Old House Restoration

A real family makes an old house their home...for the 2nd time
The Splendido's renovate, restore and rejuvenate their home with their own hands - all while living in the house
and balancing their family needs...you know...like most families have to do it!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Rehab Addicts...here we go again

We must be addicted to rehabbing old homes. What other word can explain the reason why we are putting ourselves through this again!? We are a real family with real lives. We have three young children (and the sports that go along with them), 2 careers (one of them our own business), two long distance running schedules and lots of friends and family we adore. Basically we already have enough to keep any family busy 24/7.

We will always love this home
In February 2013 we had finally finished painting the last room to complete the inside restoration of the fantastic 1920 cottage we owned since 2005. We loved (and still love) that home. It was our dream house. It was old, it was charming, it was old, it had wavy glass windows, it was old, it had a big front porch, it was old, it had nooks and crannies, it was old, it had ornate door knobs, it was old, it had beautiful woodwork...did I mention it was old? It had everything you buy an old house for - it was chocked full of character. It was also close to friends, close to school, close to the best pizza this side of NYC.

We lovingly rejuvenated, restored and/or renovated every room, porch and closet of that house for 8 years...with our own two hands. Admittedly there was a long break from 2007-2009 where not much happened...except for the births of our twins! That's enough to derail any and all of the best of intentions. However, once we felt ready again - the wallpaper removal, plaster repair, priming and painting became the obsession again. Late nights, early mornings, in between playing with the kids - whenever we could fit it a few minutes or hours - we were "working on the house."

Some may call it fate...I just called it insanity! How else could I explain my feelings when in the very same month I uttered the words "well I think we are finally finished with the inside of the house," Karen's other dream house hit the market...again? Really! I don't even think my paint brushes were dry yet! However, it was one of those houses that Karen would mention every time we took a drive on St. Davids Lane. She would even make me take the scenic route just so we could drive by the beautiful homes along St Davids Lane and the surrounding neighborhoods. So many nice homes, but this one was always the one.

1938 Adirondack Style home built by Paul Scheafer in Niskayuna, NY
I still pinch myself when I pull into our driveway.
A stone and clapboard house built by master builder, Paul Shaefer in 1938. He built and restored over 300 Dutch inspired homes and Adirondack camps, but is even more famous for being the foremost wilderness leader and conservationist for the Adirondacks in the 20th century...but more on him in future entries.

The house blends seamlessly into its natural setting on its wooded lot overlooking a beautiful Niskayuna neighborhood. It is another great old house! It had come on the market in 2012, but we were not ready and missed it. As luck would have it, the new owners decided to move back to the tri-state area and put the house on the market again in 2013. This time - once again -  we were not ready. However that mattered little to Karen. She knew what she wanted and as the old saying goes - happy wife, happy life...so we fought for the house (literally!!!). We fought with time, stress, the market, the seller and each other. Pretty much the only person we did not have to fight was the buyer for our first house - who is now one of our friends :-). I have to admit, if it was not for Karen we would not have this house. There were many times I was tired of the fight. But Karen would not give up. She kept saying "this is our forever house.

The kids are happy too
Now our family wakes up in this beautiful house with plenty of room for the 6 of us. I have to include our 105 lb. black lab, Carly, too. After all she is our furry child and takes up more space than any of our non-furry kids. Our last house was large too, but the real reason we needed the extra space was for Karen's Splendid Stems Floral Designs business. Now she can have her own office, a room for her inventory and a separate designing studio, not just an unfinished basement crammed with all her stuff. As for the kids - after some initial complaints about how our backyard at the old house was more fun - which I made a level one priority (and thus our first renovation) - they are really happy here too. As I look out one of the multi-paned windows Paul Shaefer used in all his homes - overlooking our yard with a view of the sunrise every morning...I have to admit - she was right. This is our forever home.

Sunrise over Niskayuna
Morning coffee with a view
As with any old home that hadn't changed hands in decades (except for the recent 9 month temporary owners) this house needs lots of updating and TLC. Don't get me wrong - the house is in great shape overall - but it does need a lot of fine tuning and fixing. As any other real family can attest to - struggling to find the time to do the work has been the biggest obstacle. However, we have made the time - sometimes at the expenses of our other hobbies. Hey something had to give! Over the last 10 months we have made some great improvements, but we still have a very long ways to go.

I hope to use this blog to share our past projects at both this house and the last house (why not? I loved that house too and learned so much about old house restoration there). We finished some great renovations at that house that I think you will enjoy. Also I will keep you up-to-date with the present and future restorations we have in mind as we turn this house into our home...once again.

Here's a sneak peek at some before pictures of projects we have tackled and will share in future posts:

making a useless backyard fun
A useless backyard hill of weeds
renovation a dated breakfast nook and butlers pantry
Dated Breakfast Nook & Butlers Pantry
fixing a slate patio
Slate patio mess
Karen has a great vision for this house (no surprise there - have you seen her wedding flowers?) and as it turns out I am a bit handy with the tools. As she likes to say - she dreams it and I make it happen.

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