When Robb and I first looked at our house, just about a year ago, the garage was in sorry shape. The paint was flaking off. It was leaning at a dangerous angle. And the roof was on the verge of caving in.
Everyone advised us to tear it down. Over and over again, we heard, "who wants some old wooden building, when you could have a nice metal shed?" Robb and I just smiled and nodded.
And gave each other The Look.
This is the look that we gave each other after contractors suggested replacing our plaster walls with sheet-rock, or suggested installing a drop ceiling to cover our old coffered ceiling. Robb and I would put on our best inscrutable Mona Lisa smiles, and make eye contact for the briefest moment.
We wanted a historic home. Not some re-muddled mess.
What we found so bemusing was how the contractors would say things like "Wow, they don't make houses this nice anymore," and then launch into their proposals for horrendous "improvements."
Thanks, but no thanks. We'd rather restore than demolish.
Admittedly, not everyone could see the potential in our garage. It looked rough.
We paid contractors to straighten up the building, and to replace the roof. The large window was destroyed during this process. We just swallowed that damage, because the garage had to be finished before moving day. If we didn't have a roofed garage, we'd have nowhere to store things until we got settled. (And as it turned out, moving day coincided with the start of the rainy season. It dumped buckets of rain all that day.)
The contractors also managed to sever the electrical service between the house and the garage. And again, we sucked it up, because we were on a tight schedule.
Here's how things looked when the paid contractors were finished. The interior walls were sheathed in oriented strand board. (Not my first choice.) The building had a roof. And it no longer leaned. Nevertheless, it still had a long way to go.
In order for the house to be approved for our mortgage, all loose paint had to be removed. This was to reduce the chances of lead paint contamination. All this work had to be completed by the seller before we closed on the house. They agreed to remove all lose paint and to prime any raw wood, but that's all.
So, when we got the house, it looked rather scabby.
I'm not complaining. I certainly didn't want to scrape all that flaking paint. Anyway, I'm not certified to do this type of work. The Federal government now requires licensed painters to take a class in the safe removal of older paint. I completely support this law, because it protects the painters and the people living in older houses. I'm sure I'll eventually take this class, myself.
At some point, the garage became too small to house a standard American car, so the front end of the garage was extended. Someone built an odd triangular roof, and added a shim to the doors. However, by the time we bought this house, this addition was rotting away. Since we have a driveway that's absurdly long, and since we wanted to use the garage as a workshop rather than for car storage, we decided to remove this bump-out. It literally crumbled away to nothing.
Prior to that, Robb replaced the windows in the garage, and installed a door to the garden.
The door was installed back in April. I look at this photo, and notice that our hop plants have barely emerged from the ground, and are just beginning to twine around the bamboo poles. Also, our beehive doesn't have its fancy roof yet, and it only two boxes tall. I think we've got five boxes going at the moment.
I'm so impressed with Robb for being able to do this work.
In this photo, the door frame hasn't been installed yet. The tomatoes aren't even planted. They're growing under lights, inside.
This is how things sat for an awfully long time. Until summer vacation.
I primed the garage -- at least the two sides that are actually on our property. Half our garage is behind our neighbor's fence. I have no idea what it looks like.
The entire garage was painted a pale buttery yellow. In a lot of ways, painting the garage is a good education for me, before I start painting our house.
The tomatoes have just gotten up to the first horizontal supports of our massive tomato fortress. One of the hop plants has just reached the roof line.
Here's the view, that fronts on the street. For some reason, the blue is showing up very brightly in this picture. It's considerably paler. In fact, Robb thought I was painting the door trim white, until I assured him that it was blue.
Here's how things look at the end of vacation. I need to paint one more coat on the plum-colored trim paint. And I need to paint the door and the window the pale blue.
The tomatoes are six feet tall, and the hops are so tall that Robb had to lasso the tops of the poles with guy-wires.
I think our garage is totally adorable. It is no longer a scary falling-down shack. It is a charming garden-workshop. I couldn't be more pleased! It sure beats the hell out of a metal shed.
(Scroll back up to the top of this blog-post and compare the before and after.)