Great friends of ours had their home hit by lightning and it was stunning to see first hand how life can go from 'all is well' to this.
Both of them as well as their 5 year old son and 8 year old daughter were home one early evening when they smelled smoke during a bad storm. Within hours of what one can only imagine was terrifying to watch, their home looked like this. They went to a family member's home that night with less than what any one of us would head off to college with. Even things like a toothbrush or address book or favorite hairbrush--gone. Baby pictures, wedding mementos, your shoes, your spare contacts, even a change of clothes for bed that is in a few hours--gone. I really couldn't imagine what this must feel like . . . for the adults let alone their children who had not even their comfortable pillow or favorite toy.
Because I am a fun decorating blog, I have to tell you that a fabulous kitchen 'after' is coming for you to see! But before I do that, I thought their 'after' couldn't be told without their 'before'.
My brother is a fireman and though I certainly know nothing more than the average person about the science of fire or the aftermath of fire, I am someone who always paid great attention to any news of fires and read stories about fires. Yet when I walked into this home I was stunned at things that I didn't quite understand about what a quickly extinguished lightning fire could do! So, I thought I'd share some of that with you. When the topic of my friend's home being rebuilt has come up, I often am asked "So, it burned to the ground? Nothing was left?" With the assumption that if it wasn't 100% soot that it wasn't quiet so bad and perhaps something could be salvaged. I recall being told it happened in the roof and mostly engulfed the second story and I went over the next day thinking "maybe I should see if I can help clean out the kitchen"--as if it wasn't a 'total loss', since it was still kind of there. Well, here's a collage of a few things:
My most surprising moment was when I saw the paint that was melting off the wall (bottom left). Then I was confused by the spider web like feel of wires and didn't know what it all was until it was explained that all the pretty white and blue and other colorful, plastic coated wiring and cables and cords installed in your home melt and all that's left is the exposed tiny lines of wire. It's so thin that you can barely see some of the thinner lines (top right) but it felt like you were seeing a metal spiders web and you couldn't just walk through a room without moving around all this. You can clearly see (bottom right) that the fire didn't reach the downstairs family room but look at how that strong metal rod bent from the heat and how the ceiling fell in from the 2nd story into that room as well as onto the staircase (top left). Between the water from the fire hose and the soot and burned mess that fell, you can imagine now how bad a home that has sustained fire damage is, even if you can see the outside walls and think it wasn't a 'total loss'. It was!
I am certain that you can't say that there is a 'light at the end of the tunnel' with this kind of loss and I am also sure that if they could go back and have this not happen, they would. The inevitable thing does happen though to a family with homeowner's insurance and you do somehow get through the next day and get through the next day and eventually end up with a NEW HOUSE! I was privileged to be able to design and create their dream kitchen and I can't wait to show it to you! They had always dreamed of building a new home. They had plans drawn and had hoped to one day find a lot and looked forward to the process and excitement that comes with building one day. They have great style and got their gorgeous home but accomplished this through great loss and amazing stress throughout the entire process. No planning, no dreaming, no excitement--just urgent reaction. I wouldn't wish this for anyone but am thrilled they ended up with a beautiful home and will show you how I was involved in their project later this weekend!