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But a cottage     

Posted by Katherine Putnam on December 12th, 2013

It is but a cottage…but I hope to see many of my friends in it. A room or two can easily be added; and if my friends find no difficulty in traveling so far to see me, I am sure I will find none in accommodating them.

After quoting Austen I feel like I should introduce our house to you by name, but it doesn’t have one. (Should I say it doesn’t have one yet? I have no plans to try and give it a name, but who knows?) However, I won’t let that deter me from introducing you to our home:


We started house searching in August of 2012 and initially searched in the Mount Joy area, due to my wish to be closer to family. I was determined that we would be moving closer to my clan, but God had other plans. After a few months of stubbornly sticking to my own desires, God finally got through to me, and gave me a great sense of peace about looking in the area we were already in. Before long we found our new home: a 1960 brick ranch with three bedrooms, two bathrooms (what luxury!), a carport, and a full, unfinished basement. We were pleased to check a number of items off both our “must” lists and our “wish” lists for a home: brick exterior, ranch, hardwood floors, more than one bathroom, a fireplace, etc. Our new neighborhood has quite a lot of homes, but it’s very quiet and friendly and peaceful.




The first of the three pictures above is taken from the front door looking left down our long living room towards the fireplace. The second is from the fireplace looking towards the front door. The third shows our lovely, large front window (technically it’s the view from our dining room). Across from the front door is a closet (over the basement stairs, so it has a slanted floor); you can kind of make it out in the second picture, right? I have lots of plans for the house (surprise, surprise). The big ones for the living room include: removing the door from the front closet and turning it into a drop zone/command center, tearing down those three weird shelves on the fireplace wall, painting the brick wall white, building in floor to ceiling cabinets and shelves and a mantel, and finding furniture that makes better use of our space. “Little” projects for the entire home include (but are not limited to) painting the walls, painting all the wood trim white (let those hardwood floors take center stage, baby!), and switching the old cream outlet covers and switches for crisp white.


Here’s our dining room, with the opening to the kitchen peeking out to the right and the UFO light hanging around, doing its thing. The curtains in this room had siblings in every room of the house. Don’t let this distance shot fool you, they were not white and gauzy but gray, worn out, and gross. (I still cannot think of a proper word or phrase to explain what they felt like to touch. Slimy isn’t right. Dusty and dirty don’t do it. Maybe I’ll just stick to “gross,” although that really doesn’t do it justice. I wanted to describe it in such a way that you would feel like bleaching your hands afterwards. Because that is how it felt.) Big plans for this area include knocking out the wall to the kitchen and building in an L shaped banquette (or “baguette,” as Dad keeps calling it. On purpose, of course) under the windows on the left. We will likely build a table to fit the area as well. And that UFO light has got to go. If you catch yourself saying, “Oh why? It’s so [positive adjective],” let me know and I’ll gladly give it to you when we replace it.


I could inundate you with multiple angles of every space, but I’ll stick to one or two shots per room for now. I’m sure I’ll post about the various changes we make, so I’ll include more comprehensive views then. Above is a shot of the kitchen: asbestos floors, oven and range likely original to the house, beat up cabinets, worse for wear back-splash and all. My plans for the kitchen are large and detailed. I’m flirting with the idea of doing two phases of renovations. Phase 1 would be cheap and serve to give the space a facelift (a new laminate counter-top since there are actual holes in this one, paint the cabinets, possibly deal with the warping, damaged asbestos tile floor) and make better use of the space as it is currently. Phase 2 would include new cabinets and drawers (with better configurations and use of space), new solid surface counter-tops, a new range/oven (leaning heavily towards an all-in-one), and an updated layout (to include a “window” cut into the wall between the living room and kitchen). The house isn’t tiny, but it is cozy, so I plan to go with white cabinets (white will be the go-to color for all built-ins like the banquet and living room shelving) and trim to make things as light and open as possible. I’ll stop myself now before I really get on a roll describing every detail of my plans. Suffice to say, I’m excited! (Well, excited, yet resigned to the fact that it will take a long time for these dreams to become reality.)



If the picture of the kitchen were a bit wider, you would see a hallway to the right of the oven; the hall bath is immediately on your left (almost but not quite across from the door to the basement). It is pink. Very pink. It also boasts beaten, cracked, warped asbestos flooring. Yum. On the plus side, it has a large closet, a full size shower/tub, and lots of potential. It will be completely overhauled at some point down the line. Smaller vanity, new floor, new toilet (it’s a bit worse for wear), no more pink tile, white bead board at least halfway up the walls, new mirror,  etc, etc. I could ramble on, but–again–I’ll save that for when we actually sink our teeth into this project.




The three above pictures are (in order): the spare room, the office, and the hallway (as taken from the nugget of space between our bedroom door and the front door). The spare room and office are the two spaces I have the least concrete plans for, but I’ll get there, no worries. The tiny door at the end of the hallway hides another small closet. One of the things I love about this house is that it does a pretty good job of maximizing its space. There are no “dead” areas between rooms; if they could put a closet in, they did. You go, Glen Coco.




Finally, the master bedroom (and tiny bonus bathroom!). This room has already undergone some changes (paint, new bed–our previous bed is now the guest bed–and new bedding), but “after” pictures are still a little ways off. I’m procrastinating working on painting the doors and trim (and hand full of small, easily accomplished items are waiting in the wings). Curtains are coming soon. Future items will include replacing the ceiling light and getting new bedside lamps, getting bifold doors for the closet, maybe getting a new dresser, and possibly (definitely) trying out a few ideas I pinned on Pinterest. We decided to work on “our” room first as it would then be a retreat from the chaos of whatever we tackle next. The master bathroom, like the hall bath, will likely be gutted. We’re eager to find out if we can expand the width of our shower (is that just dead space there to the left, or is it hiding plumbing–seems odd, as the shower-head is on the other side–or electrical or something else entirely?). I’m eager to get rid of any and all ugly, dated tile. (White bead board, colorful upper walls and ceiling, new toilet, better use of space…I dream, I dream.)

So that’s it. That’s our tour. I know I rambled (am I too fond of parentheses?) a lot about my dreams for the space. I’m sure they made little sense and seemed disjointed. I can’t wait to have after pictures; they’re worth a thousand words, you know. I do want to assure you that my ramblings were briefer than they could have been; I have a Google Doc of plans that’s at least eight pages long. Fun, right? Not to mention, I didn’t even begin to tell you my ideas for exterior work.

Anyway. Maybe someday soon I’ll use Publisher or Excel to make a to-scale map of the house to share the layout (and future color scheme?) with you. Help put the above pictures (hastily captured during a quick, pre-moving-day visit) in context.

Or, you know, you could come over to visit. That would work too.


Katherine Elyse

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