Sometimes a Cactus

Family, food, travel, other obsessions.

It Takes a Village to Remodel, Part 1—Tim, Design Consultant

This is Part 1 in a series introducing you to the many people who have lent their expertise and artistry to our remodel.

Even though we’ve trusted our remodel to the professionals and have taken on only a few small aspects of it ourselves, it has still required a lot of input from us. Especially early on we had to make seemingly endless choices and decisions. Some we had been thinking about for years (layout, flooring, windows, siding) , and some we had spent little or no time thinking about (lighting, boilers, plumbing). As we began the project in earnest, I alternated between feeling exhilarated and overwhelmed by all the choices that loomed, the knowledge we needed to make them wisely, and the lack of time to gain it. And our friends probably started feeling like this guy’s friends.

It was at this early stage of the project that my sense of Why it Pays to Find (and Sometimes Hire) People Who Know More than You Do became more acute by the day.

Just before we were scheduled to meet with Renewal’s architect for the first time, I was mulling over the dilemma of where to put the stairs, which we knew we were going to have to move from their previous location. Our friend Emily was visiting from Minnesota, and our mutual friend Tim came by to see her. As I was talking (probably nonstop) about the stairs, Emily quickly tuned out, but Tim became more and more engaged and interested.

The next day he called me and told me he’d been thinking about my stairs. Let me repeat that. He’d been thinking about my stairs. He asked if he could stop by with a sketch. I said “of course,” and this is what he brought:

I was blown away, not just by the thought he’d devoted to it, but by the skill it revealed. Look at those lines, that scale, that perspective! Turns out we couldn’t quite realize this design, since height issues upstairs required the stairs to go the other direction, but Tim’s sketch steered us toward our final design, which preserves much of the previous bedroom now occupied by the stairs.

Here’s what we ended up doing, inspired by Tim’s sketch—stairs in the same place, but going the opposite direction. That’s GBones on the right.

Look! They’re stained now. And we’re considering keeping Hal there as a post. (Sorry he’s blurry. I was focused on the stairs.)

After seeing Tim’s drawing (from a guy I only previously knew as a magnificent tenor), I asked him on the spot if he was interested in working for us as a design consultant. He said yes. I was happy.

Ted was also happy, since Tim could now relieve him of the burden of having to go to flooring, paint, lighting and other showrooms with me and feigning interest in the choices before us for hours at a time. Tim didn’t have to feign. He was actually interested and, best of all, gifted at helping me find what I wanted. Some people have the design gene. Tim has it to overflowing. Plus he’s a helluva pleasant guy, and he can talk house-guts details with Ted and the contractors and translate them for me when I need to know.

Turns out we weren’t the only ones who saw Tim’s gifts. Within the first half hour of our first visit to the plumbing showroom, the manager asked Tim to submit a resumé. A few weeks later, she hired him. Lucky her.

Here he is in the Keller Supply’s beautiful Tacoma showroom, where you can visit him for expert advice and guidance on any bathroom or kitchen project, large or small. Who knew shower heads and faucets, sinks and bathtubs could be so much fun?

Tim has continued to be an expert and patient advisor throughout the project, checking in on the progress regularly, and keeping me focused on what’s important at each stage. (For example, it is not important right now to shop for antiques that we have no room to store. Learned the hard way. Tim tried.)

He’s also not afraid to roll up his sleeves and get dirty, such as when we had to steam and strip several layers of wall paper from our nearly 100 year-old plaster walls. It was like an archaeological dig.

The moral of this post is: If you’re doing a gargantuan remodel, or even a small-to-middlin’ one, get lots of opinions, don’t go it alone, and find a friend or hire someone you trust who can say “are you nuts?” without making you cry.

Thank you, Tim!

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This entry was posted on March 31, 2012 by in Our gargantuan remodel.
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