We’ll Have To Find A New Room For The Maid: A Victorian House Remodel In Petoskey, Vol. 5

May the roof above us never fall in

And may we good companions beneath it never fall out.
Irish Blessing
As I write, as the rain pours down in buckets and the wind blows branches from the trees, as the dark sky gets darker (it is past bedtime for the grown-ups, even), there are people at our house with tarps and strips of plastic, frantically trying to make wet concrete dry. There is no roof over their heads. There are no doors on the structure that intends to be a garage someday. There are only walls and a partial second story floor from which to – what? Hang ponchos? String umbrellas? Curse, I think, and wish for a roof, and for psychic powers, at least where the weather is concerned.
In dry daylight, the garage isn’t a quicksand nightmare. Instead, it’s a behemoth construction akin to an Amish barn, with barely manageable entries for certain minivans and a dozen steps to travel down to the house, with two children and grocery bags and diaper bags and backpacks and, eventually, the new baby in his or her infant car seat.
It has, obviously, been designed by a man.

Now, in his defense, I don’t think there was much choice about it. It’s not as if we could travel through the underground tunnels and park deftly in back of our mudroom door. (Next summer, ask your friendly pedicab driver to tell you about Petoskey’s underground tunnels and then wonder with us about whether or not the hollow spots in our basement are filled with moonshine.)

While the kind people in our garage surely have spent the evening thinking nice thoughts about the homeowners, Trevor has been doing this:

Which is the playroom, and which turned out a bit darker than we’d expected. Anyway, it’ll be lovely filled with kid stuff, and I can’t wait to start pulling their toys out of storage and setting up the room.

He also started doing this:

Which can only be our 4-year-old’s purple room (or, as Trevor calls it, “Unicorn Moonlight”).

There are other things drying on this rainy night, mercifully indoors:

And there are things that dried before the brush even left their surface during this windy, windy day:

While fresh paint inside added a bit of the kids’ character and the blue outside brought out some of the house’s charm (not to mention the floors… The floors!), the kids and I tried preserving its history by hunting for a usable skeleton key. The doors inside are all designed for a skeleton key, and I recently saw a plate full of them at Then and Now Antique & Consignment House. The wonderfully kind ladies there, who always say nice things about our project and who are selling the beautiful old windows from the house, let us borrow the entire bunch and we had fun guessing which key would fit the locks.

Three did, so now we have a way to get our kids out (or keep our kids out) of the bedrooms. The exterior doors will all have new locks soon enough, so we won’t be dangling these beauties from our fobs.


Now that the floors are nearly done, the kitchen cabinets will be set this weekend and the countertops templated. The wallpaper will be hung next week and the rest of the interior will be painted. Lighting will go up once the ceilings are dry and plumbing fixtures will be installed. A final coat will go over the floors and… we move in! (Is it possible that moving seems like small potatoes after this remodel?)

And while things are moving along, we’ve had a few challenges in the past week or so. The backsplash – that lovely penny round tile – has been changed, as the stock was a tiny bit too lean and it would have been over our budget to order another sheet. Our budget, in fact, has gone over budget, which is disheartening but happens, we know. We’ve moved the painters indoors and we’ll finish the exterior painting ourselves this spring, as the weather (and that sticky budget) wasn’t quite cooperating. And way, way back when we dreamed up our kitchen with the fabulous Dawn Whyte at Designs By Dawn, we envisioned smooth, white carrera marble countertops atop our pale green cabinets. We were warned that they’d be delicate, and the shiny surface must have distracted me right out of practicality. So when Trevor brought home a sample, we tested a few drops of balsamic vinegar, red wine and jam on top. The stains had us choosing a pale gray/white granite instead, and we hope it works just as well, though I have to admit that we’re having a hard time giving up that patisserie concept.

We plan to host my family for Thanksgiving, and today I bought four new tapers for our candlesticks that have been in storage for more than a year. In less than a month, we’ll be lighting them with thanks for this amazing home, and for the people who truly cared about our project, enough to spend windy, rainy nights watching over it.

Article Comments

2 thoughts on “We’ll Have To Find A New Room For The Maid: A Victorian House Remodel In Petoskey, Vol. 5”

  1. Dear Lisa – I just stumbled upon your blog entry via the MyNorth home page. Thank you for posting photos of your work and sharing your humor and insight. I enjoyed reading this and look forward to seeing how things turn out. My husband and I are avid “This Old House” fans, (the original and best home-improvement show), so we really love seeing this sort of project. Keep up the good work and take care – Trish

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