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Reminiscing on the Renovation

The last sleep in our little ranch. Oh how bittersweet...

When I left for college, I told my parents I would NEVER move back to Sanford after graduating. I'm sure they laughed to themselves, knowing I'd come home.

I ended up at Meredith College, where I was introduced to Derek and we settled in Apex a year after graduating. We rented a town home in a sweet little community and had all the amenities at our fingertips. Apex. The peak of good living. That's what it was. We bought our first home eight months into our first year in another great neighborhood on the east side of town, about as removed as you can get in Apex and still close to shopping and restaurants. We had a church family, friends, a beautiful home and amazing pool, BUT these small town folks needed our space and privacy. When you grow up on a few acres in a small town, living right next to neighbors in a mega development takes some getting use to. I mean, when your bedroom lights up in the middle of the night when your neighbor turns on the light to use their bathroom, well, that's a little too close (haha)!!!

Two and half years later, after Lottie was born we knew we wanted that bigger yard and quieter atmosphere, we started our casual house hunt. Finding something in our budget in Wake County was tougher than we initially thought, so we started looking nearby. Pittsboro was our first choice. I told Derek that to get me to move I needed that special house. We were living in a track-builder home and I wanted a little more character. Again, slim pickings in Pittsboro within our price range. Crazy how a one traffic circle town turned into the place to be in less than five years!

(Inserts "Sanford" into the house search)

Derek was working in downtown Raleigh at the time and we needed to be within a 45-minute commute. Sanford fit the mold. And here we were, looking at houses in the town I swore I wouldn't live in again. We stumbled upon a little ranch on a private dead end street and it was already under contract. I didn't want to tour it because there was no point. We continued our search. Three weeks later my mom and I were driving around and the "For Sale" sign had gone back up on that little ranch AND a new roof had just been put on. How often does that happen?!

We called that day and arranged a showing. The house was built in 1995 and it hadn't been updated since. Honestly, as soon as I stepped foot in the house, I knew it was ours. I also knew that I would have to convince Derek because by looking at it, it was not what we thought we wanted. Wood cabinets, hideous tile floors, green vinyl, wooded backyard with no grass, completely dated bathroom, yellow trim (EVERYWHERE!). BUT the home offered everything on our wishlist:

  1. Oversized Garage

  2. Open Concept

  3. Yard

  4. Actual laundry room (not a closet)

  5. Privacy

  6. Playroom

  7. Office

Word of advice when searching for your dream home. Look at the bones of the house and compare them with your wishlist and your budget. If the house can offer the things you want within your price range, then give it shot. Those older homes are usually built solid. The features and character they offer are what makes them stand out.

We went under contract and in July 2017 started the renovation. Let's just say it was a LONG and HOT summer and fall. By Thanksgiving we were settled. This will be our first and last major renovation. The demo was hard work. The process is exhausting. There are always unknowns. But Derek and I can say we did it and survived - we even survived sharing a bedroom with our eight month old for two months in my parents house they were renting. Designing and planning renovations for other people is much more my speed.

Step 1: Add gutters with leaf guards.

If you are living around trees, you need these! I chose black gutters to match my shutters. It's a little less traditional and I love how it looked with the brick! (also part of step one - trim the bushes! Don't worry- they came back!)

Step 2: Demo the bathroom.

I wish I had the floor plan of the existing space. Vanities on two different walls. A wall dividing the vanities from the shower and tub. The toilet in a water closet. Small shower. Massive tub. TOO. MUCH. GOING. ON!

Coming up with a new floor plan, the mission was to simplify! We did not need the tub so we took it out to make a bigger shower. We had designed the bathroom to have some cabinets for built-in hampers and ironing station but ran out of steam. Oh well, maybe the next homeowner will add their own touches! All things considered we loved our bathroom, but it wasn't one of our huge priority items within the home.

Derek and my cousin demoed bathroom in August. Ripping out tile and a small bench seat in the shower, the found concrete underneath the tile. Yes, concrete. They chiseled it out one little bit at a time. Go team!

Step 3: Demo kitchen wall into family room.

Open concept was a must. Our first home in Apex was not open concept, and after having Lottie I found I really needed this. We entertain quite a bit and having that space between kitchen and family is great! Thankfully the way the house was laid out, it was not a big deal to put a cased opening between the two rooms. We did lose lots of floor to ceiling cabinets so we had to find another option for a pantry.

Within the kitchen renovation we painted the existing cabinets, added new black granite countertops and put LED cans and pendant lighting over a new island. New backsplash tile. New cabinet hardware. New faucet. New appliances. New flooring.

My favorite feature in the whole house was the amazing vent hood my cousin made for us. It was such a great focal point for the room.

*Design Tip: Maybe doing a whole kitchen remodel is out of the question financially. Make small updates like new hardware or adding a backsplash!

Step 4: Foyer Updates

The house had beautiful chair rail throughout but to set the foyer apart and we decided to add wainscot below. The wallpaper was SO dark, so we got the steamer out and took it down. Anyone remove wallpaper before? Yeah, not fun and it's never easy! The door got a splash of color with a deep teal. The perfect little light really finished the space. Lighting goes a LONG way in updating a home. Adding french doors helped give some much needed privacy to our home office.

*Design Tip: If your door is white- do your home a favor and give it some color!

Step 5: Creating a playroom.

The house has three bedrooms and a flex space the previous homeowner was using as a little sunroom. There was an opening in that space that led to the back hallway. The flooring was emerald green vinyl. A Beaut! You know the house was owned by an older couple by some of the finishes they were using. My grandma had a fit when we told her we were taking it up. She even tried to reuse the roll in her home. This space became our playroom. This is one room I'm really going to miss. The whole room is nothing but windows. Windows that look out into our backyard and windows along our family room wall. Whenever the girls are in there playing, I can always see them. I'm a huge fan of natural light, and while generally our home is pretty dark this room was the exception. Again, bittersweet to move.

Step 6: Backyard!

We knew we needed a fenced yard for Rivers so given that, we decided to take out some trees, level the ground (hello little stream through the yard every time it rained) and add a patio for entertaining.

We didn't seed the entire yard because we wanted a playground for the girls and mulch was fine for this "natural space."

We made a few other small updates over the last three years. It's been a great home that has grown with us. We've all cried, laughed, loved and grown as family. It's bittersweet leaving something that you've put your heart into.

It's even harder leaving a home with super sweet memories. The memories of finding out a pregnancy. Memories of losing a pregnancy. Memories of bringing a rainbow baby home. Memories of first steps, boo-boos, first foods, first words, first birthdays. We will carry this little ranch in our hearts forever and remember the hard work, sweat and tears we put into her. We pray for the new family -- that they will make their own memories and take care of her through the years. Thankfully we are right around the corner and can drive by now and then and remember when.

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