Sunday, September 28, 2008

This is our tiny hallway that leads to the bedrooms and back of the house.
This beautiful, gourmet kitchen is an inspiration for eating out and...sledge hammers!

This is our dining room. It will be opened up into the kitchen. That white door is a FULL bathroom...

This is our current living room...soon to become the POD! We are moving all of our junk from the pocket doors to the back of the house into this room!

The Beginning!

Dear Friends and Family,

This will be my attempt at creating a blog! Lynn, Sophie, and I are beginning our Bell Street renovation. We have planned this renovation since BEFORE we purchased the house! It is a long overdue love fest for this little house that we love.

After years of planning and hoping and dreaming, Lynn and I finally sold Beverly Garden Drive. Many of you shared countless hours of fun in that wonderful space. When we moved here, we could only hope of having the same feeling of home and warmth we experienced at BGD. We had Three 50th B-days, a wedding reception, an 80th birthday celebration, and a couple of 25 year anniversary parties, endless kid birthdays, and 14 years to decorate that beautiful space for the holidays! The final chapter of BGD enabled us to share our home with family members displaced by Hurricane Katrina. It was one of the most wonderful chapters of our life in that house. Now that another lucky family is there, we are ready to move on…

Bell Street is so wonderful! We live on the best block in our neighborhood! On all sides, back and front, we are surrounded by friends! Our neighbors are the best in the world! Lynn and I are so lucky b/c at BGD, we had neighbors that over the years became treasured friends. We still talk with Ms. Yvonne and Eddie often. The big difference between Bell St. and BGD, is that when we moved in, we felt like we had just been away from home! We returned to fruits and flowers on the porch, warm smiles, and laughter all around.

Our house is small and strange, but while waiting for the realtor to show up, we decided to buy it! We ignored the strange features (bath in the dining room), small spaces, no closets, and the ugliest, least functional kitchen in the universe!!!! We ignored the fact that it would take a major renovation to truly make it ours…we just knew we were home.

That brings me to the way in which we looked at the renovation…Before we purchased the house, we called on our nephew, Stacy for his eye, his heart, and his good sense when it comes to renovating old, old spaces…Bell St. is well over 100!!! Stacy said, “It’s got good bones. It’s a good house.” That’s all it took to reinforce our feeling that we needed to love this house and keep it forever.

When we began talking seriously about the renovation, we also consulted our neighbor and friend, Joe. Joe lives next door, but he also takes very good care of us. I can call Joe, (and I have), at a moment’s notice for help and Joe is there. We asked his advice and expertise and he advised us well. He wanted to bid for the job, as did another friend and neighbor who is a partner to an ISL parent…lots of connections…So Jed and Kevin and Joe all placed their bids. Stacy, of course, was a bidder as well due to his love and connection for us and the house! We were so luck to have such wonderful, trustworthy, and competent contractor/designers at our service!

After much contemplation and consideration, Lynn and I had to follow our hearts and ask Stacy (and his partner Rodney) to complete the job for us. Stacy just knows me and Lynn and how we feel about this house. Stacy knows how we feel about the city we love. Stacy just knows us better. In this process, Lynn and I learned that we believe in the concept of home and unconditional love. New Orleans is our home and we love it, good, bad, or ugly. We’ve come to realize that “New Orleans” is part of our family and no matter what, we will not give up on “her.”

When we came back to the city after Katrina, many thought we were crazy, and maybe we were. We knew, however, right or wrong, it was what we had to do. It was more than buying a house inside the city limits… it was getting into the guts of the city and finding the heart of it all…Mid-City! We re-planted seeds and instantly had roots!

Our tiny, tiny house became our sanctuary and we fell in love with it and our city all over again. Our commitment to that love, in part, is this renovation. Most of all, we hope to teach Sophie that when you love something or someone, that love should make whatever (whomever) you love better. We did that on BGD. With every year, we made the house better. The more we loved it, the more “home” we created in that space. The same goes here on Bell St... We want to take this little, long, strange house and love it, love it, love it. We want to make it better, ultimately to teach our daughter about commitment and love and hope. We want her to know that our house is not just ours, it is for our neighbors, friends, family, and for our city.

It looks like another part of our wonderful family will be helping us on this journey. Jean and Becky have offered their “backhouse” space for us to live in while we are displaced. We cannot begin to thank them for easing our stress with their generosity and hospitality. We love them so much! Sophie is also very excited to be staying with Aunt Jeanie and Aunt Becky!

This blog will chronicle the journey of the little house. It should begin sometime in October and end 3-4 months down the road. I hope that you will find time to visit it from time to time and share in our progress. I also hope that, when all is said and done, if you are reading this, you will join us in a BIG party in the new, old space!

We love you,

Lynn, Laura, and Sophie