Southern Romance Project: Episode 3, House Renovation Planning

Danny Lipford and Esther de Wolde sitting at a card table discussing house renovation plans.
Danny Lipford and Esther de Wolde discussing house renovation plans.

In the third of the 13-part Southern Romance Project house renovation series, Phantom Screens CEO Esther de Wolde and home improvement expert Danny Lipford discuss plans for remodeling the house. Topics discussed include reusing the kitchen sink, making room for a laundry room, and adding a back porch to the house that will incorporate Phantom Screens.

Southern Romance Project:

Visit to find out more.

Esther de Wolde: I’m Esther de Wolde, and I’m CEO of Phantom Screens. You may well be wondering, “What in the world is a Canadian doing in Alabama anyways?”

I had my dream: to take a neglected Southern home and restore it to its former glory. To make a long story short, I reached out to my friend and corporate spokesperson, Danny Lipford, to see if I could make this dream come true.

So here’s my story, the story of my Southern romance.

Danny Lipford: So you decided that the kitchen is going to be OK with taking up the little space that we had back there?

Esther de Wolde: Yeah. No it’s going to be totally adequate size. And I’m really excited that I got to keep the butler’s pantry…

Danny Lipford: Oh, good!

Esther de Wolde: …which is what I wanted to do.

Danny Lipford: What are you thinking about that, you had about four or five different ideas?

Esther de Wolde: Yeah, you know, right now I’m going to leave it pretty much as is and put in more portable things, if you will. And then we’ll see as we go along.

Danny Lipford: Yeah.

Esther de Wolde: I’ve been known to change my mind. I keep asking, I asked the architect about five times, this is just suggestions, right? It’s not like dried cement, is it?

Danny Lipford: That makes us nervous when we start tearing wall down. That makes us a little bit nervous.

Esther de Wolde: I know. I know. I want to show you this. Remember we were talking about having to do a stacked washer and dryer, which disappointed me, but they were able to make it work by keeping that existing closet; and it’s going to fit side by side. So the big interesting that—so far I don’t have any followers and fans on this one, other than a few on social media—is repurposing the kitchen sink.

Danny Lipford: Oh.

Esther de Wolde: I’ve gotten it would make a good fish cutting sink—fish cleaning sink.

Danny Lipford: Fish cleaning sink. Yeah, we all need one of those.

Esther de Wolde: I’m sure you knew a man said that…

Danny Lipford: Yeah.

Esther de Wolde: …not a woman.

Danny Lipford: Oh.

Esther de Wolde: What else? Oh, a potting sink. So now I am more, more determined to make it a make that sink work.

Danny Lipford: I knew you were going to say that. I knew you were going to say that.

Esther de Wolde: Oh, yeah.

Danny Lipford: Just something tells me that.

Esther de Wolde: Oh, a dream board sink—everyone needs one of those.

Danny Lipford: So, so anyway, I know you had a lot of anguish over some of the decisions back here. A lot of different ways to go on the screen porch. Are you feeling comfortable with it right now?

Esther de Wolde: Well, I am. You know I had to let go of the idea of the no railing, because that was decided that I had to put them up.

Danny Lipford: Yeah.

Esther de Wolde: But understandable. It kind of hurts when you fall four feet.

Danny Lipford: Yeah, yeah. It is, it is pretty high off.

Esther de Wolde: It is pretty high. So, but no problem for our Phantom Screens, of course, we’ll just screen right around them, and the railings will just become a decorative element.

Danny Lipford: Well, I love the… Well, of course, first of all when you’re able to build in the components of the Phantom Screen, it’s pretty cool with the beams that we have here. But the double cassette thing, I’m having trouble trying to figure that out. I’ve never installed one of those. So you have one for the plastic or vinyl.

Esther de Wolde: Yeah. Yeah, we like to call it vinyl.

Danny Lipford: And then you have one for the screen.

Esther de Wolde: Yeah. No, absolutely. They’re just nestled together and powered by remote control, and you choose which screen you want. And it creates the all-season porch. Actually, it’s a three-way porch now. So you can have no screens, you can have insect screen or you can have the vinyl to keep the heat in during the winter months.

Danny Lipford: Now, that’s fantastic. Now, when we, when we, when I’ve talked to homeowners about it, one of the questions they have is what do you do at the doorway. Because, you know, I mean I have seen where the screens come down and you can operate that one independently where it comes down vertically. But you’re having retractable ones on this that connect to the side.

Esther de Wolde: We are. So we’re going to do something unique here where we’re going to do the Legacy Screens by Phantom, which is the insect mesh. They’ll draw this way. For the vinyl it will have to be our horizontal mount because if you’re trying to keep in, it means you’re not trying to access the yard anyway.

Danny Lipford: Right.

Esther de Wolde: And so we’ll be having an overhead one coming down. For decorative purposes, though, and this has nothing to do necessarily with Phantom Screens, other than Phantom Screens can work around them, which is a beautiful thing. I’m going to be putting in probably french doors here just for…

Danny Lipford: Oh, I see.

Esther de Wolde: And I’m going down to your friend Charles Phillips at the architectural salvage yard.

Danny Lipford: Have you been there?

Esther de Wolde: Oh, yeah.

Danny Lipford: I told them to wait, don’t let her go down there yet! Let’s get some decisions here, or we’ll be…

Esther de Wolde: Well, there’s a few french doors there that he has that would just fit in perfect.

Danny Lipford: Yeah.

Esther de Wolde: And, yeah. That’s purely decorative.

Danny Lipford: And I there’s where you talking about some type of transom that we’re going to be able to create overhead…

Esther de Wolde: Yeah, overhead.

Danny Lipford: …because of the height of it.

Esther de Wolde: Exactly, because those doors are going to be extra tall.

Danny Lipford: And wood floor, wood ceiling.

Esther de Wolde: Wood floor, wood ceiling, fireplace.

Danny Lipford: So a lot of the traditional look with having the hip roof is going to tie it into the look of the house.

Esther de Wolde: Yeah.

Danny Lipford: The wood floor, all of those elements, tying it in.

Esther de Wolde: Yeah.

Danny Lipford: And then ceiling fans?

Esther de Wolde: Ceiling fans. It’s going to be literally they could live out here with the fireplace here, the seating area here, optional eating area from the kitchen. This is probably, I’ll tell you, if I live here this is probably where I’m spending all my time.

Danny Lipford: That’s going to be a fun space, and a fun place to build.

Esther de Wolde: Absolutely.

Danny Lipford: But I’ll tell you what, it’s getting kind of late now, but just to make sure you’re comfortable with the size of things. Not that you’re, you know, would change your mind or anything, but why don’t we stake this out tomorrow.

I’ll measure everything out, give you a chance to walk around and see how it indents on each side of the back of the house, and how it’ll kind of lay out there, just so that you’re perfectly comfortable, because we’re about to start work around here.

Esther de Wolde: You’re insinuating I might change my mind.

Danny Lipford: Oh, no, I wouldn’t think that.

Esther de Wolde: I think you are.

Danny Lipford: No, I wouldn’t think you would.

So we’ve gotten through the plans—a lot of decisions, a lot of opinions that you’ve had. Overall, where you sit right now, are you pretty comfortable?

Esther de Wolde: I am, I’m totally happy. Happier than a one-eyed dog in a smokehouse.

Danny Lipford: I don’t know how else to react.

Esther de Wolde: Thanks so much for watching. If you’d like to know more about the project, please visit us at or follow us on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and my blog.

Cameraman: The sound check is good. All right.

Danny Lipford: Testing. One, two, three. One, two, three. Oh, boy, you got red necked up now, didn’t you. Oh, boy. Oh, no. Oh, you guys, ya’ll drinking the poison.

Esther de Wolde: Apparently this is how we roll.

Danny Lipford: Oh, my god. Oh, no! I must exit stage left now. That’s awful. Did you get a picture of this?

Esther de Wolde: How’d Auburn do this weekend?

Danny Lipford: Uh, they did great.

Esther de Wolde: Did they win?

Danny Lipford: Not quite.

Esther de Wolde: Keep trying! I heard Alabama did, though.

Danny Lipford: Barely.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here