Building a Home 7 and Back to the Future!

Looking East from what will be our kitchen

Winter has come upon us here in the Shenandoah Valley, although the Spring-like temperatures of the past several days has everyone and everything simultaneously confused and grateful.

Floor deck with wall frames
Basement walls

Work on our Staunton, VA home has progressed a bit since the last posting. But, a week or so of rain and the arrival of Christmas has slowed things down a bit. The foundation walls are finished, the sanitary system has been plumbed and inspected and much of the floor deck and joists have been installed. Some of the exterior walls have been assembled, but not yet erected or put into place. More materials have been delivered to the lot: roofing trusses, some lumber and the exterior decorative stone that will go onto the foundation walls and porch columns. Most likely, just after the first of the New Year, work will resume at full pace and the exterior walls will be built and the crane will arrive to lift the huge roof trusses into place.

Our Friend Mary Ellen picking out her new suite!
The Redhead on site

Building a home is an interesting adventure. On one hand, because this will be your home, you want the house finished quickly. On the other, you want things done “just so”. What may look great on paper may require a bit of tweaking on-site. And, what seems incomprehensible to a layman begins to make sense once the builders go about their work. Patience, skill, diligence and trust are all required. For us, this is just not another house being built, this will be our home.

One feature of our new home that is a bit surprising is the size of the basement. Yes, it is not quite finished and the heating and other systems have not yet been installed, but, this is going to be one big basement!

Over the past five years or so I have truly missed being able to work restoring and “preserving” antique and vintage American furniture. What was born of a need became an engrossing hobby that became a passion. From beginning in a garage to actually having a store and workshop, finding, researching and working on vintage and antique furniture became one of the most fulfilling things I have ever done. Not being able to work on furniture during our “sojourn” in Florida was a disappointment. But, I fully expect to be able to again get back to my brushes, waxes, glues, etc. in my new basement work-space. Once I have the space up and running, you’ll be able to follow along on my “discovery” trips, finding interesting pieces to restore and the process of doing so.  I, for one, can’t wait!

To see some of my old work and some pictures of the old Redeux Vintage Furniture shop just click here: http://redeuxfurniture.blogspot.com/2010/05/uncovered-beauty.html

The Redhead and I wish all of you a very happy Christmas season and a wonderful New Year!

As always, comments, questions and “Likes” always appreciated and welcome.

Bill

Building a Dream

It’s been one month since we signed contracts for the purchase of our property and the building of our new home here in Staunton, VA.  After nearly a year of searching for the right place to settle, we now find ourselves chomping at the bit for construction to begin on our house.

The first step was to choose the style and design of the home.  Luckily, there are so many designs to be found online that there are probably several home plans to suit just about anybody. The home plan we chose is a single level “craftsman” style having three bedrooms and three full baths. A few modifications were made to the original plan: the floor plan was reversed to accommodate the lot configuration; the living room in the front of the house will become a library; the family room width is expanded by a few feet and the rear facing screen porch will be made into a windowed sunporch. One of my favorite changes is the expanding of the covered front porch from the standard 6 foot width to 8 feet wide and running along most of the front of the house. Our builders are Eric and Amy Argenbright of EA Homes Construction here in Augusta County.

A couple of weeks ago we spent an afternoon with Amy choosing just some of the details of our home: the exterior finishes, types of windows, flooring and some interior alterations to the original plan. Since we had fairly recently gone through a huge remodeling project in our former home in Florida, making some of the decisions was not as difficult as it may have been. We knew what we really liked in our past homes and what we would like to be different in this, our “from the ground up” home. It’s been interesting in coming to decisions that satisfy both The Redhead and me. We both wanted a fireplace. Red wanted a gas fired unit, but I wanted “old school” wood burning. We decided on the gas style since it is cleaner and much easier for Red to have a fire anytime she wishes. In almost every other detail we both had the same ideas.

One feature of the house that I’m particularly looking forward to (besides the front porch) is the basement. Yes, the basement! For it is there that I plan to revive my vintage/antique restoration activity. It’s been over 5 years since my Redeux Vintage Furniture http://redeuxfurniture.blogspot.com/2012/ closed when we moved from Connecticut. For several reasons it never revived while we lived in Florida. But now…yes, indeedy!!  I plan to get going finding and reviving vintage American-made furniture as quickly possible.

The Redhead and I drive to our lot several times a week to look at where our house will sit. We listen to the wind, the just- turning- color leaves of “our trees” rustling in what seems to be a constant, steady breeze coming from the nearby Alleghany Mountains and a variety of birds. We’ve already met two of our soon-to-be neighbors and they just smile when we park at the side of our little road and just sit. They feel the same way about this little slice of heaven.

Eric from AE Homes clearing the way for our new home
Eric and Nick happy to start our home

This past week work was begun on clearing some ground for the house to be built. Just as many trees as necessary will be removed, the rest will stay. Some large pieces of rock will be utilized as part of our natural landscaping plan. Later this week the footprint of the house will be staked out and then construction will, hopefully, begin to progress at a steady pace. I hope you’ll follow along!

Bill

Ying Yanged

(20171016Litchfield CT

For the first time in almost four years I went North. Back to friends and places once familiar. Back to changing leaves and temperatures and shifting feelings. Funny that I chose October, the birthday month, the time for reflection and deflection.

I was not myself. A mood that had crept into me for several months came along for the trip. And ghosts long thought banished popped up for a pre-Halloween surprise.

It is difficult to explain except, perhaps, through metaphor. When a ship sets sail into rough water it had best make sure its ballast and cargo are balanced. Mine was not. My Ying was Yanged. And, like an unbalanced ship, I rocked this way and that. I complained that the New York traffic bothered me, when in actuality I normally couldn’t care less. The heat in Florida is terrible, I complained (what a news flash that was!), ditto the traffic here and the crime 10 miles away. Had I become a kvetch? Oy Vey! 

kvetch

But, what was the problem? It has taken me these past two weeks or so to settle and reflect. The problem is me (Isn’t it always?). I don’t like being retired. I’m not even sure what I’m retired from! From two professions it could be said that I’m retired. A third was more a passion and an unfinished work, one that I thought I could continue here in Florida – restoring antique / vintage furniture. It hasn’t happened for a number of reasons. And, not making excuses, they are legitimate reasons. Truth be told, however, I like working. I need to work, again. Volunteering hasn’t been successful (still trying, though) and my one job experience here was a mixed bag (see my post, Charlie, September 2016).

It was while visiting Tiverton, one of my favorite areas up North that I again visited the weaving studio and shop of Amy Lund. I had met Amy a few years past when I had my shop, Redeux Vintage Furniture, in CT.

redeux store front

While visiting RI we made a “field trip” to see some craftspeople and Amy’s shop in Tiverton’s Four Corners is a favorite. Her enthusiasm and love for what she does is inspiring. It was a treat to visit her again, to see her work and to make a small purchase. If you’re ever in that area of RI stop into Amy Lund’s weaving studio  . 

After leaving Amy’s shop I knew I had to again work. It’s a matter of having a balance in  life. And no one wants to be unbalanced!

20171014 Amy Lund (2) (704x1024)

So, what’s next? Another trip North! Well, kind of North – North Carolina and Tennessee to be exact (not sure if they’d like to be considered Northern States!). We’ll visit friends and view areas not visited before.

Thanks to all my friends up North for their welcome and patience with my “Yanged Ying”. Thanks, too, to HM for her special prayers. And to Geraldine Wahlgren, “that German Lady”, who took a chance 51 years ago this month and opened her heart and home to two young boys. I will never forget.