At a time when I probably should be writing down lists of this or that requiring work in the home, I rather find myself relaxing into the imperfection that is
Okay, maybe that's a lie. Maybe my to-do list for this coming year is a little more than a few scribbled notes. But even at that, the imperfections in our home (and frankly, in our hearts as well) still abound.
I'll make the grand assumption I'm not alone here. I'll assume that you, much like me, have an old house that is quirky and weird and perhaps not as cohesive in design and structure as you'd like.
Our kitchen, for example, was built in the very early 1900s or late 1800s and it's crusty and uneven and full of old lumber and shiplap. It's delightfully imperfect and perhaps, my favorite room in the house.
Hold that against our living room – added onto the original cottage around 1960. Two of the walls are almost entirely windows – a design that I'm absolutely crazy about but that makes no sense in terms of a traditional cottage whe
I realize these may be silly things to think about, but God gave me this brain, full of textiles, colors, period living, and knick-knacks, and so think about them I do. Creating a home for my family and our guests
(Just kidding. Have you ever tried to type with just one hand? Fuh-get-about-it.)
The blog, which has traveled with me from rental house to rental house to rental house to this farm, is certainly a good place to put “paper to pen” as it were and figure out just what the heck is going-down inside the cottage this year. Documentation is required because my brain releases information far too readily.
Luckily, I have a BFF that helps me focus on projects and is fully aware of imperfections and how wonderfully creative they can force us to be. Our texting-history is full of the oddest, darkest, strangest corners of our homes and a slew of question marks. It's wonderfully helpful to have an honest friend.
Okay. So here's where we're at. You may want to get a cuppa and a bowl of popcorn because the show to Shaye's home-brain is about to start:
Our kitchen remodel is going on two and a half years now and dare I say, still not quite done. Sometimes, these things must happen in stages and stage one through stage seven was getting it to the point that it's currently enjoyed at. But it's still not finished. Part of that is because we've changed our minds about keeping the washer/dryer in the kitchen and another part is because we discovered 120-year-old shiplap hidden behind plaster walls. What's a girl to do? We did invest in the kitchen this past year by building a walk-in refrigerator in the root cellar downstairs and exposing the staircase that leads down to the root cellar which is old and rustic and beautiful. This kitchen seems to keep exposing secrets to me – in fact, I know that behind the plaster on each of these walls is old shiplap because it's all a part of the original house. I want to badly to bust it all down! Restraint, Shaye. Show some self-control! But seriously. This yea, I'm going to:
- Remove the plaster from the ceiling to expose the shiplap
- Move the washer and dryer down to the laundry room (that doesn't exist quite yet)
- Build a stone fireplace that can heat the drafty kitchen and be cooked over in place of the current washer/dryer
- Trim the entire room (hello exposed chicken wire!)
That's not all to be done, but if we could get the fireplace in order this next year, we'd be in good shape. The day I can move the washer and dryer out of the entry that every person chooses to enter the home through (there are three to choose from!) will be a good day indeed.
You've never seen a photograph of my bedroom. Want to know why? Because it's never been done. Like – ever. In our three rental homes before this, our room was filled with whatever furniture didn't look right in the more public spaces of the home. I never painted it. It just was. In our three-years thus far at Le Chalet, I've only managed to purchase a chifforobe and hire a contractor to break out the small, awkward closet that was added into the small space as an afterthought and install a larger window into the old wall. Guess what he found behind the stucco on that wall? Shiplap! Oh me, oh my. There is also the chandelier that I bought from Etsy and had an electrician wire in just last week (before that, we relied on the light from an old floor lamp).
Truth be told, the bedroom has latched onto my brain like an octopus. I can't pull it off. All I can think about is how lovely it would be to have a gently styled room purely for our enjoyment. To see it finished – ahh! How sweet it would be! In order for that to happen, I need to:
- Paint the entire room in “Simply White” by Benjamin Moore. What's on the wall currently is primer to cover up the yellow that was there.
- Retexture the ceiling with joint-compound to give an older, crusty look to the surface.
- Install beams along the ceiling to give that delicious Tudor/timber frame look.
- Trim out the window (that's currently leaking cold, winter air into the bedroom).
- Find some nightstands for the sides of the bed.
- Get the bed onto a frame and off the floor (what are we, in college?)
- New bedding. New curtains.
- Build a chunky, wood door to replace the current door.
The living room has perhaps given me my greatest challenge to date. It's in the “new” part of the house and is lovely – really. This room has large windows, a staircase to the downstairs, and holds our baby Grand piano that is out of key just enough to be charming. It's a hub of life and centers around the stacks of books everywhere (constantly) and the fireplace. It's lovely.
It's too fancy and pretty to match the rest of the house. The floors are painted plywood (we ripped up old carpet when we moved in and the painted floors were a quick fix that I quite love still). The staircase boasts an enormously large and open awkward wall that I've never known quite how to style (the current canvas prints are driving me absolutely crazy). In keeping with our Northern France/English cottage theme, this room just feels way too fancy and metropolitan to fit with the rest.
But how do I crusty up a non-crusty room? Oh the turmoil that keeps me up at night!
Here's my plan. I don't know if it's the right one. Crusty advise appreciated:
- Install dark, wood planks as flooring. 12″ wide and chunky and beautiful.
- Install beams along the huge, open, ridiculously plain ceiling.
- Redo the fireplace with rough, local stone. (Stu and I are currently fighting about this. I'm not budging.)
- “Timberframe” the walls using dark wood planks and white paint. I *think* this will give the illusion of something older, especially in the staircase. The problem is the windows. Do I stain the trim to match the darker timbers?
- I have no idea what I'm doing. I better do the bedroom first.
Turns out, I don't have a laundry room. The washer and dryer are in my kitchen and I despite the constant shuffle of hampers and laundry piles littering my creative space. A few years ago, we walled off an area downstairs for our “future laundry room” that is currently just a concrete floor and some old boxes of junk we aren't sure what to do with. This is the year, my friends. I can't take it. I'm hiring the big guns to help. We won't finish this room this year, which will serve as a second bathroom in years to come (we currently only have one 40 square foot bathroom for the six of us), but at least getting the room prepped and serving as a laundry room will be a good place to start.
- Bust down the currently walls to structure the laundry room correctly.
- Shiplap and trim off the room.
- Install the washer/dryer and plumb accordingly.
- Figure out how to style and use a laundry room because I've never had one (not even close).
I suppose this list could be seen as a lot of horrible tasks but I see it quite the opposite. Our projects allow us to think, get creative, hire others to help (fellowship is always an enjoyed bonus), teach our children about how to do things, and enjoy the work of our hands. This home is a hub for four very important souls (I suppose six, rather) and that is quite an enjoyable workload.
Did I tell you on the five-year-plan is building a one room cottage on the property for guests and ultimately, my parents, when they retire?
The wheels never stop.
It's one of my greatest strengths. And perhaps one of my greatest imperfections.
Either way – it's time to get to work!
Now… who out there wants to come clean up stucco dust?