Saturday, November 1, 2014

From Hitched to Honeymooning and Beyond...

Dear Readers and Friends,

After a year of planning, with a fairly insane rush in the last few weeks and days, this renovation couple finally tied the knot on Sept. 6th at the 1811 House in Manchester, VT. It was an epic and beautiful weekend that was overflowing with friendship, fun and goodwill in one of the most beautiful towns in all of Vermont. It was our hope to bring the people that we love to a place that we have also come to adore, and watch as friends and family fell in love with this beautiful and humble corner of Vermont. Our wedding (and the epic partying that ensued) was partially a Thank You gift to all of the amazing folks in our lives, and a bit of a love letter to all that Vermont has come to represent to us: a home in every sense of the word.

Handmade entrance sign courtesy of my dear friend Lisa

We were farmhouse representing all over the 1811 House for the weekend, and so I feel that it is only right to share a few photos from this event! While there are countless photos that deserve their moment in the sun, I'm going to put up just a few that showcase the ingenuity and hard work of our friends as they helped bring together our vision in the wee hours before the wedding using a handful of farmhouse finds: from scrap wood for signs to the antique furniture collecting dust in our attic to slate shingles that were repurposed for signs and a guestbook, everything came together in a way that shocked even Tony and I. Flower arrangements, table settings, and the coolest arrangement of wedding favors I've ever seen... it all came together beautifully, thanks to our amazing friends and their ability to share in our artistic vision for this day.

The decorations came together perfectly :)

Visions of a very happy day... 

With antiques up the wazoo!

While I could gush about this wedding for days on end, that is of course not why you are here reading this blog! So we can move on to the farmhouse now, and recap all of the work we scrambled to get done before the wedding and everything we accomplished on our 'honeymoon' and beyond. But first, if there is one final point to be made about the wedding, it is this: Tony and I witnessed all of our random antique finds come together so beautifully under the tent, leaving us all the more excited to finish this house and finally get to decorating :) I'm quite confident the end product is going to be a stunner.

With that said... to the farmhouse we go!


With snow in the forecast for this coming Sunday (and with water sitting in all of our pipes on the first floor) one thought is running through our minds constantly, and that is… we need heat, stat! All of our fun side projects have been put on hold as Tony and I scramble to finish prepping the first floor for heat. Of course, readying the house for heat would be wonderfully simple if all it required was us putting the radiators in place and waiting for the plumbers to come and hook up the lines. Alas, when you are juggling 5 different renovation tasks at once, all of these things must miraculously come together at the same time to reach the end goal successfully. So getting heat up and running really breaks down to… paint radiators, haul radiators inside, secure flooring underneath radiators, run electrical for thermostats, run electrical in first floor, insulate and drywall behind radiators, and finally, put radiators in place. Here's where we're at with all of that nonsense…

Don't be deceived… it took a neighbor's forklift to get this beast into the house!

The week after the wedding, Tony and I pulled some moves that defied the human body and introduced us to muscles we had yet to discover, as we hauled one of our 12 fin radiators into the house by ourselves. The monstrosity you see above actually required a neighbor's forklift just to lift from the ground outside onto the porch. It took four of us and some ingenuity to then lift it onto a dolly, strap it down and wheel it into the house. I quickly realized that moving this radiator over the 1 inch high threshold at the front door was about as easy as being asked to toss the entire thing up and over the Great Wall. Never has a 1 inch piece of wood been so intimidating, or brought so much grief to a group of young, able-bodied individuals. Getting this thing in the front door was both an epic accomplishment and somewhat pathetic at the same time haha. The ups and downs of renovation often go hand in hand.

Getting highly creative with a dolly and a handcart for the smaller radiator.

Tony and I achieved the impossible by getting the smaller of the two radiators up an impromptu ramp and onto the porch. I really wish I could have seen our Herculean efforts as a bystander driving by, because the scene must have been absolutely ludicrous to watch. It was either pull/push that radiator up the ramp, or have it roll back down and crush me to bits. Losing this battle was not an option.

With the radiator on the porch, we tried quite a few MacGyver tricks, finally strapping a dolly onto the side of the radiator, slowly lowering the radiator onto its back, and then pushing it back up on its side. The end product is the photo you see above. It was far from the normal approach to getting a radiator through a narrow doorway, but dammit it worked! One less thing on the to-do list ;)

Electrical run and labeled!

With our radiators finally painted and inside, it was time to move on to bigger and better things. We've been working with our electrician John to get as much of the first floor wired as possible. This past weekend John hooked up the thermostat for Zone 1 (the north side of the first floor), which includes the bathroom, library and living room. We also began running additional wiring in the bay window room and library, and plan to finish running the wiring ourselves in the coming weeks. When John returns to review our work and give the final ok, we will then place some additional Pink Panther insulation over the wiring and close up the walls! Drywall, here we come. Our rooms will actually look like rooms again!

We kicked off drywall this weekend by closing up the bathroom and drywalling in the exposed basement staircase. We will probably do all of the taping, spackling and sanding for the first floor at the same time, so for now we get to enjoy the much faster process of hanging the drywall. You don't know how beautiful walls in a house can be until you've spent 3 years living without them.

Chimney is looking fancy against that clean backdrop

We have some very high hopes that we can finish running the electrical in the library and living room so we can drywall behind the radiators before they are hooked up in two weeks. This is a lofty goal, but the thought of disconnecting and emptying those radiators down the line is a scary prospect and therefore motivating us to haul ass ;) Let's see how fast we can work to beat the clock before the blessed event that is getting HEAT IN THE HOUSE!

Late Season Painting

Touch-ups to the front porch... cover those nailheads!

My friend that just refuses to go away… painting! There is never a shortage of weekend painting missions, and while I'm rounding the bend on finishing this house, working to fix and paint the windows to help prevent heat loss and helping with electrical and drywall needs in the house has definitely eaten into my painting time. The back of the house will be my big to-do for next summer, and unfortunately I bring with me into the winter season what I like to call "problem areas" on the other 3 sides of the house. These aren't very big projects - painting a bit of roofline that still needs repairing, painting some new trim along the bottom sill of the house - but these areas require Tony's woodworking skills and so have gotten pushed to the back of the line as we prep for heat.

This is what happens when your paint doesn't dry before nightfall...

It's really just a few weekends worth of work to paint these small fixes, so hopefully I'll be focusing on finishing up the back of the house by June or so. I know I've probably said that exact sentence the past two years, but this time I actually mean it! The end of painting lies within my grasp, I can see it!

Our painted lady gets a painted porch :)

If we luck out and get a few more warm weekends coming up, I might continue to try and tackle a few more of these "problem areas", but realistically I envision only having time for windows coming up. It's a less than exciting process but getting the black windows in place really cleans the house up nicely :) Windows are certainly my nemesis, but I have to remind myself that I am the one who was so mesmerized by their wavy glass and charm and fought to keep them, so… nary a window painting complaint shall be made on this blog ;)

Odds and Ends

And of course, a brief recap of all of the little tiny projects that keep us busy in-between:

Master Carpenter Tony tackles the basement steps for the bulkhead doors.

Finished steps within 24 hours ;)

A little landscaping work results in a serious pile of firewood for next winter.

The fall garden is looking a bit unkempt but our perennial plants are going strong :)

Wedding bouquet hangs over our newest amazing find - an antique Standard Oakland stove which will be converted to our kitchen cooktop!

Well, dear readers, I do believe we've come to the end of another update! I'm looking forward to sharing more photos of our electrical and drywall progress over the coming weeks and months, and will definitely include a picture of me hugging a searing hot radiator soon ;) Until then, please check out our slideshows and check back in with the blog soon!

We have quite a few photo albums to share with you since our last post, so enjoy watching us add a little Victorian flare back into the houseprep the house for wedding visitorshoneymoon (aka renovate), defy gravity and haul the remaining radiators insidesnap some Autumn foliage while we can, and make headway with electrical and drywall!

Thanks for reading, all, and enjoy the last of these fleeting Autumn days! Happy November!
- Melissa


  1. I believe all is integrated rightly. You can't have proper cooling and heating without ample electricity, much less one that isn't particularly well-built around the house, right? Wirework is still the main key, so are the materials that would be needed to mobilize it. All the best!

    Eleanor Roy @ Douthit Electrical

  2. I just stumbled across your blog. What an amazing task you are undertaking!. Living my dream all the way on the other side of the world!. I look forward to checking back in on your progress!