A Few of My Favorite Things, 10/12/15

It’s been a while since I’ve done a round up post, yes? It’s been an exhausting season, and stressful, so perhaps I’ve just not been focusing on favorite things. We’re not totally in the clear yet- we’re in our house but I still send my kids off most mornings to school with my husband and look forward to a leisurely cup of coffee in my robe only to be thwarted by someone or other showing up and starting up a sander or a saw or taking the front door off the hinges, or whatever. And we haven’t done too much yet outside so while inside the house is really becoming lovely, outside is…a lot of dirt. But also a lot of brilliant autumn colors all around us- we happen to live on one of the most beautiful fall color tours in the country, and while that makes for quite a bit of traffic right now, it also makes for a lovely drive home everyday. Also, I’m not rounding anything up, I have just one favorite thing right now, and I’m going to share it.

Everything inside me wants to scream “WAIT! Don’t share any pictures yet, it’s not ready!!!!”, but I can only hope that you all understand that we’re at the beginning phases of putting this house together so please just keep in mind that we have a lot of bare walls and emptiness while we consider what to do. And I’m finding we have a serious disconnect in that half of our stuff is from when we lived in Montana- dark, heavy, mountain-y, and half is from when we lived in Hawaii- lighter, somewhat more tropical feeling. And what we are attempting to create here in Michigan is decidedly more farmhouse-ish and dare I hope, Scandinavian? Lots of white, maybe a titch more modern than we’ve done in the past. So I’m trying to be patient while I figure out how to fuse it all together.

So here’s my favorite thing for right now: our house. May I remind you of its original condition?



It was a chalet-style kit house from the 1970s, built by the kind retired couple next door to me growing up. It had been “updated” fairly recently to accommodate renters before it was put on the market. There were four bedrooms in here, though in each one you could nearly touch both walls with your arms outstretched. There were several colors of 40 year old shag carpeting, faux wood paneling on the walls, and the ceiling upstairs hit the floor in the corners, A-frame style. We were going to gut the interior walls, and then extend that dormer out to create a new L-shaped floorplan. Then we found mold and a weak roof and decided that if we were replacing the entire roof we’d just go ahead and add walls to the second floor as well. We removed the deck, replaced all the windows and doors, replaced it with nice bright red siding with white trim and now this is what it’s turned into:



Now do you remember what it looked like inside?





Believe me when I say it was gutted. Completely gutted.






During- with the addition in place

During- but putting walls back in at least

During- but putting walls back in at least

Just…Oh God. Looking at these is making my heart seize up a bit. This was so stressful and scary and awful. All joy was so far out at this point, you know? There was no immediate satisfaction in the renovation process, it was very, very long term. (Screw you, HGTV. This didn’t happen in a half hour show with a few swings of a sledge hammer and conversations with handsome contractors with cool computer programs and then being sent away so we could be surprised next week with the big reveal.) It makes me realize how far we’ve come, actually, to think that my heart was beating along quite contentedly until I opened up this album. Because I’m sitting here comfortably in my living room with no Tyvek or stud walls or dead-mouse-filled fiberglass insulation. I mean there’s a saw going somewhere, and some really loud banging, but it’s infinitely nicer now. And I realize that I actually feel calm after all of that. Happy, even. Relaxed, certainly. But it was a long time coming- a whole year of multiple temporary living arrangements (both inside and out), hemorrhaging money, and constant anxiety and hostility. Now is it all worth it in the end? Well, I adore this house. It’s so lovely. But if I ever recommend to anyone that gutting an entire house and rebuilding it is a reasonable option, clock me on the ears and show me these pictures again.

After- living room

After- living room (the addition)

After- kitchen

After- kitchen (we haven’t figured out what to do for a backsplash yet)

After- dining room

After- dining room (the as yet empty bookshelf on the ceiling is surrounded by the original barnwood cabinets in the house- and since the house is situated almost perfectly on the east-west axis, our friend incorporated the compass rose into the underneath).

After- Elsie's room

After- Elsie’s room

After- Toby's room (bunk bed with a reading nook/quiet fort beneath)

After- Toby’s room (bunk bed with a reading nook/quiet fort beneath)

After- master bedroom

After- master bedroom (the upstairs addition). If you look out the window on the far right, there’s a small view of Lake Michigan across the gorgeous field next door. It counts. It’s totally dreamy.

Lake Michigan from my bedroom

Lake Michigan from our bedroom (this was taken in the late summer, so imagine those trees to be orange and red and golden).

It’s not finished yet (will it ever really be?) but we’re finding our way. It’s all coming together. Finally. All of our belongings have been in storage since we first left Montana five years ago to move to Hawaii and we had an infant and a newly 3 year old. Then when we left Hawaii two years ago, we added that stuff to storage and have been in home-limbo ever since. So now we’re slowly unpacking boxes of some wonderful things, some completely unnecessary things, and a lot of things like this that make me swoon a bit to think how long it’s been since we’ve felt home.

Baby sock

So now we’re settling in and I can sit in that cozy white chair (or even my office! which quickly became my sewing room due to house projects and upcoming Halloween costumes) and try to get back to writing more often- particularly a few nice new autumn/holiday books I have in mind. Thanks for getting this far, I know this was a long post.

Have you ever rebuilt a house? Did you get through it with your sanity (and marriage) intact? I found the entire experience to be so vastly different than building from scratch for some reason. Different times, different places I suppose. But I feel like I’m just limping across the finish line. I’m excited to be here, but I’m exhausted.


10 thoughts on “A Few of My Favorite Things, 10/12/15

  1. I’m trying to remain calm and not scream too much. THIS IS AMAZING. GORGEOUS! I’M SO HAPPY FOR YOU!!!!! OMG!!!! All the LIGHT. The WINDOWS. The KITCHEN! The LIVING ROOM! The windows in the bedrooms! Oh Amelie, my heart swells in joy for you. I have a thing for houses and decor. Homes are so important to me, I could never be a world traveler because I’m such a homebody! Everything looks LOVELY. Oh the red color from outside! Divine. I wish I could come do a family photo session for you guys in your new home! What a process, ugh. But you’re ON THE OTHER SIDE OF IT NOW. Whew. Now you can look forward to the holidays in your new home!

    Happy happy happy day! I’m thrilled to bits for you! It’s GORGEOUS. When all is done – I swear, you should submit pictures to Design Sponge. This is the kind of thing they go wild for!


    • I can’t even tell you what a relief it is to realize that the times of not having a roof or walls or running water are behind us! And I love it. I’d do just about anything for a shoot with you in this house! I love your work so much! Thanks so much for all your kind words.


  2. Absolutely beautiful. Love the new couch & LR layout. Makes me want to grab my bathrobe, tea bag & head across the woods to join you in your very cozy home.


  3. I find projects like this (even smaller scale house improvement projects) are getting far more difficult and stressful as I get older. I think I’m just not able to deal with change as easily.
    The house is beautiful. Wow!


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