New Season, New Project!

It’s SPRINGGGGGGGGG! This might be old news to some of you but it just happened in the past couple of weeks up in the Hudson Valley. I’ve been blissfully popping Claritin-D and huffing prescription nasal spray and I don’t even care about these sinus headaches because it’s finally warm and sunny and not horrible outside.

You might be thinking to yourself: “since it’s finally warm, isn’t it high time Daniel got back to the cottage renovation?”.

You’d be correct.

Except it’s a different cottage. Not mine. I need another house like I need hole in my head. Bluestone Cottage is on hold for a minute while I attend to some more pressing matters that pay better than working for myself. Matters that look like this:

exterior1

Here we have a whacky little 1,100 square foot cottage out in Olivebridge, which is a whacky little town near the Ashokan Reservoir, about 30 minutes from Kingston. We’ll call it Olivebridge Cottage, as it’s a cottage in Olivebridge. I know. You probably can’t even handle my creativity.

This is a client gig and I am stoked. This house is one crazy mo’fo’ and I can’t wait to get my grubby little paws on it.

The clients are actually a couple of friends who I’ve known for a few years now, Adriana and Barry. Adriana and I met when I went to Sweden a few years ago (Max and she were in the same program at Parson’s), and my love for her was intense and immediate. She’s a lunatic ex-attorney Texan-Brazilian-Jew-Unicorn hybrid with possibly the most energy of any person I’ve ever known. I met Barry sometime after that and he’s equally lovely, though slightly less frenetic, which is such a groovy balance. They live in Manhattan but got the upstate itch a while back and closed on this lil’ fixer baby a few months ago. It’ll be a place for them to escape to on the weekends and a vacation rental for visitors (yeah, you can stay here when it’s all done!), so pressure’s on to make it amazing.

The budget on this project is small and the timeline is short and the expectations are high and the challenges are numerous, so what could go wrong, right? Let’s take a little trip inside…

entryway2

This is a funny house. Looks are deceiving here…it’s actually a pretty old house (maybe 1920s?) that’s been added onto at least 5 times, so there’s a lot going on and some weird spaces to contend with. The previous owner was a contractor of some sort who did some pretty heavy renovations in the 80s/90s—some of them good, some of them not so good. My job is basically to go in and fix what’s broken, do a big ole kitchen renovation, and refine all the small little details that just weren’t done so well the first time around. They’re not living there while this is going on, so I basically have the freedom to tear it all apart and put it back together again. Let me at it!

ANYWAY, above is the little entryway/vestibule thingy. It’s cute, but definitely needs some TLC in the form of paint, some better hooks, and maybe a lighting upgrade. I actually happen to kind of like that light but maybe not for this house. We’ll see how far the budget takes us…

guestbedroom

To the left of the entryway is this little enclosed porch, which can technically be called a second bedroom. It’s small but full of windows, which makes it feel super bright and pretty. The plan in here is to remove the closet (it just takes up too much space, isn’t necessary for this house, and doesn’t need to be there for this to qualify as a bedroom—I checked). Then it’ll mostly be a lot of paint, probably replacing that fan, and decking it out all cute-like with a little daybed and a rug and all that fun stuff. I have a feeling I’m going to want to crash here by the end…

entryway3

To the right of the entryway is the rest of the house! I’ll post a floor plan next time so you can get a better sense of how these spaces connect—it’s definitely a little unorthodox and bizarre, but totally workable.

entryway1

Inside the living room, there’s a wood stove on a big bluestone pad and lots and lots of beadboard panelling. The beadboard is the nice tongue-in-groove solid pine variety, but we all agree that painting it out is going to be the best plan here. The previous owners did a sort of white-washed finish on it, but pine tends to go kind of pink unless you compensate with some yellow/brown tint, which is what’s gone down here. The pink tone combined with the major wood bleed on all the knots is just not a good look, although admittedly these pictures are pretty flattering despite what it looks like in real life. It’s not cute. The subtle texture of the beadboard painted white will be nice, though.

LivingRoom1

Here’s that area from another angle, so you can get a better sense of the space! It’s so good, right? Or, like, it will be. The vaulted ceilings are great, and all the windows give the whole house such beautiful light and views. Not every window has a great view, but most of them are all forest and lichen-covered boulders and upstate NY magic. It’s already such a nice place to spend my days working!

My immediate reaction to this house is that it really wants to have a fun, bright, casual, minimal Scandinavian cottage kind of vibe, which is almost too appropriate considering a big basis of my friendship with Adriana is our time in Sweden and Finland. She and Barry are totally on board with this, which is so exciting for me. I’ve kind of been lost in old-house-restoration-mode for the past couple of years, so I’m excited to flex some modernist/minimalist muscle in here and whip it into the kind of house it’s aspiring to be.

sunkenlivingroom

One side of the living room houses this really odd sunken space, which I’m sure used to be a porch and was also enclosed at some point. The ribbon windows along the long wall and side let in a great amount of light, but the vintage corbels in the corners and that weird trim piece in the middle between the posts are just all wrong for this place. This area is part of the fun and part of the challenge of this house. I have a plan and I think it’s gonna be great.

TVcabetc

On the other side of the living room is this funny/terrible TV cabinet set-up, which is going to get demo’d and replaced with something much cleaner and better looking that’s flush with the wall. I’m assuming this was constructed in the olden days of the 90s when tube TVs were still a thing, but it doesn’t need to be this deep anymore.

Hallway1

Up those couple of stairs is this little hallway, with a closet on the left and a full bathroom on the right. The flooring in this hallway is kind of a mess and will probably get replaced. A big challenge of this house is using the budget to not only fully renovate the space, but also unify all of these additions that hail from different eras and make use of all these different materials—right now there are six different types of flooring in the house, which just makes it feel choppy and disconnected.

MasterBedroom1

The main bedroom is sweet but needs some work. The maple flooring runs into this room, too, and should look great with refinishing. The room is a nice size for a queen bed, a couple little side tables, and a dresser, but is going to take a deceptive amount of work to bring up to speed. The walls are in bad shape, the electrical is weirdly placed, that fan is driving me bonkers, and we have got to refine the moldings throughout the house. The 1×4 is just way too chunky for this modernist minimalist escape. That’s a lot of the work here…it’s like everything was done decently well until the last 10-20% of the last remodel and then things kind of fell apart. Nothing that can’t be fixed, though.

livingdining

Back in the living room space, we have a few steps leading up into the dining room and kitchen area. The folding table and chairs are not permanent.

To the right of the stairs is this big propane-powered heater, which functions as the main heat source for the living/dining/kitchen space when the wood stove isn’t burning and keeps the pipes from freezing when nobody’s home. It’s kind of a beast and pretty unattractive, so we’re looking into possible replacements or at the very least relocating it. One of the goals here is to extend the stairs and open up that wall where the propane heater is sitting as much as we can, so I’m meeting with my HVAC dude today to brainstorm what we can do about it.

dining3

The dining room is nice, though! We’ll need to sort out the moldings, electrical, a new light fixture, flooring, paint, and obviously furniture! Can’t you just see a nice round dining table with some great chairs and an amazing pendant light? OK, well, you don’t have to. That’s my job.

halfbath

On the other side of the dining room is the biggest issue with the whole house…this wall! Behind that door is a half-bathroom, which also houses a small utility closet for the hot water tank. We’re trying to figure out the best option for replacing it with an on-demand tankless hot water heater, which can hopefully move much more out of the way than where it is now—maybe even into the crawlspace below. And the half bath? It’s gotta go.

I KNOW. I know the classic wisdom is that more bathrooms add value to houses, but in this case, it’s just stupid. It takes up an ENORMOUS amount of space, and let’s just remember that this house is 1,100 square feet and really a one-bedroom but technically a two-bedroom. It does not need a half-bathroom like ten steps away from the full bath, and it certainly doesn’t need one practically in the dining room. I mean, excuse my french, but who wants to be eating dinner while someone is taking a shit right there? Nobody.

kitchen4

All that space could be put to much better use by giving it over to the kitchen, though! So that’s the plan. The existing galley kitchen is just small and cramped and worse for wear, so the bulk of this renovation is blowing out that half-bath, gutting the existing kitchen, and putting in a new fancy kitchen that’s open to the dining space and much better suited to entertaining and socializing and not having a poop-center right in the middle of it all.

kitchen3

The existing kitchen looks to be from about the 1950s and updated with a little paint and new countertops whenever the house was renovated last. Unfortunately the cabinets are mostly built in place and pretty much shot, so everything except the fridge and stove are getting replaced. The floor has a pretty significant slant going on, too, so we’ll probably have to take everything down to the studs and joists to get it all level and ready for new flooring and cabinets and everything else. Hopefully the structural issues aren’t too big of a deal, but unfortunately it’s one of those things that’s hard to figure out how extensive the problems are until things are opened up a bit.

kitchen1

Currently the kitchen also houses a washer/dryer unit, which we’re planning to relocate to the hall closet with new stacked units. It’s not super ideal to lose that much closet space to a washer and dryer, but it’ll free up the kitchen and because this is primarily a vacation house, it really doesn’t need a lot of closet space. We’ll need to add a little storage to compensate but that shouldn’t be a problem considering all the space we’re gaining back from losing the half-bath.

kitchen2

Anyway, tearing into this space is going to be fun fun fun. There are some things we don’t really know, like why the window sill is so deep or what’s contained in the soffit above the upper cabinets or why the sink isn’t centered under the window or how they got the checkerboard patterned curtains to match the backsplash tile so exactly, but I guess we’ll find out! Curtains might remain a mystery, though.

I can’t wait to get this project going! We’ve been talking and planning for a couple of months now and while the budget and timeline make me a little nervous, it’s all going to be great and so worth it. Adriana and Barry have been amazing to work with and I think we’re all totally on the same page with this place, which is just so much fun. Next time we’ll dig into the plans!

Yay for Olivebridge Cottage! This is going to be a fun one.


147 Comments

  1. Soffits are fun fun fun- we recently gutted our kitchen, and hiding under our soffits were….. MORE soffits! Like nesting dolls. The worst kind of nesting dolls. Good luck- it has great potential!

  2. Hey Daniel,

    this looks like a really nice house, I’m sure you’ll do amazing things with it…its owners are lucky to have you for this project.

    Also, wishing you nothing but the best for the future, you’re so lucky to have a job you love so much!

    X

    Nele

  3. Great good luck with this project, Daniel! Can’t wait to see the progress. Spring has sprung and it will be a new beginning for you as well. I’ve been following your blog for years and wish you well.

  4. What a wonderful project! Your ideas are exciting! It sounds like just what you need right now, too: step outside of your own life for a little while, work on something that will be a fresh start. I think it will do your head and heart a world of good.

    • So true—I’ve actually already started the work and it’s just so much fun to get back into the swing of things. Total refresh!

  5. Can’t wait to see what this one looks like when you’re done with it, it has great potential. May the structural issues be limited!

  6. I can’t wait to see what you do with this house! That half-bath/kitchen area is a huge disast (“How can we make this space more claustrophobic? I know, let’s add a crappy breakfast bar in the already-narrow entryway to the tiny kitchen!”) and I look forward to seeing you transform it into a functional space.

    • Isn’t that breakfast bar thing ridiculous? I can’t imagine wanting to sit there…ever. I was half-expecting that little knee wall to the right of it to contain some kind of plumbing or electric, but nope! It’s all totally useless!

  7. What a fun house, I love all the levels. Can’t wait to see what it will become. Will you be putting up a floor plan, always helps to envision how the spaces work together. Looking forward to this series of posts.

  8. OMG you are so great. What a weird, awesome little house! Those windows and views!! I think the minimalist, cheerful Scandinavian vibe sounds so perfect. Can’t wait to see how it goes!!

  9. Best of luck on this remodel and in every other way, Daniel <3
    I came across a product called Paperstone today. I believe it is made of the same stuff as those beautiful Epicurean cutting boards. Years ago I heard that workers from a bankrupt paper mill bought the operation and started fabricating these recycled paper-based countertops. Very cool backstory, right? Here is the link: http://www.paperstoneproducts.com/

    • I’ve seen that before! It seems great. The budget on this project is teeny-tiny considering all the work, so I think we’re going a DIY route for counters…but I do love those!

  10. There’s something about black and white checkerboard that makes me nostalgic for high end 80s decor. I don’t know why. Square, white tile, primary colors, framed Nagel prints…none of these was a part of my childhood (my parents weren’t snazzy enough to care), but I think I must’ve wanted them to be.

    Anyway, I’m definitely feeling the Scandinavian vibe. I think it’s great you have a place to work without the pressure (and mess) that come with owning it. Can’t wait to see what’s in store, and I’m totally with you on embracing Spring with two open arms and burning eyes (Midwest here).

    • Couple of years ago we reno-ed our bathroom (which comes straight off the dining room, no choice about it, thanks a lot Daniel! ;) ), and put in black and white checkerboard tiles. My reasoning was that they’re not really *in fashion* but neither are they ever horribly unfashionable/dated. They always remind you of something else/ some other time, but nothing quite precise. I think.

      • I can see how that’s true! I think this particular application/arrangement is not a good look, but you know I don’t have anything against black and white! :)

    • I was going to bring up the black and white checkerboard tile as well. I like it. I’d do it if I were putting in tile. I’m boggling at all the beadboard, though. I’d definitely go with painting it white. Or black, like the bathroom wall in this post from Door Sixteen
      http://www.doorsixteen.com/2013/11/08/yeah-i-could-live-there-7/
      (Yeah, I could live there, too!)

      • That place is pretty damn perfect! Although I gotta say, I think the black works because it’s an accent, the boards are horizontal, and it looks like an opaque stain rather than paint…I think white is the way to go with this house!

    • Yeah, there’s something about b/w tile floors that make me think of British pre-war kitchens or old Parisian shops. Tile walls, however, are a different animal. Maybe it’s the high gloss that’s so 80s.

  11. love it! i was so expecting carpet, wallpaper and brass fixtures based on the outside but what a wonderful little surprise in there. of course it’s easy for us to pipe up with our thoughts when we have the luxury of not having to spend a dime but (down the road) I’m thinking that the right side of the house with the siding could look super cute with shakers. not sure if that’s consistent with the area but that’s where my head went.

    looking forward to watching it progress!

    • I wish we had the budget to do more with the exterior! Maybe in a few years they’ll bring me back. :)

  12. So excited to see this project unfold. Are you going to move the wood stove, which blocks that beautiful window? (Please!) Also, no mention of the bathroom that’s staying. Any plans for that space?

    • I don’t think the wood stove is moving…there’s nowhere else for it to really go and we don’t have the budget to relocate it, tear up the bluestone on the floor, patch the roof, etc. etc. It’s not ideal but I think we can make it work. :)

      I didn’t get any good pictures of the bathroom! We might be making some small changes in there but mostly no—it’s been recently renovated and is actually pretty nice. A few cosmetic updates and that’s about it.

  13. I saw the kitchen shot on the FB post and thought… Ugh, what is he thinking with that checkerboard motif?!?!?… And then I felt such relief when I clicked on the post. Black, white, and red are favorite colors of mine, but this kitchen is an example of how not to use them together. Looking forward to seeing what you do, I am sure it will be fabulous!

    • You thought I would make a kitchen like that?? I’ll try not to be offended, haha. The new kitchen is going to be SO much better…just you wait…:)

    • It’s better than granite/oak/stainless! Actually, even almond/avocado is better than oak/granite.

  14. The O.C.

  15. Ooh, exciting!
    I might have missed it– will you be doing anything to the outside?

    • Might do a few little things, but mostly no…we just don’t have the budget for it. Otherwise I’d be breaking out cans of black paint and going at it!

  16. I have exactly the same vision upon meeting this house, so Northern Maritime! I’d be tempted to totally blow the budget on reclaimed wood floors everywhere and then just eat on said floors;). That new kitchen is going to be so perfect for vacationing and entertaining.

  17. Love, love, love it! Talk about great bones for a vacation home! This is going to be fun.

  18. Well imagine that, because buying an adorable little house upstate and hiring you to transform it into a tranquil Nordic-inspired oasis masterpiece is pretty much my most treasured dream in life. A little jealous of Adriana and Barry right now.

    Can’t wait to see what’s coming next!!

  19. What a cool project. A big thank you! to Adriana and Barry to let you share this with us, it will be so fun to watch and read! The cheerful scandi is definitely what it needs, and yay for the vaulted ceilings and all the windows. So to spring and to new beginnings, we love you Daniel, cheers!

  20. So excited for the new series! I love this blog!

  21. I will love to see your interpretation of scandinavian! It does look very familiar with the wood both indoor and outdoor. I do think the danes does the best version of get-a-way cottages. They are all into naturalistic, minimalist, black on the outside, white on the inside. Not a bid fan of all white, but it does make for pretty pictures =) http://www.skonahem.com/inredning/sommarhus/svarta-och-skonhet

    • @Louise, black on the outside was my first thought too – tucked into the woods like that and with the very appropriate clean, fresh Scandi-white goodness on the inside, a dark exterior would be brilliant! It’s amazing how black/very dark paint can unify architectural mishmashes into a glorious moody whole.

      I’ve got a Pinterest board called Love Me A Black House with loads of drool-worthy examples. Most seem to be from various points in Scandinavian but not all: https://www.pinterest.com/CatbirdFarm/love-me-a-black-house/

      • I’d LOVE to paint this house black, ugh. Unfortunately I don’t think it’s in the budget at all, but maybe someday when they have to repaint I can convince them…:)

    • UGH, that is gorgeous. Thanks for the link!!

  22. Such a cute little place. Hope there are no nasty surprises hiding behind the soffits, deep sill and underneath those slant floors. Are you getting Edwin or a contractor to help you on this project? Quite a bit of demo to do too.

    • Yes! All the usual suspects are on board for this project—love my guys. :)

      I’ll be handling the vast majority of the demo and the finishing details, but Edwin will handle framing/sheetrock, Carl for plumbing, Duane for electric…same story, different house!

  23. Daniel..this cottage is so great…the windows…and I love the quirky added on feel of it..the different levels…that wood stove(all though not keen on it being right in the middle of that great view, maybe it could be moved over?)….but those ceiling fans!! so many..so big…so awful…

    You will do wonders with this place I just know it…I see many trips to Ikea in your future…so looking forward to the posts on this one!… sending love from Toronto!

    • That was definitely my first thought as well! “…Oooo a woodstove! …In front of… a window? Huh?” Is that even safe? Let alone the obstruction of that amazing view. Plus, the hearth directly in the path of the door seems like a tripping hazard, at least for us clumsy folk. It’s got so much potential, but that’s one bizarre set-up right there.

      • Well, let’s hope it’s safe and legal, because we haven’t budgeted for changing it! Too many other things on the table, but I think it’ll look good when it’s all done!

  24. Amazing potential-this is going to look so beautiful! Can’t wait to see its evolution. It also made me think of a Taschen book I have called Sweden style. Good inspiration there.

    • Ohhhhhhh…why haven’t I seen that book! Something tells me an amazon order is getting placed ASAP…:)

  25. What a great project. When I saw the picture of the dining room with the steps I totally understood your Scandinavian design plan. I can’t wait to see how this develops. And to be honest, I can’t wait for the floor plan post either – I’m having trouble making sense of it from pics. It really is fun to do something so different from your existing restoration projects.

  26. Oh, how fun. Definitely a wacky little house, but you will make it look welcoming, fun and just plan wonderful.

  27. Ooooh! Can’t wait to see how it all comes out! So much great potential! Just a thought – if you’re already moving a propane heater around, it might be worth looking into how easy it would be to run a line to the kitchen for a gas stove instead of electric. It would be a definite improvement if the owners like to cook. Cheers!

    • I might look into running a line for if they decide down the line, but they actually prefer an electric range and reusing the existing stove (which is relatively new and in good shape) will save us a good chunk of change. :)

  28. Yay!! Here’s to Spring and New Beginnings!

  29. This is just my two sense. I think you might want to reconsider a 1/2 bath down the the line. Being a vacation rental and there is children, it’s hard for them to wait. I know how hard that is because we are in the middle of a big bath reno here and down to one bathroom it’s hard. All your plans are great and look forward to your posts. Thanks for reading. It’s going to look great!

    • It’s possible that they’ll do another addition to the house down the road which might include a half bath, but there’s just no room for it with the existing floorpan! Unfortunately it’s just one of those trade-offs…and we chose nice kitchen over half-bath. :)

  30. HOORAY! Keep that entry light for your home somewhere?

  31. Looks like a fantastic project! Can’t wait to see what you do with it– I’m relatively new to your blog but am a huge fan, Daniel– you do such great work!! And yes, thank goodness for Spring! It was a rough winter here in the northeast. Greetings from southern Maine…

  32. What a strange floorplan! You are totally right though – this house has Scandinavian written all over it. I can’t wait to see how it turns out!

  33. Fun! The house looks like it gets great light that I am super envious of. I’m really interested to see what you have planned for that little step down area in the living room. It seems so narrow but I’m sure you have some genius idea up your sleeve! Can’t wait to see the progress!

  34. I can totally see it in my head! I love all the light, and can’t wait to see what you do with it. I think it’s going to be charming :)

  35. It’s a lovely little cottage. I’m looking forward to seeing how you progress with it. I hope you don’t uncover too many “oh nasty” surprises. But if you do, I know you’ll deal with them just fine. Many thanks to the owners for allowing you to feature the work. You can tell them I’m jealous of them. I’d love that house.

  36. Imagining this was my house, I’d put in heated floors for winter and see what I could do about an outhouse for a half bath replacement, you know if it’s winter and there’s a power failure–or not.

    • We’re debating heated floors, but we’ve BARELY started and the budget is already hurting, so i think it’s going to get nixed. Ah, well…

  37. That house is adorable mostly because of the potential! And yeah, I can see where you’re going win the Scandinavian vibe, especially with the vaulted ceilings in the main room… It’s gonna be so great, I can’t wait to see what it’s gonna look like!

    Specifically, in a really self-interested way, I’m looking forward to seeing a semi-modern-Scandinavian-ish way of dealing with a wood stove. Because that’s my current dilemma, and I am lacking inspiration that isn’t country-chic, and I CANNOT deal with full-time country-chic. Witness my pain. It’s a challenge.

  38. Wait, are we not talking about the trapdoor?! WHAT’S UNDER THE TRAPDOOR IN THE KITCHEN.

    The older the house the scarier the crawlspace. Hopefully it’s just an old-style root cellar or icebox sort of deal.

    • OMG SAME. The suspense!

      • I am so glad to know I’m not the only one thinking this!

      • Yes, hello — trap door?!?! C’mon, man, don’t leave us hanging.

        I’m with you on the elimination (ha ha) of the 1/2 bath in the dining room. I have some friends who have that and I HATE using it and HATE when anyone else uses it. Very poor placement.

      • It’s just a crawlspace! Shoulda mentioned. My bad!

    • Ha! None of the spaces in the house have full basements, so there are actually THREE trapdoors right now leading into different crawlspaces. It’s a little creepy, but not so bad. We’ll be consolidating to two trapdoors in the house…one will still be in the kitchen and one will remain in the hall closet where it is currently. :)

  39. I’m so excited! My husband and I are planning on building a 1200 square foot cottage for full-time living the country, and I’m trying to lead him to embrace the Scandinavian style. I look forward to seeing where this cottage goes and hope to keep some of the ideas for our house too!

  40. Yay! A new project! It’s gotten to the point, with me, that when I look at old homes online my first thought is “I wonder what Daniel could do with this”.

  41. Oh Daniel, it’s so awesome! I can’t wait to see what you do with this place! Please don’t worry about your post infrequency, when you do post your posts are always SO HIGH IN QUALITY that it’s worth the wait in between! That said, I love that you have yet another project to keep us updated on. Olivebridge Cottage is just the greatest name, too.

  42. Waiting to find out if you keep any of the ceiling fans and manage to find ones that are not awful monstrosities.

  43. I too want to know what is under the trapdoor. My gut says “crawl space” but my imagination says “Narnia.”
    Binge-watched Rehab Addict and thought of you the whole time! The care you put into your spaces so reminds me of Nicole (Nichole?) Anyway… looking forward to this, and to your cashflow improving so we can see more of the Bluestone Cottage :-)

  44. What a fun house–I think that white paneling will be lovely, also. What is up with that window in the kitchen, though, in the 14th or so photograph? I understand the windows echoing the roofline in the other photos–but that one just seems odd. And, the trapdoor just in front of the dishwasher–I’m getting a sense of impending doom there. The suspense is delightful.

    I should complain more often about DH and his procrastination–the Saturday after I mentioned a couple of his long-standing undone projects here on your blog, magnets magically appeared in the lower cabinets in the kitchen and bathroom (I slept late that day). Then the missing baseboards magically appeared in the bathroom on Sunday morning. Then, he painted the nasty, water-damaged bathroom door (though the white proved too bright a white and made the walls look dirty). Now, he says he will paint the bathroom (and he sounds like he means it). Wow. [W]itching in an online forum where he knows my username works wonders.

    I think I will borrow your Martha Stewart Bedford Gray for the walls in the bathroom. If any of your readers has an opinion on that with a bright white door, gray/white tile, and dark cherry Shaker-style woodwork, I’d love to hear it. I’m no good with paint color and usually go with contractor white on walls and then dress everything else up to compensate. But, I had good luck with a taupe in the downstairs bathroom and am feeling somewhat emboldened.

    • Yeah, that window is totally weird. This whole house is weird! It lets in nice light, though, so I think it’s sticking around. It’ll be fine!

      Glad to hear you’re getting some projects checked off the list! Thumbs up, DH. :)

  45. This will be fun to follow.

  46. I see the vision. Cute place. Or will be. Thank you for sharing.

  47. Wow! Nice new project! Looking forward to next posts! :D
    I have read your personal update, really appreciated it. Hope all go well Daniel, take care :)

  48. A poop-center right in the middle of it all?? This is too hilarious! Excellent writing, fantastic project, best luck with it all!!

    • This is why I love this blog, his writing is the best! Otherwise it would be too boring?

  49. So excited!!!! Can hardly wait to see what you do with this!!!!

  50. I’m so excited to follow this project, Daniel.

    Thank you thank you thank you for sharing with us. Yours is truly one of the very best blogs and each of your posts is a treasure.

  51. Theodore Roethke says a poet “looks out at a courtyard of rubble and from this make something beautiful.” I think designers/architects/engineers do this as well. Thank you for including us in the process, Daniel. I am excited to see this project through.

  52. I agree with almost everything but I totally thought that first picture of the entry was the “inspiration” photo! I may be out in left field by myself, here, but I LOVE that blonde wood paneling throughout the house, and the entry light rocks (though I’d take some industrial solvent to the lacquer on the brass…)

    • Aw, if only it was really blonde wood! In real life it’s totally pink and riddled with bleed-through from the knots and really, really just not cute. Oh, and I like that light, too! Just maybe for a different house. :)

  53. I can see that the walls will look good painted, the wood ones and the drywall, the paint will marry them together, but those floors! Other than the bluestone, which I like, it seems to me the only way to tie the rest together would be wood floors throughout. I really dislike the way the tiles in the entry and the room off the entry look – they are crying out for wood, as is the carpeted living room. Good luck with this one – will be interesting to see what you do!

  54. My proposal for the sunken part of the living room: turn it into the world’s biggest built-in daybed. Cover with 20 pillows. Lounge and sprawl with great abandon, plus sleep four people in one enormous cuddle pile. Kidding/not kidding.

  55. Wow! What an awesome project! That house is seriously amazing looking with the ceilings and the heater and the wood paneling (which would be sweet painted white).

    You’re right about all the trims though, so bulky. A nice idea may be to inset them. A couple on The Block (a super popular Australian home renovation competition/reality TV show) did something like that in season 6 and it looked really, really nice. Here’s a link https://www.pinterest.com/pin/354165958166803753/. They ran it through their entire apartment.

    And of course if that’s not interesting, you may find interest in the show itself (up to season 10 now with 11 being filmed at the moment) so here’s the wiki; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Block_%28Australian_TV_series%29 and you can watch for free online at Channel 9 (although I’m not sure if it’ll work outside Australia).

    Enjoy! and good luck!

  56. I think more black and white checkerboard is hiding in the soffits.

    Also, how are we not talking about that ceiling fan in the bedroom? Holy mother. (Ha! Pun.)

  57. Daniel, this is a time of transition for you, so I’m glad that you feel so at home in Kingston. I currently live in a European city of 3.5 Million, and it is hard to live with so much noise and concrete, and so many people all over the place. You are wise to know where you need to be to feel at ease with yourself.

    I LOVE this new house! It’s the kind of place I’d live in . . . after you’ve finished with the renovation, of course! I can’t wait to see what you do. My only bad gut reaction is to the huge, seemingly completely out-of-proportion bluestone ‘hearth’ that seems to be seeping into the living space. Have you any thoughts or plans for changing that? Thumbs up to Scandanavian style. Clean and simple, light and space.

  58. Here we were, feeling a bit sad about your personal update, and hoping you are ok, then WHAM! You swoop in like a total super hero and lift us up with something so full of amazingness and anticipation and I can hardly even cope. You are a legend. Totally love you!

    • Yeah – I feel the same way – and I know you didn’t want comments but I had to say THANKYOU for the heartfelt previous post – so human and real and moving – respect

  59. I am with you! I can’t imagine taking a bite of food and seeing a toilet not to mention potential smells. Ugh! Even if the door was just relocated into the hallway or such. I am looking forward to reading your posts and watching the progress. You have amazing talent.

    Sending hugs and wishes that many blessings come your way.

  60. I love, love love your site, your voice, and your projects. Can’t wait to see this one come to life!

  61. In your travels through the blogosphere, if you should ever come across the person(s) that decided tongue and groove paneling made of cheap pine on four walls was a terrific idea for a cozy wall treatment, please paint their eyes closed with BINS 123. Nothing spoils cozy like sap drips and knot stains, (And don’t get me started on those who felt it was okay to do the ceiling as well.)

  62. I cracked up at the phrase “poop center,” just so you know. (Seriously, who thought it was a good idea to put powder rooms basically in dining rooms? Why did that catch on and go wide?)

  63. that wood stove! those vaulted ceilings! those giant windows + gorgeous view! swoon.

    i can’t wait to see the transition!

  64. Wow – mega jealous x 1000! This looks like it will be a blast to renovate.
    Too bad that half bath can’t be accommodated elsewhere. I agree opening it all up is far better, but if two couples rent the place it’s nice to have that extra washroom…

  65. I want to live in this house. How do people have “vacation homes” that are a million times more adorable than my full-time home?? WHAT DID I DO WRONG IN MY LIFE??

  66. Adriana is one of my best friends! I’m so happy to see she and Barry are in good hands. Super excited to see (and visit) the cottage when it is done. I’ll keep an eye out for a cool house warming gift from down here in Austin!

  67. Hmm, wondering about those ceiling fans… generally people install ceiling fans as a solution to something. Since I haven’t seen your floorplan yet, but it does seem a little wonky, and there are great windows, but a lot of them look like sheets of glass that don’t open – I am thinking 1) poor air circulation leading to the place heating up like a greenhouse and/or 2) mosquitos from that nearby lake.
    Unless you are planning to install A/C (the solution I see here in Texas, pretty much everywhere!), you might want to either identify and address the underlying issue that led to the proliferation of unattractive ceiling fans – or to replace them with nicer ones.
    Also – I am so excited to see a post from you with a new project house! I was *seriously* about to accuse you of writing a book, instead of entertaining your fanatic blog followers…

    • Yep, the plan is to replace/relocate them so they’ll still have the benefits but not the eyesore. Most of the big windows don’t open but the smaller ones do, so the house actually has a nice amount of circulation. Even still, I think we’re leaning toward installing one of those mini-split heat pump systems and nixing the propane monster, so there will be some A/C, too!

      • The mini-splits are great. They save space and energy and the outdoor unit is virtually silent. I installed those so I’d have heat and air in an attic room and a/c downstairs without the vents. The price upfront is high but saving space and energy in an older, under-insulated space more than makes up for it. And bonus points for getting rid of an ugly propane tank, which I assume is outside, and eventually being able to hook up to solar.

  68. Riffing on Trotula’s suggestion, check out Eero Saarinen’s design for the Irwin Miller house in Columbus IN with interior design by the incomparable Alexander Girard. http://designobserver.com/feature/making-the-modern-house-home/26158/
    The sunken living room with all those amazing pillows (could be Marimekkos) might just work in the cottage. How amazing would that be!

    • Wow, I think that Saarinen sofa with pillows would look great in that sunken room! (You could actually construct this fairly cheaply using foam pieces cut to fit and wood – you just need someone to sew the upholstered cushion covers.) And the windows are high enough that the sofas and pillows would fit under them. The sofas could act as beds for additional houseguests (always nice to have in a vacation house) with the pillows and seat cushion backs removed. You could even add curtains to the side of the space to be able to separate it off from the living room for a little privacy when using it as a guest room.

      Since the nice bluestone is staying, I see on that bluestone next to the stove a comfy, cool-looking chair that swivels – so whomever is sitting in it can look out the window behind the stove, or face the stove, or face the living room or the sunken room. It’d be a great perch!

  69. This place is adorable. It kind of makes me want wood paneling everywhere. It’s going to look ridiculously amazing when it’s painted.

    Also, I thought about you all weekend. Sending you lots of love.

  70. Oh my gosh those little red knobs on the cabinets in the kitchen remind me of when my parents redecorated our kitchen in the 1990’s. My dad is Irish and decided on white cupboards, green countertops, and nearly-florescent orange knobs and pulls. (You know, like the Irish flag: green, white, and orange).

    So as you wonder about the checkered curtains, I picture someone (my dad) being just so over the moon because they found that one thing to really “bring the room together”. It goes in hand with the vision of my mom rolling her eyes.

    Best of luck in life and love. :-)

  71. What a beautiful setting! Lichen covered boulders? my favorite things ever. This little cottage has great potential and you are definately the man for the job. It’s good that you have a project to take your mind off em… the other thing which I won’t mention other than to say I’m sad for you both that it didn’t work out. Anyway onward and upward. Hugs, Luna.

  72. SWOOON!!!! I know you will do great things with this cute little number. I can see a lot of black and white contrast, brass accents, wood decor and textural fabrics. Have you checked out H&M home online? I’m obsessed. Cheap, cheap cheap and trendy. Did I mention cheap?
    I have followed you forever and you never cease to amaze. Welcome to this new chapter of your life. King of Kingston :)

  73. hahaha, who wants to take a shit while their friends are so close they can hear every plop?!
    I can’t wait to see the magic you perform here. And love to you both in regards to your last post.
    Mx

  74. Daniel–this is a really exciting project!

    It’s just the right blend of charm and bizarre quirks — some of the quirks will add to the charm and some of them will rightfully be rethought and eliminated to make way for a unified vision of the space.

    Can’t wait to watch this one unfold. Post often! :)

  75. Three houses to work on?!!? It’s almost too much to bear.

  76. Quick two cents on tankless hot water heaters in the crawlspace….I had one in the crawlspace house before last and every time the power went out, I had to go under the house and reset it. Of course, I never remembered about this until I was trying to take a shower at 6 am. Not fun. May have just been a poor design/installation but just something to think about. Looking forward to see what you do with this place!

  77. Oh man, I can’t wait for Kieran and I to have an upstate fixer upper that we can then hire you to oversee a renovation on… HUGE budget with daily pastries/burritos are of course a part of the deal.

    Can’t wait to see what you come up with!

  78. Were any of the additions permitted? Sadly, if the house has permitting and/or code issues you’ll have to budget for that before doing the fun stuff…. which you know… :-)

  79. Love your thinking here and can definitely already see a George Nelson lamp over that dining room table.

    And shouldn’t everyone have an “HVAC Dude” in their life?

  80. I am in the midst of giving my cottage a facelift….perfect timing. Can’t wait to see how this project comes out!!!

  81. Wow. I love this space. Love. Interesting, yet not fussy. Light, bright, and airy. High ceilings, but still cozy and small. If it had a workable kitchen and a humongous, very private, overgrown backyard with lots of gorgeous old trees, it’d be perfect. I totally love the red knobs in the kitchen.

    I have never seen anything so close to what I intend to build for myself one day on a gorgeous piece of land with a lap pool and my new giant dog and maybe a badminton court, all somehow easy walking distance to lots of things and a quick public transit ride from the heart of a fun city. It is so weird to see actual pictures of part of this semi-impossible dream.

  82. I am really loving your vision for this cottage. I can’t wait to watch it unfold. And I totally agree about spring. I will bathe in nasal spray if it makes winter go away.

  83. What a crazy cottage, and fantastic project. Can’t wait for you to work your charms on it. Love your blog, voice and vision, and wish you all the best. ❤️

  84. What an exciting project! I love your ideas and I am itching to see that pine painted white. It’s going to look fabulous! What do you think about turning that sunken area into some kind of bunk room? Maybe put a wall up to enclose it, which would clarify the main room. There is already such a large window there you wouldn’t lose any light, or sense of a view. This would be really handy for a holiday rental, and then the other bedroom could be the gorgeous little sun room it really wants to be, maybe with a day bed in there for an extra sleeping option? Just a thought, I’m no expert.
    xx

  85. A loving mother sewed those curtains; bet you anything.

  86. This makes me want to find a cottage in rural NY! So swoon-worthy!

  87. Another house – I’m amazed and impressed. And absolutely looking forward to seeing how it all unfolds. I’m reading from Melbourne, Australia and have been following your stories since 2011 or so – love your writing! You do make me laugh. I haven’t commented here before but just wanted to pass on my very best wishes for the future. Love your work Daniel – cheers Melissa

  88. Such a lot of great light! I think leaning towards Scandinavia sounds right on. Funny about that half-bath. Really an odd place, I agree. I have to say, though, a LOT of farmhouses where I grew up actually did have bathrooms off of the kitchen (usually bigger kitchens). It never struck me as odd when I was a kid but I would definitely notice now. I’m pretty sure the bathrooms ended up there in those houses because they were installed, in some cases, right as indoor plumbing was becoming common (I grew up in a VERY rural area) and owners wanted to capitalize on having all the pipes run to the same area of the home. Also, a lot of those farms had part time help they’d feed lunch and sometimes dinner to as well — I imagine keeping the bathroom close by allowed the farmer’s family to feel like the rest of their home was at least a little bit private. Anyway, that’s probably not the case with this cottage but it made me reminisce! Looking forward to seeing what happens as the renovations progress.

  89. Hi Daniel; just a thought, there are so many ways of walking through that livingroom that it might bemore like a glorified hallway rather than a nice place to sit. If you connect the entrance to the kitchen, you could get rid of one of the doors leading into the living room. Because it is pretty strange how you have to make all these bends in the route to end up in the kitchen (with your arms full of groceries). I agree with everything you say about the bathroom and the brwakfast bar. Over here that bathroom would be called a toilet rather than a bathroom by the way. Is the entrance right on the sidewalk, or is that a path leading to the front door?
    Good luck I look forward to seeing what you are going to do with it.

  90. Cant wait!! This is going to be SO MUC FUN!!! I am so sorry to hear about your heart ache. I feel for you! Thank Goodness for doggies!!

  91. Is that a trap door in the floor by the washer/dryer?

  92. YAY another Daniel project to lose my mind over! Can’t wait to see how you transform it!

  93. Ridiculously excited to see what you do with this place. I’m sure that entryway in particular is going to look awesome!

  94. Have you seen Dinesen floors? I get the sense that that’s what the former owners were going for with the pine walls and doors. Done correctly, it gives a beautiful pale ethereal light to the space. It’s a tricky process though, bleaching the wood and then white soaping it, apparently, because in fact it can sometimes turn pink. I think Remodelista did a couple posts on achieving the correct tint for a bleached Scandi floor. I’ve been obsessed with Scandi design for a few years. You might like to check out nordicdesign.ca, which has a huge number of fantastic Scandi interiors. Also My Scandinavian Home blog, and any issue of Elle Decoration UK– they feature tons of Scandi interiors (you can get back issues on eBay and read new issues on an iPad.) This blog TOTA features the reno of their weekend house (I think it’s in Finland) and they have bleached pine on their walls and a black exterior. http://www.timeoftheaquarius.com/2015/07/be-patient.html

    By the way, thank you so much for all your posts, I’ve been reading them non-stop. We just bought a weekend foreclosed small place in Stanfordville NY ( below Pine Plains–we are in the East Village) which needs much work, so your posts have been helpful.

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