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Who is Lady Beekman?

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Lady Beekman was a term born of the personification of our home that many years later influenced the name of my company. Shortly after we moved in, in June 2015, we started learning the home had a presence, even a personality… Instead of jumping in into demo, as we had done in the past, Matt and I sat with her. Got to know her. It felt like she (yes, the house), kept trying to get to know us too, test our limits… Since she was vacant for over six months, once we moved in, “problems” started revealing themselves to us – six leaks happened in the first ten days we lived there, including a crack in the main sewer line.

With each problem we took on, we realized she was classy and sassy, and a very idiosyncratic older lady, who needed to be handled carefully. The skills we had learned in remodeling our first home, was child’s play – she was full of history and surprises, had been somewhat neglected, and she demanded special handling.

I coined the term Lady Beekman a few weeks into living in the house, after a particularly exhausting and trying day. Matt and I had been working all day in a finished attic space, previously used as an office, to be transformed in our daughter’s room (making sure our kids’ spaces were safe, clean, and put together was our first priority for a smooth transition). We thought it would be a “small, easy job” even though it was the middle of the summer and the giant wall AC unit didn’t work. The window in that room was broken. The door, which led to an outside balcony, didn’t lock… and the flat roof didn’t have any railings (the door to nowhere and the dangerous ledge were immediately nicknamed Narnia by us). All of that was known, so we had already hired a carpenter to install a new window and door in the days that followed. We also knew the flat roof didn’t have railings and were hiring out the job. The plan for that “easy” summer day was to pull orange-hued paneling off the walls, patch and paint the drywall to prep the space for the carpenter’s work, and laying down new hardwood floors.

Well, the paneling came off the walls to reveal a mix of broken drywall, no drywall (just insulation), and plywood behind it… New drywall in the whole room was suddenly needed in a couple of days. Okay, a setback. We then turned to pulling up the old carpet thinking “this we can do”. Nope. A lot of it had been glued down with something like tar. Yep, tar… like asphalt. By evening, we were tired and frustrated.

There was a rainstorm, which we were happy about (cooler temperatures!)… then we saw it. All the water from the flat roof drained right into our daughter’s room, and down the ceiling of our room (right below hers). Matt was (rightfully so!) tired of all the surprises, and that night may have used profanity referring to the house.  I was amused (he rarely curses), and quipped: “Watch it! She’s a lady!” It stuck. Every time she acts up, we just remember… she’s a lady. She’s a moody lady at that. And she has definitely challenged us and our knowledge far beyond we thought possible.

Back to that night, we made a call to our contractor, and he measured our flat roof at a 0 pitch (‘flat’ roof is a misnomer… it should have a ¼ inch of inclination per foot. Ours was ZERO). In order to fix the leak, Narnia (the balcony) would have to be completely re-pitched, sprayed with fiberglass coating, and brought up to code by having railings.  All planned work stopped, calls went out to our carpenter and flooring expert delaying their jobs. Narnia would have to come first.

As much as I love instant gratification and was looking forward to having my daughter settled, all the projects in this home have taught me patience and enjoyment in the process and progress.

The story we decided to tell on this blog, our experience with Lady Beekman since 2015, parallels our tremendous journey of change and growth. My personal transformation since moving into our home, enabled the creation of my company, appropriately named Lady Beekman.

My mission here is sharing the knowledge on how to go beyond just remodeling and decorating, but applying simple engineering practices in your everyday life (home, office, routines,…) to live a life that is organized, efficient, and simplified. Continuous progress, not perfection.

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