A Year ago

About a year ago, we spent a weekend filming two short videos with Trulia. It was a wet, rainy, raw weekend, and we were really in the thick of renovations. Our kitchen had walls, and that's about it. Our living room was stacked to the ceiling with stuff. Our second story had floor joists, but no subfloor (and a piece of plywood covering a neglected broken window). All in all, it was a mess!

I recently rewatched the first video and thought it would be fun to take some screenshots and show how far we've come in a year of working only on the weekends & doing everything on our own (with generous help from family & friends, especially my dad).

KITCHEN

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Our new, raw pine floors were down, and I was putting primer on the fresh drywall in preparation for our kitchen cabinets to be installed the next weekend.

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After removing the original (damaged) plaster ceiling to help reinforce the second story floor joists, we realized we would be able to expose the original beams. During shooting, we started the process of installing shiplap between the beams.

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We still need to add trim & baseboards as well as one or two open shelves for glasses and dishes. Our custom cabinets by Block Brothers Cabinets are such a gem in this house, and I could not love them more. They were designed to honor the cabinets we, unfortunately, were not able to save.

FRONT DOOR ENTRY

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Every surface of the original wood floor was covered in at least three layers of paint. This top red layer was the hardest to remove. A rented industrial sander eventually did the trick.

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While we were able to get down to the raw wood in the entry, it was really worn. We decided to put on a coat of white -- we used Benjamin Moore "Snowfall White" -- to match the rest of the trim & living room cabinets. Super easy & cheap rug from Amazon, and a plant resting on a plant stand I found in the house years ago (can you tell how crooked the floors are in this photo!?)

MUD ROOM

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Dishes, chairs, mailboxes, & lighting fixtures -- oh, my! We repainted this mailbox and threw it back out front. The rest? In storage, being used, or given away.

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We painted the floor to match the kitchen using Benjamin Moore's Sabre Grey. I did a color match to the original trim color. We'll be re-opening this old door to have this function as a real "mudroom" and main messy entryway to the house. This door will open to the backyard, close to the driveway, and is located in the the right corner of the house if you're looking from the yard. The open door you see in the above photo goes to the second floor of the house (it's closed in this photo).

LIVING ROOM

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Generations of things were left behind in our house. We piled everything into the living room, because it needed the least amount of work, and allowed us more space in the rooms we were bringing down to the studs.

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We repainted the ceiling & cabinets Benjamin Moore Snowfall white, and the walls BM Nantucket Grey. We stripped 5 layers of linoleum and 5 layers of paint off the original hardward floors and stained them with Minwax Early American. We slept in the living room for three months when we moved in, but recently moved our bed to our semi-finished upstairs, and finally bought a couch. This room has amazing natural light and we love spending our time here now that it feels like a real home and not a temporary bedroom!

I am looking forward to doing full room tours for each of these spaces once we are a little more settled but wanted to give you a nice sneak peek at what we've been up to over the past year and since we moved in!

For more throwback footage, watch our original Trulia interview below:

Goodbye, Boston

Three years ago to the day we moved into our apartment on Trescott Street, my last in a long series. The first had been my dorm on Huntington Avenue, then Darling Street in Mission Hill, then Battery Street in the North End, then Forest Hills Avenue & Perkins Street in Jamaica Plain, then Strathmore Road in Washington Square, and then Buttonwood Street in Dorchester.

I moved to Boston in 2005, a month shy of my 18th birthday to attend Massachusetts College of Art and Design. I never meant to stay for twelve years, but life marched on so steadily and strangely that all of a sudden more than a decade had passed. I met my husband the first week of school, dated for a while, then became best friends and languished in indecision for quite some time before deciding to do the damn thing. We got engaged laying in bed on Buttonwood Street, and married on the coast of Maine almost ten years after first meeting.

In between, I lived with my sister, very dear friends, and alone in a tiny studio apartment where I had to move my bed a little bit so I could open & use the oven. I studied abroad for a semester, threw parties with my sister in our two apartments that brought together friends from several states, graduated college, got my first real job, mourned the death of my mother, dated a neighbor, struggled with the noise & traffic of the city.  I used my sister's license as my own for an entire summer before turning 21, I ran home in a thunderstorm on the Fourth of July after seeing people get struck by lightening, I drank green beer on St. Patrick's Day, I had a Christmas tree decorated in empty beer cans, I made Easter brunch, I cried with joy at the Pour House watching President Obama's first election results come in.  I sheltered in place during the Boston Marathon bombing manhunt, to later ride bikes down a virtually empty Boylston Avenue, to eventually watch the stand off over a pitcher of beer and pizza. We thought about leaving but jobs held us here, time kept going. I spent a lot of time being angry at people wearing backpacks on the T, walked through the Common in Springtime,  rode along Carson beach during sunset. I watched my closest friends get married, move away, have children. And we remained.

Last year we put the wheels in motion to jump ship. A slow moving leap, as we made sure the water was a little warmer before we plunged. And now our feet have just hit, and we're going in fast. After two years of driving 250 miles each way to our house in Maine, it won't just be our house in Maine -- it will be our home. A home that we share with generations of my family members going back to 1850. An honor that we have worked so hard to achieve.

I am open and shy of what is to come. I am leaving without any regrets, and an urgency to be away from the city. But it will always the place where I really grew up, and for that I am forever grateful. So long, see you soon.

Living Room Mood Board

When we started renovating our house over two years ago we focused on the parts of the house that needed immediate demo -- the kitchen, dining room, and downstairs bedroom/office. To make room for that, we piled all the house's furniture into the living room. There it has sat -- until last weekend! We cleared it all out and and now I'm getting excited to decorate. Here are some basics I'm starting with.

 

1.West Elm Diamond Stripe Wool Dhurrie 2.Benjamin Moore's Gentlemen's Gray 3.Benjamin Moore's Hale Navy 4.Farrow & Ball's Inchyra Blue 5.Florence Linen, Light Gray 6.Example of Original Cabinet Hardware 7.Schoolhouse Electric Brass Planter

To balance the room's abundance of natural light and large white built ins, we are thinking of painting the walls a deep moody color and keeping gray and white neutrals throughout the furnishing. We have so many thriving plants in our current apartment and can't wait to move them into this room & buy even more. It's the perfect setting. We saved the old wood base couch that was in this room, and after stripping the musty old upholstery we'll be making our own new cushions. I love the softness of a light linen tweed.

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I am obsessed with this wall of built ins, and luckily my dad saved the original hardware. The cabinet latches have a beautiful intricate pattern on them that is so unique and beautiful. Once we sand it all down and give it a fresh coat of paint they're going to look like new. The room's trim is currently a buttery white, so we'll update it with something much more stark and bright.

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We pulled up four or five layers of floor coverings to see the original floors and are hoping to refinish them ourselves in the next month or so. Underneath the linoleum coverings were even more layers of newspaper and wallpaper -- the wallpaper has stained the floor a light blue color. Depending on the condition we'll stain them a rich auburn color, or paint them white if they're in bad shape.

Heating is going in soon as well as sky lights & insulation upstairs. I'm working on a floor plan for our second floor and I can't wait to show you!

Reflecting

The dawn of a new year inevitably makes you reflect on what you've done with your most recent trip around the sun. It's the most perfect measure of time, a true beginning and end. I try not to give much weight to resolutions and promises and "best of" moments as we count down the clock, but wow, this one really was a doozy. It's hard not to take a deep breath this time and think, "holy shit, we made it." At the start of this year I was motivated, hopeful, working a lot, planning a lot, optimistic we would have a house that could be lived in by August. Haha, oh my god. Well, these past twelve months have given me an extreme dose of patience testing, learning to say no, learning to say, "it's ok," learning to yell. I haven't been very good at these things before.

 

We willed the early winter to go by quickly, to let the ground thaw and temperatures to hover above freezing at night. We waited anxiously to hear good news on our home equity loan application. It was necessary for us to afford working on the house at the rate we wanted. In March I toasted myself with cheap champagne and danced around our apartment kitchen when I received the official email.

In late April, the day before his birthday, my husband was laid off from a great job, one we were staying in the city for. Rug out from under our feet. We cycled wildly through thoughts -- do we move now? Do we stay? If we stay is it for another year...two? We decided to stick to our plan of staying in Boston for one more year with Brooklin still on the horizon for June 2017. And we got to work.

From April to November we did not spend one weekend at our apartment. We went up and down Route 1 to I-95 to I-295 to I-95 to Route 3 to Route 15 to Route 175 late at night and before the sun rose. We sacrificed attending birthday parties and baby showers and spending lazy afternoons at the beach or weekends camping for plaster demolition, wallpaper stripping, lugging hundred year old wood from one spot to the other, sanding, painting, nailing, planning.

We had fun outside of the house too -- we rewarded long days of work with jumping off rope swings into ponds under pink sunset skies. We spent the Fourth of July unplugged on Swans Island, jumping into the frosty ocean from the rocks and swimming to shore, climbing out of the waves with seaweed in my hair. I traveled to northern California for work, went through the redwoods in a big van with an Algerian reggae band. I listened to them sing Bob Marley as we drove past miles and miles of twisting vineyards. We went to Philly and walked through the sweltering center of town with our old roommate, looking at the Liberty Bell through a window reflection because the line was too long. Spent a gray New York City day with a dear friend in a spa drinking wine and talking about everything imaginable - most importantly, remembering her dad and my mom. Traveled from Portland to see Leon Bridges to Provincetown to see Trixie Mattel in the same weekend with my sister. Met my oldest and best friend's first baby when he was four weeks old, already smiling. Walked through trails and marveled over moss and ocean all over the Blue Hill peninsula and Deer Isle. Sat in the kitchen of our house, huddled around a space heater, drinking bloody marys with newfound friends.

These cinematic memories are what got me through the rest of the year. I also got let go from a job, something I was trying part time and thought might be the solution to my career ennui (nope!). I didn't get another job, writing for a hugely reputable design blog, after making it through the first two rounds. I struggled with the stress of renovating a home that represents six generations of my family's history. I beat myself up for not knowing what to do with my life. I procrastinated. I drank a lot of wine, watched a lot of reality TV. I got angry with how long everything takes. I stood in our kitchen, stripped to the studs with no ceiling, and cried while saying, "I hate being in here." I watched my husband build an amazing new career for himself and felt lazy as I admired how intensely hard he works. I felt impotent seeing many close friends go through heart wrenching personal tragedies. I sat in a cubicle with no windows three days a week, battling apathy and boredom at my steady non-profit job. I sobbed with my co-workers on November 9th. I got red with anger and yelled (something I've done maybe three times, ever) while trying to communicate with my husband while planking a ceiling. I felt useless, unmoored, sad. I felt indecisive and frustrated.

It has been hard. It has been tiring. But I feel immense pride for what I have accomplished personally, and what I've accomplished alongside my husband. I feel thankful for the blank slate that will appear before me in a day and a half. I feel thankful for the strife that was peppered in between success this year.

2017 will be a big one. We will be leaving a city we have called home for the past eleven and a half years. We will be moving to a home that we have saved with our own two hands. We'll travel, we'll turn thirty, we'll surely hit huge road bumps. I'll be pushing myself -- to work even harder, to pay attention, to be an activist, to be a good friend, to be a good homeowner and neighbor, to say "no" even more, and to yell at least one or two more times. I'm ready.