As My favorite month of the year arrives (born and married in November) I thought I would do a post on the evolution of our home.
We moved into our home in November of 1997. As I was sifting through my scrapbooks today I came across photos that I have been looking for in an album I had forgotten about. I was so happy to see that I indeed had photos of the original structure.
I thought I only had a few blurred Polaroids but instead I had pasted many in this album entitled Our New Home.
Unfortunately there were no iPhone, hd photography or downloading ability to protect our memories as we are spoiled in today's world. My first photos of our house were taken with a Polaroid my husband had in his car. He had told me to be discreet when we visited the house for the first time as to not appear anxious in front of the owners. So needless to say I left my own camera at home. There were no blogs to do posts on in 97 unfortunately.
So tonight I took my iPhone and snapped many photos of the originals that were pasted in my scrapbook.
I thought I'd share them.
But first, here are photos similar to ones I had cut out or folded in a wish box for years. I dreamed of living in a white and black colonial or federal home since I was old enough to dream. I grew up in an apartment building and swooned over old photographs of homes just like this one. They all had similar characteristics.
Shortly after we bought our house my husband showed me this photo. It was of a home that belonged to someone he knew from work.
When I saw it I quickly reached for a black sharpie and darkened the roof and wrote our number above the door in hopes that one day our home would resemble it.
Below are the two first photos that I ever took of our house. I took them on the day we first went to see it. I secretly carried the small Polaroid in my purse and took two quick shots without the realtor's knowledge.
They are blurry and pale but mean so much to me because it was my first glimpse up close of the house. There was a massive pine tree standing taller than the house directly in front of the main door. I remember thinking why anyone would have planted a tree so close. It was an obstruction of a lovely view.
After the closing and officially moving in, we made a few little changes. Below are photos taken after we moved in. See the tree I was talking about?
Can you guess the first thing I did after moving in?
We had our first Christmas and Winter at the house. Now it's always been a factor when considering a house for me to imagine how the house would look decorated for Christmas. Does it have places to hang garland? Where will the lights go?
During the winter of 98 we spent much of our time working inside of the house. Painting, adding moldings, and simple changes. Basically after the closing our restoration funds for the house were way down. So unless changes involved a gallon of paint or some stenciling, (which should never be done in a house and I am still trying to block the memories of my awful stenciling out) it meant waiting quite some time.
Fall of 98 came and we made one small addition.
We added a small portico with two columns and created a stone patterned floor above the two small steps in the entrance. Although my vision for the front of the house was grand, we had to settle for a smaller version.
If photo appears distorted it's because I photographed right from the scrapbook while lifting the page as to not have any reflected light.
Now I am a tree lover. I will do anything to save a tree but our pine tree was not only obstructing our view but also my view of the school buses as they brought my boys home and driveway. So after much deliberation, the tree had to go.
Above my boys.
My sons loved the fact that aside from moving into a new home, having four acres and their own rooms, the coolest thing to them was that they lived next door to horses. My neighbor had two horses for many years.
The next addition was a deck to the back of the house. Again it was not the ideal deck in my vision but it worked for us at the time.
In 2003 we began a year process of construction, additions and restorations to our home. Lets just say it was the longest year of our lives.
We started with all the good intentions. A kitchen. That was a necessity right? Our kitchen was small and outdated. We had a cutting board built into the peach stained Formica counter with all the astrology signs. (weird) Dark paneling and a small window. Our kitchen was dark and dated. How can I give you a visual? We used to refer to our home as Graceland. But not in a good way. (If you've ever seen or gone to Graceland, as you walk inside your immediately shocked at how tacky and dark and small the rooms are. Excessive panelling, shag rugs in hideous colors and low ceilings. Not exactly the house of the King you expected. So the kitchen was circa late 60's retro.)
BEHOLD : Graceland Kitchen. Understand now?
We got some quotes, pulled out photos, collected magazines and made drawings but for me they all had to have a commonalty.
They had to resemble The Big Chill Kitchen.
Okay so today this kitchen would be a bit dated but it had the features that I wanted. I wanted a huge space where light entered from different angles. I wanted a large center island or a large farmhouse table in the center to serve as an island. I wanted white cabinets and glass doors so that I could display glasses and pretty plates. I wanted plenty of work spaces. Places to roll out cookie doughs or serve coffee while still having room to prepare a turkey and entertain. Lastly I wanted the kitchen to be the nucleus of the house and the main center for entertaining and congregating.
I guess it would have been a better year if we hadn't decided to add more to our to do list at one time. In our defense we had access to a wonderful architect on the premises. We had a construction company that was just starting out, had plenty of talent and had time to work with us. What would you have done?
While the kitchen was being framed we added a few things:
All new windows. (Now this was a necessity, our windows were pre dated 1965 so they had flaking and peeling led based paint, rusted windows that wouldn't open and mix matched panes.)
All new siding - decided to use a hardy plank product which in all honesty was a great decision. Through the years it has held up beautifully.
The Addition of a Front Porch (more on that later)
The Addition of a carport (forgot: we had converted out garage into a screening room before the kitchen addition for my husband. He is a film producer and needed a room to screen movies. (One of the best things we ever did.)
This is why our construction took a year in the making.
Okay I will try to post in a sequential order of some kind.
First let us begin with the north end of the house - the kitchen. (Now unfortunately I didn't take constant photos of the progression. Wish I had my blog back then and the technology to take quick photos on my phone and download them. That would have made a great post.)
The cathedral ceiling became a costly burden re-doing the taping every year due to settling and moisture. But last year our Amish friends took care of the problem by installing beams at the seams. I love it now. It is consistent with our farmhouse kitchen details and it conveniently hides any cracks in the seams.
Then came the hardy plank. Our old aluminum siding was dated and had its share of wear and tear. As if the job weren't fastidious and time consuming enough, Will and I had talked about our windows in the house. It had been decided that all had to be changed and restored. Sills had to be replaced, heads re done, and new aprons had to be created. There was a lot of work to be done. Our kitchen idea expanded into a painstaking and arduous task.
I remember asking one of the workers about my windows and basement. I had been consumed with doing radon studies and reading about lead based paints being in homes that were built before 1970's. I recall he looked at me with one eyebrow raised as I asked him about the likelihood of lead dust lingering in the house after the new windows were installed. He said "Lady a little lead won't hurt anyone, look at me." Exactly, I remember thinking. So I was back to vacuuming and mopping daily. I went through three vacuum cleaners that year. (I have a thing with changing my vacuum cleaners. It drives my husband bonkers.
Whenever you find yourself in the middle of a construction project and you utter those words or even think them, and I'm referring to "the end is finally near" words, beware. You have already determined your fate. It's gonna get ugly.
Okay so back to my amazing architect. Standing in front of my house after it was sporting it's Tyvek overcoat, I did the unthinkable.
As he asked me if I was happy with everything I hesitated and said "You know Will, I think a deep porch would make the house look much more inviting don't you think?
Now anyone who knows me can tell you I'm obsessed with the south. I know in another life I was Scarlett. Totally.
So as much as I love New England architecture and colonial and federal style homes (they are my favorite) I am a sucker for a deep porch. Needless to say I could never speak of having wrap around porch without hyperventilating.
I felt that the house with it's four acres and line of pines (I named my home Pinerowe) would be lacking without it.
He began to sketch right on top of the hood of his car and I started clapping as he waved his pencil across the foundation drawing a deep plantation style porch. It was done. Now If only I could break the news to my husband.
After I talked my husband out of serving me with divorce papers we agreed the porch would add character to our little homestead. So another permit was needed. I exhaled and smiled as I read through and studied the final plans for the porch. Should not have done that!
We live in a historic area and everything, every detail, every addition has to be consulted, approved and determined by the historical board. One morning after the foundation was framed and dug we were greeted with a post on our property. Cease and Desist letter. It held us back for two weeks. In the meantime copies of plans, meetings and phone calls were taking place while I was surrounded by a muddy mess. The rains came once again and we were at a standstill with resuming the porch construction.
Thankfully a few weeks later after approvals were given by the board, the construction continued.
If there are any men reading this please stop. I have noticed that men who have a love for carpentry and architecture cringe when I reveal that I had my porch floor removed. Originally it was constructed using Mahogany as pictured above. Today our porch floor is a (I'm whispering) faux composite. In my defense the mahogany was to soft and did not age well. Every brush stroke, every marking and dent given by the years of usage looked awful.
Next came the Columns.
We opted for a red brick landing with blue stone for the steps.
Were we finished? No.
Then came the barn. http://leeshideaway.blogspot.com/2014/01/the-foundation-of-barn.html Click here to read about the barn project and then below about the study.
Then came the Study. http://leeshideaway.blogspot.com/2011/10/study-shes-coming-along.html
Are we done? Probably not. Am I content, more than I can believe. I am humbled and thankful every time I turn unto my road and drive down my driveway and catch a glimpse of my home. Our home is not perfect, it is not huge, it is not the most beautiful, and yes there were many things we could have done differently, but at the end of the day. . . it is home.
The place that comforts me, where I seek refuge after an exhausting and stressful day. It is where the the sounds of my children growing up echoes throughout the rooms. It is where dings and scratches reveal a life made, a family created and it is where love has lived and grown. I think of all the homeless, refugees and those never having their own place and I am in awe of the blessings I have been given. I never ever take anything for granted.
"A man travels the world over in search of what he needs and returns home to find it." George Moore
I also am thankful for this blog and all of you.