Remodeling a House | Introduction | Nan McKay


Where do you start? I bought this house, sight-unseen, 1,464 miles away from where I lived, on the Internet on Zillow. I wanted a house close to our daughter, Molly – that was my goal. I had a house I loved in Tucson and had made changes over time, but gradually, over the 12 years we lived there.

Undaunted, in the middle of December, I moved forward, starting my remodel from Tucson on a house I had never seen but had bought in the State of Washington. I was determined to move my husband and my worldly possessions.

I labored over the Zillow pictures and the floor plan, measuring and trying to figure out what I would do. The master bedroom closet was tiny, so I started there.

I hired a general, individual contractor by word of mouth from a contractor I found and hired on the Internet to remodel the garage and build cabinets in the garage.

Before I left Tucson, I had the wall between the closet and the laundry room torn down and the laundry equipment moved to a bedroom on the lower level that the contractor found and wasn’t even on the Zillow floor plan. That became my new kitchenette/laundry room.

The house is two stories with an unfinished story below it because it’s built on a hill. I haven’t lived in a two-story house since 1980 and have had a knee replacement and back surgery, so a flight of stairs was not a positive. However, almost all the houses in my daughter’s neighborhood were three or more stories, and the two-story houses were the smaller ones.

I had viewed a condominium in her area that was too small for us, but it had an elevator in it. I had never even considered an elevator for a house, but I began to think, “Why not?” We have considered the last three houses we have purchased as our “forever” and “last” house we would buy. HA!

The elevator would have taken up the coat closet, so I had to create a coat closet which opened into the hallway out of the former laundry room, now master closet, space.

So now I had a garage remodel and an elevator on my mind. I started on putting a coating on the garage floor. I had lived in Minnesota prior to 1985 and knew about snow, ice, and rain, and thought it would be a good idea. We had our two cars shipped up to Washington and they got there before our plane arrived. Soon our garage floor was finished, and the cars moved in before we did.

The other thing I was concerned about was painting the interior of the house before we moved in. My daughter-in-law, Heidi, is a real estate agent, and I began to ask her many questions about decorating. She told me that the trend is for people to paid all the rooms in the house one color. But what color?

I poured over pictures of houses on Zillow. I thought about a black and white color scheme, but in this part of the country, it is rainy and gloomy a lot of the time and the sun doesn’t shine much. Not like Tucson or San Diego. Therefore, a dark color seemed to make it even gloomier.

I finally decided on Reflection for the walls and all of the woodwork which was very nice already was white. Most of the floors had gray tile, so the Reflection color is a very light blue which also looks like light gray, depending on the light. I used a Colorist. I had never heard of a colorist, but they are much less expensive than a designer, so she helped me find the right color for the walls.

And it took off from there.

One of the biggest lessons I have learned is that everyone’s taste is not the same. I am going to show you some before and after pictures on the blog on my website, and some of you may think, “That house looked better as it was!” Maybe so. It’s all in the eyes of the beholder.

I learned that lesson when we bought our first house in about 1974. In the bathroom, the former owner had painted a picture of the shed or barn-like structure they had built on back of the property. On the bathroom wall. Not a small picture. A mural. I didn’t like it and painted over it.

The owner came by, after our redecorating had been completed. I, of course, was proud as a peacock of our new redecorating and was sure they would love it. Sometimes I really can be a Pollyanna. As I showed them through the house, they didn’t seem as excited as I thought they would be. When we came to the bathroom, they said, “You painted over the barn!” I thought they were going to cry.

They made an excuse and left the house in a hurry. The house I thought was beautiful was a travesty of sadness and horror for them. That was when I learned that the decorating is in the eye of the beholder.

I also learned that you can’t go home again.

Come with my on my remodeling journey. I'll share what I've learned because I have to admit: I didn't know what I didn't know.

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