The shed of inspiration – part 1

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before

before

Many Vermont properties have outbuildings built for practical reasons such as garden tools, animal supplies, whatever. They certainly add to the charm of the landscape. Our shed is fairly simple and probably not really very old, maybe 20-25 years. But I have big plans for this one.

Along with everything else on our small property, this shed needed some work. Peeling paint, messy windows, random hooks all over. Fortunately, the roof is in good shape and it is built on a concrete slab which is intact, although cracked inside. A good coat of paint was all it needed. We decided to save some money and do this one ourselves. It took about 7 hours – one beautiful, sunny, not humid VT day.

We decided to go with something besides white. Thanks to Benjamin Moore -again – we found the perfect historic color “Puritan Gray”. Also, the product is a parimer and paint in one, seriously cutting down the steps. H was in charge of the clapboard, I did the trim in bright white.

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Now, I know the rustic, distressed look is in. As I was working on the windows I contemplatd leaving them rough. However, it is not really good for the wood which needs to be protected or it will rot. So on went the paint and some caulk to seal the windows (a fun job with a caulk gun).

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The door, however, was left alone. The chipped and peeling paint is just plain charming and as a nod to its history, I decided to leave it as is, for now.

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after

after

The only question remaining is, do we rehang the (very rusty) horseshoe? Comments are welcome.

As for the interior, the plan is to clean it up and turn it into something more. We need to gear up for that, as it’s going to be a big project. Stay tuned…

SUMMER!!!

I’m baaaack.
FINALLY here for an uninterrupted time. Time to finish up lingering projects and begin some new, bigger ones.

The threshold is done and looks great.

The picket fence is installed and adds so much character and charm. I have to compliment H on the vision for that one.

The herb garden is going crazy and the veggies are getting bigger by the day.
I am going to save a bunch of cash not having to buy herbs. Just have to find some uses for mint… mojitos, mint juleps.

Window boxes are hung and the flowers love their location.

We are crossing many small projects off the list – things that no one would notice but make a difference to my eye every day. For example, the window sills, many of which had no paint left and were dirty and peeling, got a coat of exterior paint. The stairwell to the basement was really dirty, and now is painted bright white with a few yellow shelves and door trim. This seriously reduces the creepy factor every time I have to get a paint brush from the basement. Now if I could just get H to sweep out the cobwebs…

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the garden

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DSCN3444This is the year of working on the exterior and landscaping. From the beginning of this project, H has been talking about a garden, and he has vision when it comes to yards and gardens. It is in his blood.

To one side of the garage is a fairly large, sunny, grassy space. This unused and hidden spot has turned into a destination in our yard.

His first priority was to put in a vegetable garden. H built raised beds and planted one with the requisite tomatoes, along with peppers, zucchini, spinach, kale and lettuces and the smaller one has herbs. A variety of large sunflowers were planted against the garage, and I really hope they grow. He created – which means digging out grass and adding soil – a bed for a cutting garden which will sit in front of a picket fence.
The fence will be attached to the side of the garage to enclose the area and add architectural interest. (Doesn’t every cottage need a picket fence somewhere?) This is a work in progress. We bought the PIECES for a fence, which needs to be stained (not a task I had on MY list), and then assembled.

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Also, from the street end, through this garden, the shed is visible, so he put up flower boxes under the windows, which draws your eye all the way towards the back of the property. The area between the garage and shed is becoming our “sculpture garden”, with Matt’s metal work and Kristen’s plaster cube from college making us smile. The plan for that space (well, my plan) is to one day build a pergola and create a private, shaded sitting area with reclaimed stuff.

Several containers were filled with flowers and vines which instantly creates color, beauty, and a feeling of summer.

And, of course, there is the usual lawn mowing, trimming of bushes, weeding and dead-heading.

This all sounds rather simple when listed here, but it took many man hours of labor, several trips to the garden center, and lots of bucks. I often ask H if he is happy working around the yard, but he doesn’t really need to answer. You can see it in his face, in the enthusiasm and energy he has for this type of work, and in the satisfaction he shows when a task is done.

small jobs add up

It’s been a busy spring at DWR. Lots of little jobs, and a few big ones as well, preparing for the summer season. The weather has cooperated with just a few rainy days. The time goes so fast with so many things always to be done.
Then there was the trip to the Country Living Fair in Rhinebeck, an amazing event with everything you could ever want for a country house. A bit overwhelming actually.
We came away with a few more projects for me to work on this summer – a medicine cabinet for the bathroom and new paint products wo re-do the kitchen cabinets and countertop. More on those later.

Some small jobs: (done by both of us)

Taking down a gnarly old antenna
taking down a satellite dish and all of its wires
spray painting an old metal bistro table and chairs
buying, painting and hanging window boxes on the shed
lining the heating duct in the floor in the kitchen which showed a rock foundation with serious holes from which I was convinced creepy crawly things would emerge (eek!)
raising storm windows
cleaning off window sills
meeting a neighbor (and giving him the antenna and dish)
cutting down a misplaced, overgrown bush
buying a bird bath
cutting brackets for shelving in garage
and of course, mowing the lawn (not my job)

All of these seemingly small jobs have made a big impact – especially getting rid of that antenna!
Everyone is telling us to try to enjoy the place a bit, advice which we plan to heed once summer arrives.

random thoughts – year two

It has been a year since we purchased this project. We were reading the diary I kept last June, July and August and laughed at how crazy we were. Renovating a bathroom, kitchen, powder room within 4 weeks was nuts. We really worked everyday, taking half of July 4th off. Yet, it was very rewarding. This year, we vow to relax a bit and enjoy the house and yard and Vermont itself and keep the projects smaller. So far, that hasn’t happened on the weekends we have been there.

Sneakers: year two
Who would have thought that Target sneaks would make it through many seasons of use indoors and out? They got new insoles, but the laces and all are intact.

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SPRING!
Spring in Vermont is gorgeous! The largest lilac bushes – trees really – I have ever seen. Tulips and daffodils everywhere. Tiny wood violets in white. Lilies of the valley! The grass turns a lush green. The birds are signing like crazy. The spring peepers are chirping in the brook. The frogs are sending mating calls in the pool!
Vermont is underated in springtime.

spring projects – the front entrance

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We were so anxious for the weather to turn so that we could get outside and get to exterior projects left undone in 2013. The weather in early spring in Vermont is so changeable that gardening is not really an option. So we had other things to get done.

The walkway to the front door has been a problem. In all seasons it was a mud walk, especially in the winter and early spring. There were a few stones in the grass supposedly leading up to the front entrance, but they were mostly covered and lead nowhere. It was up to H to dig up the old stone and sort out what we had available, which was not enough. While driving through Bennington we fortuitously came across a stone retailer. We were able to pick up “used” bluestone for a fraction of the price of new. My job on this task was mostly consultant. We planned out the space between stones and H laid out the walk with string lines. He dug a spot, laid a base of sand, and set the stones. I don’t know how he knows how to do all of these random tasks, but this entire house project would be impossible if he didn’t. The path looks great and is totally functional.

This inspired me to work on the front steps. The two steps are local marble and must have been there for a very long time. They have gotten a good scrub, removing green mold and dirt. We need to add another step because the rise is awkwardly high into the house but we have to search for one piece of marble that is just the right size.

The top step leading into the doorway is wood. The finish was cracked and chipped and mostly gone, and there were ugly non-skid strips stuck on. The first step was to scrape off the black strips with a sharp wallpaper scraper which took a good hour of time. Next, I got out my long unused, favorite tool – the orbital sander. Unfortunately, however, the wood is so damaged and stained, that it did not sand up very well. It is blotchy and the pattern of the strips is still visible.
Once again, the question was raised WWND? (What would Nicole do?)- since she is always sanding and refinishing old wood. We decided that she would stain it to blend the grain and stains. I had cherry stain leftover and gave it two coats. I am not satisfied though and think I will sand it again. It is not often that one project gets done at first attempt. But another sanding and some dark stain and sealer should finish it off. Then, the trim needs to be painted…
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Storage and treasures

Storage is always a problem. This means we have too much stuff. From family antiques to books to memory boxes from childhood, we have boxes and boxes of stuff. So organizing the attic space was on the winter project list. An old cedar chest which belonged to a grandparent, I think, came into my possession since no one else wanted it. But I like it. The wood is dark and there are bands of metal (copper?) around it and the inside is entirely cedar with a lift out shelf. In recent years it held the old children’s clothing – which are hanging in the utility room and my mother’s wedding dress. (No one knows why it wound up in there, but it has since been shipped to Florida for her big 65th Wedding anniversary!) Then there are the quilts. My Aunt Edna was a quilter and made several beautiful ones for me, including one that she gave us when newlyweds – which I had forgotten about. That one will be used again. She made some for the girls which I have to keep until they get settled (when will that be?). But the most precious were three oldest quilts which belonged to my parents. I remember these quilts as a child, one in particular was brought out when we were sick in bed. I remember tracing the shapes and finding the matching patterns of the fabrics. They were made by my father’s grandmother, Grandma Franz.

The sunbonnet girl quilt was made for my father when he was a baby something like 86 or 87 years ago! When he was a boy, he thought they were soldiers. Ha, ha.

Sunbonnet girls

Sunbonnet girls

This one was made for my parents as a wedding gift! As I said above, that was 65 years ago!

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This one belonged at one time to my Grandmother.

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The question becomes, how to display them or use them? They are a bit fragile and worn, but I don’t want to stick them back into a box. I would consider restoring them, but what is the appropriate way to handle it? Do you attach new fabric, which doesn’t seem right, or just cut off the old and sew a new edge? I will have to do some research on it. Does anyone out there have any advice??

I am happy to be able to have these “treasures” in my possession. They provide me with a connection to family from long ago, to their traditions and pasttimes. I can imagine the many hours that were spent handcrafting these quilts. I think about the many people who were wrapped up in them.

These thoughts lead to the question of how much to hold onto from all of those boxes. What do I want to pass on forward to my own kids and maybe grandkids that will be deemed special and meaningful?

(P.S. More on storage later…)

the staircase – a winter project

I have to admit that I was on the fence about this one. I struggled with the quesiton of when is it appropriate to alter original wood. We know that the wood in this modest house is not a high quality, however it is pretty old. H was convinced that the staircase needed help. (I invoked the question WWND?, but I think we know what her answer would have been, and we did not proceed that way.) I have to give this one to him, he was right.
Since the stairs are directly opposite the front door and the hall is tight, the dark wood staircase felt overwhelming for the small space. We decided to paint the risers first. A light sanding, primer and two coats of white went on very quickly, and looked great. It was quickly obvious that the ballusters needed to be done as well. With two of us painting on opposite sides, it was fast work. Two weekends and the whole project was finished. The railing, newell post and treads were left natural wood. The steps might need some refinishing eventually, although the wood stands out more as it is a contrast to the white.
It’s amazing how instantly the whole space lightened up and the stairs themselves look wider as the eye travels from railing to steps to trim on the wall.

primed risers

primed risers

finished project

finished project

By the way, have you noticed how popular Rehab Addict and Nicole have become? Told ya.

February in VT

We are spending the long President’s weekend, plus a few extra days, in the house. It’s been a month since we were up here, and I enter the house each time with a bit of trepidation, waiting to see how it is holding up during this very cold and snowy winter. We have been pleased to find everything is intact and working. The power has not gone off. The heat, fortunately, comes up quickly and is enough. Given all of the drafty windows, doors and cracks in the floors I expected it to be colder. I hope I am not jinxing things.

We are seriously on hiatus from working here. We have several small projects that could easily be done in a day or two, but we haven’t lifted a finger! The Olympics are a huge distraction. Gotta watch all of those fantastic hockey games, most of which are on at 7:30 in the AM, with a hot cup of coffee and PJs.
Jigsaw puzzles are addictive and good red wine puts a nice fuzzy lens on everything.

On the other hand, I have read a book, updated this blog and, most fun of all, have tried out our new snowshoes. On a beautiful, sunny, 30 degree day we put on all of our new outdoor winter gear, learned how to strap on the shoes, and went down the street to the golf course. Luckily, someone had already been snowshoeing there, so we were able to walk in their tracks, helpful with about 2 feet of snow on the ground. It was a lot of fun, a great way to get out and play in the snow, and not any more strenuous than a good walk.

So we are just enjoying being here for a change and thinking ahead to spring projects. In the meanwhile, I’ll share some winter photos.

snowshoes at the golf course

snowshoes at the golf course

tracks

tracks

a walk up the hill

a walk up the hill

ice at the quarry

ice at the quarry

major icicyles everywhere

major icicyles everywhere

indoor activity

indoor activity