In early November, my husband signed the paperwork for a CDW job transfer from Northern California to Tampa. We flew to Tampa in mid-November to search for a house. We also wanted to find out just what we had gotten ourselves in to with a cross-country move.
After 3 non-stop days of looking at houses with the Wood Team, our realtors suggested we take the day off, breath and go to a few open houses. Doug and Nancy and their squad had been working overtime to help us find the perfect house. They thought an open house or two could provide us with some inspiration. They were right! I knew it was our house as soon as we drove up about 11:42 am that morning. In the next couple of hours, I could barely contain my excitement as we walked through it twice and then put in an offer. A day later, the offer was accepted. We were overjoyed.
We returned to Los Gatos a couple of days later and continued packing. Occasionally we laughed at all the boxes – wondering how the two of us collected so many things!
Thank you Eric Reddish for suggesting we use Nancy as our realtor — the Wood team was amazing! Before we even closed, Nancy Wood opened her book of contacts to find us some help! After meeting with Chris Robinson of Florida Home Pro , we hired him to oversee all of our renovations. We had a long list of things to do and because Chris knew we were anxious to get started, we booked January 17 for his crew to get started. #demoday
After what felt like decades spent packing, the moving truck parked in front of our home on December 14 and it was on. With a one way ticket to Tampa clutched tightly in our little paws, early the next morning we stopped by for a final goodbye. I couldn’t believe it. Our place on Monterey was empty and looked just like a house. The spot we lived in for more than five years was no longer our home.
After flying cross country, including a few bouts of serious tears, the next morning we closed on our house in Carrollwood, a neighborhood north of Tampa. We were finally home owners together! We couldn’t stop smiling, even though we knew all the work that was going to go in to making our house a home in the next couple of months.
Our house had an amazing pool area, but we had no time to spend lounging around it. Instead, we spent many hours at Home Depot and many other stores catering to new home owners. In the next six weeks, we planned to have the house torn apart, room by room.
Upstairs, the four bedrooms screamed to be painted and for new carpet! We paid a few visits to Sherwin Williams to pick out paint colors. Before settling on a color, I made sure Lindsey Mansfield weighed in on every color swatch. She suggested an accent wall in the master bedroom. I scratched my head, not seeing it, but then thankfully I caved in.
We quickly decided we needed a professional to paint the entire house from head to toe. Nancy Wood suggested we hire Don Polson to tackle that job. His crew came in early the morning of Dec. 26 and three days later they finished everything but the family room and kitchen.
Throughout the first floor, we had four different types of flooring, including a lot of ugly greenish carpet. A huge shoutout to Diane at the Home Depot in Carrollwood. Talk about patient! She spent a lot of time with us, helping us pick out flooring, tile, lights, toilets, a shower door. You name it, Diane was there to help. Diane suggested a tile that resembled hardwoods and we jumped at that idea for the entire first floor.
Back at the house, Nick loved the wood-paneled den, and instantly claimed it for his office. It had a super masculine feel to it.
We decided to convert the long formal living room in to a dining room. The area near the french doors leading to the pool would be little reading nooks.
We also decided to convert the formal dining room in to my office. Right off the kitchen, half would be an office and the other half used for yoga. New lighting would also have to be picked out.
After having an up close and personal visit with the formal dining room wallpaper, most likely hung when the house was built in 1978, I made quick work of pulling it off the walls.
The next three areas of the house were going to feature drastic renovations. In the foyer, we liked the idea of knocking out the doorway and wall leading in to the family room. Don’t worry Kim Ratcliff, the foyer light was also being replaced.
In the family room, the wall leading to the kitchen was also going to be knocked down. Because we don’t have a basement, we opted to add a small closet in one corner. All the wood in the family room would be painted white to brighten up the room. Because the dining room and my office would be a bright white, we decided on a soft gray in the kitchen and family room. Lori Sheldon suggested we paint the beams a dark gray and after marinating on this idea for a day, I also agreed.
The second I walked into the kitchen during that open house in November, I knew that room was living on borrowed time. Where should we start? Maybe with the dark green paint on the picture frame molding? The huge island? The stencil? The dark cabinets? The white Florida tile? I know the previous owners meant well, but I had other ideas for our kitchen.
With the walls being torn down, we also planned to tear out all the cabinets. New lights would be hung in the kitchen as well as white cabinets and a whiteish granite counter top. I spent hours on Pinterest looking at lighting, paint colors, and a smaller kitchen island.
We also decided to go with floating shelves, one on each side of the kitchen sink window. Even though all of this would be a bit of a splurge, we couldn’t contain ourselves and bought a gorgeous Kohler farm sink as the finishing touch of the kitchen remodel.
To replace a lot of lighting, a number of different websites were consulted to pick the right fixtures (Wayfair, Pottery Barn, Overstock.com and Houzz to name a few). In addition, the master shower and the downstairs bath would receive a makeover. The cherries in the bathroom had to go and we desperately needed a mirror in that bathroom as well.
Moving forward, we are in the midst of the second week of our remodel. It’s been almost 6 weeks since we closed on the house and everything is moving along. There are those ‘surprises in the walls’ as we like to call them, but we can’t believe the difference already.
While we wish at times all the work was done yesterday, we embrace every day of the remodel.We are cherishing every minute of the house slowly becoming our home. We have come to love the clutter, mess, dust, misplaced furniture, and more that comes along with tearing out flooring, walls and a kitchen. With no place to cook, we brought a toaster upstairs to the second bedroom so we could make a quick breakfast or dinner (peanut butter and jelly). We even cooked Sunday dinner, a pork roast, in a Crock Pot up in the third bedroom.
I can’t close without mentioning my idea squad. They are like my own personal Pinterest group. Lindsey Mansfield, Lori Sheldon, Kim Hudson Williams, Erika Hirschfield, Kim Ratcliff, Vicki Ellena-Petulla, Shauna Smith and Maria Price have pointed me in the right direction many times in regards to color, lighting fixtures, furniture and flooring. Proving great minds think alike – contacted separately (and not everyone every time), they agree on many ideas! At times they affirm my intuition, but other times they push me to try something totally different. I have thrown my previous stubborn self to the side and kept my ears pinnned back, embracing their suggestions. Thank you ladies and keep those phones close by – we aren’t finished yet.
Why Travel, Cooking and DIY? A creative type, I have always loved painting and decorating as a hobby. Upcycling is a real passion. My mom was a Home Ec teacher when we were growing up. I learned a lot from her and because I love hosting get-togethers, I had to step up my game in the kitchen as well. And lastly, my love of travel comes from my Grandma Schmitt.
An Illinois native, I worked in the White House Communications Agency early in my career (President Reagan), prior to returning to Illinois State University to finish my undergraduate and Master's. After a couple of post-graduate internships (minor league baseball and Big Ten Conference), I then worked in college athletics full-time for more than 22 years -- first at the University of South Carolina for 15 years and then at Santa Clara University for the last seven years. We moved to Tampa, Florida in Dec., 2016 after spending 8.5 years in Northern California.