Historic Bath update!

Last summer, I began to transform my Westnedge Hill Project. I was there with the client in the spring when they looked at the home with their realtor initially and I have loved it from the first time I set eyes on it!

The home is a 1914 colonial in Kalamazoo’s Historic Westnedge Hill neighborhood. The house also has historical significance because it was built for the local  prominent Gilmore Family as a honeymoon cottage. The previous owner left the house in pristine condition and really respected the historic features of the house.

My clients absolutely fell in love with the house and how comfortable you feel as soon as you enter. They even moved from a much larger new construction home outside of town where they had a typical Master Suite….This master bedroom did not have an attached bath! Huge issue but they loved the house.

The master bathroom is across the hall and is the only bath on the main floor so it also has to be used for guests. Below is what it looked like the day we looked at the house with the realtors.

Ridge Road Before

We loved some of the historical elements but the original claw foot tub had been removed and the shower had been remodeled about 20 years prior. Who doesn’t love that sink, though??? I think about how much people pay to get a reproduction like this and here sits this pretty sink with a beautiful crackle aged finish!!

Unfortunately, when the claw foot tub was removed, so was the gorgeous marble hex tile and instead of matching it, they put in this white ceramic hex that did not match up….it sickens me to say this but we had to redo all of the flooring!! And since we had to that….should we rip out the shower as well to open the space?

My wheels were turning…..

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We needed to keep the historical elements that remained in good condition like the built-in with original knobs, sink and original medicine cabinet.

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We knew we wanted to make the bath look like it belonged to the home, so we chose a Carerra hex for the floor, including the shower, and added a matching subway to chair rail on the walls which is very classic 1914. We took the shower wall tile up even with the window to draw the eye up and make the space seem larger. We painted the walls a warm gray for contrast.

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The clients wanted to keep it simple and we really did. We opened the shower with a glass enclosure and my genius contractor came up with a way to attach the shower head to the glass.

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The existing historic faucet on the sink was a bronze and the original plan was to try to match it with antique brass fixtures. Unfortunately, The sink faucet fell apart with age as it was removed from the sink so we had to entirely replace all of the faucets but we special ordered Newport Brass fixtures.

Gorgeous with the marble! Brass is trending and in this house, it is also historically correct!

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We also added a fan light over the shower that looks like a simple can light and appropriate antique brass sconces on either side of the medicine cabinet from Circa Lighting.

So what do you think?

Just a little transformation…..

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Finally my Master Bath is done!

Well, summer is in full swing here on the Lake so between clients, kids, and lake side activity I haven’t had much time to update my site.

My master bathroom was finished a few months ago and I realized I never shared the photos so, better late than never.

Upon Entry to the bathroom, it is clean and restful. We did not have the option to change the footprint of the room, but just by hanging the white ship lap siding and painting it out in a crisp white with a Benjamin Moore Chelsea Gray accent, it makes a bold neutral statement.

It makes me happy every morning when I step inside and that is all that matters…I am, after all, my own worst client!

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 Both vanities are identical but I added artwork to subtly denote the female side from the male side. In the design of this house, I have tried to take most of my art work from nature in keeping with the lake house theme.  I have a pretty french print on fabric stretched over canvas on my side and a pair of Giclee fish with a burlap accent for my husbands side.

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I couldn’t be more happy with the storage options I gave myself.

What a huge improvement over the tiny vanity I used to open and everything would spill out onto the floor!!

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This medicine cabinet holds everything!!

There is a mirror inside and one out….how in the world did I live without this?

I think I get ready faster now that I have everything so organized.

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Plus I love the retro hardware on the cabinet….I have always wanted that hardware in a house of mine and I made it happen!

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My makeup drawer has never looked so good! The large drawers on the vanities were a great storage idea. My Husband, who doesn’t have as many toiletries, can keep all of his in the medicine cabinet and then his drawers are for extra sheets and towels since we don’t have a linen closet on this side of the house.

I am not a huge fan of  “matchy” towel bars so I just purchased some simple hooks for each vanity area. This works great for towels, robes and to hang out your outfit for the next day.

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I kept the water closet area very simple.

We were going to hang shelves over the commode but after moving into the vanities we felt we had solved our storage problem. A simple basket to hold extra toilet paper is all we need.

Keeping it simple once again and it worked out much better!

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The shower was a huge project but probably the most worth it in the entire room!

I have never been so thankful to have a beautiful shower door instead of a curtain…what a clean simple look!

The grout shows no water stains and it is now easy to keep clean. All of those hours of staining and re-grouting were worth the end result.

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I love the penny tile….maybe I am crazy but it just makes me happy and it feels great on your feet.

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So that is it! A simple master bath renovation.

Of course, my husband and I did most of the work.

How much do you think it all cost? I just looked at the final numbers and was shocked myself….it really does pay to be a DIY’er!!

We spent about $3000 which is pretty amazing since the average master bath remodel costs around $10,000-$15,000.

We did hire a plumber to move some plumbing to fit the vanities which cost us about $200.

So, what is next?

Well, the master bedroom, of course!!

But first, I did a little rearranging in my family room and had my back yard landscaped this summer so, stay tuned…

I promise I will update you all on those finished projects.

There is always something changing here at my fixer lake cottage!!

From Panic Room to Media Room…..

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When we downsized to this little lake cottage, we knew we were giving up a 1200 square foot finished basement.

Our old basement was half the size of this cottage!!

But, we are a family of three and we did not need a 3600 square foot home with 5 bedrooms and 4 1/2 baths.

We made the decision that we would rather have lake front property than the big suburban home…..plus, who wants to clean all that?

Not Me!!

The lake cottage does have a tiny basement…. pretty much a 105 square foot room with a small entry foyer to the home, a garage and a tiny workshop.

So, the question was what do we do with this small 105 square foot room that was dark, dirty and smelled pretty musty?

The room does have a door but is right off the entry foyer to our home.

The old owners used it as a storage room and probably had never vacuumed the musty old Berber carpet that was inside.

For the first year we lived here we did nothing. We had a kitchen to tear out and we had plenty of other projects to make the main spaces livable.

The room inevitably became storage…..and became known as “The Panic Room”.

Why, you ask?

Well, my 6’2″ neighbor decided that is what it should be called because every time he entered, he panicked a bit…..what I haven’t told you yet, is that this room only has 7′ ceilings!!

Yikes!!

What are we ever going to do with this space? It would be a shame not to use it!

So, last spring, after a gathering at a friends home, I was lamenting the fact that we did not have a separate place for my daughter and her friends to play video games or watch movies, like in our old basement.

Perfect!

That is what I would do with The Panic Room!

We need to convert it to a Media Room!

First, I needed a bit of design inspiration.

We would go with a bit of Coastal Chic like the rest of the house, but what would my colors be?

My husband happens to be the worlds largest Chicago Cubs fan and that spring he was mad because he had no place of his own to watch the game….I think my daughter and I had taken over with HGTV again!

Even my husband complaining gives me inspiration sometimes!

We have plenty of Cubs memorabilia left from our old basement and what is more fun for a lake house than Red, White and Blue with the Stars and Stripes?

Lets get Started!!! And we should probably begin with the smell, LOL!

I needed to get rid of that musty carpet….but do I replace it with carpet?

It does stay pretty chilly down there in the winter?

No! We don’t want this old basement to smell like a basement anymore!

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So, off to Lumber Liquidators I went.

I absolutely fell in love with this gray laminate floor!

Why Laminate?

Because it is does very well laid over a concrete basement floor when installed properly over a vapor barrier.

The carpet and pad only soaked up the moisture that come up through the concrete.

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We gutted the ceiling of the room first….hoping maybe it was dropped a bit.

No luck, but we solved the many electrical issues that awaited us.

I swear this house is Pandora’s Box!

Did I mention that in a 7′ room they installed fluorescent flush mount lights with oak trim?

Who had these bright ideas?!?!? (No pun intended)

There is my electrician looking perplexed as usual….

We installed puck lights with MR16 bulbs.

I love the light they cast….yes, I can be a huge lighting nerd but I promise you, it makes a difference.

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Instead of dry-walling the ceiling again, we installed white bead board just like the rest of the house. This, unfortunately, is my only before/in progress photo. I wish I could have bottled the smell so people would understand how gross this room really was!

It looks fantastic now….and even though we were not able to raise the ceiling, the room has the illusion of more height.

The room also had bead board installed a bit higher than chair rail height in about 3/4 of the room but never finished?

We finished it and trimmed it all up, painted it all white, and the Panic Room was finally causing less Panic!

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The drywall in the room needed a bit of color. I took a cue from the driftwood floor and choose a neutral gray called Bedford Gray by Martha Stewart.

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We hung an older spare TV we had on the wall….yes, I know we need a larger one!

How can this be a Media Room with such a small TV?!?!

The 55″ Flat screen will soon move down there when we acquire a new TV for our family room. Our Family room is in the process of a face-lift as we speak!

We had the credenza from our old basement plus the old game board on the wall.

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My mom sent me these antique decoys that she had collected 30 years ago.

They have to be over 100 years old and perfect for my Lake Cottage!

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This one is my favorite!

Thanks Mom!

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The seating in the room is a bright red sofa from Ikea with some patriotic pillows courtesy of Pottery Barn.

I used the basket cubes from my daughters room as a coffee table….they now contain all the Lego’s for she and Daddy to create with!

This room has turned out perfect for Father-Daughter bonding.

What is better than video games, Cubs baseball and Lego’s?

The rug is a soft jute from Rugs USA and completed the look….plus warms up the floor a bit.

The entire room was done with almost all things we had here in the house already!

There is nothing better than shopping in your own house for decor.

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It is now a clean, family space to throw your feet up and watch the game!

Update on my Master Bathroom Reno

Today, we leave for a much needed Spring Break family vacation but first, I wanted to update you on the progress of our Master Bathroom Renovation.

It has been a loooooooong winter here in Michigan and unfortunately, we have had some set backs on this project and it seems, every other client’s project too!

I have been playing the waiting game a lot lately.

All of my current clients are waiting on painters mostly so we seem to be at a stand still….my own house is no exception!

Today we are waiting on plumbers actually but, after I arrive home, I am hoping to wrap this project up.

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Does everyone remember how ugly it was before?

Pretty basic….and pretty ugly!

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So, first things first, we did demo! My favorite part!

We busted up all the tile, which was no easy task because it was porcelain.

Typical of this house….lets spend the max on the ugliest tile we can find so the next person that wants to change it has a heck of a time.

Do I sound bitter?

Its been a long 2 1/2 years remodeling this house!

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We tore out the floor, shower floor and vanities.

It got even uglier before it got better but, thats pretty standard on any renovation.

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I bought Penny tile for the shower floor and Carrara Marble for the bathroom floor and shower surround.

Love it!!!

So excited to get it all installed!

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I also came up with a plan to eliminate the white grout that drives me crazy on the existing subway tile we kept.

The white grout would drive me crazy when cleaning the shower.

I decided to dye it gray and go with gray for the entire tile project.

Easier said then done….would I do it again?

NO!

I am a perfectionist and my picture should be on the side of the bottle with a line threw it…..crazy, OCD Interior Designers need not apply!

I may have even gone over the edge one afternoon and busted out the niche to add a bit more penny tile just so I did not have to dye the grout in that area.

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It took us a few weekends but, we laid the floor tile and the shower tile.

We went with a hopscotch pattern on the floor which really widened the small room.

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I also decided to add height and character to the wall we would install this paneling from Home Depot. I really wanted Ship Lap siding but my tight budget would not allow for it.

I found this product instead and decided to hang it sideways.

It looks fantastic!!!!

It looks exactly like ship lap for a fraction on the cost and for such a small space, it only adds 3/16″ to the surface of the wall.

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The paneling is painted Behr Ultra White, as is all the trim in the rest of our home.

We painted the walls above Benjamin Moore Chelsea Gray, which really makes the gray veining in the marble floor pop!

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The grout is finally all gray and the marble floor and surround are in!

The shower door is on order and I look forward to using the shower soon!

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We installed medicine cabinets to add extra storage. Unfortunately, we could not recess them because the wall behind them is load bearing, but I think they turned out fantastic! They really add the character we were looking for.

We did have to put up the old lights….maybe temporarily? Maybe Not? We have limitations on ceiling height that is making it a challenge for me to find new fixtures I actually like….stay tuned on that one!

It may take some time!

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Last night, we installed the vanities and that brings us to where we must wait for a plumber. In order for the bottom drawers to close on both vanities, he needs to move the water shut off valves a bit. It has been a slow process of trial and error and, ups and downs this last two months but, I am really proud of the way it is turning out.

We still have loads of trim work to do and a few faucets would be good but, we are getting there!

Up until this point, My husband and I have done all the work ourselves too!

What a a great feeling of accomplishment!

 

 

I am all about a budget….

Have you ever heard of “Champagne Taste on a Beer Budget”? Basically, that is the story of my life….

My husband is an “Obsessive Saver” and, when let loose, I can be a “Big Spender”. It doesn’t matter how hard I try, when choosing between two things, I will always pick the more expensive one.

It is the cross I must bear! I gravitate towards a ‘high end look’ or product every time but then, reality sets in.

There is a very small percentage of people in this world where money is never a consideration….I am not one of them and probably, will never be. So, my reality is how do I get the look without paying the price?

Ever since we purchased our first home in 2000 and began that remodel, this question has led me to find creative solutions. The most positive of all the solutions is that my Hubby and I have become die hard “Do It Yourself”-ers! We have made it a hobby, which is totally not for everyone, but for us, it works.

So, when we moved to this 1960’s Fixer and, the kitchen had to go, we knew we could do it!! But, as with all projects, it came with a very strict budget from the Hubs….Boooo!

Well, that is what I always say at first. After the initial shock wears off, I always see it as a challenge…..and funny, I always end up using my creative abilities to keep costs down. The kitchen project was probably my biggest challenge to date in all of our homes and the budget I am most proud of.

We did it over a period of 6 months, performed most of the work ourselves and paid cash for everything.

First came the unexpected initial cost of tearing down the drywall. The old drywall had been skim coated with plaster around the old cabinets, so it was more cost effective to have it all redone. This cost plus, the initial tear out of the floor by the contractor, cost us $1300. Money well spent and boy, were we happy we did that! That opened Pandora’s box of electrical issues, so the Hubby rewired the kitchen before the new drywall went up. We replaced all the insulation too, after we found a few critter dwellings….Grossss! Then my contractor came, put up new drywall ready for us to paint. We knew we could physically put up the drywall, but would rather not finish it. In our previous home when we finished our basement, we learned that drywall is something you leave to the professionals. It saves you time and money in the long run!

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Then we installed the new hardwoods which saved a ton of money! We researched installation online and rented the flooring nailer from Home Depot. One weekend of our time and a fabulous flooring sale only cost us about $470. Golden!

The next big expense were the cabinets. I did tons of research on this and had a very long list of requirements. I went to three major home Improvement stores and bid the kitchen. Home Depot came in at the lowest price with the best value.

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The funny thing was, I had this Martha Stewart inspiration photo from Pinterest (above) that I was carrying around with me everywhere. Home depot carried the cabinets and I could actually afford them?!?! The stars were aligned. I was so impressed with Home Depot’s kitchen designer, Brian! He threw in a few ideas, I had not thought of, and we came up with a great design. Above and beyond that, the Martha Stewart Cabinet line came standard with so many requirements on my list.

My two main concerns, ‘Quiet Close Drawers and Doors’ and ‘Pull Out Drawers’ in the base cabinets…..Got it! Done!

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Check out the above picture. I have those pull out drawers on both sides of my oven for pots and pans. Organization! Woot! Woot!

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All three corners of the kitchen have tons of storage now. I love Martha’s Lazy Susan. I have had one in each house we have lived in, but, other cabinet companies, like Merillat and Aristokraft, have plastic shelves which start to collapse under the weight of canned goods. This one is all solid wood and looks pretty too!

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Martha had fantastic drawer choices. The one under the microwave is perfect for my daughters dishes and cups….totally self service! The other ‘Drawer in Drawer’ action holds utensils galore along with my cutting boards and knives, right next to the sink.

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I got a pull out Trash and Recycling cabinet which, was a must for someone who has OCD and hates to look at a kitchen garbage can. Love it!

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We even made our own tray cabinet on a budget. We just ordered a 12″ base, and installed the wire tray dividers you can buy for $15! We saved about $75 on this cabinet alone.

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For the rest of my serving platters, we ordered an extra shelf in the refrigerator cabinet for $20. It is crazy deep and, turns out, I needed it for all of those serving trays.

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I really did not want standard upper cabinets. I wanted my kitchen to have a custom look and, I think I achieved it, with installing the cabinets on top of the counter top. I added the glass cabinets stacked on top of the 42″ wall cabinets, for display. We saved on the glass cost by getting ‘doors cut for glass’ and then, using Plexiglas instead of real glass. I saved about $300 by making that small modification. Does anyone know they are not glass? No!

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My husband installed all of the cabinet lighting after we pre-wired for it during the electrical rough in. I also could not seem to find pendant lights I loved and, this being a remodel, I had to leave the pendant lights in this spot. There was no option to hang them over the peninsula…..so the wheels started turning. I made my own pendants out of Ball Jars, as seen on Pinterest. Minimal money was spent…..about $30 total. Do I like them? Yes! Will I have them forever? I like to change things up way too much for that but, they will do for right now!

The back wall of the kitchen has become a focal point. When we first moved into the house, my father in law told me not to look at the kitchen, just turn around and look at the lake view in the opposite direction. Now, when I look into my house from the deck, on the lake side, I love the kitchen view!  The focal wall left the rest of the kitchen walls open….just what this 1980’s dark oak kitchen needed.

So where do you think we are on cabinet cost? When I look back at the Hubby’s spread sheet, I can barely believe it myself! $6150!

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And that price includes knobs!! Lets talk about that for a second. This is an old lake house and I want it to have charm and character. I always look at knobs for cabinets as “jewelry”….maybe someone said that to me once? I don’t know? But, I do know, I hate things to be “matchy-matchy” and contrived. When I chose my knobs, I did not just choose one style, I chose three. I really think this gives the kitchen more character, that it has evolved over time, rather than just your standard ‘Builder grade’ kitchen that is in every new suburban home.

Next came appliances. We knew that we would save if we used what we had and really, the dishwasher and stove were in great shape, so we kept them. All we needed was a larger refrigerator, hood fan and new built in microwave. I got a great deal on the fridge because I had time to wait for a sale while we remodeled. Frankly, I struck gold on Black Friday! I knew I wanted the largest refrigerator money could buy and, I planned my kitchen cabinets accordingly. I am not a fan of “counter-depth”….it sacrifices much needed space inside the fridge, so why not extend the cabinet out? I also sold the old one on Craigslist which kept costs down and afforded me more money for the budget.

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The microwave was a counter top model, plus a trim kit, to give it a built in look. Why spend the money on a ‘microwave cabinet’ if you are not going to trim it out and make it look finished? Notice all of those different knobs working together in that photo, by the way….who says you have to match everything?

The hood fan was a bit tricky but we did our research and ordered it online. We installed it ourselves and saved there too.

The total cost for all three was $1630….pretty much the cost of a mid range refrigerator and we got all three just by taking the time to shop it!

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The next piece of the puzzle was the counter top. For this kitchen, I really considered wood at first. I thought we could install it on our own and, it would go great with my lake house theme. Well, after discussing the logistics nightmare with my contractor, and my husband, and asking about 4200 questions, I wimped out. So then, I went to price the ‘Carrara Marble look’ in Silestone or Quartz….very pricey! This lead me back to Granite. I found a great fabricator and picked a slab they had in stock for a very low price. The dark gray will still allow me to have the marble on my back splash. It really was the best option and, the install will allow me to have that apron front stainless sink that I have always wanted! Deal done! $3800 plus another $800 for the sink, faucet and plumbing done by the contractor.

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The last step was the back splash. I bought all of the tile and supplies at Home Depot. We laid out a plan and away we went. We have done other back splash projects in other homes. In my opinion, every kitchen should have a back splash. It adds so much to the character of the space and makes your space unique. Since I did not have upper cabinets, we only tiled two rows plus a trim piece on two sides of the kitchen, which saved a ton on cost.

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The focal wall got tile up to the hood fan and a river rock mosaic that kept with the coastal theme. The back splash was so simple but, adds so much to the overall design.

So, the kitchen remodel is complete. Now it’s time to be shocked by the numbers!

On average a Kitchen remodel with new cabinets etc. will cost around $30,000.

Mine cost $15,000 total!!! I cut that in half…..Champagne Taste on my Beer Budget plus what I learned along the way was priceless!

Renovation-aholic

“Renovation-aholic” is my term for what this house has turned me into. Let me give you some background….a few years ago, my husband and I were going through a pretty tough time personally. We were living in Ann Arbor, and we needed a change. I had no idea what that change was, but one day, I had an epiphany! I wanted a boat!! Water is the best therapy, right? On a boat you can get closer to nature and we are a family that loves the outdoors…we grew up on Lake Michigan…and that’s what we needed! Water! Around that same time, my husband was offered a job in Southwest Michigan, so off we went to find a house on a lake. Well, after lots of research, I learned two things…..

1) A lake house is never going to be your standard two story colonial suburban home

2) they can be very expensive the larger they get

So, I find the perfect lake….really, its the best lake in Southwest Michigan by far. I fell in love with the area first! Now I had to find a home within our budget and make it work….I can do this! I am a designer who can transform anything, right? Well, we searched and searched but were very limited in our price range and knew no matter what we had to renovate. My hubby and I are known to be “Do-it-yourself” er’s so we also felt like we could take on a project of this magnitude because in the end we hope to actually gain sweat equity…..the last few homes we have had were new and there was not much equity left when we moved if you know what I mean….our new motto, never buy a new house, always renovate!

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So, eventually we found this 4 bedroom 2 and a half bath 1961 Lake House on Gull Lake. It has some great bones and we knew we could shape it to what would work for our family. The photos shown in this post are all before pictures. The pictures dont do the house justice. They were all taken when the house was occupied….but when we saw it, no one had lived here in quite some time. In my future posts I will share with you my journey on the renovation…still ongoing….but I am never satisfied because, I believe design is always evolving. If I hung a picture up on the wall and left it for 20 years, it may date itself, right? My grandmother was the perfect example of that….her house looked like the “Leave It to Beaver” set until she died 9 years ago. I have an entire blog post on her home but that is going to have to wait until later….I have too much to say today about this Crazy lake house idea I had.

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Looking back, two years later, this was the best project that we could have taken on. Everyday, we discover something new that needs our attention, but we have the beauty of the lake and woods that sounds us. The inside of the home is getting there and that’s OK, I am working on patience with each project still. This house has taught me about what we can do together as a family, how to relax and have fun, and how you don’t need the largest most expensive home to be happy. I love my 2200 square foot lake house. Downsizing has had its challenges but we use 80 percent of the house….when we were living in 3500 square feet, we used maybe 50 percent. (And I don’t have to clean all that square footage! Woot! Woot!)

The most “shocking” thing that has come out of this entire experience is My Hubby and I take the summer off from renovations! We never used to stop home projects during the summer but, our time outside on the lake seems to take precedence, which is has been great for our family!

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Summer on Gull Lake can not be beat, that’s for sure!