I am at my writing desk in the corner of the bedroom, a location chosen because it gives me the best view of the barn — out the patio doors to my right — and of the south pasture — over the top of the screen in front of me. The horses have drifted into the pasture; Andante dozing under the tree, the geldings grazing in a loose circle around her, and the donkeys in a line along the near fence. Boo and Belle are on mowing duty in the back yard. The patio door is open and occasionally Belle sticks her head in, curious, but more interested in grass than my words.
We are in the house. This is a description of a real, not just imagined, moment — though I have imagined it a thousand times, a hundred thousand times. There is still much to do to make this house a home, to settle in, to dress it up in the particular ways that won’t put it in a magazine, but will make us smile and feel comfortable belonging here, to say, yup, this is us.
For five months we camped out in the whole of it, having sold most of our furniture with the house in California; five months to finish the barn and wrestle to the ground our plans for bringing new life to this woefully outdated and ill-maintained structure.
After that, there were another five months spent behind a plywood barricade in two back rooms with all of the dogs and no kitchen while the main house was deconstructed and built back up to a new, improved version of itself. We are on the other side of that barrier now, moved in to the new part and it is the back rooms that are being torn down and revitalized. The smell of fresh wood, the sound of hammering and men working will dominate our memories of this, our first year in the place we are working to call home.
The changes are profound and that is not just me high on saw dust talking. the house screamed for help — screamed with hunter green plumbing fixtures, white (high gloss!) woodwork, and a cavernous, disjointed floor plan.
The kitchen is a complete and utter transformation. Seriously, I am not exaggerating. Here is a glimpse of the “before” of it all:
That wallpaper alone was enough to make me weep (which is exactly what I did during the hours and hours I labored to take it off), the appliances belonged in the land of misfits, and the cabinetry was dull and yellowed. I will let the “after” speak for itself:
We love that kitchen. The dogs love that kitchen. If we are in the kitchen, the dogs are in the kitchen and this kitchen gives them room to do that — to be with.
There are all sorts of new places for the dogs to be with and they have each picked their favorites. Sophie camps out by the fireplace, under the dining table, or behind the couch in the family room. Gracie and Molly, the old ladies, have registered that couch as their new, local address.
Marco prefers the coolness of the tile or wood floors in the main rooms. Monroe has found a nook of her own between the kitchen and family room, when she is not flopping with the big dogs.
And Giada — well, dear, sweet, usually-wet-from-the-pond Giada prefers the bed. Sigh.
We have given in and are waiting for our new waterproof dog blanket from Orvis to arrive so we can all co-exist peacefully with that decision.
There are elements of pleasing beauty everywhere. I love the deep richness of the woodwork which turned this:
Then there was the fireplace….
Which has now become this:
Pictures cannot do the transformation of the master bath justice. Here is the before which I am not making up. (I have to repeat that, because you wouldn’t believe it if you didn’t see it, right?)
All of this was real — the green, the open, double shower, the wallpaper, the strange layout. This space is no longer an open room so I cannot get the full view for an “after”, but here are some glimpses:
And around the corner:
So much done. A whole bunch yet to do, both in the big space and behind the barrier … yes, the barrier. What great and wonderful work is happening back there! I can hardly wait, but hey, the waiting is a heck of a lot easier over here.