Introducing Bluestone Cottage: The Exterior!

OK, FIRST THING IS FIRST, PEOPLE: thank you so, so, so, (so) much, a gazillion times over, for all of the incredibly kind, excited, and extremely supportive comments, emails, tweets, instagram comments—all of it—over the past couple of days. I know I’ve said this before, but I really can’t express how grateful I feel to have such a wonderful bunch of people reading my blog. You guys make this such a pleasure, and I don’t take for granted for a second how lucky I am. Hugs for everybody!

SO, now that we’ve gotten that mushy stuff out of the way (sorry! I have feelings), let’s get to know this new house a little better! I loved reading all of the name suggestions for this new house—because we’ve gotta call it something—ranging from “Anne of Green Gables” to “Ramona” to “Brian” to “Gay Chalet” to “The Treehouse” to lots of “Cottage” variations, and after thinking long* and hard** I think we’re going to call it…Bluestone Cottage! The Cottage, for short. Kingston is sort of known for its widespread use of locally-quarried bluestone, and what I love about this house is its cozy, cottage-y vibe in the middle of all these big houses around it, so there it is.

*not all that long.

**not all that hard, either.

I shared a couple of exterior shots in the last post, but I figured it warranted its own post before we dive inside (which, if you think the outside looks rough…you’re in for a time!). Partly because I like the dramatic build-up, and partly because I didn’t get my act together and draw up floor plans, and partly because the exterior is where we’re starting!

With a project of this scope, it’s sort of hard to figure out where to even start, but a couple of factors went into this decision. First, this house desperately needs a paint job, and there’s a limited amount of time before it gets to too cold to paint and get some plants in the ground. Second, first impressions are important, and if I’m going to sell this place, the longer it at least looks good, the more interest I’m hoping I can generate from early on. Third, because this house has looked terrible (or, uh, not even much like a house at all from the street!) for so long, it’s important to me to at least get the exterior cleaned up and looking fresh ASAP. It’s important to the neighborhood, and it’s important for the house. Vacant/condemned/falling apart houses become targets for all sorts of bad stuff, and fixing up the outside will go a long way. I’m so excited to make this cute house cute again.

exteriorfromsidewalk

So here we are, standing on the sidewalk right outside. One more step down the street and the house would be completely obscured by the enormous overgrown shrubs, and one more step back and it would be blocked by the house next door. I told you, hidden! This picture doesn’t really reflect how much trash there was in the yard, but it was…a lot. I spent Day 1 working on clearing a lot of the yard, and I filled 3 contractor bags with garbage. This is part of what I’m talking about—I don’t want people treating this property like a public dump anymore! Hopefully a cleaned-up exterior will help out with that.

sideyard

The side of the house (and the back) is similarly insane. The lot is only 23 feet wide, which leaves about 3 feet on one side and about a foot and a half on the other side. I’m not sure what this vine is (not poison ivy, thankfully!), but it’s really taken over this whole side of the house. The clapboard survived the overtake just fine, which is good. Anyway, the gate is just a piece of rotted plywood attached to some rotted 2×4 lumber, and theoretically would have latched to a bunch of scrap wood nailed directly to the clapboard on the house. Getting the gate open and getting to the backyard for the first time was…really intense. It’s literally like walking through a jungle.

The huge oil tank on the side is actually only a few years old, but its days are numbered. First of all, it totally blocks the pathway to the back of the house, and obviously it’s ugly. Additionally, the majority of the copper pipes in this house are missing, so now is a pretty good time to switch to a more efficient, cleaner, and cheaper heating set-up. Plumbing and HVAC is where I expect the majority of this renovation budget to go and I’ve quoted all the work, so hopefully there aren’t any huge surprises there.

This reminds me! I have to call the plumber today to try to set up a pressure-test for the gas line. The gas service has been disabled for over two years, so this is required by the utility company (luckily, they were OK with switching on the electric so we could operate tools and stuff, which is equal parts miraculous and a little scary…I make sure to switch off the main breaker at the end of every work day, but still). There’s no point in turning on the gas service right now anyway, but now would be a good time to know if a bunch of the yard is going to need to be dug up to run a new line. Let’s all hope that does not need to happen! Luckily Central Hudson, the utility company, has a program in place that would make running the line essentially free. So it wouldn’t be a big deal financially, but I don’t want to destroy new landscaping if we end up having to do that! Thinking ahead and stuff.

sunburst

ANYWAY, let’s talk about what’s good here! I love the sunburst detail over the door, and the sweet entrance in general. The sidelights need a lot of repair but are salvageable. Obviously that arched part above has been eaten away/rotted, so the plan is to replace it with new beadboard. The front door and jamb is really damaged, and the door is pretty ugly to begin with, so it’s all getting replaced. Oh, and there’s a lot of missing crown molding around the top of the roof line of this little overhang, so there are definitely critters getting into the roof here. The crown molding is nothing very special (I found an exact match at Lowe’s!) so the plan is to remove it, add a proper fascia, and then put up the new crown and paint everything.

The light fixture stays.

Kidding. It also goes.

casementwindowsinfront

I’m a sucker for old windows, as we know, and one of my very favorite features of this house are the old casement windows! The house has both double-hung sash windows (similar to my house, so the top and bottom sashes can both move up and down and are counterweighted by big lead weights inside the wall), and these charming casement windows (like the window above the sink in my kitchen), which open outwards. Can you imagine this house in the summer with the windows thrown open and the breeze coming in? ADORABLE. They need a TON of repair work…there’s a lot of rot and broken panes all over the place, but I have a lot of hope that they can all be salvaged. Those middle two panels are going to be a special little challenge because the mullions are missing on the bottom! I’ll figure it out.

1950photo

Remember when I got a picture of our own house from the city assessment records? Well, the quality of the photocopy my friend gave me wasn’t so great, so I marched my butt down the to the assessor’s office to see it in person. This was a day or two after I found out that this house was for sale and was already obsessed with fixing it, so I asked if we could pull the file for the cottage as well! Total aside: all the city workers I’ve met throughout this ordeal have been such a pleasure. The Department of Public Works, the Tax Assessor’s office, the Code Enforcement Officer, The Building Safety Division…all super nice and helpful people. I think they all think I’m half insane for doing this, but they all want the best for Kingston and our neighborhood. It’s so nice to feel like they’re on my side with this.

Anyway! This photo was taken in 1950 (so, like my house, the house was already kind of old at this point, although I’m not sure how old…), but look how cute it is! I think the clapboard was a light blue in this photo and the trim and windows were white. I like the contrasting sidelights and door…it’s been oddly challenging figuring out how to paint this place, so seeing what somebody did here is nice. Anyway, I’m not really trying to restore it to this appearance, necessarily, but I love seeing the house at a time when somebody clearly cared about and maintained it.

I’ll definitely try to replicate some things from this photo if I can, though. For instance, at some point somebody erected that weird fence around the whole front. I actually have a plan for most of it, but I think I’ll just remove the part that goes from front to back on the left side and try to put back some bushes that can grow into a hedge, like it is in this picture. Way nicer than a fence built a foot from the neighboring house, which has created this void of terror that’s impossible to maintain (and therefore overtaken by trash and vines and general horror). Technically the land the hedge would go on isn’t mine, but I’m going to go ahead and guess the landlord of this building isn’t going to complain if I clean up a little of his property, too.

The little arched trellis is so cute, right? I don’t know if I’ll try to do something similar or not, but it’s totally adorable and charming here. I almost wonder if something more substantial, with kind of a bungalow-modern vibe, should go back here. Hmmmm. Probably not for now, but maybe more toward the end of the project.

So see that  bluestone path leading from the sidewalk to the door? That’s why I put bluestone in the name—all those slabs are still there! They go from the sidewalk all the way to the back of the house, and there are also some big slabs in front of the door. You’d never really expect it, looking at the house the way it is right now, but it’s exciting to have all that material just sitting there, waiting to be seen again. That much bluestone would be SO pricey to put down today, so it’s very cool. At least to me. I am thrilled by odd things, admittedly.

We’ll go inside next, I promise!


115 Comments

  1. Your neighbors are going to love you for taking on this project. I know that it is going to be a lot of work, but I am jealous. It is going to be so much fun to watch the Bluestone Cottage transform before our very eyes on this blog. Also, you are a better person than I because I would probably steal the bluestone for my own house!

  2. love the name! And I’m loving that rose arbour…
    I am positive this is the start of huge things for you and Max…it’s such a positive improvement to the street.
    I’m thinking the cottage just screams..white picket fence to me…..

  3. You are going to make this house so beautiful and I can’t wait! I also love old houses, and I’m super glad to see you planning to be as faithful as possible to it’s old look. I get so sad when people go in and immediately knock out everything in the house that has character in order to make it look like something out a home depot flyer. I am also selfishly excited to see everything you do and how, because between you and 1 or 2 other blogs I look at, I am slowly convincing my husband that we can do so much more reno work ourselves than he would ever believe. But mostly I’m excited to watch this house grow into it’s super cute name.

  4. Thanks for sharing the exterior, can’t wait to go inside and see more! And I love the name. And the old photo. It will be great to compare with any progress photos of the exterior you’ll have as you go along.

  5. I was wondering how the heck you would figure out where to start. It makes sense total sense to clean up the outside first. I am super new to your blog and spent quite a bit of time reading your old posts. You’re amazing! So happy for this new adventure for you! This transformation is going to be so awesome!

  6. Wonderful name!

    Apologies if this has been answered somewhere on your blog: do you know of the house’s immediate history, like the previous/recent owners, and why was it left the way it is like now? 20K is an AMAZING deal!!!

    • Thanks, Petra! I haven’t really talked about it because I really don’t know all that much! My understanding is that the previous owner lived in it for a while, and then bought a larger house and moved there and continued to rent this one. Evidently the last tenants wreaked total havoc on the house—apparently they had somewhere in the neighborhood of a dozen people living there, tons of animals, lots of drugs…and I guess kind of destroyed the place. It was condemned when the building inspector came to renew the certificate of occupancy and he assessed that it was clearly unfit for human habitation. He told me that the TENANTS were actually the ones that had stolen a ton of the copper and really just made it completely uninhabitable. Sounds like a total nightmare. I have a ton of questions about the whole story, but that’s about as much as I know. The whole situation is very confusing and very sad.

  7. Ooops, accidentally posted before I could finish!

    This will be such a great series once you get truly going on it and I think doing the outside, at least enough to keep the vagrants and such from trashing it is a great idea, and a great start.

    However, I would hold off on planting anything major because there might be times when trades people, trucks etc may need to back into the yard to deliver stuff, such as sheetrock. You can always add more later on if need be in the spring, but getting a fresh coat of paint on the place, and fixing that little arch portico over the door etc is a great idea. Get that done now before too much more deterioration occurs as winter sets in.

    I’ll be following along, that’s for sure!

  8. I donʻt know if Iʻve ever commented here, so… hello! Congratulations on this new project. I am all aflutter! I canʻt wait to see your future posts on this little beauty!

    Also, thank you so very much for all of the inspiration you give here. I live in a bit of a fixer-upper, and reading/seeing your posts gives me the gumption to tackle more and more projects on my own. It really means a lot to me to slowly see my surroundings improving after years and years of feeling kind of powerless to make much difference.

    So thanks again, and keep up the great work!

  9. I’m so excited for this whole project!

    Have you heard of this app? It might help you drawing up some floor plans for the cottage.

    http://www.archdaily.com/550856/roomscan-an-app-that-draws-floor-plans-in-minutes/

    • Oh thanks, I haven’t seen that! I tried a different app (same concept) that didn’t work super well a while ago, but I’ll definitely give that a shot!

  10. Congratulations and best wishes for this house! I’m really looking forward to reading all about it! I wish there was a positive word for ‘envy’ because that’s how I feel.

  11. Congrats again! I love the name. I wish I lived closer, I would totally volunteer to help!

    Speaking of volunteering, I was thinking for the outside clean up you could contact your local boy scout/ girl scout branch. They are always looking for projects they can help with and they love ones that lift the look and safety of the community. This is the time of year that those looking to be an Eagle scout are looking for their big projects and troops are looking for team builder projects. It maybe worth a try and the amount of work these kids can get done in a few hours could put you weeks ahead. In the New England/ New York area we have the advantage of having the largest percent of Eagle scouts compared to anywhere in the country. Local high schools and other community uplift programs also do similar volunteer work. Good luck!

    Oh! I think Bluestone Cottage is perfect! I live in Milford, MA and we have granite quarries here that produce a unique pink granite (Milford Pink Granite.) I love when it is used in local houses or buildings because it really lends a feeling of history and community. Great name choice! When you finish it up you need to put one of those plaques “Circa 19xx Bluestone Cottage”

    • what a fantastic idea ..boy scouts…and don’t forget the girl guides too!!

    • Support for this comment! My husband was an Eagle Scout and yes, they are always looking for projects they can get the whole troop in on, and would be a WONDERFUL way for someone to earn a Gold Award or Eagle.

    • I want to help too, as I love transformations in anything, countries, people, houses, rooms.

      Be careful of the wild vines. Last month, while pruning an out of control viburnum, a hidden poison Oak vine attacked me. My entire body was affected, lots of raised, itchy papules that eventually scab over, not at all pretty. Hope there are no such vines in your new yard.

    • That’s a good idea, Kelly! I’m not sure I’d be comfortable having kids out here…who KNOWS what they might find, and it might just be too hazardous (there’s a lot of broken glass, I’ve found several pieces of drug paraphernalia, etc.), so this might be more of a project for me and, maybe, some neighborhood grown-ups who want to lend a hand for a few hours or something. It’s not a ton of space, though…it’s wild, but fairly manageable alone.

      I love the idea of the house having a plaque! So fancy!

      • Your flip flop wearing, nail stepping friend should perhaps not be invited for this round.
        Best wishes for this project. I’m glad I can ride along through your posts.

      • Ha! I’ll tell her the news. I’m going to guess she’ll be a little relieved!

  12. Crazy good. Like I said on Twitter, you should have a TV show with this, what a transformation it will be. It’s really great that you found that old photo as well.
    The vines on the side of the house are Virginia Creepers from what I can see. You’ll have to keep on top of them because they can be quite invasive, you think you got them all out and they ‘creep’ up again, but they do turn a beautiful orange red in the fall.

    • Thanks, Giulia! We have TONS of virginia creeper in our backyard (and I’m from Virginia, so I’m pretty familiar with it!) so I know that’s not what this is…but it’s very similar in its invasive habit! Donna, below, suggested Boston Ivy…I think it may be that! Luckily also not poisonous! :)

      • Virginia Creeper and Boston Ivy are very close cousins (both genus parthenocissus). The main difference is that Virginia Creeper is native to the U.S., while Boston Ivy, despite the name, comes from Asia.

  13. I am so excited for this. Hooray, adorable cottage!

  14. I love that old pic – light blue with white would = wow. I hope you’ll give us some more exterior pics as you get it cleaned up and revealed. Exciting!

    • Don’t worry, there will be lots of updates! I have to catch up!! We actually started work last week, so a fair amount has happened!

  15. So much potential! I am in love with the trellis and what I assume is a massive climbing rose. In my mind I see a white house with some sort of contrasting trim and a beautiful bungalow trellis draped with bright pink Bougainvillea. Now, I have no idea as to whether Bougainvillea grows in the Hudson Valley, but it would be wicked if it did!

  16. When I read “gay chalet” I laughed out loud. Bluestone Cottage is lovely – what an adorable little place. I’m excited to see the progress!

  17. How darling! Getting the old falling down fence and oil tank out of the way first will be great. Just cleaning up the front yard will be such a positive improvement for the entire neighborhood.

    I love the idea of a neatly trimmed hedge down the property line and an arbor/picket fence for the front of the property – and maybe a cottage garden between the fence and the house.

    Can’t wait for floorplans and interior shots! (Kind of sad that you gave up the City apartment after all the work that went into it, but if I had to choose, I’d live in Kingston any day LOL.)

  18. This house is so lucky you found it. And I feel lucky to get to follow along on your journey in restoring it. I’m really excited for this!

  19. I can’t wait to see you bring this home back to life!

    Have you considered Kickstarter for your next house project?

    • Thank you, Helen!

      I think I’d feel really uncomfortable ever asking for direct donations from readers! It’s been suggested at various points in the past, but I think that’s just a line I’ll never be willing to cross. If people have extra money to spend, there are about a million more deserving uses for it! :)

  20. I love how the original door mirrors the lights with the panes running across the top. it adds this neat symmetry :)

  21. It is such a cute house and I’m sure you are going to make it amazing. It is really great that you were able to find a vintage picture of this place too. The arched trellis is really cute. I can’t wait to see your pictures of the interior.

  22. Enjoying your blog. I am a big historic house fan…I own a 1850 Greek revival antebellum estate…really forward to what you do, and your yard too.
    That crazy vine–it actually does looks like poison ivy to me unfortunately…we’ve got tons of it…I would take a second look and be very careful.

    • 1850 Greek Revival—tell me there’s a way to see pictures of that!

      Luckily there was only a very small amount of poison ivy, which I was really careful around (been there, done that!). The rest was something else!

  23. I love those casement windows! They are going to look so amazing when you’re all done. Here’s hoping that you can save them (I have every confidence in you)!!

  24. Oh and your copper pipes are missing because someone stole them. Hoodlums unfortunately break into houses and steal all the copper to sell it, air conditioners too. Absolutely terrible. I’ve seen it first hand, and called the cops immediately, but the do-nothing imbeciles around here lived up to their name.

    • Oh, I’m well aware of the problem of copper getting stolen out of vacant houses! The very strange thing is, apparently it was actually the last TENANTS who scrapped the copper (thereby leaving them in a house that I guess had no heat system or plumbing…yikes). The house has been wide open for quite a while (the front door was kicked in and the whole jamb was broken, so anybody could literally walk right in), and it’s actually sort of amazing to me how much copper is LEFT, given the rest of the houses’s condition.

      • I’ve heard of disgruntled people taking stuff when they leave, especially people who were foreclosed on. My fiance’s sister bought a house where the guy had ripped out and sold everything that was removable – including the doors!

  25. PERFECT name, Bluestone Cottage.

    A hidden treasure, the bluestone walkway. Perhaps you’ll find more such treasures. Hope you replicate the arbor & fence with more substantial un-wonky varieties.

    Are there lots of critters in the house and attic?. . .probably the only creatures that wish you would abandon the project.

    So, when are you running for Mayor of Kingston?

    • I haven’t seen a lot of evidence of active critter habitation, but who really knows! I guess we’ll know more when we start tearing out walls and ceilings. There are definitely some spots in the soffit where squirrels have gotten in, but that’s about it from what I can tell. Hopefully it’ll all get buttoned up super soon and there won’t be anything to worry about!

  26. This just makes me more excited for this project and all it promises.

    I think I want to move to Kingston and buy the Bluestone Cottage. After you’ve had your way with it. Really. Truly.

  27. I already love this beauty.

  28. Oh I’m so excited, happy an in awe. What a wonderful project. I wish you much success. I just love your blog and your writing cracks me up. Looking forward to each and every post. Cheers

  29. I have this deep seated urge way down in my gut to throw on something long sleeved and just dive into that garden with some shears and a shovel. I’m SO jealous! What a complete find, I can’t wait to see what you do with it, the satisfaction you’re going to get from clearing out that jungle is going to be unreal, I kind of hate you right now!

  30. Daniel-
    Here it is- a bluestone walk way, hollyhocks, delphiniums, christmas ferns… let’s not go tooooo English Cottage, though, Bluestone Cottage is in New York State! Glad the Bluestone Cottage moniker rang true for your new project – you really have made your new nest on the Hudson River branch of Upstate! I so enjoy reading, learning from you. I am right there with you when you have your walls skim coated. I live in a “venacular farmhouse” circa 1920, currently in a jumbled state of improvement.

  31. It cannot be overstated how fantastic this is! I was kind of wondering what you were going to do once your house was completely habitable. This cottage is so great….though I am slightly concerned there’s a body somewhere in all that brush. The other commenter had a great idea with involving the boyscouts…though I bet the girlscouts would be happy to help, too! You could also check local high school shop classes and trade schools for possible interior help? Put the kids to work!

  32. What a charming place! I stumbled upon your blog after a friend recommended it, and I’m so glad I did. I am hoping to move from NYC (perhaps to the Hudson Valley, perhaps elsewhere) in the next couple of years and can’t wait to see the transformation of Bluestone Cottage!

  33. In a similar vein to some of the comments above, perhaps you would consider (or have already considered!) organizing a meet-up group for anything that requires low skill person-hours. I’ve noticed other NY area meet up groups on meetup.com that appear to have a number of enthusiastic members wanting to donate their labour. (I’m sure that would pose a number of practical issues that would have to be worked out… just a thought!)

    • Thanks, Adrien! I’ve never heard of that site, but I’ll look into it! There’s also a little neighborhood improvement group that might be willing to pitch in. So far I’ve been OK alone and with some help (I hired out the painting for efficiency’s sake), but there’s all sorts of things I could definitely use an extra set of hands for down the road!

  34. After many months of following your blog, I wanted you to know how much I enjoy reading about and sharing your renovation journey! I look forward to every new post, laugh at your sense of humor, and finish each wishing you were an old friend who would help me make the house we moved into a few years ago feel like my home. So glad you have a new project to work because that means there’s still lots left to follow!

  35. You won me over with the Anne of Green Gables reference. I love the name you chose and it’s quite fitting and I think very Avonlea ;)

    The sunburst detail above the door is utterly charming! I’m so excited to see this house get the love it deserves!

  36. Wow, such a cute little place! And I love the name, perfect. I love that you found that original photo, really brings the property to life. That arched trellis is adorable! I also noticed, and was relieved by, the fact that the original door lines up with the windows on either side at the top. That replacement door is horrible for many reasons, but it throwing off the lines of the sidelights is the worst! When you replace it, are you going to get one the same height as the windows, or will that be too expensive? Anyway, have fun with the new project!

    • That’s the plan, Sara! It’s hard to really tell what the original door looked like from the picture (and who knows if it was even original then…), but I think I’ve found something that really suits the house and will fit really well. :)

  37. so excited to read all about this project! cute little house! :)

  38. I’m so excited for this project! I think it’s awesome that you’re taking it on and can’t wait to see all the progress.

  39. OMG that entrance is going to be so good once you get your hands on it!!! it makes me want to buy another old house and fix it up! (‘cept old houses around here are much more expensive!) How much fun.

  40. A friend of mine had his similar casement windows replicated by a local CT lumber store for a can’t beat it price. Also I believe he said replacement glass panes go for $3 each. As illustrated in your after before pics the putty repeatedly cracks and needs regular replacement.

    • Man, it would be pretty cool to have some of the really rough windows replicated…I can’t imagine it being cheap, though! I’m really hoping I can just salvage what’s here. A lot of times window putty that fails is either just REALLY old or the result of a poorly done repair…there are a lot of factors that can cause putty to fail prematurely (and lots of variation in the quality of putties out there), but a well-restored window shouldn’t really need that kind of maintenance for a very long time.

  41. I am so so anxious to see what happens next! I love this project.

  42. I started reading you last blog and thought – Oh No! He’s going to Stop Blogging. But by the end I was so happy to think of all the good posts ahead.

    Today, looking at this charming little house, it somehow seems as if it was just waiting for you. I am so excited to watch this unfold and so happy that you are going to save it from being lost.

    Also, I love the name Bluestone Cottage. Good times ahead.

  43. Holy moly I’m excited to watch this project come along. And I love the idea of more posts : )

  44. Love the name, a little gem of a cottage. I am so along for the ride. You have spurred me on & I am finally going to go to my local archives in October when I have a few days off to research my house. I called today & the archivist was so wonderful. Her own house so not far from mine believe it or not & she gave me a few tips on how to search for mine. I am very excited to see early photos of my house. I love your writing style/voice & can’t wait to read about this renovation.

    • That’s so great, Sherry! I’ve found that people in that type of work are SO excited and helpful when other people care about this stuff—I bet you’ll turn up some great things!

  45. You are now living every house lovers dream. Buy a cute old house and fix it up! Can’t wait to hear about the story about the instragram pic of the door. Love the name you picked too. Simple and factual.

    Just looking at the vine is making me itch! I’m in the ending stages of recovery of Poison Ivy for the second time. Wouldn’t wish is on anybody.

    • Recovering from poison oak. It is miserable, so am also worried for Daniel. There could be evil vines lurking in that yard.

      • I’m so sorry, guys! I once had the craziest case of poison ivy ever…I know how horrific it can be!! Luckily this vine seems to be harmless, but I’m keeping my eye out for others just in case!

  46. I feel like I know spoilers, having seen your latest instagram!
    How big is the backyard? I’m excited to see the inside tour!

    • The backyard is really small…I don’t think I’ve even measured, but maybe about 12 feet deep by 23 feet wide? The front yard is much bigger…there’s about 33′ between the sidewalk and the house!

  47. I love the name. Very dignified, highlights a nice aspect of the house.

  48. Wow, Daniel, this is so cool! So much potential. The asymetrical front is darling and I love seeing the old pic of how it used to look. Question, could you find a goat to eat some of that overgrown yard for you? Good luck and can’t wait to read more about the whole process!

  49. When you dig around in all that leafy mess, be sure to protect yourself and your dogs from ticks and lyme disease.

  50. Um, I haven’t read through the post yet, because I’m just struck by the fact that you followed up a paragraph including the words “Gay Chalet” with the asterisks “*not all that long.” and “**not all that hard, either.” without a hint of irony ;-)

  51. This is so cool! I cannot wait to read about the process and see the outcome. You are one of my favourite bloggers and I am always so happy to see a new post. Good luck with the new project! The cottage is very cute and you are very brave to take on the renovation.

  52. Love this house and can’t wait to see what you do with it. Your blog is my all-time favorite because you have so much respect for the old and the vintage….. and you’re so creative.

  53. I’m very excited to see all the brilliant work you’ll do on this new house! Someone above mentioned it as well, but it would be great to see before and after photos in one place as you work your way through the house. Actually, that would be awesome to see on your own house as well! I love a good before and after :)

  54. Fantastic name and it looks like a good property from the outside. OMG, is that Boston ivy? I had that mess on my brick garage and it took a while to get it off–as well as those little “footprints” that had to be scraped off the brick. It kept coming back and I kept cutting it right back down. It had a really nasty underground root system.

    Love the sunburst above the door, the casement windows, and the sidelights that are original? The current front door is certainly an eyesore. I can’t tell from the photo–what was the original door like?

    I think the hedge would be lovely and I wouldn’t rule out an arbor with a gate opening to the bluestone walk. Roses, anyone?

    Love the whole concept of you doing houses and blogging about them. Love it!

    • I think it might be Boston Ivy, Donna! Thank you! Not sure, but a quick google search definitely makes it look similar…

      I can’t really tell what the old door was like, either! I actually already bought a new door, and sort of just made my best guess about what might have been there and what would look good. Sometimes that’s all you can really do!

  55. I think your question about the vine has been answered: Virginia Creeper. If you find berries on it, don’t eat them! They are super poisonous. The house could look nice with a little Boston Ivy growing on the side, I say. Good luck! I’m excited to follow along in your progress.

  56. We just bought our first home in May (moved in June 1st), and totally underestimated the amount of work the exterior would need. Okay, maybe the issue is that we didn’t estimate or even look at the landscaping at all. Our home had been vacant for a good 5-7 years before we moved in so the amount of weeds and overgrowth was crazy. HOWEVER, it is no where near what you are dealing with here. OMG. It has taken us nearly 4 months to get the exterior looking half-way decent. Thank goodness you know that the heck you’re doing, because if my fiance and I had to tackle that exterior project I think it would take us the full 8 months just to do that project. Cannot wait to see to start seeing some of the afters. This is so exciting!! :)

  57. So exciting! This house has so much potential. I’m totally stumped as to the age. Will have to see more of the inside.

  58. I’ve always been fascinated by the things you find in a trash pile. Why? Good question. Any memorable finds in the contractor bags worth of trash? There must have been something.

  59. I really look forward to your progress on this wonderful cottage rescue! Some plant notes: The vine climbing up the wall is Boston Ivy; nothing poisonous or horrible about it, and it turns beautiful colors in Autumn, but on a wooden house the combination of increased humidity from the leaves and vertical access for insects & other animals make it not such a great idea. As for replanting the boundary hedge: Please, please avoid the temptation of fast-growers like Privet or Forsythia, or scratchy intruders like Barberry. Slow-growing Box or Yew are smarter choices in the long run, and even then can steal much more space than you might realize. A low wooden fence with a couple of small sentinel conifers and a line of well-behaved plants might be more satisfactory in the end than an actual hedge.

  60. Just as many of the other blogs I follow are slowing down or completely stopping, you pull this out the bag. I think I may actually love you! I’ve just bought a total fixer-upper myself (not as bad as yours!) and can’t wait to see how you progress (and steal inspiration along the way!)
    Your neighbours are very lucky people!

  61. Never commented before! Just wanted to say how excited I am about watching this project unfold.

  62. I really like the new house name, Daniel.

    Would you be able to keep that creeper on the side of the house? I like it – perhaps it will change colour in the autumn?

    Looking forward to seeing what paint colours you chose for the exterior.

    • Thanks, Thel! The creeping vine definitely has to go…we have to paint the house, for starters, but vines like that are really bad for clapboard houses (and really, houses in general!). Wild vines have their place, but the side of my house is not one of them! :)

  63. Just adding my voice to the chorus of hearty congratulations and well wishes on this endeavor. Looking forward to all your future posts :)

  64. Daniel,
    From Old House site:
    Vines can make even a new house look rooted to the site. Much as we like the look, however, it’s true that a climbing plant growing directly on a house can threaten the façade, whether it be brick or shingle.

    Shade from a leafy vine will help keep temperatures down in the house during summer. But it also holds moisture between rains, and that can cause problems. Also, the inherent mechanics of the ways vines hold on and climb can damage the building. Some vines push little rootlets into the sheathing, or glue disks into tiny cracks and crevices. In cold climates, expanding moisture in these attachments can actually fracture mortar. Heavy twining plants can pull down the gutter drainpipe or pry up roof shingles.

    Even on stone facaded houses, Ivy causes slender grooves to be etched into the stone. I love ivy, but I think you’ll regret letting it remain.

    • Oh, I’m not even considering letting the ivy stay! Even if we didn’t have to paint the house, the reasons you’ve cited are exactly why I’d remove it anyway. :)

  65. Clean up the yard but go easy on anything final – unless you have a back lane or drive way you will need that area for staging (demo bin for when you gut the interior, drop off of materials,… the list goes on). There’s a reason people leave the outside until the end: it gets trashed throughout construction.
    You should be working from the inside out especially if the HVAC, elec and plumbing need work, but it’s good to get all that vegetation cleared out so you can see what you are working with on the outside and have access to services.

  66. I’m a new follower, and I am SO EXCITED about this project! I am obsessed with old houses, and I love your writing!! Can’t wait to follow along!

  67. Can I just say that I LOVE LOVE LOVE your blog!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I am so excited about your house and Bluestone Cottage! Can’t get enough :)

    Also, Mekko and Linus are too sweet!

  68. I haven’t gotten a chance to comment on the post before this one. I think it’s awesome that you are going to be breathing life back into this house, and I can’t wait to see the results!

  69. OOOOOOOO so exciting! I love demo!!

    Do you think you’ll take the top two inches off the hard with a small bobcat and then put in fresh topsoil/fresh grass right away? I’m Canadian, so our “installing grass” season ends in September, don’t know about Kingston…. So excited to see what you do!

    • I’m pretty sure there’s no way to get a bobcat into the yard! After I started clearing, it quickly became evident that there’s a lot of soil build-up and some grading issues, though, so there’s going to be a lot of work out here getting that sorted, and I don’t have a ton of faith that grass would really be able to grow out here quite yet! The house is going to be pretty crazy for the next several months…lots of people coming in and out, LOTS of garbage and debris…I don’t think that poor grass would make it very long! Hopefully in the spring, though. :)

  70. This project looks so exciting, and the cottage is adorable.

    One thought though.
    “Technically the land the hedge would go on isn’t mine, but I’m going to go ahead and guess the landlord of this building isn’t going to complain if I clean up a little of his property, too.”

    This is your neighbor you are talking about, not your absentee landlord from Brooklyn who you’ll never have to talk to or see again if he doesn’t like the changes you’ve made there. Even if the landlord doesn’t live in the building, if you do this and it does piss him/her off, you’ve made an enemy for the rest of the renovation, and potentially longer (the cottage is just down the street from your home, right?). If you think it is really unlikely that the owner of the neighboring house would object, then you risk nothing by asking, and might have the opportunity to build a good relationship. You said one of the things you like about your new town is the relationships and sense of community. Foster that sense of community by involving your neighbors, not just guessing about what they will or won’t mind you doing to their property.

    • I completely hear what you’re saying, Jennifer—I probably should have explained myself better. I feel like the little strip of land I’m talking about (which is about a foot wide) is sort of my responsibility at this point…the fence (which is mine) really serves no point and has restricted access to the area (which is his, but nobody can get to it) for probably decades at this point, meaning that it’s become home to a TON of vines and other invasive plants as well as a boatload of garbage. I promise, there is NOTHING to ruin here—you’d literally have to be insane to be mad about it getting cleaned up. Both properties will be better off for having it cleaned and accessible for future maintenance, and that’s kind of just an objective fact!

  71. Based on this post alone, I want to buy it!! I’m so excited to watch this develop.

  72. This has nothing to do with the matter at hand, but would you consider doing a piece on Kingston and/or the Hudson valley in general, like favorite places, restaurants, shops, something like that? There were a few articles in the NY Times about it and the whole from Brooklyn to the Hudson valley thing. I know, you wrote a bit on that subject when you wrote about buying the house and when you wrote about the kitchen floor breakdown. Anna also wrote quite a bit about her decision making and the commute and so on. It’s just really difficult to get a grasp on the whole NYC / Hudson valley dynamic from a European perspective. You wrote it’s “just” two hours from New York. When I travel two hours from Berlin, depending on the direction, I reach the Baltic Sea, Hamburg, Hannover, Dresden or Poland.

    I’m really looking forward to the posts about the cottage. I’m checking daily, if there are pictures of the interior up.

  73. I have bern a reader from the beginning when you redid your dorm room. I don’t know you personally but am proud of you and how much you have grown. Congratulations on this new project. I can’t wait to read future posts.

  74. Howdy Neighbor,
    Thought of you today when I realized that we really need help visualizing a new bathroom at the church.
    As it stands, it is too bad for words–the Ultimate Design Challenge! So I thought I’d actually put it out there as a Design Challenge. Do you think that’s a good idea? I have pictures.
    Congratulations again on all the great work on the Bluestone Cottage. We look forward to seeing you after we can actually see over the snowbank.
    Peace and love,
    Darlene

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