With neighbor friends comes to spy on the renovations
A few months ago, a good friend texted me saying, “Guess who’s going to be your neighbor?”
” Go out ?! Really ?
Really. Lisa, who is in my book club, and her husband were looking for less house to maintain and bought the house three doors down.
Then last week another friend, Stacy, who lived on my old street, called to say that she and her husband had bought the house four doors down (and next door to Lisa). If there is a lotto between neighbors, I have just won the jackpot.
Having a good friend move into your neighborhood is lucky. Having two is a sign from the universe, although I’m not sure what. And here is the bonus! Besides having two fun friends around the corner, I also gained, and I’m a little embarrassed to admit, a front row seat, meaning almost unlimited access to the rights to spying to observe the renovations they make to their homes. And they are renovating.
See, our community of 28 houses is now over 20 years old. Until recently many residents were the original owners and the houses have retained their original finishes. However, in the past two years, a third of houses have changed hands. As the neighborhood evolves, so do the interiors of the houses. Many have had a makeover.
“Twenty years is about when homes need a pretty major overhaul,” said Winter Park, Florida interior designer Sally Ward, who is helping Lisa with her renovation.
As I walked through Lisa’s house last week, a house I remembered as beautiful and meticulously maintained, I gasped when I saw her being brought back to the posts.
“Nothing needed to be changed,” Lisa said. “I loved the space from the minute I walked in. At first I thought I would just give the interior a bit of a refresh, but as I walked in I wanted to make it my own.”
And so, what started with a plan to move the fireplace and expand the kitchen turned into an almost total gut, and the three-month project grew closer to eight, and counting.
Who hasn’t been there?
Nearby, I walked through Stacy’s future home, where work hadn’t started yet but the plans were in place. Rather than doing a full renovation all at once, she and her husband only make the necessary changes before moving in. They replace the roof, remove the tired wallpaper everywhere, paint the walls a neutral off-white, and replace the old carpet with new parquet. at the top. (The bottom floor is new thanks to a plumbing-triggered flood.)
“The major problem is the 20-year-old wallpaper,” Stacy said, as we walked through the house together. I could hardly argue. “I’ll clear everything up.” Future projects will include remodeling the bathrooms, redesigning some walls, updating the kitchen, and putting in new landscaping.
Because it’s time.
“We all say we want timeless looks,” Ward said. “But what is timeless? What people are really saying is that they want to live in the same place forever and not change anything. It’s not realistic. Styles change. Technology changes That’s about when devices reach the end of their life cycle.”
Afterward, Ward answered a few more questions, which encouraged me, and perhaps you, to overcome my resistance and consider making the necessary changes at home.
◼️ What if it came back in style? Yes, sometimes old becomes new again, but if a style returns, it returns with a twist. For example, 25 years ago polished brass faucets were big. Now the brass is back, but it’s in a brushed satin finish. In general, outdated features are not worth keeping.
◼️ What if what is old is still in great shape? If money isn’t an issue, not liking something or wanting a different style is reason enough to make a change, even if what you’re removing is still in good condition. Fortunately, many materials can be recycled, which makes renovators feel better about themselves, Ward said. If you’re buying a new home or living in a home that has someone else’s outdated style, you have permission to update it with materials in the colors and styles you love.
◼️ What if updating one area makes the rest of the house dated? This is where working with a designer, who can look at your space holistically and help you make integrated decisions, becomes important. One tip is to keep the flooring continuous throughout.
◼️ If a truly timeless look isn’t possible, what’s the next best choice? “While no look is forever, the best way to avoid looking dated quickly is to keep your look classic,” she said. “Don’t be too funky or too modern, and you won’t go wrong.”
Marni Jameson is the author of six books on home and lifestyle, including “What to do with everything you own to leave the legacy you want”.