For creative people, it's important to have a person in your life to reign you in. Cory is that person for me. My ideas always start huge and grand and expensive. I know no boundaries. I only know how amazing whatever thing I'm thinking is in my head and could be in real life. And after patiently listening, Cory tells me (nicely) that I am an insane person and suggests ways to make said idea more plausible, possible and affordable. Such has been the case with most things in the house.
So when I told Cory that I wanted to open a store and I wanted to do it right that second, I half expected that he would immediately put a stop to my insanity. And, in the tone of a person talking someone off a ledge, tell me that we were pretty busy already with the house and perhaps this wasn't an ideal time to quit my job and start my own business. This would be perfectly reasonable of him. That's why we keep him around--to be supremely rational and control the chaos.
Imagine my surprise when he told me I should definitely do it. Go for it, he said.
What? Did you hear me correctly, sir? Are you aware that you just green-lit an idea that will have a huge impact on our lives and is admittedly a little crazy? There was no reigning in of my gigantic dream whatsoever. Maybe I had been slowly wearing down this man's good sense during the course of our marriage. Or maybe he just super believes in me as a designer/merchandiser/buyer. He says it's the last thing, but I suppose we'll never really know.
Whatever the reason, he tirelessly helped me search for the perfect location for my store. We came upon a storefront on a deserted block of Austin Avenue. The exterior was approximately eight shades of brown and nothing to write home about. I entered the building to find that the inside was just as homely. Gold walls. An etched brown floor. A sad, grey drop ceiling. But I could see its potential. I was going to need a sledgehammer and a lot of white paint.
It took a full four months to renovate the building and transform it from that ugly little brown storefront to a space that reflected my design aesthetic--clean, minimal, and, well, not ugly. I worked all day each and every day at the store and then came home to my construction site without the strength to do anything but pass out. My tired mind sometimes wondered if I had made a giant mistake by jumping into something this huge. But as soon as I opened the store, all of that doubt fell away. I thought that the best part of owning a store would be being my own boss and getting to carry out my creative vision in this business I was cultivating. And don't get me wrong, being the boss is totally boss. But the best part was when I opened the doors and the people showed up. Amazing, creative, kind people that were strangers to me before that I am now able to get to know (and love). My community has really embraced this little dream of mine and me too.
Not only has my city supported me in my business, they've also begun to support us in our house adventure. The actualization of my store has brought more traffic to my blog and more attention to our renovation project. First, a piece in the local paper detailing the opening of the shop mentioned that I had been inspired to name my store Wildland after my blog. That led a local magazine to interview Cory and I about the house for their home issue. Since then, there has been a flood of interest from the people in our community, some of whom have been able to share additional history about the place we call home. We've learned so much more, and it really helps to have a new set of cheerleaders spurring us on.
It has been several month since my last update, but we've continued working tirelessly on the house through it all. My interested customers regularly ask me how everything is going at the house. I'm often asked if we're "done." The answer: Absolutely not. This is a big house, and we in no way expected to be done at this point. Up to now, we've concentrated on what Cory refers to as "stopping the bleeding." There were many things that we had to fix immediately and none of it was too glamorous or visually exciting. Inside, there has been a lot of demolition and some building back. It's been a long and arduous process just to make each room whole, with every wall, floor and ceiling intact and prepared for finishing--all of which we have been documenting to share with you. Finished or not, we're still having the time of our lives in this old mansion. We're not in a gigantic rush to be done. Our plan to complete renovations involves several phases. "Phase One" is the completion of the kitchen and master suite, and it's happening right now.
Mention of the master suite brings to mind the other question I'm often asked--are we still living in that one small room? The answer: Yup. We used to refer to our living situation as "kind of like camping," but we have actually become accustomed to this weird new way of life. It feels normal even. Leaving the room will be quite an adjustment for us. What do you regular, fully-finished house people even do with all that space? We can't remember. What will we do when we no longer have to artfully hop around all of our worldly possessions to make our way around this tiny room? When the kitchen is no longer three feet from the bed? When we have 5,000 square feet of living space to occupy instead of 150? As uncomfortable as it might sound, our little living space has been a cozy oasis amidst the construction. It's home. We might miss it.
But we still want out.