I guess you could say my family has never been conventional in the modern sense of the word. Family vacations were often spent towing a Coleman pop-up camper behind my dad’s 1983 Buick LaSabre down a winding highway, which clung to the pavement the way an overindulged toddler clings tight to his mother’s legs. Our weekends were always composed of a project or two, which usually meant my brother and I would be elbow deep in grease or lawn clippings before it came time to return to school on Monday. While our peers’ parents were standing on the sidelines of the soccer fields throughout town, screaming their heads off, faces turning a bright shade of red – either from the sun or the anger that resulted from their child sitting on the sidelines – my parents chose to take advantage of Home Depot’s Saturday morning parent-children classes on how to build bird feeders or reuse scrap tiles for drink coasters.
As grateful as I now am for my mom and dad instilling in me a sense of “do-it-yourself”, I cannot honestly say that I spent my adolescent years in a state of complete bliss. In fact, I can remember one Christmas in particular when I unwrapped a cherry red Snap-On toolbox, stocked with a complete tool set. My 13 year-old self was distraught at not having received the complete first season of Laguna Beach instead (Lauren Conrad, you my girl). Today I cherish that Snap-On toolbox and the memories of projects past.
One of the largest projects my family has undertook lies in the present. In 2007 we purchased an antebellum home and an adjoining two lots in desperate need of some lovin’. The home had been vacant for nearly 30 years, with only the occasional raccoon claiming it as their own. With that restoration now complete, we have turned our attention to the two remaining lots on the property.
With a former garage on one lot, and a pre-Civil War era cabin on the other, my brother and I were given the option of returning to our hometown after college and renovating the structure of our choosing. As tempted as I was to spend nearly half my paycheck on a loft in the newest up-and-coming area of the city, I suppose I couldn’t resist the urge to return back to my roots. Even my brother chose to give up life among the vineyards and culinary geniuses of Napa Valley in order to begin work on his own home and business, Hearth Bread Co..
My hope is that this blog will not only chronicle my journey of turning a structure into a home, but that it may serve as proof to individuals that it is okay to go against societal norms and expectations. Sure, living next door to your parents in a former garage may not be for everyone. But it’s for me.