The Nest: A Right-Sizing Project

By Meg Harrington

The Nest: A Right-Sizing Project

What happens when a couple of project junkies meet a tiny 1930s ugly duckling that’s just dying to be turned into a smart and stylish little swan?  A major renovation takes shape along with all the ups, downs and millions of decisions.

Where: Historic Brookhaven

Countdown:  120 days till move-in

Meet The Cast:
Meg and Scott: The homeowners
Molly and Lily: College and high school-aged daughters
Linda MacArthur: The architect
Michael Ladisic: The builder
….and a delightful cast of characters who make it all happen with sledgehammers, wheelbarrows, screwdrivers, sheetrock and shovels.

The Nest’s little family

The Story
With one little birdie already out of the nest and another birdie not to far from flying away, we’ve decided it’s time to downsize.  After years of living large (and admittedly loving it), we’ve made the decision to go small, smart and stylish.

We’ve found the perfect candidate:  our new little Brookhaven duckling is long on curb appeal but short on space.  We’re on a super tight deadline: four short months to gut and rebuild the existing interior plus adding a master wing, outdoor porch with fireplace, guest room and extra bathroom.

You Gotta Have a Vision

We have wasted no time hiring the dream team that had helped us with our previousBrookhaven house: architect Linda MacArthur and builder extraordinaire, Michael Ladisicof Ladisic Fine Homes.  We love Linda’s design aesthetic and we know if anyone can deliver a fabulous build-out under a deadline, it’s Michael.   Plus, these two have worked together on dozens of projects and pretty much read each other’s minds.

We sit down with Linda to chat about the floorplan.  It’s all about multi-functional spaces doing double-duty, so we take out the red pen and happily slash all the space we no longer need or want. Bye-bye to the formal dining room.  Au revoir to the living room that none ever used.  Sayanora to the gigantic mudroom that had lockers for everyone and their brother.  Hello to all the essentials on one floor (“How about a small stackable washer/dryer in the master closet just to make life really easy in a couple years?” suggests Linda. We nod frantically.)

Our experts are wisely convincing us to put the big bucks where they’ll get the most bangso we’ve immediately okayed a small but gorgeous shipshape kitchen with a 9-foot iron window that opens to the outdoor living room and fireplace.  Linda’s found some hidden space in the cozy little family room so we’ll have a nice, tall vaulted ceiling.  I’ve fallen in love with images of white-painted shiplap that channel the cottage chic vibe that we’re looking for.  And we’re keeping the original hardwood floors but giving them a makeover (dark, dark chocolate brown stainto ramp up the wow factor.

After the demo guys

Bring on the Sledgehammers!

We wait weeks and weeks for a permit but work finally begins in early September.  I dance a little jig when the dumpster is delivered. The demolition crew shows up with sledge hammers and the sheetrock rains down. Ceilings are pulled out and walls disappear overnight.  The air is a veritable storm of dust and just looking at what’s behind all that sheetrock is enough to give anyone allergies.  

Almost immediately, our little Nest begins to look just a tiny, tiny bit like we’ve envisioned it. Rooms open up and, if we squint hard enough, we can picture the open family room/kitchen comboI spend one full morning piecing together newspaper to make a template of the new sofa and chairs I’m drooling over– and then a full afternoon moving them around on a dusty floor trying to envision what it’s all going to look like.


Looking into what will eventurlly be the kitchen

Are We Crazy?

Are we really doing this again?  My sweet husband had sworn off these kinds of projects,but somehow the allure of a perfectly designed little cottage is too sweet to resist.  I wring my hands wondering how on earth how I’m going to have time to micro-manage thisproject with my work schedule. But then I remind myself we’re in the capable hands of our Dream Team–and that the end result will be a perfect little nest for two project-happyempty-nesters.
Next Week:

Yikes! It’s time to pick out plumbing fixtures?  Already??

For inspiration and updates on Meg’s renovation, follow her Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles Pinterest board.