Blogging feels like something out of the distant past, doesn’t it? (And yes, this website is still broken and using stock photos, agh.) But there’s something to be said for having a written record, especially of the big life-changers. I treasure my word docs with my old Fit Pregnancy blog posts documenting my pregnancy and Tuck’s first 18 months. Poor Ellie has been relegated to a lengthy note on my phone, but I do update it regularly.
Regardless of audience (I assume there isn’t much left!), I think I should try to keep track a bit of the journey we embarked on last fall. B and I had long discussed staying in Cambridge long-term and investing in a weekend house outside the city instead of trying to buy a single family in town. We planned to start looking next year, but of course whenever we had a conversation about the idea we started looking on Zillow, and somehow in the late summer we got really obsessed and actually went up to NH one day to see a crazy old place, and we were basically spending every evening on the iPad combing through listings in a big semi-circle around Cambridge.
In mid-September (the 14th, actually. I still have the email filed) B forwarded me a Zillow link to a huge house full of ridiculous details. I replied, “Gorgeous and close but $$ and not sure about position…” and he wrote back, “Worth seeing? Only 1 hour away.”
We closed December 16.
Of course it wasn’t simple. It was a messy estate sale; vacant 6 years (though heated throughout that time). Six siblings, including one who did everything in her power to prevent the sale. We agonized, of course. The house and grounds need a lot a lot a LOT of work. (We got a new roof put on before we even closed!) But in the end it came down to a few things:
-The only other bites were from developers, most of whom wanted to knock the house down and put up a bunch of houses on the….
-25 ACRES OF LAND
-1 hour from Cambridge
-Unmuddled, very solidly built house with all the original details (molding, floors, glass knobs, built-ins, back stairs, everything) intact
We couldn’t pass it up.
So here we are, three months after closing, and the house looks worse than it did. My brother Tom is living there on and off and helping with the work–I got to help him demo the kitchen a few weeks ago. The electrician is currently 1/3 of the way done, has been paid 3/4 of his estimate, and is at almost twice the estimated time (oops). The contractor is hopefully starting next week. I’m in a huge panic over all the decisions that need to be made. But in the end I pray it will be worth it. The woods are stunning. Tom found a perfect place, about 10 acres back by the brook, where he plans to build a shelter and maybe a wood-fired sauna. There’s a carriage house full of treasures (including a rowboat) and a collapsed barn and a rocking horse in the basement.
Here, have a few peeks:
Front hall, before and after Tom stripped the wallpaper (the plaster is mostly in amazing shape):
Treasures from the carriage house:
The woods in the fall:
The kitchen right before Tom and I started demo (one of the only areas that had been touched, as far as we can tell, since the house was built. This 1969 special was a real treat):
The kitchen yesterday:
The house yesterday, getting ready for the first day of spring (note green astrovan, Tom’s sweet ride during this project, and total muddy swamp in driveway):
I have trillions of photos, most of which I need to get off my phone. If you want to see more, feel free to poke through the ones I did organize into a set on Flickr right after we bought it. (Complete with wonky video tours!)
And if you’re curious about what I’m thinking, I have many Pinterest boards labeled “Country House.”
Thank you, by the way, to Daniel Kanter of Manhattan Nest for his many kind words of wisdom and encouragement as we started down this road. Daniel and Max, as well as Anna Dorfman from Door Sixteen, were hugely inspiring to me when it came time to commit to a big renovation on a weekend place!