The Darkest Days of the Cottage Flip


Welcome back to another week of the real life soap opera that has become of this flipping endeavor. I thought the worst was over, but no. Mother Nature decided to bless our thirsty land with a blizzard…

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California needs every bit of the precipitation and this winter landscape is a beautiful sight. How I wish I could enjoy these days—cozied up in the cottage by the fire sipping cocoa and watching the snow fall, rather than cursing it for putting me behind schedule. Knowing that all of this work will give one family that dream, to be able to create those memories in this special place, makes it all worth it.

Still, it’s a helpless feeling, being at the mercy of these uncontrollable factors, then having to depend on contractors to work overtime to meet your deadline, from 150 miles away as I stay glued to the live weather updates.

Overall I’ve remained calm by keeping things in perspective, which has become the single most important word to me over the past year. I’m incredibly lucky to even have this opportunity.

And on that note, let’s get into the story of this past weekend, shall we?

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My gracious parents agreed to help yet again, and knowing the storm was coming, we decided to spend the night at the flip to save an extra hour round trip to their house, and avoid the potential of blocked roadways getting there.

After packing the car, stocking up on groceries and strapping on the snow chains, we made it up the driveway and stepped out into the deep, fresh powder.

I knew the painters weren’t able to finish on time, but I was also bummed to see parts of it not even primed and still no window trim. But this shade of gray is perfection.

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It’s freezing inside, so we turn on the heater and get to work.

I have my dad install the curtain rods (in the living room and Bedroom #1 upstairs):

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While my mom gets to work painting the staircase landing:

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And her sweet friend even comes by and offers to paint a dresser:

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Meanwhile, I start on my laundry door makeover. I found this inexpensive screen door at Lowe’s and thought it’d be the perfect candidate for a new sliding door for the laundry room.

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After removing the mesh screen, I painted it black (in Valspar’s Cracked Pepper, the official shade of black for this house):

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And then… I wasn’t able to finish, so you’ll have to tune in next week to see Part 2. Hint: it involves lace!

I also gave the floor mirror a quick update…

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For my long time followers out there, you may remember the DIY makeover I did to this plain IKEA mirror back in 2014. It is still one of my all time favorite pieces and I’ll never part with it.

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It fits perfectly in that corner but between the white walls, ceiling, and white curtains I plan to hang, it was too much and would get lost in the mix. I wanted it to be more of a focal point but still have a soft appearance, so I grabbed a can of Maison Blanche’s dark brown antique wax to see what would happen.

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Magic happened, that’s what. I brushed it on…

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Then wiped it away as the dark coloring settled into the grooves, beautifully but subtly bringing out the details.

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With that out of the way, I turned my attention toward a pretty little side table that came with the house:

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Charming, right? It’ll end up next to the chaise lounge under the window, as shown below:

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But I wasn’t feeling the red mahogany wood so it was time for an update. Painting is the easiest choice but I was in an experimental mood, so I brought out a can of Maison Blanche’s Organza in Old Penny:

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You may remember I used this to make my clawfoot tub legs look like oil rubbed bronze metal and fell in love with the product then, so I figured it earned another shot at making this table unique.

I’m using copper as an accent color in the kitchen and wanted to tie it in to the living/dining area as well, and Old Penny was the perfect color for the job:

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I had no specific technique or tutorial in mind, so I just started coating the wood to see what would happen.

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It covered nicely but felt a bit flat, so I waited for it to dry and gave it a coat of black paint for some dimension.

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Then I came back and lightly applied the organza over it, allowing some of the black to show through for a brushed metal appearance:

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Oh yeah, that’s what it needed. And here’s the final product:

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A vintage wood table with a metal look—love! The copper accent will be a nice layer to break up all the black, white and wood elements in the space.

Before calling it quits, my mom and I managed to tackle painting one more bedroom dresser and two twin headboards black.

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I also aged a few brass hooks and hung them in the kitchen…

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I was feeling okay about our progress that evening. My to-do list for the weekend was not yet halfway done but we still had a full Saturday of work planned and could start at sunrise.

As I was mentally going through the checklist while brushing my teeth outside and about to wash my face in the snow (we had no running water because the power had gone out the day before while the plumber was working on the pipes), the lights suddenly shut off. Pitch black and silence. Panic set in. I ran upstairs to notify my parents who were already in bed, then ran to another bedroom, shut the door to try and preserve the heat, grabbed a flashlight and huddled underneath a pile of blankets.

It was a night of intermittent sleep, and I woke up to a dead phone and snow falling from the window, which the car was now buried in.

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We bundled up in our snow jackets and hats, grabbed flash lights and tried to finish painting touchups for as long as we could stand it. A call to the power company confirmed that the outages were major, widespread and that there was no way we were getting it back anytime soon. My dad began digging the car out of the snow while I came to the somber realization that I would be making the 3+ hour drive back home to the city after just a few hours of work, and far behind schedule. It was not my best moment.

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Fortunately, as of today, the sun is shining and the power has been restored. I’m heading back to the mountains early tomorrow with an extra long to-do list and a positive attitude.

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This house might not end up exactly as I had originally pictured, but I’m confident in my ability to come up with new ways to pull it off at the last minute. Either way, it is certainly an adventure and an experience I’ll look back at fondly one day and laugh about these moments (just not for a while 😉 ).

Find out what happens in this weekend’s saga by watching my live instagram stories or snaps! Or just check back here next week for a video & photo recap of the progress.

P.S.—If you are local(ish) and want to come to the open house February 11, shoot me an email at jenna@jennasuedesign.com for details! 🙂

Disclosure: Some of the products listed were provided via sponsorship—all of which I selected and fully approve of.

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26 thoughts on “The Darkest Days of the Cottage Flip

  1. I wish I could see the open house, but I will have to settle for the Internet version :). That side table is stunning – I am amazed by how you “try” things and then they turn out so beautiful and unique. I know it must be discouraging, but I think the final product will still look really great and people won’t know all of the projects you didn’t finish. Plus, with magazine shoots they usually bring their own styling props as well, don’t they? Is there a reason why you can only go up on weekends?

    1. They will bring some of their own accessories but it should mostly be what’s already in there 🙂 I run my design shop from my home studio during the week but I am taking the week off before the shoot to be up there!

  2. If you’ve got the hard-fast magazine deadline and the weather to contend with you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do and get up there to finish! We know you’ll all pull it off and it’s going to be gorgeous!
    It’s definitely not the most ideal time of year to be finishing a house for listing in general…my parents flip houses and finished one in March one year after we got over 10 feet of snow that winter. Needless to say it sat and sat and sat on the market until the snow was melted, school was over and people were able to think of something else other than digging out. I certainly hope that doesn’t happen to you, but it’s the realities of “the biz” and I’m sure you’re aware of the risks already.
    Keep up the good work and HUGE HUGS to your family and boyfriend for helping so much! That’s amazing that they are there with you and helping with all these projects!

    1. Yikes… that story scares me! I hope the snow won’t be too much of a deterrent. It’s largely a vacation/second home community and snow is expected (and welcomed), so I am hopeful that a buyer will fall in love with it any time of year!

  3. That table is pure magic! I’m sorry that things went so horribly! If anyone can pull this thing off, it’s you! I have faith that you can do this!

  4. Well I’m beyond impressed with how talented you are! I sent your shiplap tutorial to my husband to watch, and we are planning to try it in a few areas of our home. Would you mind sharing the white wall color you used here? I can’t wait to see it all finished. Hang in there! 🙂

    Ali

  5. You painting the stairs in the dark looks like a scene from a horror movie, and I”m sure it kind of felt that way all weekend. You’ve done such an amazing job with the time you’ve been given, as you always do, I know you’ll pull this off! YOU GOT THIS!

  6. Ugh! I can’t imagine the discouragement you must’ve felt. I wish there was something I could do to help; I can say a prayer for you. You have a lot of people cheering you on so hang in there. I so wished I could come to the open house; I’d love to see this beautiful place in person. Unfortunately, I’ll just have to settle for what you share with us when it’s all finished.

  7. I so want that mirror! Everything you touch turns out beautiful! Good luck on finishing up the house – it’s gonna be great!

  8. Look at everything you’ve accomplished and overcome this last year! Divorce— taken off alone across the world— started a flip! Compared to all that, what’s a little snow! You’ve got this! This is a piece of cake compared to all you’ve overcome! It’s going to be amazing! And I can’t wait to buy the magazine your featured in!

  9. Just hang in there, Jenna. You are doing beautiful work, and your determination and great outlook will pay off ultimately. I think every challenge we face opens some unexpected door.
    I love seeing even the smallest details on your progress. The family that winds up here will be so fortunate to get this gem!

  10. I love copper too though yes sometimes plain metallic copper falls flat. Adding the black underneath, then another layer of copper – it looks so rich and lush! Gorgeous. Thank you for that – I will be copying that idea!

    Also I LOVE LOVE your color on the wood floors! Is it a stain? What color is it? Our floors are the typical midwestern honey oak and I want to re-stain them in a light neutral cool brown, not the current warm orangey color.

    Hang in there Jenna. The house is so fresh and bright and clean looking. It’s a huge improvement and looks like a lot of value added. Are you installing a generator so the house can have power when power in the neighborhood goes out? A weird thing happens in our neighborhood in a Chicago suburb: Houses here are on two different electrical systems. Our house gets power from underground lines. We’ve never lost power in 12 years. But houses across the street get power from overhead lines. They lose power often in big winter and summer storms, sometimes for days. Many of our neighbors have now installed generators. They’re trying to take back some control over power as much as they can! You can hear generators humming everywhere when area power goes out, and their houses stay lit and temperature-controlled. So far it’s an option that works. I also wonder about natural gas heat – is that connected at all to electrical power? We have gas-powered radiant heat and we’ve never lost heat, though we’ve also never lost electrical so I have no idea if the two power sources are connected.

    1. Thank you for the kind comment Deb! You can find a link to the flooring in this post, it’s actually Pergo laminate: http://blog.jennasuedesign.com/2016/12/diy-vent-hood-new-floors-counters-and-sink-cottage-house-flip-episode-9/

      I have a generator on standby in case the power goes out again, however the weather looks clear from here on out so I am hopeful we won’t run into those issues anytime soon! I will definitely recommend investing in one to the future homeowners 🙂

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