As the owner of Callen Construction, Inc. and Callen Design Group and a member of Milwaukee/NARI, I’m quite eager to show off our work during NARI’s annual tour of remodeled homes, the Spring Home Improvement Showcase. I never expected or planned to put my own home on tour, but that is what happened, all because of the laundry room.
My wife, Bonnie, really wanted a first floor laundry room, which she got later rather than sooner, because like the shoemaker’s children who had no shoes, I’m the construction guy busy on other people’s projects. Anyway, we were able to create a laundry room by utilizing closet space in the eating/entertainment area of our kitchen and bumping out a bit into an adjacent bedroom. Now here is how one simple project morphed into almost an entire first floor re-do and a spot in the Spring Home Improvement Showcase. Since we were opening up a wall and changing up the eating/entertainment area, we decided to freshen up its look, beginning with stripping off wallpaper. Well, the wallpaper extended into the kitchen cooking area, so of course we had to continue with the stripping and repainting. And since we never liked our countertops, backsplash, and sinks, why not replace those, too!
Does it stop there? You guessed it. The kitchen connects to the dining room, which we had redone a few years prior, but not the windows. So we thought now was as good a time as any for window replacement. As long as we’re replacing windows in the dining room, let’s fix those living room windows as well, replacing a picture window and two French casements with three cottage-style double hungs. And we were never crazy about the fireplace. Let’s gut it to the studs and replace the woodburning feature with gas. We need some new comfortable furniture, too. Before you know it, we’ve got a whole new look.
Now in early March, I met with my staff and marketing people to discuss the spring tour and possible projects we could feature. I never gave a thought to showing my own house, but at their suggestion, well, I suppose Bonnie and I could feature the laundry room, kitchen and living room.
A little background here. Over the past 25 years, Bonnie and I have redone almost the entire house bit by bit. Prior to the laundry room fix, our most recent projects were the upstairs bathroom and bedrooms in 2007 and the dining room and front hallway in 2006. We’ve made cosmetic changes several times throughout. So now we are talking about not only showing the first floor, but the entire house.
The race is on. Do you know what’s involved in prepping a house for a home tour, even a house that was recently remodeled? You start by taking a long hard look at everything in the house, where it’s placed, how it functions, if it’s attractive or worn, and so much more. Is there a crack in the plaster somewhere that was overlooked? Does the carpeting have a stain? Do the window treatments need updating or cleaning? Will our new furniture arrive in time or will the living room be empty? Should we get a new bedspread? You look at everything from a different perspective, wondering what people will notice, and what will they think, down to the infinitesimal detail.
So many things to consider and accomplish in a short amount of time. Remember, we decided this at the end of March and the tour was the second weekend in May. Needless to say, it was intense. Thanks to Merry Maids for the deep cleaning. Thanks to Faith Wolf, our interior designer, for making sure our furniture came on time. Thanks to Bonnie and Faith for coordinating all the finishing touches, their good taste in choosing just the right accessories, and setting our dining room table so that it was fit for a presidential visit.
The day of the tour, we went to a hotel, exhausted, and slept most of the afternoon. But the house looked the best it ever had. We had 97 visitors on Saturday and 90 on Sunday. Faith Wolf, who was in the home during the tour, said the response was fabulous. The good thing about this is that having the home on the tour meant everything we wanted to do got done. No postponing of a project or putting off the finishing touches.
Now every time I come home, I come to a home I really enjoy. And it makes sense. This is where we want to be. There is no Florida getaway, no lake cottage. This is the house we want to enjoy and stay in for as long as we possibly can.
Now the funny thing is, what do you think is Bonnie’s favorite part of the remodel? If you guessed the first floor laundry, you would be correct. She loves not having to walk up and down the stairs to the basement lugging clothes back and forth. I enjoy most my new leather chair by the gas fireplace.
My point in this rather long blog is that a homeowner should truly love where they are living. Make your home what you want it to be. You don’t need to knock out a wall or build an addition to make things more comfortable or beautiful. Little things can go a long way to improving appearance and functionality, like our laundry room and the fireplace. Even if you can only afford to do one thing at a time, change out old doors, get that new sink and faucet, invest in closet organizers, replace your cabinet hardware…it all makes a difference. The best part is you will feel good about where you are living.