March 7, 2012

My old New England home in BEFORE and AFTER photos, PART 3~

Handmade leaded windows we installed in our kitchen.

A BEFORE photo of the dining room looking toward the kitchen. Hideous blue paint. The old paneled wall was covered in shiny Victorian varnish. Disaster. All furnishings, etc., are those of the former owner of the house. This picture was taken the first day I looked at the house.

Here realtors sat at the table as I looked at the house with a friend and antique dealer from Massachusetts who came to give advice as he had been a builder. Yes, my eyes were again boggled by more of that truly unfortunate electric-blue paint, this time in the dining room---yuk.

(OH...MY...GOSH...WHAT were they thinking when they chose this paint color???!!!) 
Here was yet another fireplace also with a non-original hearth, bad patch-jobs, and crumbling and condemned as unusable. At right angles to the fireplace in this room is a wonderful, original built- in chimney cupboard. All the items you see here are those of the previous owner; I took this picture the day I first saw the house.

The fireplace surround is slightly askew due to it's extreme age--which I love, but hanging a weapon over it like this just accentuated it.
The built in chimney cupboard to the left of this fireplace is now our pantry~

 ***See more and updated photos of our entire 18thc. house and period gardens HERE~
Most of this work was going on in December, my first Christmas in my new home. I was alone, but I had already managed to make several friends. My neighbor Nan knocked on the 'formal' front door of my home the day after I moved in. The moving men were due to arrive with the rest of my things, and I was already in the process of ripping out wallpaper, curtains, and all manner of bad decor and chucking it out onto a growing pile of debris in my sideyard.

I had spent my first night sleeping on blankets on the floor in the main room, curled up with my dog, Phoebe, as my bed had not arrived with the movers. I had come in my old van stuffed with lamps, a chair, folding table, and LOTS of tools, so that I could get busy on the house upon moving in.

Now, here stood my neighbor, a porkpie hat on her head and walking stick in her hand, introducing herself. She promptly told me she had come to collect me and walk me around the corner to her house to have homemade chicken noodle soup and sandwiches for supper with her, and would not take no for an answer.
I was dirty and exhausted, but I went and had a grand time.
Nan soon walked over each day to watch the progress on the house. One day she brought Elliot, a painter with her saying I needed help, and could not do all of this alone. I explained that hiring a painter was not in my budget, but they came in, and she waved me aside saying that it would not be that much, and I would 'find a way'. 
For several weeks thereafter, Elliot and I plastered and painted together. Nan volunteered to scrape paint off of hundreds of panes of glass with a razor, after we had painted muntins. I protested saying I would do it, and she said "It's not nice to take a job away from an old person!", and continued scraping.

Soon, we were all a happy little group---me, Nan, Elliot, Glen-the-mason, and his helper, and a friend who worked at the local hardware---(almost my second home!)
I would make us lunch each day, and we'd break from our tasks and sit around the disaster area that was my home, surrounded by tools and construction debris, and laugh and tell stories as we ate.
My friend Joe from the hardware store wisely said "Remember every bit of this, Mary. These are the good old days".
I remember his words now, across the years. He was right. They were, and I do...

Because it was so close to the holiday, some days Nan would show up bearing homemade cookies or some kind of bread, or crackers and chips and dips. I would make my famous, secret hot fudge sauce, and Elliot would run out for a half gallon of eggnog ice cream. Each afternoon we would take a break and have holiday treats together~
Good old days indeed...
Nan puts out our afternoon treat spread while Elliot looks on in the doorway...
'Elliot-the-painter' takes a break to play with my dog, Phoebe. They really bonded, and Phoebe would wander from messy room to messy room bestowing her attention on all our helpers and friends. Phoebe is gone now---(read this post)---a friend to all, and my "partner on the big adventure of our lives".


Please also visit the TOUR PAGE of our website to see updated photos of the entire house to period musick.