Before getting new walls laid our and built on the first floor, we had to iron out the floor plan. Throughout this process, we learned that when dealing with such an old house, architectural plans can only take you so far, and decisions often have to get made in real time when new discoveries are made in the walls. Case in point, the configuration of the first floor bedroom, staircase, and bathrooms. We moved the staircase to the opposite wall (I’m sure our architect was really impressed when we broke that news to him. Sorry Patrick!), moved the laundry upstairs, and reworked the bathroom layouts. All of this is to say that if you ever have the pleasure of taking on a significant renovation, particularly of an older structure, go into the project with very flexible ideas and expectations. Sometimes you’ll find yourself designing a bathroom around a toilet that can only be in one particular spot, and that’s OK! These decisions that feel absurd and frustrating in the moment will hopefully just become the cute quirks of your house that you can roll your eyes at later.
Once we nailed down our floorplan (with almost 100% certainty), new exterior walls could get framed in (!!!). Originally, there had been a door on the street-facing side of the house (remember?), but we knew that we’d never use it as an entrance (and it would open right into the guest bedroom), so we traded it for a window.
Seeing that first wall go back up was so exciting! We’d been doing demo for months by that point, so finally seeing some new lumber go in was satisfying. Yes, we’d done the floor systems, but walls feel like a more concrete sign of progress.
That said, the walls of the second floor were quickly removed making for a naked look up there. On a walk back towards the house late one afternoon, she appeared like a structural ghost through the trees.
As you can imagine, it wasn’t very reassuring, but as I got closer and could see the new green plywood wall, I could take a little sigh of relief. Nowhere to go now but up!