Part 1: Creating our Cottage
Creating our weekend cottage has been a joy filled, labor of love! I am so excited to bring it to you and tell you all the details! But first, the story behind it!
In the spring of 2009, I am embarked on a journey to find us a weekend place that would be perfect for our family and boating. At the time, we lived in Morehead City but we weren't on the water and it wasn't a conducive time to sell that house due to the housing crisis. However, it was a conducive time to get a "deal" on something. So, my search began. My agent took me to numerous properties but none of them screamed "this is the one!" Then, we went a little further east (which almost wasn't possible without falling into the Atlantic Ocean). We drove down a gravel road with a canopy of live oak trees (my favorite). We pulled into the driveway. I was so mesmerized by the beautiful trees covering the yard that I almost missed the little yellow 1950's ranch house. I was instantly in love with the lot; the house not so much. We walked inside and I was pleasantly surprised to see the home had been updated, especially the kitchen and it looked straight out over Core Sound and Drum Inlet and the Atlantic Ocean (that I was worried we would fall into). I had found the place! Plus, it was being sold furnished!
So on the Friday of Memorial Day weekend 2009, we loaded up my husband's truck with boxes of towels, bed linens, and coolers of food and hooked the boat up behind it. We loaded up my Suburban with our 2 year old son and our dogs and a few bags of clothes. We drove to the attorney's office, closed on the house, and drove straight there! We spent many a weekend down there in the coming years, enjoying immense boat time and the sand bars.
Then, shortly after Christmas 2017, we experienced record cold for a few days. A pipe burst in the ceiling over the kitchen island. We were on a family trip through early January and didn't know about the pipe until it had been burst for about 10 days. The kitchen island had floated to the back door and the entire house was full of standing water, about 6 inches deep. Insurance came in and ripped out all the flooring, cabinets, and the sheetrock about halfway up the walls. It was a huge mess! We got quotes to fix the house but they were about double what insurance was paying us plus the house needed a new roof and the siding was pretty long in the tooth as well. We made the heartbreaking decision to tear it down.
And it just remained a vacant lot for a few years. I had a lot going on personally and we just didn't have the time to even address what to do with our now vacant lot in our happy place. I truly just tried to put it out of mind. But, as 2020 was drawing to a close and the world was trying to get back to "normal," I decided it was time to rebuild in our happy place!
I had always wanted to be an architect when I was a kid so I immediately began sketching some ideas. The beloved trees were a constraint though. They dictated the footprint we could build on and keeping the house one story but I was determined we weren't cutting any of the trees down! We wanted a simple layout with a large and open kitchen and family room, a spacious porch, the master bedroom on the water side, two additional bedrooms, and a garage. Once I had the floorplan nailed down, I got the plans digitized and engineered. Then building plans were created so we could get a permit and get started.
My hubs was a General Contractor when we first got married so he decided we would build the house ourselves. He was so organized and proactive getting stuff ordered because of the shortages that we were able to stay on schedule. (We ordered the appliances in March and they arrived in December!) Framing began the third week of April 2021 and we spent our first night in the house the following February. Not too bad! We ran into a few bumps and changes along the way but all in all it was a blast of a project!
Since the home sits right on an inlet in a hurricane prone area, we wanted to make the house as hurricane ready as possible. We also wanted the house to be built with low maintenance materials. Things tend to rot and rust when you live on the coast. We did a raised slab foundation rather than a crawlspace to help with moisture control. A standing seem metal roof is both low maintenance and ideal for storms. We opted for Hardi siding for it's low maintenance but in a shake style to really evoke a cottage feel. The paint color is Sherwin Williams Mindful Gray; it's the perfect color nestled under the live oaks. The windows and doors (except the front entry) are all by Anderson and are impact rated, which means we don't need hurricane shutters. The windows and doors are always hurricane ready. For the front door, we chose a custom mahoghany door (also impact). I am in love with this door. It is simple yet gorgeous and is such a welcoming feature! We added copper gutters and downspouts to finish off the cottage style but keeping with low maintenance and long-lasting materials. And the finishing touch for hurricane preparedness is a 30KW generator to keep the whole house running in the event of a power outage! We've already used it twice during some bad storms and so thankful to have it!
I had originally wanted to do a crushed oyster or pea gravel driveway and I know it would have looked great! But, due to the shade from the trees the ground can stay wet and cause a mosquito problem. Plus, my son wanted to have a basketball goal, so we ended up doing concrete with a gray stain to match the house. My husband and son have already gotten in countless hours of basketball bonding!
We are enjoying our new happy place so much!
Stay tuned as I walk you through the home in my upcoming blog posts!