Home Renovations

We need a story. The media has lost their collective mind and they, like a 14yr old girl, need to cry it out in order to return to the family dinner table.
Cuppa Covfefe made a post yesterday and it triggered the memory of a good story. Grab a cup of coffee and put your feet up for a few minutes and take a ride with me.
Remember the old parable about the cobbler’s children having no shoes? It’s probably true, because the cobbler is too busy making shoes for paying customers. Likewise, the plumber’s house probably has a leaky faucet. Our B&B, as the home of a General Contractor, had similar problems and constantly needed attention as a historical property.
When I met my first husband, he was in debt. I wasn’t worried about the money. I knew how to make money, and he was particularly gifted at what he did. Keep in mind, I’m saying this as an ex-wife today, which means yes, he was very good at what he did. In fact, after the divorce, I hired him to work for my company – doing take-offs for construction projects. Anyway…..
While we were dating, he expressed the desire to become a “bonded” construction company. It was a big deal. Mountains of paperwork involved, and for every job which is bonded, “X” amount of money has to sit, in a CD at  bank, not as operating capital, to be grabbed by the bonding company in case we went bad and did not complete the job. Plus, there was no limit to the liability. The bonding company could literally take the shirt from my back.
To be clear, if a job was “bonded”, and we took a job for $60K renovation for a master bedroom/kitchen, that meant we had to have $60K sitting in a CD and didn’t get our money back until the job was pronounced complete, by the architect, and released. Bonded jobs, however, were usually state/federal jobs, and awash in an excess of paperwork. I took on the task of getting him bonded. It took me 9 months, but we were successful. First bond = $50K.
For the entire course of our marriage, we lived off of what I made at the B&B, while we plowed profits back into the construction company to be able to bond at higher and higher limits, $100K, $200K, $250K, $500K, and finally, a million or more. I worked hard to support our family but so did he. We were building out little empire as most couples do. He took a little bit in salary, but just enough to pay the mortgage on the shop, his child support for my step-son, and a minimal cable/phone bill. I covered everything else.
Because he was bonded, one of only 8 companies in the state, he got a big break building strip centers on the out parcels located around new Wal-Mart stores. Occasionally, he was gone for 3-4 day stretches out of town. This was new and unusual, but part of “bonding” and our new success. While we were building our businesses, I understood when he ignored things I wanted done at the B&B. One day, the staff and I were working on a big job and my mother-in-law was here, swilling martinis and watching us work. We were on top of each other and made an effort to work around HER.
MIL: You need a bigger kitchen.
Me: Well, the kitchen was ignored in the renovation, I still have metal cabinets from 1948. We’re making it work as best we can.
MIL: (Pointing with an olive on a toothpick) Honey, why don’t you take a sledgehammer to the back wall of the kitchen and knock it out (she had actually done this to her husband to precipitate a renovation she wanted).
Me: (Aghast)
MIL: The timing is perfect. You’re pregnant. He can’t hit you. (God as my witness, that’s what she said.)
Although humorous to entertain the idea, I’m simply not the manipulative type. Besides, we had too much scheduled for the kitchen to be down for 2-6 weeks for a rebuild. Yet, her words rang in my ears for years…….
At one point, my ex-husband hired an architect to draw up a plan for our kitchen addition. As everyone agreed, I needed a bigger kitchen. I was thrilled, until I saw the plan. Instead of making use of existing space – he just added onto the house. The proposed kitchen looked like a bowling alley. It was 62′ from my stovetop to the dining room table. And I made breakfast for guests, every day. The architect was confined to a wheelchair. I was worried about my own feet. Plans…… scrapped.
A new bonded job meant another trip out of town. This time, he “gave me” his men to do various tasks around the house. We had a discussion of a few things I wanted done and he was okay with the idea. No blowing the budget. Well, maybe a little bit. Finally, the cobbler’s wife was getting a new pair of Cinderella slippers. I had 4 days and my imagination ran wild.
Basement: We have about 800 sq ft in the basement the previous owners used as a root cellar. They had a hand operated assembly line for masons jars/preserves. I wanted the assembly line removed, new stairs built, lighting installed, as we used the basement for storage for extra catering supplies. It was our huge butler’s pantry. New shelving in place and a work table. Minimal but functional. Sweet!
On the main floor, all the furniture removed from our den, plaster guys in to fix the walls, wallpaper and carpeting installed, new furniture, new den. Master bedroom, same treatment, bookcases installed to match trim – to be Gunner’s new bedroom as we would move upstairs.
Second floor – My stepson’s room, The “Maid’s Room”, was actually master bedroom size, and had a large bathroom, closet, and a repeat of the back hallway (about 11’x15′), more like a suite of rooms. I had the upstairs dressing room plumbed for another laundry room. An original wall mounted ironing board was brought back to life, and the back hallway became a souped up dressing room. The old bathroom was patched and painted as well as the new master bedroom. Furniture moved, new linen. Shelving in the bath and closet – good to go.
Outside, the masons were working on the brick garden. We have an intricate trellised brick garden, but because the house was abandoned for 23yrs, many repairs need to be made. Commercial electricians showed up to replace primary our meter base. We now have a 900 Amp meter base which is over 7′ tall. Stunning.
There were workmen and my girlfriends……. everywhere.
But that was nothing compared to what we did to the attic. The top floor of the house, the attic, is about 2300 sq ft., pine flooring, and the center has about a 22′ ceiling. We transformed the attic into our wonderland. We have a full, five-panel door and wide wooden stairs leading to the attic, off the back hallway (my new dressing/laundry area). I dreamed about an attic workshop for years…….. and I was finally getting one.
All the women in my family are handy/crafty. My mom knitted. My step-mother painted and cooked. Grandma Della sewed. Other grandmas/aunts crossstiched and made lace for pillowcases. All those women had a craft closet or a guest bedroom where they would stash their supplies. Problem was, my craft stuff was now making the mortgage payments and paying for a fairly nice lifestyle for my family. I rationalized – I needed more space to work. I went a little overboard on the attic.
From the previous owners, we already had a 12’x15′ cedar closet in the attic. The men built shelves, all round the center section and then in the galleys surrounding the center section. I had cable TV brought up and wired to the attic. Shop lights came in, and pegboards went up. Phone installed, mini fridge, but even though I had the water lines plumbed…….. I didn’t have enough time to put in a half-bath. Darn it.
We created separate work stations for sewing, kids crafts, wedding stuff, and a whole station for wrapping of presents. I had comfy chairs, and a few old rugs, and a great stereo. The girls and I spent so much time in the attic, we created a play space for the kids with chalkboards, bean bag chairs, and little table and chairs. Gunner loved it.
The construction boys and I got crossways when it came to shelving for ribbon. I have a LOT of ribbon. Different jobs required more and more, different sizes and shapes. Again, not a hobby, this was business. One year, we wrapped Christmas presents for a corporate client, made almost $5K. Not too bad, eh? Another year, we did corporate basket gifts. With the profit, I sent Big T to Boston Red Sox Fantasy Camp as his Christmas present. Along the way, we gained a reputation for wrapping gifts. Hey, whatever paid the bills was fine with me. The construction boys argued I could NEVER fill up that many shelves with ribbon……….

Yeah, and those pics don’t include the Christmas/Easter ribbons…….. and all the wrapping paper, and boxes, and “stuff”.
Once the shelves were up, the girls and I swung into action outfitting our new space, while the men were still working downstairs. We were like kids with a new treehouse. We brought in clothes drying racks to hold reams of different colored tissue paper. Shoe shelves for various paints and every color of glitter. Drop down shelving for popsicle sticks, construction paper, old pantyhose, men’s socks, and fuzzy fringe balls. We bought out Wal-Mart of plastic bins – several times. They had to restock to suit us. We ordered a dumpster and threw old cardboard boxes from the attic window as we stocked and labeled our new bins.
A whole section for vases, balloons, oasis, and cases of glue sticks, guns, hammers, tools, marbles, wedding gear. A whole section to make Easter baskets. Wreaths hung from the rafters of the attic, preserved leaves, floral, yarn, fabric, uncompleted projects from generations of women. We organized a large sewing center, all the buttons/zippers/hooks/tape collected from generations of women, racks and racks of thread. I actually own 5 generations of my family’s women’s pinking shears. I had them framed. Every handmade item they created was a labor of love. I wanted our attic to be the same way.
And then there were the storage galleys….
Decorations for Christmas, Halloween, Easter, July 4th, a party for Oktoberfest, Chinese lanterns, Italian flags, Baby shower stuff, or a tropical themed party. Whatever was needed, we had it all. And we rented it out, over and over, and over again….. paying that mortgage.
We were upstairs, the girls and I, playing and planning, when all of a sudden, we heard a ruckus downstairs. My ex-husband was home a day early.
We were still waiting on the carpet guys for the den….. so the living room furniture was still sitting in the middle of the driveway………. couches, chairs, tables and lamps, right where he usually parked his truck……. Oh, crap.
He damn near had a heart attack. We did go a little bit overboard but we got a LOT done in 3 1/2 days. He gave me sooooo much grief. My response, I told him what his mother said, about knocking out the back wall of the kitchen. I joked and chuckled a little bit, “If you were gone a little longer, I could have done the kitchen, too.”
He was wide-eyed. The story of his mother knocking out a load bearing wall, while his dad was on a business trip in Europe (read as he didn’t take her with him and she was mad), was infamous in his family. For emphasis, I added, “And don’t think I haven’t thought about it!”
A few months later, he and the boys decided to take off and go fishing in Canada, Thunder Bay, for two weeks. It was a good trip and he deserved it, no whining from me at all. I liked the idea. All the guys in our family went fishing in Canada during the summer. In the pic below, from left to right, my grandfather, an uncle, the boy is my dad, and the guy on the right is my great-grandfather.
fishing
But……
He took the keys to every piece of equipment he had, bulldozer/backhoe/little cherry lift/bigger crane/ and all the trucks – and locked them in the safety deposit box…….. and took the safety deposit box key with him.
Darn it. The girls and I would have had fun with the backhoe.
I still haven’t renovated the kitchen. Missed my opportunity…….
end
 
 
 
 
 
 

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kalbokalbs

Feet are up. Sipping covfefe. Initiative, imagination, smiles and chuckles throughout the read. Great story. Thank you!

GA/FL

“I still haven’t renovated the kitchen. Missed my opportunity…….”
That’s ridiculous – a cook needs a proper kitchen – not luxurious, but adequate functional workspace and equipment – I vote you get plans and renovate that kitchen ASAP!!!

GA/FL

Let the menfolk work and contribute – the factory owner whose 4$$ you saved, Gunner, ex-husband, even Big T have an interest in Miss Daughn’s great kitchen.
Heck, the whole town benefits from your kitchen one way or another!
Ask the townfolk to have car washes, bake sales, for money making ideas, put coin boxes in the local stores, sell memberships in a monthly breakfast club, etc.

GA/FL

Have a Dinner Dance Benefit!!! Remember those old South Dinner Dances? I can just see your garden lit with paper lanterns, a local swing band, a buffet dinner, drinks (paid bar) or tickets with punch card for drinks and buffet….
There’s also the old fashioned Southern Teas – our church made BIG money selling gourmet baked goodies at a Christmas Tea! – it was amazing what the ladies turned out!

NebraskaFilly

What a great idea, GA! I’ll bet Daughn would have enough in the blink of an eye!!! Pretty much everyone in the town benefits, after all!!!! All her customers bring added benefit to the other businesses as well.

GA/FL

Daughn is a local treasure – and now a national treasure through WQTH!!!
Heck, Daughn’s BOOK would finance the kitchen!

prairie123

Oh my gosh! I would by that book in a heartbeat!! I would even order more for gifts for the family!
Thanks Daughn for another great story!! I am jealous of the shelves of ribbon; I used to be super-crafty but other things kind of got in the way. 🙁 I woke up on day and realized I was a “jack of all trades” kind of gal and didn’t have a real skill, so I took up quilting and sort of tabled everything else for the time being.
Great story – thanks for sharing!

trumpismine

My Grandma Clarkie was a quilter and made one for my wife and I when we were married. All done by hand, and that quilt was the treasure of my wife, me and eventually our children. Warm on a cold night and so comfy on those cool mornings.
My lovely or the kids would grab it off the bed and claim it moving around the place all wrapped in it and after 25 or 30 years it finally wore out.
Sigh, wish I would have wrapped it up and saved it for the grandkids….

NebraskaFilly

IKR? No doubt!

litenmaus

What delightful ride….thanks daugn

NebraskaFilly

OK – haven’t read yet but just have this to say before I do. The instant I saw yet another fantastic story from Daughn, I yelled “YES!!!!” Also, this hit me specifically because just this past Sunday, one of my co-workers with a 13 yr. old daughter came into the store to get ice cream for her daughter, who was sitting in the car crying and was too embarrassed to come inside herself!
“We need a story. The media has lost their collective mind and they, like a 14yr old girl, need to cry it out in order to return to the family dinner table.”
Now to some truly enjoyable reading! You are amazing, Daughn!

Gail Combs

OH MY!!! Daughn
I WANT YOUR ATTIC!!!
I have saddles (29) and home made saddle pads and homemad brides and halters and unicorn costumes in every color and… All over the house with the boxes of faux fur, webbing, ribbons & bows & flowers to decorate the ponies…
And that does not include the harnesses and horse collars and… NONE of which can be stored in an area that is not A/C if I want my leather to last.

Gail Combs

Sorry if that does not make much sense but we have an unheated walk-up attic that I REALLY want to convert to MY craft room. So seeing this got me very excited. Can I borrow your crew for 3 days??? 😋

Gail Combs

My attic has two fullsize windows in each end so a window A/C unit or two would solve the problem. Actually I was thinking of dividing it in 1/2 and using the north side for the crafts and the south side for the usual attic storage.

NebraskaFilly

Oh, Gail! I rented a house from a woman outside Warrenton, VA who raised Arabians and rode in hundreds, if not thousands, of costume classes/demonstrations! You should have seen her collection! She had one whole room dedicated to them. Simply gorgeous, every bit of it!
What an amazing woman she was! In her latter months (I guess she was in her 70’s, probably), she suffered from cancer (had an absolute bum of a hubby – airline pilot) and had a chemo pump, yet she was out in the fields on the tractor bush-hogging! My hubby at the time went out and made her get off, and he finished it for her. It was so sad when she passed and her bastard of a husband went COMPLETELY off the rails! Sold all of the horses, bought the proverbial red convertible, took up with a local huzzy……it was just sickening!

A Fortiori

Warrenton is beautiful, and world class horse country. Not far from DC, but an entirely different world.

NebraskaFilly

I lived in the area for a goodly number of years. 7 years on a 6-acre property 1 mile from the back gate to Vint Hill Farms. Lived in Delaplane, Orleans, Upperville and Marshall as well as Hume. One year on an Arabian farm in Bluemont.

Gail Combs

“… took up with a local huzzy….” who probably took him for a ‘ride’ and left him with a nasty disease.
(Sorry I am a vindictive b1tch… so’s Karma)

NebraskaFilly

Hope so – he was a REAL jerk!

cthulhu

Another great tale from “Cometh the Daughn”.

rayzorbak

By Daughn’s Early Light.

cthulhu

“The Piper at the Gates of Daughn”? [Extra points if you know where that comes from….and it ain’t Pink Floyd.]
“By Daughn’s Early Light”?

rayzorbak

“By Daughn’s Early Light”
Just a suggestion for her book.

Dora

This isn’t a story, but I think you’ll all enjoy it. 🙂

NebraskaFilly

Looks like hunk material to me! My goodness!

Plain Jane

Looks like he’s working out also. Handsome kid.

A Fortiori

There she goes again! Just when we need a little pick me up around here, our best story teller comes through.
And by the way, Hubby’s return would not have been nearly as troublesome had you not denied him his parking space. Most men are triggered when they come home and find they cannot use their parking space. I’m pretty sure he hid the keys to his equipment out of fear you would permanently destroy his parking space while he was away.

BAM

I’m convinced architects don’t cook.

cthulhu

I rebuilt our kitchen in 2004. I had been planning it for about two years, and we hired a contractor — but, then, fired him when he didn’t bother to actually meet a payment milestone and just demanded payment after demo (in November……thought he’d freeze us out).
It’s an asymmetric galley, about 9’6″ on one side and 13’8″ on the other, with about 9’10” across. I read books and studies and made wish-lists and modeled……
Some of the biggest bang-for-the buck items:
On the short side (with dishwasher and sink), the cabinets are mounted the width of a 2×4 (3-1/2″) away from the wall. This made the granite slab countertop 3-1/2″ deeper and made a more comfortable margin around the undermount sink — none of the controls can hit the back wall. It also means there are no joins in the granite. You don’t pay extra for the cabinets — they’re standard depth, as are the drawers — the end where it butts into the wall is the same — the only difference is the end cap. The only place that I regret this is in the back of my sink cupboard — I should have insisted it go back to the wall.
The long side is endcap, fridge, counter, cooktop, counter, wall oven, wall. Obviously the cabinets over this are none (for fridge), X, top of hood, X, straight up from oven. Standard wall cabinets are 12″ deep — the X’s are 15″. Such a small thing, and so much more luxurious!
We have a 36″ cooktop — with a 42″ hood. I don’t remember where I saw that, but it makes a huge difference.
The countertop runs between the fridge and the oven stack, so they’re both 1″ forward — that runs the counter between them and doesn’t have counter corners hanging in midair.
And we made our own backsplash for the cooktop out of a piece of stainless (structurally, it sits on the countertop and is tucked behind the cabinets with padding to hold it forward). We studied, and have pictures of, all sorts of decorative stainless treatments from places like Disneyland and government buildings. I got a piece of industrial stainless, used palm sanders to make it a cloudy nothing, drew a pattern on it with a sharpie, then used an angle grinder to trace the pattern. A final treatment with Naval Jelly “passivates” the stainless, then we had it cut to fit and stuffed it in. Funny thing, though, the stainless place asked me how thick I wanted and I said, “about this thick”, holding my finger and thumb apart……..it’s as thick as the steel they put over road trenches when they’re working on them and would probably stop anything short of an armor-piercing shell.
We put in dual skylights with a light bridge in the skylight well between them. This seems really counterintuitive, but — trust me — build it out of cardboard and it’s true. Let’s say your skylights are 24″ long (top to bottom), and your intended skylight well will be 48″ wide. It will look very weird and wrong if your skylights are exactly centered. OK, you might reason, you’d shift the skylights toward the short side…..and that’s worse. You actually have to shift your skylights toward the tall side of the skylight well to get them to look right.

BAM

Nice! We redid our kitchen about a year and a half ago. The old kitchen was prettier, but the longer I used it, the more I dis-liked it. It had a couple of serious choke points and organization was poor. Now it’s a lot more efficient and practical.

rayzorbak

As a designer….. I am impressed once again Daughn.
With your (Dimensions) all spelled out, I get a pretty good idea of the size(s).
Most women I have worked with have zero depth perception.
You… on the other hand…..
seem to have it all “wrapped” up 🙂
(Ribbons and all)

GA/FL

In my ideal kitchen, I’d want a little office/library nook , to research and plan meals and events – with desk and computer, cookbook shelves, file cabinet. two chairs and a footstool to prop up feet.

Plain Jane

I’m not an architect, but when we had our kitchen DR remodeled 23 years ago, I managed to get 10 lbs. into a 5 lb. bag. I went through reams of 1/4 inch graph paper for floor plans and elevations, electrical, lighting, etc. Had to o it when going up and down my basement stairs to sew was no longer an option for me.
In order to do it though, the cabinets had to be custom made. Since I had to be able to also sew in my kitchen, have my machine, serger and overlock available while sewing, the trick that worked for me was to have 2 nested sewing desks/tables with drawers in the lower one.
One ceiling to floor cabinet held all my machines, other cabinets hold many supplies. All sewing is in one corner of the kitchen. The plus sid is that I can watch something on the stove while sewing. I have utilized the desks as desert tables, beverage bar, you name it, for entertaining when the sewing gear is put away.
I’ve made at least 1k pierogi on a silicone sheet that fits perfectly on the desk, I sit and debone 60 chicken thighs and can pitch the joints back into the pots to extract more of the collagen for the broth when I-roll the desk close to the stove.
Three rolling server carts are my friend whether sewing, cooking, entertaining, folding laundry or just plain grabbing up crap that I have no time to deal with if company is coming. Roll it all into an unused bedroom and shut the door.
I truly admire your organizational OCDedness DNW. I finally got our basement transformed after 40 years to what I always wanted, thanks to a water problem a few times. Polished concrete replaced the carpeting, the bar and room dividing walls torn down, 36 seven foot by 50 some inches stainless shelving units on wheels. The only thing not on wheels is the furnace, washer and dryer the pool table and two disposable dressers. Yes! I bought out Costco on the storage bins.
Our home os 51 years old, so now we still have to do something again about rainwater during torrential storms. This fall, my perfect basement has to again suffer the indignity of concrete dust…the perimeter will be busted up for a foot around for installation of some type of drainage system so we can scrap the water sucker upper. Oh my, DH promised we will get a cleaning crew in after the work is done.
Again, I sure do admire organizational OCD. 🙂

Plain Jane

I almost went into architecture when I was taking architectural drawing at The Purdue University extension. They were putting in a new department and the head guy pulled me out of class at the suggestion of my drawing teacher to try to entice me. At that time I was a homemaker long enough to realize that even engineers don’t have a real clue to functional use of home space. I would have done it, but I got pregnant with our youngest child. Priorities 🙂

LM

Daughn, whenever I read one of your stories I read it as a recipe for healthy living.
I always read them with a grin, and not a little bit of chagrin.
Your stories make me want to do better and have more fun with all the things that normally I would (this comes more naturally to me) complain about. Today I was inspired in the following way. Many thanks dear friend.
I have an attic which I dearly love. However, when my kids saw that we had one they each decided that “all that extra space” should not go unused and so they would store things there.
I now have an attic full of stuff that I cannot throw away because, of course, it is not mine.
What to do? Appeals to sort out electronics did not avail, and the thought that I might throw away something of true value and have to live with the (spoken and unspoken) reproach too much for me.
However, God is good.
A squirrel (and family) took up temporary residence in our attic which left me with the following announcement to my loving offspring.
The squirrel has probably pooped on everything. Do you still want it?
Unanimous horrified noes.
Now I can have a craft attic and we can all have fun!
🙂

BAM

Yippee!

LM

👍😄❣️

ozzytrumpster

Admit it you lured those squirrels with peanut butter and nuts on the grounds it was gonna be a short term lease

LM

I was absolutely terrified they were raccoons…..visions of Cujo danced through my head, to say nothing of the brain eating worms their poop carries.
Never was I so happy to find they were squirrels!
(The peanut butter went in the benevolent squirrel catcher).
I still haven’t had the courage to go up there.
But thanks to Daughn, I now have a happy ending in mind.
😍

ozzytrumpster

That’s why we have pest control guys.
Just saying

LM

Ozzy,
The pest control guy is a huge hero to me!
Do you know how much it costs to remove a raccoon (here)?
$1350.00
I would have run to give the money to him. But our guy had a big heart. He identified the poop (phone picture) and told us what to do.
❤️

ozzytrumpster

Why so much? Just lay poison and go on a s wee

ozzytrumpster

Sorry accidentally set too early. Just lay poison and go on a 6 week holiday

Plain Jane

Love it, LM.

LM

We all need something to smile about today
Daughn brings us home to the kitchen table where we can share stories and laugh a little.
❤️

Plain Jane

For sure. 🙂

Alison

Delightful Daughn…
Or
Delightful, Daughn!
Both are true and not mutually exclusive 🤓 I do love the lyrical flow with which you tell enchanting tales 💖

rayzorbak

She is the Best…..
Easy Reading.
Love it when she posts an article (story)

nikkichico7

.. me too … it like an awesome dessert 🧁 after a really good meal 🍮☕️ .. 🍹
I misspelled dessert with desert and got these emojis desert 🌵🐫🐪 so .. nuts 😕

ozzytrumpster

Well daughn. We live and learn. You tipped your hand there so he hid all his keys.are you aware that stuff can be hot wired?