I hope everyone have a wonderful, rested, and fun Memorial Day weekend! Ours was incredibly relaxing and refreshing at home in Charleston. Edwin and I spent most of the time enjoying each other’s company after he was away for a long stretch of work. We mixed in some friend and family time too, which was great fun! Now, it’s back to business. Today’s post is a much overdue one! I’ve been wanting to share more with y’all about our house so I’m excited to get this underway (it was a while ago that I announced it!)!
I have a whole list of house posts I want to write but it seemed like a good idea to start with a house restoration and remodel Q&A. On Instagram, I recently asked y’all to share any questions you had about our Charleston house remodel/restoration process. Thank you to each one of you who sent in a question! I rounded up ten more general questions to start with in this post but will share more of them overtime. Also, I got asked a few questions that deserve their own blog posts as well as handfuls of questions about our design inspiration. I touch on our design inspiration here but will share more of that in the coming months as well! I hope you enjoy this lengthy post! xx
P.S. All these photos were taken in March of this year!
A House Restoration and Remodel Q&A
1. What style is your house?
Our house is a Charleston Single House. We’re pretty smitten!
2. How old is your home?
There is one document that we found that states that our house was built in 1861. However, a few other documents state that it was built in 1880. According to the experts, it was most likely built in 1880!
3. When will the renovation/restoration be done?
Great question! We are aiming for the end of the summer so there is a light at the end of the tunnel!
4. Can you give us an overview of what you’re doing?
A brief overview of our restoration/remodel: we are doing major work on the foundation of our house as it was all eroding and hadn’t been addresses in decades. We’re restoring the decaying fireplaces and chimneys. We are restoring the walls on one side of the house that have water damage. We are restoring the first floor side porch that was original to the house but was removed at some point in time (probably due to the owner at the time not wanting to invest in fixing it up).
We’re replacing the HVAC system. We are remodeling the kitchen and the bathrooms. The house also had a bedroom right off the kitchen that we are turning into an extension of the kitchen/a cozy family room.
5. What was the process like of finding your home and deciding to renovate?
Oh house hunting! The process of buying a house is both extremely rewarding and exciting as well as very stressful. I’m thinking about turning this question into a few other blog posts (i.e. steps to take if you want to buy a house and how to decide to renovate or not etc.). For now though, here is a summary of our experience…
Edwin and I looked for houses for months before we found and closed on our house. We put offers in on three other houses that we really loved before we found our house. We lost the first three houses and it was really difficult not to get emotional about this. When we got the news three different times that we didn’t get the house (for reasons like a competing offer came in as an all cash offer), we definitely felt depleted. We felt connected to each house and then, when you loose a house, you have to go back to the drawing board and start over at square one.
I think the number one thing that helped us get past this and maintain a positive outlook each time was that we weren’t in a hurry.
We didn’t have any specific life timeline, life event, or strict lease that we were working around. This definitely took a lot of pressure off of us! Looking back, those first three houses wouldn’t have been right for us. I know everyone says this but, when you loose a house, it just means that there is another house out there for you. This can be so difficult to see in real time but I have a very glass-half-full outlook on life so I truly believe this!
Edwin and I had a great realtor (if you live in Charleston, we used a family friend at William Means – they are the best!) who really helped us understand the process of buying a house. It was a huge learning curve for us since we were first time house buyers. It can be really intimidating but I think that buying a house is one of those things that you don’t know how to do until you are actually doing it.
Edwin and I looked at houses on the Charleston peninsula and in Mt. Pleasant, which is a town right across a bridge from Charleston. A huge part of our process of finding a home was deciding where we wanted it to be and thinking about what kind of lifestyle we would have in different neighborhoods. We ultimately decided that we wanted to have a more walkable lifestyle and be more in the mix of the city (keep in mind, Charleston is a small city), so we narrowed in on the Charleston peninsula. This came after we put offers in in Mt. Pleasant though, which just goes to show that no matter what, you get the house that is meant for you!
There are a lot of different strategies when buying a house like…
1) Stretching your money to get the house you want because it will benefit you later in life when you sell or 2) buying the worst house on the nicest street because you get your foot in the door of the neighborhood. There are others but those seem to be two common ones. Edwin and I decided to go the second route.
I wouldn’t at all say that our house exactly fits the mold of the “worst house on the nicest street” but our street is a more modest street in our neighborhood as a whole. So, we’re in a neighborhood we absolutely love but on a street that was realistic for us. Since our street is a more modest street, there are other younger couples and families on our street, which we really love too! So, here comes the decision to renovate…
To be honest, we didn’t really have a choice. Our house is historic and it needed a lot of work and tender love and care. We did just about every inspection under the sun when we had our offer in so the necessary work wasn’t a surprise to us when we met with our project manager, contractor, and engineer. With this said, people always say that a renovation is always more time and money than you think… this was 100% the case for us.
We knew the house needed a lot of work but we didn’t quite grasp just how much work that was until we got started. We’re incredibly grateful for our team because our house is going to be so wonderful and so “us” when we finish as well as so sturdy, strong, and sound. In an old historic Charleston house that hasn’t been renovated or repaired in decades, this is pretty fantastic!
So, the decision to renovate was pretty easy – it had to be done!
It had to be done for a number of reasons but the primary reasons were the eroding foundation, decaying fireplaces/chimneys, and water damage in the walls on one side of the house. Edwin always laughs at me but I feel an immense amount of pride and joy when I think about restoring our house to its original glory so it can live on as a part of Charleston’s history and story for generations to come. Our house is a teeny tiny little piece of Charleston but it is a city I love dearly and a city that takes great care in restoring it’s historic buildings. I feel very honored to have the chance to participate in this with our house project.
6. How long is the entire process?
Oh gosh, long! We closed on our house in spring of 2018. We then got Olivia Brock on our project officially in early summer of 2018. Olivia is our über talented project manager, preservationist, and the designer. Next, we shopped around for contractors and were really lucky to get Ben Buckley-Green on our project in summer 2018. Ben is our fantastic and super dedicated + fair contractor. Then, we hired an engineer to work with our contractor and to give us a full scope of the foundation restoration process. In late summer/fall of 2018, we created our plan for the foundation, fireplaces/chimneys, and water damaged walls as well as drew up all our more standard remodel plans, applied for all our permits, and applied for a tax credit with the state because of the fact that we were restoring a historic house.
The tax credit process took about 8 weeks from the start of the application to us receiving our approval. A hurricane shut the city down for a week too which was only a week but still a delay (thankfully no damage to Charleston occurred though!). In December, we met every single one of our subcontractors via our contractor and right before Christmas we broke ground. We then paused for the holidays and really got going strong in January. Between January and May, all the ordering, demolition, removal of hazardous material, shoring, foundation, and framing as been completed. Next up, we have the rough-ins, insulation/drywall, and tile/flooring. Then, we install our appliances and fixtures etc. and then we move in at the end of the summer! It has definitely been a long road!
7. Are there any projects you and Edwin are personally doing? like painting or repurposing to fit the home?
To be completely honest, Edwin and I aren’t huge DIYers. A huge majority of the work we are doing is very technical like with the foundation and fireplaces/chimneys. Neither Edwin or I are engineers so we would be completely unqualified to tackle these issues. Edwin also travels a ton for work so it would be incredibly tricky for him to set aside time to take on a true house project. We do have a few little things up our sleeve but we shall see how those turn out. For the most part though, we are very grateful for and trusting of our amazing team working with us on our house – Olivia Brock who is our project manager, preservationist, and designer and Ben Buckley-Green who is our contractor.
8. Are you keeping the house it’s original color?
I have a yes/no answer for this one! We’re repainting the entire inside of the house. There is also part of the current interior that is wallpapered. We will be removing the wallpaper of the previous owner but we think we will be adding in a touch of wallpaper – maybe to our powder bathroom. We haven’t gotten quite that far in our planning yet though! For the outside of the house, we are keeping it the original color due to our budget. We do hope to paint it in the future though! Edwin and I talk lots about the color we would paint it and I think between the house, trim, and front door it will be a combination of blue, white, and green (but probably just two of those three colors).
9. With your original floors, will you sand and re-stain those as you would newly laid site finished floors?
We are in love with the floors in our house! All the floors are original to the house. I think they are so beautiful and romantic! If you’ve seen my Instagram Stories (see the saved highlight called “House Remodel”), then you’ve seen that the floors on the bottom level of our house have been removed. It’s evident in these photos too! Each panel of wood was numbered and labeled before it was lifted in order to do the necessary foundation work. The floors will be going back in, with each panel going in the exact same spot it originally laid. There’s a method to the madness! Before we move into the house, we will be refinishing all the floors in the house!
10. What is your decor inspiration? Where are you pulling design inspo from?
Decor, the fun part! I received a bunch of questions about this when I asked y’all to send in house questions on Instagram! I’ll be sharing more of this in future blog posts but I’ll give you a little preview. We’re so happy and fortunate to be working with Olivia Brock on the design of our house. She has the most incredible and refined eye and her taste really matches that of Edwin’s and mine! She’s been so easy to trust in this whole process!
My style is very East Coast. I’m inspired by a mix of both the South and New England. So, much of our design inspiration comes from these regions and destinations within the regions. Edwin and I both love Charleston so much so the city we live in is a huge inspiration for our design ideas. Charleston has tons of Caribbean influences too, which I’d say is the other destination I’m most inspired by in terms of design.
I grew up with a mother and two grandmothers who really valued antiques, collecting, and all things Americana.
The American influence looked different to each of them and looked different even at different phases of their lives. For example, my mom’s parents retired to Jackson Hole, WY so a deep love and appreciation of the American West was established in my mom’s mom in the later years of her life. My dad’s mother grew up in Mississippi and then lived the rest of her life in Georgia, both in Atlanta and on the coast.
She was tremendously inspired by the south and proud to be from a part of the country with so much history and so many artisans and creatives. She shared so much of this with me over the years and it really stuck with me. My mom got her eye for antiques and her love of art + collecting old American jewels like spongeware, silver napkin rings, and silver baby cups (to name just a few of her treasured collections) from her mother. My mom’s mom was very well traveled and had very refined taste, which also really stuck with me. So, I’d say, in addition to different parts of the East Coast, my other sources of design inspiration are really the women in my family who I’ve learned from.
Of course, I look at magazines and Pinterest as well.
Olivia and I have a secret Pinterest board that is broken down into categories for each room. Also, I have a saved board on my Instagram with home inspiration. I do really love home tours in print and digital magazines as well as coffee table books especially when you can get a sense of the owner right out of the gates. I hope our house does this! Olivia’s taste is really aligned with ours so that is incredibly helpful an fun!
Thanks so much for reading and following along with our house restoration and remodel process!
Photography by Edwin Eversole