Cottage Update: The Part Before Being Put Back Together

I bought my little cottage on September 18th and in a matter of weeks the DM team had done some drastic renovations.  (See here, here and here)  I was optimistic and excited for my new home and my new beginning.  As I was a pro and had an amazing team behind me, I had little doubt this total gut job would be a piece of cake.  Yet something happened in late October, right around the time my home was stripped to its studs; I fell apart.

I don’t know if it was the impending holidays, my own personal fiscal cliff (ie in typical fashion, the renovation budget went thru the roof,) my personal design doubts, or the extent of ungratuitous work that needed to be done, but I lost all joy in the renovation.  Buying a house and diving head first into a massive project just two months after ending a long term relationship may have slightly contributed to my state of depression.  Looking back now, its all quite clear to me, but at the time I was surprised and upset with myself that I couldn’t enjoy the process.    

1- I could look up at my kitchen ceiling and see my empty bathroom

2- Brand new plumbing pipes and electrical wiring inside my kitchen ceiling

3- Blown-in Insulation will keep my cottage cozy

4- My new 200-amp electrical panel was an expensive but necessary addition

It just seemed like each time I visited the cottage more things were torn apart.  Weeks would pass, walls would come down, we would break to work on real (paying) projects, then come back and tear more things apart.  My dad was amazing throughout the whole process.  He re-wired the entire house (as in every single wire in the house,) and meticulously ran all of the duct work to avoid awkward bumps and soffits.  (He knew his decorator daughter would just about die over an unsightly bump-out.)  He was patient and loving in the way only a father can be as I changed my mind, added work, fretted over details and kept hounding him for a move-in date.   

My dad took such pride in transforming my 100-year-old cottage  into a mechanically new home.  He would excitedly show me my new plumbing pipes and I would feel like a terrible bitch that I couldn’t even fake half his enthusiasm.  I was ok with feeling depressed- I believe we need to experience lows to appreciate our highs- but it killed me to think he might feel I wasn’t grateful for all his hard work.  I understood that important stuff goes on behind the walls and floors to make a solid home but it didn’t feel like it would ever come together.  People would ask me about the house progress and I would feel further guilt that I wasn’t more excited.  I was sick of the hard work; I just wanted my happy ending.

1  I thought demolition was over, but then I decided to remove the dividing wall up in the 3rdfloor
2 A fancy high efficiency air conditioner was built into the eaves of my roof

3 My dad surprised me by ripping open a wall in my master bedroom.  
He saw more space- I saw more mess.

4 Ceilings were torn down and walls were built to accommodate my HVAC Ducts

But throughout the whole process I had faith.  Faith it would get better and faith I would feel better.  It started slowly- first it was the stairs, and then it was the bathroom tile.  Now I’m happy to report that my cottage renovation is moving along at super speed.  In the past couple of weeks I’ve gotten drywall and wood floors and now it’s time to start thinking about scheduling movers.  I’m surprised that we have gone from tedious to transformed so quickly and amused that I suddenly feel so patient and zen with the process.  As for myself, I feel fantastic.  I’m so hopeful and excited to begin my life here.  I’m ready to take on my next challenge- decorating- but I also don’t feel rushed or stressed to get it done.

I know this mechanical stuff isn’t the prettiest, but it was such an essential part of the process that I wanted to share it with you before we get to the fancy Afters.  Next week, stay tuned for some big changes.

This post is dedicated to my father.  A man who cares about the things you don’t see and will always go over and above the call of duty for his family.  
I Love you, Dad.

Me and Dad, around 30 years ago.


– Plan thoroughly ahead of time.  Making changes mid-construction increases stress and delays the job

– Have a job calendar. Knowing a timetable helps you manage your expectations

– Communicate with your contractor.  I was able to discuss all ideas and doubts with my dad and that made the process much easier.

– Have a retreat.  If you are staying in the house during the reno, plastic off a room where you can escape from the dust and the mess.

– Don’t get hung up on the _____.  Things will go wrong or not be exactly as you imagined.  Flexibility is essential in staying sane.

– Wine or whatever your preferred poison is makes everything better.

– Don’t renovate a house to get over heartbreak.  Or do, if you must, but it won’t be easy.

  1. Dawn

    I don’t usually email bloggers, but I must tell you I love your kitchen. It is so eclectic and looks like it was put together over time, but still new and functional. I must confess sometimes I get sick of seeing such new and boring kitchens especially in houzz. This kitchen is so darn cute!!!

    • Naomi

      Thanks, Dawn! That’s so nice to hear. I’ve actually been thinking about remodeling it recently, so it’s nice to think of it as special again,

  2. Shanna

    Can I just say, I LOVE everything you’ve done here! Especially the way you painted your kitchen cabinets! We bought our home a couple of years ago, and we have those same cabinets. I have been wondering what in the world to do to them, as we do not plan on re-doing our kitchen for quite a few years. With 2 little ones at home who are heavily involved in sports & what not, it just isn’t a priority in our budget right now. I will definitely be painting mine, and potentially even the same color as you have! Thanks for the inspiration! The problem is, we also have this dreadful yellow tile that goes halfway up our kitchen walls with a black tile line going across the top. I need to rip these out, or potentially work with them if that’s even possible, lol! Any tips for what you would do with them if you had these tiles? I love your ideas! Also, what is the best way to paint the cupboards? Just use primer and then the paint, or is there a secret? I want it to look as good as possible so any tips are much appreciated!

    • Naomi

      Thanks, Shana. A good primer is key. As your paint store what is best to go over laminate.

  3. Pingback: It’s my Cottage One Year Anniversary! | Design Manifest

  4. You know I really look forward to reading your blog. I get busy and don’t get to read ANY blog for days, then I sit down at my computer (I know, I need a tablet) and I’m like, “oh! wonder how it’s going for Naomi?!” I understand your feelings. But what I really like is that you share the good and the bad. Your dad seems like a total sweetheart – you are one lucky lady.. So glad to hear it’s coming along and looking forward to hearing about your big changes :o)

  5. I am completely impressed that you made it through this process with even a shred of sanity! And I would definitely say that it’s thanks to your sweet daddy. What an incredible guy…I mean really, who makes more work just to make someone else happy? Um, until now the answer was “no one”, but now the answer is “your dad” (c; And after the rain, the rainbow, aka hella great decorating. SO EXCITED.

  6. i also teared up reading this. my favorite posts are when bloggers are open and honest about their issues and how they worked through them. i am so excited for you to move in so soon! and of course, i am so happy for you that you have such a wonderful relationship with your dad. he sounds amazing!

  7. You are a great daughter and an excellent designer. I can sympathize with the stress, and I’m glad you made it thru and to the other side…the fun side! 🙂

  8. So lovely! I’ve enjoyed seeing this whole process unfold. Knowing that you have a wonderful father helping you bring it all together makes it extra special.

  9. I’m so glad you have someone you can count on when you’re under duress. (Go Team Dad and crew!) Which you clearly have been for months. When we renovated our budget grew by at least 50% due to so many unforeseen (and unforeseeable – old house, you dig?) issues, and it was overwhelming and scary. Add to that your personal life changes? I would have been a quivering mess. Maybe for you, this renovation provided you the circumstance through which you *could* fall apart… maybe that’s what you needed to do. So while you may not have enjoyed it as you normally would, maybe you’ll have a sweeter finish, and a more steady place to hang your hat in the end.

    I’m wishing you strength to do whatever you need, and lots of love from your support network.

    p.s. The place is looking amazing, too! I LOVE the behind the walls/scenes stuff. I’m a total construction nerd. 😉

  10. Your dad sounds like an amazing guy. And an amazing contractor! You guys are blessed to have each other. Maybe this is just my deranged psyche talking, but if it’s over too easily, I don’t enjoy it. Making a bed creates a certain satisfaction, but not on the level of making a bedROOM – because it doesn’t cost nearly as much. If I’d only had to write a check and take off for a week to have a totally new kitchen, I wouldn’t love it the way that I do (and it’s not even done yet! Sometimes I think it will never be done. That can be demoralizing. But then I look back at what I’ve accomplished and I am INSANELY HAPPY).

    I think you’ll look back on these photos of misery with euphoria. Enjoy!

  11. ugh. feeling this post on so many levels, nay. happy to hear that the roughest phase is done and behind you, and that you have such an amazing support system to help you through. someday you’ll look back and be so proud of yourself for getting through it like you did…even if it doesn’t seem like that now. let the fun ensue! oxoxox

  12. It is going to be fantastic. You are so lucky to have your dad working on this with you.

  13. I love the way you talk about your dad. I’m envious of your relationship with him, he seems like such a good kind man.

    And I fall more and more in love with your cottage with each post.

  14. Erin

    This brought tears to my sleep deprived eyes… I really really wish my dad lived close by.

    You are one lucky lady, but I sure as hell know it’s not always easy to see that. So glad you’re feeling better.

  15. I love how honest and open your posts are. My husband and I have gotten in our biggest disagreements over home renovations. He works so hard doing all the work himself when I give him a plan that is above and beyond necessary. Thanks for sharing this with us, i’m gonna go tell my husband thank you now 🙂

  16. Totally teared up when I got to that sweet dedication to your dad! Your new home is a new beginning to a happy life ahead! So much good. xoxo

  17. Ashley

    Once again, you are so honest here. Even though you are a pro, it’s comforting to hear that even you can be daunted by such a big project. It must be so nice to know that you are part of a professional and, more importantly, a family team that can work together through the stress.

    Did you know Adam and I bought a house and move in at the end of the month? I’m going to have to commit your tips for avoiding constructing depression in mind through the process.

    I’m so excited for you and I know we all feel so lucky that you’re bringing your readers along for this exciting (and occasionally stressful) adventure!

  18. You’re the sweetest. How lucky you are to have such an amazing dad. Your cottage is going to be incredible but when you are looking at studs for months its hard to imagine a completed home!

  19. Tara

    Man, I’m so sorry the process has been frustrating for you! But I know you will make it amazing and this experience will only help you connect with and help clients on an entirely different level!

    I really do appreciate your honesty about the process. We’re planning a full kitchen gut job in the distant future, and it’s nice to have an insider’s view and your tips at the end are great. Thanks!

  20. What a sweet photo! When I bought my first home.. on my own, it was the first time in my life that my dad and I had to really connect over something. He was a machine and I appreciated every single moment he spent making it perfect for me:) Love the photo of you and your dad!

  21. So stressful and exasperating…..but youa re being so good at being patient and hold on to the thoughts of all the beauty that is to come and that its YOURS!!!

  22. I’m a total daddy’s girl so I love hearing stuff like this. It sounds like you’ve got a great dad. You guys are lucky to have each other.

    Congrats on the upcoming move!

  23. Well, what doesn’ t kill you makes you stronger!:) And as you said, you have to experience lows to appreciate highs. And appreciate your dad, as he is a great person, from what you’ve said. Parents will always find a way to help their children. It’s their nature!! It’s great that you’re working with your dad!!
    We ve started building our house 5 years ago and through the process me and hubby had our disagreements over the details, but I think it brought us closer..
    I can’t wait for you to finish and enjoy your work!! You’ll be so fulfilled then!! I can only imagine how happy I’ll be when we finally move in!!
    Just have faith!!

  24. Kristen

    Buying and renovating a home is such a stressful and emotional process that I can not imagine doing it after such a huge life change. It must have been a whirlwind for you. You are so lucky to have the relationship you have with your father. Many girls would envy you. Can’t wait to see everything come together!

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