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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

and then there were steps...




This is how the house and barn looked when we first found the property- the ramp on the right was the livestock entrance!




This is what the house and barn looked like at the end of Phase I
 (the farmhouse renovation and the addition of the garage.)




This is where we were just last week when I showed you the new curved stone wall that meets the tiered stone retaining wall (there is still one tier to go) coming off of the garage that will enclose the gravel terrace accessed from the pair of barn room french doors. 
(note the color of the stucco on the chimney)




And, here we are today with the addition of the granite steps!  Each step is one slab of hand-cut granite that was removed from the foundation of the barn when we made the garage.  The back of the house is very long and rectangular, so I love how the curvature of the steps softens the landscape.





This hillside has been difficult to traverse because it is so steep.   The addition of the granite steps solved that problem.   I love when something functional is also beautiful!  The dirt you see in this photo will all be grass (Dan is literally laying sod as I type!)





The large jardiniere is one of a pair and I will plant tall grasses in them for movement in the wind.  I can not tell you how much fun I had working with the excavator men laying each stone step, sometimes moving a step ten times at 1/2-inch increments to get it just right.  Working with stone is tedious, but the "stone whisperers"  both seem to get my vision.  They told us that they have several jobs lined up, but they're not "fun" jobs like ours! 





My initial design for the chimney had the chimney going a light gray.  As you can see from the third photo above, the black mortar was mixing way too black.  Coat after coat the masons lessened the black from the mixture, and it was starting to lighten up but was also starting to go brown.  I didn't want brown, so I decided to take this as a sign and went a totally different route-  going with a a natural stucco.  I am so happy with the result, we absolutely adore the look. 
I have found over and over again in renovating  that when something keeps going wrong that it is usually a sign from the Renovation gods that you need to re-think it!   This new color is so natural and already looks like it has patina.  The dark gray looked like I was trying to hide the chimney, and that would be like trying to hide an elephant!  The natural stucco gives the chimney a  presence and weight that the barn needed for balance with the rest of the structure.




We are really pleased with the character that the stone wall gives to the back of the house.





And, speaking of steps (in the form of floor boards;) here are the barn floor boards being stained and sealed with three coats of tung oil.   The floors are Eastern White pine which is what is in the farmhouse.




Unfortunately, we didn't keep a record (nor did the original installer) of the formula for the stain of the floors in the farmhouse that we want to match.  We spent several weeks working with this new lumber yard perfecting the stain.  For those of you who contacted me about my floor stain, I should have the formula within the week and will add it "My Paint Colors" on my sidebar.




The floor boards should be delivered by the end of the week.  Then they have to sit in the barn and acclimate for 10 days...... 10 very long days!  We're getting close to completion, but we're at the point where it feels like everything is moving in sloooooooooow motion.
This is a lesson in patience!





52 comments:

  1. I'll post a real comment when I'm done gasping at the those gorgeous steps!!!!

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  2. Wow! So stunning! Great work...it's beautiful.

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  3. gorgeous !!!! all of it...everything..i adore the house, those granite steps, the wall, the chimney, the BEAUTIFUL floors....am so HAPPY to follow along on all of this....LOVE IT !!!

    kary and teddy

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  4. Kerplunk...the sound of me falling on the floor!
    It is fantastic. Do 2 people really live in that big house? Lucky you. :)

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  5. I can't wait to see it with the grass. It will look like something out of a fairytale.

    ♥ sécia
    www.petiteinsanities.blogspot.com

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  6. Oh wow! Everything is looking so good! I love the granite steps and the stucco chimeny! And that flooring is going to be gorgeous! I'm sure the 10 days will go by faster than you think. Hang in there...it's looking awesome!

    Gail

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  7. "I can not tell you how much fun I had working with the excavator men laying each stone step, sometimes moving a step ten times at 1/2-inch increments to get it just right."

    I'm curious....if the excavator men had a blog, what do you think they would say?? : )

    Actually, they'd probably say that it was totally worth it- the steps look incredible, really like they've been there since the beginning.

    Fantastic work!

    (and tell Dan that we can't wait to see the pictures with sod!!)

    Hugs!
    Carolyn

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  8. Well all I can say is your house is absolutely gorgeous!!!!!!!!!! and I want it!! lol! Everything you've done has complimented your home beautifully and I love all the tiered stones and stepping stones to get to the house. I can only dream of a house like yours.. mmm , I might have to emigrate to America!... take care, Maryann

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  9. This is so beautiful. I can't wait to see the steps with the grass. Love the wall and am still amazed that your guy was able to do this with is tractor lift thingy.

    Karen

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  10. ...oh my word...of all that you have shared with us...those stone slabs completely take my breath away..how on this good earth were they ever installed ...let alone cut...to form the foundation of the barn...who in the world had the strength to do such a job...and again...what would the original farmer think...this wonderful blog of yours has turned into all of us having an affair with a house...

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  11. Oh, my gosh! This is going to be the most beautiful house I've ever seen. Perhaps your photographs could become a book. I know I'd buy it. I really can't wait to see those steps with the sod.

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  12. Oh this is like present!! Opening it just a bit each time and revealing what is under the wrapping. I love this. I love the look of everything. The stones, oh my gosh the stone steps!! I adore those steps. :)

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  13. Gorgeous! I looove all of that stone!

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  14. Everything is coming along beautifully...I think I am as excited as you! ;-D

    XO,
    Jane

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  15. Very , very beautiful! Love it!

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  16. You must be thrilled, Joan!! It all looks amazing, but the granite steps are stunning...love the curve!!

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  17. Wow, wow, wow! It is all coming together magnificently! I haven't been on the computer much these past few weeks so am looking forward to getting caught up tonight on reading your blog and a few other of my favorites!

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  18. This makes me want to cry over the fact I live in an apartment. As I type I can hear the neighbor making dinner.... LOL The work you have done its amazing.
    You have been an inspiration for me to work hard and someday be the proud owner of a wonderful piece of property, such as yours!

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  19. Wow........it has come a long way baby.
    Looking so wonderful, think you are so right about the chimney. and the granite stairs are perfect.
    Can't wait to see the finished product, as I am sure you can't either!!
    Thanks for sharing your neat renovation.
    Blessings, Nellie

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  20. The stonework is gorgeous. The steps are perfect. They'd be really nice with a low ground cover too but grass is obviously much easier to maintain. The floors are totally gorgeous too. Can't wait to see that warm color of the floors with the stained walls and ceiling.

    Have you ever considered adding some gray somewhere on the back of the house?

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  21. Amazing! The stone looks like it belongs there - great eye...maybe you're becoming a 'stone whisperer' yourself!

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  22. Dianne- as far as I know, there's only two;)

    Carolyn- I knew someone was going to ask that!!
    First, let me say that these men are the "stone whisperers" and bring a wonderful energy to the jobsite. They really "get" that I have a vision and work hard to help me see it through. I think they like that we're so involved. After changing one of their rocks and explaining why I did it, one of them said that he was just sorry he didn't think of it first!! They also said they have several jobs lined up after ours, but they're not "fun" like this one! So, I think we're good!!!

    Steve- funny, as at first I thought of ground cover because it would be TONS easier than grass;) Grass is way more work in my book! And Gray??? You mean like the color of the whole BARN gray:)?! Actually, there are touches of gray on the porches!

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  23. I am blown away by the transformation of your home. I can hardly wait to see the completed photos. I know it is going to be beautiful. The steps will be a crowning touch to the completed landscaping. I love how your color choices compliment the stone wall and steps. Your flooring....anticipation is tolerable when it is that beautiful.

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  24. Hi Joan, how fantastic does that look...and those floorboards...wow...they are so wide, how wonderful, the proportions will be fantastic in the barn. Gina

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  25. Holy granite batman! I know when it is done it will look like it has been there for decades. I love how you have made the exterior look like it has naturally evolved into this amazing landscape. I so wish you had scratch n smell internet so I could smell the floors going in!
    Lacy

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  26. I love coming to visit your blog! Every post is like a treasure! The granite steps are fantastic. I cannot wait to see the final product!

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  27. Your home is so beautiful! We have been renovating our 1940's cottage and you give me such hope. Love,love,love the floor boards!!

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  28. Just amazing! I love seeing this transform! I'm way ahead in thoughts and wondering what the flat area in front of the chimney is going to be finished like? I'm guessing flagstone or brick pavers?

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  29. hi Liz- the terrace will be gray quarter-inch crushed stone/gravel!

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  30. I've followed your renovation almost from the beginning and it has been the happiest of journeys for me. Beautiful, Joan, just beautiful!

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  31. It's beautiful, I love the colours you've chosen (the natural stucco is great) and you're right about the steps... never have a straight line when you can have a curve is my mantra! gxo

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  32. Oh how I love following along this wonderful journey with you. Can I PLEEEEASE come live with you??? I am really good at working, I can do anything:):):) It is all going to be glorious! I know how at this point in construction it seems to go at a SNAILS pace! Loving the process! XO, Pinky

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  33. This is so exciting! I'm holding my breath to see the finished product and can't wait!!! You have beautiful vision and I wish I could fly you here and help me find the perfect farmhouse to restore and finish raising my children in!!! :) :)

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  34. I am AMAZED!! This is an AMAZING home. You are a pretty AMAZING person to be doing this! Love it and SO enjoyed the tour!

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  35. The stone is a great choice - I love a stone wall, so it's a good thing I live on a rocky island, with lots of raw material!
    The house is looking gorgeous.

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  36. Amazing transformation! It looks so good. Love the "stone stair".

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  37. Oh, this is so exciting! I find it amazing what that chiminey has done to the facade. It broke up that unfortunate roofline, too and now it just isn't noticeable at all.

    Please don't laugh (not that you would...) but my father was by all accounts a very handsome man...notwithstanding his very large nose. Your chimney makes me think of that...so let me say, in all seriousness,that back face is looking so handsome!

    So glad you listened to the renovation gods and went with the natural.

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  38. It's beautiful!! I love it that you're getting to make friends and build relationships in the community through this process!

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  39. Aren't you thrilled that you could reuse those stones as steps? By the way, our carrara marble countertops were installed in our kitchen this week. (I wrote a question to you a couple of months ago about your marble). All I can say is L.O.V.E.

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  40. What a transformation! I love the granite steps. My "rock stars" were also moving stones an inch at a time. It takes a great eye!

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  41. Hi Joan, Dan, and Ella: Absolutely stunning! I bet that the 'stone whisperers' would like to have your inputs on some of their other jobs. I agree, the grass will be more work, but will be so worth it. The tall grass in the jardinieres is the perfect choice. Cindy

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  42. I cant believe what a difference the rounded stairs make to the back of the house- they are perfection!

    And you were right about the color of the chimney, I love the natural color- looks like it always was that way and it was a part of the house from the beginning.

    Ahhh 10 days, I'm counting down with you!!

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  43. I was curious, if it isn't too personal, can you share a ballpark figure of what some of your ideas cost? I have been wanting to remove the ugly vinyl siding from our chimney and having stucco added. I don't even want to approach my husband without an idea of what it would cost, because it might be completely out of our price range. Also I am curious to how expensive it would be to have some found barn wood made beautiful like you are doing. I hope I am not breaking some rule by inquiring about costs, but I love everything you do and would love to incorporate some of your ideas to my home if we can afford it!
    On another note, I fell in love with your fish floats and had to have some. I bought several on easy and found two at a flea market here in Kansas! I couldn't believe it when I saw them! I love to imagine the long voyage they took to get to me. They are so beautiful and I love the history behind them!

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  44. Oh my gosh! I love love love the steps! What a graceful, beautiful addition and solution. :) So fascinating-- every last detail. If I ever get to restore an old house, I'm hiring you as my consultant. :)
    Have a blessed day, Joan!

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  45. hi LL from KS! I don't mind you asking at all, but I'm afraid I won't be of too much help as we had the chimney built from the ground up and the stucco finish was incorporated into that total construction cost. Stucco is inexpensive (bags of concrete and mortar), it is the labor that is expensive. I would suggest getting bids from at least 3 masons/handymen on doing your chimeny in stucco, AND also have them bid it doing brick. That will help to see how much more cost effective the stucco is and might help sway your husband;) Question, what is under your vinyl siding on the chimney? If it is bricks/cinder blocks or some other masonry material you would stucco directly over that which would be quick and easy, i.e. less expensive!
    The same goes for the barn wood walls, that cost (wood and the painter staining) was included in the cost of the entire project. We used "new" pine boards and pine is cheap. Even cheaper is using the knotty pine as we did, since that is a lower grade yet (as opposed to paint grade). And, if you were to stain them yourself (if interested my stain formula is on the sidebar under "My Paint Colors") you would save a huge amount of money. Labor is always the bulk of any project.
    Cost was a HUGE factor in ALL of our choice in the barn (remember this is Phase II;) so I totally understand where you are coming from. I think you will be surprised at how (relatively;) inexpensive both of these projects that you have asked about would be.
    Good luck with your projects, and please let me know what you find out and what you decide to do.
    Congrats on your floats! That is so great that you found some at a flea market- I know how exciting that must have been!!

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  46. Oh my goodness. I fall in love more each time I visit your blog. Your home is amazing and I love those steps!!

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  47. Your house is sooo dreamy, and I hope to accomplish something like this in the future with my husband and children. Love love love!

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  48. I've said it before and I'm sure I'll say it many more times to come...you guys are doing a great job with your house! The stone work is wonderful! And I thought I really like the gray chimmey, but after seeing the natural I agree the change is very good.

    www.ajbarnesonline.blogspot.com

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  49. This project is so amazing to watch as it unfolds! I love the barn addition, the chimney colour and those huge granite foundation stones that are now steps. I'm glad they got reused. Your new flooring will look fabulous once laid -great colour! I am so enjoying this transformation.

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