Pretty, Weird Choices

I have said it before and I will say it again: I did not want to build a house. I haven’t really changed my mind about that but having the ability to work with Chris Harp of Ryan-Harp Construction has, at the very least, helped me to enjoy this crazy roller coaster ride that I never bought a ticket for!  Of course, I became super fast friends with his lovely wife and have fallen completely in love with their three precious daughters and over the last several months we have drafted them into our rag-tag, ever expanding “Beach Family” crew.  I can easily say without hesitation that their addition makes me quite happy!


Chris and his crew are moving along at quite a speedy pace and he sends me constant photo updates of all the new additions. From “tear down” to “walls up” everything has moved much faster than I had anticipated and I am elated!

I have come to think of him as a younger brother of sorts and he has tolerated my weird ideas and unusual requests without ever loosing the smile on his face.  So far.

We have a long way to go yet so I know that can change……but I am hoping for the best.


One huge aspect of building for the first time that I did not consider is all of the choices I would have to make. Flooring, bath tubs, moulding, porch railings, windows, doors, you name it. I have very strong opinions and I often choose things that don’t fall on what one would consider the ordinary path. Not so much the road less traveled but rather the road I have all to myself because nobody else wants to travel it….because it is rather odd. Oh sure, I like pretty things and nice things but I also like weird things. Sometimes for weird reasons. And while my husband has learned to roll with it through the years it is a whole new experience for Chris.


“Wallpaper?” He asked.  “In 2019?”   That is correct.

“Your stove is being shipped from France?”    That is correct.



“A green front door?”   That is correct.


“Downton Abbey doorknobs?”    That is correct.

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“No overhead lighting in the dining room?”    That is correct.


The list goes on and on but he is patient and kind….for now.



In the last picture Chris sent me a few days ago I could see that the windows and doors were all in place and the siding was starting to go up. They will start on the interior soon and I can’t wait to walk through again in the next few weeks and get a real feel for this home we will soon call our own.

It’s time to start making some serious interior decisions this week and I think I may tell him I have decided to add a fireman’s pole to the den….just for fun!


Here We Go….

After what has seemed like weeks and months on end of insurance adjusters, fire inspectors, county permits, architectural meetings and decisions, decisions, decisions we are FINALLY getting started on the rebuilding process. I am so glad to have an update on The Linger Long-er Cottage and I’m glad you’ve stopped by to read all about it. I am determined to post updates every week or so from this point on and I hope you’ll tune in. I promise you’ll be entertained and no doubt, you’ll have a few good laughs along the way.

At one point during this process, I thought I was going to loose my mind with the permitting demands. It can take absolutely for-ev-er down here and even though I was warned; I couldn’t have possibly imagined what it was really like. Of course, the folks in the court house are a delight and were so nice to work with but there is so much development going on right now they simply don’t have enough hands or eyes to move everything through as quickly as one might like. When Walton County asked me to have the fire department sign off on our address (to make sure they would be able to service our area) I laughed a little. Clearly–we’ve had the entire department there and obviously they are more than able to service our area. But I was happy to pay any fee that goes toward keeping those folks fighting fit with whatever they may need! If they hadn’t been fast on their feet the night of the fire our whole block would have gone up in smoke.


Unfortunately, the fire caused a lot more damage than we first expected–a whole lot more–and that coupled with the fact that our 1988 fish-camp-cottage was completely and totally out of compliance with the current building codes caused us to loose everything except the foundation.


The good news is, we were able to keep the original footprint and it made things much easier to build back right where we were before. As we all know, it’s the view that matters most– and thankfully there’s nothing that could damage that.


Over the last several months I have spent countless hours with my amazing architects at Fifth Dimension Architecture and Interiors.  Dan and his entire team are imaginative, talented and creative (as architects tend to be) and I have had a difficult time letting them spread their wings and fly. They keep asking me if I am absolutely sure I’m not an interior designer and I have assured them I am nothing of the sort. Only a Southern girl who loves pretty things, who’s been reading Dorothy Draper books since high school, and who still has back issues of the original Southern Accents magazine that showed up in my my mother’s mailbox each month, then in my very own mailbox for years and years…..before the yankees took over and closed up shop.


We’ve battled over windows (I don’t want any on either side of the house.) and stair placement (I didn’t want to move them, Dan did.) and closet size (He thinks I need a big one and I say I’m getting rid of over half of my clothes before I move.) but overall, I think we’ve been having a great time–and I hope the 5D team all agrees! To make up for the craziness I have put them through, I regularly show up with fresh peach preserves or basil infused olive oil or cookies or whatever I’ve been cooking up that week to persuade everyone that I’m not all bad…. only semi-difficult and mildly stubborn. It drives them crazy when I snap pictures of the big screen showing works in progress (before they have put finishing touches on everything) but I can’t help myself.


The entire team there is amazing but I really can’t say enough nice things about Andy Olds, who is the lead on my project.  Andy took the time to take my hodge-podge drawings and magazine clippings and countless rambling emails and cobble them all into a beautiful home that I can’t wait to call my own. Clearly the cookies helped.


In the end, the drawings we have are exactly what I have always wanted, a nice little white house with black shutters. And while I am sure I will make a few changes along the way I am more grateful than I can say to the absolutely fabulous team of folks who are helping us rise from the ashes. We still have a few months to go but we are definitely moving in the right direction…….stay tuned!

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I have said it before and I’ll say it again–I am thoroughly convinced if you live at the beach your children will always come home to visit. Because of this belief, my husband and I spent about ten years (on and off ) looking for the perfect spot for our family. We looked everywhere from Fort Morgan to Cape San Blas– but nothing seemed to fit. Then, in the spring of 2012, we finally settled on a little spot near Seaside, Florida.


We quickly fell in love with all that community has to offer and after about a year in our little townhouse, we bought a great lot not far away and made plans to build a few years down the road. As time went by and we got closer to moving toward full time life at the beach; we decided to hire an architect. He was amazing (and is actually the architect we are using now) but after my second meeting with him I told Mr. Long if we had to build a house from the ground up there was no doubt in my mind that we would absolutely kill each other. Soon after, we decided building was indeed not for us– and neither was the hustle and bustle that goes along with living directly on Scenic Highway 30A. We put everything on the market and started looking for quieter place to retire. By happenstance, right around the same time, we found a house that we loved.


It was over on the bay, or the “So-Wal North Shore” as I like to call it, and the view was incredible. It was listed on my birthday so of course, to me, it seemed like a sign. I had dealt with a horrible, un-ethical real estate agent when we sold the lot so I was not at all sure I could trust anyone to help us…. and then I met Debbie Webb Watson. She laid all my cares aside and was an absolute delight to work with. (This is not an ad for her, and she doesn’t know I am writing this, but if you are looking for an agent anywhere in Walton County, Florida–give her a call. You can thank me later.) She helped us get the house we wanted and took care of absolutely everything. After unexpected circumstances forced us to move from the old place to the new place in 48 hours flat, she even sent me a spectacular crew of packers and movers to help get the job done. (And when that other tacky real estate agent tried to guilt her into splitting the commission–on a house he never showed me, or ever saw, or ever heard of–I blew that up in five seconds flat. I considered legal action but I assure you–karma will get him, where ever he may be.)

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All that to say–I DID NOT WANT TO BUILD A HOUSE! I was completely and totally happy in my little fish camp fixer-upper on the bay and The Linger Long-er Cottage was coming along nicely. It was cozy and perfect for us and really starting to feel like home. But as you surely know, God has an amazing sense of humor. He clearly DID want me to build a house. Perhaps He wants to show me that Mr. Long and I can indeed work together on a project. Perhaps He wants to confirm that I can work on a project all by myself while Mr. Long goes to fish all day. I am voting for the second choice but only time will tell.

The fire itself was pretty awful but the water damage was worse. We filled two dumpsters with debris and furniture and appliances and everything under the sun and I couldn’t have done it with out my friends– who brought food, old boots and cocktails or the folks from ServePro–who gave me my own set of coveralls and the guys from Two Men and A Truck–who packed up everything that survived the fire. I have even put in a formal request to send back the same team when we move back in–and I hope they’ll agree to return. I’m sure they all think I’m crazy–and I am–but we did all we could to make those two days of long had work as fun as we could and everyone was amazing!

The house is currently being gutted and in the next few weeks the roof comes off– along with the top floor. After that, the real fun starts. I can’t wait to see where this adventure takes us and the lessons I’ll learn along the way.


I’ve been thinking a lot about the time –about ten or twelve years ago– when our son and his friends accidentally set our yard on fire. (Make a note–young boys with a chiminea, matches and a stack of old newspapers don’t mix well.) It was a scary, panic filled afternoon but– nobody got hurt and that spring, we had the greenest, most gorgeous lawn in the entire neighborhood. I am not exactly sure what God has in store for us with this house building project but I know that the sun will rise each day and that great things can rise from the ashes as well; and for that I am truly grateful.