When Dempsey Jo Killebrew gets caught up in a political scandal brought on by her kiniving boss, she is left suddenly unemployed, and under investigation as a possible accomplice. Feeling the heat and having a strong desire “to get out of dodge”, she accepts an offer from her father to help restore the old family home he had recently inherited in Guthrie Georgia. The home, known as Birdsong, is a family treasure, a Victorian Mansion that just needs a little love is what Dempsey is told… and considering the options… it sounds like a pretty sweet deal.
When Dempsey arrives in Georgia at the address her father had given her, she can not believe her eyes. Birdsong may have been quite the home back in its day…. but “Bird poop” is more what it looks like now. Painted a color that can only be described as “Pepto Bismo pink, windows that have been duct taped and a yard that is overgrown with wild shrubs and grass up to her waist… oh and lets not forget the inside where not only is everything worn out, musty and dated – but that would also describe the crotchety elderly woman squatter who is somehow a relation and says she is not moving out. EVER.
Tips and Finds from Mary Kay Andrews
Top Five Renovating Tips
- An old house needs old doors, hardware and fixtures. Nothing says “new and cheap” faster than a flimsy hollow-core door and bright gold repro brass hardware. Look for solid wood doors and wood frame windows at salvage yards and antique markets. And don’t forget to check the “building materials” category on Craigslist. I got all the doors for my beach house off Craigslist–for $5 apiece. Vintage hardware can frequently be found at flea markets, or check online sources like eBay.
- Vintage light fixtures give a great look–but be sure you factor in the cost of re-wiring them, and finding good-looking shades. Nothing gives a lamp that “granny” look faster than a dingy yellow shade.
- Before you invest in antique cast-iron claw-foot tubs or sinks, make sure they have proper fittings. Measure drains and faucet spreads and make sure you can find new ones that will fit and function properly. Antique toilets are generally a bad idea–most local codes require low-flow toilets for water conservation.
- Before re-wiring a house, put together a furniture floor plan. You don’t want a heat register under the living room sofa, but you will want outlets on either side of the bed for reading lamps, and for any area that might be used as an office you’ll want plenty of grounded plugs. And how about that flat-screen television your husband wants? Plan now for cable locations.
- Be flexible. A great fireplace surround could become a headboard, as could an old paneled door–turned sideways. And that leaded glass window that had to be removed in the remodel? Why not fit it with mirrors and a hinge and make it into a bathroom medicine cabinet?
Top Five Best Junking Finds
- Pair of barrel-back armchairs–$30 at an estate sale. They were covered in gold embossed vinyl when I found ‘em. But with the legs stained ebony, and a gorgeous blue Ralph Lauren fabric reupholstery, they’re perfect by my fireplace.
- Set of eight antique Wedgewood black and cream transferware plates–$30 at an estate sale. The seller’s mother used some of them for cat dishes, others as an ashtray!
- Vintage landscape oil painting, Tuscany maybe? Or Provence? Who cares! Bought at a “divorce sale”–the ex-husband sold this beautiful painting for $50 because it had belonged to his ex-wife. I spent a small fortune framing it, but it’s the basis for a collection of treasured landscape paintings.
- Wicker settee, Salvation Army find for $25. I’d walked to the store, and had to hoof it back home in a hurry for money and my car.
- Faux alligator train case–found at a yard sale. When I asked the seller if she’d do better on the price, she replied that she’d give it to me for free–if I could figure out how to open it. Since it had a combination lock like the one on my high school graduation luggage, I twirled the dial to 0-0-0–because I never figured out how to change mine–and sure enough, the lock popped open. Score!
The Fixer Upper by Mary Kay Andrews is an over all sweet read. Dempsey is not a ditzy woman but instead a street smart gal that is used to designer jeans and expensive footwear. Not only is she surprised by the down home feel of Guthrie where Carharts are the comfort clothes of choice by men and women alike – but Guthrie is surprised by this petite chick who thinks she is going to single handedly fix up the mess that
was is Birdsong.
I enjoyed listening to this on audio, it reminded me a bit of Hope Floats and I could picture Sandra Bullock in the part of Dempsey. I look forward to trying other reads from Mary Kay Andrews.
Borrowed from my super awesome library