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Yes, there comes a time when I must rise above the surface our ocean and springs to tackle necessary renovations around our home. After all I am a land-dwelling inhabitant of Planet Earth. Never fear though, manatees and other inhabitants of our watery world still feature in my daily life and the renovation.

My latest magazine cover, Sport Diver. It couldn’t have come at a better time!
Sport Diver Magazine, manatee,Carol Grant

2-page spread. Ahh, to be submerged again…
Sport Diver Magazine,manatee,Florida springs,Carol Grant

Opening up our kitchen to the view and the manatees 

The West Coast of Florida is known for its stunning sunsets and soft-sand beaches. It is also known for spying bottlenose dolphins frolicking in the intracoastal and a rainbow array of beautiful iconic birds. We live in a condo and I have frequently seen dolphins leaping out of the water from the comfort of the couch. Mullet are plentiful in this area and mother dolphin often bring their little ones into these sheltered waters to learn how to catch the slippery fish. It’s a joy to observe! And not only dolphin, but some of my favorite birds catch fish and fly within our view including: roseate spoonbills, osprey, reddish egrets, wood storks and the enigmatic magnificent frigatebirds that show up on the cusp of storms in the Gulf of Mexico.

We love it here! Luckily, a few years ago we were able to purchase this place for a very good price when home and condo prices in Florida were lower. Therefore it makes since to invest a bit into fixing some things up. Yes, it increases property values, but since we will stay here we are really fixing it up for ourselves. Still, since we are not renovation people and not particularly handy, renovations seem like quite an enormous hill to climb.

Shower rebuild

It all started with our tiled shower. The shower pan failed and it was leaking. Thankfully we have two bathrooms so we just ceased to use that shower for a couple of months till we were ready to do it right. We are extremely happy with the way it turned out, on time and on budget. I thought this was a good omen to tackle the kitchen next…, but…, ugh…
I am glad we addressed the kitchen, although it’s incredible how much time and funds a small space can eat up. Our primary hurdle was the work done by an unlicensed relative of a previous owner. Oh, the mess and anarchy an unskilled worker can generate! Also it was unsafe as there was buried live electrical inside the drywall and very little work was even near code. So what pushed our expenses up was addressing the electrical, redoing the plumbing correctly and reconfiguring the correct doorway width into the kitchen (previous unskilled renovations had left it at 29” wide which isn’t standard at all. Try to get a decent sized refrigerator in that opening even sans doors)? Plus we opened up as much of our kitchen to our view as we could, without sacrificing too much needed storage in the process. New cabinets, granite, backsplash, additional appliances and my sweat equity painting rounded out the project.

Granite template being made for our bar top. Note the “curve”.

Kitchen coming along…

Thrilled! That’s how I feel about it! But I can’t post an “after” picture yet because the backsplash has been delayed. Still, I’m very pleased that a small kitchen space in a condo could take on our personalities and be so functional. I have manatee and other water-friend surprises in store soon. Then after that there’s new carpet in some living areas and for myself there’s finishing the painting and making some window treatments to coordinate.

Oh and you may ask, how do the kitties, Twinkles and Star feel about the renovations to their space? Well as you can see it’s totally cool with them just so long as they get to usurp Carol’s spot on the loveseat. If only I could be this stress-less…

Renovations are tough, but only the tough are successful at grabbing Carol’s spot on the heating pad!

Here’s a little teaser pic. The granite is Juparana Imperial (slab photograph also shown). As soon as the backsplash is installed I’m sealing that granite puppy with one of the new impregnating sealers (using my insect style respirator mask – always). Till then we are being very careful as we love our granite we picked out at the yard! Our granite fabricator, Granite City, curved around the bar area very artfully for us. It was done to compensate for a narrow entryway, but looks rather hip and cool. And the wall focal point is our Meural Canvas, sporting a playlist of early drawings of fish from British waters, circa 1802, courtesy of Meural’s partnership with the NY Public Library.. Eventually I’ll get my manatee photographs, humpback whales, etc. loaded on the Meural, but till then we have a plethora of fascinating collections from Gauguin to Hubble’s outer space!

Walking in from entryway. Yes, the pillows on the barstools are my attempt at blocking and keeping the kitties from making our new bar their new prized lounging area. Do I have any chance of success?

Our granite from Mont Krest – Juparana Imperial

Will it all get done before manatee season? The most important aspects will be completed, but manatee season waits for no one. When the manatees arrive I will, as always, be there and anything I haven’t gotten done will wait for completion sometime in 2018.
More to follow,

Best, Carol