“No one will ever see it.” – an adventure in remodeling

Invisible Woman BookThere is a story told of a rich man who came to visit a European cathedral while it was being built, and he saw a workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. He was puzzled and asked the man, ‘Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam that will be covered by the roof? No one will ever see it.’ And the workman replied, ‘Because God sees.’

~ Nicole Johnson, read more at The Invisible Woman – When Only God Sees

Our latest remodeling adventure is well underway – this project involves the finishing of the interior of a big room we added over the garage to keep our house from looking weird. The garage looked dumb before, and we were determined that the replacement NOT follow in it’s footsteps.

Now, we weren’t just sitting around trying to think up ways to spend money and stop our house from looking weird. In fact, it was quite the opposite. Rob and I both had enough on our plates with our respective businesses, that doing anything to the house was the LAST thing on the list of stuff to think about. But then a big storm came. A storm with majorly insane wind (more insane than our regular insane wind) and it tore off two pieces of the standing seam roof. The roof was on the house when we bought it, all we did was paint and caulk some seams that had pulled loose. These are purported to last 100+ years, and this one was nearing the end of it’s lifespan. The estimate to fix the storm damage was so salty that we just couldn’t stomach that much money being spent to put it back like it was.

So fixing the roof became REPLACING the roof (with much-less-expensive steel). And while we are at it – let’s do something about the garage (we couldn’t park anything in there bigger than a Honda Accord – IF you expected to be able to open the doors to get out…) Shortly after came it won’t cost that much more to add a second story above the garage… and so it went:

KeeslingB&ALookingNortheastEDITEDForgive the wonky perspective in the photos. These pictures were taken with two different cameras.

The old one car garage became a two car garage. With some extra space at the front for a mudroom area, a half bath and the chest freezer.

 What kind of goofy people add a huge room to their house without a good reason? That would be us.

Which brings us to the present, after several years of a wild ride of projects without purpose, and angst over unfinished-ness… the crew from Timeless Barn Company is hard at work making our room look like a hay loft (or a cathedral – depends on who you ask)

Father and son at work. Jacob (left) is following in father Jake’s (right) footsteps learning the craft of timber framing carpentry. Holey moley, look at the floor…

As you may have noticed in previous posts, we are do-it-yourself kinda folks. At first, it was out of necessity as we didn’t have much money, but later it was out of frustration; we couldn’t bear to give money to contractors for them to do a WORSE job than Rob could have. We have a laundry list of projects-gone-awry – so much so that Rob decreed that we must certainly be the catalyst for the expression of some recessive “flake-out gene” in alleged professionals that we’ve hired, causing them to do crummy work even though we know they are capable of otherwise.

We had a sprinkling of good fortune along the way (such as the fireplace project) and we’ve gotten a little braver. But not much. When Dean at Timeless Barn Company looked at our beams, and our room and professed that he and his crew could combine the two and make it “amazing”, we were encouraged. So we negotiated the deal without ever knowing EXACTLY what “amazing” was going to entail. I didn’t really know what to think/do – I had been watching too much HGTV. They came and took the beams back to the shop to prep, leaving me wondering; “Where are the paint chips? The fabric samples? The drawings and examples?”   (not really on the fabric samples, but it sounded good…)

Though we’d seen TBC’s excellent work on other jobs, we worried about the dreaded flake-out gene expressing itself yet again in our house. Which brings me to:

“No one will ever see it.”

Makes you think of something done of something done shoddily because it won’t be seen, doesn’t it? Or maybe not, since I opened with the Nicole Johnson quote…

Without further ado, I present: Our Register

Try to look past the dust. I am not a dusting kind of gal, but I can hardly wait to wipe all these down so we can see the true beauty of the wood. To do it now it would be an exercise in futility, though (see floor in previous photo).

This is about the coolest solution to a tricky problem that anybody could have ever come up with. See that hole in the middle? That’s a furnace duct. When we built the room and added the heat, we had no inkling what the future held. We could never have predicted that a round rafter the diameter of someone’s leg would end up being positioned right on top of it. I didn’t even know about the dilemma. They just solved it and I discovered at the end of the day. I bet they didn’t even go on houzz.com and look at five million pictures to figure it out, either.

First, they sliced a hand hewn square beam down to a few inches thick and positioned it on the floor so it looks like you’re in the second story of a barn. Then they cut a hole in the beam so the air from the duct can get through, then tapered the rafter above so it looks like it is supposed to be like that. Now, my house is not a famous cathedral, but I think it is especially cool that I will have this fancy register tucked away behind the future location of the TV. I may need to make sure I have the option to move the TV so I can show it to guests.

I can hardly wait to share pictures of the rest of the project, but for now you’ll have to look at this:

Beam SliceI don’t need proof because I already know it, but I love these little indicators that God has a cool sense of humor. Rob strolled through and left this on my desk on his way past. He’d fished it out of the trash after the workers left. At the same time that I was looking at this for the last blog post.

It’s a super thin slice off one of the round rafters – those are now proudly attached to our ceiling, after their first career of keeping animals warm and dry, now they’re the star of our big room upstairs.

All the remodeling posts are here




  1. This is a fascinating saga and I am enjoying every inch and every photo. In our middle age we built a log house but pre cut logs made the basic work more simple. Our daughter is following this story also and she and husband bought two neglected Victorian 2 story houses and made them level, square and weather proof. I am so happy for both of you, this home will be gorgeous. When will the grand parents see it?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Helen – my grandparents are all gone now, but the beams came from a barn my parents owned – it was grandma’s home place though. They have been out of state most of the winter but are home now so hopefully will see it soon. Although the amount of dust that is covering everything in the whole house is a bit embarrassing. It will probably take me a year to get it all wiped up.


  2. I love things that no one can see. Until they can. And do. You may be building that room for a reason that you don’t know yet…or maybe that room inspired you to start this blog which will have an effect that you can’t imagine (yet). Just keep going!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Fran! There is so much that all of us do that seems like no one will see it. But I think of the things that have affected me profoundly over the years, that shaped who I am today, and most are events and incidents that are not ever remembered by the other folks involved. It really is a ripple effect so varied and complex that none of us could possibly imagine how what we say and do influences our surroundings. It’s cool and scary at the same time.


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