tending to our water damaged basement

Tending to Our Water-Damaged Basement

When we first lived in our little cottage, five years before we ended up actually buying it, the basement was unfinished. It had a concrete floor, a very old and cracked shower, tons of stored goods from the former owners, and the water heater sitting directly in the middle of the space. One of the things we knew we wanted to do when we undertook our two-year-long renovation process was to finish off the space. It would give us a third level of living space and would be a great hangout for our kids to play in a little later down the road. So, we took the steps required to do just that. We added drywall around the exposed walls. We added indoor/outdoor carpet squares on the floor, encased in the crawl space with fashionable barn doors and drug in an oversized pool table to turn it into a bona fide entertainment room. One thing we did not do, however, was properly waterproof the space. As a result, though we can handle small storms just fine, whenever we get a torrential downpour, water seeps in on one wall. This past week, Hurricane Michael swept through our area of the Triad, North Carolina, and of course, our basement got soaked. Here is how we handled it and a few things we discovered along the way.

repairing and replacing our in ground water pipe

Repairing and Replacing Our In-Ground Water Pipe

When my husband and I bought our little cottage, we did so knowing that much of the existing appliances and wiring were original to the home. While we adored their vintage charm, we knew we had to make some major upgrades to make sure the home was safe and livable for the next few decades that we plan to live in it. While we took major strides in that arena, completely tearing out the existing sheetrock, installing new wiring and adding new modern appliances, there was one issue we did not content with: the water line. This was a very old copper pipe that ran from underneath the home’s foundation to the water meter at the edge of the yard by the road. While it lasted us around four years as it was, we knew eventually it would need to be replaced. Sure enough, this past month, we began to notice a damp spot in the yard. We investigated further and saw that a tiny spring had formed underground near the pipe. Thankfully, though he is no longer in that line of work, my husband is a former plumber and got to work right away. Here are the steps he took to fix the issue.

stylishly breaking up our stark white interior

Stylishly Breaking Up Our Stark White Interior

Our little cottage is only around 1,100 square feet. Though we created more walking and living space within the structure as we tore down three walls, finished off the upstairs level and completed the basement, we were not able to actually generate any additional square footage, so we all live in relatively close quarters. To make the room appear as airy and bright as possible, my husband and I knew we wanted to use white as a primary paint color. Yet, though minimalist decor trends mandate that an all-white interior is a chic way to get that farmhouse look that everyone craves, we decided to use it as an accent tone rather than a main hue. Here are a few ways we are able to achieve the cleanliness that the shade provides without devoiding our colorful home of character and charm.

maintaining our indoor outdoor furniture in every season

Maintaining Our Indoor/Outdoor Furniture in Every Season

While our cottage does not have a front porch, it does have a very sweet and old-fashioned side porch. While this is now my and my daughter’s favorite spot to sit and read in the afternoons while we watch the school buses pass by our house, there was a time when the space was empty and in dire need of a little TLC. When we made the decision to buy our home, we did so knowing that its curb appeal depended on what we did with the side porch. When we bought it, there was indoor/outdoor carpet installed underfoot, old rusty chains hanging where overhead baskets used to sway and an old red bench that stood looking out at the road.Before we removed the carpet (a step that came a few months later and that we are still working on), we decided to invest in a poly lumber outdoor bench for the side porch. We did not know how to properly care for it then but we have learned a few valuable tricks along the way. Here are a few of our go-to tricks and tips for ensuring that your pieces are protected and allowed to shine in every season.

meaningfully and intentionally updating our 1950s cottage

Meaningfully and Intentionally Updating Our 1950s Cottage

One of the first things that people notice when they walk into our newly renovated brick cottage is how open and airy it feels. Then, they begin to take a look at the custom built-ins, the new hardwood floors and the freshly painted walls. For all intents and purposes, it looks very much like any modern home would today. Yet, there is only one catch. Our cottage was built in 1957 and has seen many transformations over the course of its decades-long life. When we first rented it back in 2009, it was the way the original homeowners and builders had decided to arrange it. There were myriad tiny rooms, two narrow hallways, very small closets and original linoleum floors. Though the home had character, warmth and charm, it needed a facelift and lots of TLC to turn it into our forever home. Yet, we wanted to be meaningful and intentional with our changes. So, rather than just tearing everything out and starting from scratch, we made a select number of alterations that enabled us to maintain the integrity of the home while putting our own stamp on it as well. Here are a few of the approaches we took.

a homemade paper star mobile

A Homemade Paper Star Mobile

When my youngest child was born, I got an itch to make something handmade, creative and unique for his nursery. While I am not usually an avid crafter, I found an instructional tutorial online that taught me how to make this paper star mobile. While I tweaked the design just a little and changed the way it was hung from the ceiling, I am still more than pleased with the way this turned out. Here are the basic steps I took to create it.

trimming shrubbery up and away from our home s exterior

Trimming Shrubbery Up and Away From Our Home’s Exterior

When we first bought this little brick cottage back in 2013, we did so for a slew of reasons. It had been our first starter home and we made so many happy newlywed memories there. It is two miles from my parents and the homes of both of my siblings. It is a brick structure with incredible bones and a great foundation. However, one of the main reasons why we decided to come back to this place and buy it for good was because we passed it every day on our way to work and after we left, we slowly saw the front shrubbery begin to creep up, then almost cover the pretty windows. The front row of shrubs is comprised mainly of boxwoods, hollies and nandinas. I had spent many hours in the front of that house, carefully and meticulously trimming the shrubs back. To see them in disrepair made me heartsick and I knew we had to take action. We had to save our home, cut those those shrubs back and breathe new life back into the place. Here are the first steps we took to beautify the front, improve the curb appeal and put down roots in our forever home.

remodeling an outdated older bathroom

Remodeling an Outdated Older Bathroom

One of the things that most attracted us to our little cottage in the country is that most of the original fixtures and features were still in tact from the late 1950s when the home was built. While, in many instances, that meant that there was much that needed to be torn out or replaced, it also meant that the property held onto much of its original charm. One of the places that we loved, but needed a little facelift, was the master bathroom. Compared to what most refer to as a “master bathroom” these days, this room was tiny, still had the original tile and had a tub that could barely hold a baby, much less an adult. We decided to tear out the back wall to expand the space, put in new cabinetry, a new shower and a new soaking tub. Here are a few of my favorite parts of the new space.

boosting the curb appeal of our mountain home

Boosting the Curb Appeal of Our Mountain Home

When I first met my future husband, one of our favorite places to travel was the mountains of western North Carolina, specifically the Lake Junaluska region near Waynesville and Maggie Valley. We were fortunate enough to be able to travel there so often because his parents had a little mountain cabin in that region. While it was not much to look at from the road, the two-bedroom cabin was cozy and quaint inside and the perfect little getaway. Still, after we got married and started coming up to the lake even more frequently than we had in the past, we decided the exterior of the home needed a slight face lift and a little remodel to boost its curb appeal. Here are the simple steps we took to get there.

planting a natural privacy border

Planting a Natural Privacy Border

One of the things that we love the most about our little cottage is that it comes with ample outdoor space. While the front of the house is a little closer to the road than we had hoped, the backyard more than makes up for it, with four acres of pastures, fields, blueberry pushes and pecan trees. It’s truly my favorite place to be. The only drawback is that our home sits very close to another, much larger one. Our property is an old family homeplace, and the granddaughter of the family patriarch built her new home on the adjacent land. While we adore our neighbors, we needed to create a way to distinguish our land from theirs, as well as add some much-needed privacy. Here is the natural solution we came up with.

Brooke Bowman
Brooke Bowman