Morningside Renovation

Our Journey Through The Renovation Process Of Our Future "Forever Home" In Morningside (Atlanta,GA)

Resurfacing an ole Cast Iron Sink

So I’m pretty pumped to tell you about what I received over the weekend. When we bought the house and started this renovation process over 16 months ago there was an old, heavy and very filthy sink in the basement that obviously was originally installed when the house was built back in 1927.

Almost everybody along the way said to throw it out; both GC’s, wife, you name it but I just couldn’t.  And so once it was detached from the floor it was moved to a far corner of the basement where it sat while I was asked no less than 20 times about what I was planning on doing with this old neglected sink – actually it was mostly referred to as junk.  Well I didn’t know but I felt I would eventually find a home for it, something under all of that filth made it too cool to throw away.

Well as we were trying to decide on the layout for our laundry room and the placement of a sink it came to me – what a perfect place for this nasty ole sink.  But first I had to convince my wife that it would look good which I knew wouldn’t be easy in its present state.  Now under all of the grime, rust, dirt, funk, etc…was a cast iron utility/laundry sink with a porcelain overlay but I had no idea how to even begin to clean this thing and being that it was pretty heavy it wasn’t as if I could easily move it or even put it in my trunk to take somewhere.

Well fortunately I was referred to a company in Atlanta, Quality Resurfacing, that restores and resurfaces old tubs and sinks so I decided to give them a call. The owner, Archer, came to pick it up that day and this past Saturday he called to tell me it was ready.  I couldn’t wait, but at the same time I was a little nervous.  My wife trusted me that the “finished product” would look good and it didn’t help that when the subject was brought up over the last few days, as my sink was getting prettied up, that I was potentially only digging my hole deeper by saying “trust me, it will look great, I know you’re going to love it”.

So the moment arrives, Archer (owner) pulls up, I walk to his van to see the results and I was shocked.  Gorgeous, looks brand new and the uniqueness of it makes it even cooler.  But as we’re carrying it inside the true test awaits, wife’s approval.  Loved it!!  She now thinks it was one of our best decorating decision yet.  So happy that we both had that foresight so many months ago.

A few things to note; while cleaning it Archer was able to uncover the manufacturing date – August 9, 1927, also he was somehow able to clean up the original pins which now look brand new.

Never thought a laundry room sink would get me so excited.

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Waiting on One

So we’re still waiting on the final bid  to decide if we move forward with renovating our house.  We ended up interviewing 9 general contractors and once we receive this last estimate then we will have received pricing from 7 of them.  All of the contractors were either referred to us through people we know or their names are very well-known and respected in our neighborhood.  Basically the same process that we conducted the first time around except we’re casting a little wider net and hopefully we’re a little more knowledgable.  It’s still such a huge leap of faith that we’re going to have to make which I’m just not sure if I can do it.  We did all of this before when we hired our original general contractor; we checked references, viewed current and past jobs, verified licenses and insurance but obviously we missed something.  Pray, hope and pray some more I guess… 

Anyway, after we receive this final bid then the plan is to sit down with our Top 3 contractors to discuss their thoughts, address our concerns and find out where it’s possible to tighten the numbers. Price is definitely a huge concern and it will play an enormous role in our decision, however I also want to have undeniable confidence that this person has the knowledge as well as experience with a project like ours. The last thing I want is to be in the same situation in a few months.  Bottom-line though, we’re going to have to justify it financially and make sure we don’t have more invested in the house than what it is worth.  And…unfortunately it seems as if the “improvements” that our former general contractor made are actually going to increase the overall expense of the project since we’ve had to re-engineer the framing plan as well as make other adjustments, then throw in the fact that we’ve paid him a significant amount of money to take us through a certain point in construction and he’s only completed about 30%.  What’s the old saying, “throwing good money after bad”?  That could potentially apply in a couple of areas with this project so it’s definitely something we’ll have to keep in mind. 

On a different note, we all where at Phipps Plaza yesterday and on the way out we happened to stop at a phenomenal kitchen display by Inspirations Design Studio.  While the size of this display is larger and somewhat of a different configuration to our planned kitchen, Julie fell in love with it – see a picture below as well as a video.  

The color combination/contrast of the cabinets and the base of the island is exactly what she has been envisioning.  The countertops on the perimeter area are marble while the island is quartzite (mother of pearl – I think).  We originally were thinking of having marble on all of the tops but with having two young boys the quartzite, especially on the island, seems to make more sense due to its durability.  Makes we wonder which is the best countertop for a kitchen considering our situation?  I’m sure we’ll be reading a lot of reviews as to which is the best kitchen countertop, marble vs quartzite.  Suggestions/Advice/Comments?

As for the cleanup of the current job site, it’s driving me crazy.  Max and I have cleaned off the slab but there are still piles of discarded building materials everywhere which is just maddening to me.  I’m still wanting to get a dumpster but the price is astounding.  PLEASE feel free to let me know if you have any referrals for dumpsters or someone who will haul off this mess. I thought of having a giant bonfire however being that we’re still in the hot month of August I decided against it…actually it has a little more to do with the fact that I’d be violating a few city ordinances.


Wish That I Could Channel Churchill’s Fire

I think Sir Winston once said “Never, Never, Never Give Up” but then I quickly remember the definition of insanity – extreme foolishness or irrationality.  As you can tell a clear decision has yet to be made…unfortunately.

We’ve decided to speak with various builders which have been referred to us (thanks to many of you) and see where we stand when comparing what it will actually cost to complete our home versus what is remaining in our budget.  (I think we’ll need a magician)

I know we both fell in love with this ugly house when we first saw it and emotionally we fell even further as we envisioned the memories that would be made and the future it would hold for us, but we’ve come to realize that it just may be unachievable now thanks to all that has transpired.

It’s depressing and it’s extremely tough for me not to feel defeated in numerous ways and levels.   There have certainly been high’s but the low’s have been numerous and more constant.  This place which use to bring me so much excitement has unfortunately become such a source of negative energy and feelings for me that unless we come up with a solution fairly quickly it will probably be best to just abandon this dream and try to eventually start a new one. 

I also need to clean up after our former GC as he’s left everything in quite a mess,but for a place that I once would make any excuse just to go over there and spend time splitting wood, moving dirt or just sitting there envisioning “one day”, I now find myself actually trying to avoid it.

“When you feel like giving up remember why you held on for so long in the first place”

And now to exhaust every potential avenue…initially the biggest challenge will be summoning the energy to explore them.


We went back to Bottega to look at the slabs Julie picked out for the kitchen.  Damby Mountain White Marble, I know it has to be a little over what we were budgeting but she’s done an amazing job staying at or below budget for everything else so hopefully we’ll have enough cushion to absorb the extra expense.  YOLO, right?

Due to all of the delays we did end up losing 1 of our 3 slabs that we had put on hold but we’re hopeful that 2 will be enough.  Plus, we would love to have a wood top for the island in the kitchen but that is super expensive!!!  I wish that we could find some reclaimed wood somewhere but I’m sure that it would still be $$$$.  Last comment for the day, I was totally blown away by Bottega’s selection, not the quantity but the actual pieces.  The slabs are  like God’s paintings, absolutely amazing and simply beautiful.

Counter Top for the Kitchen

I went with Julie this afternoon to go back and look at a few slabs she had selected for the kitchen at Bottega Stone.  Definitely not something that I find very interesting but I love what she picked, Mountain White Danby marble.  I’m a little concerned about the fact that it’s marble and we have two boys but it’s supposed to be less porous than traditional marble.  It’s more expensive but we saved money on clearing the property so that will help to make up the difference.  Plus I love to see Julie getting so excited about the house.  It’s been a hard year for her and even though we have been experiencing some pretty significant setbacks with the construction it’s great to see her having some fun.

They were going to pour the slab today but for whatever reason they didn’t.  GC couldn’t tell us why but said that he’s “anxious to get started”.

Counter Tops

The 4 of us (family) went up to Norcross today to look at slabs for our kitchen and bathroom counter tops.  Gorgeous stuff, amazingly beautiful but somewhat overwhelming.  I will say though, Julie knows what she wants and has a great eye.  The boys and I started to get a little bored at the end, Julie had fun though so that is what ultimately matters.

Stone or Wood?

We received the revised kitchen plan back today from our designer and while we’re not there yet I feel that it’s getting closer.  We’re still trying to decide what to do with the kitchen island and whether to use marble or wood ($$$).  Who would have thought a wood surface would be so expensive?

Hope They Have What She Picked

Our GC said that we need to go by Specialty Tile to pick our selection, not sure why the change?  I’m sure that they’ll have the same selection but Julie did such a good job that if they can’t fulfill it then unfortunately we might have to go against our GC’s wishes.  At least it will give us the opportunity to go by and visit Builder Specialties and Fergusons to look at kitchen appliances again