Michaelis Provides Support and Peace of Mind After Kitchen Fire Damages Beloved 100-Year-Old Home
"Our family thought that we would make 2020 all the more interesting by having a kitchen fire in the spring," said Michaelis customer Stasia Demos Mills with a laugh. "Thankfully, we were able to extinguish it quickly, and all people and creatures were just fine, but our kitchen definitely was not."
While the initial damage from the fire didn't appear to be too extensive at the outset, Stasia and her family soon realized smoke and soot had traveled to pretty much every corner of the 100-year-old Tudor they have called home for 22 years.
"We kept scrubbing and wiping down walls, but the soot kept settling back in and returning," she said. "So we realized we had a bigger issue than originally anticipated."
Once it became clear the family would need to work with a home-restoration company, Stasia and her family felt strongly about partnering with a local business for their needs.
"Michaelis is invested in our immediate neighborhood community in a whole bunch of different ways that matter," Stasia said, "so we got in touch with them."
Michaelis got back to Stasia with "lightning-fast" responsiveness and, after conducting its inspection, indicated that the smoke and soot damage was extensive enough that the family might want to consider moving out entirely while the crew conducted remediation and restoration efforts.
The news "was a total bombshell to us," Stasia said. "We had no idea that we were going to have to consider doing that, so it was a bit of an emotional journey."
But the Mills family didn't have to go on that emotional journey alone.
"I think there's a recognition with Michaelis that a lot of the people they're working with are experiencing significant trauma," she continued. "That responsiveness, that attention to detail, that recognition of the trauma – it's significant."
In addition to providing its own restoration services, Michaelis acted as "a seamless organizational hub," connecting Stasia and her family to other trusted service providers, from arts and electronics restoration experts to dry cleaners. Michaelis also had a pre-existing relationship with the family's insurance adjuster, which helped streamline communication throughout the process. What's more, Michaelis even helped the family move into a temporary rental home a few doors down.
"That, I think, is an immense value for folks that are going through a very chaotic and stressful time because they'd done the work to establish those relationships before I ever found myself here," Stasia said. "I truly think that might be one of the greatest benefits of what they do. Because they've done it for so long and they have such a broad reach, they know who to call, and who is worthy of that trust and business, and how to connect us."
Michaelis then proceeded to complete the home's significant restoration work, which included moving all the furniture out, repainting every room, refinishing every floor and restoring the kitchen.
"The Mills' home restoration was very detail-oriented and needed to be done a certain way to keep the look of homes in the Butler/Tarkington area," said the Mills' Michaelis project manager Jay Coyle. "It took significant planning to move mechanicals to allow for the arched doorways that were installed. We worked to match the new flooring with the old, which was a bit challenging. The Mills family really understood these challenges, and it meant a lot that they trusted us to handle their home."
Throughout the process, Stasia said they would hear from members of the Michaelis team, who would reach out with regular status updates on the progress of the work. Additionally, Stasia noted, Michaelis would get in touch just to check in and hear how the family was doing.
After months of substantial restoration work, Stasia and her family are back in their house and happy to be in a space that feels new – but still like home.
"They were very intentional about preserving the integrity and the character of our home," Stasia said. For instance, she said Michaelis took care to match the house's original molding and to conserve their child's hand-drawn growth chart, which they've been recording on a closet door.
"I know that sounds like a small thing," Stasia said. "It's not. It's not a small thing. Home is the cumulative effect of all of those things.
"It felt like returning to our little sanctuary," Stacia continued, "and I am endlessly thankful for all that they did."