<Schoolhouse Studio Renovation Schoolhouse Studio Renovation

The front stone wall was in the best shape, being most protected from the elements. However, the rest of the walls and structure were in precarious, fragile condition. Friends young and "young at heart" were happy to lend a hand with the laborious process of repairing the dilapidated 18" thick stone walls. Repairing a previously patched area where a window section had given way...cobbled with odd colored stones and light pink mortar. Heather's father, Reggie Sears, pictured with family friend,Charlie Leubner, suggested hand mixing individual batches of portland, sand and lime mortar. The remaining original crumbled mortar was cleared away to make room for new. Heather and her beloved father, Reggie Sears, worked together good weather weekends for two years to properly repair all the stone walls inside and out. It was a scavenger hunt to find coordinating replacement rock for repairs.  Heather had fun using fossil accents.  Like this stone covered in ancient sea shells, exposed by the glacier that formed the Finger Lakes. Ah...Spring and the sweet smell of Hyacinth!!  Time for another round of renovations.  Two walls finished - two more to go to complete the stone repair. A completely repaired wall....looking so much better! Located in the upper right corner is an original octagonal wood nut and S-curve bracket, which connects to an interior metal tie-rod support.  The roof was covered with a large tarp to prevent further damage. The property began to have a pulse and started feeling cozy with each visit to nurture its repair.  Note cobbled brick filler above the door. Three sides repaired, with just the front to go.  Imagining a large picture window on the back wooden peak - to admire the view of woods, streams, and abundant wildlife. Heather was fortunate to be able to purchase the 2-acre meadow next door, expanding the entire schoolhouse property to a roomy 4-acres.  Perfect place for an orchard, vegetable garden, and free-range pasture. The Nunnery Schoolhouse property has a beautiful display of light and shadow from sunrise to sunset.  At first encounter, Heather intuitively felt this to be a very special place. The stone walls are 18" thick, as is the original wide plank wood thresh hold.  Heather began collecting elements like an ornamental door, antique corbels for an overhang, turned wooden columns, and a stone slab step. Based on a photo provided by the Spafford Area Historical Society, Heather sourced multi-pane Anderson windows to mimic the originals.  Family friend, Al Grennel kindly donated a bunch of 3" thick slate slabs, which would make perfect window sill accents From the interior, the deep window sills are flared at a 45 degree angle to spread sunlight inwards and expand the view. The inside was pretty rough - dirt floor and more crumbling stone...and a treasure trove pile of the original hand-hewn wooden floor beams and chestnut floor boards.  Heather plans to reuse them as Tudor-style interior accents and stairs to the future upstairs loft. Due to the rotted, leaking roof - one of the main hand-hewn ceiling support beams had decayed and started to give way.  It was reinforced temporarily with iron plates and support posts. Detail of interior rotted sill where a large chunk of mortar and stone had given way.  It was precariously supported by a few dry stacked stones that crumbled to the touch.  The entire interior needed to be repaired, and was tended to after the exterior work was completed. Scaffolding to repair the final exterior wall.  The lower third complete.  In the process of chiseling out the old mortar debris through the middle...a clear trail of progress. Heather and her father bartered labor favors for each of their properties.  She used a cherry-pick to hand-paint 2 large barns at Reggie's circa 1850 homestead on 10 acres.  "He still says I owe him!" Heather laughed. Every fair weather weekend for 2 years...Reggie Sears and his daughter tagged-team the stonework.  They considered it "bonding time", and passed the day listening to classic rock music, sharing lunch, and a lot of good laughs together. Hand-packing the new mortar to secure the stone in place for another 200 years! Aside from a strong work ethic, Heather inherited her father's keen since of humor. Heather's favorite hobby complements the English Cottage tradition...establishing beautiful perennial gardens to accent the property.  All the perennials were heirlooms...gifted to Heather from her mother (Debbie Sears), wonderful new neighbor (Donna Staten), dear Aunts (Delores, Diane, and Dixie), and numerous friends. The gardens help to define the property border between groomed yard and wilderness on a quest to creep up from the flanking ravines. Celebrating progress.  Heather always had a great love of art, antiquities, and architecture...the Nunnery Schoolhouse renovation has been a very rewarding and fun venture. Feathered friends and friendly neighbors frequently stop by to admire the gardens, which are getting larger and more elaborate every year. Unfortunately, a giant Locust tree that dominated the side yard, had to be removed to make way for the future septic system.  The schoolhouse, of course, had outhouse privies and drew water from the nearby creeks.  Slabs of the trunk were saved to create a couple outdoor patio table tops.  Heather counted over 150 age rings.... Trying to complete the final phase of stonework while the weather was still pleasant.  The second Summer working on the schoolhouse went by in a blink!! A very exciting day...new roof trusses!  With the stonework secure and strong, it was time to remove the rotted roof.   Heather decided to add a modest upstairs loft, trying to tastefully marry the old with the new whilst transforming the schoolhouse into an artisan retreat. With the stonework complete - it was time to relieve the schoolhouse of it's rotted roof.  Kevin Lord, went at it full force with a crow bar, while Heather and her father scurried to pick up the falling debris. The rotted roof crumbled and peeled away with ease as Kevin carefully balanced on the old framework. Making plans for an arched eye-brow window in the front stone peak, and a large picture window or sliding glass door on the back peak.  Natural ambient lighting for the upstairs loft. View from inside the schoolhouse as the roof was torn away...a breath of fresh air swept through. "Out with the old, in with the new...." An original metal tie-bar fastened with octagonal wood washers and forged metal S brackets...a pair of which helped secure the two sides of the schoolhouse together for nearly 200 years. Salvaging the 200 year old (plus the age of the tree they were hewn from!) floor beams.  Heather will repurpose them for interior ornamentation, as she plans to pour a radiant heat concrete floor...to showcase Skimstone Concrete Carpet designs. And after a new roof, come new windows....then the septic, well, radiant heat concrete floor, spray foam insulation, electrical, plumbing, framing....the list goes on and on! The local community has been very supportive and encouraging of the Nunnery Schoolhouse renovation project.  Many cheers from people passing by, and many curious visitors have stopped to take a closer look. "Don't just stand there, do something!" Quipped Heather's father....one of his favorite expressions, which she has heard many times in life! The original timber framing was reinforced with new 2 x 4's to help support the old sagging, rotted roof until it could be replaced.  Didn't dare take the roof off until the stone walls had been repaired and secured, for fear they would fall apart like a house of cards! Calling it a day, with a great sense of satisfaction...making continued progress and noticeable improvements. Heather is grateful for the enthusiastic help she has received from friends and family. (From L to R) Lifelong friend Karl "Charlie" Leubner with his right-hand dog, Buck, Heather's father, Reggie Sears, neighbor and dear friend, Frank Moran, and craftsman Kevin Lord. Beloved family patriarch and grandfather, Reginald William Sears, liked to supervise progress. Heather called upon friends, the Leubner Family of Maple Lane Farms, to assist with moving the heavy hand-hewn floor beams. They weighed "a ton" and took a small army of strong men to move for storage.  Note the character marks, wormholes, and peg holes.  Heather plans to accent interior walls in the English Tudor fashion, with creamy white plaster and ornamental beam work.  These will be perfect for that future phase. Heather's father, Reggie Sears, and Charlie Leubner "heave-ho"!  After emptying the interior of all salvageable wood and accumulated debris, Heather raked the dirt floor clean and tidy. In the process, she found a 1902 Indian Head penny, buttons, chess pieces, and an antique hand-blown glass marble - remnants of the children who attended school there. The beams and original chestnut floor boards are in storage...until they can be re-used as accents for the interior decor. Erecting the new attic style trusses raised the roof a tad.  Allowing attic storage along the sides, and a comfortable overhead loft for an office or bedroom. The stone peak was leveled out...stones removed from the top filled the two corners.  Heather intends to ornament the front and back peak with vertical Cedar plank (scalloped bottom edge).  A herringbone pattern shall adorn the sides...in keeping with the eclectic look of an English Cottage. Completing the trusses before applying the new roof.  1/3 of the addition (towards the front entrance door) is fully vaulted.  The rest (approx 2/3 of interior) now has a ceiling/floor, creating a cozy upstairs loft. The new trusses, loft construction, and roof were cinched up just in time for a long New York Winter. Antique corbels were installed to support the new front entrance overhang. Heather celebrated the holidays...and the fact that the historical Nunnery School had been saved from ruin. Another Summer - another round of progress; including the soffit, a stone entrance step, a paver walkway, and crushed stone driveway....and of course, another garden! Next on the agenda; replacing all the windows and installing an ornamental front door.  Aside from aesthetics, Heather tended to having a septic tank system designed.  Moving forward with the interior rough plumbing as per the location of the septic, water well, and Heather's interior design layout plans. Heather's beloved Grandfather, Reginald Sears, made frequent trips to visit and check on her progress in his 1956 Chevy Bel Air... ...with his feisty side-kick, Max. And they're off...to enjoy another beautiful, sunny, Sunday drive around Skaneateles and Otisco Lakes. Happy to have beautiful new Anderson windows installed with slate sills.  And...many thanks to Brad and Phil Haines of BOROTEK, for doing such a fine, meticulous job installing the septic system.  Heather looks forward to making more progress next year...one warm weekend at a time! Hurray!!! Spring 2013 has sprung! The entrance thresh-hold will be further embellished; with turned wooden posts (salvaged from neighbor Deb Yackel's front porch), a stone header accent, and of course...Heather's ornamental hand-wrought detail painting! The Nunnery Schoolhouse fitted with new Sandstone colored Anderson windows and slate sill accents. A fun juxtaposition of "the new" and "the old" is a theme throughout....as symbolized by the million+ year old fossils found in the Schoolhouse stone walls. A fossil laden corner stone... Heather's mother, Debbie Sears, found this fascinating specimen of solid coral fossil.  A perfect fit to replace the original wall stone that had crumbled apart like a jigsaw puzzle. Heather was delighted to find this circa 1912 Glenwood Oak cast iron wood/coal burning stove at Bob's Country Store & Museum in Marathon, New York.  Thought it would be perfect for cozy interior ambiance and an alternative heat source. Brainstorming the layered "English Cottage" interior decor; samples of Heather's surface design techniques (Skimstone concrete carpet and reverse gilded glass), interesting objects of art, and nostalgic family heirlooms. Seemingly appropriate...Perennial "Forget-Me-Not" spread each Spring through the wakening garden. Spring view Spring 2013, Heather & her beloved aunt Dixie working on the schoolhouse gardens...lining the semi-circular driveway with Siberian Iris and assorted evergreen shrubs. Continuing to layer the landscape in the English Cottage style. Siberian Iris planting - to flank both sides of driveway. While Heather was busy working on the gardens, dear friend & neighbor, Frank Moran, helped mow the schoolhouse yard. A reproduction circa 1814 flag has been sourced - will be displayed summer 2014 to celebrate the Spafford District No. 1 Schoolhouse 200th anniversary Heather inherited blood red Dahlia bulbs from her beloved grandfather, Reginald Sears...who used to frequent the property to check on her progress. In keeping with the english cottage tradition...nurturing the gardens brings Heather a tremendous amount of peace & happiness Bumble and honey bees harvesting pollen from Heather's perennial garden Heather's mother, Debbie Sears, gifted this very popular flower - a perennial transplant from her own circa 1851 homestead garden Side Hill Schoolhouse circa 1813 on Willowdale & Statton Rd. Only 2 remain from the original 5 Spafford district one-room schoolhouses of this era. President, Mary Bean & the Spafford Historical Society are very supportive of Heather's project. Interior of the c. 1813 Side Hill School as it was back in the day. This refurbished schoolhouse offers a 'Stepping back in time' program for local schools - field trip to experience good old fashioned ways. Heather & Miss Tilly Sassy Paws working on an ornamental etched glass motif for the front peak eyebrow window. The renovated schoolhouse will showcase Heather's myriad of decorative art & surface design techniques. Installed a new front door, with ornamental wrought iron grillwork...to continue layering eclectic 'cottage' character Preparing to drill...the Shutes well truck dwarfed the 30' x 30' schoolhouse. As with the septic install; the ravines & tributaries made for a tight fit to insure code approval in the Skaneateles Lake watershed. This is the spot! The Schoolhouse sits perched on a pie-shaped shale precipice between two streams, which join to form a tributary cascading to the lake. Drilling through shale - hoping to strike water at 300' feet... A huge sigh of relief...at 340' deep into the slate bedrock. A sufficient fissure to supply the schoolhouse with plumbed water. For the first time in 200 years...water will not have to be carried up from the creeks or syphoned from an artisan well across the road.  Two big hurdles, the septic & well have been properly installed The simple luxuries in life...having fresh, clean water! Another blessing of life in the picturesque Finger Lakes Region. Harvesting the beautiful heirloom Dahlia bulbs bequeathed by Heather's beloved grandfather - who serendipitously helped her discover the overgrown, delapitated property 'for sale by owner' in 2006 Heather's best friend & aunt, Delores Colella, transplanted oak and plum trees from her circa 1811 farmhouse to the Nunnery school yard. Fall 2013 - an orchard was planted on the south lawn Plum, apple, cherry, pear, blueberry & strawberry plantings to bear fruit for years to come. Grape vines are next on the agenda... Spring 2014 - preparing to cinch up the exterior facade. Working in neighbor & craftsman Mike Daniels shop to shiplap and water-seal cedar planks. Heather worked with neighbor, Mike Daniels, to finish the exterior facade. A cardboard template to determine the ideal placement of the ornamental etched glass eyebrow window - intended to let light in the front peak & upstairs loft. "A little to the left...& an inch or two higher, please." Let there be light...eyebrow window installed, providing ambient light to the upstairs bedroom & office loft. The peak window showcases one of Heather's custom finish techniques - ornamental etched glass.  The scrollwork pattern is a subtle detail, permanently sand-blasted into the glass pane. Spring blossoms...& gearing up for another summer of progress. Starting to apply the cedar plank siding to marry the old, original stone structure with the modest 2nd story addition. The cedar plank should patina over time to blend well with the original stone walls, & complement the character of the rustic facade. Heather designed the ornamental edge detail featured on the front/back & a herring-bone panel effect for the sides of the schoolhouse. Cedar siding install complete, Heather adorned the schoolhouse with a circa 1814 flag to celebrate it's 200th anniversary 1814-2014. Only 15 stars/states where recognized in America when the schoolhouse was built. Next on the agenda, moving forward with prep-work to install the radiant heat concrete floor - starting with layering the vapor barrier insulation shield. Heather partnered with her neighbor, Greg Ruggles, to install the insulation barrier, wire mesh, & pex tubing. Wire mesh layered on insulation vapor barrier - over what was originally a dirt floor substrate with hand-hewn beams & floor boards.  Heather salvaged/stored the original wood - to be repurposed for stairs, beam accents, etc. Attaching 1/2" pex tubing to the wire mesh for radiant heat flow through the main living room, kitchen & bath zones. Heather enjoyed being "hands-on" with the schoolhouse renovation, & learned a great deal from her friends, family, & fellow tradesmen who were hired to assist with various facets of the project. "Let's get this floor party started"...Heather's father quipped when he showed up with a handful of his friends - happy to assist with the concrete pour. The Vitale Concrete truck dwarfed the schoolhouse when it arrived for delivery. Shute ready to flow...Heather opted to paint the front door a rich shade of Aubergine while it was removed from the hinges for the day. Heather's father & friends gearing up for what would prove to be a good work out.  Pouring &  finishing the 6" thick concrete floor was a quick-paced, back-straining laborious task. Team-work & camaraderie paved the way. Several bike enthusiasts pass by the schoolhouse - enjoying the beautiful scenery & a gyro around the lake. John clears the shute as the first truck empties it's concrete load... The floor pour began early in the morning...afternoon shafts of sunlight coincide with great progress being made. Floating the floor to finish smooth & even. Another fun, successful Father-Daughter collaboration.  Heather provided a picnic lunch for the tired, thirsty & hungry hard-working crew. After the concrete floor cured, Nathan Van Deusen of NV Construction began framing the interior walls.  From Marcellus, NV Construction guarantees a craftsman eye for detail & superb quality work. Nathan did an outstanding job as GC & project manager. Heather collected several architectural elements to layer the interior with eclectic elegance...arches, panelling, corbels, columns & ornate molding details. A large archway salvaged from demolition serves as a perfect segue between the living room and kitchen space. New framing for walls & window sills layered over the original stone walls & hand-hewn ceiling beams. The bare bones of a thoughtful layout for use of the interior space Inspired by traditional English cottages, the schoolhouse is surrounded by beautiful gardens - one of Heather's favorite hobbies.  Santee Services, from Marietta, delivers truckloads of mulch for annual upkeep. The young orchard begins to bear fruit - first year for cherries, apples, pears, & raspberries.  Plum, peach, & blueberry are still being nurtured to produce. Garden glimpses... Two creeks flank the schoolhouse, & join in the backyard forming a tributary to Skaneateles Lake - laced with waterfalls, fossils, & abundant wildlife. Hiking the tributary & the Finger Lakes region is another one of Heather's favorite hobbies. Natural waterfall - a peaceful oasis in the woods behind the schoolhouse property. Heather's neighbor, Frank Moran, has been an ardent supporter of the schoolhouse project. He visits frequently, always happy to lend a hand. Heather's father, Reggie Sears, has been a pillar of support since day one... While working on the renovation, Heather has enjoyed a steady stream of visitors & well-wishers.  The general community remembers how derelict the property used to be & has been tremendously enthusiastic with its transformation. A significant investment, but certainly a wise choice...closed-cell spray foam insulation applied to the interior served as a moisture barrier & insured high R-value to keep the schoolhouse cozy for years to come. Midlakes Sprayfoam from Union Springs came highly recommended & did a great job. Thumbs up on specs & permitted progress from the Town of Spafford Code Enforcement Officer, Howard Tanner. A driveway full signifies 'all hands on deck' - professional contractors were called in for plumbing & electrical. Installing plumbing fixtures for the 'little luxuries in life'. Back in the day, the schoolhouse had an outhouse & water was hauled by bucket from the creeks. Installing mechanicals in the utility closet.  Heather opted for a high efficiency wall mounted Navian boiler to heat the schoolhouse radiant concrete floor & domestic hot water. Obvious signs of a flurry of activity & progress being made with the interior renovation. Installing proper vents... CKH Plumbing from Marcellus; insured everything was properly installed - neat, tidy, & to code for inspection. Heather opted for a combination of recessed lighting with chandelier accents. Skaneateles contractor, Calipari Electrical, assisted with the install & inspection. Framing, insulation, plumbing & electrical complete - gratifying to check off the 'to-do' list Skaneateles contractor, Chris Richards, installed the drywall & sheetrock with his usual keen attention to detail & quality work. The front peak is vaulted & lofty - seemingly spacious for the petite 30' x 30' building. Dave Schumacher, of Marietta, did a meticulous job installing the mechanical manifold for the boiler heat. Summer sunset as seen from the upstairs bedroom loft. New Year's 2015; Heather's elated to begin accentuating the interior walls & ceilings with her hand-wrought decorative paint finishes. Blustery winter weather outside, peaceful & cozy on the inside. Heather's prepped the foyer ceiling for an ornamental medallion.  Several hues of Lusterstone plaster line up on the sill. Quietly working behind the scenes... Queen Anne's Lace faux finish - a creamy white Lusterstone plaster Heather hand-troweled on the loft walls & ceiling. The foyer ceiling medallion complete - ready for chandelier to be hung. The original floorboards en route to neighbor Mike Daniels' workshop to be milled & planed. Old square nails - the original floorboards are 3" thick, still solid & strong. Presumed to be chestnut or hickory. Heather is thrilled to have them brought back to use for stairs leading to the bedroom/office loft. The original floorboards were beautiful & rustic once milled.  Chunky & strong despite cracks, chips & wormholes.  Mike designed stairs to code spec to access the upstairs loft. In the meantime..Heather climbed temporary stairs to the loft - a much better & safer option than the tall ladder she had been using. Heather worked with neighbor, Mike Daniels, to rework & fabricate architectural salvage items she sourced - like newel posts, spindles, columns, etc Salvaged architectural elements from a mansion demolition for the schoolhouse stair & loft railing. Architectural detailing salvaged from the circa 1853 original Dean's mansion of Hamilton College. The original schoolhouse floorboards - milled and repurposed into steps to the upstairs loft. Aside from the age of the tree they were hewn from, the steps are made from 200 year old wood...& will hopefully be enjoyed for 200 more! Heather conditioned & sealed the wood to preserve it for durable use. Finish detail of Heather's hand-rubbed distressed & waxed chalk paint finish sample for salvaged woodwork detailing. Salvaged spindles for the stairs...in a production line for Heather's hand-wrought finishing touches.  Evenings & weekends were spent whittling away hours & hours behind the scenes. 10. Who wouldn't love a girl swinging a hammer wearing a rabbit fur hat?!  Heather installed cedar board in the attic roof trusses to create roomy clothes closets.  Being a small home, every square inch of the schoolhouse is precious space. Neighbor Mike Daniels, also being a certified electrician, helped install the foyer chandelier to complement Heather's painted ceiling medallion. Heather invested in a vintage glass chandellier - hand blown in Italy from the esteemed Venetian island of Murano. 13. Coming together....a nod to Heather's love of art, architecture & antiquities. Handblown in Venice...the Daffodil inspired Murano glass chandelier made it's way from Italy to New York City to the Spafford No. 1 Schoolhouse...it's permanent home. In the meantime... Heather partnered once again with Nate Van Deusen to install salvaged arch detailing & crown molding for the kitchen & bath.  She base-coated creamy white, gold, & silver Lusterstone plaster coats beforehand on the walls to prep for finishing details. Archway between main living space & kitchen, bathroom, utility room - from what used to be one large open schoolroom with a wood-burning stove. Rather than a doorway from the bath to the laundry room niche - Heather opted for another open archway of smaller scale to layer architectural detailing & interest throughout the interior. The archway formed an elegant segway from main public space to more private quarters. Heather wished to keep the intimate interior of the schoolhouse open & lofty for a sense of spacious light through the wide angled windows on all 4 sides of the 30' x 30' building. Next on the "to-do" list....crown molding & door casings. Sun setting on a sense of making good progress @ 'ye old schoolhouse...as seen from the backside windows during Winter 2014-15 months Portrait of Heather & her schoolhouse taken by photographer AnnMarie Vanocore during one of her visits to check on progress being made. The schoolhouse had frequent visitors in all forms... Whittling away the winter months on the interior finishes of the schoolhouse... In progress...a whimsical folk art stencil seemed appropriate for a feature wall.  Imagery celebrating the flora & fauna surrounding the schoolhouse property. A Lusterstone finish stenciled with metallic pearl glaze - one of Heather's signature techniques. The beautiful feature wall finish upon completion - rendered to look like faded, old tapestry fabric. A hidden surprise framed by ornamental wood archway - laundry room feature wall as seen from the bath. Heather refinished this medicine cabinet with waxed chalk paint & a reverse gilded glass panel accent for the schoolhouse bath. A display cabinet being rendered with distressed chalk paint finish to display pottery... ...and other kitchen implements from Heather's eclectic furnishings collection. A portrait painting Heather rendered in Spain during a summer 2013 retreat at a 15th century monastery, & beloved family heirlooms starting to make the schoolhouse feel more like 'home'. Spring has sprung...2015 Peach blossoms in bloom... Apple blossoms in the orchard... Heather has enjoyed cultivating & nurturing the fruit orchard, berry bushes, herbs, vegetables?, & perennial gardens that surround the schoolhouse. Peaceful views in either direction of the country schoolhouse... Peaceful nights... ...views of Skaneateles lake a short walk in either direction. Harvesting black caps for pies & jam...or eating right from the bush. Red Bee Balm flowers attract hummingbirds & Heather's dog, Miss Tillie - whom she inherited from her beloved grand-parents. Ripe raspberries amidst the Acanthus (aka; Bear Claw) flowers in the main schoolhouse perennial garden. Heather's family spent many weekends assisting with progress. Aunt Delores painting the main arch between living room & kitchen. Aunt Dixie painting the bathroom door...with Miss Tillie supervising. Whittling away...all hands on deck. Heather stenciling her interior doors. Inspired by the ornamental doors she viewed during her 2009 & 2014 painting adventures in Marrakech, Morocco... The interior doors of the schoolhouse in progress...ornamental framed panel accents to layer the hand-wrought decor. Prepping the baluster railings salvaged from the former Dean's house at Hamilton College - to install as a railing to the office loft.  Aunt Dixie is always happy to lend a hand. Heather hired neighbor, Mike Daniels, to install ornamental columns to the entrance thresh-hold.  The columns, which were salvaged from neighbor Deb Yackel's porch renovation, worked well to marry the joint between stone & original wide plank doorway entrance. Preparing the upstairs bedroom and office loft for hardwood floor install... 54 Heather selected antique strain Bamboo hardwood for it's durability to insure a long-lasting wood floor for the upstairs bedroom & office loft. A slate window sill & original hand-hewn attic truss re-installed for finish details.  Interior accents that Heather plays with in layering her "elegant-rustic" style. 57 June 2015, Heather celebrated a milestone for the schoolhouse renovation; approved for certificate of occupancy.  "All my spare time & savings...for years.  I have worked so hard for this day.  It brings me great joy to think the Nunnery School will still exist 200 years from now as a special place within the Spafford community." June/July 2015 NV Construction swooped back in to make more progress while Heather was away for half the summer, working for high-profile clients in New York City & Virginia... Repurposing salvaged Georgian White marble slabs from the lavatory of a demolished school for the schoolhouse bathroom window sills - courtesy of beloved family friend Keith Edinger. "Progress has been a constant push...baby steps, with big leaps & bounds times patience.  The schoolhouse has been a wonderful life lesson in the fruits of perseverance," mused Heather. Nate's mock-up 'approved' for the custom coffered living-room ceiling. Heather applying the mocha colored Skimstone decorative concrete floor base-coat to the living-room radiant heat substrate...one of her signature hand-troweled finishes for floors & countertops Whittling away on floors, walls, ceilings under the constant companionship of & watchful eye of beloved, Miss Tillie.  "She was always curious as to what I was doing & happy just to be with me." Summer 2015 - layering of floors, walls, ceilings, finishes & furnishings starting to take shape.  Heather has another year to go to complete her visioned hand-wroug?ht finishing details.
take shape.  Heather has another year to go to complete her visioned hand-wrought finishing details. "Stepping back in time" program for local schoolchildren.  Circa 1813 Side Hill School on Staten Road (courtesy of Spafford Area Historical Society).  This building is the 'sister' schoolhouse to the Nunnery School.  Being the only two (of the five original settler) Spafford school districts from this era still existing today. Heather stenciled the 'Rules of the Classroom' script on her stair risers...as a respectful nod to the original schoolhouse floorboards being repurposed for stairs to the bedroom loft. And the second landing celebrates the important tradition of pledging to the flag...to start the school day. And in the tradition of visits by Heather's beloved grandfather in his 1956 Chevy Bel Air, Heather's uncle Billy Sears stops by from time to time in his hot rod to check on progress...on this occasion sporting 6 young pine trees for her hedgerow in his trunk. Heather's father Reggie, & uncle Billy Sears brought family friend, John Higgins, to see the schoolhouse progress...& to reminisce on his childhood memories of playing there 'back in the day'. After decades of being abandoned to the point of near ruin, the schoolhouse echoes once again with the sounds of life lessons, good stories...& laughter. Light pours in on all four sides through the deep, wide-angled window sills. 73 Another 'pit-stop' to check on progress - Heather's father, Reggie Sears, in his 1952 Ford F1... As you can see, it runs in the family; an easy smile, & great love of all things old, antique, vintage...full of character.