During our one week of beautiful spring I painted sashes of windows that didn’t get painted in the fall. A lot of time has passed since shopping for those windows, and time has given me the opportunity to grade my choices. Most were right on, unfortunately even those decisions that were made quickly with a foreboding sense of “oh well, most likely this will cause me distress later.”
Time also has given me the opportunity to wonder once again why I am continuing to write the Tower saga. Sometimes it is torture. What I write seems so dry. My mind is bubbling with other stories to write: falling down the steps and dislocating my finger; my cousin’s wedding at the Hotel Pierre; life in the sixties compared to life when you are in your sixties; thoughts on my America.
Then, last night as I struggled with Tower #11, I realized that building this addition with Lee has been anything but dull. The year has been an incredibly rich, creative and romantic adventure. We’ve been frustrated together, aggravated with each other, physically and mentally exhausted though not necessarily together, ready to run away from each other.
But we’ve also had an almost sinful amount of fun and have celebrated our happiness over and over. We’ve made it through a large, long project, one that often severs relationships, and we’ve come out stronger, more committed, more convinced.
The Tower saga has been an exercise that seems to plod along. Hopefully when completed it will be an interesting read for those who were involved, and perhaps for some who weren’t. My enthusiasm ebbs and wanes. I am pleasantly surprised by the evolution of the individual chapters, how often they change course and turn into essays on something else. That said, at this very moment I just want to get it done – and that applies as much to finishing the house as to writing about it. Lee has told me that he will suffer the depths of my lows about the house and everything else, as long as he can share the peaks of my highs, which is really quite dear. My moods are something like New England weather.
My nose always wrinkled whenever I spoke about the look of the cottage. Its charm was within and the view beyond, but from the outside the house appeared about to explode. The contrasting color of the simple window frames, even without trim, was too major a statement for such a small house. It could have been a 3D rendering of houses I drew when little – in fact there is one of my houses next to a giant apple tree painted on the wall under the sanitas in the kitchen of the house where I grew up.
The color of the cottage was wishy washy. The back of the house reminded me of one of the hastily constructed, non-descript and neglected office buildings I used to see on the train from Boston to New York back when. Try not to miss the car graveyards and the skinny fox slouching through tall weeds and sumac as you imagine the scene.
The addition gave me my chance to make it better.
My plan from the start was to buy Pella windows to match those in the cottage, and to paint both the cottage and the tower to match the color of the windows. I received lots of “advice.” Pella is difficult to work with, they are expensive, look at Marvins, look at Andersons, you can paint the trim even though it is vinyl clad, change the color, use a contrasting trim, one color is boring.
I spent too much time trying to discover why everyone wanted me to do something different and got quotes from various companies and suppliers, played with different color schemes, then did what I wanted in the first place. I like the monochrome look and on its own Pella Tan has character and fits the landscape.
Most of the window choices were straightforward. The holdups were those around the spiral staircase and on the bridge.
Spiral Window, 2nd Floor, Facing South
In the end I decided upon one awning and three fixed squarish windows in the spiral corner. It is okay, although the original design of two full walls of glass – which I nixed — was so much more striking. Perhaps I should have researched commercial storefront windows for a cleaner look in this space, but . . .
We made several stops at the Door Jamb in Shokan, just a few miles past the Pella showroom, looking for the two front doors, which would face each other under the bridge. The cottage came with a full windowed front door and I felt very exposed when someone came to call. That door was going to go up on the third floor of the tower as an exit to the deck.
My task was to pick the door and then consider the price. Two mahogany doors with full stained glass windows were spectacular. They didn’t fit my “master” plan, which was simple and stark. At this time the addition was my fantasy lookout tower at the top of a mountain. But they – the doors — were really spectacular, and Lee offered to pay the overage. Every now and then shimmering prism patterns on the wall delight us.
While there we also looked at windows. We found seven tall, narrow white vinyl clad Anderson double hungs for the bridge. These would be troublesome, but any decision would put an end to my stressing over what to buy. The windows lacked certain features, but were “a very good price.” Really wish they dropped down for cleaning. Really wish we didn’t have to use small sliding screens until Lee has the time to build full sized ones. They look great both inside and out and we’re looking forward to filling our greenhouse bridge with plants.
We also bought quarter rounds at the Door Jamb, again fighting the feeling that I was making a mistake. They are fixed and the second floor landing where they are needs ventilation. They were a bear for Lee to tape and mud, and I still am not sure how to paint them, but they provide the spiritual aura to the space that I’ve written about before.
Lee and I “discussed” window trim for months. I wanted the no-trim look of the windows on the second floor of the cottage, but Lee could only see problems when he looked at them. Wish I had found this post before today.
I’ll have to wait until my next house for trimless windows. It’s not wise to push your finish man too hard when he is working for free out of the goodness of his heart.
We picked up four ten-pane interior fir doors on craigslist. Two of these became closet doors.
The other two are double doors to the master bath, and provide us a view of the field and the Hudson from the second floor. Wall space is tight, so we hung one as a slider and one on hinges. Towel racks provide some privacy, but more is needed for me to feel comfortable. Lee has fewer inhibitions.