- Associated Press - Sunday, May 7, 2017

CENTRAL, La. (AP) - Not long after the floodwaters receded from their Central home, Robin and Jeff Diamond took a crucial piece of advice from a contractor who happened to be a longtime friend.

Start rebuilding immediately, he told them.

“After the heartbreak and devastation and loss, you have no option but to move forward,” said Robin Diamond, who works as a flight coordinator for an air charter company. “And we had the opportunity to make changes.”

Before the flood, the Diamonds spent most weekends working on their home, keeping up with routine maintenance, but also tackling some renovations. Seeing the floodwaters ruin so much of their work was heartbreaking.

But within a week of getting back into their home near the Greenwell Springs area, the couple took their friend’s advice and had workers taking measurements for doors. They ordered cabinets right away.

“Everybody we called said we were at the top of their lists,” Diamond said.

Unsure what insurance would cover, they were prepared to use credit cards for deposits to get at the front of the line.

In the 20 years since they designed and built their house, Robin Diamond has spent plenty of time watching home renovation shows on HGTV - especially the Chip and Joanna Gaines’ hit “Fixer Upper” - and reading home improvement magazines. She had in mind a few changes she wanted to make to open up the house and personalize the interior.

“I’ve seen that look with the modern farmhouse style, and I fell in love with it,” she said.

The couple used brick paver flooring throughout the house.

In the kitchen, big changes were made. They removed an island that dominated the space, and knocked out a wall between the kitchen and an office. They extended the counter into the former office to create a beer and wine tasting area with comfortable chairs, wine coolers and small under-the-counter refrigerators.

For her counters, Diamond fell in love with the concrete look. She chose 3-inch-thick concrete in a gray tone - dyes can be added to create nearly any color - and a polished top. But she kept the edges a little rough and industrial.

“If I was doing concrete,” Diamond said, “I wanted it to look like concrete.”

For the backsplash, she put a spin on traditional subway tile, choosing to lay the tile in a herringbone pattern. Next came a big white farmhouse sink.

The cabinets are a light hickory that brighten the space.

“I wanted my kitchen to be a little more personal,” she said.

To add to the farmhouse feel, the couple installed sliding barn doors in a few places. At the entrance to the laundry room, the door has beveled glass, while the door to their master bath is made of distressed wood.

In the bathrooms, the Diamonds used the same concrete look from the kitchen on the counters.

One upgrade, Robin Diamond said, was the huge freestanding soaker tub in the master bath.

Deciding what changes to make and looking at new furniture helped Diamond keep focused on the future.

“That was the helpful part of getting over the flood,” she said. “This is the bright side.”

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