There’s a lot that’s difficult about renovating a house six hours away… obviously. There’s the issue of finding the time to go because you can’t just stop by real quick, there’s taking days off work, there’s having someone watch the kids and dog at home or driving all day with them, there’s lugging supplies back and forth and still somehow never having whatever it is you need. But the hardest thing is when you drive all the way there and everything goes wrong!
Here’s a quick recap of our most recent trip to our cabin in Michigan, the Bay Shore Boathouse:
- it was 40 degrees outside when we got to the cabin, turned on the heat and … nothing. None of that telltale smell of burning dust you always get the first time the furnace comes on each fall. No whoosh as the air pushes through the vents. Just, nothing. By the time Sunday rolled around, the thermostat in the kitchen said 52 degrees inside, and since it’s recommended not to paint below 50 we had to go out and buy a space heater just to finish painting.
- and speaking of painting… the can of paint I got was faulty. It had an oily finish that wouldn’t go away, like it wouldn’t blend all the way. So there was a trip back to the hardware store to return and replace it…
- only to find out that while the new can was better — it still wasn’t great. So now I think something is weird about the color itself. So I didn’t get to finish the project and I have to start all over choosing a new color.
- we installed the toekicks, the long filler pieces that fit between the bottom of cabinets and the floor… yay! Until we opened the dishwasher and it knocked the toekick down because the bottom of the dishwasher door goes too far back and bumps into the toekick. WHAT?
- we started installing the handles on the kitchen cabinets only to find the screws that came with them were too short to fit through the drawer fronts.
- bought new screws at the hardware store 25 minutes away, got home… they didn’t fit.
- had to go BACK to the hardware store again. (turns out they required metric screws instead of the screws we use in the US, which is why the ones that looked right were the tiniest bit not right)
My first thought: I left my kids for this???
On the bright side, here’s what did go right:
- now we have a space heater
- and the furnace is fixed.
- we treated ourselves to dinner at our absolute favorite restaurant in Traverse City, perhaps the world, Alliance. Pro tip: sit at the bar. Order everything.
- I got half of my paint project finished and I’ll hopefully be able to finish the rest of it when we go back up in a couple weeks — once I choose a new color. And then it will be awesome and wonderful and I’ll show you the whole thing.
- we did eventually get the kitchen cabinet handles installed and they look super cute!
I ordered the handles from an Etsy shop that ships from China. Always a gamble. They were inexpensive at about $5 each(!), so I thought they might look super plastic-y and cheap in person, but they’re metal, solid and sturdy and other than the issue with the screws they seem well made. They’re fun and quirky and make the kitchen look a little less serious, which is the goal.
Buying a fixer upper is never easy. Buying a fixer upper 400 miles away is CRAZY! Things go wrong. Bad days happen. Projects take months longer than they should. But then you have this view outside your door, and it’s all worth it:
And there’s always next time. (Except when the cabin is closed from mid-November to mid-March!!)