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Diary of a Mad Renovator: The Perfect Storm

Written by Jaqui Lividini

In August of 2011 Hurricane Irene leveled the Connecticut shore and devastated our cottage.  Apparently it was a blessing in disguise that we hadn’t thus far worked on the house, because the house was literally sitting in the Long Island Sound.  Once we rung all the water out, we were left with, well, not much.  We had no choice but to completely tear out the first floor interior due to dampness and the damaged wood.  When we first bought the place, my vision for it was inspired by the movie, Houseboat, starring Sophia Loren and Cary Grant.  It’s a film title that became way too ironic after this experience.  We were finally forced to embrace the start of our renovation.  It was time to find that perfect contractor.  Like many firsts—first date, first relationship—it didn’t work out.

Then several months later, he came along. “He” being Chip Brian (photo below) from Design Development.  Much like the perfect man, Design Development had everything you could possibly want, all in one package.  They have a stable of experts including architects, designers, contractors and project managers — who come to us with expertise for the abundance of problems present in a vintage home restoration.  Being a time-starved family, this one-stop-shopping solution was a godsend.

It’s taken three months of working closely with the Design Development team to get to the starting point.  We are currently awaiting the town of Branford’s approval on our plan – then we are finally ready to begin.  Our Team has had to overcome many twists and turns that occur only when restoring a quirky vintage home.  Now we can’t wait to see the outcome!

The magic of our house (and it was only a long while after the Hurricane Irene episode that I was able to reference this again) is that it feels like a houseboat.  It sits on a peninsula that juts out into the water.  When you’re upstairs looking out, you can’t see the grounds or the rocks below—you can see only water all around, and you know you’re at a very special place in the world.  It’s a house that is now becoming a labor of love on our part.  And, in an age where Facebook and Twitter statuses change on a dime, we’re going to take you slowly through the journey and story of a very special house.

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