Gambrel House, House Flipping, Inspiration Boards, Uncategorized,

SURVIVING A RENOVATION: 101

Do you have a renovation on the calendar for this year?  Or do you hope to be able to renovate sometime in the future but you’re not sure where to start?  I’m going to try and lay out in this post everything I can think of to pass along to the person who has never been through a renovation.  If I miss any of your questions, please ask in the comments and I’ll reply there.

Without further babble, here we go!

Budget – you need one.

General Contractor – you need one.

Designer – you might need one.

The end.

Kidding, kidding! Those are the top 3 things to think about first and foremost in my opinion, but let me break them down further.

1. Budget – Start saving.  A minor kitchen update (think countertops & backsplash) could be less than $10k and a major overhaul could be $100k.  Kitchen cabinets are usually the most expensive item in the renovation budget, then appliances, flooring, countertops and backsplash come after.  A full master bathroom renovation will usually start around $20k and will go up depending on size, plumbing, and finishes. This is not a hard rule, but just an observation from the projects I’ve done. Set a budget for what you want to spend and what you think is a good amount to invest into your home.

2. General Contractor – This is very important.  You need to find a GC that has a great reputation among people you know.  Ask for references and pictures of their previous work.  Quality workmanship is obviously extremely important, but second to that in my opinion is communication.  Does the GC answer the phone or call you back in a timely manner?  Do they show up when they say they will?  Do they complete the job close to the time they estimated it would take?  I know we all want to save money, but please hear me on this — you may pay a little premium for a good GC.  If someone is coming in thousands of dollars under your other quotes or can start almost immediately, THAT’S A HUGE RED FLAG.  I’d speculate that a quality GC is booked at least 4-6 weeks out for small renovations and 12 weeks for a large project. I can’t tell you the times that I’ve known people to skimp on hiring a GC at the beginning of a job, or decided to go with “the cheap guy”, only to have a project get drawn out double to triple the time it should take or have the crew just quit showing up after a fully demolished project.  So get referrals from trusted people in  your community, ask the questions, and get a few estimates before committing to a General Contractor.

3. Come up with the plan/design-  Does the current layout work?  Do you need to move plumbing, electrical or gas?  Do you need to add lighting or outlets?  Are you using the current footprint and just updating? Or are you expanding the kitchen and reworking the whole thing?  Come up with your IDEAL plan and see how much that costs.  I tell my clients to dream big. Start big and you can always trim the project down. Are you unsure of the best layout for the kitchen?  Do you want your kitchen to be better than a builder-grade kitchen?  Are you looking for a high-end kitchen? Do you want special features such as hidden appliances, a custom range hood, a special cabinetry style?  You may want to consults a designer for a more in depth project like that. Nothing is more disheartening than spending tens of thousands of dollars and weeks to months of renovation chaos and then not be thrilled with the result.  A designer can bring to the table a lot more possibilities than you probably have ever considered.  Mixing materials, paint colors, and metal finishes in the perfect way to produce a one of a kind kitchen is what a good designer will do.  This usually makes for a very happy renovation result.

Whether you hire a designer or make all the decisions yourself, make sure you leave NO DESIGN DECISION up to the contractor.  Please. Trust me on this.  And you must communicate this with your GC.  Make sure they know that they aren’t to make any executive decisions on where something should be hung, where a cabinet pull should go, what paint sheen to use, etc.  You may think that others think the way you do or see things the way you see them, but if time and experience has taught me anything it’s that they do not!  What seems like common sense to me isn’t common sense to everyone else.  Where I’d assume everyone would put that pendant light may not be where the electrician assumes it would go. I’ll say it one more time, make sure you or your designer is involved in every detail.  Do not let the GC make the design decisions.

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For a kitchen renovation, these are some of the design decisions to consider:

Cabinetry 

Inset, partial overlay (don’t do this. please. ever again.) full overlay?  Door style?  Trash can drawer? Spice organizer?  Drawers? (yes, drawers.  always yes to drawers.)  Paper towel holder/drawer? Pot/pan organizer?  Coffee center?  Pot filler next to the coffee station?  Special paneling on any backside of cabinetry that will be seen?  Be aware of interior corners when laying out cabinetry –be mindful how doors/drawers/appliances open. Not considering this is a common mistake and could lead to a drawer or appliance not being able to open properly.  Paint/stain color (lacquer is usually custom mixed and may be different than paint sample)? Paint sheen? Paint inside of cabinets or stain only? Hardware for cabinets — pulls, knobs, both? What metal should you use? Where do you put them?  Where should the appliances go?  I have a hard rule that refrigerators should always at least appear to be built-in.  Make sure you know your appliance specs before you finalize your cabinetry design.  There are plenty more things to consider, but that’s a good start.

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Countertops

Marble – beautiful. natural (cold), soft, porous, will etch and stain, requires sealing

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Soapstone – beautiful. natural (cold), soft and will scratch and dent (but can be sanded or oiled to re-surface or hide imperfections), non-porous thus antimicrobial, will not etch or stain, may require mineral oil treatment to achieve color preference.

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Quartzite (hard marble) – beautiful. natural (cold), will etch & stain.  I’ve heard it’s supposed to be harder than granite, but I had quartzite in my last kitchen an it was softer than our marble vanity tops.

Granite – can look very dated since this was so popular in the early 2000’s. Avoid over-speckled slabs as to not look dated. Natural (cold).  Honed absolute black granite is a great option; similar looking to soapstone but more durable.  Requires sealing occasionally. Very durable.

Quartz – man-made.  most durable. there are beautiful quartz options out there, but there are also a lot of not-so-beautiful options. Try to find a full slab to look at before committing to purchasing.  A small 3″x3″ square doesn’t show you enough to make a good decision.

Honed or polished – honed=matte. not shiny. soft looking. very beautiful but will show more imperfections usually.  polished = glossy.  Polished hides dirt and water rings better than honed if you’re concerned about that.

Edge finishes – Squared and eased are standard.  Other styles such as Ogee, French Cove, and Dupont, are typically upgrades.

Seams — good fabricator will lay out slab with as few seams as possible.  You may want to consider countertops/islands based on slab sizes to avoid seams.  Or find super slabs that are bigger.

4.  Finish saving plus at least 10%.  15-20% would be more ideal.

5. Start picking out and purchasing tile, light fixtures, appliances, hardware, plumbing fixtures, etc. 10 weeks out from install. Backorders are common.  Be prepared with your materials so you’re not the one holding up the workers. This helps to ensure a timely renovation.

My final advice is to GET EVERYTHING IN WRITING.  EVERY LITTLE CHANGE.  TEXT OR EMAIL. HAVE DOCUMENTATION OF EVERYTHING.

I hope this is helpful if you’re new to tackling a renovation, and as I mentioned before, if there are other questions I didn’t address please leave them in the comments and I’ll answer them there!

Client Projects, Kings Valley Master Bath,

Kings Valley Master Bathroom Reveal

A quick peek at where this bathroom started.  This is the master bathroom in my mother’s home.  This house was built in 1987 and my parents bought it in 1992.  The before pictures don’t show how big that sunken hot tub really is.  It was literally half the length of the room.  And it didn’t work.  And even if it did…do we do hot tubs anymore??? Maybe outside, I suppose.

My biggest goal was to get rid of the hot tub, put a free standing tub in front of the large window with a beautiful view, and to move the toilet into a water closet.  Now this room is unrecognizable as the same space!  Take a scroll trip for all the afters!

Gambrel House, Uncategorized,

Gambrel House — where is it?

I shared a whole lot of who? and what? about Gambrel House here.  The most common question I get about the business these days is “where is it?” so let me fill you in on the details of the where it is NOW and where I hope it to be a year from now.

Currently the store is online only.  If you’re local, I’m more than happy to have a local pick-up option.  Just messages me on Instagram or shoot me an e-mail: [email protected]  We decided to start as a website at first for several reasons, but the biggest reason would be financial risk.

My dream store front space is on Main Street in downtown Duluth, Georgia.  There is a store that my ancestors owned and I dream of being in that space someday.  There’s something special about being in the same space that relatives before me built, just like us living in my grandparent’s home.  It’s nothing sacred to anyone else, but to me there’s personal history & it feels very special.

It’s hard to see in this photo, but in the top right stained glass is my grandparent’s name “Pittard” along with the other family’s they owned the space with.  How cool is that?!  The space is currently vacant and has been for a long time.  I’m over here praying it stays empty until I can get in there.

You may be wondering why we don’t snatch up the space now since it’s vacant.  The reality is that I need the business to grow in order to afford it. Retail is tough, especially as a small business. The monthly rent alone made my jaw drop.  On top of that I know I’d want to fully renovate the space.

Jean Stoffer is a designer I resonate with greatly and she just opened a store called Stoffer Home that looks very similar to the store front in Duluth I want to be in.  I’d love to put in a full kitchen in the store like she did so we could host small events.  Maybe some baking classes since I discovered that I love to bake this past year!

Take a peak at her in-store kitchen.  Can you even believe this is a STORE and not a home?!

These pictures inspire me so much and I can see Gambrel House being this kind of place someday.  Maybe even in just a year from now!  In the meantime, I’m putting my head down and working on growing this baby we just birthed.  The infant months are challenging — more emotionally than physically.  But I’m doing all I know how to do and am praying that we will grow so that my dream of a storefront can come true someday.

If you’re reading this, thank you, sincerely, for being on this journey with me. It can feel lonely opening a business by yourself sometimes, but when I hear from you it encourages me that I’m actually not alone.

Happy New Year, friends!  May 2019 be a year of bigger dreams than we’re capable of on our own.

Gambrel House, Uncategorized,

2018 Holiday Gift Guide for the Home

 

  1. Army Green First Aid Box – a great accessory for practically any room, but one of my favorite places for it is in your bathroom!  I know that’s kind of a weird thing to say, but if you rest this box on the back of your toilet it can hold extra toilet paper or any other toiletries for you and your guests. Did I use the word “toilet” enough here?
  2. a) Ceramic & Teak Cellar with Spoon this tiny cellar will work in any kitchen  b) Teak Salt & Pepper Cellar  c) Teak Round Scoops these are about 1 Tablespoon in size scoops which are great for your salt cellar instead of everyone’s fingers! d) Gray Marble & Wood Cellar  e) Sono Wood Cutting Board these cutting boards vary from light to dark in color and are some of the most beautiful boards I’ve seen!
  3. Rimmed Cutting Boards come in rectangle or square and are big!  You want have any grapes or olives rolling off these boards.
  4. BOWL NO. “FOUR HUNDRED TWENTY TWO” falls in the extravagant gift category.  This bowl is huge (pretty sure you could fit a small dog in it) and an absolute statement piece!  If you’re looking for something to impress the in-laws…. *wink*wink*
  5. Oak Bed Tray – I have a confession.  Eating dinner in bed after I put the kids to bed is one of my FAVORITE things to do.  Like a legit full meal.  Have you ever done it?!  I tried it once because someone else mentioned that they did it as a couple, and I swear to you I try to do this at least once a week!  Try it before you knock it.  You’ll thank me.
  6. Black and Natural Stripe Vase
  7. Black Vase
  8. Serving Board with Dividers these boards are bigger than you imagine.  The large is 36″ and I played air guitar with it when I first opened it!  There is no better board for your party’s charcuterie than these.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you all!!!

Gambrel House,

Gambrel House – What’s Going On?

A couple of months ago I threw out the big news that Alex & I are opening a home & decor retail store.  In the past two months we have come a long way in building this business.  We’re getting closer to being ready to launch so I thought I’d take a moment to go into the who, what and why of Gambrel House.

First off, what does “Gambrel” mean?  I get this question more than anything when my friends ask me about the business.  Gambrel is a roof style that is usually a symmetrical two-sided roof with two slopes on each side. The upper slope is positioned at a shallow angle, while the lower slope is steep.  This is the roof type on my grandparent’s house that we bought and started renovating this time last year.

The house still isn’t painted yet, but just because I like to stare at this photoshopped rendering of what I want to do to the exterior I’m putting it here.  (Sidenote:  John & Sherry from Young House Love just painted their exterior last week and it reminded me how excited I’ll be when we can finally get our exterior phase completed.  Any suggestions for making a quick $10-$15k???)

My favorite gambrel house is this one below that I came across on Pinterest.  I always imagined getting a shaker roof when the time comes for a new roof.  To clarify, this will be many years from now since we have a practically new 30 year roof.  After seeing this house I could easily see myself wanting to go with a stunning metal roof.  I mean…I don’t have words for house beautiful that roof is.

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Next I’ll address the why?  Why in the world am I opening a retail store? I didn’t dream of having a retail store growing up, but as of recent this dream was planted in my heart. The dream is having a beautiful store front and a conference room in the back to host my design clients.

The store would be filled with my favorite things that I’d fill my own home with and I could share my favorite things with all of my friends and local community.  I’m in Duluth, GA and the only home decor store is a beautiful brick and mortar that carries a lot of items that aren’t what I’d fill my own home with.  They are very successful and a lot of people love the products they carry, but if I walk into that store and don’t find anything I love enough to place in my own home, then I figure I’m not alone.

There’s another market for people who want a style that’s traditional and timeless feeling but with a modern lean.  My style always includes the old and the new.  The traditional and the modern.  I think by combining those things it produces a cozy home that looks and feels fresh.  I want to bring that aesthetic with high quality items, that are ethically sourced, and that will last at least a lifetime.  And of course the obvious is to help support our family financially.  That’s always a part of having a business, right?  Let’s not pretend it’s not a factor.

I hope you can feel my excitement! I worry that I can hide the excitement behind the fear that comes with taking risks.  This feels like absolute insanity sometimes and I can easily fall into a panic of “WHAT ARE WE THINKING?!  WE’RE SO DUMB!  WE’RE GOING TO GO BROKE! OH MY GOSH.  MY KIDS WILL NEVER GET BRACES. THEY WON’T BE ABLE TO PLAY SPORTS OR DANCE. THEY’RE GOING TO BE DEVASTATED WHEN WE GO BANKRUPT &  HAVE TO SELL OUR HOUSE.  WE’RE GOING TO FAIL. WE’RE GOING TO FAIL. OMG WE’RE GOING TO TOTALLY FAIL AND I’M GOING TO BE HUMILIATED.”

That sounds healthy, right?  What calms me down and snaps me out of that spiral is knowing that God is with us.  He planted this passion.  He is with us when we take risks.  He doesn’t label me a failure even if I experience a fail.  He knows my fear and when I hand it over to Him He carries it for me.  I get to rest in that.  He is for me. He’s not against me.  He’s given me these desires.  I can guarantee you that these desires aren’t from me.  Nothing about Emily Kirk Morrison knew that this desire existed.   Gambrel House is His to do whatever He wants to do with it — huge success or complete collapse.

When I see a store, I know God sees more than just a store. I don’t know what it is He sees yet, but I’m on step one — do the thing He put in me to do.  So I’m honored and thrilled to introduce to you soon GAMBREL HOUSE. Sign up to be on our e-mail list so you can be the first to know about our giveaways and for subscriber-only discounts!