Tag Archives: reclaimed wood

But I Digress

Digress: To deviate. Go off on a tangent. Get off the subject. Get sidetracked. Stray. Wander. 

That’s me.

Last week I caught myself apologizing for repeated digressions in a vivid conversation with some fascinating friends. Mid-sentence I stopped myself, realizing how ridiculous it is to apologize for an impulse that radiates from my heart and soul.

I am not linear. I do not wish to be linear. I don’t think life is meant to be lived in a straight line. Sure I have things I’m “supposed” to be doing, but the bulk of them are suggestions, really, which can be rearranged at will. Mainly I make the s&%t up as I go along.

So yesterday, instead of working on the installation of my trim and siding, I lifted a chunk of sad-looking grass, rearranged some plants and built this deck instead.

I promptly invited my yoga lovelies, Tricya and Susan, to christen the new space and to drop by and practice anytime the spirit moves them. For me, I’m thinking two adirondack chairs, a pot of tea and less grass to mow, although the actual sitting part is kind of a joke. Here’s the hammock, same spot, used as a dryer for cedar shingles. That’s the most action it saw all year.


I am grateful for stacks of reclaimed wood, the excuse to build anything, books that can’t be ignored, interesting school projects left ’til the last minute, friends who pop in, spontaneous adventures proposed, and conversation that leaps tangentially at will.

I’m not sorry whatsoever for this perpetual lack of focus.

Something Old, Something New

Seven years ago I snapped a photograph of a pair of doors that I fell in love with in New York City. I always carried it with me, hoping to find some of my very own.

Four years ago I built a recessed, open-shelved cabinet in the dining room that never felt quite done.

Two weeks ago I found a pair of sidelights at Balleycanoe that, with a handful of hinges, were destined to fit the cabinet perfectly.

One hour ago I finished the installation and fell in love all over again.

Before, with the sidelights
Before, with the sidelights
And after
And after, with original trim reclaimed from the exterior of my house
And after
Finished with antique trim from the Marche aux Puces in Paris


Balleycanoe & Co. in Mallorytown, Ontario is a destination.  You are unlikely to stumble across it (I checked my map for the umpteenth time) and it’s not a place to casually pop in and out of.  You need time.  John Sorensen’s meticulously organized 19th century reclamation treasures and antiques are only part of the attraction.  His stories and art are the other.  Be prepared to be entertained and delighted.

Here are a few select pics taken in much too short a period of time (see what I mean?).  There is SO much to look at I could have shot for hours…

Balleycanoe Buildings


My $24 Wall

Just like corporate ladder climbing, my mantra is “Up or Out.”

Any unused stuff in the basement, shed or carriage house must be used, up-cycled, repaired, or hung on the wall this calendar year or it’s going straight out the door.  It’s crazy to be storing things that never see the light of day, or worse, be building new space just to keep up with the never-ending acquisitions.

I also have an amazing assortment of old-growth timber that came off the house during my recent energy retrofit.  This I refuse to part with, even though it occupies the better part of my driveway.  If I wake up in the morning and want a new wall/kitchen cabinets/handmade dining room table, I can pull the materials off the piles and begin.  Whatever I can dream, I can do, and having materials lying around in wait makes a quick start that much more possible.

The choice of a wall as my first reclamation project was primarily practical, focussing on design improvements to our modest family room.  I wanted the wall to delineate the space and improve the flow,  create privacy (no more peeking straight in through the back door),  buffer the room from direct blasts of winter air,  and prep the space for a potential conversion to a main floor, wheelchair-accessible bedroom.

The rickety old carriage house doors – ripe for up cycle – sacrificed their life for the project. First, I gave them a rough scraping before bringing them inside, careful to maintain the layers of old paint and the interesting patina.   Then I angle cut the t&g boards and set them into a a slightly thicker frame, creating a neat reveal.  Finally, I applied a couple of loose coats of paint, allowing sections of old paint and wood to show through.

I purchased the old wood windows three years ago for ten bucks apiece.  My plan was to use them in the retrofit of the shed into my own office/private space, but this project budged to the top of the list.  I wanted to create privacy and allow light to pass between the room and the north-facing back entrance.  The windows satisfied both these needs.  If I ever fully enclose the room, I can modify them into hinged transoms to permit airflow.

I’m thrilled with the finish and the overall design blends brilliantly with the other rustic features of the house.  Not bad value for $24 worth of 2×4’s and a couple of days’ labour.