Friday, September 19, 2014

The New Heart of the Home

Again, I seemed to fall off the face of the earth. But those that have been reading my blog for a while now probably know that is completely normal for me. In my defense, it was summer. I firmly believe in summers being easy like Sunday mornings, the whole time through. My kids love to have activities and schedules and they really do best with routines, so I let them do some fun things, but for the rest of it, we fly by the seat of our pants. And this summer, that was especially a good thing...as our house had a WHOLE LOT going on.

Phase 3 of West Clover is finally finished. Oh my word. Let me breathe a sigh of relief. For my renovators out there, you know the feeling. This was not my first rodeo and certainly will not be my last, but living through a renovation with children in the house during the summertime was not one of my brightest ideas. From now on, any renovation project will be carried on during the school year. It was hard. It was hard on everyone. But...

it is done. Finished. Complete. And absolutely beyond my wildest dreams of what it could be. I have officially fallen head over for my house all over again.

The project has been over for about a month now but with school and extracurriculars starting, my paying attention to my business that I had to neglect over the summer, etc. I needed some time to breathe. And I did and here I am to share one of my favorite spaces in my beloved house. In case you have forgotten about the old space, take a quick minute to catch up here. I just did and I will be honest, I was in tears. Tears of complete joy and appreciation for such a privilege and beautiful space. It is hard for me to explain my unconditional love for this house (I tried on this post before). I sometimes wonder the power behind the connection between me and this place. But it is there, and I just might say that I think West Clover is starting to love us too. I can see her smiling in this picture right here.


Did you see it too? It is an ear to ear, big fat goofy smile.

I will give a mini tour of the new space, but I firmly believe to appreciate the new you have to know the old. So, just a few to show the absolute transformation that West Clover took this summer. 

You used to walk in the front door to this.


Now, you have this. I absolutely adore how I can see from the front of my house all the way out the back now. I adore the cross-breeze I get when I open all the doors (the flies, not so much) and sitting on my back porch watching the street just makes me happy.


What about walking in from the screen porch? This load bearer (that I had a really hard time saying goodbye to and as much as I loved the idea of wrapping it in reclaimed wood - I don't think it fit West Clover, she prefers her old moldings instead. She's a smart cookie) was the first thing you saw.


While you could see all three spaces, the living room, dining and kitchen...you now get a whole new view of those 3 areas. Kitchen, dining and sitting room - all combined in one. Kind of like a 3-in-1 shampoo. Very convenient if you ask me.

 
And so far, we have gotten every last penny out of that big, fat island already. Who knew counter-top
space was so lovely, I sure didn't. But I do now and that combined with my utter love of my house overall gives West Clover a whole lot of job security if you know what I mean.

You also now get a glimpse into the mudroom from the screened porch. This is a room I have wanted for quite some time. I am slightly kind of fairly neurotic when it comes to one of my favorite sayings: A place for everything and everything in its place. And my children aren't. It frustrates the snot out of me. I am pretty sure Louisa walks in the door and suddenly turns into an octopus that wears shoes. And all 8 of those shoes fly off of her feet and land randomly throughout the house only for me to trip over later. Seriously, it wears me out. So I had visions of a door from the back porch leading to a room that had a place for all of the stuff that comes along with children. That vision sang to me. It also included a washer and dryer with a super organized laundry area complete with a lady that washes, folds and puts it all away. Oops, that part was actually one of my better dreams. :) But for now, this room is perfect. I have a place to corral the junk of everyday (and boxes of plantation shutters waiting to be hung) and a table for the kids to craft, do homework, etc. at. 


And there is a screen door from the porch that slams. Believe it or not, I love a screen door that slams. Such a happy sound to me. This was the mudroom before. Where there once was a window,


 there is now a door.


 And where there once was a wall and a closet (it pains me to remove closets in an old house since closets in an old house are like gold, laced with dual fuel gas ranges - don't get me started on those things),


there is now a doorway to the kitchen.


And I want to take a moment to brag on my husband. Remember in my post about the old kitchen how I was upset about taking up the pine floorboards in the kitchen. They were my faves. Well, we did save them but believe it or not as we pulled them up we realized they were actually old pieces of tongue and groove bead board flipped to the other side. No wonder they were in such terrible shape. Poor guys were never meant to be a floor. Especially not in a house that was rental for so long, in a college town where fraternity boys lived for quite some time. Well, he took some boards and made a desktop out of them for the mudroom. I really do heart those pine boards him. ;)


While I am bragging and probably making Byron's ears twitch like crazy, how about the concrete counter-tops he poured? Dear heavens, they are fantastic. This is the second house he did these for and I must say he just might have perfected them here. Granted, you cannot get a perfect concrete surface - but that, my dears, is the point. But these are pretty darn close. And we have realized...there is a method to the madness of why they cost so much to have someone else do them. To say they are time and labor intensive is the understatement of the year. But worth each and every minute if you ask me (who did none of the labor, haha)


People have asked over and again what my favorite thing is and if I could do it again if there is anything I would have done different. So far, I am still absolutely thrilled with the way it all turned out. Having lived in 4 other old houses with afterthought kitchens, I must say I am just over the moon about functional space. But, if I had to pick a favorite...I have 2. The first one you will laugh at. It is a drawer in the island that pulls out and has the trashcan and recycling in it. Silly, I know but a MAJOR convenience. I have had a trashcan in the middle of my kitchens for as long as I can remember. If my sweet brown dog was still alive I think he would spend one day mad at me for hiding his most prized obsession (the trash can). But the next day he would figure out how to open the drawer and pull the trash can out to strew from one end of the house to the other. Gosh I miss that dog.

But my second fave are these doors.


These doors came from a friend's mother's house in Mississippi. They were covered in yeeeears of dirt, mold, cobwebs and dirt dobber nests. But you know me and an old door. They were a huge labor of love for both me and the carpenter. I won't even go into all of the challenges we faced with these doors, but I will say the day I took a rag to the glass to clean years of muck off and found wavy glass hiding under layers and layers of dirt I almost fell out. Then and there I forgave the doors of any hard time they had given me and any future hard times. I love them. And I love staring out of them and not being sure of what I see because the glass is so wavy. I love that when I stand at them, this is what I see.


You know you are getting old when you are standing at a door drinking your coffee and watching hummingbirds and the cardinal family eat at your bird feeder and feel absolute bliss. I can remember a day making fun of my parents and their bird identification book they kept by the back door. Okay, hey Karma, I see you! But what is just as great for me is standing at the same doors and turning my back to the birds and seeing this.


The new heart of my home. This is where we live. This is where we eat, pray and laugh. This is home, and by golly I love it.

And I love how it ties in our new (phase 2, last fall) porch. We built this porch with this kitchen in mind and I find they are the perfect pair. We are big outside-living people and now it finally all works and makes sense. The next 2 pictures are before.


We had a slight oopsie with the brick mason and his patchwork where the old door to the kitchen used to be. We have been planning on painting our brick since we bought the house - just waiting for the right time (aka when funds are available) and the right color to jump out at us. Well, the silver lining to the oopsie was getting a jump start on painting. While I have torn myself to pieces over painting the brick (you know me and my tendencies to go over the deep end about anything original) after seeing the back porch done I no longer have second guesses. This is the finish West Clover has been waiting for. I cannot wait to have the rest done.


Since I have completely overloaded everyone with pictures and my blabbing, I will start to wrap things up. But first, just one more goodbye to the old kitchen...


 And a few more hellos to a new space.
 


I know of one labrador that is so happy to have strangers out of her house.


Lucille is just as introverted as her Momma. She's thankful for the new space and the quiet. Well, at least until phase 4 begins...who wants to guess what is next?

Welcome to my new kitchen and when you are in the area, stop in. We will drink coffee and watch the birds. It really is the new most fun. ;)