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Thursday, October 13, 2011

renovation photo-story: the front landscaping and cobblestone walk

While going through some photos from last year at this time I realized that I showed you the finished front, but never showed the complete process of the project.  And for all the work that Dan and Big Blue put in, that's just not right!
This is the second post in my "renovation photo-story" series which shows projects from start to finish,  so for those new here- this is a long one...  grab a cup of coffee, or a glass of wine and watch the project unfold!





The house as it looked "for sale" with its yellow paint and dark green shutters. 




Are you seeing the potential?!  





The house with its new white paint and black shutters.  We placed gravel on the walkway the previous year as a temporary fix so that we wouldn't be bringing dust and rocks in the house from the existing dirt driveway.





The location for the front bed.  You can see the original dirt drive in the forefront of the photo.




Let the fun begin!
Dan and Big Blue scrape up the top layer of weeds and patchy grass. 




We couldn't survive here without Big Blue.  A local equipment rental rents Big Blue for $270 per day.... nor could we afford to not own her with the number of hours Dan spends on the tractor!  We've owned her now for two years, and she just had her 400-hour tune up in July!




In the upper right of the photo you can see a mound with transplanted plants that had been removed from the bed area and were being saved to add back into the design.




Ella giving some sugar!  You can't make out her tail in this photo because it's waggin'! 
In case you are wondering, on the back of Big Blue is an aerator.  It is weighted down with heavy stones to enable it to get deep into the ground.
And yes, that is a University of Oregon cap.... Dan is a duck;) , says this Longhorn!




The clean slate. 
The gravel strip under the window is one of several french drains that we added around the perimeter of the house after an unfortunate incident with water in the basement;)



The outline for the bed was first laid out with a hose.   I extended the bed beyond the corner of the house to visually enlarge the area and to balance the bed to the house.




Plant placement begins. 
This gravel area is the side porch walk and will be bordered with cobbles.




The antique yogurt pot, from Love Train Antiques (aka Mark Sage of Restoration Hardware) in Atlanta, moved with us from Dallas and was always an integral part of this garden design, so it was placed first.  The plants in this photo are my larger "anchor" plantings.







The bed is planted with shrubs and perennials.  It is predominantly whites along with some pink and purple accent plantings.






Plants are all planted, and an "English edge" is dug.  An English edge is basically a small trench between the grass and the bed.   It makes for a very natural look and is easy to maintain.  I like a natural-looking bed, one I describe as "organized chaos"!   I also plant things just a bit closer to each other, as I like the plants to touch and overlap when full grown for a softer effect.






The new gravel drive has been defined and laid, and the construction for the antique cobblestone walkway begins.  The cobblestones are from a street in an old town in Massachusetts.




I designed the walkway to have a slight curve coming off of the granite stone landing at the base of the steps and then straight out to the drive.  Dan drew a cardboard template of the curve I designed, and then flipped it-  the stones were laid against the cardboard to get a perfect match.






 This was my job (besides the design and stupervising ;)... measuring the cobbles and organizing them into the three different measurement groups to make Dan's job easier!




Note the exposed space under the porch.




The under porch stone skirt was made by the stonemason we hired who turned out to be the "drunken mason".  He was fired before he completed the entire skirt, so Dan had to finish the end of the porch.  He had also been hired to build the walkway, so Dan had to do that too!























New sod.




The little green plastic garden seat on wheels has been with us for years.  It has served its time in the garden back in Dallas and has even been known to act as a dolly for huge, heavy pieces of antique furniture!  Its little wheels are a bit splayed from its dolly service, but he still gets the job done!



Same leather gloves, just before and after!




After the cobbles are laid the joints are filled with granite stone dust, which settles, compacts and hardens a bit.





Love the antique cobblestone walkway....   and the handy husband ;)!







Oops... looks like some of Dan's "stone mason juice" made it into the photo ;)









Almost complete!






The finished front, as it looked last year right after completion. 



This year...






Click Here to see the Finished Front and read about the "drunken mason" ;)
Click Here to see the Kitchen renovation photo-story


86 comments:

  1. Beautiful! I have been following your blog for a while now. I am a native Oregonian and saw reference to it in your profile. Did you use to live here? Whenever I see your home and love for where you live, I feel like we are sisters on separate coasts! I'd love to have you visit me at turnstylevogue.com (I have my little canine love featured as well :) Take care.

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  2. Absolutely beautiful, Joan! I have a question though, how do they hold up through the winter snow and shoveling??? We're in need of a new front walk here at CDLV, and Scott's a nut for cobblestone ... never knew anyone who used it though, and now that I know you have - maybe you could enlighten me (us)?
    xo,
    A

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  3. The stone walk is settling in nicely. It's hard to tell from the photos, but I hope there is some nice patina on those blocks, especially since they are antique pavers.

    I love those wide side porches. They make the house appear inviting and comfortable, and at the same larger and more imposing.
    --Road to Parnassus

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  4. Fantastic....I do love before and afters and what a difference....Your home is so beautiful and such a credit to you and your husband....And how clever is that 'Big Blue'....what would you do without him! xv

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  5. You did a wonderful job on the stone walkway and flower bed. That's a lot of hard labour but so worth it. I think it's pretty neat that you could get those pavers from an actual street! Beautiful!

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  6. Wow! This looks terrific! I know it was a lot of work for hubby, but it must feel great to look at the accomplishment!!

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  7. Shari- yes, prior to living in Dallas we lived in Portland. Dan grew up in a small town on the Oregon coast!

    Artie- last winter was our first winter with them and they are pretty indestructable it seems. They were shoveled regularly. The key is using a "plastic" shovel!

    Parnassus- yes, they do have a nice patina of age. they definitely look different from new ones!

    Vicki- thank you! what indeed?!

    Pamela- thank you!

    Karen- thank you; yes, Dan takes a lot of pride in his work!

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  8. Every project you share with us I am absolutely amazed. I have a handy one at home too but WOW, Dan is the King of Handy. It is just beautiful and I know you both feel well worth every moment. I never tire of you sharing your beautiful adventure and farmhouse.

    Carolyn/A Southerners Notebook

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  9. Oh Joan, you are my Bunny Williams!

    If ever I could snap my fingers and envision my dream home, it would be yours. You're a constant inspiration for me as I begin to craft my "dream home" for my husband and me.

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  10. Your photos of your home are wonderful! Love the stone sidewalk. Your husband did a fabulous job!

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  11. Gorgeous - I love the history behind the cobblestones! Have you mentioned anywhere the specific plantings in this bed? I think I recognize a few, but can't place the others.

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  12. So gorgeous! Love how you put your own personal stamp on it. It had great bones, but now it's even better.

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  13. Beautiful job! It looks great! I'd love to share pictures of our house with you & pick your brain! Trying to decide on new siding color. We have a very similar style house...front porch, gravel drive, yellow now (yuck!). It's so hard to decide!!! Amazing job...I'm in love with your cobblestone sidewalk! Also, do you like the bigger sized gravel in your driveway? We have tiny pea gravel now & it is forever making it's way into the house...i hate it!

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  14. Joan thank you so much for taking us down a trip on memory lane. I love love your home and all of your special touches. I had to laugh a little about the drunken mason being fired. We had to recently fire a bi-polar fence builder and my hubby like your Dan had to finish the project!!1 You just never know these days about contractors. I say, " there is the real world and time and then there is the contractors world and their time." Needless to say our world and their worlds will sometimes collide. You have a wonderful home full of your special touches and details. I love following along, Kathysue

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  15. Joan,
    I love it! You guys really did have great vision and executed on it perfectly. Your home is one of my all time favorites, inside and out and your stories are always entertaining.
    Karen

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  16. Can I ask how the edge between the drive and sod holds up? Is there a trench between them too??? It looks gorgeous and Dan is a great mason! The side porch and balcomy above are a dream!!!! LOVE your house! XO, Pinky

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  17. geez, and all i want to do is get my house painted white. man am i lazy!

    gorgeous, gorgeous. dan is a gem!
    and that's probably the understatement of the year.

    xo
    janet

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  18. Love your stone walkway and landscaping! We have done a lot of landscaping and work with stone so I know what a job this is. It looks fabulous!

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  19. Dan is amazing! I find myself wondering how I can sneak he and Ella home with me!! LOL
    I agree, you are my Bunny Williams too.
    xoxo Dianne

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  20. Dear Joan, I LOVE the long stories. I think the more pictures the better because it really shows just how much hard work goes into projects. It's, of course, beautiful as are all of your house transformations. And Mike sure wishes he had a Big Blue! I remember the day he asked for one and I was like, 'what on earth would you do with it?' Let me pause as I kick myself.
    xoTrina

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  21. What a beautiful transformation and clearly a labor of love. The stone walkway is gorgeous and the plantings add so much to the front!!

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  22. I have a driveway waiting for Dan and Big Blue. It's really not very big. I'll serve refreshments.

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  23. I want to move to New Hampshire.... where there is four seasons. Your home is lovely.
    What a beautiful walkway and entrance.

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  24. Tour front is really amazing... You make me dream !

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  25. Just beautiful, Joan! I love all your pretty pumpkins, gourds and the mums and how they accent your equally exquisite renovated home!! The cobblestone walkway is perfect!!

    Happy Fall!!

    Hugs,
    Gail

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  26. OMG OMG OMG! yay! i bet your thrilled. it's nice to have those handy hubbies or ours! looks amazing joan!

    xo
    ashley over @
    {hookeonhickory}

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  27. Hi Joan
    I'm so excited just brought Renovaton Style on line as I've hunted HI and LOW here in Adelaide. Your article is fabulous so even if I don't find a hard copy here I can read it on line. The front yard is perfection as always.
    Kind Regards
    Karen

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  28. Fantastic! The yogurt pot is perfect and just makes the bed. But how do you keep the pot from breeding mosquitoes in the summer and freezing and cracking in the winter?

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  29. Dan deserved a lot of stone walkway juice for his hard work! We laid a stone walkway this past spring. It took us a month of working on it a few hours at a time. The antique pavers that you used are gorgeous. I was wondering-where do you find the granite dust? We used sand, but I'm interested in this dust as it must hold the stones better than sand.

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  30. I like the stone you picked, it has just enough patina to compliment the age of the house.
    It's so sweet to see every so often pictures of Dan stopping to give a little attention to the pup (I'm sure he was a great little helper).

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  31. I enjoyed the story! I very much appreciate and understand the labor involved in putting in that sidewalk! We did our own flagstone patio and it was a lot of work! It turned out perfect and I like the flair you gave it!
    That's funny about the drunken mason- well not funny, but humorous! Why do people that drink think no one else notices??
    You sure gave that home a lot of love!

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  32. Joan, Dan, and Ella: I love your stories, taking us from start to finish. The cobblestone is a perfect match for your farm home. When we had our patio done, with pavers, I insisted on an old granite step; I didn't want the new hard edged stone. We had a painter over to give us a quote for exterior painting, and he showed up drunk! You know he was not hired.

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  33. What fun to go along on this journey with you and to finally see the completed project. Simple and elegant are always the hardest to achieve and you have done all that and more, and with more patience than I would have!

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  34. thank you all for your comments!

    Christi- the plants in the bed are: hostas (transplanted from the property), peonies (from the property), coral bells (Palace Purple), liriope (big blue lilyturf), astilbe (peach blossom), Christmas ferns, sedum stonecap, lambs ear, salvia (Snow Hill), azalea, Annabelle hydrangeas, Chicagoland boxwood, rhododendron, virburnum (summer snowflake). And, no;) I didn't know this off the top of my head- I made a layout last year!

    Charity- We used 3/4" crushed stone on the driveway. I love the "look" of the pea gravel (which we used on the barn terrace btw) but it was too small/too mobile to use on the driveway, especially since we have to plow it in the winter. Pea gravel is round and moves easily, whereas crushed stone gravel is angular and compacts together.

    Pinky- there is not an English edge between the grass and the drive. The elevation of the lawn is a bit higher than the gravel, this tends to keep the grass from growing into the driveway.

    Steve- will that be a case of "mason juice"?!!

    Karen- I'm so happy you got the magazine!

    Anon 6:35- we drilled a hole in the bottom of the pot to drain excess water. In the winter we bring the pot inside.

    Jane- we get the granite dust at the same stone yard where we get the gravel. It definitely holds better than sand.

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  35. How's the tree in front of the house holding up? All that work was pretty invasive to its roots. Tree roots are largely in the top 6 to 12 inches of soil, and you scrapped a lot of that off when you removed the grass and put in the stone walk. You got really close to the trunk too, surely some damage was done. There's also the risk that you compacted the soil with heavy equipment being driven and various materials being set around the tree, which is a problem because roots need oxygen to survive and they can't get it when the soil is compacted. Your pictures are a CLASSIC portrayal of improper tree care known as construction damage. I bet you wouldn't love your house and property as much if it lacked its mature trees -- it'd be barren scorchy looking, like Texas. PLEASE take better care of your gorgeous mature trees. You can't replace an 80+ year old tree in anything faster than 80+ years. Good luck. The next few years will tell.

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  36. Beautiful! Good thing you have a "Dan"!

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  37. Very nice.

    Just curious though... Why didn't you help you hubby to construct the walkway? Certainly it is better to be two persons on such a big project?

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  38. What a transformation, simply wonderful. I especially love your new pathway.

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  39. oh dear...now i have to start wondering about who walked on those cobblestones to begin with...who delivered milk or ice with horse drawn wagons to houses set back from them...who drove the first car over them... did they come from a busy street of shops...or from a quiet neighbohood...and finally who made them to begin with...move over farmer...laney has something else about which to obsess...not to mention how beautiful they are now...in the perfect place...for the perfect house...

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  40. Wonderful!!! Gotta love these hubbies that haul and set stone....they are priceless! I'd rather have a beautiful slab of flagstone than a diamond these days! :) Love the care you take in every project!

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  41. There's not one time I come to your blog and the word "wow" isn't in my mind. Honestly. I feel so inspired by how much work you guys have done in this place and how beautiful everything looks. It's amazing. It's amazing!!!

    Have a great weekend.

    xo

    Luciane at HomeBunch.com

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  42. What is the porch decking made of? It appears to be tongue and groove. What do you do to maintain it?

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  43. If anyone deserved "stone mason juice", it is that husband of yours !
    It is just beautiful, you know you have just encouraged me more !
    These are now being sent to the computer of my husband ( the non stone mason type) and we will daydream some more.
    besos to you and your good lookin' stone mason .. to Ella too !!

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  44. Anon11:57- While your points about "construction damage" on trees are extremely valid (we saw many a large oak tree die the year after a McMansion was built on a lot in our old neighborhood back in Texas- it was heartbreaking), your assumption that we did not, nor do not "take better care of our gorgeous mature trees" (which are over 100 years old, not 80 btw- per our arborist) and that this is a "CLASSIC portrayal of improper tree care" only shows that you don't personally know Dan, or me. One, we hire experts, i.e. arborists, and two...we do our research. That's the thing about shoot-from-the-hip (always anonymous) commenters... you don't. The root systems for trees vary widely depending on the genus of the tree. Our trees are "Sugar Maples", which differ from other species of Maples, and have a 'deep' root system. Cornell University has some interesting information on tree roots if you are so inclined (as we were). No roots were touched/disturbed/destroyed in the laying of the cobblestones since a Sugar Maple's roots grow deep and branched. Keep in mind, the footprint of the driveway and walkway "predated" the tree. During the initial renovation of the farmhouse ALL trees were marked off and were off-limit for parking and heavy equipment due to our experience in Dallas. So, the next time you feel so inclined to make a snarky comment please have the common courtesy to use your real name and email, and do your research.

    Betty- I think a husband for hire is a great idea, though since Big Blue only drives at 12-15 mph it might take Dan a while to get to each job;)!!

    Slim- you are so right- it IS a good thing I have "a Dan"!!

    Jessica- Working with stone is an art form, literally, so that would be like helping an artist paint a canvas. Does that make sense? Dan doesn't "help" me design rooms, and I wouldn't consider imposing my vision on his artwork.

    Susan T- thank you!

    laney- you make us laugh!! While I don't know the answers to most of the queries I do know one!! We've been told by several local stone sources that, ironically, most of the Massachusetts cobblestones were made in New Hampshire (we're the granite state!), so in essence- the cobbles have come home!

    NnN- I couldn't agree more about the diamonds;) Years ago (I believe it was in "House Beautiful") there was a story about a woman who was asked what she wanted for a milestone anniversary, her husband was thinking pearls. She chose instead to have a stone wall seating area in the shape of a circle built. The wall was then referred to by her family as the "ring of pearls!' I always loved that story as I could so relate!

    Luciane- Thank you so much!!!

    Anon8:38- The decking of the porch isn't tongue and groove, but flat-cut mahogany boards. It is not coated with any products and weathers naturally to the gray color you see in the photos. To maintain... I sweep it ;)

    Candice- besos to you too, and Dan says thank you;)!!

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  45. What a transformation! Looks amazing!

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  46. Do the people who sold you the house follow your blog? I'm sure if it were me, I'd be very jealous of what you'd done but also quite pleased.

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  47. Wow I was not expecting all those pictures! It was seriously project after project. Incredible what curb appeal does. Really love the black and white colors on the house. And I must say that walk way is gorgeous. Whatever those leaves are that are falling on it, I must get a tree like that one day. It is so cool. Lovely touches with the pumpkins. Just the right dose! :)

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  48. Erin- thank you!

    Nancy- that is so ironic that you ask me that, as I spoke to the previous owner on the phone " just yesterday"! They only lived here a few months before realizing that another part of NE was a better fit for them. I sent a copy of the magazine thinking they might like to see what we've done with the property. He called me yesterday and was very kind and complimentary. I invited them to come by the house the next time they are in our area!

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  49. Britt- the leaves are from Sugar Maples! And, thank you!

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  50. ...i am so glad that they are home...

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  51. Amazing. Your house thanks you every day, I am sure. I know I do. Your love story with your home is truly that. Everything you do is so sublime.
    xo isa

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  52. Oh Joan, a labour of love. You have worked wonders. You should be so proud. And you live in heaven on earth! A-M xx

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  53. Joan, what can I say that I haven't already said about your amazing home. This is stunning. Love what you did. You inspire me to create a very special home for my family...thank you.

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  54. Great work, it looks like a whole new house! Lucky you to have the handy husband!

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  55. I always love seeing your beautiful home. A lot of hard work has gone into it but the results are fabulous.
    Hugs,
    Sherry

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  56. Joan,
    I love the fall photos- it's gorgeous and about makes me homesick right now! I don't even have any candy corn to console me! :) I got your note about the stores and what's available- I'll see what I can do and if they'll let me photograph!

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  57. Ok, so now I wonder about the previous, previous owners!

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  58. Huge transformation. Your home and the landscaping are both fabulous. Love it all. Hugs, Marty

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  59. ...nancy at 9:59 am /oct 15 is a person after my own heart...

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  60. Nancy- you need to meet my friend laney.

    laney- you need to meet Nancy;);)

    xo to you both!

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  61. Joan,
    As I read through this post, tears streaming down my face. For the love of a house, you win the prize for having the vision and the strength to make this house your home.
    You inspire so many. What a welcome one must get upon arriving at your door.
    pve

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  62. Patricia- That is such a beautiful thing to say. Thank you so much...

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  63. Beautiful. I love how it all turned out. What a wonderful inspiration, I am hoping to do something different with the front of our house.

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  64. Very nice! I have a white home too. I've always like white houses but I liked the yellow too. The house has great bones. The walkway is icing on the cake!
    Kathy

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  65. As always, it's breathtaking! Thanks so much for sharing.

    Beth

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  66. ...and nice to mee you nancy...we share a love of the history of this home don't we...there is just something special about this house...as well as something special about the present owners...and the blog itself...have you noticed...everyone rejoices over the entries...we are happy over these people and the love they have for their home...they simply make us feel good about being a tiny part of something special...

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  67. Arrgh,I ned some stone mason juice now...that was exhausting and my fingers hurt just reading!

    But...It is trememndous and looks as though it has been there for centuries!

    Bravo!

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  68. Couldn't have said it better myself.

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  69. Whenever I read your phrase "grab a cup of coffee..." I get so giddy! I LOVE your long posts filled with so many photos to drool over and your words of wisdom. So inspiring.

    Oh and it was GREAT to see Big Blue again! She's a big hit at our house. My husband comes a runnin' when I tell him Big Blue is featured. I rarely see him move that fast!

    Take care,
    Karla in CA

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  70. Seriously stunning! I can't believe all the hardwork that went into this. Congratulations! You have a beautiful home- inside and out!

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  71. I just love that walkway!

    ♥ sécia
    www.petiteinsanities.blogspot.com

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  72. Having lived in a 1876 renovated farmhouse in Francestown, I especially love all of your references to the Monadnock Region! I am most curious about your french drains, which our house had, as well. Could you elaborate as to why you opted for french drains instead of gutters? Many thanks for the opportunity to live vicariously in New England via your blog!

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  73. Just Divine ~ I am an Aussie with some serious Envy for the superb homes you have over there!! Yours is just looking fabulous, such a credit to you. I love homes that make you want to walk right in and pop the kettle on and take a seat on a giant comfy sofa.... not sterile & ultra modern!! Yours is definately a home not a house. Thanks for sharing & your path looks great, well done drunken mason ;)

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  74. We too live, work and garden in NH and are happy to have found your lovely blog. Reading the book, Garden in Lucca, I found you on the Paul Gervais blog. You have created a beautiful home.

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  75. Karla- I "love" hearing about husbands who like the Big Blue posts!!

    Laurie- I love Francestown- such a charming town! Regarding the french drains. The drains can move larger volumes of water further away from the house, which is especially important for us since our basement/foundation is huge granite blocks instead of a solid, sealed concrete wall, and water easily seeps in when we have a lot of run-off (like snow melt.) You do see gutters here, but they can be really probamatic when snow freezes in them and then the weather warms and they start to thaw- I've seen many gutters literally pulled off of houses. That said, we do have a couple of areas the get excessive runoff and we need to add some short-runs of gutters, but they will empty into the french drains and the water will be moved away from the house. The first year we lived in the house before the drains, we had a lot of water coming into the basement; the french drains have really helped eliminate that issue.

    Mama- that is the ultimate compliment: that the house makes you want to come in and get cozy! thank you!

    Aponovich & Johannson- welcome, and I'm delighted to 'meet' you! thank you for letting me know how you found the blog!

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  76. Oh, I admire your fortitude and vision so much Joan...and Dan's too of course. Seeing the hard work that went into creating your beautful home is very inspiring...it all just doesn't magically happen does it?! To have such 'established character' as you two are creating, truly makes a house a home.
    Those cobblestones are a treasure...to think who might have walked on them, and how long ago, is very special. Having such historic beauty leading people right up to your home is just wonderful.
    Very well done you two!!!
    xo J~

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  77. Perfection! I don't think I've ever seen such a perfect house set in such a perfect location! Absolutely beautiful. Makes me want to go build my own somewhere:)

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  78. Two things jumped out at me, Dan's a Duck! (Go, Ducks!) and he needs new gloves! What size does he wear? Our sister company manufactures gloves and I think I can hook him up! Your home is lovely and you have the "eye".

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  79. That cobblestone walk way makes me miss Paris...this is sooo lovely.

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  80. so gorgeous. i love that you used old cobblestones for the front walk. they are lovely, it's so great to keep things out of the landfill, and they add so much character to your beautiful home. i love reading your blog!

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  81. I know "gorgeous" and "beautiful" have been said in the other comments, but that yard is just gorgeous and beautiful! The simple patio, the rocks and pebbles – all of them came together and made for an amazing renovation! This is real talent and creativity.

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  82. I'd love to hear how you came to find those wonderful cobblestones! I'm sure it's another great story.

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