When we were done restoring The Inn, our place that was an inn during the late 1800s and early 1900s but is not an inn so don’t come by expecting to stay because you’ll freak Marshal Dillon Dingle right out…
Anyway, when we were ‘done’ restoring The Inn, we moved straight over – okay, a bit of a curve over – to restoring the old barn.
Which looked like this part way through restoration…
After we jacked it up, some of the siding was taken off and what we could use again was stored. And then we had to deal with building codes, which came in handy. Particularly because our barn had demonstrated, over many years, its propensity to sink into and become one with the earth.
Not a great personality trait.
So we had to pour a foundation. I didn’t want to see a modern, concrete foundation beneath my old barn though. But that’s what the building code demanded. So we worked with some pretty cool engineering types and ‘topped’ the cement with huge, notched out granite blocks. A happifying solution!
Also, along the way, the barn told us that it had been modified long ago. A center hay loft had been removed. So we re-created it.
I know! I love that we were able to get that view.
So many of the same workmanship techniques that were used to build the original structure so long ago (it dates back to approximately 1810) were used to bring it back to life. Sure, we could have knocked it down for far less work and cost, but I’m glad we didn’t. I love our little barn, right down to its up-to-code, yet original-looking foundation.
This is pre-painting and grading.
Freshly painted with the doors wide open…
And the barn stayed like that for approximately 7 years.
And then one day a black hole showed up.
No, really. They can show up anywhere, not just in space.
Turns out that one side effect of a black hole in your barn is that the floor caves in.
Once it all happened, there was much sleuthification.
I stuck to the black hole theory but Fred – the so-called expert – went with some fringe hypothesis about a hidden spring beneath the property and moisture being trapped in the crawl space beneath the barn floor. Oh. And Rot.
Which, honestly, there was a lot of.
The huge – and I mean huge – chestnut beams that originally took four guys to carry in?
I could lift one end of an entire, albeit broken, beam with three fingers (and I’m not kidding).
So, since the underground spring wasn’t going anywhere, the wood floor needed to.
So it did…
And after the floor and beams and stuff were removed, what remained was graded and gravel and other engineer-y things happened so the aforementioned water could flow right through and then a concrete floor was poured on top of that.
But I didn’t want it to look all garage-y, so I had heavy oak boards put into the floor in a pleasing grid pattern…
You can see a bit of the pleasing grid pattern in one of Mac’s and Jack’s engagement pics (hint: it is beneath the flower petals and also Mac and Jack)…
But also, I wanted to stain the concrete just like Bunny Williams did with her barn.
Bunny Williams is one of my design heroes and wrote An Affair with a House, which is about restoring and renovating her old house and, since I have been having my own affair with my house, I feel a connection to her.
Because, just like any affair, it is nice to know that someone else has done it too. Mostly for justification purposes.
This is a photo of Bunny Williams’ barn floor:
Yes. She also has a pleasing grid pattern… and yes I also stole that idea from her. But see the cement? It is not just cement-grey. It’s stained.
And, now that we are going to have a wedding, I want mine stained too so it’s not so gritty. I wanted mine darker though and guess what?!
Glen is here and he is making it so right now! It’s a process called acid etching and it doesn’t wear away like stain or paint.
The darker part is the final look, after the sealer goes on.
And also the garage floor is being done. The barn and garage are connected and the garage will be dance party central at the wedding so we need smooth floors (for all those smooth moves)…
Side note: I am told the garage will not look like a garage on the wedding day, but I am dubious. I think I will still know it is a garage, as it will be very strange if I suddenly don’t recognize my own building.
Glen just called me out to take another pic now that the pleasing grid pattern is stained.
Please ignore all the engagement day stuff I still haven’t taken down.
The wood will get shiny coat of marine varnish another day, and I think it’s gonna look great.
So, funny and true story…
As the original house project was nearing completion, the barn was jacked up and in pieces, and I was walking the grounds outside with a group of people, talking about the gardens to be.
I remember describing the goal of having gardens we could meander though, taking advantage of the views from the barn to the water, over and through swaths of beach roses. And I remember this thought wandering into my brain like a breeze…
That was before Mac even met Jack.
As a teenager, she would complain about coming here for the summer (kept her away from her friends for too long).
And then Mac and Jack did meet.
And a couple of years later they decided to be more than friends.
And then they went to college – separately at first, and then together.
And somewhere in there Maine became one of their special places.
And then they graduated, started jobs.
Moved to Connecticut.
During all that time the gardens matured and expanded, and a house by the water became a home.
There is gonna be a wedding.
How cool is that?
Thanks for readin’.
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