closing the chapter on harvard avenue: lower level family room tour

photo by carin davis

It's been a little over a year that we've been here in New England. And oh what a year. One day we will write a book entitled 'Our Year In New Hampshire' and next time we see each other, ask us to tell you a story and you better believe, we will have a good one for you!  There are just so many to choose from!

We have had so many adventures, both good and bad. But we are adjusting to a new place, new people and beginning to find our place here on the East Coast.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.  Before I really get started here on this current chapter, I want to finish that chapter.

Yes that one.

On our dearly loved Harvard Avenue.

The last few months of living there were rough, with James commuting back east and the kids and I  at home trying to finish up the remodel...the remodel that was a couple days from full completion when Piper (the dog) used the water supply line in the upstairs bathroom as a chew toy and flooded the main level and the freshly completed basement while we were away for the day.

It is never a good thing when you open the front door, and it sounds like it is raining in your house.

Yes Harvard house remodel, you nearly did me in.  And then to have to leave you three months after completion, nearly broke my wee designer heart. I've started this post, several times over the last year, but the tears would start flowing every time I looked through these pictures. Not because of the remodel process(!) but because I've never lived in a place that so truly felt like home.

I loved living here, with our home being filled with friends and family. I loved the park up the street, Immigration Market, the Clayton Musical, breakfast at Eggs in the City, every child's school within a short walk, tree-lined streets in the fall, neighborhood carnivals. It was our little slice of heaven.

So I thought I would document this home with a little home tour before I get started documenting our new home. We'll start with the level that had the most drastic change. The lower level. There was not one inch that was not touched on this level. And it got really bad before it got better!

what we began with...warped slanted hardwood & yellow linoleum stairs and hallway

  knocking out walls, adding new plumbing lines, and pouring level concrete floors

 new open layout, new drywall, new duct work, new lighting & new concrete floors

 we didn't mind the weird wall/duct work since we knew we could hide it by building a media center cabinet here

the original hearth was so cracked and damaged when we bought the home that we knew we would need to end up redoing it. We did the floors in a durable, high end laminate (Mannington) & painted the walls in Gray Owl by Benjamin Moore (yes, along with the rest of the blogging world!)


photo by carin davis

Can you believe the difference?! I hardly can. It was a beast to live through, but this became our perfect little hangout/playroom for all of us. Just down the hall we added two bedrooms, one for Andrew & one for Cam, and a beautiful, albeit pint-sized, bathroom too. Those rooms are coming up next!

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happy august!

this august i am looking forward to:

backyard movies played on the back of our barn
lots of boogie boarding (the water is now over 65 degrees!)
finally launching our brand new gillar girl website!!
getting started on my training schedule for the Cape Cod half marathon
whale watching off the coast of Maine (i hope we see one!)

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happy july!

this july i am looking forward to:

a morning of strawberry picking followed right up with an afternoon of strawberry jam making
flying over those amazingly massive mountains into salt lake city
taking a bath in my brand spankin new bathroom
backyard campouts 
(just kidding. nope this one isn't going to be happening this year. there are BATS here people. lots of em. it is supah freaky)
and of course, 
celebrating this beautiful country with a
firework show in the charming little town of portsmouth

i'm pretty sure there's no better place to celebrate independence day than here in new england!

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hello 2015.

A new year is here. . . and we couldn't be happier about it!

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new england adventures || york maine

I am so thankful for this Jimmy.  How is it that we have been parents for 15 years all ready?!   I'll never forget how excited he was the moment we found out we were going to be parents.  He was pure excitement, so thrilled!  And I was a little terrified about the permanent new phase of life we were going to be entering.  And then eight months later Ashlyn arrived and I fell head over heels in love with her and with being a mama.

As soon as we knew I was pregnant, Jimmy got to work getting a little nursery all ready over the next many weekends, painting, adding wainscot, helping his dad build a changing table.  One day I came home from work and there was a new rocking chair all wrapped up in a big bow sitting in the room.  And lots of nights when I would walk down the hallway heading to our bedroom, I would find him standing in the little nursery quietly looking around, and he would say "I can't wait until the baby is here!"  He is such a wonderful dad and is adored by all in this household!

To celebrate him on father's day, we made a delicious blueberry lemon crumb cake for breakfast (using this recipe.  it's a good one.) And then after church, we drove up the seacoast a little ways to York, Maine for a picnic and relaxing on our favorite spot overlooking the ocean.

One of things I love most about living near the seacoast is that there are so many picturesque beaches along the New England coastline.  We feel like we are on vacation every weekend!

Quintessential New England here.  And just up around this bend is the Nubble Lighthouse on a tiny rock island.  We went there a few weeks ago and I didn't have my camera, so you'll just have to take my word for it that it is the prettiest lighthouse I've ever seen!  And the clam chowder at the little cafe is delicious.

Jimmy admiring all his handmade cards (Ava Carmel looking on with her 3D glasses. haha!  She wishes she had glasses so bad!), and Ashlyn practicing her TED talk for the 1000th time for part of her English final.  (She spoke on the freedom every single person possesses; inner freedom, or the ability to choose your attitude independent of physical restrictions or circumstances.)  She got an A+ so I'm sure she did a great job!  (They actually give A+'s here and also they grade on a 5.0 GPA, not a 4.0.)  New to me.

But her final exams were intense.  It was a stressful place around here for a few weeks.  She's so glad they're over.  But I think the whole family breathed a collective sigh of relief after her last exam.  When Ashlyn ain't happy, ain't nobody happy!  I was oh so tempted to remind her every ten minutes to practice what she preached in her TED talk.  Teenagers love it when you do stuff like that :/

However I am so impressed with the education she is getting in her high school.  She has become a critical thinker, and her ability to express herself verbally and through writing, and (what I love most) her passion for learning has just taken off since being here. I love that she has become such a thinker and is exposed to ideas that push her mind and cause her to really examine what she thinks, what her life philosophies, opinions and beliefs are.  

Isn't being a parent the most rewarding job in the world?!  It really is like watching a little seed grow and gradually unfold itself leaf by leaf.  Only it's a thousand times more fun :)

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new england adventures || the crane estate

The sun has begun to shine more frequently here in New England, and (as expected) my happiness level with being here has increased right along with it.  

Also we have found a house!  We are under contract now on a victorian (with a cupola!) built in 1900--this makes my design heart so happy!  

And so that temporary make-shift feeling is starting to go away.  

This is such a beautiful part of the country, full of stories and history, and despite our frequent homesickness, we LOVE discovering it all!  

One of the places we have discovered is the gorgeous Crane Estate in Ipswich.  Oh beautiful manors that have rolling lawns to the ocean, you are our very favorite.  

I think maybe it is kind of an undiscovered gem here?--although I'm sure it must get busier once school gets out.  (Ugh, this is a never-ending school year. . . only two more days!)  

Anyway, everyone I've mentioned The Crane Estate to, has never been.  We however have been three times in the few months we've lived here!  

We have picnics on the lawns and wander down onto the beach and pretty much have the place to ourselves.  We just kind of pretend it's our house. . . or that we are servants at the house.  You can see the kids practicing greeting our guests--Downton Abbey style, in that picture above :)

Besides the incredible manor & bowling green & Great Gatsby-esque outdoor pool & gardens & outbuildings, the property ends on the best beach we've found so far--lots of sand dunes and trails to explore too.

We've yet to have a really warm, goosebump-free beach day, but I am promised they do actually come!  The kids crazily get into the frigid water sometimes. . . and insist it's not cold. . . and try to get me to come in too.  Nice try. . . no polar bear plunges for this girl.  I prefer my water Caribbean style.

We hadn't planned on getting in the water this day, so didn't wear our suits.  But Andy can never resist getting further and further into the water until his pants or shorts or soaking wet.  It happens every time.  Here he is wrapped up in a blanket while his pants hang on the fence drying off. . .  :)


Looking forward to a summer full of adventures with this little crew of mine.  xo

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harvard avenue home tour // the entryway

Although we only lived in our home on Harvard Avenue for a couple years, we really fell in love with this little corner of the world.  So many happy memories & friendships were made in this home and in the charming streets and parks and shops that surrounded it.

And although I never got around to posting pictures here, we actually DID finish our remodel!


I loved this home and felt like my soul & the soul of this old house bonded through our renovation journey!  

It was such a fulfilling creative project, but it was also really exhausting to live in a state of constant contractors and project messes.  And I don't think I'm going to feel like tackling a big project like this for a few more years, so I wish we had been able to stay awhile and enjoy it a little longer. . . like 50 years longer. . . but on to the next adventure eh?!

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So when we purchased the home, the entryway was super crammed & kind of dark -- the front door couldn't swing all the way open -- just to about a 90 degree angle, since the entry wall was. right. there.  

This was taken after demo began, but if you look at the picture below, the original entry wall was right next to the casing around the door.  It was soooo crammed when guests were coming and going, so we decided to remedy that by pushing that wall back by four feet to give the entry a more spacious feel.

After moving the wall, it felt so much better -- there was even room for a little armchair! 

One of the details I loved about this house was the three beautiful archways.  When we tore this wall down we asked our contractor to replicate the original archway leading into the family room.  He did a beautiful job.

with grandpa the day before the movers arrived
photo by carin davis photography

The floors were covered in thick yellow shag so we pulled those up within the first few days, which exposed old wood treads with very beat up yellow & lavender risers.  Giving those risers a fresh coat of white paint, instantly brightened that space up considerably.  White paint, I tell you.  It's like magic in a can. 

I lived with the dark brown banisters for the first year, trying to decide whether or not to paint them--since I was 99% sure the wood & paint treatment (notice the little gold and dark green details) was original.  Ultimately they never did grow on me and so we painted them.  I like keeping original details as much as possible--to me, they tell stories and add an abundance of charm--but at the end of the day, it is my house, so I'm going to change what I really don't like.

(my only before pic has our oh-so-spooky halloween decorations in it. . .)

When we bought the home, there was a door on this little coat room off the staircase hiding my favorite window in the whole house!  We pulled the door off so we could see the leaded glass window and let in all the natural light onto the staircase.  I loved this pretty view walking down the stairs every morning!

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