Home Changes, Life Changes

Many of our customers have older homes, in which large, complex or expensive projects have been delayed. Sometimes, the needed renovations are really overdue, but we are glad our customers waited until they found us to work on their homes.

Renovating a home is stressful. It costs money — sometimes a lot of it. Just to remind ourselves of these facts, we renovate our own homes from time to time. Like our clients, we hate the noise, expense, delays, irritation, dust, disruption and invasion of personal space. But, eventually, the last day of work comes. The crew leaves. The place is clean and empty. It’s quiet again. You feel a huge sense of relief. Its the “Ah!” moment when you realize why you wanted to make the changes in the first place. Your life — and how you live it — is changed for the better.

In our house, we took out a terrible, dysfunctional, small kitchen and created a great room. The breezeway became a large foyer entryway. The confused dueling front doors became a small bump out to enlarge the new kitchen and a new grand entryway to the foyer. Now, when we come home, we can feel our blood pressure drop. We relax and feel like we are on vacation. We cook and entertain now, too. The new great room is our favorite place to relax.

We see similar changes in the way our customers live after we complete their renovations. In fact, we find that some homeowners put renovations off for so long, they don’t even realize how their home is negatively impacting the quality of their lives.

For example, we had one couple as clients who bought a previously rented property from an estate and called us for the kitchen renovations. Their old kitchen was literally falling apart, and it had rats and raccoons living in it. The dishwasher and cabinets were falling apart. Nothing worked. It smelled bad. It was a large mess of a room, but it had good bones, a big pantry and a sunroom.

As we began working on the home, we noticed that this couple did not have much furniture. The range of things they had in their house spoke of college finds they had brought along over the years. No artwork. No nice pieces. Not even a nice pan or pot for the kitchen. They had at least 50 themed coffee cups and as many sippy cups, but not a proper plate or glass to be found.

We were very delighted to see that, near the end of the renovation, they began showing us their special finds for their new kitchen space. The husband found an antique map of their neighborhood that he had framed. They took a trip to a good kitchen-supply store to buy great pots and pans. A proper knife kit appeared on their new counters, and so did some shiny, new, stainless colanders and storage containers, as well as some other large-scaled items to fit their new space. They found a lovely green painted antique bench for their sunroom. It was clear to us that the couple was taking great joy in their home, and they had decided to live their lives very differently now that they had such a nice space to share.

Another couple we worked for had put off major renovations for about 16 years, and was living with a kitchen consisting of an IKEA cutting board table on wheels with a microwave on top, a 20+ year-old cheap electric range, a 1930s cast iron sink on legs, and a small fridge. Their 20×12-foot sunroom had leaky windows and no heat or AC. It held the smelly cat box and recycling containers. No one used that room but the cat, yet it had direct access to the rear parking area. There was also an unused butler’s pantry off the other side of the old kitchen.

We combined all three of these spaces into one grand kitchen. This took some convincing because, at first, they felt this might be too overdone in some way.

This family has been using their beautiful new kitchen for large family gatherings for about 10 years now. Their new sunroom is enjoyable all four seasons of the year. The husband, in particular, reads his newspaper, drinks coffee and enjoys his gardens from his perch there every morning and afternoon. They fell in love with their home after the renovations. I like to think their new space may have sparked some romance between them, too. How nice to have a kitchen built for two, and a sunny spot to enjoy together! The cats were sent to the basement for their personal needs.

We see all the time that people’s lives change for the better when they renovate their homes. Our customers get pretty giddy when the end of their project is in sight. We get a kick out of this. Most of the time, these people can’t even recall what their home was like before. Only the photos tell the story of their homes the way they used to be.