in Renovation Rehab

Renovation Rehab: New Beginnings and Solid Foundations

A young woman and her husband, tired of desk jobs and negligent landlords search desperately for another option. When given the opportunity to move to the country and open a bed and breakfast how could they say no? The catch? The building is beautiful and bought for a steal but they could never have imagined all the work required to fix up the place. Will they be able to pull it off? Will they even be able to stay sane during the process?

Nope. This isn’t my new rom-com pitch or plot of an anime (though can you imagine the cuteness of that theme song??) this is my freaking life. When the opportunity came up Sab and I hadn’t really considered it before. Well, we had thought of it as a “someday” option. You know how those go. But we looked at each other and immediately thought, “We can absolutely do this. We should do this.” Even when we told our friends and family there was a little pause followed by, “Oh my god! You would be amazing at that!!” So that’s the journey we’ve embarked on. As of right now, it seems like maybe we can open next year. What are we doing in the meantime you ask?

While this 8,000 square foot monstrosity wasn’t abandoned or crumbling it has suffered some degree of neglect over the past years. It’s changed hands many times. There’s a hodgepodge of decorating decisions that have been made, various states of repair from professional all the way down to duct tape, ignored wear and tear, and some strangely cut corners. This means in a lot of places we have to just cut it all down and start with the bones.

This article is presented here as a part of Throwback Thursday, where we revisit some highlights from the archives of both Sabrael D. Carroll and M.E. Garey. This particular piece comes to you from April 2016.

The Basement

We started all the way at the bottom. Once we moved in, really it’s all we could help with. Our handyman needed to get things going in the part we’re moving into (more on that later) which we were totally unqualified to help with. So the first goal was to make a Tool Room and a Craft Studio. Now, the basement is pretty large so there’s about 7.5 (don’t ask) rooms down there to work with. Most of that will probably end up being storage, freezer space, gardening equipment, etc but there are two rooms near the front we knew we wanted to work with.




Before, As We Found It

Different huh? We cleared out all the debris that was hiding in there. My parents pulled off the wallboard which was old and crumbling and that left us the space for the peg board. The sheets were too big to fit in our poor little car so we had it cut into strips at Lowe’s and attach individual pieces between the wall studs. My big contribution was fixing up the tool bench. Recognize it? It’s in that first picture too!


I had to clean it up, sand off old paint, repaint, replace doorknobs and drawer pulls, fix broken door latches, add drawer/shelf liners, and attach the top. The top we found at Lowe’s and it just a plank of carpentry wood screwed to the top so we can easily replace it when it gets worn. I think the most difficult part was installing the door latches. I’ve done some more projects since this one and I’ve been getting better but lining them up is very difficult.


Tool Bench After


So the last touches to the tool room were just adding a simple white coat of paint and hanging up all our tools. It’s been really helpful to know where everything is while we’re working on other projects. Though, I will say it’s not fun having to go all the way down to the basement after you’ve forgotten something you need for the top floor. Oof!

The other room we finished down there was the craft room. Both my Mom and I are big crafters. I do origami, Perler art, leather crafting, sewing, papercrafts, scrapbooking, and that doesn’t even count the list of things I want to learn how to do. Mom has an art degree and does lots of beautiful paintings, charcoal work, stained glass, and art journaling just to name a few. So we decided it would be a good idea to share a space. There’s a big room just behind the basement stairs that’s going to be perfect for us. It used to be the living room of an apartment space down there so it has a kitchen sink with some cabinetry and bathroom nearby which I’m sure will end up being very convenient.


Mom cleared off the masonry you can see on the right wall. Surprisingly the left wall wasn’t bad at all so we left it as is for now. The carpet and tile in there aren’t great but we figure, it’s a craft room! The floor is going to receive all kinds of abuse so there’s no point in trying to fancy it up now. My main job in this room was to take down the falling apart upper cabinetry (you can see the sad shadow of where they once were) and removing the wallpaper. I’d never done anything with wallpaper before so I was nervous. In my research, I saw many people bemoaning how it’s a terrible, boring job but if you’re patient you can get through it. Actually, I really enjoyed it. The outer layer of paper came off really easily. I was able to use just a sponge mop and a bucket of regular ol’ water to soften sections of the adhesive for easy peeling or scraping at with a thin putty knife. I was really proud of my work when it was done. Sab patched up some holes for me and then it was time for paint!

I am in love with this paint color by the way. It’s Autumn Fog by Valspar and it matches the shelf liners in the cupboards and… Ok, you don’t need me rambling about this. I’ll just settle with saying I’m very pleased with it!

So that’s the basement for now. It will need some more tweaks and touches but by the time the craft room painting was done, more work beckoned upstairs! But maybe I’ll talk about that more next time. I also meant to talk about the change in perspective this new life of physical labor has given me (*coughs and points to article title*) but we’ll have to get to that later too! Remind me next time. <3

** I am in no way an expert on any of this renovation stuff but if you have questions or want advice I’ll happily speak from what I know. Also if you have any recommendations or suggestions please tell me! I love hearing different ideas.

Even if Meagan E. Garey wanted to set down her mint cocoa in her very favorite Kiki’s Delivery Service mug, there is absolutely no room. Scrapbook paper, Perler beads, stationary, embroidery thread, origami birds, and packages of clay litter the small desk. Instead, she opts to stand, put the cup on top of a nearby shelf, and get back to work. Her library haul of the latest YA fantasy, a chunky graphic novel, and some classic that was overlooked in school and moved to the floor to make more room. She pops on a movie to watch while she works. The familiar animated faces make her smile and make the work go by faster as she repeats the well-memorized lines. Don’t worry, she’ll write that next article… eventually.

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