1. A building for human habitation
1. The place where one lives
This article was written by a customer we did a whole house renovation for. It is such a well written and moving expression of the difference between a house and a home that I wanted to include it here on our website.
– Philip Trapkin
The Move to Atlanta
Back in May of 2018, I found out that Josh’s job would be taking us on a new adventure. We’d be moving to Atlanta, GA. We were born and raised in Pensacola, FL and it is a town that we love dearly. The thought of leaving grandparents, parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, and many cousins (who are really, truly like siblings) was quite overwhelming for us.
In Pensacola, we lived in the 1906 purple house with a green front door in historic East Hill. Our entire life as a family revolved around walks down to the bagel shop for breakfast, cousins running about noisily and cookouts with neighbors. I felt like all of that was in jeopardy with a move to a big city.
The House on Willow Lane
The first time I drove past the house on Willow Lane, we were actually in town to see another house that Josh had put an offer on. My dad drove with the kids and me to see the house on Kings Highway. Jude sat on a stump in the crowded space that was supposed to be his yard while I viewed the house with our realtor. I knew this wasn’t the right house for us and here we were with an offer on the table. Leaving that house on Kings, I had an empty feeling. Heading back to Pensacola, we passed a house with a big front yard and a “For Sale” sign. I felt like the girl from Miracle on 34th street. That was the house. Instead of heading for the interstate, I pulled into the long drive. Jude jumped out of the truck and began running about, kicking his soccer ball. My dad and I walked around the property, looking through windows and falling in love with the little 1940’s house, high on a hill on Willow Lane.
It was in those moments that I could see my little family growing in this house. I could hear my nieces running about in Margo’s room at the front of the house. I could see grandparents sitting on the front porch, watching Jude show his uncles and cousins his latest soccer moves. I could see a fire pit sitting at the top of the terraced backyard, surrounded by friends and neighbors.
Bed and Bath Additions
The only problem was that this house had 2 bedrooms and 1 bathroom, which meant that it needed another bedroom and another bathroom to fit the needs of a family of 4, with a teenage girl and preteen boy. As we drove back to Pensacola, I called Josh and told him that we found our house, but it wasn’t the one we made the offer on. The next thing I did was research contractors. There was one contractor who had really great ratings, so I called him. It was Philip at Sterling Works. Immediately he started telling me about the community and how much he loved the area, and then he started talking about the house and how we could make it a home that would be absolutely perfect for my family.
It all worked out. The owners of the Kings Highway house rejected our offer, so we put in an offer on Willow and it was accepted. After vetting numerous contractors, it was very clear that Philip at Sterling Works would be the contractor to take this house and make it our home. He walked the property and I’ll never forget him saying, “This house has good bones…really good bones”.
Over the next few months, the team turned this 2 bedroom/1 bath house into a home that specifically fit our family of four. Where walls would keep me from seeing Margo and Jude play cards in front of the fireplace or hear them as Jude accompanied Margo on the piano, Philip’s crew took them down. Where bricks blocked my vision of my kids sitting together in the back eating ice cream and playing their ukuleles, Philip’s team put in French doors. He created the most beautiful master suite from a wood paneled library and a sun room.
Throughout the entire renovation process, where my vision had limitations, Philip brought ideas. That team at Sterling Works–my goodness, they are absolutely the hardest working group of guys I’ve ever seen. Not only are they beyond talented, they are kind. Every time I pulled up during construction I could hear Alex singing as he worked. The entire team was magnificent. Even when the job got difficult, they worked through it and remained cheerful.
The job was completed at the end of December (which was right on schedule after everyone warned me that no contractor remains on schedule). We have finally unpacked and settled in and I could not be happier that we chose Philip for this journey. Tearing a house apart and putting it back together to make it your own isn’t a process you want to go through with just anyone.
New Living Room
Let’s take a look back at our journey with Sterling Works (make sure you click on the picture to see the full screen version). We’ll start off with the living room. The wall separating the living room from the dining room was removed, recessed lighting was added, the front window was replaced to add more natural light and to have better views of the front yard, outlets were added, vents were moved and it was all topped off with a fresh coat of paint and crown molding.
New Dining Room
The dining room had similar changes. We closed off the doorway to the library, added recessed lighting and removed walls separating the other living spaces.
When simply viewing a picture, it is difficult to grasp the difference in the original kitchenette compared to the open kitchen that we have now. Everything in the kitchen was redone. We also busted out the back wall to open the kitchen to the beautiful outdoor space. Margo and I will soon start blogging through our Gurney’s handwritten recipes and we cannot wait to use our new kitchen to do it!!
Margo and Jude absolutely love their area of the house. They have never had their own private space. Their bedrooms are separated by a bathroom and a small hallway. Their bathroom got a complete makeover and Jude’s room had a window that peered into the sun room (now the master bedroom) removed and closed in. Like the rest of the house, they got fresh paint, new light fixtures and their floors were redone.
New Laundry/Mud Room
One of my favorite changes to the house was converting the back patio into a mud room. It has turned out to be so very useful for our family. Jude came in from soccer last night covered in mud from head to toe. The mud room was as far as that mud went! I’ve set up a command center there for our family communication and it also has a cabinet to store our vacuum cleaner and cleaning supplies. The washer and dryer used to be across from the back door and open to the kitchen. It is now contained in its very own room and I love that I can close it off to the rest of the house. And of course, I had to add some 1940’s charm by adding checkered tile!
New Master Suite
The one thing that was completely missing from the house was a master suite. There was a library that was connected to an addition (and at some point in the life of the home was turned into a sun room). Philip and his architect really were creative in creating a split floor plan by closing off some doorways and adding new doorways. The sun room felt very small due to the low ceilings, so we ended up vaulting the ceiling, which allowed another row of windows to open up to the beautiful landscape and sky. It is one of the most beautiful rooms I’ve ever seen and it’s ours! What Sterling Works did in turning an old dark library and sun room into a master suite is nothing short of magic. From the time we wake up to the time we rest our heads, the space is breathtaking. We sit on our sofa with our coffees and watch the sunrise over the trees in the morning. The light in the afternoon is the most gorgeous light I’ve ever experienced indoors. It is truly a place to sit and be inspired by God’s creation.
The Cottage on a Hill
We have plans for our cottage that sits on the hill. Margo will fill it with music and she will most certainly sit at her window studying, reading and writing. Jude will juggle a soccer ball from the pavers out back to the grass up front and then he’ll tinker and build his inventions in his shop. Josh will tend to flowers and take the kids on bike rides to the park. And as for me, I’ll just feel undeservingly blessed to watch my family grow in such a wonderful home.
Thank you Sterling Works for taking her good bones and turning this house into our home. My soul sings.