May 03, 2022

The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men

(Blue grey sample minus black glazing for mudroom tall cabinet, warm white cabinetry for the rest of mudroom and all of kitchen. Handmade ceramic sconces with antique brass fixtures for flanking stove and small metal circle Ilve stove sample)

I was going to say that I don't know where that 2 months went but I know exactly where it went. It went to planning, designing, sourcing, researching, choosing and ordering for the renovations. It went to sorting, packing, storing and moving our possessions- although the movers come Saturday for the big furniture. It went to the roller coaster and ups and downs that comprise life- the beautiful and the devastating hitting our circle of people and showing up where we can to do what we're able.

I am so close to being able to catch my breath again, to have time for yoga, tending to myself, making pretty things, reading, leisure time- all things in short supply since the beginning of the year. Things currently NOT in short supply: stress eating, eye twitches, general brain fog and forgetfulness, ocular migraines, irritation at people not doing their jobs, stiff hips, shoulder and neck tension.

(Kitchen cabinetry, stove sample, stove lighting, high gloss, irregular crackle Cafe subway by Walker Zanger, black sample representing Island lighting)

I’ve been getting a lot of questions about our renovations and why we’re moving. We will be moving out for about 6 months. We are renovating the kitchen, dining room, mudroom, main floor bathroom, master bedroom and bathroom. We will be refinishing the hardwoods upstairs and replacing the hardwood downstairs. We will be replacing trim throughout almost the entire house plus adding wainscoting and tongue and groove in areas and almost the entire house will be repainted. We are replacing the French doors in the dining room, the mudroom door and the kitchen windows. 

(Close up Walker Zanger Cafe tile in Milk)

Additionally we are doing built ins at the top of the stairs, replacing Emma’s shower and redoing our laundry area ourselves but those things may wait until after we move back in because my fella is doing almost all of the trim work, and all of the wall millwork. He’s gotten a good start for the last month or so but there is so much left to do. 

(Danby marble Imperial Select for kitchen and if there is enough leftover master and or main floor bathroom)

So you can see this is a pretty extensive project. We are working hard to stay true to the house and bring back the charm that has been stripped from it. We are moving some walls but not changing the footprint and we are not opening the space up. Some people might think it’s nuts to spend this kind of money and not increase square footage but for us this is about quality, function and beauty not square footage. Less but better is my motto.

(Master bathroom large charcoal tile for floor, warm white cabinetry, polished nickel fixtures, wood frame mirrors, antique brass sample for vanity lights and hardware, patchwork tile for shower floor and matte white large subway tile for shower walls)

And while a lot of you don't understand why we're doing this, let me explain what we've lived with since we moved in...the kitchen cabinets are few in number and homemade plywood cabinets that saw their best day 40 years ago (if ever) and aren't fit for holding more than the trash and recycling, the linoleum floors are patched, lost their protective coat well before our time and are IMPOSSIBLE to clean and they are linoleum, the kitchen counters are tile some of which is cracked, missing grout and is basically a science experiment that I wouldn't dream of setting utensil or food on. When preparing a meal, my work triangle is basically the kitchen, corner cabinets in the dining room and cabinets in the mudroom. Not even the slightest bit functional. The only decent things about the kitchen are the updates we did 10 years ago which you can see here. This was always meant to be a temporary solution. 

(Main floor bathroom: new shower curtain, bamboo hooks, oatmeal gloss subway tile for tub alcove and entry dresser that will be repurposed as a vanity but topped with marble)

And the bathrooms, well lets just say they aren't any better than the kitchen and haven't been touched at all. So obviously we are so excited to have clean, functioning, beautiful spaces that are a pleasure to spend time in. 

(Main floor bath with light fixtures that will flank existing mirror)

We've patiently (mostly) waited 11 years and sacrificed to get here so that we could do it exactly the way we want. Unfortunately with the constant rising of costs, we have had to shift some work to do later and are doing some things ourselves to balance the budget but also to make sure I can get the finishes I have been dreaming about for years in the areas that matter the most. 

So you see why it’s important to move out during this process ...with a hubby that works from home, two cats, an anxious dog and me who hates chaos and noise, there really wasn’t another choice although it's another cost that had to be figured in. 

 I'm really looking forward to documenting the process here so that we can look back on it in the years to come and because people say we won't even remember what the old kitchen looked or felt like. After 11 years I find that hard to believe but I look forward to that day!

March 02, 2022

In Like a Lion


If you had asked, I would have said that I hoped 2022 would feel like riding the train around the grounds of the zoo- calm, pretty things to look at- lovely and predictable. Well, in fact the reality of 2022 so far has been a madcap, hang on by the seat of my pants, at turns terrifying, exciting and stomach churning roller coaster. I'm not sure I'd recommend it. The world is in chaos, my home is in chaos, my mind steadily veers in that direction too.

The last week has brought great swells of anxiety, where world, home and life challenges collide. The renovation is all encompassing at this point. As soon as I get one thing marked off the list, something else gets added. I know this is the hard stage and when the actual work begins this part will be behind me. 

For now I balance gratitude for finally being in this place, with hand wringing, deep sighs and an overloaded circuit system. And I survive it all by taking walks around the Village, sitting in quiet, cat in lap, knitting at the ready (only the simplest of patterns), tea at hand, husband nearby ready to cuddle. 

In the last week we were able to mark off the list: hardwood, plumbing fixtures, finding a rental (huge!!), initial meeting with the marble fabricator, new french doors for the dining room, exterior door for the mudroom, casement window for the kitchen, some tile decisions and I got lighting ordered for over the island which was a weeks long ordeal because of our extremely low (not even 8 feet) ceilings. 

And if that wasn't enough to fill my plate, I added in a day trip on Friday that was house related and one on Saturday that was Emma related. She made a quilt last semester (all from fabrics she hand dyed herself with natural materials) in her Fibers II class and it was on display in an Historic house near her school. Why do they always say "an historic" I wonder?

Now we have some budget challenges to figure out because lucky us for finally being able to do renovations during a time when the cost of absolutely everything is skyrocketing. Hard decisions are being made about dining room built-ins, hardwood flooring for the lower level (the current floor is too thin to be refinished again) and millwork. Creativity is being triggered. Ingenuity is being called into action. 

We are trying to make budget friendly choices in some areas and take on some of the work ourselves. We will see where we end up. I'm trying not to make every aspect of the project SO important while also getting what I truly want. The contractor was surprised how well I took the news of the climbing budget. But I'm used to limits and budgets. I've lived my whole life with them. It doesn't phase me much.

Next up I need to make more lighting and tile decisions and go visit some marble slabs. That is a moment I have been dreaming about since I bought my first house at 21. Aside from the tile counters with science experiment worthy grout that I have now, I have only ever had formica counters. What a dream come true marble will be. I even look forward to the unavoidable character that they will acquire.

I'm closing in on finishing the hard parts. Then I just have to pack up the house and darn it I just realized I need to add find mover to the list. Sigh. And so it continues. 

And while March came in like a lion, as she is want to do, I do so hope she will kindly and gently go out like a lamb. Maybe if we all join hands and wish it into existence, it will be so. The past few years have brought entirely too much lion for my liking.