Inside out

So…we moved.

FullSizeRenderAll My Sons did a great job moving us…and agreed that it would be easier to just carry the trampoline a few blocks than to try to disassemble, move, and reassemble it.  

But just because we unpacked and the blog went silent for a month doesn’t mean the house is “done” (far from it). It just means it’s done…enough.

It also means we went on vacation and stopped thinking about the house for a couple of weeks, which was actually wonderful.

IMG_0453IMG_0350The beach is our happy place.

But now it’s back to reality…

IMG_8481.JPG

…and it’s time to get the exterior work across the finish line.

There’s still plenty to do on the interior, but interior construction is over. So everything interior is on the design side at this point. Design will go slowly, and I’m OK with that. I don’t want to rush… I read Marie Kondo’s books this summer and – although Joe thinks I’ve lost my mind – I’ve gone all KonMari on our space. We’ve spent too much time and money to fill this house with things that don’t bring us joy.  And, frankly, we need to wait for the piggy bank to fill back up (side note – I changed jobs this summer and was technically unemployed for a bit).  So I’m actually enjoying a moment of minimalism. But those are all posts for another day…

For now, we’re focused cleaning up the exterior brick, repairing some of the trim and areas around the windows, and painting the trim (the paint work already done on the top right corner of the photo above is a sneak peek of what it will all look like when it’s done).

The trim is metal, so we have a very talented metal worker custom-making new metal pieces to match the old. As those pieces get made, our exterior guy, David, is placing them on the house.

IMG_1197IMG_1095IMG_1196

David has also been here a few days a week prepping, cleaning, repairing, and getting the brick and trim surfaces water-tight and ready for paint. He’s having to fill in a lot of gaps and rebuild some of the stone window sills. It’s slow, tedious work. But it’s coming along.

We’ve also had our gutter guy, Travis, doing his thing with the gutters and downspouts.  Despite having a relatively new roof, there were about 3-4 spots where water was coming in the house. Amazingly, Travis fixed them all (no more downpours in my bedroom!). He also put on some pretty snazzy copper-finish downspouts.

Alan came back to finish out some trim on the windows we had to re-size and replace in the kitchen and downstairs bath. When we were trying to decide what on earth we were going to do with the blank space left at the bottom of the new windows, I came with the idea of using some of the scraps of tin tiles that we pulled off of the upstairs ceiling. Alan did just that, and I think it is going to look really cool when painted. And I love that we were able to keep a little bit of the house’s history.

You can click through the slideshow below to see how he cut and fit the tile pieces in…including a close-up and a pic of the nearly-destroyed ceiling that we pulled the tiles from.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We’re hoping that the bulk of this work is done in a month or so, then we can move on to getting the yard whipped into shape.

We’ve got our work cut out for us.

Onward!

 

Unpacked

As moving week/weekend winds down, I’m kind of feeling all the feels. 

We still have a long way to go…but it feels pretty surreal to be (almost) unpacked and finally living in the space we dreamed about for over 2 years. 

My body is tired, but my heart is filled with gratitude for the friends and family who watched the boys during moving week, all the folks who have already brought food & wine & friendship to our new space, and – most of all – for my husband who has an uncanny knack for seeing hope and possibility everywhere…even an abandoned old house in the middle of northwest Missouri. 

Cheers to new beginnings, friends!

Welcome home 

Our housekeeper and friend, Kim, and her husband Mark gave the Off Center Revival it’s first top-to-bottom cleaning in awhile, so Joe and I decided to take a little quiet walk through before moving day chaos descends on us tomorrow.

It’s amazing what a good cleaning and a few moments of peace and quiet can do for the soul.

No time to get too fussy and edit photos – movers arrive first thing in the morning – but I’m too excited NOT to share a few (unedited) snaps of the space.

But my favorite is our very first housewarming gift…a perfect little note from Kim & Mark.

img_7249

Welcome home.

The whole staircase

“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase” – Martin Luther King, Jr

Today, we finally got to see the whole staircase. 




It’s been a LOOONG time (at least a decade or two…maybe longer) since these stairs have been refinished, cleaned up, and touched up. This was the very last thing our trim carpenter, Keith (and his wonderful wife Karen) did for us. 

It’s basically the woodworker’s version of a mic drop. 

3 sleeps ’til moving day.

Floors, part 3

The downstairs floors are finished.

We deliberated over a color for days, but ultimately went with Dark Walnut. It’s perfect.

We’re moving in next week, people.


Floors, Part 2

Upstairs hardwood floors during sanding. 

I’ve said many times before, the woodwork was one of the main things that sold me on this house. But by “woodwork” I mean the trim – baseboards, door casings & headers… Truth is, I was never too sure about the floors. We knew we had hardwood everywhere, but with the house abandoned for almost 10 years they were so dirty (and some covered up with carpet) that it was hard to see what was there.

As with everything, though, we wanted to save what we could and we really thought we’d be able to save all the wood floors. Sadly, the downstairs wood couldn’t be saved (you can read Floors, part 1 for more on that). But, luckily, the upstairs floors were salvageable.

One big surprise about the house was what good condition the upstairs floors were in. It’s really astonishing given the stories we’ve heard (and evidence we found) about the roof leaking for years (decades?), to the point that the ceiling was almost totally rotted out and you could see daylight through the ceiling & roof.

IMG_9358These were the ceilings in the upstairs landing when we bought the house. Just a little reminder of how much water had come in…we also had a nice family of raccoons living up there, too.

Somehow, these old pine floors survived all that and, just last week, All Star Hardwood Flooring worked some serious magic and brought them back to life.

Here are a few “before” pics I took, the day before they came. The floors were about as clean as they’d been since we bought the house. So this was truly a best-case “before” photo shoot.

And now, the “after” shots. Because pine can get splotchy when stained, we went with a natural finish which meant we didn’t get to pick a color. The finish just brought out the natural tones and variation in the wood. So it is a little more amber in some places, more yellow in others, and more brown in some spots.

Honestly, it doesn’t look anything like I thought it would. And I love it even more than I thought I would.

As I write this, they are sanding the downstairs hardwoods which are new oak floors and will be stained a medium-dark brown. I’m convinced they’ll be showstoppers, too, but won’t have nearly the personality of the upstairs floors.

Downstairs floors are set to be done early next week. Then, as far as interior stuff goes, we’ll be down to finish trim, a final punch list, and a top-to-bottom cleaning.

We scheduled movers, but I’m not going to share the date yet for fear of jinxing it.

I’m not superstitious, but not taking any chances.

Onward.

Bringing the house back to life…one baseboard at a time

One of the things that made me fall in love with this house – and ultimately go along with Joe’s hair-brained scheme to buy it – was the woodwork. It is beautiful, mostly unpainted, and full of character. Much of it is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. When we bought the house, we knew we wanted to save as much of it as possible (chips and all).  We also knew it would take a special kind of trim carpenter to “get” our vision for the project, and have the skill to bring the old woodwork back to life while creating new pieces that look like they could have been there all along. We found that in Keith, a retired wood shop teacher from a neighboring small town.

After Keith basically worked magic when he refinished our doors, we knew he was the one we wanted to do the rest of the woodwork and trim. Although he doesn’t fancy himself a “trim carpenter” per se, he agreed to become ours (with a little coaxing).

Once the walls went back up at the house, I was extremely excited. But I was also a little anxious that in gutting the house, we had also gutted the character. As much as I love some of our new finishes, I didn’t want a new house (as I’ve said at least a thousand times, if I wanted a new house I would have built one…and it would have been faster and cheaper). But once Keith started putting the old trim back up – and even creating new pieces – that anxiety went away. We have been so lucky to find so many talented folks to help us with this house, but Keith is the one who brought it back to life.

First the old stuff.  This all got pulled off the wall during demo. Keith has cleaned it back up and pieced it back together and figured out how to fill in strange gaps and weird angles. It’s almost 140 years old, and it is chippy and full of character and I just love it all. As usual, you can just click on any pic below to view it larger.

 

And the new stuff. Most of the bedrooms either had no trim (or rotted, totally not-full-of-character boards nailed to the wall). There was a piece that needed to be replaced in the dining room and a bar cabinet that needed to be trimmed out and stained to look as built-in as possible. And, of course, we added two bathrooms and a large opening to the kitchen. So there was lots of trim that needed to be created. Two of the most “WOW” moments for me were:

  1. When I saw the trim Keith created for the large opening between the dining rom and kitchen. That was totally his idea, and I think it looks like it could have been here 134 years ago.
  2. When I saw how he trimmed out the bay window in our bedroom. It is simple white trim and may not look like a “WOW” moment to you, but that window was an ugly MESS when he started…and he made it beautiful.

So, in addition to being a heck of a nice guy and extremely skilled, I’m now convinced Keith is an artist.

Cheers to you, Keith.

img_6656

Shedding a little light on the subject…

The moment I knew we needed help from a designer was the moment we started trying to put together a lighting plan. Not only did we have to think about how much light we wanted/needed, but also where we wanted lights placed, switch placements, dimmers…and fixtures. I actually sort of enjoy the design side of things and I don’t think I have a horrible eye, so I probably could have problem-solved a room or two on my own. But an entire house was just too much. And lights in a house felt a little bit like shoes for an outfit…it seems like a small detail, but can make or break the whole thing.

Sadly, there really weren’t any cool, save-able fixtures in the house when we bought it. And the electrical had to be completely redone. We were starting completely from scratch.

So lighting was one of the first things our designer, Erin McKenna, jumped in to help with. And let me tell you, she was a lifesaver. I’ve posted several posts and pics with our light fixtures, but haven’t ever done a specific post about lights yet. And lately it seems I’ve had a lot of folks asking questions about our lighting (especially the chandeliers you can now see from the street). So here is a round-up of all the fixtures (with links) we chose for the house, expertly installed by our awesome electrician, Owen of Minutemen Services.

Entry

This French beaded chandelier is probably the most “period” style fixture in the house. In fact, many folks who have seen it have asked if it were original. I was a little unsure of this one initially – it’s a little bit “traditional” for me. I tend to gravitate more toward industrial and/or modern design. But I love the look in the entry and the burnished brass is perfect.

IMG_1646IMG_0858

Over the bar, we have a crystal flush mount fixture. We also used this same fixture in the downstairs bath. It fits perfectly, and I love how it reflects flecks of light. I’m thinking about replacing the basic bulbs with pink or another color just to add something fun. We’ll add crystal knobs to the bar to mimic the crystal in the fixture.

IMG_0994

Dining Room

We chose a pair of crystal chandeliers (which match the flushmount lights under the bar and in the downstairs bath) for the dining area. The table will be centered underneath them. I love the drama of the two and how the light reflects, especially when it’s dark. We’ve got these on a dimmer, which will will be a fun way to control the “mood” of the space.

IMG_0847IMG_0870

Kitchen

The globe chandelier was definitely a more industrial, non-traditional choice for the kitchen. Joe was a little on the fence about this one at first, but I think it’s grown on him. I love it (industrial!) and think it will be even more perfect once we’ve got our tile done and appliances installed…next week (sneak peek of the kitchen tile & trim in the second pic)!

IMG_0983IMG_0992

Bathrooms

Starting with the downstairs bath…this is a small, full bath but we wanted it to have a sort of old-world, powder room feel. The ceiling light is the same crystal flush mount that is over the bar, and we mounted a brushed brass single tube sconce on the brick wall (this will be next to a mirror hung over a pedestal sink).

IMG_0990IMG_0991

The boys’ bathroom has pretty simple fixtures. We chose a chrome double tube sconce hung horizontally over the mirror, and a simple schoolhouse light on the ceiling. Because these are in the boys’ bath, they are pretty cheap and I can’t even remember where we ended up getting them…probably Wayfair or Houzz.

IMG_0996

In the master bath, our original plan (as pictured) was 3 double tube sconces, with 2 mirrored medicine cabinets centered over the sinks. As I’ve already posted, we didn’t get the cabinets and countertops designed properly for that (totally our fault), so the center sconce will go and there will be one large mirror between the two that are left. The ceiling fixture is silver with seashell-like glass circles.

IMG_1000img_5294

IMG_1007.jpg

Upstairs hall

One of my favorite light fixtures in the house is the “explosion” chandelier in the upstairs landing. This will be my primary office space and a general work/reading area for the family. We’ll probably follow the style of this light with a little more mod decor in that area.

IMG_0811IMG_0839

In the hallway, we just did a couple of simple single sconces with linen shades. Right now, only one has a shade on it because the other will get smacked with the attic door…and that’s still in fairly regular use at this point.

IMG_0995 2

Master bedroom

Last but not least…the master bedroom. We mostly did recessed lighting in that space, but we did install a pair of brushed brass swing-arm sconces. The bed will be in the window, so these lights will serve as bedside lamps. These are actually a knock-off of the more expensive fixture our designer suggested, and I sort of hate the shades (but plan on replacing them…maybe with black linen).

IMG_0841IMG_1006

If you’re wondering about the boys’ bedrooms and the downstairs bedroom/playroom, they just get basic ceiling fans with light kits. Those were backordered and just came in, so no pictures. But they’re not that exciting anyway.

Trim work is wrapping up and tile is being laid right now. Next week, it’s plumbing fixtures, cabinet hardware installation, and clean-up in preparation for hardwood floors refinishing the week after.

We’re almost there…

Off Center Anniversary

Exactly one year ago today, Joe and I signed the papers to buy a very old (and VERY abandoned) house on a tiny piece of earth in the middle of the USA.

We might have been a little bit crazy…but we’re not afraid to bite off way more than we can chew.

It’s probably not the most financially sound decision we’ve ever made…but it’s one of the most fun.

To be sure, there have been highs and lows, stress and excitement, weeks of monotony and several unexpected surprises… But I can honestly say I haven’t spent even a second of the last year feeling sorry that we took on this project. And I’m happy to say that we are getting pretty close to the finish line (at least on the inside).

In honor of our very first Off Center Anniversary, I dragged the fam over to the house today to recreate some of the photos that we took during those very first days after it became ours. I created a little “before & after” mosaic below, with all the “before” images in the left column and the “one year later” images in the right column.

As always, you can always click on a photo to open the full image and to to see it larger & in more detail.