Making a House a Home..Tahilla Farm

Just a tad nervous...
I am facing major home renovations for the first time and I am just a tad nervous about it all. Next week I fly from Vietnam to Boston and then drive to Tahilla Farm in New Hampshire. It has been eight months since I last visited and I have thought of it every day since.

Patience of a Saint...
We have a great architect who we have been teleconferencing with regularly these past few months. I think our architect has the patience of a Saint. The ideas from our end have been wild and crazy and they keep on changing. He has been with us the whole way. We are very happy with the am I so nervous?

This is my first major renovation...I have been dodging this for 27 years.

Climbing Mt. Everest... 
Five countries, four kids, a travelling husband and an energetic dog were enough for me...I have avoided houses that needed anything but basic interior and exterior work. Lick of paint, touch up the roof, sanding here and there, new boilers, minor adjustments and tweaks...OK..that's easy. Anything else and we have problems.

Picking out anything relating to a house is like climbing Mt. Everest for me. I like it all, can never decide, lose my "gut feel" when I need it most and figure the best decision is no decision when I am on the fence. The fence is my haven, it is quite comfy there. Every house we have purchased has required minimal work, it has been a prerequisite.

Tahilla Farm..Mending pasture fences by Dan Snow

"We come and go, but the land will always be here. 
Those people who love and understand it 
are the only ones who really own it- 
for a while."
Willla Cather, O Pioneer!

Tahilla Farm circa. 1790...
I have to wonder about the first owners of our house, those patriotic souls, establishing their roots in the pasture land of New Hampshire. In 1790, our house was built and the President of the United States, George Washington, gave his first State of the Union address in New York.

If only the stone walls around our property could speak and "Martha", the magnificent 150 year old maple tree outside our front door could do the same..just imagine the stories!

Jump ahead 224 years and you have Mr and Mrs H, bringing back the land to some semblance of what it once was and contemplating a renovation as they go.

"Martha" stands by her house.

We plan to tenderly renovate the original house to bring it into the 21st century. Windows, roof and insulation will be added without compromising the integrity of the original structure. It has a keeping room, study, two upstairs bedrooms/bathrooms and an attic space that small children would squeal with delight over.

An antique home holds onto it's roots, keeping room and study...this stays just as it is.

We have two wings off of the original house, the right wing and the master wing. The master wing holds the master bedroom, en suite and sitting room. The right wing holds the "life" of the house,  the kitchen, laundry, bathroom, dining room, guest room, and bath and screened in porch. Both wings were built within the past 10 years.

Down it comes...the right wing
And now...our biggest project of all, pulling down the right wing and replacing it with another of equal volume to the old house. While the right wing is underway, and the main house is tweaked, we will also modify the master wing.

We are making this house our home, our home away from home. It has been the plan all along. Once construction starts, I will be observing from afar in Vietnam, dependant on someone else to oversee the work for us. We estimate nine months to complete the work. I am guessing 12 months. I have complete confidence in those who will look after the project and plan to come back to check on how things are going. Something in me longs to be there for the whole process and then again another part of me sighs with relief that I will not.

What will one day be the  "before" picture.

The wing to the far right of the house, with the porch,
will be renovated. 

Am I crazy?
A question I seem to be asking myself and everyone around me these days is "Am I crazy?" I have a sneaking suspicion that some or you are reading this, nodding your heads and saying "yup, as crazy as they come". Others might be like me...ready to head for the hills (or mountain) at the sound of the first bang of a hammer and others will be telling me to just "let it go" and get on with it. Make your house your home....

Keeping an eye on a mountain.

Getting my act together... 
So this is the summer where I get my act together. It starts next week.  I have lots of decisions to make for a new kitchen, family room, fireplace, bookcases, lighting, doorknobs, guest bath, master bath, laundry, dressing room, all the bathrooms, guest bedroom. I plan to be well stocked on beer and wine through the summer to get me though those moments when I ask myself what I have gotten myself into.

Featured in NZ House and Garden, May 2007

The interior decorator...
And here is the thing, I know an interior decorator could make my life so much easier. But when it comes to decorators, I hesitate. I had a great decorator in my life. Kaye Coleman breezed up to my front door one day in New Zealand at the suggestion of a friend and I never looked back.  She said yes where others said no. We painted, stained, reupholstered and added to our collection with her. She was a marvel...a one of a kind. Every move since then, from England to Vietnam has been an easy transition due to her planning. We can mix and match any room, be prepared for any house, shape or size. The woman is a genius, I need her now. But alas, we are in New England and not New Zealand...I need to find another Kaye, a decorator with an eye for detail, who can think outside the decorating square when we bring our travelling world to Tahilla Farm.

Our travelling home..shown here in Auckland, New Zealand
Full article here

Forging ahead...
At this point, I am planning on forging ahead on my own, with the help of our architect, a whole lot of pin boards from Pinterest and that beer and wine stocked in the refrigerator.

So I ask you.. 
Have you been there?  
Have you done that? 
Do you have any advice? 
Were you married when you renovated?
Are you still married?
Are you still sane?
I hear stories...
Am I crazy? 
(wait, don't answer that)

I will take it all and come back 
and post your thoughts and advice 
to share with other first timers.
There is nothing like the experience 
of those who have gone before us.

I have faith.

Knowing that many of you prefer to email rather than comment, 
please feel free to write to me...


I eagerly await your responses..your words
of wisdom never cease to amaze me.

I am humbled...always.



Photos of Tahilla Farm 
Stone Wall by Dan Snow
all others Jeanne Henriques

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