Room Renovation: Project Update


I posted back in January about a three season porch that we decided to convert into a working office/guest room/studio space in our 1875 carriage house. We do not own this house, but with my background, the homeowner and I are working together on the project since I suggested that the space could really be used for more than housing some plants in the summer. This truly is a labor of love with my husband hanging insulation, the homeowner and his friends painting and doing all the finishing work, and me running around with a notebook and pen acting as project manager ordering supplies and keeping everything on track. I also run around with paper and pen because the homeowner is deaf and this is the primary way that we communicate ideas to eachother throughout the day. I actually do more than 'oversee', that sounds so snobby, I helped cut and install the insulation and did some sanding and painting, too. I'm a DIY girl so I'm not afraid to use some elbow grease, in fact I actually love the physical part of the project because it gives me an opportunity to learn something. I'd never installed insulation until this project, for instance. Last month, we all decided to suck it up and hired a few contractors for the drywall installation and ceiling, but they clearly didn't know how to install drywall in a historical home where nothing is straight, thus making huge errors along the way. In the end, I nicely asked them not to come back because we decided to finish the job ourselves. It's funny, but I should have known better than to hire contractors who show up for the consultation with pages of professional references highlighting all the new home construction projects that they've worked on. Big error of judgement on my part. I should have contracted someone that had experience working on historical properties with uneven surfaces. At least I made this mistake in my own home though, as this was the first historical property that I've worked on. Again, a great learning experience for me. In the end, it set the project back about three weeks, but the wonderful homeowner finished the work himself and things are back on track.

Our goal for the space was to renovate it to include current amenities (electricity, lighting, space heat since we cannot install heating systems for zoning purposes, additional windows, flooring, walls and a skylight) so we could use it for more than a summer porch. Retaining some of the old charm was also high on the list of priorities, like the small window that "Billy Boy" the horse used 100 years ago, some of the beams and posts, and the beautiful 4" thick pinewood on the back wall. There was an original ladder in this space, but we recently removed it before the photos were taken because my husband fell off and broke part of it. He was on his way up to the storage loft above the room (The homeowner is replacing the ladder.) I'm sure this will let many of you down, but we are covering the original plank floor with a high grade wool berber carpet, the same carpet that is in the rest of our home. The home is small, so I wanted to keep the rooms unified. I actually like the carpet, it has those lovely loops, is very durable, and being that it's a neutral color, the room will harmonize with the natural views from the windows, while providing style, comfort and warmth.

If you were in the room, looking outside, you would see lots of green! The room boasts picturesque views of three massive weeping willow trees, a large green backyard with a duck pond, and behind that, rolling fields and apple orchards. The air is sweet during the warmer months when the fragrance of apple blossoms fill the air. We also live near two farm stands, where we walk to every few days to collect fresh fruit, cider, jam, artisan breads, plants and vegetables, many grown or made right here in our town. Here are some photos of Hollis, New Hampshire where we live. we moved up here from Boston, where I lived for 15 years. We're only 45 minutes from the city and the seacoast, and with my parents still living in Boston, we are still close to them.

Notes: So far during the renovation, we found some beautiful old horseshoe hooks and many nineteenth century iron nails with flat heads, some 3" long! If you'd like to see them, let me know.

I hope that you have enjoyed this little glimpse into our home. I'll post some of the 'during' photos tomorrow since some things have changed. We are currently leveling out the floor with plywood since the carpet is scheduled to be installed on April 7th. Then, I'll post more photos over the next few weeks to show you the progress that we're making until the space is finished. As I post, please feel free to ask as many questions as you'd like below under 'comments' so everyone can benefit from our exchange.

(photos: all snapped by moi!)