Home. There are few things more important to many of us and I certainly claim that to be true for me. I grew up poor and without much stability. We moved a lot and I rarely felt a sense of belonging or of being rooted to a place. At different times while growing up, I have lived in a trailer, a motel, an uncle's basement, several times with my grandparents, rental homes and once an apartment in an area so bad that I feared for my safety just helping my mom bring the groceries in from the car.
All of this to say that maybe my longing for security, home, community and roots has had more of an impact on my life and choices than any other single thing. Also, I tell you this to illustrate that I never in my life imagined having a home quite like the one I'm moving back into in less than 4 weeks. I mean, it's not grand, it's still just my sweet little cottage, but every corner of the house and every inch of the garden has been considered, given attention and love and made into what is our particular idea of a dream home. And to us, it is indeed the most grand thing in the world and the place where we feel we belong and are rooted in.
We have invested no small amount of money over the years improving the house in the ways we could- a lot of time having to spend money that wasn't "pretty": new roof, gutters, hvac, sewer lines etc, some pretty money too of course: landscaping, opening up the front porch, a make do kitchen makeover etc.
But one day we just got tired of picking away at it and we just wanted to be done and to spend the next chapter of our life enjoying our home and doing the fun decorating projects. And we've had a couple of reminders over the last several years that the future isn't guaranteed and sometimes you need to stop postponing for later and live for now. We decided to just rip the bandaid off and be done. This renovation snowballed a bit, of course things came up that we hadn't planned on- the house was built in 1900 so it was to be expected!
We are moving back into a home that at once is very different than the one we left, but is also much the same. Her spirit remains unchanged. We have worked hard to add back in the charm where it had been removed and to make choices that are appropriate for the age and style of the cottage. We have gutted the kitchen and dining room, the mudroom has been transformed into a Butler's Pantry/Bootroom, the fireplace has been refaced, every last piece of trim in the house has been replaced (and mostly by my guy!), The main floor bathroom has been completely redone down to the subfloor, the master bedroom and bath have been reconfigured to close the bath completely off from the bedroom, give us a giant shower, two (!) sinks, and each of us a small closet, the laundry area has been ripped out and a fresh clean slate provided. The entire downstairs received new hardwood flooring and the entire upstairs floors are getting refinished. We have added new windows in the kitchen and main floor bath as well as new french doors in the dining room and a new exterior door in the Butler's Pantry. Almost every wall, ceiling, door and piece of trim got new paint and on top of that we have added lots of insulation, shored up the structure with new beams etc., replaced plumbing, wiring, dryer vent, added attic access, insulation, drywall, beams to shore up the foundation and another new HVAC system for the downstairs.
We have worked at the house almost every weekend for the last nearly 5 months. There have been times that the process felt unbearable. Being away from the house and the Village and our lives was hard. Watching the house get torn apart and stay that way for months on end with no pretty progress and bad news after bad news was hard. But then one day the tide turned. Pretty things started to happen, the momentum kept us going and made it easier to pay a mortgage and rent every month. The sleepless nights, never ending to do lists and constant level of stress were starting to pay off. We have poured our energy, money, heart and soul into this house and while we are exhausted from this year, more than anything we are so happy and proud of what we have accomplished and so beyond excited to get back into our home and get back to living our small, cozy, lovely life. We have absolutely no regrets and I know I will sleep better knowing that we have made our house as safe and stable as possible.
I wish I had been around here more but I have been doggy paddling to keep my head above water. I look forward to sharing more of the design after we get moved in. I am gratified to see it coming together the way I envisioned. Every single decision was tirelessly researched and chosen for a reason and while I made myself crazy (and probably those around me as well), I am so happy with how it is turning out-a dream that exceeds those of my childhood and a home where I can spend the rest of my life making the people I care about feel loved.