Focus? What focus? (Or, The Art of Writing in a Construction Zone)

I find myself once again at the end of a month without a completed short story to post. I’m working on it today, and have been for the past several days. It’s a good one, but not quite done. And that’s just going to have to be okay. I’ll have it up on Friday, so be sure to check back.

Why the delay? Well, a few reasons.

The first is that it’s not easy to focus when you’re living around dust and dealing with construction noise. Don’t get me wrong – our contractors are amazing, they work fast, and they do a really good job of cleaning up at the end of the day. But when you’re me, and (controlled) chaos in the house feels like (uncontrolled) chaos in your brain, it’s still just difficult to work around. The good news is that the dining room ceiling is stable and sound…

…and work has started on updating and expanding our master bathroom.

The second is just that life is just busy right now. I’ll share more on that next week, but for now, I’ll just say that there are lots of things, including renovations and construction, vying for my attention at the moment, and they’re all important, and I’m just not balancing them super well. I’ll endeavor to work on that in the future.

And the third? Well, it’s me. I’m the problem. I’m allowing things to distract me, and I’m making excuses. They’re good excuses (see: above), but I need to prioritize my writing. It’s as simple and as difficult as that.

So, onward, and by Friday, May’s story will be written and posted and done and dusted. The house, however, will not be dusted. And that’s okay, too. For now, I write.

Found Friday #48: A Look Inside

Work on the ceiling is coming along nicely. Thankfully. And as part of the process to make it structurally sound and safe, the contractors had to put a beam inside one of the dining room walls. This wall is actually part of the original house, and it was so, so cool to see it open.

Seriously, they just don’t make them like this anymore.

The lath and plaster is neat, but what really caught my eye – and you can see it in the side at the right side of the opening – is the timber. Y’all, it’s beautiful, and solid, and only planed down on two sides, so you can see a lot of detail in the wood. It’s also solid as a rock, even after 200 years.

I’ve long said the old section of the house is the easy section. We’ve had no problems. It’s sturdy. Seeing that timber, I definitely understand why.

Well, that was entirely expected…

Work on the ceiling officially started yesterday.

Things always look (at least) a little worse before they look better when it comes to restoration and renovation, so I’m excited to see where we go from here.


As has been the case with almost every piece of work we’ve done in this house, we discovered an interesting and complicated problem.

THERE ARE NO ACTUAL FLOOR JOISTS. Seriously – there are no true, actual floor joists holding up our bathroom floor. The wood that we thought was decorative, and that was not put together in a way that is terribly structurally sound, and that is not at all in good shape…

…is actually the only thing holding up our bathroom floor.

So, that’s fun. And by that I mean: Well, that sucks.

This ceiling project has suddenly become the most important thing that we’re doing in the house. And knowing that, I am especially happy to get it done. And especially, especially happy that the basement bathroom is usable. And especially, especially, especially happy that our contractors found it so early in this process.

They can fix it. I don’t know quite what that will look like, but I know it will be done. And for now, that’s just going to have to be enough.

Hit the Ceiling

I knew this day would come, and frankly, it’s overdue, but it makes me a little sad nonetheless.

It’s happening. We’re finally replacing the water-damaged ceiling in our dining room. I’m relieved, because it just isn’t in good shape anymore. But I’m a touch sad about it, too, because I can see that once upon a time, it was really lovely.

That, and the fact that there are some Civil War bullets in it.

Hopefully, we’ll be able to find a new place for those.  

Maybe I’m just sentimental. I know that many other people wouldn’t be bothered at all by replacing a worn-out ceiling. And I know that it will look better – we’re using boards from the fencing around our property, which is cool and will look very nice. But then, many people also wouldn’t be terribly interesting in living in a 200-year-old house with a pages long laundry list of repairs.

I am, though. This house is so special, and I’m grateful that Graham and I get to be its stewards for a while. I hope that we do the right things. I feel like we are.

Anyway, I’ll post an update when the project’s done. And same for the bathroom, which I know many of you were interested in seeing. It’s nearly there! So, check back. 😊

This house has lots of stories left to tell.  

Wallpaper Choices

Apparently, wallpaper is controversial. Which, I guess I sort of get. But then, I really don’t. I can see an argument that it’s hard to put up and even more difficult to take down. And yes, we’ve all seen those pictures of old, abandoned houses with tattered curtains and one-eyed baby dolls and, sure enough, mottled, gray peeling wallpaper. Spooky. I know.

But my house isn’t spooky. (I promise.)

And I like wallpaper.

All of this to say, as we finish up with the basement bathroom – which is oh so close to done and looks so, so good – I’m thinking of what we might like to do with our bathroom upstairs.

It’s our main bathroom, and it’s due for some pretty major changes. For one thing, the shower leaks onto our dining room table, which is…not great. We’d also like to expand the space and add a claw-foot tub. Luckily, we have one that we moved out of another bathroom. And I don’t think I want to get as cheeky as I did with the pink tile in the basement. But I would like to do something fun, and so I thought, “Why not a neat wallpaper?” My idea is that we’d have wainscoting, painted a warm, bright white, a little more than halfway up the wall, and then wallpaper on top of that. White tile in the shower, and my favorite black and white hexagon tile on the floor.

I can see it, and I think it would be lovely! So, I got some samples. These:

And these:

What do you think? Which would you choose? And props to you if you notice just what the blue and white toile in the second picture (in the middle) is inspired by. Here’s a hint: It’s a pretty famous movie.

Anyway, we’ll see what we decide. We’ve got some time, as our contractors finish up work in the basement. But I’m excited! This process has generally been sort of stressful, and the dust and mess is certainly not fun, but it’s really cool to see things coming together and to feel like our space reflects who we are.

So, onward!


Okay, I knew I said the next update on our basement bathroom renovation would be to share the completed project, but we’re waiting on a few extra materials, so I thought I’d post where we are now. And, y’all, I love it.

I am SO, SO happy with the pink tile, and it’s beautiful. It’s hard to capture it well in pictures, and I think it’ll definitely look even better in context of everything else. But I have absolutely no regrets going with something a little more…colorful. If you look closely, you can also see a little bit of the black and white floor tile, and they’re going to look so good together.

We’ve also decided to change up the floor in the basement. I’ve always hated the blue and purple tile. You can see a little bit of that here:

And here’s how it looks today:

So much better, right? I can’t wait to see the whole floor done. And, you know, the bathroom too.

And then, onward! But for now, let’s celebrate the small stuff. 😊

Progress! (Or, I Am So Tired of Tile.)

It’s looking like an actual room again!

We’re coming into the home stretch on the basement bathroom, and it’s just looking really good, if I do say so myself. We’ve spent countless hours at this point choosing tile – tile for the floor, tile for the shower – and if I never have to think about tile again, I’ll be a happy woman. (Note that this is not possible as we will also be renovating our kitchen and master bathroom…)

Now, we’re on to choosing a vanity countertop and mirrors, with fixtures to be installed shortly. I’m thinking maybe a marble look for the countertop? I think that would go nicely with the black and white floor and the (yes, we went for it) pink tiles in the shower. I really wanted gold fixtures for the sink and shower, but alas, they are SO MUCH MORE expensive than chrome or nickel. Choices, choices. No matter what we do, I know it will look and function better than it did before. And I also realized earlier this week that I have no “before” pictures of this bathroom. You’ll just have to trust me that it was…less than perfect. (Read: It felt an awful lot like a dark, damp, small hole in the wall with just the bare basics. I hated it. I was embarrassed when people had to use it.)

Anyway! See, progress.

This whole process has been by turns exciting and stressful, but I’m ultimately just really excited to see it done. And I feel really lucky and grateful that we’ve been able to do it at all. Next time I post, it’ll be of the completed project! And then, onward to the next!

Found Friday #45: The Mystery Pipe

Work on the house continues! After finishing up (mostly) on the exterior, we’ve moved inside, and started in the basement. Our workers have relocated our washer and dryer up to our main level, which clears space for us to expand our basement bathroom.

We’ve wanted to do this for a while, as it’s our main guest bathroom and it was just really shabby and dark. And, well, they do say things look worse before they look better.

I’m not worried about that. What I am mildly concerned about is the mystery pipe they uncovered when they took down one of the walls.

We have no idea why it’s there. And it definitely means some extra work. Figuring out what it’s doing, and then figuring out if it’s needed, and then, if it’s needed, finding a better place for it, if that’s even possible.

We knew the plumbing in this house was…let’s just say, confusing. I’ve written about it before. So, we’re not surprised, and we know our crew can handle this little wrinkle. These things happen, and I’m confident that when all is said and done, we’ll have a lovely guest bathroom that I’m no longer embarrassed for our guests to actually use. (And yes, of course I’ll post pictures. 😊)

So, onward!

Let’s call it…temporarily open concept.

Y’all. My house.

Okay, where to start. I’d posted a while ago that we’re getting some work done. And by some work, I mean a lot of work. The interesting thing about our house is that the 200-year-old section is solid as a rock. It’s not going anywhere. We understand how it was built. It makes total sense. And, hey, it’s festive season! So we’ve done a bit of decorating. 😊

The addition, which is basically the entire back portion of the house and includes all of our plumbing and our kitchen, well, that’s a different story. I’m not quite sure how it’s constructed, why it’s constructed that way, or even who did the work. Probably many hands over the course of many years. I’m making it sound very dire, and it’s not that bad, but we’ve got an opportunity now to make things a little better, and we’re taking it. Starting with a big section of windows on the lower part of the house. Their frames are in bad shape, their layout doesn’t look great. So, we’re replacing them. And changing things up. And they say that things usually get worse before they get better…

I’m calling it temporarily open concept. Real indoor/outdoor living.

Some cleanup required.

I can’t wait to see what it looks like once it’s done, and our work crew is doing a fantastic job making things as quiet and livable as possible. But, man, there’s nothing quite so jarring as seeing a BIG GAPING HOLE in the back of your house.

I’m grateful that we can do this, though. And once this project is done, I’m eager to move on to the next. (And then the one after that. We’re in this for the long haul, guys. Onward!)