Friday, December 31, 2010

We've lived here one year...

Or approximately 1/105th of our house's life.

A rich life it's had!  I sometimes wonder about former inhabitants.  What was it like living here when there wasn't a highway between our house and the lake, and you could walk right over there and ice skate (after some laborious shoveling.)

So what has happened in one year?

  • We moved in during a snowstorm
  • Drake scraped every last inch of wallpaper off of/painted
    • the family room
    • the front parlor
    • the dining room
    • the laundry room
    • the sunroom
  • We repaired and painted the shutters 
  • We painted the fence, and stained then repainted the back deck 
  • We POWERWASHED!
  • We repaired/painted the porch columns (then ruined them with duct tape at Halloween)
  • We upholstered some chairs
  • We replaced one major appliance (dishwasher! hooray! thanks mom!)
  • We observed gardening (didn't participate, but watched what popped up-- whoever planned/planted did a wonderful job!  I'm looking forward to the next gardening season)
  • Oh, and we had a baby, then spent 3 months with him in Ohio where he developed a budding appreciation for operetta, bocce, and boxed wine. 
Our goals for this year were to do some of the cosmetic stuff we wanted to do-- the high-impact low-budget projects like scraping wallpaper and painting.  We wanted to make the house feel more like our own, and that meant getting rid of all of the pink and all of the pansies.  (we're still not rid of ALL of the pink, but we're well on our way!)

Goals for this year?  At least one major project.  Either our bedroom, the kitchen or the downstairs bath, as follows:

OPTION 1: Our Bedroom
  • loft the ceiling, add skylights (!)
  •  install wood floors 
  • build a closet 
  • figure out what to do with the drop down staircase from our room into the laundry room/study.
  • Build a four-post bed
  • Re-do the half-bath in our room to include a shower and, if possible, a double vanity (so Drake and his beard hair can have a sink all to themselves)
  • Acquire any furniture at all in which to 
    • a. sit on
    • b. store clothing in
    • c. put books on
OPTION 2: The Kitchen
  • Buy new oven/range top (maybe a double oven! be still my beating heart-- think of the cookies! the cookies!) new fridge
  • move sink to under the window so that those poor unfortunate souls stuck doing dishes have something to look at
  • paint the cabinets, and install new pulls
  • Knock out half of the wall between the kitchen and dining room to install a bar on the dining room side (this is a very exciting project!)
  • Install new wood (?) floors (the original floor exists underneath the linoleum, but it's not in good enough shape to preserve, so we'll have to use it as a subfloor)
This is a *huge* project, and I'm betting it won't happen this year... but I guar-un-tee you that we'll be removing our country-kitchen wallpaper and painting the kitchen some sort of neutral shade.

OPTION 3: The Downstairs Bath
  • Install HE Washer/Dryer in large closet (which means our current laundry room becomes a 4th bedroom/office.  SCORE!) 
  • Put in subway tile halfway up the wall and porcelain hex tile on the floor (this is an awesome period detail for turn of the century homes that will look beautiful!) 
  • Put in a clawfoot tub
  • make a new vanity out of an old sewing machine table
  • Loft the ceiling and install skylights.  
This project is very appealing because it means that we can convert the laundry room into a 4th bedroom.  

OPTION 4: Hire an Architect
Our house has a very strange layout and we're thinking that a total overhaul of the floor plan is necessary/impending.  As much as we'd love to hop right in on these projects, we probably had better wait until we have a long term plan.  Chances are that the architect could also help us create a rolling plan too-- where we might not do all the work at once, but can do smaller projects as we are able that all work towards the end result.  Because, what good would it be to create an awesome Master Suite when you have to walk through the nursery, or descend a pull down attic-ladder into the guestroom to enter or exit?  again.  bizarre layout.  

How helpful you are, blog!  Until I wrote this all out, I really thought that option 1 would be the most likely big project for 2011, but now that I've written it all out-- I think that hiring an architect should really be our first priority.  The only project that we could really do without fear of having to redo when we rework the floorplan is the Downstairs Bath.  It's an add-on to the house that couldn't really be anything else-- though, actually it could be a guestroom/office.  It's certainly large enough, and when it's lofted with skylights, it will be beautiful!  

So.  An architect it is....

Happy New Year, all!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Some of the halls are decked, and here we are just sitting in them not sharing...

This happened weeks and weeks ago. Things got festive!


 Drake got out the uber-ladder (Werner multi-purpose 26 foot) and climbed up to the top of the front of our house to string lights.  I am the worst light-stringing/ladder partner that a man could ever want.  Imagine the worst kind of back seat driver-- now imagine that you're 20+ feet in the air.  I tried to warn him as I foresaw this happening.  I just don't have the calm and steady nerves required of a ladder holder.  Rowan, kindly grow up quickly so that you can help your dad with this.  I'll be inside making hot cocoa and baking cookies.


I made Rowan a stocking :)  It ended up being smaller than Drake's and mine, but I can always re-felt it when he's old enough to notice such things.  I cut the felt "R" out free-hand!  Our printer was out of ink and I was very eager to decorate.  

You can see the tree in the sunroom through the dining room (we have three :)


Here's the Living Room tree, (tree #2) with some lovely glass ornaments from our dear friends the Lussiers.  They were a wedding gift and now we're finally able to use them.

I'll have to get some shots of the outside of the house too-- we have a tree on the front porch as well as an old-timey sled with a bow and (tragically) a pumpkin which still hasn't made its way to the trash... ha!

Not bad for our first Christmas!  We're thinking that we'll add a little bit every year till we are totally decked.  We just did lights on the front of the house and the porch this year.  Next year, perhaps the whole thing!  I think we'll also add a couple lighted wreaths next year-- one on the front porch and one over the garage.  Almost all of the houses on our block have candles in the windows, so that may be an option too.

On a side note, I'm so glad that I was able to sell Drake on the idea of a porch tree!  at first he was not at all on board, but he came around.  I'm going to start planting the idea now of 6ft tall elves/nutcrackers to go in between each of the columns on our porch (which are wrapped with red ribbon to look like candy canes this year)

Merry Merry, everyone!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

I upholstered a rocking chair

There I've posted it.  No time to actually type about it, but here are pics!




Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Weekend Project: Sunroom

The sunroom is/was one of the most enchanting spaces in our house.  You may remember these pictures from our final walk-through with the realtor:


The former owner had made it a "hat room."  I thought it was very cool, and in a way very Victorian, to have your collections on grand display. 


For months now, it's just been a holding pen of things that Rowan has outgrown.  Not any more!
Do you remember that the ceiling was covered in fabric (that was torn?)

Well, we took it in a TOTALLY different direction....
First we caulked.

Then applied the first coat.  Are you scared?

 After the first coat was paused and thought... "too much?"  Then we went ahead and applied the second coat.  We decided we had to just commit to it, move the furniture in and live with it through the winter.  If the orange proves to be too much, why we'll just repaint.  We also whitewashed the walls, so everything is fresh and glowing (literally.  When your ceiling is orange, everything glows.)

So here are some peeks.  I need a different lens to give you a better sense of the room, but in the meanwhile:
The entrance.  I'd like to get a sheepskin throw for that chair.  Wouldn't that be cozy?

The Webster's alphabet cards line the window rail.  They were supposed to go in Rowan's room, but they've ended up belonging here instead.  Some of the drawings are just wonderful.  Very fun to have turn of the century curiosities staring down at you.  And I don't think they look very "child"-ish, do you?

Our new-to-us yellow velvet button tufted couch and carved game table (the built in cribbage sealed the deal)

Gives a *slightly* better sense of the couch

We bought that mini door when we were singing in Brazil.  It's been under the stairs waiting for a home!

Also, it was Halloween!! (that's our salad spinner.  Ah, the irony...)

Our other wreath blew away, so I had to promote our backdoor Halloween wreath to front door status.

HUNDREDS of Trick-or-Treaters!  I was ill prepared.  One of our neighbors stopped by and called us rookies :)  Just wait till next year.... 

Monday, November 1, 2010

Before and After

I found this:


Pastoral, but not quite my style....


Spent a few days saying "should I paint the frame white?  I'm not sure if I like the wood...."


Painted it white, and I love it :) It's in the nursery now where it belongs.  (Not yet on the wall, though... all things in time)

Friday, October 29, 2010

Weekend Project: Surprise Baby Shower




got to knit some little girl things... oh boy!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Some History

I've been eager to learn more about our house-- about the original owners, and about the many different renovations it has likely undergone.  With that in mind I stopped by the Senior Center to see if I could track down anyone in the Lake Orion Historical Society (my e-mail had gone unanswered, and something told me that the Society might not be terribly tech savvy....) Enter Mr. Mike Sweeney who stopped by my door one Friday morning with a short verbal history of the house.

From him, I discovered (or rather, confirmed) that the original occupants of the house were the founders of the local newspaper, the Lake Orion Review.  He also promised me two photos-- one of the original owner and his wife and one of the front of the house.  AND he assured me that the house was not built in 1895 as we originally thought.  It was almost certainly built between 1901-1905.

Then just yesterday he came by my door with the photos and a statement written by the Historical Society

 The Neal House

Journal Entries record the earliest date for the property on which this house sits as 1861.  In 1873 the three lots were sold by Oscar M. Delano to Ann M. Emmons for $150.  These lots passed through several hands during the next 28 years. 

In 1901, William E. French bought the lots from Harriet S. Tinker for $600.  There is evidence that he built this house sometime between 1901-1905 for an unspecified amount of cash and a mortgage of $1500.

John A. Neal, the founder of the local newspaper was living in the house just to the south and, having prospered in his business, took the opportunity to move his family across Jackson Street to occupy the new home.


John Neal continued as editor and publisher of the "Orion Review" and his son George H. Neal became associate editor and manager in 1913.  When John died in 1925 his son George took over the newspaper.  John's wife, Addie, continued to live in the home until her death in 1935.  George and his wife, Aurora, then moved into the house.  Aurora Neal took a very active role in publishing and editing the newspaper which by then was called "Lake Orion Review".


George Neal died of a heart attack in 1946.  Aurora, determined to carry on the newspaper tradition, continued to publish and edit the paper, and to live in this house.  She hired Hamiln W. Robinson from Kansas City, Missouri to assist her.  They were married in 1947.


Since the death of Aurora, the home has been fortunate to have caring owners.  The lovely porch was the site of a full military style wedding in the 1990's and has a reputation for its immaculate yard and gardens.  The current owners continue to care for this home, one of the most beloved in the village. 






Thursday, October 14, 2010

And then my heart burst.

More in the line of sweater modeling.  This time a baby-daddy sweater day.


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Nap Project: Black Candy Striping

I started out with the Halloween decor a couple weeks ago, and I loved the idea of candy-striping the columns.  Here's what we ended up with: 

Pretty cute, BUT 
1. I couldn't stop looking at the chipped paint all around the porch trim.  
2. Those orange stripes?  Streamers.  It rained. 

So the wheels in my head started turning, and this happened:


But Alta, you say, You can't Duck Tape freshly painted columns!  
(See this?  This was our half way before/after shot of fresh paint.  It's now finished:)



So in a moment of creative multi-tasking genius, I decided that first I would roll out the duct tape on the carpet, thereby achieving total KO of it's sticking power AND vaccuming the floor ALL IN ONE! 
Brilliant!  So we went from this:

to this:

It ended up taking about 5 yards of unstuck duck tape per column, and it was a 20 yard roll, so I have one left to tackle.  Next up, I'll replace the spiderwebs.  They had to come down for the painting :)