Pink House Chronicles – Part 2



You know your house is a bona fide construction zone when it has a porta potty on the front yard, and when subcontractors hang their signs from your palm tree, and when your contractors’ trucks are there nearly every day. Eventually, it stops looking like a house and becomes a remodeling project. That’s when you just give up and and stop mowing the lawn, because after all, why bother.

Allow me to pause here a moment and apologize to the neighbors for the toilet on my lawn. It’s for the construction crew.  Is it any consolation to know that by Christmas the Pink House will look better than ever? No? Well, if you squint really hard the aqua porta potty kind of looks like a phone booth.

Much has happened since my last Pink House Chronicle. For one thing, twin Shelly and I abandoned contractors Ron and Dave and left for a two-week trip to Europe where we visited my son Joe in Ostrava, in the Czech Republic, and Doug Cushman, friend and writer, in Paris. Perhaps you read about it on my travel blog. (I’m a lousy travel blogger. I spent more time visiting places like the Eiffel Tower and little Paris cafes and less time trying to fix my uncooperative Internet connection.)

But even while in Ostrava, we remained in contact with the guys. One evening we scheduled a Skype conversation so Ron and Dave could carry the laptop around my Redding living room while Shelly, I, Joe and Marie crowded around a laptop in Ostrava as the guys wiggled the web cam toward wall openings and dangling wires and exposed beams. It was kind of like careening over Buckhorn Summit in the back of a pickup, but without the promise of an ocean at the end of the trip.

I’m back in Redding, where I can keep up with the remodeling, and continue meeting with the Pink House team: Shelly Shively Designs, interior stager and designer (twin disclosure), and contractors Ron Goniwicha and Dave Christensen of Best Choice Home Improvements, and architect James Theimer, owner of Trilogy ArchitectureE&S Electric, Royal Plumbing and Karen McGrath Landscape Design.

Apparently it takes a construction village to remodel.

Initially, I planned to just do the basics, like paint, replace the single-pane windows, remodel the kitchen, and cover up the ugly living room flooring.  But then I started rationalizing, or justifying, or whatever you want to call it.

I’ll be in this house probably forever. May as well bite the bullet and get everything done now. Plus, my marriage button was blown to smithereens, which means that from here on out, I’m a single-bathroom sink kind of gal.

Even so, I wanted a house open enough to hold large gatherings of friends and family. I wanted a house where, when I’m cooking, I can see straight through to where all the fun is happening. I wanted a house that was safely rewired, so it wouldn’t burn to the ground when I tried to use the air conditioner.

Cha ching.

The guys cut a square in one wall so I could see into the living room when I cooked. And the whole house is being rewired by E&S Electric, brave men unafraid to crawl under the house and not need a change of pants after one guy came nose to nose with the neighborhood stray black cat under the house.

You could not pay me a million dollars or a million skylights to crawl under my house.

Not to get totally off track, but have you ever noticed how much black cats, in the dark, look like skunks?

The guys recently removed a living room closet to make the room feel larger. And they installed a trio of windows in the living room, right about where the former front door was located.


It’s a more open house now. It’s been stripped down to its 1956 underboards. I barely recognize it.

To cut costs, I’m using a bunch of left-over materials from the Igo house project, such as bamboo flooring, some tile, a huge window that will go in my office, and a bunch of metal scraps from my welding class that are on stand-by for some yet-to-be-created project. (Cue neighbors calling code enforcement.)

I’ve learned to look for bargains in scratch-and-dent sections, or close-outs, or “bone piles,” as some places so affectionately refer to them.

For example, I bought all the interior (white) paint half off when Sears closed its paint section. And I scored a set of double front doors for $300 (formerly $1,300) because someone ordered them and later didn’t like them. And the guys found a beautiful glass patio door for $60 (previously $600), and just yesterday I found a cool sliding door at Moule’s Glass for $300, formerly $1,300 (it the frame had a crack in it), and a red kitchen sink for $65, formerly $254. All of these items were either special-order returns, or have some minor flaw. I especially love those returned special orders. (I know stores hate them.)

Even so, I try not to be freaked out about the money, which is why I recently returned a pair of skylights because I knew they required cutting into the roof, and all kinds of extra work. (Time. Money.)

But I still have plenty of ideas. And ideas are free, right?

… Hey, as long as you guys are cutting a little hole in that wall, can you add a closet, and, oh, can you put some shelves where we removed the closet, and can you move the front door to the front … and can you make that window opening larger, and that one smaller.

Ron? Dave? Hello? Hello?

doni-new-mugIndependent online journalist Doni Greenberg founded what’s now known as in 2007 with her son, Joe Domke of the Czech Republic. Prior to 2007, Greenberg was an award-winning newspaper opinion columnist, feature and food writer recognized by the Associated Press, the California Newspaper Publishers Association and E.W. Scripps. She lives in Redding, CA.

A News Cafe, founded in Shasta County by Redding, CA journalist Doni Greenberg, is the place for people craving local Northern California news, commentary, food, arts and entertainment. Views and opinions expressed here are not necessarily those of

Doni Chamberlain
Independent online journalist Doni Chamberlain founded what’s now known as in 2007 with her son, Joe Domke of the Czech Republic. Chamberlain is an award-winning newspaper opinion columnist, feature and food writer recognized by the Associated Press, the California Newspaper Publishers Association and E.W. Scripps. She lives in Redding, California.
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34 Responses

  1. Avatar Biff says:

    Way to go on the ol' pink place! Score on the red sink!

  2. Avatar Kate says:

    Love hearing about the progress….and what an incredible team you have assembled! We have found that somehow "remodeling" opens a cavern of creativity that has been buried for centuries ( I guess) and the process is persistent and resist an ending!

    Take care…looking forward to the next installment!

  3. Avatar Tom says:

    I haven't set up the lemonade stand yet but am watching the festivities along with the rest of the neighbors. We are all looking forward to you moving in. Congrats on your acquisitions, scratch and dent can save you a bundle. Welcome Home!!

  4. Avatar Alice Hoveman says:

    Good for you Doni! I just read in an unpublished manuscript the line, "Where we dwell in our minds, we live." I like that line.

    Best wishes in your new home and may it become the place where your ideas bloom and may you be happier there than anywhere else in your life!

  5. Avatar Kathleen says:

    Doni, I'm so happy for you. I have always admired you and this is just another example, of many, that I have placed my admiration in the woman. You are definitely a wonderful example of moving out and moving on. You are definitely making lemonade out of lemons! Can't wait for the next installment of the Pink House. Thanks for sharing the journey.

  6. Barbara Rice Barbara Rice says:

    I am so excited for you. I almost wish it was my house. It's got loads of potential and I know it's going to be a showpiece when you're done.

    Please share lots of photos so we can see the progress.

  7. Avatar Carol & Rex says:

    Thank you for being YOU, and having the strength YOU do, to share this time of your life with others. I am sure it will help many who can identify!

  8. Avatar shelly shively says:

    Woking with you and your remodel-dream-team on your Pink House is almost as fun as our trip to Europe!

    "May your walls know joy, may every room hold laughter and every window open to great possibility." Mary Anne Radmacher

  9. Avatar Chris Bennor says:

    As someone else in the midst of solo grownup renovation madness, I love hearing other tales of woe and triumphs. Keep the stories (and more pictures!) coming. 🙂

  10. Avatar teenstar78insf says:

    More photos of the destruction and progress!!!!!!!

  11. Avatar Viki Twyman says:

    I'm going to have to take lessons from you on scoring great deals! Can't wait to see more pictures. Sounds like you are having a blast and that's the most important part of the entire process.

  12. Avatar Adrienne jacoby says:

    WHEEEE . . . I find I'm looking forward to the Pink House Chronicles with the same anticipation with which I used to open the Wretched Flashlight looking for Doni's by-line. Doni, and Dave Barry were two of the things for which the paper was usefull . . . and for lining the bird cage.

  13. Avatar Diana says:

    Someone once said: "follow your dreams they know where they are going" which is kind of a crazy making statement but I like it. Thanks for taking us on the pink house dream ride with you. I am getting so excited!

  14. Doug Cushman Doug Cushman says:

    So..will you have good WiFi when I come to visit?;-)

    Love hearing about all the exciting work; I know it'll be a great place; a REAL home!

    • Doni Greenberg Doni Greenberg says:

      Yes, I'll have wifi, and a guest room with a sliding patio door (with only a little flaw in the frame, but you'll never see it.) The Garden Tract is not Paris, but it's pretty cool.

  15. Avatar Denise says:

    This is like that show on Sundays, Extreme Makeover Home Edition, only you're paying for everything! Thanks for letting us in on the progress. This a really fun addition to your webpage. And…where can I find a dishwasher and built-in microwave on the scratch and dent list?

    • Doni Greenberg Doni Greenberg says:

      Denise, to find those scratch and dent things, you need to troll places that sell home improvement stuff: Glass shops, home improvement stores, etc. Moules had lots of windows in their bone room, and Meek's on Twin View had some interior doors, and Lowe's and Home Depot often have things off to the side or even just sitting in the middle of the aisle (like the red sink) that are slightly damaged or special orders, returned. (I was in Lowe's today and saw a white front door with half-moon glass on the top, for something like $150, which was lots lower than it's orginial price. I didn't need it. )

  16. Avatar Barbara Stone says:

    Welcome home! ;>)

  17. Avatar Grammalyn says:

    I'm so excited to see your new home when it is completed! I know it will be the perfect place for Grandma gatherings. I can give you some granny tips, ya know!

    Smart finds on the scratched and dented and returned items. That is the very best form of recycling.

    Glad it is going so well. Love and miss you, Doni!!

  18. Avatar Sue says:

    Doni, it'll be great fun for us readers to follow along with this renovation journey. Thanks for sharing it with us.

  19. Avatar Budd Hodges says:

    Doni…This new adventure, the Pink House, sounds exciting and I'm sure it will be. For every set back, there's a new beginning and it sounds like your right on the track love.

    Enjoy the trip, even though it's pink.

    Shelly, take good care of your sis, as I know you will. I love you both and wish you both the best. Put some chickens in the back yard!

    Love always,


  20. Avatar Adrienne jacoby says:

    "I want a pink paint job for a blue lady . . " sung to the tune of "Red Roses for a Blue Lady," Hey, it works . . .

  21. Avatar JimG says:

    How about a photo slide show of each phase, Joe? 🙂
    Love reading about the progress!

  22. Avatar Eva says:


    I don't know you personally but I've followed you for years. Imagine my surprise when you started the pink house chronicles: 5 years ago I bought a pink house, built in the 50's that has a lap pool and wood floors. My house is in Anderson, but really, what are the odds?

  23. Avatar Joanne Lobeski-Snyde says:

    Doni, you are a superb writer. Yes, that house is great. But you made me laugh and pulled me through that new home so that I could see and feel all the work and planning that will create a perfect home. And you so quickly give credit to the people who have joined together to craft this home.

  24. Avatar constance dillon says:

    Red kitchen sink! I never imagined such a thing but will be in love with the idea forever more.
    The place will sparkle and shine with your amazing energy when complete.

  25. Avatar amy gibbs says:

    Hi Doni-
    I will have to drive by and see your pink house when I am in Redding to visit my mom. Actually, I could walk by. She lives in the Coop Apartments on South St. Is the Pink House going to stay pink? I like the color, and it seems to have become an identity….
    We have a 1940 house, thankfully it had already had an extension (originally was 800 sq. ft.), double pane windows, and new siding. We have never done the "oh heck, let's do it all" thing, requiring a porta-potty in the yard. The coolest builder equipment we've had was an enormous crane that removed and replaced our cooler from the front curb. Caused great excitement in the neighborhood.
    There is always something with a house….basement, glassed in porch (would keep mud and snow out of our living room), remove icky carpet to expose gorgeous oak floors in Lindsay's room (already done in front room–why do people cover those with cheap, ugly carpet?), expand kitchen, redo master bath (probably the most imminent, as we sprung a major leak under the sink while my mom was visiting, and the subfloor got wet…), and on in that kind of vein….

    We try to do as much as we can, but there are just times when you gotta let a pro do what he/she gets paid to do.

    Love reading your stuff…stay well, be happy.

    Amy Gibbs
    Oh, and a hello to Adrienne, if you read this…I'm Tom at Brass Reed's ex (the first one…)

  26. Avatar amy gibbs says:

    We all have our sordid stories, huh?

  1. September 27, 2011

    […] Printer-Friendly  The Pink House barely resembles the house I shared with you in Pink House Chronicles Part 2, and it's a night-and-day difference from the place you saw in Pink House Chronicles Part […]