This Old Cottage

It’s been ten years of steady deconstruction, reconstruction, and the messiness that goes along with them. We’re almost finished, with only a shower and maybe a laundry room left to go. And this page is under construction too…

The Story of Apple Hill Cottage

It’s hard to start writing a brand new blog when it’s, well, brand new. I’m brand new at it also, which makes it doubly hard. But Apple Hill Cottage has come into our lives. It is a cottage with history–combined history for both of us–and I want to write about it–document it–as we try to respectfully… Continue reading

The Sanding Queen

Fast forward to April/May of this year. A lot of stuff happened in between, and we’ll get to that in later posts, but for now we are working on the kitchen. As in taking out walls–that’s a later post too–but for the past few weekends, I’ve been…. Continue reading

Tearing Down Walls

We were a bit hesitant to tear out walls.
Dusty, everyone said.
Old Plaster, Mr. H.C. said.
What will we do with it? I said.

I was a bit hesitant to write on this topic of walls. So metaphorical, walls are. Especially tearing them down…. Continue reading

Imperfectly Sanded, Imperfectly Primed

Kitchen Cabinet Redux: We bought the imperfectly sanded, imperfectly primed kitchen cabinets in two different places at two different times. The first (and main) batch was purchased at Construction Junction for $225. They include 3 base cabinets and 4 wall cabinets in almost exactly the sizes we needed. The sink base was seriously injured–it was … Continue reading

Lights, Hardware, Action!

The kitchen cabinets are looking creamy and shiny — the luscious color of steamed milk. They are ‘curing’ in the garage bedroom, and before we leave them for awhile, I have a confession to make : I spent… Continue reading

The Writing on the Wall

The best thing about living in a space where walls are crumbling and severely in need of repair is Writing On Them! For instance, at our advanced ages we seem to have memory short-outs quite frequently. This wall writing is very handy!
The other day Mr. H.C. asked me if we had a chalkboard (I actually did find an old one of Clara’s) but I don’t know why I didn’t just tell him to write it on the wall. It isn’t like we haven’t already made mistakes. The stove was originally going to…  Continue reading

The Color of Apples

More thoughts on color…I’ll try to keep to the topic this time. I’m having trouble making decisions about paint color in the kitchen. It is — or will be — black and white mostly (floors, cabinets, counter tops, walls) with rich chestnut-colored wood antique pieces … Continue reading

Hardwood Lumber Co. sign

Wood Makes Everything More Beautiful…

Hardwood Lumber Company is a great place to order butcher block counter tops. They ship products all across the country, but we’ve ordered twice from them and picked up the counters at their mill both times. Located in either Burton, Ohio or Springfield, Ohio, depending whether you’re using their mailing address or a GPS… Continue reading

Two Sides to Every Window

I got a new job this past weekend. We are getting close to starting the ceiling. (I know, I’ve been saying that for a month now…) So this weekend we had the lovely task of taking down everything that touched the ceiling. That would be: the obtrusive wall cabinet where all our … Continue reading

The ceiling is up and divorce is narrowly averted…

Well, there were only two of us who showed up to work this weekend, and the grunt laborer should have called in sick. The pay isn’t good enough to work through sneezing, coughing, nose running, head aching, sore throat type of days. But this is no union job, as Mr. Homeworks Contracting reminded her several … Continue reading

Door #1: The Price Is Right

When Joe and Clara remodeled the cottage in the 70s (see 1. The Story of Apple Hill Cottage) they put in 5 (five!) sets of sliding glass doors — one at every entrance except the basement — and 2 (two!) opening into the kitchen. Correction:  there were 2 (two!) going into the kitchen; now there … Continue reading 

Imperfect Little Cottage

Last week my son-in-law lent me a book called Perfect English Farmhouse by Ros Byham Shaw. Ms. Shaw is a foremost English interior designer and has written several books: Continue reading

Befores and Afters

We’ve been working nonstop here at the cottage, but sometimes, like life, the actual progress goes in fits and starts. Working on the windows is slow going; we are 3/4 of the way finished, and it seems we’ve been scraping/sanding/repairing/priming/painting them forever. And we’ve been working on the outside of the house (it is a … Continue reading

Re-Habitating the Yellow Bedroom

In a previous post, I told you about [reHabitat], the online design/decorating company who is giving us ideas on what to do with our yellow bedroom, while we concentrate on the kitchen and the bathroom. In the interest of full disclosure :-) [reHabitat] is Diane and Emily, my sister and my niece. I chose the … Continue reading

Tackling the Mudroom

This wonderful warm weekend I discovered that it’s not just the sun I miss during winter; I also miss being outside without coat, hat, mittens, and boots! It was really warm this weekend. Like 65 degrees warm! The sun was out occasionally, peeking through the clouds, but mostly it was gray. I didn’t mind. We … Continue reading

ReHabitating the Yellow Bedroom, Part 2

Today was a double blessing day: our long awaited, too-expensive, gorgeous kitchen faucet arrived; and, in the mail was my reVive box from reHabitat, the fabulous design team who took on The Yellow Bedroom. (see post 37. ReHabitat-ing the Yellow Bedroom.) I was good. I did all my chores first, and then I cleaned off … Continue reading

Hearth Songs

The chimney at the cottage touches three rooms–the kitchen, the living room, and the mudroom. In the kitchen and in the mudroom there are round openings for connecting up stoves or stove pipes. (The holes are covered with odd metal circles that look like paper plates.) … Continue reading

70s orange flowered wallpaper

How I Spent My Weekend

Mr. H.C. is still working on the windows. He insists we can’t proceed until we get them painted and installed. So unless I wanted to clean the chimney in the kitchen, there was only one thing for me to do… take off the wallpaper in the yellow bedroom. There’s not much to say about it. … Continue reading

Ta Daaa!

Those of you who read this blog on a regular or semi-regular basis (I love all of you!) know that we have been working on the kitchen window project for a VERY long time. There have been posts on looking for replacement windows, posts on sanding windows, posts on priming… Continue reading

Perfectionism, Part 1: The Curse

All our lives we’re told, “Do your best.” “If you do your best, that’s all anyone can ask.” And what, exactly, is our best? How many times can we have a do over? When and how do we… Continue reading

Now that we’ve seen the worst

We’ve been working on this little cottage every weekend for almost a year now. We are no longer under any illusions. We know that the wiring is haphazard, the upkeep has been minimal, and it was built in fits and starts without much planning. (This … Continue reading

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

The Good: Kitchen countertop and sink laid out on paper and ordered √ Dishwasher ordered and ready for pickup at Sears √ Black and white VCT flooring tile ordered √ Old linoleum and tar paper scraped off the kitchen floor √ Sliding glass door frame and surrounding wall demoed √ … Continue reading

The Cave Under the Cottage

If you’ve ever been caving, you might know the feeling — a generic uneasiness as you’re thinking about it and hiking to the cave; several gulps and maybe some sweating when you see the entrance and realize it’s barely big enough for you to get your shoulders through; deep breaths to keep the panic away when the darkness envelops you; the urge to shout when you emerge from the dark hole in the ground. YES! I LIVED! Continue reading

random messy beauty

The Random Messy Beauty of Everyday Life

I bought a new photo app for my phone the other day for 99 cents. While playing around with Nofinder (just pushing buttons, in other words) this photo was the fourth one I took… Continue reading

The Crooked Little House

Yes, we’re trying to straighten up a crooked little house — and it’s driving Mr. H. C. bonkers. This is a man who has to have pieces meet within a thirty-second of an inch. And that level bubble? Well it has to be right between those lines, as close to the middle as it can be. Poor guy. Some days he just shakes his head. Some days he wonders aloud why we ever got into this. And some days when the bird clock whistles 5:00, he just… Continue reading

Road Trip for Soapstone

We spent weeks, months, selecting a kitchen counter top. I looked online at Countertops 101; I looked at the big box stores; I read articles about all the different materials we could use for our countertop — the pros and cons of each. While I was considering this, Consumer Reports came out with a timely … Continue reading

That Was Then, This Is Now

Things are looking pretty in the Apple Hill Cottage Kitchen. Amazing, but true. Excitement abounds. We can actually see over the mountain top — we might even be descending through the slippery slope of final details and finish carpentry! This past weekend not only did I do a load of dishes in my new sink … Continue reading

Benjamin Moore Blooming Grove and Sherwin Williams Steamed Milk paint colors

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like a Kitchen…

Everywhere I look Finished walls and doors, Beautiful shiny floors, What a grand place to cook! Yes, yes, I know. Bad rhymes again. But every time I walk into the kitchen I feel like singing (and dancing on the checkerboard floor.)… Continue reading

Porch Swinging

I have a love-hate relationship with our back porch. It looks over green Pennsylvania woodlands; the birds and beasts are abundant. The five baby groundhogs under our shed are down to three. (This is good–natural predation!) We saw a male turkey spread his fan for his lady, and we listen to the ethereal…. Continue reading

Rounding the Edges….

While I was having fun in the sun on the first ever Sisters’ Vacation, Mr. H.C. was hard at work. When I asked him over the phone what he was doing, he said, “Oh, working….” So I let it alone and wondered… Continue reading

crown moulding painted sherwin williams steamed milk

Baseboard, Crown, and Cupboard

I’ve been struggling to write two posts–very different posts–one on stuff and one on our new bedroom that’s almost, but not quite finished. I’d like to show it to you, but there’s just one more finishing touch needed… And so I’ve given up on those longer, deeper posts for now; instead… Continue reading

White treadle sewing machine

Sew What?

It is true confession time. If you are an alert reader (I know this is redundant–ALL of you are alert readers!) you will remember way back in post #29 (This is now post #70) I talked about failure and the humility it brings when one attempts a project and is found lacking. At… Continue reading

Redecorated bedroom

Re-Habitating the Yellow Bedroom, Part 3

The yellow bedroom is yellow no more. Even the closet has not a vestige of yellow left! We are mulling over a new name — just “the bedroom” doesn’t adequately cover its transformation. The change has been slow. I’ve been working on it by myself when unskilled labor is not needed in the kitchen. Taping … Continue reading

The Corner Dining Room

I know, I know, you’ve seen beautiful pictures of the bedroom–you must think we’re about done by now, right? Today it is back to ugly pictures again, folks. In between the kitchen and the bedroom is the corner dining room. Well, the living room is there somewhere too,… Continue reading

The Mudroom Demolition

The mudroom has some problems. Even its name assumes trouble–Mud Room. But let’s not sugar coat it, or white wash it; it is the entryway into our beautiful kitchen from the muddy outdoors. No just walking inside from a warm garage–this here’s the country! And for most traditional houses, the mudroom … Continue reading

Begone Ugly Windows

We have a new window in the mudroom. It is not like the gorgeous original kitchen windows that we spent three months painstakingly restoring. No. This window is a bottom-line Andersen window, on sale from Home Depot this past week for $225. We have spend the last year–on and off–looking for… Continue reading

Demolishing the Strongholds

We strapped on our armor this past week. We were doing battle…. Continue reading

The Accidental Demolition

The demolition of the mudroom was planned. We had important work to get finished before real winter started. After all, mudrooms are the bridge between the real house and the outdoors. We bought and installed the new window, stripped the walls and ceiling, Mr. H.C. did the electrical work… and then somehow, we managed to… Continue reading

coal burning fireplace

Goin’ to Town and Buyin’ the Mantel

Mr. H.C. is famous for saying “Well, as Dad used to say…” and then he’ll pop off with some odd phrase, and nine times out of ten, my mom (or grandfather) said it too. It might just be old time country talk, or it might be real Greene County lingo, I’m not sure. But three… Continue reading

Oven Ordeal

Somewhere about last April, I boldly pronounced that the next big project would be to move the kitchen stoves around. Yes, well… It is January. I’m aware of that. One thing I’ve discovered while writing this blog: even though I write about what is going to happen, that doesn’t mean I have control. (In more ways… Continue reading

If One Wall Takes Six Months, How Long Do Six Walls Take?

I’ve been thinking about this dining room wall for at least six months. First trying to figure out a color that was bold, but not too bold. Second, getting the brainstorm of vintage wallpaper and even sending away for samples. (And asking you, dear readers, which one you preferred… Continue reading

One Ox-Yoke Chandelier For Sale–Cheap

It will be a big day in the renovation of Apple Hill Cottage when the ox-yoke chandelier comes down… Is ox-yoke chandelier an oxymoron? In truth, it is a faux ox-yoke chandelier. Does that make it a faux oxymoron? Well, faux or not, it IS really ugly… Continue reading

Going, Going, Gone

It wasn’t too long ago when I wrote about this lovely chandelier and wished it gone from the ceiling!

Mr. H.C. read the post and kindly obliged two weeks later. But first there was electric work to be finished in the attic… Continue reading

The Not-Final Kitchen Post

See that 100 up there before the title? I’ve spent the last few weeks wondering what I was going to write about for my 100th post. Big time Writer’s Block? Afraid of a number? My WordPress statistics tell me I’ve already written 100 posts, it’s just that two of them weren’t numbered… Continue reading

Little Things that Make a House a Home

We still have two houses that we call home.

It makes for confusion sometimes. Which house am I waking up in this morning? Where am I today?

Horns, sirens, motorcycles? Oh yes, i’m in the city.
Trucks and tractors, coyotes and cows? Oh yes, i’m in the country.
.. Continue reading

Mudroom Redo, Redux, Redoux

I’ve written about the mudroom before. Several times. The mudroom has issues. Several issues. Each time we’ve thought to tackle it, one of those issues has stopped us dead. The floor for instance: Made of two concrete slabs, there’s not much of a foundation (if any). Just see the huge crack… Continue reading

Perfectionism, Part 3: The Struggle

Yes, (sigh) perfectionism has been addressed here before. Twice. Part 1 and Part 2. The tension between perfectionism the blessing and perfectionism the curse has not been perfected. Hence, the struggle. With Imperfectionism. Let me introduce you to the two… Continue reading

Cottage Move-In Day

It’s been a long time coming.

We dated our first day of work on the cottage: August 12, 2011.

1,310 days

Sometimes there were day, weeks, months when nothing happened except, you know, Life. And death. And taxes…. Continue reading

The Sixth Wall

There’s nothing like company coming for Easter dinner to inspire…

The crown is finished; the pocket door runs smoothly on its track and actually locks;… Continue reading

All the Gray Is Gone

Just when I think I’m going to post about the new back porch that is finished just in time for September (it’s not); or the new door that we’ve found to replace sliding glass door #3 (we haven’t); Mr. H.C. surprises me by saying, “Let’s do the front of the house.” He must have… Continue reading

How Can such a Little House Have such Big Demands?

We’ve been doing lots of little things on the house of late, but none of them have been post worthy on its own. Earlier this spring, Mr. H.C. put bricks under the front windows to finish them. We also cleaned the brick, took out the old yews, and put in some new landscaping. We updated our …. Continue reading

Iced Tea on the Back Porch

This is the third August that has come around and I haven’t had to think about school. Instead of thinking on lesson plans and books and remembering kids’names, I’m thinking on canning and freezing the garden’s produce, and sitting on the back porch with a glass of mint… Continue reading

Mudroom Again…

I’ve written about the mudroom in our little cottage before. And before. And before. It’s been two years since we’ve worked on it, because work stopped dead on the ceiling when we discovered a leak in the roof by the chimney. So nothing… Continue reading

The Absolute, Very Last Ever Post on the Mudroom…Maybe

Why? Because it is finally finished. And I have to say this final bit was all Mr. H.C. The only share I had in this last wall was painting one coat of paint on the door. There won’t be too many words about this… Continue reading

In the Midst of Noise, Trouble, and Hard Work

There’s a ladder living in our bathroom. A small seven-word sentence. It doesn’t even have an exclamation point at the end. Although it should! In 2011, when we became official owners of this little cottage, the bathroom was the first room we intended to refinish. It’s small, we thought; yes, start small. But then we ran into…. Continue reading

Harvest Kitchen

It’s been a busy harvest season; yet still I don’t have any canned peaches or pears. We had only about a dozen peaches on our little second year peach tree and about a dozen pears on the Luscious pear tree. The other pear tree–a Bartlett–is taller and more beautiful and has never had a single… Continue reading

Porch Work

I started this blog six years ago to keep track of the renovation work we were doing on the new old house we’d just acquired. It was a house and acres filled with history on both sides of our families and I wanted to document it. You can read that story here. We’ve become complacent … Continue reading

The Bathroom Project: Planned 9 years ago, completed (almost) during quarantine…

It’s a bit ironic; the online articles and posts suggesting that perhaps you should do a home project while you’re quarantined at home. Or the other articles that snidely suggest you’re an over-achiever if you even… Continue reading

Little Disasters Everywhere

If 2020 did anything for us, it made us aware of how important home is.

Let’s face it, when we’re spending 24/7 in our rooms, apartments, town homes, cottages, or houses, they need to work and be pleasing more than ever…. Continue reading

The Saga of the Garage Bedroom

We’ve had our share of extra time in 2020-2021, so we spent last February-April gutting the bathroom and getting in 95% finished. Then in August, Mr. H.C. started on THE LAST ROOM. (It’s not really. We still have the laundry room… Continue reading.