Following our most optimistic schedule, we have two years before our little house in the woods will be ready for living. How can we continue to maintain our city house so far away from the one we are building? How many times do we have to pack up and drive for an hour and a half between the two? Wouldn’t we be able to finish the house so much faster if we lived closer? Also, how much harder in two years will it be for our children to leave their school friends and transplant themselves into another school? And, in two years, Great, we have a house! Now do we start work on a clay studio right away, and where will I work until it’s finished?
We’ve been pondering these questions for the last year or so and have finally settled on a solution. This month, we bought a fire station.
It was a deal we couldn’t pass up. Located on the downtown strip of Frederic, Wisconsin, it’s just a few minutes from our place in the woods. Formerly the fire station, jail, village hall, and library (hopefully not all at the same time), now it’s a classy modern office space, complete with a break room and upstairs offices. We call it the Office Tower.
For us, it’s a nearly perfect solution. The main floor will fit my studio and even a little one for J. I’ll have enough room to even teach classes someday, if I feel like it…
We can live in the upstairs until the Woods House is done. There’s plenty of room for everyone to sleep, for the kids to have their stuff, and a living area for cozy evening family time. I love (read: LOVE) that the place is downtown, walking distance from groceries, hardware store, restaurants, post office, butcher shop, doctor, dentist, bakery, laundromat, and more. I also love that we’re transplanting ourselves into a community, so that in this transition time between city life and rural life, we’ll begin knowing new folks and being known.
All the place needs is a little sweat equity. So we’ve gotten right to work.
In the first stage of renovation, we plan on peeling out anything “officey” (sorry, all you dropped ceiling aficionados) and taking out a few walls to open up the space into a proper studio space. The carpet downstairs will also have to go. No self-respecting potter can work on carpet. Eventually, we would love to return the building to its original charm as 1920’s era firehouse.
We plan on doing the work carefully so that anything salvageable can be reused. Hopefully at the end of tear-down we’ll have a pile of building materials to use either on this project or the one in the woods. Including all that pretty pink insulation.
And somehow we’ll also have to find the time to turn this classy break room into an actual kitchen.
All this work is cheap and fun, but it does take lots of time. And although the Office Tower has moved up our big move to this spring (!!!), we’re still commuting that nifty hour and a half to do the work. I had hoped that this winter would be a time of rest for our family from the work of building in the woods, but now we find ourselves launching a new project and once again running back and forth from the city on weekends, pawning the children off on Grandma so we can “get some work done.”
Hmm…Did I just hear someone say “Work Party”?