Renovating a weekend house — especially a cabin you bought for less than the price of a car — is very different than home improvements in your own house. We’re finding that good enough, close enough, and well, it wasn’t quite what we wanted but I can live with it are really just fine. We are reusing, recycling, and taking a lot of secondhand items out of friends’ garages.
About a month into the renovation, a friend’s boyfriend introduced me to a new idea. You see, he’s a manager at our local Home Depot, and he tipped me off that home improvement stores have tons of marked-down inventory that customers never see on floor… and that you can buy it for substantial discounts if you know to ask.
Sebastian explained that appliances and fixtures, like clothes, are updated every year. When that happens, the old ones go “out of style” and end up as clearance. But stores like Home Depot and Lowe’s have very limited space for clearance so they usually just put out two or three items at a time. They keep all that other stuff way up on the shelves or in the back of the store. If you ask nicely, and if you’re flexible about your expectations, they can usually help you find something that meets your price point – and can even have items sent from other stores. The same is true of display items, which can be marked down 50% or more!
The secret is this: go at a quiet time (such as between 10 and 4 on a weekday), ask nicely, and be flexible. During this process, we’ve gotten to know a lot of the folks at our local home improvement stores and they really are happy to help as long as it’s not noon on a Saturday.
For our bathroom, we had very specific size requirements but could be flexible on the style. Because of that, we took a slightly damaged, $299 floor model sink for $49. A quick touch up with a furniture marker covered the few tiny nicks, and you’d never even know. It’s covered in tools here, but I think it looks pretty snappy!
Renovation and relaxation at the cabin ground to a halt in June and July while Janeé and logged a few miles for personal and business trips – 14,740 miles combined to be exact. Planes, trains and automobiles across two continents, and all the while, missing the cabin.
Destinations included: Portland, ME, Boston, MA, Seattle, WA, one wedding, and Paris, France
This first night after I stumbled across the cabin I laid in bed going through a mental checklist of what improvements and repairs I thought would need to be done…. but of course I did some dreaming too: I wanted a barn door. A rustic cabin with few updates would showcase a sliding barn door really well.
I wanted to be reminded of the large, massive barn doors that slide back and forth on the front of the big barn at home on the farm. I romanticize my memories of opening and closing them during summer hay making season, always looking forward to escaping the warm sun and walking into the barn ahead of the hay wagon the tractor was pushing in.*
Surprisingly, hardware shopping was the hardest part. Although popular in Europe, it’s very difficult to find modern sliding door hardware in the US. I did find a few useful sites such as Barn Door Hardware and Cordia, but the prices were not what I expected and the selection was limited. Neither Home Depot or Lowe’s could help; Paul at Home Depot (my go to “window and door guy”) said they are not yet available in US stores. I also searched through farm supply stores but could only find typical track hardware. I finally decided on purchasing my Cordia hardware from Cool Barn Doors, an eBay seller.
After so much effort in fixing and securing the hardware, I had decided I wanted to build my own door rather than modify a used barn door or vintage door from a second hand shop. The door is simply wooden pine planks. Paint comes next.
*To be honest, the most exciting part was pushing the empty hay wagon back through the doors and creating enough momentum to force the wagon down the ramp and out into the barn yard on its own – sometimes you even got to ride it!
With the 4th of July on a Wednesday, we were so happy that we found a cabin just 90 minutes from home so that we could pop up for the day. Our friends, Mary and Frode, and their three dogs joined us for an all-American celebration of BBQ, beer, swimming in the creek, and not-too-loud fireworks (so as not to scare the pups) and sparklers. On the way there, we caught the fireworks in Stewartstown, which was a great little show! All in all, a perfect holiday.
PS: hi to our neighbor Bridget from E. Trails Road, who came by to introduce herself and ask us over for a cookout!