The (former) White House

Thanksgiving just passed and we’re in week seven of a four-week construction project.  You can read that again, but you got it right the first time.  We’re probably looking at three more weeks before the farmhouse exterior is done.  In some ways I’m cool with that.  Please, after all of this, I just want to be sure we end up with a job well done.  And, yes, I am afraid to get the final bill. 

With the construction project in full swing, our Airbnb rentals at the farm remain closed on weekdays.  Managing the rentals is my full-time gig, so…what to do, what to do?  I’m an avid reader of magazines and there’s been a stack of them collecting on the fainting couch since summer.  With the Airbnb lull, I’ve been tearing through them at a rapid clip, getting design ideas and copying new recipes.  One mag that I’m not so sure I’ll renew next year is “Old House.”  There’s some shaming going on in there…a shit ton of it, actually.  The arguments for renovation vs. restoration of old homes like ours (circa early 1800s, we think) are few.  Basically, you’ve tortured any historic home if there’s even a whiff of vinyl.  I’ll tell you what…we kicked it old school here for the past decade and I’ve come to believe that, in an environment where every bug in the surrounding forest eats wood for survival, vinyl can be a girl’s best friend.

If you’re following us on social media at Griff Run, you may have seen that we no longer live in an iconic white farmhouse with a small front porch.  In fact, there are no steps at all leading to our fancy new front door (hoping that will be resolved in 2022).  This house has seen more metamorphosis than the entire Kardashian clan combined; house lifted to dig a basement, new foundation and floor joists, a beautifully finished basement, three layers of asphalt shingles removed for new roofing, all new windows save the leaded glass beauty out front; new plumbing, new electrical, all levels wired for sound, now we’re stripping two layers of siding, blowing insulation into every wall cavity and adding new siding, soffits and fascia.  Whew!  Don’t get us started talking about the other eight buildings on the farm.

While we’d likely be listed as a ‘before’ and ‘after’ DON’T in “Old House” magazine, these modernizations work for us in reality and especially as we look ten years into our future, at retirement.  No more climbing ladders to add or remove huge, glass storm windows, no more towels jammed under the front and back doors to stop the -40F degree wind gusts from coming inside in February (yep, you read that temp right the first time, too).   We’re salvaging as much farm charm as possible (hell, look across the road at that beauty of a red dairy barn), see those original 1800s sunbursts at the roof peaks; we even head across state lines to salvage vintage farmhouse sinks.  Restoration is also on the table when feasible…we’ve replaced 1960s hollow core doors with solid-core and glass-paned beauties, and 3” window and door trim with a more respectable six.  Mixing vintage charm with modern conveniences is our jam.

There was a time when we were younger, knowing that our first house or second house would not be our last; when we would renovate and even choose paint colors with the next owner in mind.  What a blessing to finally feel at home in a place where we can renovate and restore and decorate with only ourselves in mind.  It’d be remiss of me not to mention the folks who inspire every project at Griff Run: to my Gram who always dreamed of owning her own little white house but never did (I hope she’s OK with a big, blue one); to Uncle Bob who knew the fam should always have a place to go in case ‘shit goes down’; to Griffin who would likely have built his own treehouse in the giant maple out back by now and be renting it on Airbnb for money; to Nick who predicted nine years ago that, when we finally finish this place, it will be awesome. 

Carry on,

Shawna    

9 Replies to “The (former) White House”

  1. This is an awesome declaration of creating your vision while dancing to your own music. It’s the individual who defines what a restoration will be, not the media, or purists. Restoration is about reconnecting the past (of a place) to now. It’s your vision. And, it’s beautiful!

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