By: Claire Zinnecker, founder of Claire Zinnecker Designs and Honeywell Home product user1
I read a quote the other day from Actor and Activist Sophia Bush – "You are allowed to be a masterpiece and a work-in-progress, simultaneously." And that attitude captures my latest project in a nutshell: "Saving Ida."
In my spare time, I've been restoring a 120-year old home that I bought on Facebook Marketplace. Saving it from destruction, I transported it across county lines and placed it next to the meandering San Gabriel River north of Austin, Texas. I call her "Ida," after the previous homeowner, and have been documenting the #SavingIda project for a couple of years.
I treasure my experience working with my clients to build authentic spaces they will cherish. When I set out on my own home restoration journey, I never expected that it would be one hundred times harder than designing spaces for my residential and commercial space clients – or the number of times I would change my mind about materials and design.
I wanted to share a few other things my design and home-renovation experience has taught me. Here are five things that could make or break your next big home purchase:
- 1. The Bones. So often it's hard to get past what your eyes see, but it's important to use your imagination. Often times the best parts of the house are beneath the terrible paint color, the bad light fixture or the ugly curtains. When buying a house, your inspector can help ensure the bones are worth investing in, and when remodeling, your designer and contractor can help imagine a space that's right for you. Ida's bones and structure needed to be strong enough to travel down the highway – across multiple towns. She also needed all new plumbing and electrical plans.
It's a smaller home, so I had to optimize plumbing and electrical plans. For example, I drew and re-drew the master bath many times – I was adamant that I have a spa-like soaker tub, the toilet needed its own separate room and I really needed a separate space for the washer and dryer. To protect Ida's hardwood floors, I put a Resideo Water Leak and Freeze Detector in all the places where a leak or frozen pipes cold occur.
- 2. The Flow. When I walk through projects with my clients, we discuss how they will intend to use the space – and who will be using the space. For example, consider your friends and family and how you would all use the space together. Do you entertain and need space for gatherings? What are the sightlines? How many people would be at your home at once?
For example, when designing the flow of Ida, I thought about the view from each window; I maximized the views that were beautiful and lessened the ones that weren't ideal. One issue I frequently ran into was the lack of wall space – each wall was always broken up with a window or door or both! So I had to move windows and doors in order to have enough wall space for placing furniture (ie, beds, sofas, etc.).