We’ve been on a concentrated push to truly finish the barn. That is, our home. It’s been “adequate”, by my standards, for some time, and I’ve been living in it, but the true goal is to have all the trim and paint and handles and whatnots complete. It’s tiresome to be constantly surrounded by a to-do list in 3D.
We’ve finished all the floor, putting in click planks of cork. It’s a compromise; I wanted gluedown because it looks better and has no adhesives in the laminate, but the cork could outlast the subfloor so it’s nice to be able to take it up, and I was told that Torlys has peerless environmental practices. We finished all the last voids of canvas, plated all the outlets, finished all the baseboard and thresholds, exterior wood, made custom curtains, a tile pad for the woodstove, and many storage shelves. It was more work than it sounds like.
Not that I was ever out to prove this, but I feel I’ve proved that a home can be as sexy and cozy without plumbing, with wood heat and minimal electrical, as a house much bigger with a $1000/month mortgage (I’ve been there).
We have a strong ethic of not buying any materials if we can figure out a way to avoid it. This frees up money to spend in the right place, IMO- on better quality and more attractive versions of what does need to be purchased. It also means multiple varieties of wood trim, reused and denailed lumber, and using stuff for applications it wasn’t exactly meant for.
The creative alternatives tend to be more satisfying and unique. Ceramic insulators and baling wire for curtain “rods” (I have a hunch that champagne corks with a hole bored in them would be pretty cool too), DIY wooden switchplates, 12″ tall (short) wainscotting pieced together from dozens of scraps, and of course a pulley-operated dumbwaiter. My favorite is the dumbwaiter, to send morning tea up to the loft. No home is complete without one.
It’s very satisfying to have all the inevitable stuff of life support organized and arranged for optimal accessibility and function. It takes a fair bit of time and attention to orchestrate that. It’s quite emotionally satisfying, a relief even – in H.W.’s version of “A place for everything and everything in its place”: “Everything has a holster and everything is holstered”. Our kitchen won’t look like the average kitchen (maybe anyone’s kitchen), but it has functional zones and we can lay hands on everything commonly used instantly, and less used easily.
I’m especially in love with this composting container from Lee Valley Tools. It’s meant to hang on a cupboard door, but since we don’t have one, I made a custom catch for it to hook on, and it slides the length of the counter and slides off to take it and empty it. The unexpected advantage of this is that it slides the length of the counter, and one can deftly sweep all the crumbs straight into it with a flourish!
The final price tag for this entire reno, from the starting point of roof, framing and dirt floor to (plumbing-free) suite, is under $12 000. The biggest chunks of that expense were the certified chimney, the Roxul insulation, the cork floor, and the essential but unseen drain tile.