Post-Katrina Starter Home Turned Forever Home

Like so many ambitious young couples, Hurricane Katrina opened up an opportunity for us. We were able to buy a gutted house at a reasonable price and convert it to the house of our dreams. We poured our hearts into converting the shell we bought into our home.katrina

It was a labor of love, and we really enjoyed the process. We worked at our jobs all day and then would meet up at the gutted house and work extremely late hours. It didn’t matter how tired we were because we were working on something that was ours.

That gutted house has been our home for 7 years. We have so many memories in it already, including bringing Annelise home to it. But now that our family has grown and hopefully will grow even more, we knew that we needed more space … but we just couldn’t sell the home that we had put our blood, sweat and tears into. So the only other option was to expand. We decided going up (as in adding a second story) seemed like the best option.

We are in the midst of a major renovation on our home. We are taking our starter house and converting it into our forever home by adding a second floor. We need the space, so for us this is the way to go.

While this seemed like a good idea, it is going to be a harsh reality when I am scrubbing sheetrock dust out of the house yet again. For those who remember that post-Katrina pastime, you can share in my misery.

And although my excitement for learning how to lay tile has dwindled, I still have a passion for the renovation. This far into the renovation means that I am spending quite a bit of time knee deep in tile and wood floor options, have paint samples everywhere and have been looking at things like fixtures until I can’t tell the difference anymore.

I have an unhealthy amount of HGTV DVR’ed, and my Pinterest boards are full of projects that I want to do but will probably never get to.

One very big difference about the renovation this time is that I am focused on keeping our house a home. Not just in the way that we would live there like the first time, but in the way that you walk in and feel comfortable. In my house we keep things casual. You can put your feet up on the coffee table and you can eat ice cream on the sofa. Now don’t get me wrong; I keep a pretty tidy house. But I find comfort in people being comfortable in my house. Your kids can come over and make as much as a mess as they want. I will not look at it twice and then as soon as you leave, I will buzz around cleaning up.after

I don’t want any rugs or curtains that are not machine washable, and I want way more storage than I’ll ever need. My new reality is that while I love the beautiful rooms that I see on HGTV and Pinterest, it is not the life we live.

My Pinterest design style tends to feature unrealistic things such as a white couch, dining room tables adorned with china and laundry rooms without a bit of laundry in them. While I like the idea of a beautifully decorated room with a white couch, I am not sure that my family could function in that space.

When I look around my house I see my daughter’s artwork and her fingerprints are on every surface. They make me smile and remember the scene from Frozen she was acting out when she put them there just an hour ago. I wouldn’t trade those fingerprints on the glass coffee table for a room from HGTV.

The first time we renovated as a newlywed, I wanted everything matching and perfectly coordinated. As a mom going through this renovation, it is more important for me to have a space where my family can LIVE.

But in the end no matter the square footage that we add to our Katrina house, from the first day we bought it, it has been filled with the most important thing: the people that I love.



  1. That is so exciting. We have as similar story- we were able to turn our starter house into our dream house (dream kitchen) because it flooded. Now we can never leave, even though it only has 2 bedrooms and 1.5 bathrooms. I would love to hear updates as you go through the actual construction, because we are probably going to have to go through the same thing.


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