Saturday, February 1, 2014

Paws Awhile on Fernandina Beach

We've been searching for a beach home for several years now. Tony says he wants to retire somewhere where he can sit in his wheelchair with a blanket over his lap and gaze at the ocean. I think we're a long way from being ready to sit in a wheelchair, but I do enjoy gazing at the ocean.

Our search for the perfect place started in Ireland in 2006. After a number of trips, we found what we thought was the perfect lot to build on. To comply with Irish building code, we were required to build on the same footprint as the ruins that were on the property. We did a lot of research and were disappointed to find that the price to build a tiny home on the footprint of the ruins was going to be out of our price range.

The next place our search took us was to North and South Carolina. We made one offer on a house near Beaufort, S.C. but could not come to an agreement with the seller.

We have friends who have a home on St. George Island, Florida so our next search led us there. We ended up buying a lot on Carrabelle Beach. That, as it turns out, was a mistake. When we got around to building, we found that we could buy an existing house on the beach on St. George Island for less than what it would cost to build on the lot we already owned - so we did that. We found a short-sale that fit the bill and now we own it. It was costly enough that we needed to rent it to pay the expenses. It was already in the vacation rental program and had quite a following, but we found that we weren't happy with the amount of time we got to use it, and it was a hassle not being able to keep our "stuff" there.

So, we started looking again. This time, we followed another set of friends who have bought homes in Fernandina Beach. Tony had his heart set on building his dream home. Neither of us have ever built a house so this would be new to us. Tony was excited about it but I was apprehensive to say the least. We made an offer on a lot, but during the due-diligence period discovered that it was questionable whether we would be able to build on it due to an encroaching dune. Ultimately, we backed out of the deal and got our deposit back.

We had all but given up when one of our friends told us about a great deal on a condo at the Sand Dollar Villas on Fernandina Beach. We flew down one day, looked at it and flew back home. The next day, we made an offer and it was immediately accepted. Surprisingly, the owners had written on the back page of their acceptance, "Seller to provide a new air conditioning unit."

So, in September 2013, we became the proud owners of what we are now calling "Paws Awhile" on Fernandina Beach! It's small, only 800 sq. ft. with 2 bedrooms & 2 baths. We're not planning to rent it, we we are excited to have a place we can call ours right on beautiful Fernandina Beach.

Its not all roses though. The place was built in the late 80's and has not been updated since, so it needs a little sprucing up.  We set aside the month of January to start remodeling the kitchen and living area. We actually thought we could get the entire remodeling project DONE during the month.  Bahahahahaha!!!

Here's what the place looked like "before".
The kitchen cabinets were old.
The cabinets over the sink blocked
the view of the living space and
made the already small space seem
even smaller.
The first task was picking out the new cabinets and settling on a configuration. This was harder than it seemed. We wanted to get rid of the cabinets over the sink so we needed to add cabinets somewhere else to hold cookware and dishes. We also needed a pantry.

While we worked on the new design, we met with the contractor we had chosen to do the electrical, plumbing, tile and sheetrock work. The contractor would remove the pole at the end of the peninsula cabinet to open up the space.We picked out our appliances but we couldn't find a counter depth refrigerator that would fit the space. Our contractor would move the wall to the right of the refrigerator to widen the space. This would take a few inches out of the master closet, but who needs clothes at the beach?

The contractor couldn't start until February, so that left me with some time on my hands. Tony decided to use the time to go back to Atlanta and go to work. He worked out a routine where he would fly to Atlanta on Tuesday, go to the office Wedinesday through Friday and then fly back to Fernandina Beach again Friday afternoon. Lucy, Lola and I would stay at the beach.

I can't sit still, so the first thing I did was create listings on Craigslist for our old cabinets, appliances and dining room table. Surprisingly, not only did I find a buyer for everything, but he did the tear-out for me as well.

With the kitchen removed, I
had to set up a makeshift
kitchen in the bathroom.
Thankfully the new appliances
had arrived and were stored
in the guest bedroom so we
were able to plug in the
refrigerator and keep
some food around.

Once the tear-out was complete, I got antsy again and started ripping sheetrock from the pole that would be removed. I found that the phone cable that services our unit and the two above us runs right through that pole. We would have to find a solution for that since we wouldn't be able to cut it.

With time still left before the contractor could start, I decided to see if I could remove the old tile floor.  I got the tile out of the kitchen area pretty easily but ran into trouble when I got to the foyer and hallway.

Thankfully Tony arrived in time to help with the remainder of the tile removal. We got reprimanded for being too loud when he started banging with the sledge hammer.

Once we finished the tile removal, there was wallpaper to be removed. Thank goodness for our Wagner Steamer!

Still waiting for the contractor, I contemplated what to do next.  I tried removing some of the old popcorn ceiling but decided that could wait. I couldn't think of anything else, so I decided to tackle some of the furniture. There was a really comfortable glider rocker that had really ugly green cushions on it.

I headed to Jo-Ann's fabric and found something a little more beachy that would match the other furnishings (not that we're going to keep everything).  It took me an entire day to cover the cushions but I was really pleased with the result and I only knocked the sewing machine off of the tray table once!

I have started trying to keep up with my ideas for the remodel on Pinterest.  Here's a link to my Pinterest board if you are interested.  Suggestions are welcome! Fernandina Beach Remodel Pinterest Board

Well, that's all I have to report for now.  Stay tuned!  The contractor is supposed to arrive Monday to start his part of the work.  I sent Lola home with Tony today (he couldn't go home Tuesday this week to work because of Snowgeddon in Atlanta).  Lucy and I already miss Lola.  (Oh, and Tony too).

1 comment:

  1. OMG what a great job you did! I can't wait for the finished job. So glad we saw it before all the demolition though!