Skipping Ahead

We’re skipping ahead, team. A lot of progress has been made in the span since kitchen rafters went up and present day, and hopefully I will go back in and fill in the details, but for now, I want to show you the first room that feels remotely “finished.”

With company coming for a week in October, we were suddenly faced with gentle pressure to create a livable space that we’d feel proud to host someone in. Nothing creates results like a deadline.

In the week leading up to her arrival, we bought a mattress, refinished a small bureau, and painted both the bedroom and en suite bath. We clearly need to have company more often and force them to stay in the other rooms so that we have that same sense of urgency to finalize other spaces.

Naturally, we hadn’t landed on a paint color for the room at that point but knew that we wanted a room that felt cozy, but not overly saturated in color – pretty much our theme for the whole house thus far. Some of our initial choices veered too far into beige and yellow territories (you can see below the transom window), but we ultimately landed on Mascarpone by Benjamin Moore, a lovely ever-so-off white that has a hint of yellow to create a warm vibe.

Thanks, Dad for painting!

We left the ceiling white, and still need to coat the rafters to give them a nice sheen, but a few passes of sandpaper got rid of the splintery look they had originally. The little metal brackets on the ends of the beams gave us a bit of trouble as we thought through how to hide them – cover them up with wood? purchase some soft metal sleeve? The silver wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t an accent color that we had around the house much, so we went for the quick option of painting them black. Now they’re in keeping with the style of the house and tend to disappear unless you’re truly looking for them.

Once the paint dried, in came the mattress.

There was much debate over whether to get a full or queen sized mattress. We ended up going full to keep the scale of the room as livable as possible. Although a queen would have made the room a little more luxurious, we didn’t want the whole room to feel dominated by mattress. Hopefully our guests will take the full size as an opportunity to get cozy with their bedmate.

We kept all original doors throughout the house, and even though this one has a large glass panel, it’s one of our favorites. For most of the year, it’s just us here, so we wanted to make sure that the door could carry light into the little hallway since it can feel dark otherwise. When guests are staying, no one except them use that hallway anyway, so there’s no risk of accidental peeping from outside the room. Of course, that said, we are thinking through options for covering up the window in an impermanent way so that light can still pass through if desired – maybe a roll-down shade or simple fabric curtain.

After almost a year of working on the house, it feels so nice to have a room where we can actually welcome guests comfortably. Now we get to start sharing the space!

The cat especially likes how the light comes through the east-facing windows. It’s her sanctuary, too.

Second Floor Reborn

It was disconcerting to see a house with no second floor. Or rather, it had a platform that you could stand on so you were at second floor height, but there were no walls to speak of, nothing that made it seem like a legit second floor that would ever be livable.

Thankfully, the new gable walls showed up quickly to reassure us that yes, in fact, we would one day be able to have a real second story.

In these initial stages of gable-raising, you’ll notice that the roofline is fairly similar to that of the former roof. The only difference is that we increased the roof pitch (from 8′ to 10′) to provide more livable square footage). That said, the real change will be apparent when you see the dormer go on the river-facing side (in a future post). The dormer will raise the ceiling height of the two upstairs bedrooms and prevent us from having to squeeze things underneath the eaves.

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As you can see above, the guys started the day with basically a second floor platform. They built the entire gable wall on that platform and then raised it up and into place. HOW they managed to avoid pushing the wall too hard (and down onto the kitchen) is beyond me, but that’s why they’re builders and I am not. Also, please forgive the less than ideal quality. I was spying on the process from the window at my parents’ house up the hill!

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Wall is raised and in place! The guys then spent the rest of the afternoon securing it into place – again, how the wall stayed upright and didn’t somehow fly over, I will never know.

Check out a video of the gable raising below!

 

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Level-footed

Level floors are in sight! Once the old flooring came out, the crew put a new sill on top of the concrete foundation wall. Then, after a couple of months of resting on temporary bridging, the back wall was brought back down to rest on the sill. Sigh of relief.

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With the new sill in place, floor joists went in quickly and a new, level floor system was born.

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Throughout the renovation process, this structure continues to surprise me with its ability to expand and contract. In the previous post, that dirt floor looked so small! It’s always so surprising when the house can seem like a different size from one day to the next. The joists look so long and spacious!

It’s difficult to walk on joists and film it all at once:

 

Next up is, you guessed it, more demolition.

 

Jacked Up (one more time)

Now we’ve come to the day when the cottage became a funhouse with the ability to give vertigo to any who entered. The floor that went from the center of the house towards the river was very tilted. Not quite to the point where you felt like you’d fall off the back of the house, but it certainly wasn’t a reassuring slant. As with the front of the house, we had to jack up the back wall so that the floor system could be rebuilt, raised up, and restored to a comfortably walkable angle.

Continue reading “Jacked Up (one more time)”

Isn’t she a beauty?

Welcome to the River House!

Built in 1831, this charming home on the Connecticut River is our diamond in the rough, emphasis on very, very rough. Over the past few years, we’ve watched the vacant home fall into an increasingly sad state, so when the opportunity arose to purchase it, our family jumped at it. The thought of watching the place get torn down only to be replaced by some modern home that didn’t jive with the neighborhood was too sad. We had to save it ourselves.

Originally, my parents had planned to buy the home with the hope of renting it out, but as the plans evolved, Steve and I couldn’t resist the idea of living there ourselves. We’re going for it! Apparently, Steve had a hunch that it would work out this way all along, but it took some convincing and time for me to adjust to the idea of putting down adult roots in the neighborhood where I grew up. I’ve turned the corner though.

Now that the renovation is starting to happen and is actually feeling real, I’m getting increasingly excited. Guys, the river is legitimately right behind the house (in a safe, non-flooding kind of way), you can see eagles from the living room, there’s going to be a fireplace, and, not to sound too stereotypical, but I get to design the kitchen, and I’m pumped.

We hope you’ll follow along throughout this transformation with us!