Monday, July 13, 2009

Mr. and Mrs. Labady Build Their Dream House

I hadn't seen Dearne and Andrew (AKA "Laba") in ages. I did see Dearne in the Fall for her wedding shower (bottom of this blogpost), but Andrew since my brother's 30th birthday last Spring. I caught up with them on my way out of DC on Sunday, June 21st, the day after Soo's wedding. They themselves were married on November 7th in their native town of Melbourne, Australia. Unfortunately I missed it! (For those of you who know me, I rarely miss an opportunity to abandon my job and house and leave the country, so this was a biggie!)

A few weekends in to being the proud owners of what they knew to be a "fixer upper" in January of 2008, a pipe broke on the third floor of their lovely "new to you" home. They discovered it several days later, and since then "Nellie" (since the home is on Nellie Custis Dr. in Arlington) has been a labor of love... and stress. Here's an example of what these two have been through ... check out this photo of their move-in day!

Personally? I loved Nellie! I just had no real concept of what Dearne and Laba were dealing with - the SCALE of it, I mean - until I arrived last month ... WOW!! Here is your (amateur) photographic tour ...

Historic iron gate around to the right from the front, allegedly purchased from an obsolete cemetary. (No, we didn't know cemetaries could become obsolete either - scary!)

Nellie from the far side of the backyard, looking up from the swimming pool, past the 2 retaining walls containing the WATERFALL and one more retaining wall... for good measure? :)

Looking down from the backyard toward the pool. Check out the cinderblocks in the bottom of the pool to give you an idea of the proportion here. Andrew built the fence himself! Unreal.

More of the fence ... that's Dearne heading down to say Hi.

A view of the driveway. You might say "why would they put in a swimming pool before they have walls?" I know I asked that very question! Well, I guess in a major renovation, it's all about timing. You have to be able to handle more than one major project going on at the same time. While they are definitely rewiring, repiping, and generally RESTRUCTURING the entire interior, they also put an addition on the house and plan to eventually redo the driveway and garage. Why redo the driveway BEFORE having massive excavating and transporting equipment and drive all over it to work on the backyard? That made sense to me.

View from the new balcony off the master suite down to the backyard.

View from the guest bedroom down to the backyard.

The kitchen! Dearne cooks here every day, not just for Laba and herself but also for the dozens of workers they may have in the house at any given moment! (Only 3 workers were there the day I visited, but then again, it was just a Sunday!)

The family room. I was told there used to be about 3 walls in between where I'm standing in the kitchen and the far windows - pretty closed off before. Well, it's open now! That bathroom is the only functioning bathroom in the house. Well "functioning" may not be the right word. The toilet doesn't flush. There is a bucket next to the toilet that you fill with water from the shower and pour in to flush it yourself. Except sometimes the workers don't flush.
So Dearne does that for them, too. Wow.

The future site of the Wine Cellar in the basement. That wall is new, too - it was dirt. Well, until the pipe broke on the third floor for several days in the winter last year. Then the wall became mud, thereby reprioritizing "install a new foundation" to the top of the list of things to do in this 100 year old farmhouse.

The apartment! This is the one-room-palace where Dearne and Laba actually live, on one side of the first floor of the house, off of the kitchen.

Other half of the apartment, with Dearne giving us her best "Vanna White". She is currently pointing to their office!

All the nice stuff, packed away but waiting to come out when the house has walls!

The upstairs laundry room and scene of the pipebreaking crime of '08.

The guest bedroom. Notice the plywood in the back to give the illusion of privacy. Of course, there is no door....

The new MASTER SUITE! All teasing aside, this is an entirely new addition and when this is done, it will be stunning! Right now it's all kitted out with pipe fittings and brand-spanking-new electrical. As soon as we have insulation and walls ....

The bump out. This is what used to be the attic, which Dearne and Andrew had "bumped out" to expand into a beautiful bedroom/recreation room. The green you see is the spray-in insulation that they just finished putting in themselves. It's amazing stuff that gets EVERY CREVICE and dries in about 15 seconds. As soon as those walls come in ... hmm, am I having a déjà vu or do I seem to be repeating myself?

The foyer. What's that? Ah, I see... I appear to be getting kicked out now ...

Farewell Nellie! I'll miss you!! Be kind to my friends!!

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