For our first house Justin (my hubs) and I jumped in with both feet, off a cliff, with blind fold on! Translation-We bought a lot, drew up our own plans, acted as the general contractor, finish carpenter, network specialists, painters, designers, landscape architects, the works. Here is how it all went down.
Justin served an LDS (Mormon) mission in Bordeaux, France. After we were married we went back and visited the region where he spent those two years. We were touring an adorable little village and came across an adorable little cottage. I told him right there that I could move in to that little cottage and be happy. We took a photo and finished up our trip. A few months later we decided (CRAZY!) to build that little house, or at least our interpretation and modern version of it. It was a lot of blood and sweat and we had a blast with the entire process. It was completed in 2001.
Here is a photo Justin took of my little dream house.
When planning out the details of the house we invested in a library of books about French Architecture. We relied mostly on “The Most Beautiful Villages of….” series. There are different books for each region. One day when researching I was digging in the “Most Beautiful Villages of Dordogne” book and came across a familiar image.
It turns out we were in a “Historic” village when we found that adorable little house! Here is the proffesional image from the book.
Having this image helped give us another angle and more detail in order to create our version.
After making a few changes to fit modern code and our tiny budget, here is our exterior (in Farmington, Utah).
Can you see the details that we incorporated in to our house?
We had a door custom made to look like the French doors (code wouldn’t allow two tiny doors, so we had one built to look like two). We stained our home made shutters and door together so they would match. We also did our best to create a cute wrought iron balcony and set up wires to grow the roses up the face of the house. The stone was too expensive so we created our own technique for the stucco layering two colors on top of each other. This looked the closest to the images of french stucco we found. I did NOT want the dirty aged look and this kept it fresh and cheery.
The pitch of the roof is an important detail for recreating a historic home. The front of our house had a 12/12 pitch, the dormers were 16/12 while the sides had a crazy 24/12 pitch. That means that for every inch horizontal the roof when two inches vertical. The roofers were less than excited to work on our house. But this was critical in order to get the charm factor that older homes have.
Our home sat on a hill overlooking the Great Salt Lake and had amazing views and sunsets. This helped us with the garage dilemma. It was a bit tricky figuring out how to add a garage to an old farm house cottage, but we ended up sticking it in the basement hiding it from the front view.
Justin and I grew so much on this project. We learned the entire home building process, how to work together and with contractors, referencing the past gives instant charm to new spaces, and that we were more in love than ever. It was a great experience. Unfortunately we sold the house just shy of two years of living in it but when the house went on the market in 2010, my friend Gemmie told me about the listing. Here is a photo of it ten years after we built it (check out the roses now!).