Like just about any other exercise, writing requires some muscle effort. And like any other muscles, you've got to use them to keep them in shape.
I'm pretty out of shape.
I've been intending to write about the house, the move, the garden, Maine, the amazing restaurant we went to last week in New Orleans, the shitty restaurant we went to last week in New Orleans, and whatever other crazy crap was going on. But somehow, I kept finding reasons not to.
Remember the house? And how it made us lose our minds? We've been in it a few months now, and it STILL has that effect. For different reasons. Well. For the same reasons. But also some more reasons.
Back when I interrupted my vacation to go to the White House, we were also going through our final inspection on the renovation. (It's a tough call which one I was more excited about). We had been out of the house since Thanksgiving, 2014. Originally, we had hoped to move in by the end of May. And then maybe June. No? OK. How about July 4? Um. End of July? We ended up passing the final inspection on 31 July. 8 months after we began the tear out.
Actually, that's not a bad timeline at all, given the extent of renovations (including a dedicated Meat Room). The crew we worked with were absolutely fantastic, entertaining and solving all kinds of problems that you find when you're tearing a 230 year old house down to the studs.
We were committed to re-using as much of the materials as possible, and incorporating components of the house back into the renovation. I just couldn't bear to see the centuries-old lumber that we were pulling out - much of which would have been harvested and planed from trees on the original farmstead - simply tossed out and hauled off to the landfill. And this incredibly talented crew was game for every hare-brained idea we could come up with.
In the kitchen, for example, we removed several ancient hand-planed beams from the ceiling. The timbers had been part of a post-and-beam barn on the property at one point, with hand-cut mortise and tenon joints. At some point, the beams were reclaimed and re-purposed into a barn extension that abutted the original farmhouse. (By the way, if you're interested in this architecture, you should totally check out the book 'Big House, Little House, Back House, Barn', which is a study of this particular style of home that was prevalent in northern New England).
We could tell that these had been re-assembled, as most of the beams had been hammered in at an toe-nail angle with more modern nails. Many of the beams were twisted on their sides to provide a few extra inches of headroom in the 'cozy' room below (I had named it the hobbit kitchen, because of the low ceilings). And as you can see in the photo above, the spacing was oh-so-definitely-NOT up to code. The whole ceiling had a kind of 'springy' effect that was mildly alarming to the building inspector.
So we pulled them all out, and started fresh. But I couldn't bear to think of these ancient beams being tossed. So we told the crew to figure out a way to use them in the new stair case.
'Um.. exactly how would you like us to do that?'
'I don't know. Just make them look, you know, "posty"'
(Which is contractor-speak for "the homeowner is insane, and I'm going to try not to cry right now").
They turned out perfect.
So we kept trying to come up with new ideas to reclaim parts of the material.
The door to the meat room is made from internal wall planking. The kid's sink counter is made from similar material. The counter on the built in kitchen hutch is all reclaimed from sub flooring. Even the small divide between the sinks and the toilet area in the master bath is made from a reclaimed piece of scrap from the original house, and may (oddly) be my single favorite piece of reclamation in the house.
I was really not into the whole cable tie rails. This was an idea that my Bride conspired on with the Critter and a couple of the renovation crew. It's far too modern a look for me to have come up with. I can only say that I was having a weak or distracted moment when I agreed to it.
But I have to admit, I love how it turned out.
It keeps the whole space light and airy, despite the old, dark wood we used to frame the area. It's a perfect blend of new and old, and has become one of the most commented on areas in the house.
I'm pretty sure that the term architects use for the divider between the sink counter and your toilet area is a 'pee wall'.
I'll try and put together some of the individual room transitions, now that I've finally corralled all the images into a single place.
The renovation isn't 'done' - there's always more to do. And we still have a couple of rooms that we're working on. We couldn't let the crew have all the fun. It makes for a good winter time project, after all.
But first, I've got 25 baby chicks on their way before the end of the month, and we need to finish converting the pump house into a new Chicken Fort Knox. More on that later.