Renovating a home, and lives part II |
Erin Miller
Special to The Union

Renovating a home, and lives part II

As each day begins, we have to adapt to new circumstances. As we start to get up we may feel a new ache. In the mirror, the lines on our face are more noticeable.

Our family dynamics change as we welcome the birth of a new family member or say goodbye to our "baby" who has just left for college. Change is relentless.

But every day is also a surprise, a package of things we cannot predict. And we can control how we react and adapt to the contents of each day. That is why I love being a designer. With each design, I help create the best possible reaction for the current and foreseeable life circumstances of my clients.

The health and functionality of a home changes as its finishes, mechanicals and fixtures wear out. And as our own health and the makeup of our families evolve, so do our needs and preferences for our homes.

So just like us, our homes must constantly evolve.

This is part II of a story about a family that had experienced several challenges. To adapt, they sought out a smaller, in-town home. And it was quite fortuitous that their search for new surroundings brought them to a fixer-upper within walking distance to town.

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The home was in desperate need of restoration and therefore a perfect match for the new owners. The hard work and focus that would be required through the renovation process would provide time to heal and to connect intimately to their new life and home.

Their ace in the hole was son Jason McClelland, who is an extremely diverse and talented carpenter. He and his family acted as their own general contractor, (owner / builder), which is nearly impossible for most families.

But Jason possessed all the necessary skills, including the ability to manage the flow of work and scheduling and manage the subcontractors as needed, and he has the carpentry skills to do much of the work himself — beautifully.

Outside, the home has the same classic appeal of the old architecture. And the landscaping by Elizabeth Poston of Living Outdoors Landscape Design, Grass Valley, is gorgeous.

But inside is where the greatest transformations took place. Previously, the home had several confusing entrances and was divided up into many small rooms.

Now, a large, covered front porch leads to a spacious foyer with a generous closet and plenty of natural light from large windows. A wide opening leads from the foyer into a more current, open-concept great room, which includes the living and dining areas plus a well-equipped kitchen.

Because this was a remodel of an older home, the former ceiling heights of more than 10 feet were retained in the great room. The tall ceilings and natural light from all directions make the approximately 20-foot by 25-foot space feel larger than it is.

A 4-foot-wide hallway leads to bedrooms, a hall bathroom and the master suite addition. This home is not large, but in the bedroom portion of the home, wide hallways, 9-foot ceilings and generous windows bring in tons of natural light and make all of the rooms feel spacious.

The homeowners selected warm wood tone floors, earthy golden walls and wood cabinetry in most rooms.

The most fantastic part of this story is how this warm, glowing, fresh feeling was created. Every bit of carpentry and trim was the work of Jason, with family member assistants.

Every cabinet was handmade by Jason himself! He guided family members through sanding and finishing and small bits of finish carpentry, so everyone feels a special connection to the beautiful details of the house.

In addition to the hands-on labor, Mom enjoyed sourcing unique furnishings and decorative items to make each room feel finished, lived in and loved.

It was time-consuming and exhausting work at times, but while I have heard many homeowners say that they do not look forward to remodels, this family says they would love to do it again and wish they could buy and fix up more homes!

Mom's favorite piece in the entire house is the dining table that Jason made himself as a surprise gift. Mom says she really coveted such a table at a store but had so many things to buy, she hesitated. Now, the table made by Jason as the new gathering spot for the family is much more special than anything she could have purchased.

This project started as a home renovation, with the intention of keeping much of the bones intact. However, due to a history of many poor add-ons and alterations, it required more significant upgrades than expected. Just like the family, it needed to evolve.

The extra time, effort and cost of the home's transformation was well worth it. The hands-on work, every drop of sweat, resulted in life-enriching memories. The process upgraded the owners' lives significantly. And now they are at peace. They are home.

Erin Miller is the owner of Erin Miller Designs in Grass Valley. They offer complete design and plan drafting services, and interior design and décor for remodels, additions, kitchens, baths and custom homes. Erin can be reached at 530-477-1401, or at