Lessons Of Improvements And How They Make A House A Home

(ATLANTA :: 10 June 2008) As I embark on this active journey to refashion the house on Myrtle, I’ve come to know my home on a deeper level - and, as it turns out, I have sharpened my home-improvement priorities even further.

As a writer/blogger, I see it as an obligation to write about my experiences - to show that eco-friendly practices, home updates and renovation need not break the bank. In fact, they can end up saving money in the long run.

And let’s not forget, as we update our homes we are suiting our own priorities in addition to writing the next chapters for those who live in the house after us.

What have I learned? Here’s a primer:

GeoDeck. I now have this pastic-sludge derived product abutting the front door of my historic, Midtown Atlanta home. The “driftwood” color reminds me of the grey shingles you’d find on a Cape Cod home on Nantucket - except it’s virtually indestructible. Don’t try to install it by yourself - even someone like Steve Thomas had issues trying to lay it correctly at the house. (We had to order another batch because of the error.)

Brac Greywater system. This product has its faults, including leaving rings on toilets and needing filter maintenance. But when you’re in a drought-prone area like I am, this system will come in handy. It’s in place for the future of the house once I put on the addition and more water can feed into it.

Rinnai tankless water heater. The advantage here is that, once your H20 is hot, it stays that way. In standard water heaters, you keep a set amount of water hot for use at all times - and use energy to keep it that way. With a tankless, you turn your home into an on-demand consumption zone and save energy.

My improvement pursuits have also spurred a story idea - one that has been accepted by
The Sunday Paper. Through an extended title search during the renovation I learned that my home was quite likely the first owned by a woman in the state of Georgia. (For more, watch the HGTV episode.) Her family, the Cannons, owned the property for roughly 50 years. So, I thought, what a great idea to name the house after them.

I’m now on a mission to find this family and include them on the renaming - and also create a commemorative plaque for the house’s façade. Watch for that soon.

Meantime, here’s my final message and lesson learned: always embark on your home-improvement journey ready to learn more. About your home, its history, and your own priorities.

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HGTV's Ground Breakers Films Final Act

Here's a clip from behind the scenes as Justin Cave and the rest of the Ground Breakers crew shoots the final act of the green renovation at 844:

I was busy filming this and a few other clips before I took my turn in front of the camera.

This experience has been memorable from the start and I'm grateful to the entire HGTV team (not to mention Lynn Saussy for introducing us) for making the project so much fun.

More info to follow about when the episode will air, but I'm thinking it'll be in the fall sometime. They followed us from beginning to end and will likely do quite a bit of morphing and time-lapse photography on some of the elements.

Mary Grace even snapped a shot of me in make-up! Of course, I ended up sweating most of it off...


House To Air On 'Renovation Nation' Next Week

Discovery Channel's "Planet Green" -- a brand-new, all-green channel with requisite tree-hugger programming -- will feature the house renovation next week. Check your local listings, but on my Comcast DVR it's slated for Wednesday night at 6 p.m., on "Renovation Nation."

As you check your local listings, watch out for the "Renovation Nation" that focuses on the Atlanta area.

Here's a preview of the channel itself:

And a
preview of the show:

In addition to green products,
Charley's deserts and my big gut will be featured. Don't miss it.

I'm gonna go eat my celery sticks now...

Before You Throw Away, Think. It Could Be Used Somewhere

As part of the renovation of the ol hizzy, Lou hired a company to come in and break up our unused and discarded brick and concrete block.

The result is a type of mulch that can be used in a number of installations, including bedding under the porch, potting anchors and much more.

Here’s the video:


A House Is Not A Home...

...especially when its guts are turned inside out.

Take a close look at the hideous basement and the boring, ivy-laden front yard. Their days are numbered.


Just today workers were blazing through the half-baked drywall down there to prepare for the "big dig" down to the footings.

I'm hiding out at the office now. Oy.

And yes, the basement really is that hideous.