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  • Writer's pictureLaura Rodgers

"Do Something Good For Yourself Today"....Virginia Madsen'

In case you are wondering, no, we are not yet back in our house. Yes, I am struggling with being patient. It has now been just about 13 months since we moved out of the house and although the most recent expected date to return, November 1, will not be met, I am being told it will be right before Thanksgiving for sure. Let’s just say I am not holding my breath but am hopeful this deadline will be met.

So much has happened since my last post, but then again so much time has passed. The last 6 weeks have been filled with a lot of finishing work at the house. The beams are up in the kitchen, and I could not be happier with the results. I was not present when they went up, my heart just could not take it.

I am told by the carpenters that it all went smoothly but I don’t know…. at somewhere around 600 pounds each, I must imagine at some point there had to have been some rough minutes.

There was much carpentry going on these past few weeks. The hardwood floors were installed. Window trim, base moldings and door frames were constructed and put in place. My much-anticipated window seat was designed, engineered and finished. I love our carpenters. Although the process sometimes feels slow and tedious, the end results have been nothing short of perfection.

The restoration to the outside of our house has been completed. Any old, damaged boards were replaced with new wood boards and the house received a fresh coat of paint. Surprisingly there weren’t many boards to replace, and the restoration began and ended in less than 2 weeks. We kept with the traditional Greek Revival colors of a white house with green shutters to preserve the historical nature of the house. I am in awe of its beauty with just a simple make-over.

Of course, it hasn’t all been without frustration at times. Nothing ever is. The plan for the fireplace and beverage bar brick has always been to change the color and texture of the brick using a technique referred to as “German Schmear.” August of 2020, when we were getting final bids from the trades, the painter then suggested that he could do this technique. I have been planning on it in all my design plans for the two rooms. Last Friday my painter and I were discussing colors for the house, as they were to start on Monday with the painting process. During this discussion the topic of the German Schmear came up. The news that he didn’t really remember the August 2020 conversation quite the same way that I did and couldn’t apply this anticipated technique to my brick, brought the frustration that I referred to earlier, to the forefront.

When I realized that one of my main design elements was not going to happen by my painter, I did what any irrational, at the end of her rope, done with bumps in the road, person would do. I called my best friend, who is game for trying just about anything, watched a few You-Tube videos, read a few blogs and together with my bestie did it myself.

For any of you that do not know the German Schmear technique, it is often found on centuries-old cottages and castles throughout northern Germany. The technique is kind of like whitewashing bricks, but instead of using diluted latex paint, tile and stone mortar is used instead.

So just a little tutorial for those of you interested, perhaps, in doing this in the future.

Items necessary to do this:

Brick and Block Trowel

Sponge Float

2-3 Large Grouting Sponges

Stone and Tile Mortar (White)

Mortar Piping Bag


Large Mixing Bucket

Steel Spiral Mixing Arm (Attach to drill)

As I piped the mortar along the grout lines Brenda (said Bestie ) was able to smear the stone and tile mortar with the trowel and sponge float. We could then use the sponge to wipe off what we didn’t want as well as to take out any lines left by the trowel and sponge float.

All in all, it took us about 6 hours to do both the fireplace and the area behind the beverage bar. I could not be happier with the results. Truth be told, I’m kind of proud of the results that we got both for the look it provided and for the sense of satisfaction having done it myself. That being said, I am praying that is the last DIY element I do before we move in.

Now that the painting process has begun and staining of our hardwoods is scheduled to follow, our focus is on finding hardware for all the doors and cabinetry. As Jim and I haunt the vintage stores in Detroit and elsewhere for antique hardware, it is beginning to feel as if this place just might be completed soon. You learn a lot about your husband when discussing design elements. Sometimes we are on the same page and sometimes….well, sometimes we are not. But every time we end up learning something new from the shop owners of the places we go and leave a bit more educated about the history of the places that we visit.

With Summer slipping away and Fall beginning to take root,

I am hopeful that another season won’t begin before we are back in the house. My home has always been my refuge, but little did I know how much this wood clad structure did for my soul. Hoping that the next time I write it will be about move in day

Stay safe,


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