When we decided to get married, we had several long conversations about where we would live as a family. I mean we had 3 places to choose from.
NYC was where we met and we both maintained apartments there. I really would have loved to stay there. I think it is where we felt the most like home. However, trying to raise 2 young children in NYC is expensive. The childcare costs were high, the extracurricular costs were really high and I just couldn’t see how I would give them the sort of live I imagined they deserved if I stayed there.
Seattle was a location we also considered. We had been living there part time for the two years previously. I found Seattle nice. I loved the lush-ness of that part of the country. However, I found Seattle lacked diversity. In truth, I felt Seattle didn’t really have a thriving black community and I therefore didn’t want to raise my boys there for I feared they wouldn’t see a lot of people that looked like themselves. Most importantly, I felt Seattle was just too far from everything and everyone we knew. In the end, I just couldn’t convince myself that we would all be happy there and so I couldn’t bring myself to do it.
Chicago was our third choice. I was not thrilled about Chicago but I did some cost of living comparisons and quickly realized that it was extremely affordable. I also did some looking about and found Chicago has amazing parks…and I figured that was a good thing. I wasn’t excited about the cold…I didn’t see how I could manage that. I didn’t know anyone in Chicago really and that worried me. What tipped the scale was that we owned a house in Chicago that was nearly paid for. A house in a neighborhood that seemed common to me but that my husband loved. And so, I decided to come look at the house seriously to determine if it would meet our needs.
While I began to see the beauty of the neighborhood, the house…well let’s say it looked liked it had never been loved. I called it the ugly duckling of the block. It was entirely too small. It simply would not have worked. The house hadn’t been updated much and while I am able to see the possibilities in a property, this one gave me reason for pause. So when we sat down to talk about it seriously, I determined that I would only move to Chicago if we made and expressed commitment to remodeling the house from the ground up to meet our needs.
So we moved in August and Sept 1st we had our very first meeting with a remodeling contractor in Chicago…Normandy.
Right away we created a design that doubled the footprint of the house. A design that would transform our 1890’s Victorian into a rehabbed 4 bedroom, 3.5 bath house that celebrated all that was wonderful with Victorian homes but included all the modern conveniences. I really believed that if this was going to be where we planted roots that we needed to invest what it took to make it our home. Over a 4-5 month period we slowly and sometimes painfully designed it with an eye towards maintaining its original history. Now as all the decisions are made, I do feel confident it will be marvelous. Well after planning and plans and city approvals, the construction began in June 2015 and is now slated to be done this fall (hopefully before Thanksgiving).
Its been tough. We’ve had to live in temporary housing and finding someone to give us a six month lease was not an easy thing to do. We have things in storage. We live around and in boxes. The kids have finished one school year and began another in temporary housing. Toys and clothes are shifted around constantly. We’ve had fights with the neighbor about construction and as is with most remodels, we’ve gone significantly over budget!
Post Construction picture coming soon…stay tuned!