The second reason is because this project was pretty out of character for us. First, we hired someone in to do some of the work- only the second time in the almost 9 years we've lived here (the other time we hired a carpenter friend to smooth out the drywall in our bedroom after tearing out the wood paneling that was on the walls and ceiling of the room). Jamey usually handles our home projects since it saves us a lot of money. Thirdly, it wasn't cheap. Even though we did as much ourselves as we could, it was an expense and it took a lot of discerning before we pulled the trigger. Eight years of discerning, actually.
In spite of all this, I'm posting about it. But please understand this was a real (lengthy) process. So with all that said, here's the story. Because you know there's got to be a story, right? Right.
We live in a farmhouse built circa 1897. The original house was two front rooms and two second story rooms above them (the portion seen below on the left with the two brick chimneys coming through the roof). Later, a two-story extension was built out the back with a second-story porch that has since been closed in. Those four windows on the second story (and to the right of them) was where the second story porch was. Underneath that porch, it was open. Later still, the one-story section (currently our kitchen) was added and the lower open area (under the porch) was closed in. Are you with me?
These next few pictures may help. We are fortunate enough to have the granddaughter of the man who built our house as our next door neighbor. Her family allowed me to make some copies of some of their old family pictures that included our house. Below is the open lower porch I was speaking of before the kitchen was added on. They are standing where the kitchen would later be added. The cistern that you see on the right is still there and we still use it (you'll see it in another picture later in the post).
Below is the man (and his wife) who built our house. This picture was taken in 1937. This man's son moved in and his family took care of his ailing parents and lived in the house after they passed away. Both of these lovely people actually passed away in our dining room (which was then the parlor). You kept your elders with you in those days- a challenge and a blessing I think our society often misses out on now.
This next picture is of our neighbor's parents. You can see the second story porch railing above. Our neighbor's parents built their own house about 150 yards from our house and that's where she grew up. When she got married, she and her husband built a house between our house and her parent's house. If you stand on our front porch and look down the road, all three homes' front porches line up perfectly. So the upper and lower porches were eventually closed in. That lower space is the actual subject of this post but I like to take the round-about approach.
Okay. Back to present day. We have a lovely front door and porch but only the UPS man uses it. Well, he knocks on it, anyway. And we use it to walk out to the mailbox. Years and years ago, our road wasn't so busy. Company would park along the road out front, walk up the front walk, up the porch steps and in the front door. There is no longer any walk because it would not be smart to park along our road now.
Our driveway winds around to the back of the house where there are three (count them one, two, three) back doors. One is kept locked because it enters into my pantry which was clearly a later partition. We don't use that door since the pantry has it's own door that opens into the inner house. A walkway from the driveway took you right to this door (below). But we didn't use this door that much either. It didn't have a proper lock (in fact, sometimes it didn't even latch) and it entered into a very small, dark, unfinished, and smelly mudroom/closet. Once inside it, you could enter through yet another door that actually lead into the house. Jamey stored old work clothes in there and that's where we kept our potatoes and butternut squash crates since it was unheated, but mostly the spiders took up residence and I literally held my breath and told the spiders to "get back!" every time I went in there.
This leaves one more back door. If you imagine standing facing the door above and follow the arrow on it to the left, you'll come to the only door anyone had ever used (since we've lived here anyway). On a good day it looked like this- shoes, tools, buckets, and just about anything else could always be found very near by. Many other days, those things lie right in front of the door. This made sense in many ways because most of the year, we spend a lot of time outside with frequent trips inside. When we were expecting company, we tidied up as best we could but if you happened to stop by unannounced, you'd hear my profuse apologies as I struggled to pick up/kick aside enough stuff so you could enter the house.
For eight years I longed for a better back door situation.
One that allowed guests to walk from the driveway into the house without being confused as to where to go and without having to step over or get an up-close-and-personal-introduction to our things.
So why did it take eight years to do something about it? Well, I guess we try to let our values dictate what we value. For all that we have to be thankful for, it seemed petty to care about such a thing. Picking up stuff isn't the end of the world. Trying to get your family to do it on their own might be. Oops. That just slipped out. So. After years of waffling back and forth, we decided to go ahead an do something about it.
In the picture below you can see what it looked like inside before the changes. The door straight ahead enters into the little, dark, smelly room. If you go out the door on the right, you'll
trip over step over all the shoes and tools. We had hooks on the wall to the left but had taken them down in preparation for the carpenter who was coming to do the first part of the project.
And here's what it looks like now.
The little wall that closed off the little smelly room was taken out. The window on the right was added for light. The old undersized door was removed (we kept it) and a new, insulated handicap accessible door was added. Jamey laid tile over the painted concrete floor of the old, small room. He also installed all the trim and baseboards. I painted. There's now a doorbell that works and a light outside that we can turn on and off from the inside. Futuristic, I know. The door mats we already had. The large wooden box is our indoor shoe storage for non-filthy shoes.
The same shelves/hooks we had before were painted the trim color and re-hung.
Our family still uses the "old" back door. We still kick off our shoes right outside and leave tools and buckets lying around. But NOW, I. DON'T. CARE. because I have an obstacle-free door to welcome guests.
If there is a moral to this story it is that if you wait long enough for something and really want it all that time and you finally get it, you are ever, ever, ever so grateful.
The End. Pin It