Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A “slow home” gets a new room

2004: First winter in our New England “farmhouse

We live in an old house. Built in 1904, it was at one time a dairy farm with a large barn and around 15 acres of land. All but two of these acres were sold to other parties, with some deeded to the town as conservation land, a large section was developed and is now a street with a handful of homes, and the last six acres belongs to a neighbor behind me. Those six acres were scheduled to be a development of homes, but many of the acres were determined to be conservation land so the project stopped at just one. Knowing that someone could not build behind us or next to us was one of the main reasons we felt this property would be a worthwhile investment. It can be quite unnerving to buy a home in a neighborhood that you fall in love with, only to look out your window one day and
see the landscape change before your eyes!

We bought our current house in spite of
room-after-room of dated wallpaper.
Today I wish we had saved more
of it then just this swatch.

There were other reasons that we fell
head-over-heels for
this property:

1. It felt like a “town and country
home, located within walking distance to the center of town and most of the schools, yet the backyard felt like a rustic retreat from modern day.

2. Our house is situated in a way that it gets full sun
in the backyard with lots of great interior light throughout the day. Shaded farmer porches in front are a welcome place to sit. Tall evergreens stand at
the properties edges, adding both privacy and
natural beauty.

3. This home is bigger than our last house, but still manageable in size, with plenty of room to grow
(barn will one day be a family room, over garage will one day be office space ... )

4. The dining room probably sold us. We did not have a formal dining room in our last house that was big enough for our young family, let alone for entertaining guests. This dining room is plenty big and is centrally located in the perfect spot to enjoy it every day, not just on holidays.

5. While we realized some areas could use increased storage and energy-efficiency, we figured we redesigned our last home — how hard would it be
to do it again???

If only feathering our nest was this easy!

Well of course it has taken us much longer this time around to complete our home renovation projects. When we were working on our last home we raised the roof before we had any children, started our kitchen addition when we were expecting number two, finished new kitchen and bath by the time number three came around, and then finally got around to all the final details just in time to put it on the market and simultaneously find out number four was scheduled to arrive six months after closing on our new home. To say it has been a challenge to renovate with four little ones under foot is to put it mildly! And as our little ones have grown, our visions for our current home have changed at about the same pace. When we were surrounded with babies, we needed to be close at hand, but now we have a bit more breathing room ...

A sneak peek of our newly completed master bedroom.

Today I am happy to report that as of last night we have officially finished one of the major renovations that has been on our construction “to-do
list ... the master bedroom that we built from scratch is a reality! What was once an inaccessible attic space is now a brand new room with a new set of stairs, new carpet, freshly painted new walls and it even has the newest type of insulation. We slept in it last night for the first time (our twelve-year-old actually helped us move the bed upstairs ... we have come along way!) and it felt like we had traded in “this old house for a new and improved version. I always knew this house had room to grow, I had just imagined it would be laterally not vertically! Some day we may do that addition we dreamed about, but for now, we are happy with this new arrangement which is actually more energy/cost efficient in the long run than a large-scale addition would have been.

Find out how your home rates by taking this

test available online at Slow Home Studio.

While we could tell our home had inherent value, we mainly bought it based on a gut feeling. It felt like the home I had grown up in and it seemed like it could be improved upon without too much effort (okay, we were off just a little bit with that part!) What sold you on your home? Are you comfortable living in it or are there areas that could use improvement? There is a great test available that evaluates the quality of a home’s design. It is called The Slow Home Test and it is great if you are looking to solve design issues in your current home or if you are looking to buy a dream-home of your own. I recently mentioned this test in a post on the Slow Home movement that I wrote for (which BTW sells some really great custom designed lighting and home decor pieces). The Slow Home movement is all about creating homes that feel as good as they look. Learn more about it by checking out the following links:

Later I will post some true “after pics of our new space. I really should be decorating for the holidays about now, but I’d much rather be accessorizing our new room than pulling out boxes of ornaments and wrestling with strings of lights! How long do you think I can put it off without the kids noticing that we don’t have a tree, yet? ; )


  1. Your new room is going to bring you SO much joy! Have fun, fun, fun making it pretty and YOU.

  2. We did a master bedroom renovation 2 years ago and after sleeping in my son's room for six months, I can agree that the first night in your new room is total bliss!! Enjoy it! I can't wait to see the final version. Take lots of before and afters!


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