The Caldwell Synopsis

Let me introduce you to what I hope will be our next project- 1917 Caldwell.

I say “hope to be our next project” because the only way I was able to talk Mr Thompson into letting me get her was if I promised not to do the rehab until we found her the perfect new family. You see, she is BIG. I’m talking 3500 sq ft, 4 bed, 4 bath, 2 living rooms, 3 fireplaces, BIG. And with my history of over spending and turning a zero profit, it’s just too big of a financial risk to do this house on spec. So the “wait to renovate until we find a buyer” plan was the compromise we both agreed on.  
Here’s the challenge in this plan- the house is a little terrifying as she sits. Like, I’m struggling if I should even show you pictures because I don’t want it to scare anyone away. (Oh, you know I’m totally going to show you the pictures for the sheer entertainment factor the “before pics” will bring to the blog) Now, don’t get me wrong! I’m not scared! No, not one bit. This home is in no worse shape than at least half the homes we have worked on and it gifts us soooo much more built-in character than most homes ever did. I’m just nervous the perfect homeowner might not be able to see it’s potential awesomeness from it’s pre-renovation state.  
Plus another HUGE problem with this pre-sold idea is you know how I feel about control- I NEED to have “it”…. all of “it”. What if the new homeowner has an OPINION?!?! Could I possibly be so blessed to find another homeowner who has the blind faith that Ms Connie and Joe had to let me make all the design decisions?  Another homeowner who agrees to be locked out of their future home from demo day until the renovation is complete, simply so I can live out my HGTV reveal day fantasies?! Dare I dream?!?! I sure hope so because I accidentally nailed the whole renovation design down in my head with no wiggle room.  Just kidding (well kinda). I do realize that the end game is to create the home of YOUR dreams not mine; therefore, I AM willing to flex the design. I can be flexible. No really, I can!!!
Without giving too much away, I’m going to give you a vague description of the renovation plans as I navigate you thru the current home.  Think of this like reading the synopsis on the back of a book to help you determine if this is the next story for you.  
Although it has been argued she reads Victorian (must be the purple doors), to me 1917 Caldwell screams English Manor.  
Because I can’t keep the exterior a surprise, the plan is to replace the rotted wood with hardie board and batten and to do either a lime wash or german smear treatment to the brick to give it a look like this:
And then I’m thinking- donate the doors to UCA and replace with new double doors similar to these:
I’m undecided as to what to do with the brick cutout around the door:
It looks a little lopsided to me, but I can’t decide if my eyes are just playing tricks on me. Rory thinks it adds to the character of the home; therefore, his vote is to keep.  
Sadly, the tree in the front has been strangled by ivy and will need to be cut down. But the huge 50 year+ Magnolia trees that flank both sides of this manor will live on. You know, trees of this magnitude are just one advantage of buying an older home vs a new construction… I’m just sayin.  
Ok now for the inside.  Gulp.  
My inspiration for the inside is, without question, Downton Abby but with a modern day less formal twist.  Think- Lady Grantham doing the “Whip and Nae Nae.”
Thru the purple doors you enter into the formal living room.
Notice the tall ceilings! At least 12 feet tall. Can you see a beautiful chandelier hanging from that ceiling, with maybe it’s twin over the entry?!?!?! Love the moldings around the windows and hope to add additional trim work to this room to make it shine.  
Thru the cased opening on the right, you enter a formal dining room.   
Oh the plans I have for this room. I do appreciate the beautiful wainscoting BUT I want to give it a 21st century feel. Love, love, love the wall of windows in this room. So excited to unleash Donna of Waterhouse Market to find the perfect table for this space- I’m thinking round!
Ok here comes one of my favorite parts! The room that captured my heart and practically wrote the story by itself- the kitchen/hearth room:
This kitchen will be completely gutted but can’t you just see a less primitive version of Downton.  
I’m dying to go all out on this kitchen with top of the line appliances AND…. wait for it….. a pot filler!!!  But the new homeowner will get to set the budget on how much I get to spend on kitchen extras so I’m trying to not get too excited.  
Ok, look at that mammoth rock fireplace! I don’t know if you can tell in the picture, but it actually comes off the wall in a semi-circle! It is seriously one of the most impressive things I have ever seen in a home. The actual rock is 70s UGLY but I think that is the reason I am so drawn to it- I love the challenge! But here comes the part of the story that could bring you to tears: She may have to go away. Yep, we had a chimney company look at her and they estimated it would cost around $15k to make her functional again- yes that is a 15 with 3 zeros after it!!! OUCH! The only cheaper option would be to put in an electric insert that looks like a fire is roaring on a flat screen TV- um, NO to the freaking way is that happening on my watch! So, Rory thinks the only logical solution is to knock her down, while I, on the other hand, am considering chaining myself to the mantle in protest to her demolition. Because we are at an impasse we have decided to leave the fate of the fireplace in the hands of the new homeowner. (I promise to not cause a scene if the decision is to let her go.)  
Before we leave the servants quarters let me tell you that you will also find a large laundry room as well as a bathroom that will be converted into a large walk in pantry in the space.  
 (That’s just a little roof leak that led to floor damage. Nothing for you to worry about.)  
And I know it seems weird to get rid of a bathroom but there is literally another bathroom right next door. And don’t worry all you clawfoot tub lovers, that tub will be replacing the tub in the bathroom next door:
Next we have a small bedroom on the main level that would make a sweet nursery for it’s proximity to the master bedroom or a great office.
Honestly, every time I think about this room I picture an older gentleman in here writing the next great American novel or studying an old map while wearing a tweed fedora and smoking a pipe.  Oh my goodness I just realized who I have been picturing:
Why yes, Sean Connery, I will sell you this house.  
And last on the downstairs tour is the master suite.  
The master bedroom has it’s own private deck. But here comes the exciting part: I want to turn the existing master bath into a huge walk in closet…
And the adjacent library into an awesome master bath.
If the master bath renovation is even half as cool in real life as in my head this master bath will have the magazines a calling.  I’m talking the big ones- Better Homes and Gardens, House Beautiful, Southern Living. etc.  
Let me pause right here for a second to clarify. In my world, whenever someone includes the phrase “in my head” it gives them free reign to make bold statements without threat of sounding arrogant or prideful. It is simply giving you a peak into their fantasy world. It is a judgement free zone. I think you have to dream big if you ever want to achieve big. So I’m ok if you want to believe “in your head” you or your child is the next great Olympian after you complete your first 5K or your child swims across the deep end with no floaties- why not!! I know you have seen this before but I think it illustrates my point beautifully:
Who do you think is going to continue to show up to the exercise class? The person who views themselves as the elephant or the fitness goddess. This is exactly the reason I vowed NEVER to look in the mirror when I use to Zumba. “In my head” I had/have moves like Beyonce, it is only when I accidentally glance at myself in the floor to ceiling gym mirror that I realize white girl can’t dance and become too self conscious to enjoy the class or even get in a good workout. You see what I’m saying?? So as long as we have this understanding, I’ll continue to share the crazy things that float around “in my head” for your entertainment BUT please if you ever sense this type of arrogance from me in, or about, real life I welcome you to slap some humility into me- deal?!?!
Ok back to the bathroom. Can you just imagine how awesome it will be to have a fireplace IN YOUR BATHROOM!?!?  I mean, hello “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.”
Of course it will be a “candle burning only” fireplace because chimney man quoted $40k to get this interior smokestack functioning. Sigh.. that chimney appointment was truly a “kill joy” to my fantasy world.  But anyway, it’s still going to be cool.  I’d tell you more but “in my head” I star in my own HGTV reality show and I would’t want to spoil the dramatic reveal.  
Ok, I’m kinda getting a little tired of myself right now, so I’m just going to give you a brief tour of the upstairs so you can be released back to your own lives.
Upstairs you will find 2 large bedrooms with cute dormer nooks and a weird bathroom that will get a redesign. 
I’m picturing children with smocked rompers and British names like Alister and Abigail living in these rooms orrrrr how fun would it be to set one of these rooms up as a bunk room for all the grandchildren. Oh yes! That, that, that!
So what do you think?!?! Can you see yourself living here??? 
If you would like more information Rory and I would love to visit with you.  Feel free to choose from any of the following forms of contact:
phone: Rory (501) 472-8787  Niki (501) 472-3310
email: storybookrenovations@gmail.com
I kinda feel like a bucking bull trapped inside a rodeo stall, muscles burning to be set free, at the complete mercy of someone else to open the gate to freedom. You have that power to set the story free! (too much?!?! um, yeah, sorry, I’ll, I’ll.. dial it back.)
Thanks for reading! 

15 thoughts on “The Caldwell Synopsis

  1. Anonymous says:

    Niki, this is just so fun to read. I can hear you talking! I just LOVE it. It is going to be an amazing house. Someone should let go and let you give them their storybook home!!! I'm hoping for the perfect buyer and can't wait to hear about it. Jen Kendrick

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  2. Laine Berry says:

    Niki, wouldn't you have loved to have seen this homes ORIGINAL exterior before someone made their 1970's re-muddle? You can tell from the ceiling height and trims that your original portion of the house is turn of the century. That just makes me SAD! I can't wait to see the magic you work on her!

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  3. Jerusalem says:

    1) I drove by that house today and noticed it for the first time ever and immediately thought \”I bet this is going to be a Storybook house!\” 2) I am coveting the mirror over the first fireplace. 3) I REALLY hope you get to do this house!

    Like

  4. Jan says:

    NiKi, Love, Love,your blog! Went to your open house this past Sunday. Loved what you did to that house. But could I ask what happens to the things left in the house you are gutting now? I am coveting the ceiling light fixture in the upstairs bedroom. Can we talk about selling that piece! I would love to make a lamp out of it. Can't really tell much from the picture but I would love to try! I know this is a strange request but I have to ask! My motto is if you don't ask you want know! thanks again Love your vision of what could be! and thanks for bring us all along for the ride!

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