I Love Lamp: The Farmhouse

Ever noticed that I've never once shown you a picture of the outside of our house? That's because it's been unfinished!

After finishing the work on the motel (gotta do your money maker first!) we hit the house. HARD. And we're still going. I can hear the carpenters whistling to themselves outside my window right now. But we've made some real progress in the past few weeks and it's enough that I'm finally ok with showing ya'll what it's looked like since we moved in.

Actually, we heard from neighbors that it's been un-sided like this for 6 years. Which makes the relatively low level of water damage and rot we've dealt with A MIRACLE.

But anyway! The first step was to figure out which of the extensions were salvageable.

We had like 20 different plans-- keep the upstairs bathroom, ditch it but keep part of downstairs, reframe the whole thing, get rid of it all. Ultimately it came down to the placement of a big ole' waste pipe that would be crazy to try to move, but we didn't even know that until we started taking stuff down.

This project, way more so than the motel, has been a real decision monster. As in, there have been A THOUSAND decisions to make and remake and unmake because the circumstances keep changing. And with the hotel I'd spent so much time and energy planning everything, analyzing the guest experience and how that should influence the design, that by the time we got the house I was kinda like, "Hell, I don't know what I want over here. What do you think Mr. Plumber Man?"

In the end we decided to remove the ancient and rotting 2nd floor bathroom extension that had been added some time in the '60s. It's amazing how quickly some demo can happen. We bathed Waldo in the tub in the morning and after lunch it was gone!

Along with all the other rotted siding as you can see. At this point we had a pretty good laugh at the idea, "And we thought it couldn't look any crazier outside!"

Then we removed a totally rotting, leaking, uninsulated shed-like extension right off the kitchen. There were so many ancient outlets, electrical wires, gas lines, and pipes running along the outside of it, all generally giving Building Code the finger-- it was a real dance to coordinate between all the carpenters, plumbers, and electricians working on the project. Not all of which went well. I had people cursing each other out each telling me the other was incompetent, unethical and all other sorts of stupid things. It was infuriating and uncomfortable but I stood by everyone I hired, asked grown men to act like grown men, and it got done.

On top of it all it rained constantly throughout this whole process meaning a) the guys could hardly get full days of work in so we kept falling further and further behind schedule and b) the whole place had to be tarp'ed like crazy to protect from water damage and it sounded like we lived in a goddamn sailboat with all the flapping and whipping about.

Side note: once the extension came down we were left with a concrete patio. We took this picture that first evening with it after talking about how much living in Mali had prepared us to live with this bizarre mix of no privacy, lots of noise, and developing world conditions. Not to mention the condescending attitudes from men (both accidental and purposeful) towards me The Young Woman which I've experienced working in conservative Muslim places like parts of Mali and Morocco, for which I have zero tolerance in America.

The patio itself also reminded us of this great restaurant/bar in Bamako named--rather inappropriately--Beirut because of its bombed out look. The previous tenants apparently trashed the place after not getting their lease renewed, and the new tenants decided to go for a rough/refined juxtaposition look.

But anyway!

Plywood went up next and we knew we'd been living in a construction zone too long because when we saw this we thought, "Ooh I love it! I wish we could keep it just like this!" Not even kidding.

And by the way, all the while, windows are being replaced and dust and bugs and small animals are all making themselves right at home in our insane kitchen.

The next steps in the back required capping of pipes, reframing over our basement access, repairing soffits, new flashing and trim, all new wrap, plus a thousand other small repairs I can't even sort through right now.

And finally-- FINALLY!--this week the siding has begun to go up. In many ways it's the most straightforward and superficial of the changes, but it's also the most satisfying to see.

We can't help but keep exclaiming, "It looks like a REAL HOUSE!" Neighbors are slowing down as they drive by, even the postman and FedEx guy have told us how good it looks. It's all very encouraging!

After all the siding is done, we'll redo the roof then paint the whole shebang. We're going all white, windows and trim included, to return it to its old farmhouse look. Even all of our trim and cornerboards and such were designed with its former self in mind.

And then...? It's hard to even imagine this property not under construction of some sort. And while I'd love to just enjoy some peace and quiet out here I hope that by the time we finish--if not before--the State will have given us our final permits and the place will be crawling with guests!

Here's to hoping!

(What is I Love LampThis is I Love Lamp.)