Many of you have asked that I keep you apprised of what we’re doing with the Victorian. The truth is it’s a very slow and ongoing effort that’s going to take us years, so there haven’t been a whole lot of completed projects of late. That said, we’re finally making traction on the exterior, so let’s take a look shall we?
If you recall, this is what our house looked like when we bought it two years ago:
And the back side:
First up, we replaced the roof. Then, we added a custom finial that SVV had made in Portland. Then, last year, we hired a couple of guys to start replacing the siding, once we ripped out that ugly awning.
SVV later wound up firing them because slowly they started showing up late and leaving early and eventually didn’t show up at all (it’s tricky finding reliable labor in these parts). And so we decided to do the rest of it ourselves because my husband the former carpenter/contractor/painter is every bit as skilled at it as anyone we’d find in these parts.
But then we didn’t have time—and realized we might not ever. So we hired a guy to do some of the more difficult craftsmen-work on the turret and porch. He finally finished that last week. The house is now “all buttoned up” for the winter, as SVV likes to say, and we already have a crew scheduled to finish off the remaining sides when it warms up in the spring. At that point, SVV and I will paint it ourselves.
Meanwhile, on the side, we were trying to complete a fence to go around the perimeter.
Back in May, we rented a gas-powered hydraulic auger to dig the post holes. Of course, it picked that particular weekend to turn 50 degrees and rainy.
We persevered anyway. It turns out I really like wielding heavy equipment. Who knew?
It was all smooth sailing … until we hit a water line. So our entire second day of post hole-digging turned into fixing the pipe and making five trips to Home Depot and having Darryl, the neighborhood water guy, pay us a handful of visits and saving our flooded yard. The van Lunas know how to bring the drama, y’all!
But then, finally, we were ready to put up the fence!
Only, we ran into problems because, well, when have things ever gone seamlessly for us? Never is the answer. (It’s a good thing we both like a challenge.)
That’s right: After two years of ignoring us, the codes board came a callin’. Turns out we (allegedly) needed a variance to build such a structure. Only nowhere in the thousand-page code book did it ever say this. After a couple civil arguments, the powers-that-be insisted that the only way we could get permission was to appeal to the board—and it was going to be another two months until we could get onto the agenda.
So we spent the rest of the summer working on our garden(s) instead.
We waited it out until the codes meeting in September, for which we (meaning SVV) had prepared a full-on presentation with visuals, only to arrive and have the board grant us an exemption with no questions asked. Meaning we could have spent the summer finishing the fence after all, instead of wasting four months waiting to be given permission. It wound up taking SVV one afternoon to finish the side of the fence we had started. Small town politics, I give up.
The next task is putting up the picket along the two street-facing sides of our half-acre lot—only before we install it, we have to paint all those pickets first (or at least slap on a coat of primer). This is where our amazing friends, who spent this past weekend with us, come in.
Last year before Christmas, we had a handful of our favorite people come down for the weekend for a holiday-themed adult sleepover. This time, we thought we’d throw a little productivity in the mix and have a good, old-fashioned barn raising.
And, surprisingly, they all came! Which was clutch, as we had 479 pickets to prime.
The weather had been in the 30s and raining/sleeting/precipitating all week long, so we were concerned the barn raising part of the weekend might have to be canceled. But we woke up on Saturday, made some breakfast, drank some mimosas and went outside to find a relatively pleasant 48 degrees with intermittent sun. So barn raise we did.
You’d be surprised what you can accomplish with a whole team at your disposal. It didn’t take long for us to get into a groove, and after just three hours, we had every picket painted and lain out on our driveway.
And then we rewarded ourselves with showers and more mimosas. And bourbon (always bourbon).
Eventually—as in some time by the summer—we hope our house looks something like this (only more realistic and with less snow):
Which means we might need another barn-raising weekend in order to do that. Who’s in? We make a mean cocktail. And employ a really cute canine foreman to top it all off.