{Making a Home} More Original Details

Please, do come in.  We’re getting so much accomplished with the help of family, friends, and our contractors.  The house has sound sills now – part of our home sits on 250 year old barn beams, preserved from a demolition nearby. The joists are being repaired where needed, and new subfloors being laid.  The large barn doors at the end of our carriage house will be removed soon so that wall can be framed in, and prepared for two large windows.  Later, those walls will be finished to create our schoolroom. The inside wall of the carriage house is about half-way demolished.  That area will be opened up and made into a large mudroom, storage, and staircase to the second floor (which will be made into our office and sewing room).

We expect the plumber to come this week to begin getting our bathrooms and kitchen ready.  That is a very exciting step forward!  But that means that our clawfoot tubs must all go to be re-enameled, toilets and sinks ordered, and shower stalls designed.  Brian and I are going to have a go at constructing the showers ourselves – a project we are both looking forward to tackling.  The most difficult part is making final choices about tiles, fixtures, and layouts.

Here are some more shots of original details in the house.  Most will be preserved.  We have been able to find exact reproductions of everything that can’t be preserved – right down to the door hardware and light switches.

The original doorbell hardware. The bell mechanism is gone now, but we managed to find replica at a reproduction hardware shop.

I love the way the red paint faded from the sun. The door isn't tight enough to be re-used on the house, but we'll save it for another project somewhere on the farm. Perhaps the greenhouse?

Our contractor found an exact copy of this door in one of his books, and the brass hardware is fairly easy to replace as it was a common period design.

The newel posts with their beautiful fluting and acorn capitols will be preserved and replaced, as will the handrails. The spindles will have to be replaced with longer ones for current safety codes.

There are two different spindle designs - one on the first flight of stairs, another on this flight heading up to the third floor bedrooms.

We don't have to do much with this massive built-in wardrobe on the second floor landing. There is a crack on one door, but the hardware only needs a cleaning.

I love these brass drawer pulls. Brian found some loose drawers with identical pulls just lying around the house. We're not sure where they came from, but they'll be re-used, probably in my sewing room or the office.

The interior doors are lovely. They'll need very little done with them. We are fortunate that there are very few painted surfaces. Most of the wood was stained and shellacked.

You are free to draw your own conclusions about this sticker on one of the bedroom doors.

I Love Milk.

The house is changing so quickly now.  I’m so glad that we have recorded what came before.  Perhaps we’ll make a scrapbook for future generations to enjoy. And we’re looking forward to documenting the changes as they come along.


Our oldest daughter Cat was wondering aloud about what the house would be thinking and feeling if it *could* think and feel.  I wonder, too…

A Piece of Quiet

I have been a very lax correspondent.  It has been weeks since anyone has posted anything here.  The days have been long, and quiet moments (and sleep) have been in very short supply.  The house and farm are coming along and I promise I’ll get some pictures up soon.

Right now the house is up on jacks, having her sills replaced.  Our fantastic contractor very sensitively transplanted antique barn beams to our foundation.  It was a very sweet, thoughtful, loving thing to do.  And it is a lovely surprise.  Everything is being carefully dismantled and set aside to await their final fate.  Most materials will be re-purposed for the house or projects around the farm – a greenhouse, chicken tractors, a wendy house, repairs to the milkhouse… Or whatever else we determine we need.  The rescued bricks from the unused chimney may be laid out for a patio.  An unused stone foundation from an original barn will be used as a retaining wall for terraces around the house.  That is going to be gorgeous!

The pigs are growing like topsy, and the goats are a delight.  Eight new gals arrived on our farm several days ago, and three of them are giving the loveliest milk ever – and plenty of it.  Which means, of course, that I need to get moving and make some cheeses and yoghurts from the surplus while we work on getting our dairy licensed to sell milk to our CSA members.

Meanwhile, we are still living in our little house.  And that means traveling back and forth every day for farm chores.  Early mornings, late nights.  And Joséphine still wakes to nurse in the night.  Thankfully she drifts right back off to sleep.

But it is those precious intermissions throughout the day that provide me with what our Sophie calls “a piece of quiet”.  A chance to drink her (Josie) in, to delight in our other children, to absorb all that is going on, and to reflect on how terribly blessed we are.

My St. Benedict crucifix:: A first plaything for each of the last three children

Dependence. Trust. Love, unconditional.


I hope you are well.  Leave me a message to let me know how your family is keeping.

{Making a Home} Original Details

Exquisite.  Lovely.

I want to share some of the original details of our beautiful old house.  In their current state.  Before they are restored.

There is a particular beauty in the subtle decay.  It’s hard not to have a great deal of respect for a house that has stood so long – and so well – in the face of utter neglect.  If houses were sentient beings, I’d say she was waiting for us.  That she knew we were coming and held on until we arrived.

From the dining room, which will be grand.  Trees outside the house will be felled to allow more sunlight from the east and south.  Walls will be freshly plastered and painted.  Wood work will be gently stripped and re-painted.  The ceiling will receive a new {antique} chandelier.  A sparkling bauble worthy of a grand lady.

The built-in china cabinet in the southwest corner

An old brass knob. It will be cleaned up and polished, then replaced later.

The craquelure is lovely to me.

V-groove paneling on the sides and back of the cabinet will remain largely untouched.

Light and Dark.

This mantel has been living here in the dining room, but rightly belongs to the living room next door.

Beautiful woodwork requires very careful stripping of the paint so as to preserve the delicate detail.

Some of the stripping was begun by the previous owner. We are considering sending pieces out to be done - mostly because of the probable lead content.


More details from other rooms will come.  We’re enjoying giving you the Grand “Before” Tour, and are looking forward to unveiling the “After”!

{Making a Home} Un-Making

Our contractor’s crew begins this week.  So this weekend our crew got to work with demolition of the interior walls.  It’s such a shame to see it all go.  All that work.  Laths nailed by hand into place.  Hundreds.  Thousands.

And century-old plaster.  And real paper wall papers.

But all must make way for new wiring, heating, and plumbing.  For walls with fresh plaster and paint.  The millwork will be preserved and restored, denuded of paints and shellac.  Floors will be carefully stripped, smoothed and revived.

But for now, all is rubble and dust, and heat.

Carrie and Will sweep up dust and debris.

Pleasant sunlight streams through the tall windows

Brian works on a ladder to carefully remove elderly plaster and lath

Layers of paper fall away

How neatly the laths were set in place - angled in this corner, straight on the other walls

A pile of ancient laths wait to be taken outside to the skip

And plaster mingles with bits of antiquarian wallpaper on the floor

{Making a Home} Views From the Farm

Ask the children, they’ll tell you.  Every time we cross the town line I can’t help saying “Pinch me.  Do we really live here?”  The views are breathtaking.  One of these days, I’ll take my camera out and about so that you can see the rest of town.  These were the views from the farm yesterday.  Glowing with the last rays of the evening sun.  Truly a land of milk and honey.

Looking over the pond from the barn

Vines embracing the west wall of the barn

Looking west to the pines through the west door of the barn

Peeping through the trees to one of the fields where sheep and goats will be grazing soon

Black birches stand at the far end of the field along with a handful of maples and poplars




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