Window to the Stars

A micro post- but, MACRO excitement.  The crowning feature of our addition is the roof lantern skylight.  As most of you know, we are taking a lot of design cues from Thomas Jefferson, but our inspiration structure – Pavilion IX on the Lawn at UVA – has a hipped roof that comes to a point at a chimney, and we don’t have a fireplace in the middle of our building . . . so we looked at other, better-known Jefferson structures – and – jackpot!  Jefferson loved natural light, utilizing oversized windows in many structures, and had a particular penchant for skylights.  He had them in the dome rooms at both Monticello and UVA’s Rotunda, and he also had skylights in his second-story rooms at Monticello.

After some design discussions, we chose the folks at Renaissance Conservatories in Pennsylvania, and they delivered the final product this week!


All set!  Now to stand back and enjoy the view…



. . . and all of that natural light!


And, one of the coolest features: we can remote vent this side light window to get some airflow when the weather cooperates!


We are still waiting on the pointed finials, which will cap off the completed look, but those will be installed down the road.  Now, let’s hope this week of rain lets up sometime soon so we can check out the stars.

Spring Growth

It feels like spring has sprung here in the Shenandoah Valley – the trees are budding, blooms are popping up, and we are having temperatures in the 90s today.  Time for sunglasses and ice cream!


Things at Edge Hill are looking sunny, too.  Chad has been hard at work in our little garden.  We’ve always had big dreams for an idyllic spot where we could drink wine, watch the kids run, and enjoy the butterflies landing soundlessly on our growing harvest.  A couple of years ago, Chad and Steve put in some sweat equity to build beautiful garden boxes:


Then, last year (I think?), I got Chad this industrial table and stools made out of a tractor gear that he’d had his eye on . . . but time and weeds (and chickens) crept in through the mulch:


This year, Chad got 6 tons (literally) of stone delivered to finish off the look.  The stone actually got delivered just before a seasonally late March snow, and the girls thought the pile of rocks made a great sledding slope.  You can see the stone pushing up against the beds on the left (not the extra-giant mound of fill dirt in the back), and also behind Caroline and the snowman in the shot on the right:

Guys, that’s as much stone as the weight of an elephant!  Chad spread the stone by hand (he was paying penance for a crime in a former life) and added a border to keep the stone from drifting away over time.   The finished product is beautiful!


We did, in fact, enjoy a glass of wine by candlelight out there the other night.  The dusk truck traffic diminishes the ambiance a bit, but it was still delightful (everything is relative).  We are growing tomatoes (heirloom and cherry), banana peppers, jalapeños, serranos, chard, lettuce, and radishes, to name a few.  The tomato harvest has been dismal the last two years, so we’ll see what we get . . .

At our last house update, we had taken everything down to the dirt – in other words, as low as we could go.  Literally and figuratively.  We were feeling the construction blues, for sure – timeline and budget both took a bit of a hit.  As you’ll remember, termites were to blame.


Out came the floors and joists – a complete gut job.


We have, however, gotten the termite problem remedied (I think Orkin wants to kill us, because they have had to come back out ~3 times, but they have been great to work with).  The good news was that, in ripping out almost all of the floors in the Big House, we gave the tradesmen much easier access to the crawl space – the plumbers and electricians were delighted that they avoided crawling on their bellies with the creepy crawlies to run wires and ducts.  We were also able to add back a much stronger floor system, complete with concrete piers.

This improvement actually stabilizes the walls of the house, too, so were are 3 for 3: 1) termites eliminated; 2) stronger infrastructure; and 3) happy subcontractors.



The subfloor has already been put back down, so we are back to where we started but with an upgraded model:



Now that we are building instead of tearing down, we have started getting to some of the *fun* decisions.  There is, however, no thrill without some stress, right?  We are going a little crazy right now trying to make sure that every outlet and light switch is in the right spot (and thus trying to anticipate where our un-purchased, twinkle-in-our-eye future furniture will be placed, where we will want Christmas lights, and where we think we will need feature lighting on the antique art we will surely acquire at a charming antique shop in the south of France on our tenth wedding anniversary (Chad, are you reading this?  I hope you’re booking plane tickets . . .)).

But, despite all of that, it has been great to see things taking shape.  Our bathrooms have been framed up, the central vac lines have been installed, the door from our master bedroom to master bath has been cut through the brick wall (see on the left wall of the first picture below):


(and here it is again, from the other side of the new, Kool-Aid Man doorway – straight ahead in the picture below – Oh, yeah!)


and, the porch outside the mudroom is taking shape:


AND – almost all of the exterior brick has been completed!  The match with the original stuff is AWESOME – we are so pleased!


We are starting to source light fixtures, and faucets, and tile, and wall paper, and door knobs – OH MY! Heaven help us!

We have also acquired a trench the size of the Mariana out back to daylight our foundation drains.  It involved an unintentional cut to the water line for the entire farm and a much rockier project than the subs expected, but they got the job done.


Happy spring, y’all!  Cheers to coming out of the winter season without too many snow days!