Summer’s End and What’s Ahead

Summer’s End. Soon there will be awnings over all the porches for protection, because winter here is typically about 300″ of snow.

My next blog will be from scenic Asheville, home of our Goddesses Anonymous friends. But meantime where in the world is Emilie? Well, Michael, Nemo and I are packing up our entire cottage in Western NY, storing everything we’re keeping in one room that was renovated last year and doesn’t need anything else done to it.

The rest of the cottage? Well, that’s a different story. In addition to our one-room-amnesty we also have a 10 by 10 storage unit down the road. And we’ve taken a few feet on both long porches to store our summer furniture. Other than that, the house has to be cleared because, for the most part, it’s going to be gutted.

We looked for a house at Chautauqua Institution for fourteen (!) years. That’s right. Fourteen. We gave up the year this one arrived on the market and decided finding a house we could afford was hopeless. Then a friend told us about this one.  “Best deal on the market this year,” she said.  We walked by and fell madly in love.  From the outside it was exactly what we wanted. In the center of all the activities on a historic street, and three porches. But there was a contract on it already, said our forever-patient realtor.

The summer passed and I kept seeing the house advertised in the local daily. I would call and Lou would say, “there’s a contract on it.” Darn.

Finally the day before we were leaving for the summer I saw it again and on a whim I thought I would call one more time.  “Contract just fell through, do you want to see it?” Did we?

A fifteen minute walk through and we were signing on the dotted line. The bones were good. We had seen so many houses that weren’t. The price was low for Chautauqua.  Which is a whole story unto itself. We didn’t have to dicker for long. The house was ours and the home inspection turned up next to nothing.

A view of the three rooms that will eventually be one. To keep the cottage feel we’re putting shelves instead of cabinets on top to display all the things we own that are not worth displaying.

We knew it was livable while we decided what to do to it. We started with a wish list. Take the three rooms masquerading as laundry room, utility room and kitchen and make them one. Add a bathroom in the back where there was room to do so. Take off the insulation board on the walls and put bead board or wall board where they’d been. Remove the painted plywood floors and put something better on top of them. That was huge. We weren’t sure we could do it all, but we sure planned to try.

We’re doing it. And we’re also moving and rebuilding stairs, changing the roof line, adding TWO bathrooms one on top of the other, putting in wood floors downstairs and maybe refinishing the old pine floors upstairs if they’re salvageable, adding air-conditioning and some heat so we can stay longer in the fall each year.


The project begins, well, when folks get around to it. We had to wait a year for our contractor who is wonderful. Our architect is a peach. What an experience this will be. Tune in for updates.

Today a few photos. Remember, we’re moving furniture and packing. Not a pretty sight. Enjoy anyway.  And I’ll meet you back here next week from Asheville.


  1. Nancy Badertscher on September 19, 2012 at 11:45 am

    300″ of snow – yikes!!! Thanks for sharing your renovation plans – it’s always to fun to see other peoples plans. Have a nice visit to Asheville. We’re on our way thru there again tomorrow and Saturday when we go from our home in the ATL area to see my mom in East Tenn. I’m hoping for some changing leaves – we don’t have that much here yet.

    • Emilie Richards on September 19, 2012 at 11:52 am

      Thanks, Nancy. I just took a photo of the furniture piled nearly to the ceiling in our one finished room. It was like putting a jigsaw puzzle together. Unbelievable. Enjoy your visit to Asheville. A bit early for color–we don’t even have much here where it’s much colder–but Asheville is gorgeous year round. I can’t wait to get there. (Particularly since there is NO heat here and now, no furniture to sit on.)

  2. librarypat on January 10, 2013 at 5:02 pm

    Good luck with the renovations. We had to retire from the AF after my husband had surgery and hadn’t yet planned on retiring. Quick decision on where to move. We chose halfway between Family in Northern NY and Orlando. We are in NE TN about 60 miles from Asheville, NC. Miss the Adirondacks, but this is a close second.
    When we were looking for a house, we did not have a very good realtor. He didn’t listen to a thing we told him about what we were looking for. We made weekend trips down from DC and I finally spent a week by myself looking. After nearly the whole week being shown nothing fitting our preferences, we drove by a house I had circled in the MLS listings and given to him. I saw the house the next morning and knew it was IT the minute I stepped over the threshold into the old part of the house. It is an 1898 victorian farm house and needed LOTS of work. I put a bid on it before even talking to my husband. It has been more work (we had to gut it to the studs) and much more money than we thought, but we love the house. 20 years later we are still working on it. We have done most of the work ourselves. Saves money but takes much longer.
    We would love to have a little place back in Northern NY to spend our summers in. I hope your cottage renovations go well and you enjoy your home in Florida.

    • Emilie Richards on January 11, 2013 at 8:53 am

      What a great story. And the right realtor makes all the difference, you’re right. Ours was great, but we tried several others before we found her. So glad you got your dream house. And yes, Victorian houses need a lot of work. Ours was built as a cottage, which means very different standards. But oh, the history, if we could just read between the wall boards. BTW, our NY realtor showed us houses for 14 years before we walked into the one we bought and said “Where do we sign?” What a trooper.

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