Pat stops by today to give us a little bit of a behind the scenes on where some of her ideas for Redesigning Max and Behr Facts comes from. Anyone that has ever gone through any kind of renovation on a house can attest to some of the problems Pat faced. I will say that I am a fan of her craft area and the updated kitchen! After the post, find out where to find the books her experience inspired. Read and enjoy!
Three years ago we remodeled our house. The project started out as an idea I’d had when we’d moved into this house to add a sliding glass door from the kitchenette to the patio outside. Simple, right?
As we walked around our 1960’s era ranch-style house, we thought of a few other things we’d like to do: Update the master bathroom and the kitchen, get rid of the dry bar in the family room, maybe paint the walls and recarpet the worn areas in the hallway. Nothing major, we thought. Just a few updates.
Then we asked designers and contractors to come in and give us estimates. The first hint I had that we were in trouble was when I talked to Moira. She seemed perfectly nice at our initial meeting. Subsequently? Wow. She completely took over. Suddenly, this was Moira’s design project. She picked out granite counter tops, luxury wood cabinets, tile flooring, and lots of recessed canned lighting. Oh, yes, there was a sliding glass door, but so much more!
Since my husband left the design elements to me, I was feeling overwhelmed. Fortunately, we stumbled across contractors Harry and Jeff. If you’ve read Redesigning Max, you pretty much know their philosophy of home remodeling—don’t make the home look like a spread in a magazine unless that’s what you think you’ll be comfortable living in. They urged us to think about how we live and what would make our life easier and more cost efficient. Harry said time and again the embellishments are nice, but they aren’t cost effective. If we’re putting them in because we like them, then they are worth the dollars spent. Otherwise, they’re just costing money for no reason at all.
Did they talk us into doing things we’d never thought of at the beginning of the project? Yes. We love the curbless shower in the master bathroom, something neither of us even considered before. We also love the sliding glass door with a walkout that is wider than we planned and has two shallower steps instead of one big one. Best of all, what Harry and Jeff did was bring their knowledge of home updates and make us aware of the ones that would make our lives better.
They also brought in wonderful workmen who ended up giving us the house of our dreams—the house our daughters had grown up in and the space we were already comfortable with. When you read Behr Facts, you’ll see a little of both Harry and Jeff, who are like Abe—big, stout lads.
What was the hardest part of remodeling? Looking at our house, a house that we love, and asking ourselves how this place could reflect us when we’re done. In the end, although it looks modern and updated, it doesn’t look stilted and impersonal like a design magazine photo, but it looks like us. (And yes, I have a craft “cabinet” that takes up the entire wall of the family room and is messy but wonderful all the time. So there, House Beautiful!)
If you could change where you live to make it more you, how would you change it? What walls would you knock down? What doors or windows would you add or subtract? What does your ideal living space look like—and where would you like to go from there?
Pat Henshaw, author of the Foothills Pride Stories, was born and raised in Nebraska and promptly left the cold and snow after college, living at various times in Texas, Colorado, Northern Virginia, and Northern California. Pat enjoys travel, having visited Mexico, Canada, Europe, Nicaragua, Thailand, and Egypt, and Europe, including a cruise down the Danube.
Now retired, Pat has spent her life surrounded by words: Teaching English composition at the junior college level; writing book reviews for newspapers, magazines, and websites; helping students find information as a librarian; and promoting PBS television programs.
Her triumphs are raising two incredible daughters who daily amaze her with their power and compassion. Fortunately, her supportive husband keeps her grounded in reality when she threatens to drift away while writing fiction.