I am the more traditional of the two of us – I have 2 undergraduate degrees (Math & Computer Science and Political Science) from Eastern Illinois University and an MBA from Northern Illinois University. I work a pretty standard management job at a health insurance company in downtown Chicago. I commute every day to an office and have a cubicle where I work.
Growing up I always helped my dad with his home improvement activities. I was the light holder, and you’d be amazed at how much you pick up by just watching. I grew up watching Bob Vila on This Old House and Norm Abram on The New Yankee Workshop. I took Industrial Technology (read: Wood Shop) throughout middle school where I argued with the teacher about how to craft some of our projects more effectively. By the time I was an adult, I was comfortable building furniture and made my ex-husband a poker table (which I still have).
After meeting Nick, I was dragged into the world of home remodeling. I moved into a condo in downtown Chicago that was partially complete and learned to build cabinets. I had owned a home from my first marriage in Plainfield, IL that I was renting. Nick and I worked to remodel that home after the tenants had been evicted, and the Real Estate Market was picking back up. I was thrust into a whole house remodel while learning to work with my new husband. The honeymoon was over!
I am usually the voice of reason as Nick is usually the one who will go overboard. I believe my brother-in-law described me as the one who rolls her eyes a lot when it comes to Nick.
I look at life a bit differently than Amanda. I went to college for design, and I do not work a traditional desk job. I work for a premium speaker company where I drive around all day. I’ve always enjoyed taking things apart, understanding how they work, and putting them back together in a “better” way.
My first house remodel was a house in Bloomington, IL that was purchased for me to live in while I attended school at Illinois State University. The stay at ISU was short-lived, but I got the home improvement bug while fixing up that house. I transferred to Columbia University in downtown Chicago, and bought a loft condo in the South Loop. The loft is where I really figured out my design aesthetic and went industrial modern. I met Amanda in the midst of the remodel and put her to work once I knew she was handy.
After realizing that Amanda would need to bring money to the table to sell her house, I decided that I would help her add value to her home without spending a lot. We redid the entire house for less than $20K – including a brand new kitchen with granite counter tops and top of the line appliances – using my unusual methods.
For this house, I plan to use non-traditional materials that are not normally found in residential buildings. I also like to source my materials from the cheapest sources possible – I’ve even made Amanda garbage pick!