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the star of the show, act III

January 22, 2011

And now the big finale, our house.  Here it is from the driveway.

It was about 80 years old when we bought it.  The first change we made to it

was to buy it a new hat and shoes.  Or, in more Canuckian terms, a new toque

and gumboots.  The cedar shake roof and cedar foundation were way past

their prime.  We replaced the foundation first.

The Galvalume roof was installed in two segments due to limited

resources.  The leaky side was replaced immediately, the better

side a few years later.  Our neighbour Sam and his friend Adam

did the second section on a gorgeous summer day.  Here they are

doing it up right.

The guys did a great job, but what a mess they left.

Eventually the house got a new coat, too.  This  is how it looked  when we moved in.

This is how it looks today.  We used HardiePlank fiber cement lap board.  It’s

fireproof, critterproof, reasonably priced, easy to put up and comes with a

30-year warranty.  I told Jude that I only wanted to do this once.

Let’s go inside.  We wanted to preserve as much of the original character

of the house as possible, but had to make some choices.  The floor might

have been the original.  There was a hole in it near the chimney that

might have been made by  people shaving kindling.  But it was a hideous

green, so we covered with bamboo planks.  We took a wall out that went

to the chimney to create a great room.

We considered taking the chimney out because it was no longer functional.

But there’s a great story about it.  Supposedly the man who built the house

hired a skilled stonemason to show him how to build it, then sent him away

and took over.  He and some friends started drinking as they worked.  The

first foot or so of the chimney below the floor looks very professional; but

the higher it goes, the wavier it is and the sloppier the tuckpointing looks.

I have no idea if that’s accurate, but that’s not the point of mythology.  We

love our tipsy chimney.  Here it is.  Everything in the pic except the chimney

has been removed, replaced or refurbished.

Here’s how the dining area of the great room looks.

We had to tear out the outer kitchen wall because of water damage.

We put in a larger window and drywall painted a light color because the

maple tree  and low light in winter keeps the room dark.  We used the

boards from the original wall for the kitchen shelves and countertop.

Jude and I and our friend Lee just finished an island for the kitchen.  The wood

for the top of it was salvaged from a scrap heap at a neighbour’s sawmill.

Here’s Jude sanding.  She is in fact wearing a respirator.

The folks we bought the farm from added a bathroom and family room about ten

years ago.  We had to finish off the top half of the bathroom.

I assure you, there’s not much more relaxing than a soak in this tub.

Here’s the view from the tub.

We had to finish off the top and bottom of the family room.  Here’s

how it looked when we bought it.

Here;s how it looks now.  The vent at the very top of the photo is the only

source of heat for the upstairs.

This is our woodstove.  You can see the corner of it in the bottom

right of the above shot.  It’s an RSF Energy.  It really cranks.  It has

the largest firebox I’ve ever seen.

There’s a wood tray under the stairs of the landing that pulls out thusly.

We fill it in the laundry room below the bathroom.  It mystifies Ollie.

As we head upstairs to finish the tour, I want to stop in the office to

show you the home of  “Anchor Struck”.

Yes, Jude and I really are that messy.  We are horizontally challenged

in that we can’t leave a flat surface uncluttered.  Anyway, what I wanted

to call to your attention is the window.  Have you ever looked at a wall

that desperately needed a window and wondered if you could cut a hole

for one with a chainsaw?  I certainly have.

It went fairly well, although I almost severed our internet connection.

And the trim on the window is wobbly.  So, having done all the damage

I could downstairs, I headed up.  This is what I started with:

This is what we have now:

Here’s the other end, Jude’s sewing center.  We keep the door to the storage

area open at Ollie’s insistence because the mice have had no trouble getting

past our hardware cloth barrier.  Ollie regards this area as his private game


I built in drawers, bookshelves, a headboard above the bed and closets.

Jude’s been a good sport about my underestimation of adequate closet

space.  She gets half of mine and the one in the spare bedroom down-

stairs as well.

That’s our home.  Thank you for visiting.  Come back often.

Please allow me to show you out.

  1. January 23, 2011 5:43 am

    It’s so awesome to see these photos! I feel like I’m there!

  2. January 23, 2011 6:20 am

    Wow! That is an amazing transformation. I just wanted to leave a comment to let you know that I’m really enjoying your blog!

  3. January 23, 2011 8:40 am

    Lovely lovely lovely! I always enjoy seeing “before” and “after” shots of a home remodel, having gone through my own Home Improvement Project from Hell. I’m very much enjoying your blog! For someone who just started doing this, you’re coming across as a veteran!

  4. January 23, 2011 10:14 am

    This is better than HGTV. Thanks for letting us a have peek at your lovely home and property. We are in the first stages of building our new home and even though we aren’t physically doing any of the work, it’s a daunting task.

    • January 23, 2011 10:34 am

      Thank you all, ladies. After service in Vietnam and a sort of career in social work and psych care, it’s immensely gratifying to build something and make sure it stays built. Tiffany, do you have an archive article about the HIP from Hell?

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