Renovations by Storm: The Heart of the Home

The six month journey from storm damages to a completed, large-scale renovation is a long story to tell. I have decided to break it up into parts. Each part of the journey that I share will showcase one of the rooms or one of the spaces that received a renovation. In this blog post, I share the first part of how this journey began and the full kitchen renovation-the heart of the home.

The second weekend of February 2021, my family packed ourselves up to go visit my in-laws and celebrate my niece’s third birthday. We had no idea that when we stepped foot out of our home, we wouldn’t be back for another six months. 

Texas experienced an out-of-character snow storm. There were record low temperatures and definitely more snow than I’d ever expected to see in the Lone Star State. So many families were left without power, and some without water, too, for days. Even weeks. 

My husband, our five-month-old twins, our dog and I were staying with my mother-in-law. The night of my niece’s celebration, we lost power at my mother-in-law’s house, and soon after, water. My sister-in-law was kind enough to allow all of us to lodge in their home, which still had power and water. We were most concerned with keeping our little babies warm and safe.

We began receiving updates from neighbors and tuned in to the news as to keep updated on conditions back home in Katy. Jimmy had prepared our home for the freeze by shutting off the water, opening the faucets and covering the pipes. But text updates and news stories only do so much to calm nerves. Jimmy felt it best that he take a trip over to our home to check on the condition of the pipes and the house overall.

We live in our own little “fixer upper.” Our pipes were original to the house and certainly not built to withstand this sort of weather. As Jimmy inspected, it was clear that the standing water had caused splintering in the pipes. These would definitely need repairing and replacing before the water could run freely. Understandably, we wouldn’t be venturing home just yet.

While my sons and I stayed warm in Cypress, my husband continued driving back and forth from our house to his sister’s house, attempting to repair the pipes and minimize the impact. He was cutting into walls, replacing pipes, and constantly monitoring and catching new holes.

Despite my husband’s valiant efforts to repair all that was damaged, the projects became too vast to tackle on his own. He was waking up at 5 am to venture to different home improvement stores to scout out the increasingly scarce plumbing supplies. Electricity was returning to the city and Wi-Fi was once again accessible. Jimmy had to return to work full-time and could no longer focus his attention solely on the house.

Jimmy decided it was time to file an insurance claim.

Unfortunately, so had everyone else.

We were about a month post-storm. We were days and weeks behind everyone else who had filed, which made us fearful that we’d be days and weeks behind in receiving help.

Because of the influx of claims, the insurance company had hired on temporary adjusters to assist. We soon realized how horribly disorganized this system was. As soon as we presented our claim to one desk adjuster, we’d lose contact and then find out days later that we’d been reassigned to a different desk adjuster. And the process had to start again. The same thing occurred with field adjusters. We’d have one out to the house to assess the damages and to then provide us, and the insurance company, with a quote. But they’d go no contact, and we’d be told that the adjuster was no longer temporarily working there, and a different adjuster would have to come to our house, again, to assess the damages, again, to determine a quote, again, before we could proceed any further. Negotiations ensued between Jimmy and the adjusters and the adjusters and the insurance company.

Days turned to weeks. Weeks turned to months. It began to feel that there was no end in sight.

Here is a side-by-side comparison of the kitchen before and after (swipe the arrows left and right to study the changes). Some changes can be obviously noted while others are more subtle. For starters, the kitchen island received a face-life. Before, it was a sage, olive green with notes of gray. We felt a darker colored island was heavy and closed-in the space. By painting it white, it opens and brightens the space as a whole. As for the “L-shaped” countertop furthest away, we decided to totally flatten it so there’d be a clear line of sight from the kitchen to the dining room, thus opening up the space and creating an overall bigger feel. We extended the cabinets to the ceiling by getting rid of the “furr down.” All of the cabinets are completely new structures, thanks to the winter storm and sitting water that was behind our old cabinets. The old countertops were actually custom concrete slabs, which sounds super cool in theory, until you realize they are impossible to clean. We opted for quartz countertops in our new kitchen. We felt that the black hardware and accents brought a more sleek and modern feel to our kitchen.

The cabinets framing the refrigerator have always been there. However, they were originally the same color as the island-a sage, gray green. We wanted to continue with the idea of the cabinets and the island being the same color. The white maintains the bright and clean look we preferred. When we bought the house, the microwave lived on the counter. With it being an older home, it wasn’t built with a place to house a microwave, but the microwave stole a lot of counter space. We eventually moved it to the pantry in order to gain the space back, but then we lost pantry space. Carving out a spot for a microwave was on the top of our list when redesigning the kitchen. We are beyond happy with how this came out. (There is a button lock on the microwave, so our little people can play with the buttons without starting a fire).

I loved my old (concrete) farmhouse sink and knew I wanted to incorporate one into our new kitchen. It’s the perfect size for bathing babies, too.

We had to pay quite a bit more out of pocket (over what insurance offered to pay) for the quartz countertops, but they are beyond worth it.

Due to a busted pipe behind the dishwasher, the floors in the kitchen were beyond repair. Because we had the same floors throughout the entire house, insurance agreed to pay for all the floors to be replaced. Before, we had wood laminate floors with burnt orange undertones that was warped in some places and uneven in others. It was very obvious that renovations done before we moved in were not done professionally. We knew we wanted to replace the floors with darker wood and opted for the luxury vinyl wood floors. We had to pay out of pocket again, above what insurance offered, but this is a worthy investment. Should the house flood again or should water get trapped under the floors, we can pull them up, let them air dry, then reinstall them. No need to replace…hallelujah! It’s also indestructible…if you have kids or pets, I highly recommend it. All you have to do is buff out scratches with the rough side of a sponge and it’s good as new.

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