Revealing the Barn

Well, kinda revealing. It’s not finished — but considering where we started a few months back, the transformation is coming along well.

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oakleaf cottage barn exterior

We had a deadline that we never expected would be tight, but with all the rain this spring it took for-ev-ah to get dirt and rock up here. Also, due to our location, a lot of work has to be done by hand. Mostly by two people. Myself, and Dave. I’ve got some pretty cool muscles going after slinging a pickaxe so often. Who needs a gym, when you are remodeling a barn on the side of a mountain?

barn deck oakleaf cottage

Our deck is complete, save we will be changing out the farm-fence look to tension wire in the very near future. It’s 16×50, and feels outright amazing – like you are in the treetops. After we stain it in a couple of months we can add pots and some minor furnishings out here for our Cottage guests to relax on while watching the sunset. We’ll be leaving lots of room for morning yoga, which some recent guests found the deck to be perfect for.

barn interior daytime

Inside, we are still working as well. The floor will get poured SOON, and we have some really cool details that will go into that. After that, we can install the lighting on the posts (and down the center), and we will be using reclaimed brick on the posts to give the barn a different, but solid, look.

first event

Our first event, a rehearsal dinner, went super well. Everyone loved it, and we loved watching how guests spilled out to explore the property and trails, some assisting newly walking kiddos who held on to their parent’s fingers — both for balance and to pull Mommy and Daddy everywhere. We were completely exhausted, but even through that were thrilled to see how people interacted in the space. It’s just as we dreamed.

bar area

We literally pulled our temporary bar together using the original lower stall doors about 2 hours before the event started. We were sooooo down to the wire. We’re happy it looks halfway decent, but looking forward to installing the original design with bar sinks and an undercabinet fridge. It will have a floating/locking island that can be used too, for greater versatility of space. But it dresses up nice.

barn at oakleaf cottage

Early this week, we had a small group of people come through to have a look at our little construction project, so we set out a little wine and cheese. I loooove pulling greenery straight from the outdoors in decorating a space.

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Our tripod dog, Cookie, was completely worn out from playing host/official greeter and spent the majority of two hours right about here.

Work continues out here — this week, Dave has been installing the beams and details on the ceilings on the sides of the barn. It has a steel structure, which is nice and sturdy but not terribly pretty. From here, it’s all cosmetics.

new beams

We can’t wait to see what neat events will be in store for this place over the years, and have a number of great seminars and nature-related events in the works. Watch our events page or follow us on Facebook so you don’t miss out!

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xoxo-

Cris & Dave

 

 

Deck and Barn Progress

The passage of time is a strange thing when you are working on a big project, because every day you see one more small thing finished or changed and it seems like progress takes forever, until you look at your photos from a week or two ago and realize how far you’ve come.

This was the MOAD less than two weeks ago (Mother of All Decks, which is what we are jokingly calling the massive deck we are building off the barn’s stall doors). Dave and I now have added the beginnings of stairs, considerably more posts, cross bracing and more cross bracing, and the board aprons.

When the Cottage isn’t rented, we like to take advantage of the kitchen and create a picnic lunch somewhere on the property. We have a slight tendency toward workaholicism, and it’s good for us to occasionally stop and enjoy this place we love so much, but work so hard on. The grapes left by the last guest made a welcome addition to our Eggplant Parmigiana.

  We don’t stop long, but it’s fun to swing our feet under us like little kids and talk about next steps or things we are looking forward to. How we will string lights in the trees, the view from the deck in winter, what kind of furniture we should have out here most of the time, the workshops we’d love to host. Before long, guests will be able to lunch (or dinner, or breakfast, or coffee) out here — and they won’t have to balance on a 2×12 to do it, either.

Last week, I laid new gravel in front of the barn. With so many loads of dirt being brought in, plus all the rain, the drive in front of the barn was terribly rough. I spent a day in the mud, trying to shovel the ruts out and get it level again, and the next two days spreading gravel — but it looks much improved and was the first step toward something looking better, rather than worse, as construction often does.

Around the same time, Dave poured the last section of footer and sill in the barn — we had to leave the back doors open while shuttling in all the dirt for the Barn Lawn (raising the ground level back up by about 5 feet from where it had been dug out during the barn’s build some years ago). This end of the barn was 32″ lower than the other, which also necessitated a lot of dirt/fill being needed in the barn.

The interior of the barn now has the start of the electrical rough-in, we spread gravel throughout, and I spent Saturday removing the original oak boards and the thin insulation behind them (seen in the sill photo above). The oak will go back up after the new insulation is installed next week, and we are saving the old insulation for the goat shed we will build this winter. None of this is particularly picture-worthy and we both hate showing something that isn’t perfect — so note, you don’t see much of the walls in the below picture (if you follow us on Instagram, you may notice I don’t post pictures of the barn or construction, but I do show it in the Stories.)

Also — oh HAPPY DAY! — I finally found reclaimed windows to replace the existing vinyl windows (and in two places, we are adding windows). We were beginning to think we might have to cobble several windows together, as the opening size is rather unusual and generally custom order — but this guy had the precise size we needed, and the exact number! We will be cutting the window openings taller to make room for them, and we are both excited to see more natural light coming in to the barn interior.

We will have more natural light coming in from the other side as well, as we are taking the original stall doors that led to the outside (and now lead to the deck!) and changing them to look a little like this:

It feels so good to be finished with the “deconstruction” phase and start seeing progress toward the place looking better. Hope you are having an amazing summer so far!

Cris & Dave

 

 

 

 

Year One

We cannot believe a year has passed since we purchased Oakleaf Cottage. A year ago today, we left the title office, packed a tiny overnight bag, an air mattress, a bottle of wine and our favorite celebratory glasses: a pair of gold-decked champagne flutes Dave’s mom found at auction. We treated ourselves to dinner at Canyon Grill, still trying to absorb what we had done, and what we needed to do.

We dozed off with the full solstice moon shining blue through the uncovered windows, lulled by the sound of a pair of owls talking to each other across the night, and a soft breeze in the treetops. Dawn arrived clear and cool, and we sat on the steps of the front porch, sipping coffee, drawing sketches, discussing details and plans, dreaming and getting distracted by the beauty around us.

oakleaf cottage exterior

A number of changes took place in the first few months – starting with remodeling the Cottage. It has fabulous bones, a classic “four over four” farmhouse layout that feels like home, or your grandparent’s home. There is no want for windows and natural light, and the living spaces have the perfect balance between openness and privacy.

We wanted to draw out more of that sense of an older home, every change we made was with consideration of what an older farmhouse would have. We settled on tongue and groove for the ceilings rather than beadboard, as we knew it would be very difficult to make the home seem 100 years old — but we could make it feel 80, with built-ins and simple trim.

Our first year saw a couple moderate-sized events, a few insanely fun photoshoots, and even a commercial was filmed here!

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Photo courtesy of Riverworks Marketing

We are still undergoing more changes, and this year’s focus has been on the barn. We’ve never seen a barn smack dab in the woods before, and certainly not snuggled up alongside such an impressive rocky mountainside. We’ve been bringing in loads of dirt, first to level the floor of the barn (it had a 28″ difference in floor height from one end to the other) and then to fill in the area behind the barn where a lot of dirt had been dug out by the original owners to create a level enough space for the barn – we are on the side of a mountain, after all.

oakleaf cottage barn original

behind the barn original

Behind the Barn – Last Year

Standing on all that dirt, four feet higher than we had ever seen it before, felt surreal to Dave and I (and not just for the fact that we spent a lot of money on dirt we could stand on). We see the area behind the barn as being such a fun place, like a back lawn. We can’t wait to have dinners and Celidihs (Kay-lees) here.

We were first exposed to a celidih while in Nova Scotia, taking in Celtic music during the yearly festival known as Celtic Colors, which brings in musicians from all over the world to play Gaelic-inspired music. In its traditional Scottish or Irish sense, it’s simply a social gathering, involving music and dancing. It’s so much fun, we want to have a place to hold such music here — and what better place than next to a mossy rock wall that looks like it came straight out of Darby O’Gill and the Little People?

This past year has been extremely exciting for us. We’ve done most all the work ourselves, and so it’s been a lot of long days and late nights and early mornings (which explains some of my sloppy blogging history). We can’t wait to move forward and share more of this gorgeous place. We are, every day, grateful and in awe of this place we come to, a place that offers new surprises all the time, like our little friend Casper:

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Here’s to our first year!

  • Cris & Dave

New Year 2017

Old houses are a funny thing. I find myself wondering what past holidays were like. Were they happy? Was there a real tree in the living room, or an artificial one? What were the traditions, the favorite things shared, were the gifts handmade, was there a big meal or a simple but traditional breakfast?

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Of course, people vary in what they think about homes with any history. Some say it’s silly, houses don’t have a soul or a past. Others say every life ever in it leaves a bit of themselves behind. As we remodeled Oakleaf, we found a lot of past marks, some of which we kept, some, like the LEGO wedged inextricably between a couple of floorboards upstairs, we had no choice but to keep as we refinished the floors. Signs of a bigger dog than the little wiry one we met, the partly sanded-out sibling rivalry evidenced on a bedroom door (we sanded it out the rest of the way, though we found it amusing), the names of all the children inscribed in pencil in a hidden spot.

I was glad my family wanted to celebrate Christmas at Oakleaf Cottage this year. It seemed wrong for a house to sit empty on such a big holiday, and we were happy to bring in a tree. Mom made a yummy holiday brunch, we all entertained my 6-month old nephew, took lots of photos and had a nice little holiday together. We may not have that luxury next year, but knowing the house will not be empty for big holidays makes us feel warm inside.

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We had the opportunity to enjoy Oakleaf for the very reason, and very use, that we envision for others: a place for families to enjoy together.

So here we are, greeting 2017. Oakleaf Cottage has some lovely guests enjoying the New Year already — a gathering of family, some from afar. Another such meeting of old friends booked earlier today. It looks like the Cottage will be what we dreamed, full of happy memories, great meals, connecting with friends and families, relaxing in nature, and living in the moment.

At the end of the day, the above things are what is important in life.

May your 2017 be filled with good times, great friends, fantastic food, plenty of fresh air and just enough time in a day to appreciate those moments.

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Nice Day for a White Wedding

Whew! Fall is THE time for weddings, and we had TWO photoshoots this weekend! It gave us a taste of what we can expect here at Oakleaf Cottage. It is so FUN watching the photographers work, and listen to the oohs and ahhs when people see the setting — not to mention how gorgeous the brides looked! It was very exciting and we loved every minute of it.

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blog_ps1 The fall leaves have just been incredible, in spite of the drought. We are lucky to have any color at all, and also lucky that the smoke from all the wildfires near us mostly cleared for both shoots.

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For one, we heavily decorated the barn – so fun!

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These are all just my iPhone photos — but you get the picture. 🙂

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Hillary of HMX Photography directing the bride and groom.

I can never get over those rocks! We used electric candles, so nobody panic. We are trying to help prevent forest fires! When I went back later in the night to retrieve the electric votives, I just stood there a while — the “candlelight” mingled with the rocks was magical. We WILL do more of that, for sure!

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ArtTra Photography has given us a sneak peek at one of their images — we cannot wait to see them all!

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Want to book a wedding with us? Contact us!

Sneak Peek

To say the last few weeks have been eventful would be an understatement. It’s been a whirlwind of paint, finishing, more paint, furniture installs, accessories and more paint. Did I say paint?

oakleafcottage_front

Cookie, our three-legged dog (or tripod) opted to pose in front of the cottage for this photo. The roof is actually black — the skies are so blue this time of year that the roof is like water, reflecting the color back to us.

The Cottage is nearly finished. We have some areas, namely the laundry and the downstairs bathroom that we still want to redo, but to see the final product has been exceedingly satisfying. It has become exactly what we wanted it to be: an ageless, relaxing space that invites visitors to stay a while.

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We’ll do a full before/after unveiling after the remaining areas have photos taken 😉

Our first event Saturday was a smashing success. We hired a driver to bring guests up to the Cottage and back to their cars, which many commented felt very exclusive and posh. Friends played music, sat by a fire, nibbled and chatted in the kitchen, and came up with names for our newly completed rooms (you can view some of the rooms here)

It’s hard to say what is the favorite change. For me, it’s the kitchen. It has become so open and ready for hosting — I can just see all the wonderful meals that will be enjoyed here! This space makes you want to cook!

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Bookings have begun to come in, and we are beginning to turn our attentions to the barn. It needs a little remodeling to make it a great place for events and learning seminars. We did play a little dress-up out there recently, installing the hardware needed for hanging curtains and prepping for photoshoots to take advantage of the gorgeous leaves.

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Despite the drought, the leaves have been BRILLIANT — we can only imagine how they would be in a less dry year.

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Full before/after post coming soon!

Cris & Dave

If you are looking for the perfect hideaway or family gathering spot, contact us!

Of Paint and Raspberries

We continue to work on Oakleaf Cottage — this past week my family was here, and Dad worked hard helping us get all the rooms and all the new trim from JB Millworks painted. The place is a mess of painters tape, Dexter-esque plastic sheeting and brown paper covered windows. In short, I didn’t take interior photos this week.

We did, however, pick a few raspberries from the cottage garden and munch on them as a pre-dinner, “it’s 8:30 PM what are we going to do about dinner” debate. The long days of summer have often seen us pushing through the daylight hours until suddenly, our bellies announce they WILL reach for our backbones if we don’t deliver and fast.

We took a short walk around one of the trails this week, but mostly, we worked — which may not sound exciting, but every day we’re a little closer to making this one incredible little vacation getaway. We are still aiming for the end of August/First week of September — just in time for fall colors!

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