Going Places

“It is good to have an end to journey toward;

but it is the journey that matters, in the end.”

–Ernest Hemingway

A new yet old thought occurred to me a few days ago as dear husband and I talked about which project to start next:  what does it matter?  It’s certainly nice to finish projects and check them off the list, but just as important is the time spent together learning, making mistakes, planning, solving challenges, gathering supplies, and verbalizing dreams for the future.  We are on this incredible journey of turning this old house into a family home, and what a journey it is!  Each small step is as important as the destination.

We’ve been gathering various objects over the months with no real goal in mind.  An old, forgotten window given away at an estate sale, a dusty suitcase, a handful of pebbles, an outdated road atlas, weathered and discarded cedar fence boards, a hefty slab of maple butcher block (thanks to our friends Summer and David)–all these have been patiently hanging out at our house, waiting for new life.

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To use all our found objects, we decided to pay homage to wanderlust in our cozy home.  We would build a tiny, travel themed powder room (31″ by 64″), borrowing space from what will eventually become our family room.  We knew this would be a long project, since we needed to employ plumbers to dig up the concrete slab and add sewer pipe.  There are many construction tasks we have idealistically attempted with stars in our eyes and a can-do attitude, but tapping into the septic system would not be one of them!

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Once the pipes were laid and connected, we began our work.  Superman and I built the walls together.  He spent a sweaty afternoon carving and shaping the butcher block to fit in our guest bathroom as a counter.  I used up countless sanding pads removing the old finish from the thick maple slab.  We scouted a small vessel sink and farmhouse faucet on Ebay for less than half of what they would cost new.  The solid wood door was a castaway from the Habitat Restore.  For the ceiling we used some of that old family room paneling and painted it white.  The cedar fence boards added texture and interest to one of the walls.

For me, putting down the floor was therapeutic.  I knew I wanted to try a river rock floor.  Lowes even sells pre-made river rock “tiles” that are easy to install, but at $11 a square foot I knew there had to be another way.  I cleaned up some pebbles I had saved from our family vacation last year to David’s parents’ place in the north woods of Wisconsin.  Their idyllic place on 240 wooded acres is often the inspiration for the things we implement in our own home.  Those lake pebbles were added to others that I purchased from the local dollar store.  Although I’m a novice at this type of floor and made some minor errors, I’m happy with the overall results.

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My free window from an estate sale, repainted and adorned with some scrapbook paper, hand lettering, and cool knobs was transformed into a place to hang hand towels.  My $2 vintage suitcase found new purpose as a storage cabinet.  The free book of road maps was used to decoupage an old mirror frame, highlighting birthplaces of our family and favorite travel spots.  A decorative oar found on clearance was turned into a toilet paper holder.  David brilliantly suggested converting a metal globe to a light fixture to top it all off.  Who would think that adding a toilet and sink to our small home would make such an immense difference?

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Just a few days ago we celebrated owning this house for one year!  Signing on the dotted line for this property was just the beginning of the journey.  Much has been accomplished in the past year with more to come.  Every step has brought unexpected challenges and joys.  Through the remodeling, dust, materials, sweat, ideas, and exhaustion, we have learned innumerable lessons about construction, family, love, and ourselves.  Isn’t that the journey that matters, in the end?

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