Dwellings...Our Parade of Ten Homes in Twenty Years

9. Windsong Cottage

I had seen the ad in the Lewistown Sentinel numerous times but it was so vague and didn't even have a price so I never called. Finally, after enough dead ends elsewhere, I called. She was a sweet lady who was looking for someone to love her childhood home back to life, but didn't want to place a for sale sign out front because she wanted the right person to buy it. How you figure that I'm not sure, but I got rather excited, as you might imagine, for I love bringing houses back from ruin.

This is what Jacki and I drove up to that first time we went to look at it. I knew it was the right house, but I had a feeling we were in for some long hours of hard and dirty work! It was to become our largest renovation to date. But hurray, we had an opportunity to move back to Lewistown and live in a quaint 1920's cottage...

We snapped lots of before, during, and after pictures to document our progress! During the course of many months of hard work the exterior got a major facelift...

The cottage is perched at the edge of a ridge and right up by the road. Built in the 1920's, I suppose there was very little traffic, but we had lots of it flying by when we lived there from 2010 - 2012.

A view of the back, which had a precarious looking lean-to attached to one side. A summer kitchen, we found out later. The house stayed in the same family until we bought it, at which point it had been empty two years following the death of their 95 year old father. The builder was an immigrant from Ukraine! It was a delight to get to know his two daughters, who came to see us after we moved in.

After enclosing the porch to make a laundry room and building a stone patio out of slabs from the ridge behind the house, the back entrance is a lot more inviting.

Getting the stones from the mountain for absolutely free, using bricks from the chimney removal for edging, leveling it with soil from right here, buying a few bags of sand to fill in the cracks...

I will admit the patio is primitive but it makes me happy!

Here's the dining room we first saw when we walked in the door. Free flooring made up of carpet samples from a local store! We removed them to uncover lovely wood floors.

Jacki and Julian worked hard on this house and we used it as a major school project! The books can wait, we have manual labor to attend to this time around! Dining room again...

So many friends and family members helped us try to get it livable within five weeks' time, which was the deadline for getting out of the old house. Here my brother-in-law Jared works on sanding the floors. We were so thankful for all the help! May God bless each one!

Dale removes a part of a chimney that was left hanging there. I can imagine all kinds of critters tumbling down that hole. Horrors!

Jared's daughter, Addisyn, came up from Lancaster with them, so she ran around the cottage in the middle of the chaos. Examining her filthy fingers, she seems to be thinking, "O no, what to do now!"

Take a break and drink some pop!

I guess it's fine to be filthy! She was the cutest little darling and such a bright spot! I love her!

Wood floors after we got through with all the cleaning, sanding, conditioning, staining, and sealing! It was the most time-consuming portion of the remodel and the most rewarding. Dale and I were convinced it was the best aspect of the entire house!

Dining room after we moved in!

Another school project for the children.

Before...the kitchen, which we moved to the other side of the house. It was a mish-mash of pieces tacked to the walls. We did major demolition here.

The water heater was smack dab in the kitchen right beside the cabinets! "Dale, please, please move it down to the basement!" She pleads. He obliges!

Julian and I whacked our way down to the studs and they had to go too.

Jacki liked this part!

My sister Kris helps me take nails out of lumber so we can reuse the wood.

Yes, I was well and properly grossed out by it all! This room is the summer kitchen and the worst looking room in the house. But I saved the chair!

The updated kitchen, still not completed but united with white paint! The poor guys who had to crawl around in the crawl space to move the plumbing are the heroes!

I LOVE a white kitchen with open shelves! Dale put up a few of them, I hung the spice cabinet, and the table was left at the house for us, so I put it to use as a bit of counter space and storage.

Before...living room

After removing ceiling tiles to uncover bead board, getting rid of the drapes, installing a new tighter door (kind of sad 'cause the old one's cute), hanging and painting drywall, removing the carpet, finishing the wood floor, reinstalling trim, and filling it with our furniture, things are looking a bit brighter! I can live here! I'm using 'subtle oatlands taupe' from Valspar for the walls in this house too.

The spring look! Green!

Before...living room with dining room off to the left.

Dale enclosed the chimney and we got rid of the shelving to open things up a bit. O, and there's that old chair from the summer kitchen now sitting at my desk!

Ugh...the ultra-filthy bath!

Put enough layers of paint on that door, change out the toilet seat, remove tiles and bathroom formica, and of course, paint walls, vanity, and trim, finish wood floors, and it's quite usable.

Somehow Mom and Kris got stuck in here but they don't seem to be complaining, at least not to me! What would I do without my family! I love them!

Okay, so we weren't finished (note drywall inequalities) but it is a sight better.

Before...from the kitchen looking across the dining room into the living room.

My chalkboard at this cottage is that door leading to the basement!

Upstairs, Jacki took a turn on the sander but decided it was a bit too heavy for any length of time. We had to go over every floor with three different grits of sandpaper!

Julian is applying wood conditioner. It's pine so this will create a better, more even tone.

Yes, I am that warm. It's in the middle of summer and there is no air conditioning in this humidity.

Eventually, you just plain feel gritty and messy and sweaty and, yes, a bit despairing...but there are better days ahead!

Before...family room

After! I'm loving all the little dormers we discovered in the upstairs!

Julian's school desk is in the other corner.

Jacki somehow ended up with the prettiest brightest bedroom in the house!

Master bedroom

Julian's bedroom

Windsong Cottage all abloom in summertime!

All alight for Winter! Yes, we did love the cottage back to life!

It took such a large amount of labor and time and I grew quite weary of it, but in the end it was worth it all! I did decide I won't be ready for such a job for a good long while! My entire being seemed stretched to the max. Just let me rest, please!

The children loved playing on the ridge behind the house and built forts up there. Jacki and I took many a walk at the lovely park across the road from the house. We had wonderful neighbors living in the house next door. We were thankful for God's provision of a house within our means.

As time went on, it became clear there were extraordinarily tough lessons for us to learn while we lived here. Sometimes the pressures were so intense as to feel the actual presence of darkness in the house. Many a session of prayer was held on that living room floor. God had us in an education like we'd never been enrolled in before. I often felt as if we were fighting for our very lives.

But there is one thing the enemy can never take from a child of God. He cannot take our faith in our Heavenly Father. He cannot. Sometimes we let it slip away. Peace is gone. But every time we reach out again in faith, He is right there. No peace or joy on earth is to be compared to that in Christ.

Daily our Lord is leading us on to triumph, loading us with His benefits, filling us with His life.

One of the dearest promises God gave me during those dark months was in Psalm 84:6 "When they walk through the Valley of Weeping it will become a Place of Refreshing Springs." He reassured me that He ever has a purpose for those things we must walk through.

Little did we know the changes God had for us. The next move we were to make was by far the biggest and farthest and hardest. But He led us one step at a time! He made is possible by His grace.

To be continued...