Tips for the Phased Occupied Renovation

…occupants that is.  We aren’t talking about the best approach to sequencing your project – though that will help speed it along.  We’re talking about how to survive, and come out alive on the other side of the construction.  If you haven’t done it before, don’t assume that you – or your partner, husband, wife, kids, pets, furnishings, electronics, etc, are up for the challenge.  Individually and/or collectively they may have no desire to be exposed to the dust, the frustration, the workers 7am arrival each morning, and so many more inconveniences real, and perceived.  Preframing the situation is critical.

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Expect the unexpected.

First, understand that whatever schedule has been provided to you will undoubtably be breeched.  There will be a delay in material, a subcontractor that didn’t show when he or she was expected, a piece of equipment required that breaks, lost, was stolen, or just plain disappeared.  Without this piece of equipment – your job will suffer delays.  Tack on an extra week for each month required in the original schedule.  NEVER say it out loud but do prepare yourself the modified completion date.  This little trick will give you an extra boost of stamina, you’ll need it.

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The destruction moves quickly…the construction moves slowly.

Second, it’s going to cost way more than you expected.  This can happen for a number of reasons.  For instance, you or your builder may discover something unexpected when they start ripping and tearing.  The fancy word for this is “unforeseen” condition.  Just because it’s fancy doesn’t mean it’s nefarious.  It’s just the way renovations go.  You remove the bathroom floor only to discover that the joists are rotted – uh oh – unforeseen condition – added expense.  Then there’s the reality that the lighting you wanted, and which fit your budget won’t be available before your project is supposed to be finished.  Now you have a choice here, go with the more expensive version that looks almost exactly the same or a discount store knock off that’s off-white instead of pure white.  You know what you’d do.  Last of all – brace yourself, because if you thought the first two increases were bad enough, you’re really not going to like the last – You.  That’s right – you are the reason for the increase.  Either you didn’t make the decision you needed to make in time or you made it and then regretted it, so begged the builder to change it.  Which he/she did, but it cost you.  Ouch.  The tip here is to add an additional 15% to the cost.  You’ll either get close to the number or happily not spend it all.

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What?….It’s just a little dust.

Create zip barriers to the spaces that you will occupy and never leave them open to the construction dust. On average it takes about a year to get the dust out of all the nooks and crannies.  A plain old sheet of plastic over the door, held up by Duct Tape won’t do.  Now I know what your thinking – Duct Tape can handle anything, unless you want to be sipping sawdust with your morning coffee, laying your curly locks on a pillow of billowy wood shavings – heed my warning.

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Learn to love it or leave it alone!

Finally, be kind – whether to your family, your pet, or yourself – blaming never comes to a good end.  Embrace the disruption, appreciate your new space when it’s over, and say a prayer to the construction gods to deliver you safely onto the other side.

From Nothing – Something: The planned community

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Small craft warnings….

As a frequent traveler, I find myself smiling when others talk of Boston’s history.  Not even 400 years old.  A drop in times bucket in comparison to the likes of Rome, Athens, or Alexandria, but Seaside, Florida – founded in 1981, and Rosemary Beach Florida – 1995, clearly win for fewest pages in the history books.  It’s ironic then, that this community was based on a Pre-WWII concept of development, which is dubbed New Urbanism.

This master planning model is based on a few concepts, first it must be an environmentally friendly, transit oriented – designed for the pedestrian as well as the car.  They should be diverse in use and population, and they should be shaped by physically defined and universally accessible public spaces and community institutions.  COMMUNITY.  A simpler time and place.  A place that celebrates local history, climate, and ecology.  I feel as if I am breathing in the salt air, and becoming calmer, just talking about it.

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It just makes me want to go to the post office and mail a letter!

Seaside, the brainchild of Robert S. Davis, who inherited 80 acres of land on the Northwest shore of Florida from his grandfather.  Together, he and his wife, and Architects – Duany Platner-Zyberk & Co, toured the South, and created the plan for the community.  Community, and not a town, as it is not incorporated.  A crafty little loophole that allowed the developers to create their own zoning!  Et voila, 423 homes, 12 restaurants, 40 plus shops and galleries, and later, their own schools – the first charter school in the state, their own church and post office – arguably the most photographed post office in the states, designed by Davis himself.

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All roads lead to food, entertainment and the beach.

The houses designed in the Victorian, Neo Classical, Modern, Postmodern, and Deconstructivism styles have lovely porches from which to watch the world go by – no front lawns – just natural plantings.  They are painted in pastels and are placed side by side in neat little rows or clusters.  It’s lovely.


Porches not yards rule the day in Seaside.

I wonder if New Urbanism is synonymous for Utopia – it felt pretty perfect.  So perfect in fact I wondered if my cupcake, flower, and design store all in one was just around the corner.  I didn’t see it but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t there.

What’s in a name?



Seaside locals seem at home – with homes that have names.  I call my condos by their numbers, which makes a lot of sense, since it would be dangerous to become too attached.  Naming things turns them from inanimate to something a whole lot closer to real.


Home to the Rogers Family.

I love the tiny cottages, their pint size nature having tremendous capacity to hold memories, just as any grand mansion could.  There is something that seems so manageable, and cozy about a little summer home near the beach.


My favorite!

My recent visit to Seaside Florida had the prettiest array of pastel cottage that lined the shore, and the tightly packed neighborhoods on the other side of the street.  If their colors and the community in which they are situated didn’t make you fall for the place, then the names surely would.  My number one favorite was:  Whipped Cream, number two: Fresh Cream and number three:  Precious….it was too, in its pale pink.  J’adore.

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How great is this name?

It got me thinking about what I might name my little oceanside retreat someday.  These are the names I came up with.  Do weigh in.  I am anxious to hear which you would choose.


Nothing says vacation like….

Summer Sault

Knot 4 Sail

Sound Idea

Sea Clearly

Sea Sault

Lost + Sound

Small Craft Warning


Sweet + Salty

Room with a Vue

Lime Ricky

Tangled up in Vue

Hide + Sea.k

The Dory

The Dingy

Honey Suckle


Ode to More than a Piece of Luggage

This weekend I visited NYC to take in Hamilton, listen to some Jazz at the Blue Note, eat some good food, and generally enjoy Manhattan in the not so springy springtime.  My suitcase did not join me for the trip.  Somewhere between the vestibule and the trunk it went its own way – ending our association.

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Kate Spade for Streamline Luggage

I said it was fine, that its just a material thing, not my good health, or the loss of someone you love, or something truly tragic like living in the middle of the country and not being able to smell the salt in the air, and take a dip in the ocean, where truly all your ailments seem to vanish away.  Nothing that catastrophic, and still it’s left me a little melancholy.

Dallas . TX Top at Blue Print Store.  Bottom Left:  Cape Cod, Middle:  Farmhouse Pottery, Woodstock. VT, Right:  Hermes Pop-up . Nashville . TN

My Kate Spade for Steamline Carry-on had been a lot of places with me.  I bought it just after I sold my first home – that was three homes ago, and at least a half dozen rentals.  It had been to Paris three times, to the South of France, to Venice, Croatia, Bosnia, Switzerland, and Costa Rica.  It had been to Florida, Maryland, Virginia, Tennessee, Texas, New York, DC, Illinois, Maine, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Vermont and probably a few states in between.


The Club Car. Nantucket . MA

It was my constant Cape Cod companion, and adored Nantucket though it pretended to have no favorite.

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J’adore . Dior . Paris . France – Les Arts Decoratifs

Perhaps it grew tired of never be fully unpacked – not being allowed to breath.  Maybe it had some bad jeu-jeu like this rash that won’t seem to leave me alone.  Maybe I should consider it a ritualistic cleansing?  Do you suppose the same could be true of my adorable little Chanel booties – the ones that could carry me at a fast pace trot through the city with nary a complaint from me or the boot.  And what of my leather pants, and my beloved faux fir Gucci knock off slippers from Target?  What about them?

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That’s enough now – it’s enough.

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Water Taxi to Splendid Hotel . Venice . Italy – my Steamline was right beside me.

I had a beautiful weekend – even if I did have to wear the same clothes the whole time.  Sometimes you’ve just got to call a Spade a Spade – I’ll carry on….wink, wink.  See, I still have my sense of humor.  I never pack it, it should always be readily available.

Happy Sunday.

The Spring RE Market

Also known as Spring Fever.  I set foot outside my cute little South End condo to bright sunshine, birds chirping, a single daffodil poking its head up through the cold dirt, and instead of thinking how lucky am I to live right across from a park, where squirrels frollack and play, young kids are pushed in their strollers by Nanny’s, and puppies bark in excitement over the activity, and the sheer joy of their urban oasis within their city surrounding.


View from my window.

I should have known I needed to be on my guard.  I should have known that all that happiness, coupled with the smell of fresh chocolate croissants, and the zest of an orange would make me feverish with desire … to sell.  Spring Fever indeed.  If I had a spare moment I might just take it up with the Eight Street District Commission.  How dare they put me in this state.


Where the most delicious cookies, and cupcakes, and coffee come from.

I must be strong.  I must stick to my plan and not succumb to the enticements of the brokers that reach out with letters of entreaty.  They have a single gal, a mother-to-be, an estranged family member returning home to make amends:  you fill in the blank.  Inventory is at historic lows.  They need properties, and they know just who to target.


Bird bath.

Truth be told, in between these letters and my innocent foray out the door and into work the other day something else happened.  I saw I property, just down the end of my street, not so different from mine.  Technically a little bit bigger, maybe a window or two more than mine, but otherwise the stats were a strong comp.  Well – when I say that property sold for $1.1 million dollars (I’m writing this while thinking about Mike Myers as Austin Powers), I nearly spit my wine out, and who would do that?  It’s just disrespectful.


ah, springtime.

And then this happened.  I began to run numbers, in my head on paper.  What if this – then that.  How about X, then Y.  I love if – then scenarios, even if I am not mathematician, it feels like what a really smart mathematician would do, right?  Well I had myself out of that condo, into The Girard, in search of a Cape cottage, halfway gutted by July, and for sale in the fall.  I have a vivid imagination.

I am a real estate addict.  Knowing it, and saying it out loud, doesn’t seem to curb the urge to scream SELL from the top of my lungs.  Thank goodness I have friends who let reason reign.  I do believe they have my best interest at heart.  The next time I set foot out my front door and the birds are chirping and the sun is shining and the happier laugher of children fills the air, I am committed to saying – how lucky am I.  I think I’ll stay a while.