Last weekend a friend came up to the lake for a visit. And although we sat outside and enjoyed the view and a drink, our time together had more of a business-like focus.
We are thinking about building an airplane together.
I have been casually pondering building one for several years and now she too is very interested.
And I am excited!
And yes, overwhelmed.
It’s a huge project and there is much research to be done prior to embarking on such an endeavor.
But just the IDEA that we are discussing the POSSIBILITY of this project is exciting. Moreover, I am excited that my partner would be another woman. With only 6% of all licensed pilots in the U.S. being women, I imagine the two of us would be pretty unique in the airplane building world.
I like that.
This is the Van’s RV-12 I want to build.
Great little airplane, isn’t it.
After she left, I pondered our conversation and the possibility that in a year I may be starting an entirely new kind of project.
Creating – making a vision that is in my head come to life with my hands is absolutely, without a doubt, one of my most favorite things to do.
Building is exciting, overwhelming, exhausting and rewarding.
For I was having these thoughts while upstairs in our lake house’s bunk room, and as the thoughts of building were bouncing around in my head, I opened my eyes to the space I was in. I mean really opened them and took in all that was around me. I was sitting in a space my husband Neal and I created, and I still shake my head sometimes because I can’t believe we did all this.
We gutted an ENTIRE house, inside and out and put it back together with a very limited budget and guided by the ideas in my head.
It had to be one of the most daring things we have done. Yet the results are absolutely delightful. A year of my life was spent as a self-taught, full-time carpenter. What a year it was!
This is part of the upstairs space the day Neal and I first looked at the house in September 2005.
We gutted the entire space and when we did we discovered three windows that had been covered in drywall. These windows all have a view of the lake and trees. Why would anyone cover those???
The original space had two small bedrooms and 7-1/2 foot ceilings. You can see the framing for one of the bedrooms and the ceiling joists in the photo below.
The framing and joists were removed and the walls got new drywall. We hired an electrician to rewire. I don’t do electrical or plumbing! Removing the framing caused an issue: not only did the framing create rooms, it also helped hold up the roof. Having the roof stay where it was is kind of important. So, since we didn’t want the two rooms back, on either end of the space we installed 6×6 vertical posts to support a 6×6 horizontal post. This is the new roof support system. You can also see six of the 16 new 2″x8″x8′ joists that we installed for the new 9 foot vaulted ceiling.
Damn those suckers are heavy!
And speaking of heavy, so is drywall. A 4′x8′ 1/2″ piece weighs 54 pounds. Neal and I were installing 17 sheets, OVER OUR HEADS. So we cut them into 2′x8′ pieces… no problem because the one that would do the taping and mudding was also the designer, ME!, and to avoid having to do that work, I decided to use batten boards to cover up the seams. SO MUCH EASIER and they added a nice architectural feature. Form AND function! We also insulated the ceiling prior to installing the drywall.
Neal calls me “Gales of Creative Destruction.” I call myself “Builder Babe.” Here I am installing plywood around the bunks. Hinges were used on the smaller end pieces for access, creating much-needed under-the-bed storage.
Neal and I installed 50, 1″x4″ batten boards. Armed with a nail gun we were able to knock it out in a day. SO MUCH EASIER than mudding!!! It took another whole day to caulk.
The completed room. Looking at the wall with the three windows found during demo. I wish the camera didn’t white out the windows because outside all you see is foliage and you feel like you are in a treehouse.
The furniture all came from a flea market. Vintage Pretzel chair and Heywood-Wakefield table – less than $50 each! Lamp and pottery is from Pier One.
The other end of the completed space. A fresh coat of paint on the wood floors and we were done. The inspiration for the colors came from the lake woods setting and clean, minimal and yes, inexpensive, were the theme for the design. The ceiling fixture came from Pier One. The carpet tiles from Home Depot.
Shortly after we finished, my friend who is both my flying and building inspiration came to visit and see the work. The three of us were sitting on the bunk you see in the first two “After” photos, when Neal and I mentioned how tired we were. He told us one day we would forget all the pain the work brought and we would only remember the joy having such a place to share with our friends and family would bring.
As he said those words, being more physically exhausted than I had ever been, I could only hope he was right.
Working together, Neal and I created a delightful lake retreat. The challenges of remodeling an entire house were huge, but the rewards have been worth every moment.
Now, how about that airplane…
Soon: More lake house remodeling photos