Building a House With Character(s) Part Two

One Woman’s Journey to Bring Old House Charm to a New Build
By guest writer: Lisa Knoop (Follow Lisa on Twitter @peaceloveknoop)

Part Two – Coloring It In

My Homebuilder’s Superintendent. Without a full-time designer, I was left with an overactive imagination and what became a sleep-depriving addiction to Houzz. Enter our homebuilding construction superintendent. Me: “In the dining room, I would like to hang glass balloon lights made in the Czech Republic and wired in the UK.” Him: “Sure. We can do that.” Me: “Can you make these maple syrup buckets into pendants?” Him: “Sure, we can do that.” Me: “I need to hang this peace sign marquee on the eleven feet of river rock you just installed.”  “How about suspending a platform bed from the ceiling as a reading nook?” “What about glass in the drywall so you can see into the laundry chute?” Well, you get the idea. The personal tidbit that back in the day his phone contacts included local pot dealers should not be as surprising as the fact that he did not, as far as I know, contact them while working with me.

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Finding a Cabinetmaker. Sarasota has a quirky assortment of people who call it home, from circus performers to Amish. My cabinetmaker descends from the latter. His mother is Amish, and he and his wife and young children are members of a local Mennonite church. He designed and built an amazing kitchen for us with a baking island he encouraged me to paint fuchsia. (Imagine the Amish painters as they ordered Benjamin Moore’s “Hot Lips”.) He also recommended several great vendors to me as we worked together.  One he described as the most honest guy you would ever meet — a great guy, hard working, a devoted father. The only thing the guy could not do well, according to my cabinetmaker, was choose a good woman.  Never married, both children had different mothers and neither woman was in the picture anymore. Looking for the most open-minded former-Amish Mennonite to make your kitchen and bath cabinets? Got him.

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Finding a Stonemason. I found our kitchen soapstone counters at a local family company in the small town of Port Charlotte. My stonemason is soft-spoken but can that guy talk your ear off about soapstone. Our counters are stunning, and the farmhouse sink he made is incredible. He would be cool to know just asimage5 an artist, but what tips his scale is that in our first meeting as we were talking about our girls, he happily shared multiple photos of the two teenaged sisters he and his wife adopted just a few years ago from Haiti through their church. Jumping directly from no kids to two teen-aged girls. The guy’s a super-hero.

With the end in sight, the final crew is small in number but big in personality.

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