Next up on our tour of Sister is the exterior renovation.
When our family first met Sister there was no denying her Traditional Colonial heritage. Her design DNA was evident throughout but was most pronounced on the exterior with her textbook Colonial 5 over 4 symmetrical window placement and her pediment and column flanked door at the center of her red brick boxed facade.
Her grand, stoic appearance did not fit our family’s personality but we loved her regardless and adopted her as our own in July 2009.
I found these pictures on the Internet from the old real estate listing:
You can see Sister was raised in a formal environment that perfectly matched her traditional facade. I can only imagine what she must have been thinking as we moved our slip-covered hand-me-down furniture, upcycled garage sale decor, and 2 rowdy boys under her pristine roof.
Yet despite her past, it only took a new coat of paint and a few weekend DIY projects for Sister to start loosening up. By the time we tackled our first major renovation in 2012 (major being defined as one where we called in the professionals) we had completed enough projects that Sister was clearly starting to identify as a cottage farmhouse.
Remember the formal dining room of her past. Well, by 2012 she was holding her china in an old chicken coop.
And that red formal living room was converted into my office where I met with my nutrition clients. Complete with a barn door slider I could shut for privacy.
And nothing says Farmhouse quite like shiplap:
Although Sister seemed to be transitioning smoothly into a comfy cozy cottage, outwardly she was suffering an identity crises. Her inside no longer matched her outside. Despite the fact I hung a human size whimsical flower on her door she still left a formal traditional impression on those that drove by.
So in 2013, I started my campaign to get Sister a facelift. I wanted Sister to be comfortable in her own skin but I pitched the exterior renovation from a different angle when approaching Rory with the idea (the boys in my family have never been fully on board with treating our house as a 3rd child). I told Rory that the secret to me being more laidback was a front porch.
Sidenote: I am a very high strung person. NOT high maintenance, mind you, but high strung- there is a difference. I have an inability to sit still, I tend to be very obsessive and my obsessions are spastic in nature; therefore, I can be exhausting to live with (although not near as exhaustive as if I were high maintenance, right?!?).
Anyways, I told Rory, (and I truly believed this with all my heart) that if we put a front porch on Sister, I would sit on that porch every single day with a glass of lemonade and just be still and content with my life, thus bringing calm and serenity into our family life. It would also make us better neighbors. If I had a front porch I would greet all my neighbors that walked by and invite them to come sit on our porch and drink lemonade with me. I might even learn to play the guitar so we could have Andy Griffith style neighborhood sing-alongs on our front porch. And think of the money we would save. Instead of date nights at expensive restaurants and hired babysitters we could just hold hands on our porch swing and have long deep meaningful conversations about all our hopes and dreams for the future, except those conversations wouldn’t be too long because all my hopes and dreams would be fulfilled with my new front porch.
And guess what?! On my 35th birthday, I came home from work to find all the landscape ripped out and the brick steps busted up to make way for our new front porch! Isn’t Rory the best?!?!
The deck framing was complete within the first week of getting started and the stage was set for our new porch. I mean literally, the front of our house looked like a giant stage.
And then it sat….just like that… for the next 6 months. We hired the sweetest, most talented framer in the world to do the project but I’m thinking we were low on his priority list because it took FOREVER to get the thing built. But once the work was complete I couldn’t have been more pleased.
During the front porch addition, we dressed up the windows and hid the old keystones under the wood trim for a less formal feel.
We also replaced the old front door and transom with a new 8 foot 12 light door.
If you look closely, you might recognize that old transom.
Rory and I built the porch swing bed.
And my Dad built the table.
Interestingly, this was Dad’s first build for me and was the launching point for our furniture business “The Painted Stache.”
Rory and I installed the Landscaping. Not sure where my right side hostas are this year. They usually sprout up a few weeks after the left side but so far there are no signs of them.
Now Sister’s exterior fits her interior personality and I still pinch myself when I drive up to the house. Although I absolutely love the porch I am sad to report that it did not change my life as much as I had hoped or promised. I rarely (like never) sit outside and I don’t even like lemonade. I’m still a terrible neighbor and I’m pretty sure you need all your fingers to play the guitar BUT I still think Rory is the best for agreeing to this renovation and hope Sister’s new family loves it as much as I do.
And a little Caldwell update:
buyer we have had to make some tough decisions that affect the budget and end price point but we decided to go all in and close in the carport and replace all the old windows with new energy-efficient wood windows. I also heard all you library lovers cries when I mentioned replacing the existing library with a fabulous master bathroom. You will be happy to know I have figured out a way to give this house both a dreamy bathroom and a stately library! Stay tuned!