Jenny: Cottage Saturday: I Love Richie

So the back porch, which is the future site of my master suite/private space and the future home of all the furniture that is currently making it impossible to walk through my living room, is a long, narrow space (7’x32′) made even narrower by a big freaking staircase right in the middle of it.


I’d contemplated moving the staircase to the far end, but then realized I needed floor space much more than I needed stairs to the basement. And I needed that floor in place before I could do any of the building and painting that would make that room ready to take all the furniture that was garbaging up the rest of my house. The problem was, I had no confidence I could put the floor in. Then Krissie said, “I asked Richie if he’d put the floor in over the stairs for you and he said “Yes.”

Oh. My. God.

I had no idea how much brain time I’d been spending obsessing on that damn floor until Richie took it off my hands.


Tuesday afternoon, he and Krissie pulled into my driveway, and by the time they left Thursday at noon, I had a floor. And the stubborn window frame I couldn’t get out of the wall was gone. And we’d discovered that the back porch IS insulated which was another huge, huge, HUGE relief. And Krissie and I had installed an airconditioner in my little bedroom (We Are Women, Watch Us Install Appliances). But mostly Richie had worked his ass off putting in joists and putting down plywood. That’s Krissie helping Richie demo the railing. (I helped, too, but somebody has to take the pictures.) It’s a nice railing, I’m going to try to use it elsewhere, but I was DELIGHTED to see it go.


Of course that left a big freaking hole in the center of the floor. The original plan had been to take up floor boards from the end of the porch I’m going to cover with a platform bed, and put them down where the hole was, but then I discovered that there was no underlayment. Yes, they’d nailed the floor boards directly to the joists. After I finished panicking because I’d been walking on porch floor with no structural integrity, I said, “We’ll put down plywood and I’ll paint a rug later,” and we did that. And by “we,” I mean Richie.


I’m trying to figure out how to do the rug now–future Cottage Saturday post–but the important part is that the railing is gone–see the nice hole and all the construction debris in the basement?–and the next picture there is Richie, standing on de-stabilized stairs, putting in the last joist. I told him if the stairs collapsed and he died, Krissie would never speak to me again, and I need Krissie in my life, and he told me there was no need to worry. I said, “Yeah, for you, you’ll be dead. I’ll be alive and having to deal with her.”
Shortly after that, Veronica peed on the plywood, but fortunately, Richie is a sucker for dachshunds and didn’t take it personally. And I have a lot of bleach cleanser, so all is well.


And now the floor looks like the picture below. I’ve gone out on the porch several times since Krissie and Richie left and just sat in my desk chair and looked at the floor. It makes me so incredibly happy, I can’t even begin to explain. That stupid porch is now a room. It’s going to have a big couch and a little TV at one end and a bed alcove at the other. And in between will be a big work table for sewing and collage and spreading out book notes. And lots of bookcases. My heart beats faster just thinking about it.


Of course, I have a lot of stuff to build out there and my carpentry skills are rudimentary, but I can do it. And if I get too screwed up, Richie will drive down from Vermont and bail me out because he is a God Among Men. Also he likes the dogs, so he’ll come back down to see them. Plus New Jersey pizza. Really, I’m surprised he hasn’t come back already.


That’s Krissie and Richie waving good-bye in the last picture. Come back soon!

No, really. Come back soon.

38 thoughts on “Jenny: Cottage Saturday: I Love Richie

  1. The transformation is amazing. Whooho — go Richie and Krissie. It must be a great feeling to have your renovations moving ahead with that cumbersome railing and hole going down gone. Lovely to have extra floor space. I gather the window above has been removed and it will all become kind of integrated. Fantastic 🙂

  2. Susanne says:

    Wow. This is like those dreams we have where we discover different rooms in our houses that we never knew existed. Only yours actually do exist.

    Krissy better lock her doors at night. I heard a ReFab Posse is forming to come and get Richie cause a man like him should be shared 🙂

  3. Michelle says:

    What a wonderful thing to do for family. Richie is a prince among men. For the rug, I could see zebra stripes.

    I may have missed this earlier but how can you access the basement now since those steps are covered up?

  4. There’s an entrance below. The house is on a hill, so the basement has windows on three sides and a regular door on the back.

  5. I’m going to leave the window where it is. It lets a lot of light into the kitchen, but it still acts as a wall between the kitchen and the workroom. After I’ve lived with it for awhile, I might take the big plain center section out, but I like the rest of it.

  6. Hi,
    Richie needs a sign: Will work for New Jersey Pizza. (Although you might not want to share him.)

    My Craigslist cabinets arrived yesterday! I am so happy. Like a kid on Christmas morning. Bugged my DH last night until we moved almost all of them into place, the way I’d envisioned them. Made me even happier, although sore this morning.
    Construction guy I bought the cabinets from looked at what I have now and said I should be able to get $1,000 or so for them, which astonishes me. They’re ugly green, although I guess not ugly to everyone, and not that old. Plus sell the Corian for another $200 or so, which would make my new kitchen an even bigger bargain. Although I suck at selling things, but will try.
    I am my mother’s daughter. There’s just something thrilling about getting things that are great things, and yet at a great price. Explained to someone once, if I bought X and it was a fabulous thing to have and I loved it, but I also got it at a great price, I would love it even more and be even happier. I can’t help it. That’s just the way it is.
    A carpenter who works for pizza and loves my dogs is the same thing. Great bargain. 🙂

  7. WOW! And yay! for Krissie and Richie. Such good friends. That’s an excellent use of space. I love that. I have a long wide hallway in one section of my house that one day, some day will become an office, or just another writing space. I think.

    It looks like your room will be flooded with light. A great plus.

  8. nightsmusic says:

    Everything is coming along great and I’m so happy to be a willing voyeur to your projects. I have a question though. The floor that was nailed to the joists, I know it started out as just a porch and must have over the years been upgraded with the insulation but, are you eventually, sometime down the road, maybe a few years from now even, going to try to insulate that floor as well? New Jersey can get pretty cold in the winter and that floor is going to be a shocker on your bare feet in the middle of winter. Even if it is over a basement…

  9. The basement/ground floor is the coolest place in the house in summer and the warmest place in the house in winter. It’s completely underground on the back wall, and underground to the bottom of regular size windows (30″ from the floor) on two and a half sides, making it very well insulated. And it has furnace vents because it was used as a living space before. No need to insulate at all.

  10. Wow, that is so terrific that you now have a ROOM, one you can now finish and furnish so you can move along in other parts of your home. I’m very excited for you. Cottage Saturdays rock so much! And Richie is definitely a Prince among men and a fabulous resource. Love friends and family who truly help well!

    So will you be inhabiting your new room immediately or will you be painting the rug first or what?

  11. JulieB/Julie Spahn says:

    This post makes me incredibly happy! I’m glad you all were able to get so much done.

    I have a question – you said the floor had no structural integrity – because the wood strips were nailed directly to the joists? I don’t know much about construction – why is that bad? And if it was, is that fixed now? Also, are you going to paint the rug over the plywood part only? (I like the wood floor. I’m just trying to envision what you will do. You come up with really great ideas – it’s very educational.)

  12. nightsmusic says:

    Huge YAY then! One less thing you need to worry about.

    You are blessed to have the friends to help and the imagination to see through what you want to do. Thanks again for letting me be a small part of it. I keep trying to tell my husband, “If Jenny can do it, we certainly can,” but he’s under the misguided impression that we’ll have to buy something he doesn’t have to work on…yeah, right…

  13. Terrie says:

    Wow, that is awesome. And I totally get working for NJ pizza. I have lived out in Colorado for forty years now but I grew up in New Jersey and I STILL miss that pizza. I get the joy of a wood floor, too. We put ours in our living room (that’s the royal “we,” a more accurate descriptor would be “my husband”) a year ago, and it still makes me happy each and every day. The thrill hasn’t dimmed one bit. I love my wood floors.

    The cottage looks great!

  14. This is awesome. YAY for Richie and Krissie, and I am thrilled about the new floor. A painted rug there is going to look grand.

  15. McB says:

    Hurrah! I know exactly how you feel. When I bought my place, there were no stairs off the back deck. Like your place, I have a walk out basement in back, so it appears to be 3 stores from that side. The deck finally got so old and the wood so dry that it wouldn’t have been safe for much longer. Enter a relative who is extremely handy and needed cash. I now have a deck that will outlast the house and STAIRS! And the year after that he put raised beds all around the fence line so I can plant to my beart’s content.

    I will be hitting up the same relative soon to install new faucets in the powder room (put the new light fixture up myself!) and a new back gate. Because I am woman and I can roar like anything, but lack size and strength for the bigger stuff.

  16. It has a floor but it still needs walls and a ceiling. So it’ll be awhile, although I’d like to be in there when Krissie comes back. Not sure what day she’s coming, but it’s week after next.

  17. Flooring should start with a layer of plywood called underlayment across the joists, bit 4×8 sheets of it. Then more breakable flooring like narrow boards is nailed on top of that. I have the narrow boards nailed directly to the joists. I don’t think it’s actively dangerous, but it’s not great. I’m putting in a raised floor in the bedroom third of the porch and that’ll be 2x10s and 2x6s laid across the joists with 2×8 plywood glued and screwed to that. The rest of the room (except for Richie’s patch), I’m not sure about. It might be smarter to put plywood down on top of the flooring–backwards from what it should be, but more stable. I should ask Toni and Carl.

  18. Yes, the stairs are gone.
    I was thinking more of a painted rug instead of fake wood, but I’m not sure what yet.

  19. Probably it’s a sign I’ve seen the home show “Love It or List It” too many times, but I’m seeing Hilary rolling her eyes at the ding to her budget that fixing unexpected floor issues will cost.

    What I always take away from the LIOLI show is that even though homeowners constantly find out potentially serious things were awry with their homes (floors, wiring, plumbing, asbestos, etc.), everyone was always fine living with it beforehand (unbeknownst to them).

    Even so, happy you had Richie to fix your little area. Happier still if the rest of your place is more secure.

  20. Been there, done that. I bought the house knowing that I’d have to gut the basement but that the main floor was fine.
    Nope, mold on the main floor, too. Gutted the entire cottage. Argh.

  21. ruthie says:

    You have the best ideas! And Krissie has the best husband. Go Richie! A pearl beyond price not only because he’s handy but because he’s happy to help out.

    I don’t know if I’ll ever do it, but thank you, Jenny, for covering up a staircase. 🙂 This place is two stories, but I really get tired of going up and down — when I’m down, what I want is up, and vice versa. One of the many ideas I’ve toyed with is making both floors into liveable apartments, but how to provide privacy for both when the stairs join them? I never thought of just taking them out and putting a floor there. Genius.

    I’m so happy this cottage is working out for you, but I’m also enjoying all the ideas you’re spawning. 😉 Creative in all things.

  22. Reb says:

    New Zealand can be a bit behind the rest of the world in building standards, but just about every house I’ve lived in has had tongue and groove timber floorboards nailed direct to the jousts. I hadn’t heard of underlayments! In our current house, the floorboards are about 3.5 inches wide and 3/4 inch thick.

    I’ve only ever known one person put a foot through a floorboard, and that was because her house had so much borer damage that it was a wonder the whole thing didn’t fall down.

    Are American floorboards thinner?

    A painted rug sounds very cool. I’d never have thought of that.

  23. Linda says:

    There’s a pin on Pinterest which shows how to make a plywood floor look like tongue-in-groove…

  24. merry says:

    I’m always awed when creative people paint a rug on a floor or use tile to create a rug illusion. So smart. And how did I not know I needed a Ritchie? A little green with envy here.

  25. Toni says Carl says it’s not a problem, common in older houses, and Richie didn’t seem concerned, so I’m mostly over it. Argh.

  26. German Chocolate Betty says:

    My dad always said “whatever you think you are going to have to do, whatever you think it’ll cost, inflate that by at least 50% and you’ll end up close to reality.”

    Our last renovation was closer 100% over estimate. Sigh. Always surprises when you start opening stuff up. Occasionally good (“porch is insulated!”), mostly bad (“main floor has mold too, dang”).

  27. ruthie says:

    Doing it again…probably should have said that there are stairs from the lower level deck to the upper deck, the one that blocks the light to the kitchen window. So, not cutting off all access to the second floor if I take out the inner stairs. 🙂

  28. Congratulations on your floor and hurdling a serious construction obstacle!

    RE painting the floor, I’ve seen a lot of great ideas for projects like that in my trawling of online stencil stores (I did a stencil design in my powder room last month that I’m really happy with, and will be doing more stenciling around the house as I get rooms painted), such as Cutting Edge Stenciles, Royal Design Studio, and Jan Dressler Stencils. Have also seen some DIY sites with really nice painted-on-floor “rugs” and designs, including that site I particularly like, In My Own Style.

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