Saturday, January 30, 2010


We're dreamers. We love designing. Thinking up stuff. Our idea of a great getaway is staying in an old town and walking through historic neighborhoods.

So when T took a job in this town we now call home, we both readily agreed we wanted to be in the oldest area we could find. It's not that old. Most of our neighborhood was built in the 40s. (There are a few homes that date back to the 20s, but they're in a very rough section of town and have been chopped up into rental apartments.)

And...we knew we wanted a "fixer-upper" for a good deal. A home on the larger side, so we could stay put for the long haul...if necessary. We agreed we'd be okay renovating as we went.

Anyway...I'll save the story of how we wound up in the home we're in for another post - 'cause really, it deserves it's own! But, I will tell you that the second floor of our home was originally attic space. Back in the 80s it was converted to living space. Shortly after that, an addition was put on completing the upstairs. The only problem is that the builders either didn't take into account, or totally ignored the fact that the beams in the attic weren't designed structurally to support a living space. And so, some of the upstairs was sagging. BAD.

* above pot was rather loose. For the last six years, guests and children were instructed to sit directly on the seat. No wiggling aloud. hee hee. I'm not kidding.

Over the course of the last year we set aside funds to tackle the backyard/garage. However, as the time to begin demolition drew nearer, we decided we wanted to get the house itself finished, and then tackle the backyard/garage.

And so...we decided we'd start in the upstairs bathroom. We could close off that area and we have three baths total, so we'd be just fine living without one for a while.

We gutted. It's been so fun! The kids helped. Oh the delight on their faces as they swung hammers and crowbars into the wall and ripped off sheetrock and threw the debris out the window. FUN! (NOTE: we carefully selected which walls they could "take out", making sure they wouldn't run into wires, etc. The window they chunked debris from was "head height" for them so they wouldn't accidentally fall out, and we were beside them and working with them every moment.)

We got down to the floor in the bath and discovered something...the floor in the bathroom and adjoining guest room had been laid at the same time, and then the wall dividing the two spaces had been added. So...we'd have to gut the guest room as well, in order to repair the floor...which is really what started this whole thing. It was sagging. Because of not being properly supported.


When the children saw the vanity going down the steps, they cried!

So we gutted the bathroom, made sure the dividing wall wasn't structural, and took it down.

And began gutting the guest room...

Well now, we got the carpet and pad up and found out...the floor was a MESS! We'd suspected we might need to jack it up and add some support...our suspicions were confirmed.

How does one go about doing such a thing?

First you take down your chandelier in the room below...that would be our den...and then you tear off trim around the steps...and then you cut into the sheetrock on the ceiling of the den around the steps so you can figure out what you're dealing with. You assure your wife she'll get a flat ceiling out of the deal. She gets emotional. The husband gets excited. She gets teary, he encourages her. The children peer down from the top of the steps and in utter shock mumble, "oh my goodness. Oh my goodness!" Then you look at each other and say, "for better or for worse" and you rip into it.

You find out the ceiling is made of tongue and groove pine paneling. You entertain thoughts of making said repairs and keeping the paneling exposed.

You tear off more sheetrock and decide leaving the paneling exposed isn't a good idea.

You marvel at the fact that at one time someone painted that ceiling light pink. And you cringe as you feel dust and debris rain down the inside back of your shirt.

As a woman you suppress the tears as your freshly mopped floor is buried beneath a blanket of dust and debris...and you remind yourself that this is an adventure and you thank God for such a talented husband and thick plastic to protect your bookshelf and sofa.

You finish tearing it all down. You thank God your husband is an engineer and is constantly devouring books on building. You marvel as he explains how he jacked up the house from below, put in a giant support beam, secured it with concrete blocks, and then built a jig (T - can I call it that? I know that's a woodworking term, but really, could you call that contraption a jig?) which allowed him to jack up the second floor directly on top of the support beam below the first floor, and then put in two columns supporting the beam that's lifting the second floor. Oh, did I mention the builders cut through some support beams and NEVER RE-SUPPORTED them when they put in the stairs? That MIGHT be why that area of the second floor sagged so badly. T designed, I did as I was told. "Hold this. Hand me that. Etc." (Except...once T calculated how thick the support beams needed to be to span the width of the room, he was stumped on how to conceal the beams...thanks to my rabid magazine clipping and ever dreaming mind, I came up with a plan...a coffered ceiling!)

I have yet to upload current pics. Suffice it to say, we've got the one support beam you see above, plus two more that run the width (rather than length) of the room.

We've been a bit busy.

Since jacking up the second floor, doors that used to be "stuck" and required a strong arm to open/close, as well as cabinets that functioned in the same way, are now opening easily...crazy! Who knew?

Three kids, two dogs, shift work, and some major renovations...let's just say I've had one mini meltdown and we've seen the Holy Spirit work in our hearts in some AMAZING ways over the last few weeks.

We're learning to laugh a lot. By choice.

We've got furniture in some weird places right now. Things aren't going to fit where they were before, due alterations in rooms...but it's good. I'm always moving things around anyway.


  1. Wow-I can't wait to see it all done!

  2. OK, I am soooo impressed by hubby's abilities! I guess y'all have been super busy, I can't believe you are doing all of this alone! You are brave, and I bet you are saving a TON of money. Way to go, if anyone can do it, it sounds like your husband can. He is always fixing or building something around there. :D
    Good Luck!

  3. That's what I'm talking about! Matt is going to be in heaven when he reads this. You know he stalks your blog, right? Love you, sis!

  4. First, I love your blog. I'm a blog stalker that found her way to your blog thru your sister's :) I'm also Ashley T'bulls sis in law. So now I have officially come out of the "blog stalking" closet...ha!

    I love looking at your remodeling/decorating projects. I'm also blessed with a "T" who is an engineer as well. We have had some great times renovating our house too. I can't wait to see your finished project!!!

  5. Oh the memories this stirs up inside of me!!! You WILL get through this ~ and your marriage will be stronger for it ~ God is faithful and NEVER gives us more than we can bear ~ even when we think we were the "first cause" ~ we are always mistaken when we think that ~ HE is ALWAYS the "first cause". We did a MAJOR reno in our house ~ jackhammering the foundation up INSIDE the house ~ right beside my boy's bed and down the hall and lay sewer pipe! We gutted and tore apart and I had meltdowns too ~ Oh the JOYS of life in an old house ~ but it WILL be worth it and you WILL come out the other side of it!! HANG in THERE!


    P.S. One piece of advice ~ continue to ENJOY your children through it all and don't forget to keep a journal of "regular" life as you do...SO important! Looking back, that is one thing I would change ~ I would stress less and enjoy more! :)

  6. You two absolutely AMAZE me. Wow... wow, makes our renovations seem like tinker toys. Truly. Hang in there. I can't wait to see the finished product.

  7. This is incredible! Being an engineer myself, I like to see these transformations. That said, I think you know, A and I would be DIVORCED if we ever took on a project such as yours. KUDOS!!!! Can't wait to see this at completion - I must go back and read about other renovations at your guys are talented w/ a big ole T!!!!!

  8. Absolutely amazing! I am so impressed and proud of you both for doing all this renovation!
    It reminds me of Sandtown and working on houses... but yours is a much BIGGER renovation!
    May the laughter continue! That's another amazing thing in itself! You all are true adventurers, designers, engineers... think you need to start a show!

  9. Wow...I'm very impressed with T's skills!!! Can't wait to see the after pics, I bet it'll look great!! Plus I love the fact that yall let the kids help! How fun and what great memories.

  10. You guys are very brave! As with everyone else, we are very excited for you guys and to see the end product! Thanks for the prayers! We are improving!!! We'll keep y'all in our prayers especially with 3 little ones! I have a busy time with just 2!

  11. This looks like our bathroom now too! It's the "I promise this will be done by Christmas" project"...ummm, yeah. Still not even CLOSE! It's worth the wait to save the almost 10k someone wanted JUST for LABOR.
    My cure little carpenter husband (he's really a civil engineer) though is proving he has some mad skills though!
    Isn't it a blessing to have handy husbands?!?!
    Hope you and your clan are well!!

  12. Keep posting stuff like this i really like it