Basement Project Intro – Part One

23 Feb

One of the main reasons I started this blog is the basement project we’re currently working on. I wanted to have a way to document our progress and the life we’ll lead there, but I also need a way to channel all this desperate yearning and impatience to finally be THERE. It’s getting me down, making me a little crazy and preventing me from living life in the moment. I don’t want to waste months of my life mentally on hold until I get to be where I really want to be.

live in the moment

My husband and I hit a point where we were feeling restless. The sign shop we own was struggling a little at the time, we had two teenagers in high school, and we knew that in about three years our lives were going to take a new turn as those kids headed out into the world.

It occurred to us that we could end up with a LOT of freedom – like “go anywhere we want” freedom.

We decided on a three year plan. For three years, we would put our all into the business and see if it turned around, while in the meantime, we’d figure out what else and where else we might like to be. If, after three years, the shop was doing well and we were happy, we’d stay. If things hadn’t changed, we’d move on and try a fresh start.

We began to play the “What If” game in the areas where we have family. This involved driving around with the latest apartment rental guide, a map and smart phone and pretending we were looking for a new place to live. We’d find an apartment we could afford and go find it to see if we liked the neighborhood and thought we could live there.

On the way home from one of these trips, while we were talking about how much money we could save downsizing to a cheap apartment, my husband came up with the brainstorm of building an apartment in our shop. We own two buildings side by side and they both have a plenty of room. We spent a ton of time discussing various ideas with an architect friend of ours who told us that most of them wouldn’t work due to city ordinances and building codes, until we finally hit upon one that would. We even met with the city (FIVE city and building planners, thank you very much) who assured us that we could do what we planned. One building has a basement with a garage and a lot of space that was mostly being used for storage. If we converted the garage to a bedroom and a hallway (window and front door), we’d have our two means of egress in the case of a fire, and the city’s blessing.

basement door

I’m wildly excited about this project for a number of reasons:

  • Living on site where we work will allow us to do things like run long print jobs in the evening when we could be home, but able to check on them. This could help in our goal to turn the business around
  • Since we own the building we wouldn’t need to pay much in the way of rent, and with no commute, we’d save a TON of gas money. Certainly, this would allow us to work on fixing our financial situation
  • Living where we work would just be cool as hell. I love the idea of leisurely sipping a cup of coffee and then going upstairs to work. My other job is only two blocks away, so that would fit in perfectly
  • Since this is a basement, there are lots of exposed pipes, beams and electrical conduit, and we’ve chosen to embrace that and go with a funky industrial look. This is our chance to be crazy and creative
  • I’ve always wanted to live in an alternative space, and this is my chance
  • Our shop is right in the heart of downtown. I mean RIGHT in the middle of everything. We’ll have all kinds of great restaurants, bars, parks, shopping, theaters and even my city library within a few blocks walking distance. (Also? We’re two blocks from the edge of Lake Superior. Gorgeous.) This will be a MAJOR change of lifestyle for us, since we’ve nearly always lived out in the country

I have all kinds of wonderful dreams of walking down to the library and choosing a couple books, then holing up in some funky bar to read and sip a glass of wine before strolling back home. Hopping on a bus one snowy Saturday and reading while I ride up to the mall to do some Christmas shopping. Walking down to a concert in the park and stumbling back home late, a little drunk and riding the rush of excitement, to crash into bed. Walking around the corner to grab some sushi when I’m too lazy to cook….

The list goes on and on.

Read Part Two of the project.


3 Responses to “Basement Project Intro – Part One”

  1. Scott February 25, 2013 at 11:16 am #

    Sounds like a wonderful place to be. Count me in!


  1. Basement Project Intro – Part Three | Champagne Revival - March 5, 2013

    […] If you’d like to read the whole project from the beginning, start with Basement Project Intro – Part One. […]

  2. Basement Project Intro – Part Two | Champagne Revival - March 4, 2013

    […] (If you want to start at the beginning, see Intro Post One) […]

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