The first thing anybody asks me when I see them in person is: “How’s the house coming?” This is very thoughtful, of course, because it shows they care (and are following our progress online), but also marginally stressful for me because I feel like I never have anything to report on the home front. So often, it feels like we’re constantly creating new messes, instead of finishing the ones we’ve already made.
Any good designer will tell you to tackle a house one project at a time, but unfortunately that has not been realistic with this old Queen Anne, as many problems have cropped up that needed immediate attention and other renovation efforts have to happen in conjunction with one another. It can be frustrating, and then we often halt mid-project as the bills rack up or we can’t find the right materials for the job.
But then sometimes when I’m feeling like we’ve made very little progress for having lived here four years, I scroll through my #VicReno files in Lightroom and see how much we truly have accomplished in that amount of time. On a budget. By ourselves (for the most part). While maintaining pretty hectic work schedules and traveling a solid half of the year. And that’s when I pat SVV and myself on the back for all the hard work and pour us each a drink.
This year has mostly been dedicated to the exterior—at least until it went from a balmy, eternal summer to a frigid winter chill a couple weeks ago—and, after three years of looking at raw wood, the outside is now almost fully painted. Not to mention, the picket fence we labored on for so long is about 90 percent complete. Hurrah!
But it was a long road to get to this point.
If you recall, it took us a number of failed attempts at hiring laborers and three years in transition to even get all the siding replaced. We knew we wouldn’t rely on a crew to do the painting for us, but we also needed a good chunk of time when we’d be home to actually do the work. And due to the sheer height of the house, plus all its sharp angles, there was also the issue of scaffolding, which was both prohibitive and expensive, even if we just opted to rent it for a month instead of outright buy it.
We were scratching our heads, trying to figure out the best, most cost-effective approach when my in-laws were out visiting over the summer and my father-in-law kindly offered to rent us a 50-foot lift, which would make the job go much faster. So we called up our local equipment rental company, booked the lift for the soonest we could get it, which was two months out, and cleared our schedules for the first two weeks in August.
We always knew we wanted to go with a classic white and restore this old Victorian beauty to her original grandeur, so we scoured the local Sherwin-Williams paint store for the perfect hue and settled on High Reflective White (SW 7757).
When SVV told me the prep would take some time, he wasn’t kidding. It took us four consecutive eight-hour days of scraping, bleaching, power-washing, caulking, masking the windows air-tight, sealing the house so no more squirrels could get in the attic and patching every nail hole in the cypress siding before we could even start to paint.
Let’s just say, by day five, my fingers were raw and nearly bleeding from all that caulk, and we hadn’t even really begun the bulk of the work either.
Meanwhile, SVV prepped and hand-painted the turret while I patched and caulked below before we got the sprayer out and really got down to business.
Then, it was onto the “fun” stuff, if you can call it that.
That part alone took the better part of two days.
Next, it was on to the eaves and peaks, for which we used Sherwin-Williams English Ivy (SW 2935). This hue is a classic forest green that almost looks black that SVV matched to a color he had used on a $26 million house in San Francisco and always loved.
By the time all of that was done, we were nearing the end of our week-long rental period and starting to get a little panicky because we couldn’t afford to keep it any longer at the weekly rate the rental company charged ($1100).
And on the sixth day, reinforcements arrived.
Our good friends Daina, Brian, Abby, Josh and their fur kids (and now human baby), who have come out for our last two barnraising parties, obligingly forfeited their Saturday to come down once more and help out with some of the more detailed work.
They spent all day laboring with us before having to go back to Nashville. We always joke that we get more drinking and gossiping done than actual work, but it’s nice having another four set of hands to help do all the detailed stuff (not to mention, it’s just fun having these guys around).
On day seven, we hit the ground running, spraying an entire layer of top coat on the whole house. Then, we wound up keeping the lift an extra day at a pro-rated cost and getting as much of the upper part of the house completely finished as we could before the company came to pick it up on the ninth morning.
We still have some finish work to do—a good four days, at least—like, for example, the whole back side of the house, which only has a coat of primer and not its finish coat. SVV still needs to cut in where he sprayed the eaves and peaks, and I still need to give the porch one last finish coat, in addition to us hand-painting the ceiling and floor one last time (we used a custom Sherwin Williams haint blue for this).
But for now, the house looks good enough that I don’t feel like we’re the rednecks on the block with the two-toned house and I’m proud of how she’s continuing to evolve.
Especially given where we started before the new windows, roof, porch, siding, picket fence, landscaping and dozens of other upgrades:
Supplies We Used
- 1 Nifty Lift
- 5 boxes of caulking
- 20 gallons of primer
- 13 gallons of white top coat
- 8 gallons of green top coat
- 4 gallons of deck and ceiling paint
- 2 respirators
- 2 bags of rags
Since the weather has taken a dramatic turn, we’ll be working on indoor projects for the foreseeable future. First up after the holidays, finishing the upstairs bathroom, which is only a day or two from completion once we get the Carrara marble in for the vanity top, then gutting the entire downstairs bathroom and digging a hole in the basement because of a flooding situation down there.
Simultaneously, we’ll be tackling the living and dining room plan that interior designer Kendall Simmons came up with for us, which may or may not include knocking out an entire wall, and starting to work on our kitchen, too, in conjunction with the back staircase, which we’ll be painting and doing some other work to, like replacing the runner.