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OUR SOUTHERN EXIT: Leaving Louisiana – Pt. 6

August 2022: Our journey out of southeast Louisiana after living there as a transplant for 15 years.

Our New Kitchen is Smokin' Hot!

My husband generally works nights. So, it is not uncommon for me to take on his schedule. This particular night (well after midnight), he was home and I was across the house painting a room and happily listening to a podcast. After mentioning that I was craving some fries, Jason encouraged me to make some since nothing was open late. Note: during this transitional time in our life, there was a lot of fast food and take out as we were without kitchen appliances and groceries sporadically. That would cost us an arm and a leg these days!

Anyway, we hadn’t used our new range because the first two arrived damaged and we were yet again waiting for another replacement. Even though Lowe’s said we could use it in the meantime, I just didn’t bother. Until this night. This fateful night. So, I preheated our shiny new range and got back to painting the room down the hall. After some time, my husband asked why the house smelled weird. I explained that new appliances have to “cook off” the new smell. And a little while later I started to second guess my wise explanation. I walked into the kitchen and discovered a massive smoke cloud billowing out of every orifice of the new range. I opened the oven door and immediately shut it after seeing the flames and yelled “Stupid!” The rest is a blur, but we both ended up outside on the phone with the local fire department. This is not the first impression we wanted to make with our new neighbors, but thankfully it was 3:00 in the morning and most people were asleep.

Fire fighters arrived
Met the local fire department, unfortunately.

I hadn’t been this upset with myself in a long time. The cause of the fire was an air fryer tray wrapped in plastic in a cardboard box that was left inside the oven. As soon as I opened the oven door and saw the flames, I knew exactly what had happened. The first oven arrived and the delivery guys removed the air fryer during installation. They did the same thing with the second, but we rejected it due to damage on the stovetop. So, by the time the third arrived damaged, I was so over it. Apparently, the air fryer basket was left inside – knowing they were going to have pick it up and replace it. And I hadn’t used an oven in weeks – months actually -- because Drake didn’t even have an oven when I stayed at his house before flying to WA. So yes, I kicked myself for not taking it out when it was first delivered and not checking it before preheating. But you know what? I was tired. I’d been tired since the end of 2021. Stuff happens. And this roller coaster was just starting to go uphill again.

Inside of an oven with fire damage.
The aftermath.

Have you ever had a house fire? A client of mine had one a year prior (and right at the end of the renovation), so I had a vague idea of what to expect. I just didn’t have a lot of strength left in me to face it. But my husband was a great encourager and we pulled through it together.

After dealing with insurance and the remediation company that morning, all of our stuff was once again packed up and moved out of the house. It was determined there was smoke damage throughout the entire house. Y’all, this happened 6 weeks after closing on the house. 3 weeks after moving in! We had made only one mortgage payment. Anyway, the remediation crew had their work cut out for them with me. I don’t know how many designers they have worked with, but I provided them with clearly printed room by room paint instructions, indicating colors and sheens, drove to multiple flooring showrooms to choose a replacement for the damaged carpet and was basically their second project manager (like it or not). Let me just stop right there. This is where a negative turned into a blessing.

A house going through remediation with carpet removed.
Good-bye, carpet!

My Plan For "Slow Design" Speeds Up.

All of the carpet had to be replaced. Smoke had damaged everything in the home which required new flooring and every stitch of drywall to be painted. The tile and linoleum floors were not damaged and therefore would remain. That was a relief, because I honestly did not want to do any work to the bathrooms this early on. Did I like the tile? No. Was it beige? Yes. But I could work with it. The carpet on the other hand, was already dingy to begin with. I had been specifying luxury vinyl planks to clients for years, so that was definitely the direction I wanted to go. And that laundry room mini-renovation I told you about? Yeah, that was painful. For roughly $1k out of pocket, we added that room to the new flooring scope of the remediation. 100% worth it. The peel and stick tile I laid was a temporary fix -- I just didn't foresee that "temporary" would mean two weeks.

I had to make a few rushed decisions that I'm not happy with now, but they are all paint related and totally fixable by me in the future. Another bonus: the crew installed my dream light fixture that I had purchased before the fire. I'll post that photo of my office at the end. They also removed every single white wire shelf from all of the closets and patched a hundred holes for me. Two things I dread: painting ceilings and patching walls. I'm always looking for the bright side.

Woman standing near a door with a paint sample in hand.
I had to choose a door color before I was ready.

Oh, and you guessed it – it was back to hotel living again. But The Hampton Inn was much nicer than the motels I had frequented that year. And it was only about 5 minutes from the house. If there were any rules about not setting up a paint shop in their hotel rooms, I missed it in the fine print. You gotta do what you gotta do!

I'll skip over the tediousness of remediation and renovation to say three weeks of being displaced was nothing in the grand scheme of things. Other families experienced total loss fires around the same time. We are really thankful that God spared us from losing our home or each other. We moved back into our house in early September. Round 2, ha!

Next up in our journey: Flying back to Louisiana to continue working, close down my shop and be our son's first house guest!

Click here to start from the beginning of this series. Or here for the prelude to the series where I explain WHY we moved in the first place.


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