders.

That aforementioned house is a whole other blog post in and of itself.  Needless to say, we eventually found one with the potential needed to create the vision we have.  It backed up to the creek, had a 2 car garage, vaulted ceilings, a larger yard, and another bathroom.  It just needed style and a tiny bit more space.

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Our new adventure

Born in the Wrong Era?

I guess you could say I’ve always been drawn to an American “retro” or “mid-century” style.  When I was a kid I would ask for things like the Kit-cat clock (where it’s tail swings back and forth), a neon light telephone, or brightly colored band posters reminiscent of Andy Warhol paintings for birthday gifts; all considered “novelty” now.  Funny, in retrospect, that the things I wanted were all some sort of home decor.

I grew up with a mom and grandparents that love to entertain.  Parties, small or grand are definitely our thing.  Not because we love to put on a show (although, I love to sing show tunes to my kids off key), but because having lots of people we love (as well as new friends) in one place makes us happy.  We are happy to plan ahead for what the needs of our guests might be.  We like to think about the set-up, traffic flow, how to lay out the drinks and food, making areas of seating for conversation easily accessible, making sure there is always a spot to sit a drink or plate, but most of all: what contributes to our guests having the most enjoyable experience.  Maybe we are good at this, not because we over-exert ourselves the days before with over-the-top prep work in pinterest decor or cuisine, but because we don’t easily get stressed by it.  We, ourselves, want to have a great time and enjoy our own party!  We don’t want to hide behind the kitchen door (like people have doors to their kitchen anymore! ha!) but because we want to be social too.  Luckily, my husband enjoys it too.

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1st Annual Oktoberfest Party

 

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2nd Annual

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3rd Annual

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4th Annual

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5th Annual

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6th Annual

My favorite thing about the stereo-typical Palm Springs mid-century design is the lifestyle it is created around.  The cocktail parties, swimming pool day-time gatherings, relaxed lifestyle outdoors in the sun, maybe a song or two sung by your buddy Frank Sinatra while you sip your gin martini?  It may be mid-western dreaming, but I’m the kinda gal that loves a party (clearly illustrated in our Annual Oktoberfest photos above)!

I sorta love imagining Dad driving up to the succulent-surrounded carport from work in his aqua blue Chevrolet convertible.  It was the time of muscle cars; my favorite car always was the Shelby Mustang.  Technologies were advanced during the Industrial Revolution and after World War II that influenced cars as well as homes.  Suburbs were booming (it was the time of the economic boom and baby boom) and homes were needing to be built quickly, and affordably.  The design aesthetics evoked a sense of hope and openness.  More open public areas of the home (open floor plans), connections between the indoors and outdoors (large floor-to-ceiling glass windows), construction styles that were exposed (post and beam), and authentic materials (steel, wood, concrete block) became more common.  I’ve always been drawn to this style of architecture, but graduating from architecture school at Kansas State University definitely reinforced my existing love by adding an appreciation factor.

It only makes sense that I’ve been wanting my own modern version of a mid-century home to become my next project.  As with all things in life, there are limitations; budget mainly.  So while we couldn’t afford an awesome Drummond Contemporary in KC, we finally found a great little Prairie Village ranch that hit the needed check marks for our family.  Come with us on our journey to redeem and transform our home’s body and soul into a colorful Palm Springs-esque Kansas oasis.