Sunday, December 27, 2009


Dave and I both have colds.

Yesterday we hung a reading light in the den and put together a floor lamp for the den. They look very nice. We have been laying low and trying to recuperate. I think we were exhausted and the last year and a half are catching up with us. I slept for 10 hours last night. I think Dave slept even longer. It is nice to know we can take a little more time with things to be finished at Hardy House.

Dave is taking vacation through to the New Year. I am not. He is planning on finishing up some things - like getting the ironing center installed upstairs. He said anything else after that is gravy. He's tired.


Last Saturday night, December 19th, we opened the back of the house to the front of the house. We were determined to sleep upstairs if it was the last thing we ever did. We had been previously sleeping in our California King-sized bed in our family room which was also open to the kitchen. Yes, that's where we had been living for 1 1/2 years. We had had enough and weren't going to spend another night there if we could possibly help it.

When we first closed off the front of the house to the back we also purchased a new bed. Dave is tall. He has never been able to lay out straight in a bed and our bed was old. We always said we were going to buy a California King-sized bed when we redid the house. And we were true to our word. We bought the bed which comes with a mattress and a split box spring. The bed is great.

However...after we opened the house up we easily took the box springs up the stairs to our new bedroom. The mattress was another story entirely. It is massive.

About 5 PM on Saturday afternoon, Dave and I attempted the mattress. Earlier, my son had been over and he helped us move the couch to the den but he had left and told use he was going hunting. Dave and I were able to get the mattress wedged (with us wedged, as well) in the stairwell. We couldn't budge the darn thing any further. We just didn't have the strength we needed between the two of us. I had my cell phone in my pocket and called my son and left him a message as he didn't pick up (smart boy).

Then we let the mattress fall. And it landed. It landed right in the middle of the dining room floor and Dave said, "Well, I guess we may be sleeping there tonight." Now remember, company was coming.

I called my son again and asked that, if he could, spare us 15 minutes later in the evening. We were going to go out for a hamburger and then we would be back. While we were at dinner he called and we met him at home. He was exactly the strength we needed to get the mattress up the stairs. The stairwell light swung all over the place but it survived. We survived. We've been sleeping soundly since.


The dining room table and chairs survived, as did some candlesticks and candles. The settee and an upholstered chair did not survive, but we tried to clean them vigorously. They have found themselves back in the barn for another day. The meals were planned and the house decorated for Christmas and the family came. And it was good.

Christmas Eve saw 13 people at Hardy House for dinner and celebration and the Hardy House was comfortable and worked as we had hoped. Our seating was not ideal but the open floor plan that we now have and the stairs both offered opportunities for mingling and additional seating and it worked as we had hoped. It was a success. People were eager to see our progress and we didn't disappoint.

But alas, I also forgot to tell you of the mattress saga. Next post...


This was probably one of the more exciting moments at Hardy House. Last Saturday night (December 19th) we cut through the wall to the front of Hardy House. We opened our home, finally. No more walking out the back door and around the house to get to the front of the house. One and one half years later and we did it. I can't believe it has been that long, nor can I believe we lived where and how we lived for that long. It is shocking to me. I honored the moment of the wall coming down with a picture. It shows Dave cutting through the wall and just a glimmer of light coming through the crack. The other picture shows Dave in the new part of the house as I'm standing in the old part of the house (pretty much where the shower is). I told Dave it felt as significant to me as the demolition of the Berlin Wall. Stupid, perhaps, but telling all the same.

I felt the house breath. But here we were, 6 days from Christmas, 5 days from Hardy House's first time entertaining, and we didn't even know if we had survivable furniture. I also still had to finish Christmas shopping, planning dinners, grocery shopping, and wrapping every single Christmas present. To say we were overwhelmed was another understatement. Dave had to work Monday-Wednesday, December 21-23, and I had to work December 21-22 and took Wednesday the 23rd as a vacation day. We had a few late nights.


I am sitting at the dining room table (yes, the dining room table) as I write this. The sun is literally POURING in the windows. I am able to view the outside on the east, the north and the south. I love the morning light and it is beautiful. Yesterday it rained all day, melted all the snow, and was downright miserable. The sunshine is lovely at Hardy House today.


We never got the doors hung. It was the week before Christmas and a simple project, as most, turned into a difficult project. In a previous post I mentioned that the hinges were different on the doors. To get them set properly in the doors was going to require a lot of hand-chiseling or moving the doors out to the barn to use the router. We were exhausted and frustrated. It was decided that we would just deal with it and the doors would not be hung. If we were going to knock down the temporary wall and have Christmas we had to ratchet up our progress. This was difficult as we were already so tired. I told Dave that he would have to let his family know immediately if we were not going to be able to host Christmas Eve, as it was our turn. We were expecting 13 people for dinner in 6 days--and Christmas with another 7 for dinner. We still had a split house, no furniture (which we didn't even know if it had survived the barn), no cleaning, etc.

The doors were put on hold, so to speak. They are standing up in the downstairs, unfinished bathroom. Dave made a temporary door from plywood and placed that over the basement stairs. A paint can is holding it closed.

So there you have it. The doors are another day. We tried.


Yeah - I know, Christmas has come and gone but what a whirlwind it was here at Hardy House. Let me tell you all about it.

But first, isn't this a cute pillow? My friend, Petra, gave it to me for Christmas a couple years ago. It sort of sums up Dave's and my philosophy on why we're doing what we're doing with Hardy House which is just because we want to and we find great enjoyment and fulfillment in working on our home. Plus we learn a lot. I suppose that's the ultimate understatement but we find it is true.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


Here is another picture of the door to the basement. It still received another coat of shellac after we sanded this. Tonight I hope that we will hang this door, or the other, or both. I will keep you updated. All our hardware has arrived, but of course that presents more issues (and time). The hinges appear to be thicker and so the doors may need to be chiseled out a little more to accept them. Oh, woe is us. Christmas is coming whether we will be ready or not. More pics coming.


'Tis the season to be jolly! Fa la la la laaaa, la la la la!"

It is Christmas time, after all.

Here is a picture of the Hardy House Christmas tree. Yes, it looks a little quiet and forlorn and it is. The tree skirt is not on, the bottom is sparse and the angel is crooked. It also has few ornaments. There is a reason for this this season, if I may rhyme a bit...

We have a wonderful Christmas tree farm a couple miles from our house. Its name is Urtz's Christmas Trees. You can cut your own or they pre-cut daily. Dave and I have become accustomed to popping over there, picking a pre-cut, and back home with it in less than 20 minutes. I kid you not. Last Sunday we did just that, in the pouring rain. The trees last a very long time.

Next, we had to go through box upon box in the barn to find our Christmas decorations. We never planned things real well as we only planned to have things packed like this for 6 months tops. Guess again. A year and a half later we are hunting for decorations.

So what has happened is mice have nested in some of our boxes and have created havoc in our decorations. This gives me great sorrow as some items were family items that I cannot recover. But they are things and we will build upon old with newer.

What this means, however, is that our tree is a little sparse and not terribly pretty. All the same, it is the first tree in a rebuilt Hardy House and for that we are thankful.

You know what's really cool? With the new electrical, I plugged the tree lights into a particular outlet and now we can turn the tree lights off and on with the flick of a switch. We've never been able to do that before. We usually crawl around on the floor looking for the on/off switch. No more.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from Hardy House to your House.

Sunday, December 13, 2009


Here's Dave, in process, working on the two interior doors.

He has had some fun playing around with the finish and application techniques. On the 15-light door he decided to do a little faux painting with the stain. We like the effect.


The doors are a lot of effort but we love the way they are turning out.

As in a previous post, we noted that we purchased four interior doors but to get the space opened up sooner, we decided to tackle finishing only the two most critical doors right now. Those doors belong at the top of the stairs (the 15-light door) and what I call, "The Harry Potter Under the Stairs Door," because of its diminished size.

We began the process for these doors out in the freezing barn by separating the doors from the frames and sanding everything. We also wet the bare wood down to raise the grain then sanded again.

Dave found a recipe for a finished look in the magazine, Fine Homebuilding. Here is a link to the Fine Homebuilding article ( To read the entire article you need to become a member, or you could find an old issue. We have been following that process but have made a few modifications. I hope to post my own how-to article for the process we followed. I have a lot of pictures about that process. Today, we hope to finish the two doors and get them hung. These are the starter pictures. The point to following the process was to take unfinished doors from an inexpensive wood species (in our case, pine) and make them look like a much nicer wood and finish. This has worked. We just love the way the doors are finishing up. What were going to be painted pine doors now look like beautiful mahogany.

We bought inexpensive sawhorse holders and had to cut 2 x 4s to accomodate them so we could create a place to hold the doors in the house while we worked on them. Of course, that added a bit of time to the job--in the freezing barn. But all is well.


A couple more shots. This small area with the wall sconces is actually about 15 feet long and will have built-in drawers along the entire length, under the eaves. The two sconces at the end will light up a make-up, dressing area. This is a really cool space and now that we can truly see it we can think of all kinds of other uses for it. We love this space. At the opposite end is another sconce and is also where the ironing center is going to be hung.


This is a picture of the storage area upstairs. This was wasted space behind the upstairs shower so we boxed in a portion of it and it will have a large drawer that slides out that we can put things in to store. Our granddaughter decided it was a perfect place to play in when she visited and she could walk right in without ducking. I can't wait for Hardy House to be done so the grandkids can play all over it.


Here is a picture from upstairs in Hardy House. I know, the purple on the bedroom wall may seem a little garish but we are sort of looking at Craftsman, Aesthetic, Arts & Crafts decorating/styling and are hitting this room with it. I had purchased new Flokati rugs (I know, not of the same styling but I'm also looking for comfort) for next to the bed but last week I won at auction an almost 8 x 9 foot hooked rug that has a large floral design in it in purples, sages and ivories - same colors as in the house. We have taken it to the Oriental Rug Mart (see link) to have it cleaned. After we get it back we will try it in the bedroom. If it doesn't fit or look right, we will sell it. The rug would also look amazing hung on a wall.

This picture was taken from standing back near the dressing/drawer area at Hardy House and looking dead on into the bedroom. In pictures Hardy House looks very angular and I guess it is, but that's something we like about it.

Oh, yeah. The ceiling light in the bedroom will not be staying. We just couldn't decide what we want to do there so we put up an old light we had. It doesn't go with ANYTHING, but it works for the moment.


I tried to add this picture to the previous post but for some reason I couldn't. So, here is the stairwell light that we modified a bit and it is hung in the stairwell and it is so pretty when it is turned on at night. It really fits the space beautifully and the style works great, too.

Monday, December 7, 2009


I am currently sitting on the stairs inside Hardy House. Dave and I have built two pair of saw horses tonight, have dampened down and lightly sanded two interior doors. We hope to have stain on them tonight.

Dave and I decided to only work on two of the four interior doors right now. We want to get IN this house and be somewhat ready for Christmas - which is a good idea as it is our turn for hosting Christmas Eve for Dave's family this year.

It is really cold tonight and the snow is flurrying. The barn is freezing and that's where we have been doing the preliminary work. We did the first run at sanding the doors yesterday and it was cold then, too. We are expecting our first winter storm in a couple of days.

I'll add more about the sawhorses - not a big deal and, of course, about the finish techniques we are using. The first door frame just came in the door so I'll be back with you soon.

Saturday, December 5, 2009


Because of purchasing the incorrect antique hardware we needed to purchase new hardware for the doors. We looked around on the Internet and also a couple of local places. One place we looked at locally was the Rochester store of Historic Houseparts. See their link on the right. We found some things we liked but felt we could do better at another Internet store, dollar-wise. And right now, every dollar needs to be evaluated and spent well.

We ended up buying from House of Antique Hardware. Their link is also listed here. I'll put up pictures when we receive them.


The last couple of days, Dave and I have been trying to finalize the hardware for our interior doors. Did I tell you that the interior doors (4 of them) have all arrived in unfinished condition? They have come with hinges but Dave and I have always been a sucker for interesting hardware and things of that nature. We wanted something interesting. Of course we did. We also wanted interesting knobs/handles for our doors.

Last summer, Dave and I were in Cape Cod and we frequented numerous antique shops. We also went to New England Demolition and Salvage in New Bedford. We purchased several sets of solid brass door handles/levers. One I especially liked is wrought iron and brass. I believe they are very old and handmade.

This past summer I cleaned them all. I also cleaned up a box of porcelain and stoneware knobs that I have picked up in box lots at auctions for a couple of dollars. To clean them, I followed the recipe from This Old House magazine which said to place the hardware in a crockpot on low with one tablespoon of dish soap and let it go for at least several hours. I let it go quite a while - maybe 12 hours or so. This cleaning gets the grime off and also any paint that may be on it. The fixtures come out clean. I then rubbed them all with paste wax and buffed them up a little bit. Then I packed them away. Last night we pulled out the box and looked at the sets again.

We understood that we would need to purchase additional parts to make these sets work in our doors. What we didn't realize is that we really only have two sets that would work. We have some handles that are both right handed which will not work. Oh woe is us. But what we decided is:

1. We should have been smarter about our purchases.
2. We can still probably use the levers on cupboards, we think, anyway. Time will tell. But, we'll handle it.


December 1, 2009
It had to happen eventually and happen it did. December 1st we awoke to snow. It actually has come a little late this year. We typically have our first snow in October or November. I took these pictures when I left for work about 6:45 AM. It is definately a comfort knowing we have dependable heat that we don't have to fuss with.


November 29, 2009
In one of the previous DOOR pictures you can see the front of Hardy House now sporting a porch light and an electrical outlet. Hardy House, to our knowledge, has never had a porch light. This excites us. :)

I have also included another picture here of the dining room that gives some idea as to other lighting we have in the house. In a previous blog I talked about the Nora lights. You can see some in this picture. They are the little white lights in the ceiling that light up the walls. We purchased museum quality bulbs at varying light spans. We also have one of these in the short hallway and in the stairwell.

The ceiling light in the dining room is another auction find. We had it over the dining room table before this remodel and we like it well enough to not spend the money now to change it. It has been reinstalled here (though the ceiling plate is not screwed down yet in this picture). We paid $25 for it at auction and Dave rewired it. I think that was three years ago. Works. great.


And some more door pics.


More door pics.


November 29, 2009
A long day...
We were notified that our new front door had come in so on Saturday, November 28, Dave and I drove to Rochester, Lyell Ave., to be exact, to pick up our new front door at Rochester Colonial Windows and Doors.

We actually ordered our door from the company's showroom in Henrietta but pickup was at their Rochester location. We had often heard good things about Rochester Colonial and also that they pretty much could build you what you wanted. That appealed to us. What did not appeal to us was the gentleman who first met with us when we entered the showroom to look for a door.

We thought we wanted a wooden finished door, perhaps oak. We were not positive and really didn't know prices. When we met with this salesman, he immediately said the wood doors were "very expensive." We practically had to beg for him to tell us anything about them and for any pricing. FINALLY, he told us that a wooden door would start at $3,000-$4,000. Well, he was right, a wooden door was out of our price range, though he didn't come right out and say it. We must have looked like country bumpkins who couldn't afford anything. We just thought he was kind of rude. Not to mention, he kept forgetting things that we said we did want when we decided on the fiberglass door that we did purchase. We were not impressed. The door, including hardware, was $900, a far cry from $3,000 but to us, expensive all the same.

The saving grace for this company as far as we are concerned is that we truly like our front door and are happy with it and when we picked up the door at the showroom and manufacturing facility in Rochester, the help couldn't have been kinder and more considerate. They have redeemed their image in our minds but they might want to have a chat with the salesman in Henrietta. I have provided a link to the Rochester Colonial Web site.

The next day was Sunday and we spent the entire day installing this door but the effort was worth it, we think.


November 27, 2009
One of the things Dave and I hoped to do throughout this project was to reuse, recycle, and repair whatever we could within reason. Sometimes we just couldn't do it because of cost but we gave it a try anyway.

Something that Dave and I enjoy doing together is going to auctions. I am a dealer in vintage linens, quilts, and some other antiques. My little booth is called Come-by-Chance Antiques and I maintain a booth at The Brick House Antique Center (see the link to the right). Dave is interested in antique farm implements, lanterns and tools, and we both seem to have an interest in architectural elements and lighting.

The hanging light you see in this picture came from The Brick House Antique Center. It was an old oil or kerosene lamp that, we believe, had been converted or modified at least once and maybe more. Dave rewired it. We had been looking for an interesting light to hang in our stairwell and we thought this would do the trick. The hardest part was that it really needed to be hung from a chain and the chain from a hook. We needed a ceiling fixture that could look appealing and have a hook on it. We looked around and couldn't find anything that would do what we needed. Dave and Jay, our electrician, tried to come up with some solutions and then the light bulb, so to speak, went off in Dave's brain.

In the back part of our home their was a ceiling fixture that we removed when we moved in. We simply left the cover plate over the hole. Aha! that cover plate was exactly what we needed, hook and all. The only problem with it was that it was shiny brass. Our light fixture was silver, or pewter. Off to Lowe's we went.

We found new wire that blended beautifully with the old silver color and we then purchased a can of silver paint by Rustoleum. The paint was awesome. Rustoleum makes a new spray paint that works on any surface. That's what I used and I sprayed the cover. It worked the nuts and matched the light fixture perfectly. I'll get another picture on here so you can see the finished product. We love the new/old fixture. What is old is new again, or so it is said.


November 20, 2009
We opted to have Geotherm install an HRV or Heat Recovery Ventilator. Hardy House is now fairly super insulated and we have a great hvac system. Because Hardy House is so tight, air will basically not move. With an HRV unit the air is circulated and fresh air is brought in. This makes for a healthier home.


November 19, 2009
The last of the pictures I took of the geothermal unit the day it was hooked up are shown here.


Here are more pictures. I know this must be terribly exciting for you...
BTW - the water tanks are used as holding tanks here. The water is not being heated by electricity and stored.


November 19, 2009

Back at the ranch...just kidding...

Here are some pictures of the geothermal unit that has been installed at Hardy House. These pictures were taken during the hookup and finish installation of the unit.