I’ve restrained from posting about the renovations above our storefront this year because it could take over this blog. And no one (including me) wants that.
A short and sweet update: We are due to move in at the end of the month. Our house has sold in Fort Mitchell. We are in the midst of selling my dad’s house in Charleston, S.C. And I am still wrapping up my father’s estate. So I’ve had my fair share of real estate agents, lawyers, accountants and tax collectors this year.
The good news is that the general contractor I hired isn’t on that list of people who stress me out. I spent a year researching contractors, asking every tradesperson who they like working with, and who has the sensitivity for a historical job.
I picked Bill Kridler of BK Remodeling, who runs a small crew and does quite a bit of work in Covington. If you have a job in Northern Kentucky, I cannot recommend him enough.
The Historical 1980s
My first urge when designing our living quarters was to rip everything out and start from scratch. That might have been cathartic and simpler, but during the last four years, I’ve come to respect the building’s owner during the 1980s, a jazz musician, who did the first remodel. He was on the vanguard of people who took a chance on Covington, then a scruffier place. And the neighbors always recall being awed when visiting his apartment above his bar.
So I decided to retain his floorplan and work with what we had on site. That meant restoring the original pine floors (instead of new oak ones). Plus keeping the bedroom and closet arrangements he set down in the 80s. We’re attempting to live with his kitchen layout for now. This approach is a lot less wasteful. The contractors haven’t had to rent a dumpster and have filled only 10 trash cans with debris (mostly rotted plaster) during the whole project.
Some stuff, however, had to go. The spiral staircase went to the steel recycler. One bathroom had to be re-tiled with a new vanity (and oh look, a secret compartment with drugs left by a former tenant). And the existing windows – all 20 of them – are inexpensive 1980s junk that was installed poorly and have since rotted. New wooden windows arrive next week.
All of this is to say: Please buy more Lost Art Press books! Just kidding. I’ve been saving for this project for years.
When we move in, the place will be rough and still a construction site. That’s OK. Lucy and I have been through this before. But living there will also give me a better feel for the space and the changes I hope to make.
Mostly, and this is the woodworking content, I am desperate to live closer to my shop. The last three years have been agony for me in the evenings with me living in Fort Mitchell and the shop being in Covington. I miss going to the shop at night and doing some fussy detail work. Or machine maintenance. Or just staring at my current project and plotting my next move.
— Christopher Schwarz