Friday, November 14, 2014

The Big Project is Finished!

I received two amazing and wonderful gifts for my 50th birthday, and I'm humbled by them both! I've wanted to share them for some time, but have saved unveiling them because they were both more in the form of "promises" than concrete, gift-wrapped objects I could show off with a picture on my blog.

Until now.  This gift, the one closer to home, is a reality!  Check it out!

When we arrived here at our new house, we used this little structure in the back of the main house as storage, stuffing in a lot of the overflow from the moving trucks.  It was unfinished, nothing but studs on the inside, with insulation, some pretty scary wiring, and a neat little "Hottentot" wood stove somewhat incongruously decorating the back wall.  The exterior walls were dirty and peeling, the attached dog pen was filthy and full of debris, inside and out, and a big dead tree limb hung precariously over the roof.  But at first glance we knew it had potential.

By my actual birth date, on the eleventh of September, the kids had cleaned everything up for me as a gift, moved out the flotsam and jetsam, and made a little study area with my desk and a few other items.  It was a lovely surprise...  but just a hint of things to come.  Dominic showed up after a bit, wanting to finish off the project properly. So, we all put our heads together, consulted Craigslist, and came up with the idea of using inexpensive recycled fence pickets for paneling the interior...  We found some at a great price, and got it delivered for free, and, with chop saw, hammers, and nails in hand, the kids were off and running, finishing in record time!  These guys don't fool around.  And, I have to say I was as accommodating and encouraging as a gift recipient could be, too...

 It ended up being a wonderful job!  We're all enjoying it already. Here are some of  the specs:

General Contractor:  Dominic 

He saw the vision, and was excited by it from day one. Taking the simplest materials on a shoestring budget, corralled his siblings, turned them into construction workers, and created the coziest little masterpiece of comfort and sweetness imaginable.  Better than any of us imagined in the beginning.  It was Dominic that worked out the chief method of how the paneling would be fit in and nailed, did all the trim work, and rebuilt and made beautiful a door that most would have junked.  He also trimmed the dead branches out of the tree overhanging the little house -- and accomplished numerous other feats of amazingness I can't begin to recount.

Construction Minions:  Cathy, Anna, and Theresa 

Though, Theresa was out of town through a good chunk of the project, she made it back in time for the finish work and painting, she and Cathy became proficient working with the chop saw, and, with Dominic's lead, helped cut and nail in a couple hundred pickets to form the paneling in the little house.  Anna did a lot of climbing around in the rafters, nailing boards into the apex of the ceiling - because nobody else fit up there as well as she did.  The girls also scraped the exterior of the building, helped paint the whole thing, and ably and enthusiastically assisted in working out the arrangement of the interior.

Go-fers and Clean-up Crew:  Gabriel and William

Without complaint (or, at least very little), the little guys toted and carried and passed wood, nails, hammers, and snacks throughout the whole process -- and always ended up being scrap-boys at the end of the day, cleaning up the construction site.  Gabe also learned how to wield a hammer and did an amazing job cleaning up the roof of the old dog pen and nailing in all the loose exterior nails.  And, when the big kids were outside working and Mom needed a hand indoors, these guys were Johnny-on-the-spot, washing dishes, helping with meals, etc.  They were just as invaluable in their role as all the big kids were in theirs!

Banker and Finisher:  Dan

A very very key player, Dan provided the funds for the whole project out of a meager bank account, and in the few hours he had at home in the evenings, rebuilt and trimmed the windows, cut tons of wood for the wood stove, and constructed the most important piece of "furniture" in the place: the bookshelves!

Design Team:  Mother and Daughters ...

The girls and I got to draw upon the resources of over 25 years of accumulated bits and pieces, moved from house to house to house over the years to decorate the finished product...  And now we know why we didn't get rid of all this stuff!  Everything fits perfectly and seems as if it were always meant to go in our little cottage. You can be sure we're not finished with it, yet, though...  We'd like a bigger rug, for instance, and I haven't made curtains for the windows yet, or finished the bulletin board we're fashioning out of an old red screen window.  We also want to "dress" the daybed with more pillows and a quilt, and I'm sure that, as time goes by, we'll think of other things to add... For instance, we're already dreaming ahead to the little garden we want to plant around the outside, with clematis or climbing roses and trellises...

The Cost
 Because we already owned practically everything we needed for this makeover, the outlay of money was minimal.  We had an electrician come in, inspect the wiring, and rework the old fuse box
Money?  What's money?  Who needs money?
How we did it with very little.
to make it safe; that cost $75. We got two pints of trim paint for less than $25, and a couple new paint brushes and rollers, for less than $10.  The paneling we created out of used cedar fence pickets, all of which were purchased for around $200.   Then there were nails -- a slew of them, but that didn't cost a lot,  less than $10, I'm sure -- and new lighting, which came to less than $30.  The  5 gallon drum of paint for the exterior, a nice muted taupe, we got for free from someone on Craigslist -- and all the other furniture and tchotchkies were already ours.  So, all told, with free labor (if you don't count feeding the crew and having hot apple cider always ready on the stove), the whole thing came to less than $350.

But, all the love and care that went it to it make it priceless! One of the two best birthday presents EVER!

Thanks again, Team.  I love you guys!

*Details coming on the second birthday present, I promise...  But, it's a sort of delayed gift that is still in rather the planning stages, and, to be honest, I'm still savoring it, myself -- holding it close to my heart for a little while...  But, no worries.  I never keep a secret for very long! I should be so secretive, huh?

1 comment:

Maria (also Bia) said...

Oh. my. goodness. Lisa's Writing Cottage. LOVE it. Really. Also slightly envious ... in a good way, of course!