The End of Construction

Sing the title of this entry to "The Eve of Destruction" by Barry McGuire (which I have been listening to today as I write):

"But you tell me, over and over and over again, my friend --
You don't believe we're at the end of construction..."

But we are -- we are! The basement is done. The sewing room is beginning to come together -- slowly we are ferreting out the fabric and notions and baskets and yarns and needles and projects, and finding space for them on the shelves in the new room.

This sewing machine is probably 30 years old. It does what I need it to do: straight stitch, zig-zag, button holes, forward and back.

The desk is an old distressed door with a glass top, and the drawers are separate old pieces cobbled together -- one's an old-time small refrigerator, with the drawers lined in tin.

We left the ceiling as-is and spray-painted it the trim color. It gives the area a country-cottage look (and an industrial look, where the ductwork glides through).

This whole area is downstairs near the back door and the stairs... it's an aggrandized hallway, really, that we've turned into a sewing/creative area. We had three prairie-style windows put in this wall, to bring in light.

Lots of old finds at Kudzu mostly (thank you, Susan, for the bookcase!) -- and there's a chair I brought from Frederick that's probably 30 years old, in the corner. Soon we'll sort out the fabric and find the rest of what we've squirreled away, waiting for this day to bring them all into one place.

The washer and dryer used to go against this (unfinished) wall.

Longer view. You can see the "refrigerator" cabinet under the door desk here, and some of the exposed duct work. Behind me is the door to the "media room" which is our new family room that Jim Williams built LAST summer. Now there is no television upstairs (save in Hannah's room) and I like it like that.

The summer before last, JimW. rebuilt our kitchen. The family room came after that. This house has been under construction for almost three years, almost continuously (well, it seems that way sometimes).

Jim enclosed the carport this past January and made us a gathering room. He created a new carport with a river-rock bed and a tin roof. What didn't he do?

We'd get up in the morning, and there would be Jim Williams... or Israel, who laid the wood floors in the kitchen and family room, or Jose, who did all the drywall, or Alfredo and Mike, who did all the painting, or Stoney, who was a strong second, every step of the way. I got to where, at one point, I made coffee for everybody in the morning, and sometimes lunch. I loved it. I'm not sure they did!

Do you know what that glass bottle is? It's an old dampening bottle to use when you're ironing -- remember those? My mother had one... I can still remember her ironing and sprinkling a pillowcase that got too dried out in the towel she'd rolled it in to keep it damp, and then the sizzle of the iron as it glided across the cotton. I also remember my mother saying, "Permanent press is one of the greatest inventions of all time!"

The back door of the house is directly behind me (the door desk is to the left). The windows in front of me look into Jim's studio -- they are interior windows we put in, in order to give Jim some natural light and air in his studio -- he has no other windows, but he has a bonafide room. The table in front of you is one of those old enamel-top tables that expands -- it's tall, and it will be my cutting table. The door to the left leads to the stairs (and to Jim's studio, if you take another right before going up).

I couldn't resist this 8-foot long kindergarten table, scarred with the writings and cuttings and scribblings of hundreds of five-year-olds over the years. Salvaged at Kudzu. Underneath the table is an old toddler's toy box. It has a pull handle, and a bell dings as it rides along. What will go in here? Yarn, perhaps. Books for when my staff visits, perhaps.

We left the floor concrete and painted it the same color as the trim of the house. I'm sure my neighbors will love it. We plan to have a pickin' party when we get everything put together, and invite the neighbors for an open house -- hope our next-door neighbors come. We like our neighbors.

Jim's studio looks bare right now, but not for long, as he unloads crates and moves back into a space he can really create in. See the interior windows to the right? The floor is bamboo.

The other side of Jim's office. He chose this blue, and I liked it so much I used it in the sewing room for some of the walls -- the others are painted hyacinth. The bookcase unit to the left was built by Jim Williams and sits under the stairs. The couch is from Kudzu, probably late Sixties -- another Sixties memory.

And one more Sixties memory before I let you go for the weekend. This is the door that leads upstairs. I've hung some of my apron collection here. William Steig wrote a book (I think it was his last) called WHEN EVERYBODY WORE A HAT -- do you know it? It's a wonderful picture book autobiography. I look at my collection of aprons and think, "When everybody wore an apron." I wear them now. And the pink one on the right? I made that apron for my mother. Cut the fabric, sewed it, cross stitched the butterflies and the M.K.E. initials onto the pocket... another memory I can take with me into the land of fiction. Does Franny's mother wear an apron? Yes, she does.

Thank you, Jim Williams, for so many things: For working with a woman on a budget. For being so good at so many things -- even plumbing. For hiring excellent subcontractors to do so many other things. For all your woodworking and cabinetry and design and construction skills. For your willingness to hang in there through my pattern language way of thinking-through design, and your enthusiasm for the process -- and your suggestions for fixes that would make an already-drawn design work even better. Thank you for your good housekeeping! And your work ethic and your trustworthiness. Mostly... thank you for your friendship.

I have a home in Atlanta that I love.

I know a place....


  1. I knew that desk would look great in your home Debbie!

  2. Ha! You told me to buy it! How fortunate you were at Kudzu that day. I think. Hahaha. I've got to stay away from there for a while. Thanks for your good taste, though...
    xo Debbie

  3. Oh, lordie. The sprinkler bottle cap. I had totally forgotten that. In a big 7-up bottle in my house. I was overcome by the urge to have such a thing again and went to look online. $15! I can hear my mother now. But the bug's been planted. Maybe eBay.... I could even get nostalgic about that 7-Up bottle.

    Your construction project looks wonderful!

  4. Ann, I found my bottle for $3 -- keep looking. Or rig up an old 7=up bottle... Thanks for this story!


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