It’s been a while since I’ve done a round up post, yes? It’s been an exhausting season, and stressful, so perhaps I’ve just not been focusing on favorite things. We’re not totally in the clear yet- we’re in our house but I still send my kids off most mornings to school with my husband and look forward to a leisurely cup of coffee in my robe only to be thwarted by someone or other showing up and starting up a sander or a saw or taking the front door off the hinges, or whatever. And we haven’t done too much yet outside so while inside the house is really becoming lovely, outside is…a lot of dirt. But also a lot of brilliant autumn colors all around us- we happen to live on one of the most beautiful fall color tours in the country, and while that makes for quite a bit of traffic right now, it also makes for a lovely drive home everyday. Also, I’m not rounding anything up, I have just one favorite thing right now, and I’m going to share it.
Everything inside me wants to scream “WAIT! Don’t share any pictures yet, it’s not ready!!!!”, but I can only hope that you all understand that we’re at the beginning phases of putting this house together so please just keep in mind that we have a lot of bare walls and emptiness while we consider what to do. And I’m finding we have a serious disconnect in that half of our stuff is from when we lived in Montana- dark, heavy, mountain-y, and half is from when we lived in Hawaii- lighter, somewhat more tropical feeling. And what we are attempting to create here in Michigan is decidedly more farmhouse-ish and dare I hope, Scandinavian? Lots of white, maybe a titch more modern than we’ve done in the past. So I’m trying to be patient while I figure out how to fuse it all together.
So here’s my favorite thing for right now: our house. May I remind you of its original condition?
It was a chalet-style kit house from the 1970s, built by the kind retired couple next door to me growing up. It had been “updated” fairly recently to accommodate renters before it was put on the market. There were four bedrooms in here, though in each one you could nearly touch both walls with your arms outstretched. There were several colors of 40 year old shag carpeting, faux wood paneling on the walls, and the ceiling upstairs hit the floor in the corners, A-frame style. We were going to gut the interior walls, and then extend that dormer out to create a new L-shaped floorplan. Then we found mold and a weak roof and decided that if we were replacing the entire roof we’d just go ahead and add walls to the second floor as well. We removed the deck, replaced all the windows and doors, replaced it with nice bright red siding with white trim and now this is what it’s turned into:
Now do you remember what it looked like inside?
Believe me when I say it was gutted. Completely gutted.
Just…Oh God. Looking at these is making my heart seize up a bit. This was so stressful and scary and awful. All joy was so far out at this point, you know? There was no immediate satisfaction in the renovation process, it was very, very long term. (Screw you, HGTV. This didn’t happen in a half hour show with a few swings of a sledge hammer and conversations with handsome contractors with cool computer programs and then being sent away so we could be surprised next week with the big reveal.) It makes me realize how far we’ve come, actually, to think that my heart was beating along quite contentedly until I opened up this album. Because I’m sitting here comfortably in my living room with no Tyvek or stud walls or dead-mouse-filled fiberglass insulation. I mean there’s a saw going somewhere, and some really loud banging, but it’s infinitely nicer now. And I realize that I actually feel calm after all of that. Happy, even. Relaxed, certainly. But it was a long time coming- a whole year of multiple temporary living arrangements (both inside and out), hemorrhaging money, and constant anxiety and hostility. Now is it all worth it in the end? Well, I adore this house. It’s so lovely. But if I ever recommend to anyone that gutting an entire house and rebuilding it is a reasonable option, clock me on the ears and show me these pictures again.
It’s not finished yet (will it ever really be?) but we’re finding our way. It’s all coming together. Finally. All of our belongings have been in storage since we first left Montana five years ago to move to Hawaii and we had an infant and a newly 3 year old. Then when we left Hawaii two years ago, we added that stuff to storage and have been in home-limbo ever since. So now we’re slowly unpacking boxes of some wonderful things, some completely unnecessary things, and a lot of things like this that make me swoon a bit to think how long it’s been since we’ve felt home.
So now we’re settling in and I can sit in that cozy white chair (or even my office! which quickly became my sewing room due to house projects and upcoming Halloween costumes) and try to get back to writing more often- particularly a few nice new autumn/holiday books I have in mind. Thanks for getting this far, I know this was a long post.
Have you ever rebuilt a house? Did you get through it with your sanity (and marriage) intact? I found the entire experience to be so vastly different than building from scratch for some reason. Different times, different places I suppose. But I feel like I’m just limping across the finish line. I’m excited to be here, but I’m exhausted.