If any of you were wondering where I have been, I have been buried in a couple of messes. One seems to be on the mend. It will be a lifetime of work, but at least the two people involved seemed to be engaged in making it better. I am not going to share too much about this right now. The other is a very stressful messy situation that I am loving….. yup, loving. We decided to work on the house and fix a few things. Any of you who own an older house know already where I am going when you start to do repairs on an old house.
This is a picture of the place. Two years ago, I had the house painted. The color was supposed to be a blue grey. But, it turns different shades in the light. It is so pretty as it shifts much like a bird’s feather does….which is appropriate because the colors are those of the great blue heron. The house is called Heron Hill in honor of my favorite bird from my favorite place, The River.
So we have a funny house. It was built in the early 1950’s as a prototype for houses in Florida. It was environmentally designed before “eco” was cool. The oversize windows were at one time the state of the art in thermal panes. Kept the heat out or in and let in the light. As time and weather has played havoc on the custom build frames, they are no longer air tight, to say the least. But the light in the house is magnificent. There is a cement floor porch that faces south. The windows let the sun heat up the cement in the winter and the trees block the sun in the summer, keeping the cement cool. It was Bishops favorite place to lay on a hot day. The house is cement block which breaths, stays cool in the summer and warm in the winter. The house is built into a hill so the front corner is two stories that face north. The rest of the downstairs is in the hill and only the top floor is exposed. There are long thin windows near the ceiling that let in natural light so it is not claustrophobic. The top floor walks right out to the back yard. It is hard to explain but it is ecologically sound with the plantings and trees. I do not need air conditioning in the summer, except in the bedroom. And in the winter, if I put up coverings on the windows my heat is under $150.00 in the coldest times.
Last year the project was to work on taking down an old swimming pool in a rotting deck. I wrote about that project all last summer. It started very small and spread to a complete re-do of the whole back yard. It turned out beautiful. Thanks to my Aunt, who passed away last winter, the funds to support the work became available. It would have pleased her to no end to see the garden. She and my Uncle were avid gardeners.
This year I asked John, our genius landscaper/electrician/carpenter/ all around handyman to work on a few things. It started with replacing the downstairs toilet and sink to a complete redo of the utility room, bathroom and my husband’s study. Turns out the existing plumbing was not up to code and I sort of knew it. It is a long story but when I bought the house I had the inspection done by the realtor’s choice. He lied so I would buy the house. Anyways, it is fine. So they are putting in a nice bathroom and fixing the main stack and clean out. It has backed up many times and was fixed but I knew it was temporary. This work will give me piece of mind. We redid the utility room to make it practical and safe and give us more space. Tomorrow they will jack hammer the floor and then replace the fixtures and stuff. Once that is done, my husband’s study will get new paint and a new floor that looks like wood but it is tile especially made for basements. We had to clean out the study a big closet and some of the garage for storage. It is dusty dirty work, but we worked together and got a lot done. The “we” is part of the other mess I referred to in the beginning of this post.
The other thing I wanted was to redo the upstairs bathroom. It was done in the 80’s maybe and the tub is original to the house and turquoise. I hate to part with it but it is scratched and very dated. I want a walk in shower and it will make the bath more accessible for us old farts. Again, what started small is now a complete re-do. There is a new vanity which we got as a steal. We had a brand new toilet installed a few years ago as the turquoise one cracked when I poured hot water in it. The old vanity which was smack in the middle is going into a new alcove which was derived from taking a vanity and sink out of the spare bedroom. Again, it was a nice feature for a guest bedroom, but not essential. And it too was turquoise. So the spare bedroom now needs to be refinished, but I am not going to get to that probably this year. We are doing a ceramic floor and new lighting fixtures in the bath room. My theme for the room is based off some gorgeous border paper I bought years ago that have herons on it. So the accents in the room are colors picked up off the paper that will go in there. I am taking pictures so I may post them.
Then the last project and was the precursor to any of this was the kitchen. The wall mounted oven is on its last legs. The door is about to fall off and the countertop stove has two temperatures: incinerate and off. They are both olive which gives you a hint as to how old they are. John (I have a lot of guardian angles named John) was going to work on it last year, but the weather broke early and he did the garden instead. So we are putting in a state of the art stainless steel range with a big convection oven. I have not had such a nice appliance in all of the 37 years I have been married. I am used to tiny ovens. This will be so cool as we both like to cook and I like to bake. The floor is also going to be replaced with ceramic tile that is grey planking that almost looks like barn wood. The wall oven spot will become a pantry and we will have a microwave over the new stove. It will be very glamorous. I left the cabinets alone as that would be very expensive. The cabinets are actually very retro now. I am going to get new counter tops as the old countertop stove will be gone and we need to cover the hole.
We have a few other things like lighting fixtures and a new thermostat to add to the work. It has been fun picking out stuff. John actually found some incredible deals like the vanity. But the shower was expensive so it evens out. On top of all the new work, we are going through and tossing stuff out. John is a big recycler and will haul away anything we give him. That alone has been great help.
So this project is going along with the house cleaning and repairs I am doing on myself. I am throwing out old things that are not essential or beneficial. I am improving the old ways and replacing worn out concepts that do not work for me. All in hopes of more comfort and peace.