February 18, 2012

'BEFORE' and 'AFTER'~my old New England house~PART ONE

Today I begin a series of posts that have been in my mind for quite awhile. (*There is a link to PART 2 at the end of this post). I live in a house that was built in the 1700's in a quiet hamlet in New Hampshire. I will not go into the exciting adventure of my coming here alone from the midwest and buying the shabby, run-down house 15 years ago, for that tale is told in past posts here on this blog, as most of you loyal friends know.
 ---And there are a few more---you'll just have to grab a cup of tea someday when you have some time, and read all my old posts if you are interested~

For lo these many years I have worked ceaselessly and with utmost affection and dedication on restoring this venerable old house and bringing it back to life. I say, not without a certain amount of pride, that the lion's share of this was done over years when I was broke and alone---no husband or partner to help me, and no pot of gold or hidden treasure to help facilitate the restoration. My efforts have been rewarded with recognition and kudos from literally tens of thousands, my little brown house having been featured in several books and national magazines. But by far, the best part of it all was the satisfaction and feeling of accomplishment I felt in my own heart when I looked around, feet up, sitting at 'my own snug fireside' in my ancient warm, shining, and pretty house, smiling and thinking of how all those long years of endless work and trouble were so worth it...So, the purpose of this series of posts is not to re-hash for you how I came to be here, but to show you what I faced when I drove those 1000 miles years ago, embarking alone on "the big adventure of my life"~ 
Over the next few days and weeks, I'll share with you one DIY-er's remarkable journey, through BEFORE and AFTER photos of my home...I hope you will be shocked and amazed, and a little proud of me too.
So without further ado, PART ONE~  
(This is the very first time I have ever published BEFORE pictures of my house). 

"I have made a connection with the flow of time..."~
So begins a quote I wrote on the wall in the entry, and which is still there. (You can read the rest here on my blog in a past post).When I bought it, the house was painted a lackluster cocoa with hideous RED trim. NO wall or garden in front, and later NOT original, nasty 'sidelight' windows flanked the doors. The door was a cheap, thrown-together batten door.  The phony, "colonial" driveway lightpost had to go!
Ugly '60's outdoor lighting, and none of the pretty gardens I later put in...(And the back was even worse.) I have scraped and painted, repaired old windows, brought in a dumptruck of dirt to fill in at the front of the house along the original huge granite block foundation, and planted historically correct perennials there over many years. I built the stone wall right out in front of the house with rocks I hauled alone from my own property. 
The one in front by the road Adam and I built. (Thankfully the other stone walls I have were old, and have been here for ages). I can't even begin to chronicle the work I did on the exterior alone from replacing rotten clapboards to repairing windows, trim...everything...

BEFORE~(Just after I moved in)




Porch after

When you entered from the porch entrance, as every one does, this was the first room you walked into. Yikes! The blue nearly knocked my socks off the first day I saw this house. (All furnishings were those of the previous owner; these picture were taken the first day I went to see the house.) They asked me if I would like to buy some of their furniture...uh, no thank you... I don't know what this old room was being used for---some sort of sunroom or breezeway???  The walls are old shiplapped boards, but needed some work, as well as new paint.  The crummy woodstove was vented with the OIL furnace, (uh oh, boom!---better not use that until there was a separate connection and flue...) The bookshelves someone added later were pure 1950's 'ugh' with the scalloped trim. And then there was the horrible sheetrock closet in this room under the attic stairs, with it's bare bulb hanging down...I had my work cut out for me, and this was just ONE ROOM.

Holy freaking cow...and it only got much worse from here~




This "what the heck...???" room is now our period taproom, complete with a 1700's cage bar, and sometimes called an 'ordinary' in the 17th and 18th centuries. It is now well-heated with a most lovely, efficient, and  cozy woodstove. Enjoy the difference~

There was a nasty, under-the-attic-stairs closet in that "blue room". Now, it is a most wonderful and charming 'buttery'.
I took the door off the closet and created a primitive buttery years ago without spending any money whatsoever, using all 18thc. materials I salvaged, including all the c. 1750 boards used to panel the room. I even put in the diamond paned window that I found in Ipswich Mass. I spent only $16., and that was for the iron rosehead nails. The buttery is in the now-taproom. Hard to believe that it was once an ugly sheetrock closet with a dangling bare bulb.



***SEE ALWAYS-UPDATED photos of our home are always on our website TOUR page~

These are pictures of my kitchen the way it looked when I bought the house. Some of these photos were taken the day I went to first look at the house.  What can I say? They will surely curl your hair. It has old board walls that were about all I left; the rest was a 'gut job' I did myself. The countertops and floor were  slanted, and the cabinets so out of whack the doors would not stay closed unless latched. There was no dishwasher until I put one in. It was truly hideous from top to bottom~

I tore out the cabinets and 3 different eras of floors, and 2 subfloors. I spent one whole day on my knees just shimming up the floor before putting down a new subfloor. Later, we put down a wide board wood floor over that. There were no baseboards or window trim in the kitchen when I came. I tore out everything except the old wood board walls, and started from scratch...
Amazingly, the tiny kitchen looks much bigger now than it did then when it was white...I am a gourmet cook, and LOVE my little kitchen. It is very efficient, and I can easily turn out wonderful meals for us and our guests. 





In future posts I'll be showing you the BEFORE and AFTER of the rest of the house, and just when you probably thought the BEFORE couldn't get any worse, get ready, they do...See more 'before' and the amazing 'after'~


***Take an always-updated HOUSE TOUR HERE~



Richard Cottrell said...

I am so thrilled to take this tour, I wish I could be there in person, so you could hear the sounds of joy. My favorite is the buttery under the stairs. I have an old buttery in my basement, as the kitchen, pantry, storeroom are all down there, Actually there is 3 pantries. I will have to send you pictures or do a post. What a wonderful transformation. Richard from My Old Historic House.

annie said...

I love your home, esp the windows and your sink. Please share more!

Julia Brown said...

Wow! You have done a spectacular job! The house looks so much better- I'm sure your neighbors were thrilled! :-) It's so nice seeing a very historical looking period house, that is still in use in such an authentic way. I'm looking forward to seeing the rest of the house! :-D

Historical Ken said...

I wasn't a follower when you wrote your "How I got here" posting...might you provide me a link?
Your house is absolutely beautiful, by the way. Like Richard, I wish I could visit in person.
maybe one day...

An Historical Lady said...

A wonderful comment emailed to me by a dear new blog friend that I was able to meet last summer~


An Historical Lady said...

Dear Richard,
Aren't you a doll, as always! Thanks so much for the compliments. I love your house photos too.
Wait until you see the rest! The BEFORE photos still to come are unbelievable!!!

An Historical Lady said...

Hi Annie,
Thank you!
PART 2 in my little series will be coming by and by!
I think you will be amazed when you see some of the REALLY DRAMATIC before and after photos still to come!

An Historical Lady said...

My little house is in our small 'historic district'. Most of the homes have slowly been fixed up by people moving here to get out of Massachusetts, etc.! I think my neighbors do indeed love this house. They stop and look, and always have nice things to say. Strangers stop their cars and take photos! I have seen this over and over...
makes me feel pretty darn good.

An Historical Lady said...

Hi Ken,
Thanks so much. You are so gracious. I have now put a couple links in the post. I have more, but have to find them. I will add them when I can.
I also added a few more photos.
I think everyone will be truly flabbergasted when they see some of the BEFORE photos still to come! I live here, and sometimes even I can't believe I did what I did!

An Historical Lady said...

Hi Catherine,
Yes, it was an unbelievable TON of work! Wait until you see what is still to come!
Thanks for always having such nice things to say,

Time Traveling in Costume said...

Thank you for this tour and history of your pretty little house. I've always fantasized doing the same thing but to a Victorian or Craftsman. I shall have to be happy with an armchair travel through other's efforts sadly.

Texas Mom said...

I, too, look forward to more before/after pictures! WOW! :)

ctlogcabin said...

Oh My ... I'm late to the Before & After Party ... but I Love it so. What a Great Eye you have Mary !! To have been able to see what "could be" and then to have the courage
to take it on and make it the Beauty it now is.
Hats off once again.
Waiting for the Part Two.
Blessings & Hugs ~ Connie xox

Miss Nicole said...

You are living the life, madam! I'm sure this was a long, tremendous labor of love! But look at your charming house now! And what inspiring photos!
It's been a recent dream of mine to live in an historic house and have it done up and furnished in a splendid historical fashion! I've been downright stalking a few houses lately -- I'm determined to live my dream! (After I get a car, which would be after Grad School, of course.)

Thank you for taking us on a tour and offering such a delightful glimpse into your historic home.

Miss Nicole