I looked at the building as if seeing it for the very first time. I'd driven by it almost daily and never gave it a second thought. It was old, ugly and tired looking, nothing to inspire warm thoughts and being familiar with renovating it looked like a money pit. It was on the market for years and no one even cared to look because of the work involved to bring it up to code and give it charm. It wasn't cheap but for location, location, location, it was an excellent deal and one of the few remaining fixer upper commercial spaces in town. I called hubby and he said go for it.
The building had worn many hats over the years. When I was very young it was a Honda Shop, before my time it was the town grocery store, and over the years it has been made into apartments, commercial spaces and finally a junk store, new to you trash and treasures.
I had a bit of personal history with the building. Back in the day when it was made into apartments I had my first kiss in one of the units. A very popular boy, several grades higher took a fancy to me and we made arrangements to sneak him in while I babysat. After a bit of hand holding, TV, conversation and acting gooey eyed, I had my very first kiss. I was 14 years old and knew nothing about love, but my heart went flippity flop. The kiss was gentle and tender and I marveled at the softness and warmth of his lips.
Truthfully, I was amazed this guy liked me. He was so handsome and popular and I was a wallflower of grand proportions, not popular and kind of geeky. Since I turned 13 I was in full blown loathing mode, systematically picking my body apart and finding fault with everything. My ears stuck out; my head was too large; my feet were too sweaty, my arm pits too; my hair was too thin; my eyes were too far apart; my chin gigantic; my nose too small; greasy skin; zits galore; legs like a chicken; scrawny, stick-like arms; I had so many moles I could play connect the dot, and breath that seemed worse than the average bear. Yup I was a mess as my body started to morph into a woman so who would believe this handsome guy gave me a second glance, let alone wanted to kiss me.
If I close my eyes I can still remember the way he looked at me. As I walked toward him, down the long hall at school, it was as if I was the only person alive; an incredible butterfly-in-the-stomach experience. We hung around for awhile, kissing and holding hands but it never went further than that. We saw each other on the sly, mostly at school, as my parents weren't keen on any dating before I was thirty. They had me on lock down most of the time so I couldn't go out and hang with the gang so our budding love slowly fizzled out. But I still remember the way he looked at me as if he could see into my soul. What a lovely trip down memory lane!
When we tackled our first renovation, the house we live in now, we watched the movie "The Money Pit" and we laughed our asses off. So bloody funny we thought. Well, we learned first hand there's nothing funny about throwing money down a sink hole. We learned the hard way that a renovation is nothing but deep pockets and patience. And Murphy's law haunted us, as one thing got fixed two other things broke down and we were constantly begging for loans and increases in our line of credit. The week we took possession of our house, the well pipe collapsed and things went down hill after that. It's a good feeling to save a building from being torn down, and it's a lovely piece of real estate, but you have to go into it with eyes wide open and account for cost overruns and unrealistic estimates or you'll be bankrupt. But, like labour pains and childbirth, you quickly forget all the angst, pain and suffering and are willing to try your hand at it again whenever opportunity presents itself.
We painted the building in primary colours, my favourites, but also to reflect all the dyeing we do. It was supposed to be an eye catcher from the monument to entice the visitors to town to come up the street, hopefully saying "hey there's some good stuff up here too". Normally the traffic follows the left route down through the center of town, and that is fine. I don't need 6,000,000 people through the shop...just a comfortable 10,000 will do! The buildings next to it, a green residential home and then the dog shop are all colourful eye catching buildings so we are a draw for foot traffic up to this part of town...and then of course we lead to Suttles & Seawinds, a long established retail outlet that's a must see.
You'll find this hard to believe, or maybe that's just me, but at first the colour choice was met with opposition. People were offended by the two tone building and we were told frequently that we should rethink the colour scheme. I had a vision and felt their opinions weren't founded in any kind of sense, so we went ahead and did what no one in town had ever done, split the building into two colours with a golden yellow to pull it together. People would walk by and drop a comment, like a hit and run car accident, leaving "Yuck" to resonate in our ears. One woman said as she hurried by on her way to church, "If I had known you were going to use those colours I would have suggested you stick with the gray primer." Really? Well, halleluiah to you too!
So, we went ahead and painted the building and now that it's blended into the street scape and grown on the closed minded, we get compliments up the yin yang. We've been on the TV show Haven, providing a colourful backdrop to a few scenes and tourists stop and take pictures all the time. Now, we are told we should receive an award for cleaning up the neighbourhood, saving a piece of Mahone Bay history and painting it so attractively. Like fungus, things just need to grow on some people so just blaze the trail and do the wait, they'll come around to your way of thinking.
I love my building. When I walk in the door it feels like home. I have the entire left side for my business. Upstairs is my teaching/workshop area and an office. There is a place for my rack of backings and a wide staircase that is not original to the building and sports an antique newel post and railings purchased from a local antique store. I made the steps extra wide so I could use it to display all of the frames we sell and also to make it grand like a Gone With The Wind staircase to over compensate for the plain one in our house. To me the staircase is the backbone of a dwelling, it should be grand and over the top. Our home will never fill that need in me so I designed the shop to pick up the slack elsewhere in my life.
We used wide mouldings that would normally be found in buildings from that era and real hardwood flooring that needed to be sanded and varnished, none of the prefinished click clack stuff. We paid attention to every detail, not scrimping or cutting corners to give the building a facelift deserving of it's time. Would we do it all again? You betcha. We have a hunky bit of real estate in a wonderful little town. She's a pretty building and an added attraction for sure...although I could be a bit on the bias side. So Que Sera, Sera, whatever will be will be. It was obviously meant to be, that little voice told me so.