Fixing Up Our Cozy Hobbit Hole for $50,000

My goals for using $50,000 on home renovations ~

Introduction

Back in March of this year, Hub Pages hosted the Know-it-All Hub Writing Contest. The objective of the contest was for fellow hub writers to inspire each other by posting thought-provoking questions, then answer the questions of other writers with a very informative hub. If a hub that answered a question won a prize, a prize would also go to the person who asked the question that prompted that hub. A writer named Green Lotus posed a question asking her fellow writers what we'd do with $50,000 for home renovations. This question was an inspiration to engage and answer. Though this hub is being written 6 months later, it is no less inspired by the hub writer who asked the original question that prompted this article.

Given that this money has magically landed in our laps, where would we start? The following projects would be high on my priority list, along with their estimated cost. These estimates may seem high, but they take into account the supplies for completing the projects and the time they will take to complete correctly. Some of them can be done by the owners, but others will require payment of professional artisans. If any of the money is left over after all of these initial projects are completed, the rest of the money would be spent on upkeep of what is already in place.

The most important part of positive action is taking the first step

The first step in beginning home renovations is knowing what you want.
The first step in beginning home renovations is knowing what you want. | Source

Envisioning a tidier hall closet

Picture of my hall closet - before the transformation begins
Picture of my hall closet - before the transformation begins | Source
My friend Rich is a carpenter, and this is his design for a wooden closet organizer that I intend to have him build in my hall closet.
My friend Rich is a carpenter, and this is his design for a wooden closet organizer that I intend to have him build in my hall closet. | Source

My Hall Closet

Before

For the past 5 years, my hall closet was filled with odds and ends of various sizes, and needed to be organized. I've wanted it to look warm and inviting, not something I dread opening the doors to see. I have cleaned it out several times, but have been eager to be able to recycle all of the cardboard boxes and transform it into something much more than it is.

This closet is the front line of sight for guests who visit us and need a place to keep their coats or sweaters while they are here, so I want to have an attractive, tidy place to hang them. It is also a place where it's useful to store things that I use on a daily basis, such as tools, a step stool, our broom, and our art supplies.

After

My mother helped with the cost of having our closet enhanced. She employed our friend Rich, of "Wood is Good" (search Wood is Good online) to create the lovely wooden brackets to hold the dowel for hanging our coats and sweaters, with a boat carved artfully on one side (on the right side of the closet). There is a shelf on top for hats and my husband's laptop bag.

He also ordered and installed a shoe rack for us to put in the closet (center), which cleared our front entrance space. Our neighbors gave away 3 big rubber storage tubs, two of which are filled with our winter boots and some of our belongings up in our attic. One has stayed downstairs, filled with art supplies. That one is holding up a canvass organizer that I bought at Ocean State Job Lot (to the left). The only thing left to install is our 3 ~ peg bag holder.

My Wish List

Now that the main structure of our closet is in place, I would like to paint the walls gold and buy a welcome mat for our inside front entrance area. See the "Promise Projects Completed" gallery below for a picture of what the space looks like now.

Price: c. $900

A set of cabinets that desire finishing ~

The unfinished wood of our cabinets and drawers has been begging for some stain, finish, and ornate handles.
The unfinished wood of our cabinets and drawers has been begging for some stain, finish, and ornate handles. | Source

Staining Wooden Cabinets

Over five summers have gone by since we have moved in and there are still cabinets in our kitchen and bathrooms to stain. We often wait each year for our tax return to use for home improvements. Wouldn't it be lovely to have $50,000 drop into our bank account for such a purpose?

I am inclined to finish the cabinets with an oak stain and sealer, which will provide a visual contrast to offset the white marbled mica counters. Bright light streams into the windows during the day, so dark cabinets will tone the space down for a cozy feel. My brother-in-law sent us a gift certificate for Restoration Hardware, which we will use to shop for elegant handles that complement the staining and complete the picture.

Price: estimated at $1,000.

Pantry closet and trim ask for a warmer glow ~

Our pantry closet wants to have a warmer glow, and that is what I plan to give this space.
Our pantry closet wants to have a warmer glow, and that is what I plan to give this space. | Source
My daughter would like a blue windowsill to offset the pink of her walls.
My daughter would like a blue windowsill to offset the pink of her walls. | Source

Painting the Pantry and Trim

Pantry Closet

Our pantry closet is functional and organized it, but to make it my own, I'd love to paint it a goldenrod color, one that I associate with harvest time. More shelving at a higher level would help enhance the warmth and organization of the closet, as well. This small closet will not cost very much to paint and add more shelving, but the warmth that the color will bring will add to the coziness of my home. That is one way to pamper this chef who loves to cook at home.

Trim

The windowsills and door frames are all still white, and I would love to paint over the primer a different color, perhaps a lighter gold than the pantry, then blend in some brown for a patina effect. Sunshine will splash through my home, even on the darkest days of winter.

I would do the same for the master bedroom, which could also use a deep sea green accent on the walls. My daughter would like her trim to be a light blue color. The same color will also look good in our upstairs bathroom.

Price: estimated at $1,000

Some photos of my backyard gardens ~

Our back deck stairs, backyard, and garden. So much more can be done with the space.
Our back deck stairs, backyard, and garden. So much more can be done with the space. | Source
My back deck hosts my potted herbs. I'd love to move them down to a garden bed and have more room for a chair to sit on and enjoy the beauty in back of my home.
My back deck hosts my potted herbs. I'd love to move them down to a garden bed and have more room for a chair to sit on and enjoy the beauty in back of my home. | Source
My rock garden is finished, and asks for a seat for people to spend time enjoying its beauty.
My rock garden is finished, and asks for a seat for people to spend time enjoying its beauty. | Source
My flower garden has space for more plants
My flower garden has space for more plants | Source

Developing a Discovery Garden in our Backyard

I want our backyard to be a sanctuary for us to enjoy. I want it to be a haven of peace and contentment, a place for us to reconnect with one another and with our best selves. Though I have been working on creating such a haven, the process has been slow. So far, there is a rock garden under my back deck, several garden beds of flowers and herbs around it, and a vegetable garden at a lower level.

There are many items on my wish list for transforming this space to fit my vision of a terraced discover garden that will bring vibrant energy to our backyard, and save my husband from the need to mow. These include the following:

1. Attending a workshop at Tower Hill Botanical Garden for creating a bench made of tree branches . This bench I would place near the rock garden for people to sit and meditate.

2. Terracing the backyard so that there are at least 2 more levels of flat garden space to create. A Landscape architect will be consulted and employed, and this phase of the project is labor-intensive: digging a trench to create stone walls that will hold the terraces in place and prevents soil erosion, and placing the stones. Included as the final step of this phase would be the building of garden beds and erecting trellises.

3. Building steps to walk down to access the terraces, or to sit on with a glass of cold lemonade in hand. These steps I hope to cast from gritty sandstone, into which would be created mosaics of glass and shell. My daughter's ideas will be included in the design for those steps.

4. Purchasing and planting the dwarf trees, bushes, plants and seeds for growing blueberries and grapes, more strawberries, and to spread out my vegetables. The herbs will also be moved down to one of the terrace beds, to make room for a place to sit on my back deck. Durable garden ornaments would also be included in this set of purchases, such as stone fairies, angels, and sweet little critter statues. Stands for bird feeders will be included in this phase, too.

5. Finally, this space will be crowned at the end with a patio area on one of the flat terrace spaces, shaded by a grape arbor - a lovely place to enjoy afternoon tea. Perhaps a garden swing will be there.

Price: estimated at $25,000

My attic spaces have a mission!

The right side of my attic is destined to be a closet for our out-of-season clothes and holiday decor.
The right side of my attic is destined to be a closet for our out-of-season clothes and holiday decor. | Source
The middle section of our attic will become a quiet reference library.
The middle section of our attic will become a quiet reference library. | Source
The left side of our attic will become an inspiring creative work space.
The left side of our attic will become an inspiring creative work space. | Source

My Attic Will Become an Artist's Work Space

My final frontier for home enhancement planning is my attic. This space I want to paint a dark green with a mural over the background, which will reflect a forest theme. The trim will reflect a water theme, with colors such as blue, green, and teal.

More Closet Space

To the right of the stairs, I'd have the same carpenter build a closet in the attic to hang our out-of-season clothes when we are not actively wearing them. My vision of the closet door(s) is that it/they look like the door(s) of an old-fashioned wardrobe.

Library Space

A rug will also be installed over the entire attic floor, so that the place is warm to work in during the winter months. Across the back of the space will be our library of overflow books that did not make the cut for our downstairs bookshelves. The bookshelves that stand there now will be turned sideways, so that they extend lengthwise, instead of toward the ceiling. A beanbag chair and a lamp with soft lighting will be available for reading.

The Active Workspace

To the left of the stairs, a table with a sturdy chair will be placed for working on projects that need a flat surface to their construction. An easel will stand alongside the table, and a corner of the surface will be used to keep paints, brushes and pallets. Craft bins for storing materials will line the walls.

Price: estimated at $8,000

Promised Projects Completed ~

Herbs drying on hooks in my kitchen windowsill ~ mint, oregano, and thyme
Herbs drying on hooks in my kitchen windowsill ~ mint, oregano, and thyme | Source
Finished hall closet (see 1st project)  with organizer, coat rack that features a carved boat on one side, shoe rack, and peg board for bags and accessories.
Finished hall closet (see 1st project) with organizer, coat rack that features a carved boat on one side, shoe rack, and peg board for bags and accessories. | Source

Conclusion

My thoughts at the moment include tackling the needed enhancements one room at time, and publish the completed projects as hubs that will function as sequels to this one. The order that I am thinking of completing them in are:

1.) Bathrooms ~

cabinet staining

trim painting

2.) Kitchen ~

cabinet staining

3.) Bedrooms ~

paint trim

add teal highlights to the green in the master bedroom

purchase screen to separate computer desk from the rest of the room.

4.) Garden(s) ~

terracing

stairs

building more garden beds and proper fences (including work on the existing fence)

planting

patio

making tree branch rock garden bench

5.) Attic ~

Rug

Library ~ stain bookshelves and turn them sideways

Creative work area, including setup for musical inspiration

It may be a while before you see them, but fear not, they will appear!


To Be Continued...

© 2012 Karen Szklany Gault

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Comments 4 comments

QudsiaP1 profile image

QudsiaP1 4 years ago

I definitely want pictures when you are done Karen, these all sound like fantastic ideas and all very well budgeted too!


mollymeadows profile image

mollymeadows 4 years ago from The Shire

Well done -- now all you need is some pegs for hats and coats in the hallway. You never know when a hobbit hole will have unexpected visitors!


Seafarer Mama profile image

Seafarer Mama 4 years ago from New England Author

Great idea, mollymeadows! Hat pegs are now added to my list for the entry area to our home.. To date, we've been using walking sticks that live in a steel holder near our front door as hat pegs. Having some proper pegs there would be the classier option. :0) Thanks for stopping by with a thoughtful reply!


Seafarer Mama profile image

Seafarer Mama 4 years ago from New England Author

Thank you, Qudsia! :0) I think I may write some sequels to this hub once I start working on each room of our home, and publish them with pictures of what I've done.

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