Home Sweet Renovation

Whoa, who are you and why are you here? Do you come here often? I, sadly do not…as you can see. Unless you have a horrible memory and keep visiting and rereading posts saying, ‘Great new post Brittany!’. Which if this is the case, thank you! Hmm, so what have I been up to? Well, I started my own *small* company back in September which has kept me busy. What else…oh and we bought a house…in Massachusetts, but we still live in Brooklyn. Ahh yes, you see, right? No? Okay I’ll start from the top.

I’m a homey person…I love being at home, I love decorating a home, I like projects yada yada. But up to this point in my 9 year relationship with my husband we’ve lived with his parents and in three small rentals in London (okay, they weren’t all small, but we lived in the largest one with no money, and then they grew smaller as our funds got larger which was sort of torture). Then we got rid of basically all of our possessions in our move to NYC where we lived with two borrowed camp chairs and a mattress on the floor for months until some of our stuff turned up and our furniture orders finally started trickling in. Meanwhile, over the course of all these years we’d been saving for that eventual grown up house and my biological house clock was stamping it’s little foot. But, as I’ve probably mentioned I’m not the biggest fan of New York so I’m not keen on giving her a buncha money for a cockroach infested (okay our place is lovely and NO cockroaches, but is also rental only) apartment where renovations and all the fun stuff would be hampered by city regulations and 9,000 neighbors. Soooo, where does that take us? Two states away. To our second home…without owning the first home.

It all started with visits to our friends at the Briarcliff Motel in the Berkshires in Western Massaschusetts. We’d visit, we’d love and then we’d drive sadly back into the city. We joked on our first visit that we should just buy a place up there where you could get a giant house with land for a third of the price on a studio apartment down the street. That very night I started a realtor.com list and that became my go-to nighttime ritual where I scoured areas I’d never even been to before. Then, the day after I left my job last September, we went up to look at 12 properties. There were 2 that really stood out, but to be honest we had other things on our mind as the next day we picked up Tilly and then the day after I started my new company with work on the table. We visited the two houses again, but things just weren’t clicking on some of the finer details regarding internet connectivity etc. so we sat on it…and sat…and made random day trip drives into Connecticut to scout some neighborhood we’d seen online. We had this amazing imaginary neighborhood in mind, but weren’t actually finding it in the flesh. We toyed with an AMAZING really expensive property for a bit and then cooled on that as well when I smelled heart palpitations on the horizon. Then in April we were having lunch at Le pain Quitodien and I got an email for a price reduction on the property we still thought about from our initial viewings…I told David (the calm and cool one to my emotionally driven being) and he said, ‘Oh, let’s just make an offer.’ Ehhh…really?!? He decided that if we could get it for price X it would be a good deal and he set off on negotiations. Three days later we had a deal and then we had 2 days to get everything in order to make our paperwork/mortgage deadlines before we went away for my 30th birthday. Needless to say we did it and we closed 30 days later!

So how does this all work? Well, the house needs love…not crazy amounts of horrible-plumbing-not-working type of work, but just updating. We bought this as a project, a place to flee to when we can’t take the city and want fresh-air and maybe further down the line as a holiday rental. It’s also an investment of sorts, but not in the way that I have to only work in a palette of creams, granite and stainless steel to appeal to everyone, but more in the way that the housing market was low, mortgage rates were low and our money wasn’t earning anything sitting in the bank. The more I open my eyes to other renovation blogs, I’m finding a lot of people like Door Sixteen and Manhattan Nest to name just two, who are also doing the two home thing–which I suppose is reassuring! We’re happy that is a blend of work and redoing every room, but totally liveable in the meantime. Some rooms are just repainting and furnishing and others..buh bye.

I’m currently brainstorming the heck out of it–which you can view just a small portion of my visual mush here. The rest is clogging up my dropbox folder just pleading to be organized nicely. The first project which involves half of the ground floor and will result in tearing out the kitchen, a bathroom and reflowing things is set to get started in a few short weeks and nothing has been ordered yet! I do feel like I’m starting to make some headway into the style though (I’m definitely guilty of having way too many styles!), so now it’s just a case of trying to get personality and style, while making sure it’s not wacky. More to come as we develop the space…In the meantime, enjoy the good, the bad and the certainly ugly  of the ‘befores’ and I’ll go dream up a colour palette that is a lot less yellow, brown and burgundy.

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  • Melinda said on July 16, 2013 5:29 pm

    Lovely post!

    So glad you’re back. And congratulations on the ‘second home’ purchase. I’ve been scouring the real estate sites too – but in London, not MA or CT. (We’re about to make the leap over there and I’m trying to get my bearings.)

    Good luck with the reno! Can’t wait to watch the progress.

     
     
  • Brittany said on July 16, 2013 5:35 pm

    Thanks Melinda! Good to be back…Whereabouts in London are you looking? We talk all the time about where we’d move to if/when we move back to the UK and we get a little bit lost. I checked out the street where we last lived in Kensington and lo and behold our old flat was up for rental, but this time at 400 pounds more pcm. Ouch. Nevermind actually purchasing a place…I fear I’ll be very saddened with purchase prices! Good luck!

     
     
  • The Butterpig's Mum said on July 31, 2013 11:23 pm

    Hallelujah! She’s back! I guess that makes me one of those “great new post” gals…Anyway, SO very exciting to see more snaps of the new place. Can’t wait to a.) visit and b.) see where you take it. Living vicariously in the meantime through your backyard. xo

     
     
  • Audrey said on August 19, 2013 10:52 am

    I completely understand your kitchen and bathroom plight! We got married a year and a half ago and I moved into my husband’s bachelor pad. The kitchen was just as lovely as yours, but half the size and the back splash was made of faux brick attached with the most aggressive adhesive ever created. How could the 70s have such fun music and fashion and such horrid interior decor? Short story longer, we blew out a wall, went to Ikea for brilliant cabinets and hosted a Thanksgiving for 20! I think a new kitchen is the single best present you can ever give yourself!! (Seconded closely by a new bathroom, which is currently in progress). Happy Renoing!!

     
     
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