Renovation Reverie – The reality of building a home in a remote location


My renovation fantasy would be:

To walk onto a property, have a “vision” then call my very own contractor, ask for a quote, laugh and say “get it done for less and much quicker”….that is down right hysterical! I would like to venture a guess and say that is NOT what most of us have the luxury of doing. Well, not only is that NOT my life, but there are quite a few other obstacles in my way.

Just to be clear, my life looks like this:

“Walk onto a property, visualize what we want it to look like based on our budget, figure out a time frame we think we can do it OURSELVES…then double the timeframe NOT the budget (damn).”

*below this article you can find before and after pictures of our first project here in Kodiak, AK.

This is not my first project.

I grew up with a paint brush in my hand. My mother was always starting her next project and I was her sidekick. To this day I still remember going to school with cement on my uniform skirt (picture coming). I had forgotten to change and helped out with laying curbing around my moms latest renovation, a restaurant. Since I was a child, I was always helping my mom out with one renovation after the other. She still inspires me to this day with her never ending projects. I now have my own 🙂

Currently, my biggest obstacle is living on a remote island. While it is wonderful 4-5 months out of the year, it can be pretty frustrating when you try to renovate a home on a budget! You have to be pretty creative.

What started out being a 3 month planned renovation of a basement, turned into a 7 month plan. Everything here takes twice as long. If you don’t have patience, get out now!

You wanted selection and competitive prices, on an island?

You are dreaming. We have two “home improvement stores.” These stores are the ones that were around BEFORE Home Depot or Lowes in the lower 48. The “mom and pop” hardware store and lumber store. While it can be nostalgic at times, it is not enough.  There is little to no selection. If they are out of what you want, it “could” take 6-8 weeks to get what you need.  For example we needed 45 TR outlets for our newly remodeled basement. Between the two stores on the island (and Walmart of all places) there were 8. Amazon Prime came through in the end. Thank you!

Make a Plan…and a backup plan

My husband is use to being able to start a project and run to the store whenever he needs a part. Hasn’t been much of a planner on that end. Well, that is somewhat do-able here, just not convenient. The store is 20 minutes away, you have a 50/50 shot on if they carry it and another 50/50 shot if it is in stock. Your best bet is to plan and make a backup plan. We have what we want to work on and then the next project we can work on if that is not possible. Everything is a work in progress. You may be able to tell just by looking around 😉

Our Supplies travel by boat…as do we…

We now have figured out that it is cheaper to plan our entire project and have it barged over to the island. Another option is to fly over to Anchorage and U-Haul it back via the ferry ourselves! At these moments I don’t know which store I miss more, Target or Home Depot…its a tough choice…seriously! I did take a selfie last time I was in Home Depot, it was that exciting to have these choices along with reasonable prices available to you in the middle of a renovation! Am I alone on this? haha


You are not working off your own timeline 

I think one of the funniest moments I had while working on our first project on the island was trying to find an electrician during fishing season. With many of the trades on this island you are lucky if there is more than one to choose from. This particular one I called the answering machine said, “we will not be taking appointments till september…” In other words, we are not open for business till after fishing season is done. Bottom line, Fishing is the most important industry on this island, everything else can wait. At first I was so shocked that someone did not want my business, but I understand now. We are a fishing community and I have come to truly appreciate this.


Recycle, Upcycle, Bartier – most everything has value here

Throughout the renovation we wanted to use everything we could. Knowing how hard it is to get materials to your island you do not want to waste ANYTHING. It really puts things in perspective. So many items have a 2nd and 3rd life here as they are repainted, refurbished and reused. I appreciate this on so many levels.

Our first completed project …

What a learning experience

Here are some before and after pictures of our walkout basement. It is now a finished basement. Our house has gone from a 3/2 to a 5/3. We are excited with the results.

When we bought the house the basement was all ready framed. With an inspection, we were ready to start working! We are excited for the extra room and privacy for our family when they visited. Anyone that comes to the island needs to come for an extended stay to make it worth their while 😉 We also have our hearts set on a Bed and Breakfast, as they are really popular here on the island! (excuse the last photo as we were *near completion)


The largest bedroom, looks out of 3 large windows to a view of our lake and mountains.
With in floor heating we added a nice laminate flooring. It is always warm down here in the winter and cool in the summer. This cozy nook is a great TV room. We exchanged the harsh fluorescent bay light for some track lighting.



Please let me know what you think! I would love to hear your renovation story!


♥Anchored in Alaska




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