Monday, May 30, 2011

mini stay-ca[tion]

I am pooped.

We stayed in Charleston for the long holiday weekend, but boy am I tired. Spoleto & Piccolo Spoleto started this past week, and it has become an annual tradition for us to go to the opening night of Piccolo, which is a free event that takes place at the Customs House. The Charleston Symphony Orchestra plays a concert and everyone brings wine & picnics, and we usually ride our bikes. There's a beautiful view of the harbor, if you sit where we typically sit (although I'm not giving away our secret), and it's just a lovely time. This year was no different. Perfect.

Saturday was spent lounging around and running errands, and then by late afternoon Brian's dad & Veronica arrived in town. We had a few drinks on the porch and then headed to Santi's for yummy Mexican food. Afterwards we went to the Rifle Club to show them around, and we took the long hike out to the end of the dock to see the Ashley River.

Sunday morning was coffee on the porch, then they headed out to the boat for the day, while we got ready for our cookouts (of course we only made it to Anita's), and then dinner with Charles & Veronica at Poe's, followed by yet another hike out to the beach for some stargazing!

And on Monday (Happy Memorial Day), we sailed pretty much all day. It was a perfect day out on the water, except I am in pain from the sunburn I endured. :(  We sailed out past Fort Sumter, and enjoyed breakfast and lunch on the boat. It truly was a gorgeous day to be on the water!

We even made it over to visit Alice & Wallace's old boat (recently named IBIS)...

And to see more photos of our sailing trip, click here.

Friday, May 27, 2011

explora[tion] - dining room

Although not the most exciting photos, the second room on our tour is an essential part of the renovation. By creating an arched opening in the wall between the dining room and kitchen, we truly opened up the whole house. We debated between a squared-off opening or an arch that would mimic the existing one between the living/dining. We knew this could fail miserably, but because we were working in a 3-dimensional modeling program (Revit), we were able to model each scheme relatively quickly, taking camera views from both the kitchen and dining room to see which opening would work best. In the end, we obviously chose the similar arch to the existing, and we are happy with that decision, even though it took the construction crew about 8 times to get the curve right!

Even though there doesn't appear to be much change to the space, I find this next photo to be quite dramatic! You will notice that we switched out the ceiling fan for our IKEA Boja pendant lamp, the 'popcorn' ceiling is now smooth, we have central heat/air and so no need for the window units anymore, and the windows have been restored, so no more blinds to cover them up (since we rarely never lower those roman shades)! And the fresh coat of paint helps as well! You may also notice the doorbell on the left wall, one of the many charming details that we loved about the house. Unfortunately, it only works about 20% of the time.

One more thing about that previous picture, this is the view that you see as you come out of the bathroom, and I love that you don't see any of the neighbor's windows as you are wearing your bath towel! 

And here it is, your peek into the kitchen, the next and probably most dramatic stop on our tour!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

explora[tion] - living room

Ready to move inside? I've kept you out in the yard the past several posts, and with this heat that has hit Charleston, you're probably ready for some air conditioning! I realize you aren't really seeing anything new in these posts, but it is still neat to see the side-by-side shots of the way the house was when we bought it, verses it's (in my opinion) new & improved condition!

When we first went to see the house when it was on the market, we were not interested in it at all. Some of you may know the story... we saw it, full of stuff. It was as if the homeowner had left to run a quick errand and never came home. There were dirty dishes in the kitchen sink, the beds were unmade, and unopened mail on the dining room table. The unfortunate thing was that Julia had actually died in June of 2009, and some of the 'before' pictures you will see with furniture, clothes, etc were taken in May of 2010, almost a year later. Of course we didn't know any of this at the time, and we couldn't see past the clutter. We didn't want to take on a renovation, we just wanted a house that we could move into right away, and this one didn't fit the bill.

So, we looked at the house across the street! It was nice and pretty, completely renovated, and $119,000 MORE than the other one! Yikes! So our realtor Mike Dew suggested that we go back to 54 and see it one more time, and to consider that we could do the renovation the way WE would want to do it, and probably for a lot less money. Boy, was he right! Maybe not a LOT less money, but we still managed to save some, and get a house that truly has our touch. I cannot begin to tell you how glad I am that we don't live in the house across the street! As it turns out, our house has a more efficient layout, considering that the other one didn't have the central hallway (you actually accessed the bedrooms directly off the living area), and the only way to the bathroom was through a bedroom. The kitchen was small and tucked into a corner, and to get to the master bedroom, you had to walk down a long corridor that also served as the laundry room. Also, the master bath & master bedroom were not connected. Here's a quick floor plan to give you an idea of what I'm talking about...

And here's the plan of our house, for those of you who don't remember...

Therefore, what I'm basically trying to say, we got a good deal on a fixer-upper, and were able to do what WE wanted to do in terms of an addition & renovation! And now we sit on our front porch, and gaze across the street, and remember how thankful we are that Mike made us look at it one more time.

So without further ado, welcome to the living room! And of course, none of these photos show the furniture from before! You may have to wait until we get to the bedrooms.

 And while we are standing here in the living room, we can't help but notice what lies ahead. The dining room, next on our tour.

Not sure about that crazy orb in the last 'before' picture (notice how it elevated in the 'after' picture) scary... hmmm. And because I talked so much at the beginning of the post, I thought I'd give it a rest on the descriptions. Most of the changes are evident from the photos, but I will point out a few things. The main one being the vents you may see in some of the pictures... the house did not have central heat and air, so that was a huge plus as part of the upgrades. You also probably can't tell that there were originally 'popcorn' ceilings in the living and dining rooms, so we removed the ceilings and replaced with smooth gypsum board. There is also new electrical throughout, since the house had 'knob & tube' wiring previously. The windows were restored and the floors lightly sanded, although they were in great shape prior to construction. You may be wondering what happened to that uber-cool Art Deco chandelier? It was removed with the ceilings, but we still have it. We plan to restore it and reinstall, but like everything else it takes time, and it's not at the top of our priority list at the moment!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

explora[tion] - exterior [part 3]

And finally, the last of our "exterior exploration" before we move inside... and I've saved possibly my favorite parts of the outside of the house for last, the front door and the front porch!

There are of course obvious changes like color and material, but more subtle hints of change are the placement of the house numbers (although the original numbers, they are just aligned), the underside of the eaves are now exposed (as you've seen in earlier posts), fresh & lighter shade of ceiling paint, and a few additions... new doormat, new light fixture, new mailbox, new flag, new plantings in the flower boxes! We also painted the front door a bright red color, but it's hard to tell in this photo, mostly because the door is open! And that blue sky popped up, right on cue!

The biggest part of the porch renovation was the removal of the screen, and addition of handrails. A lot of people questioned this move (including me), but it's amazing how much it opened up the whole front of the house, quite literally! And [knock on wood] the bugs haven't been a problem yet, thanks to our citronella candle. You get a better idea of the ceiling paint color here, as well as the addition of a new light fixture, hanging plants, and bird feeder. The bird feeder may need to relocate because every time we fill it, the birds decide to swing it around, thus spilling the food ALL over the porch, hence the reason it is currently empty in this photo! The addition of comfy porch furniture and the removal of old shutters (that didn't fit the window) also helps the space.

And here we have a better view of the porch with and then without the screen. Amazing the difference. We hope that some of those tropical plants will soon grow back, since we cut most of them back for the duration of the construction, to prevent any damage to them. But now we want them back!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

explora[tion] - exterior [part 2]

Thought you may be ready for more! I love BEFORE & AFTER shots, so I'll continue to share until I have something new to talk about! Still debating room by room, or one view at a time, but for now, I'll continue with outside, and move to the back of the house...

back door
This wasn't really the same perspective, but at least the same general direction. And it gives you an idea of what the back entrance looked like before, and what we have now! The original back door is now the door to our 'future' master bathroom. The next photos show what the back of the house used to look like, with a yard, and now with our addition of a master suite...

back of the house - before & after addition
And the side view, coming back to the front of the house, although the form is the same, you'll notice the vinyl siding is now hardie board, the windows have been restored, there are no more window units, there is now rodent-proofing and a skirt-board, and the rafters have been revealed with better detailing at the roof edge.

south side

Sunday, May 22, 2011

explora[tion] - exterior

This is really a test, but I've been working on some before & after shots of our home, and I'm trying to come up with an easy way to access them, hence the bar across the top of the screen. Let's see if we can get this to work! UPDATE: That would be a no. We could not get it to work, but hopefully in the near future I will somehow figure out how to have a quick way to tab to the "House Tour", so you can easily access these fun 'before & after' shots. 

I will get into more detail about what was actually changed when we get a little closer to the house, but for now, here are a few overall photos from the front...

From the left...

From the right....

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


Last night, we caught the scent of the Gardenia in our yard, and decided it must come indoors. The fragrance fills the house. Mmm.

in the yard
in the house

Monday, May 16, 2011


We have been extremely lazy lately, especially this past weekend! But I can share a few things we've done that you may not have seen.

The ONLY thing we did this past weekend was make 1 trip to our storage unit to fill up the Explorer with as much as we could fit. This included everything from holiday decorations to kitchen supplies, to stuff that will forever live in the shed, like boogie boards and camping equipment. Anyway, here are the boxes to prove it. We were in fact productive in that sense as well, since we actually did unpack all the boxes that we brought home!

And speaking of the shed... here are some little touches that Brian installed, including the old house numbers we found in the house, and the hanging glass globe that Brian had at Larnes Street.

And I never revealed the organized shed! Remember when we hung the pegboard? Well, Brian has all his tools displayed, and everything in it's place. Here are a few shots of it's current state:

In other news, we've mostly been enjoying our front porch. We sit out there pretty frequently and watch the neighborhood, admire the yard, have a few cocktails.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Mom's 60th Birthday Celebra[tion]

Because of conflicts with schedule, we had the party a week early, but I thought I'd take the opportunity to post on her actual birthday!

The party was a complete surprise, so we started the day with manicures and pedicures... Allison, Mom, me, and even Ellie! Then Brad came to get Ellie and the rest of us headed to the mall for lunch and shopping. Allison and I tried to come up with every excuse we could think of to head home, but Mom insisted that we visit 'one more store'.

So thereby we were late for the party, but I don't think anyone cared! Besides it was only family, so they entertained themselves! Aunts, uncles, & cousins were all there, and we had bbq & other yummy food that everyone chipped in on, and the guys did a great job of decorating per the instructions that we left them! We also had cake, lots of cake! A blizzard ice cream cake for Mom & another one for Allison, since it was actually her birthday! There was also cornhole that was fun for all, and even a little fishing. All in all, it was a great afternoon!

There was even coloring!
coloring sheet

Ellie wrapped in the decor
And here's a cute shot from Mother's Day...

Saturday, May 14, 2011


Friday night we made the trip out to the Isle of Palms to The Windjammer to see one of our favorite singer/songwriter/rockin' guitar players Jason Isbell (and the 400 Unit). They were awesome. We even got to speak to him after the show... which is what I love about this venue, you can always get up close and personal with the band! Here are a few shots from the evening, we were lucky to be front and center!

Jason Isbell with Chad Gamble on drums
Derry deBorja (formerly of Son Volt)
Jimbo Hart on bass
With the distance from downtown, as well as the fact that bands don't like to start playing til 11pm... we didn't get home until after 2am on Friday night. This is why we are going to fewer and fewer concerts these days! Of course we are looking forward to Mofro, The Greyhounds, and Old Crow Medicine Show over the next few weeks!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

introduc[tion] of Jack Harvey Charzewski

Congratulations to Jennifer & Jarod! Just in time for Mother's Day! Brian and I went to the hospital to see the new baby after work. Jack was born at 1:47am, Tuesday May 3rd, weighing 8lbs. 4oz. & 21in. long. A beautiful baby boy! Everyone is doing great!


Monday, May 2, 2011


Tonight as I staked out the laundry room shelving with painter's tape... you can kind of see where the cabinets and shelves will go, as well as my surprise quote (of course it's not so much of a surprise now):

It may be a while before you see any more progress on this!

Also Brian hung the pegboard in the shed, that will eventually hold tools and such for his workshop!