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Design

WHAT THE ACTUAL HECK IS HAPPENING AT THE FARM??

My thoughts exactly. It’s the storm before the calm. The house version of Benjamin Button and it’s going to take a while for this old house to age backward and look like beautiful baby Brad Pitt, except stopping at the “Legends from the Fall/Farm” era, for obvious reasons. Let’s back up. For the last month, the farm has been in the back of my mind – I canceled every design meeting/post and prioritized getting our family settled into our new life. It’s shocking how overwhelming life can feel when you don’t feel tethered to or settled in your home – such limited brain space, and unhealthy coping habits (thus the fact that I’m souping again). The first time we went to the farm after we landed in Portland, two weeks ago, our “forever” home had gone from the sweet “before” of a year ago to practically post-apocalyptic and almost unrecognizable. It’s all stuff we knew would happen and had seen photo updates, but we still weren’t prepared for how it looked in person. It’s all going as planned (ish), ARCIFORM is doing a great job, our emotions are in line with where they should be at this point, but for all of you, restoring or renovating an older home we are in the “should we have just torn it down and started over?” phase (answer: NO). So here’s where we are at and how despite the terrifying visual, there has been exciting progress, and obviously some setbacks.

The Bad News – What Has Slowed Us Down

Before I get into the bad news you should know that in the history of renovations there has never been one that has gone exactly as planned. The more experience you have the less amateur hiccups there are, but we are wise enough at this point not to wonder about “if” there will be a setback, only “when and what will they be”. And remember – it is a privilege to renovate. Period.

The Permit Process

We got through the permit process in a normal manner – the ARCIFORM team is excellent about due diligence, hiring great engineers, and having the plans extremely dialed in (which speeds up the back and forth) when they submitted it. It took about two months to get the green light, and we did. We’re off!! But then there was a question regarding the trees. What none of us had predicted is that the city would care so much about the roots of all the trees on the property (and it’s a huge property). I get it, City of Portland, I also LOVE trees (thus moving back to Oregon and installing multiple tree murals in the past, not to mention the tree disaster of 2017). The city wants to ensure that we aren’t going to just bulldoze a bunch of old trees on the property to put up a McMansion and throw away the wood, so we had to hire an arborist to help identify each one and submit a report (which took weeks due to availability and the sheer time walking the property and researching). And then once the report was submitted, the verdict was that we needed to put many many chain-link fences around the root system of most of the trees to ensure that the huge heavy equipment that we needed for excavation and foundation pouring wouldn’t damage the root structure. So we had to postpone it all. This is all fine and honestly just part of living in a more progressive city – more bureaucracy, sure, but with important considerations and I too want to protect trees from irresponsible realtor developers. So not only did that slow us down, but as you can imagine the property that was once a sweet humble run-down farm with a lot of potential is now covered with chain link fence and piles of dirt. Like I said, post-apocalyptic.

The Drought = Super Dead Grass

As you might know, the PNW is no longer the climate that it was 30 years ago (true story – you have to plant different trees now that can live through the more Mediterranean climate – THE CHANGE IS REAL). Well, the 116-degree week-long streak this summer really did a number on the grass up here and the historically super green Twilight-esque grass in PNW is, well, temporarily dead. Now I think it can come back by either reseeding or maybe just via magic, but it’s super darn depressing. We did find out that we have two wells so assuming we can get those functioning we can have irrigation from our own water. But anyway, here we are now – dead, dry, brown, scratchy and 100% unfun grass to look at or hang out on. It’s totally fine, but the visual was jarring at first.

NOW FOR THE GOOD NEWS:

It’s all happening, we know it. And there are some major things that have really given us hope that we might someday live here. When we were here yesterday Brian and I still felt that buzz of excitement that we have had this whole time. We can see it and feel it, we just have to be patient. So here are the big progress updates:

The Foundation Is Being Poured For Our Addition + New Mechanical Room

before
progress!
more progress!

We decided to add 8 feet to make a larger bedroom but we also really needed a mechanical room over here to house the new Electric Heat Pump (We are using Rheem which is meant to be awesome). It’s basically a bunker that you can walk into from the side of the house that is 9′ high and has the heat pump as well as the other Rheem products to heat water, etc. I don’t totally understand it but I trust that building this here is the best way to do it, with the extension of the house on top. Next up is the new kitchen/living room which we are VERY excited about.

Vaulting (And Supporting) The Kitchen Ceiling

Vaulting 1/2 of the kitchen ceiling was something we pushed hard for. Changing ceilings in the middle of a room is often ill-advised, architecturally speaking but we’ve seen it work and frankly, we’ve fallen in love with A. skylights and B. tall ceilings.

To do that we needed to install a huge beam and hide the post by the fridge cabinetry. Then they had to reinforce all the other beams. We’ll drop the ceiling a bit to add room for insulation and electrical then panel it.

The Cutting Of The Scenic Doors And Windows

This is HUGE as the living room was just so dark and now, with the massive scenic doors (from Sierra Pacific – I can’t wait to show you) and all the custom windows in the kitchen and entry, we’ll have a ton of natural light even on the cloudy days (like today). I understand that not everyone is obsessed with natural light, and that’s fine. But we are and I have zero regrets about adding more windows in the main living spaces.

Living Room Openings

so happy.

Entry

We feel so much better than I did 2 weeks ago – in a million ways. Two weeks ago I wondered if we had bitten off more than we should have. And that yes, we should have just leveled it – something most people would have done. But being here yesterday, with the windows framed and cut open made us so excited AGAIN. I have so much to tell you – so many blog posts are in the works – how we designed our custom windows to work with the original ones, how we designed the kitchen cabinetry, how we are designing the mosaic floor in the sunroom, and the landscaping – oh the landscaping. It’s all coming at you soon, as soon as I turn in the final edit of the book (which should have been last Friday). Getting “settled” is taking far longer than anticipated, but this week feels like maybe it’s the first real week of living here. Soccer practice, farmers markets, and LOTS of walks with the pups in beautiful neighborhoods full of trees. More to come on the farm, soon, I promise. xx

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Vera
5 days ago

Thanks for the update! Sooo exciting!

Emily
5 days ago

Hooray! Been so excited for an update and looking forward to seeing the farm slowly get reassembled. (As I’m sure you are too.)

Jenn
5 days ago

Your grass is likely just hibernating and will green back up when the rain comes back again. I live in the Seattle area and refuse to pay money just to waste good clean water on keeping a lawn green so mine looks like this at the end of every summer and has never not turned green again in September.

Rusty
5 days ago
Reply to  Jenn

I agree. The fact that it still has bits n bobs of greenish means the runners are still alive underneath. 🌱

Kari
5 days ago
Reply to  Rusty

Yes came here to say the same thing! Lifelong Washington resident and I’ve never had a summer where the grass didn’t look exactly like this in August and September. It’s part of my childhood! It bounces back and you’ll likely even have to mow once or twice in October.

Kelsey
5 days ago
Reply to  Jenn

Yes, it’s just gone dormant. I’m on Vancouver Island and ours is starting to green up again after a weekish of cooler weather and rain, and we haven’t watered in a month. Happens every summer.

Danielle
5 days ago
Reply to  Jenn

Were supposed to get rain this weekend too so it’ll bounce right back! Portland public parks uses the fleur de lawn mix by PT Lawn Seed (a local company) for drought tolerant lawns and it’s really beautiful, you should look into that if you’re interested in having a large green lawn all summer!

Jmarie
5 days ago
Reply to  Danielle

Yes! I’m in the upper midwest, but we’ve been converting the grassy areas of our lawn to a “bee lawn” and now have a mixture of clover and turf grass. It doesn’t look like a traditional lawn per se, but it still looks nice and holds up to our kids playing on it (no issues with bee stings either). And, unlike our neighbors, we had zero brown patches during a drought this summer.

5 days ago
Reply to  Jmarie

We are going to switch our grass to clover/ turf and creeping charlie as well! The goal is to not own a lawnmower or at least do so very rarely.

kiki
5 days ago
Reply to  Alexandra Rose

We did this (Portland’er here) and the clover took off TOO good. Like, it ended up about 4′ high (not kidding) hahaha. Just be careful which type you plant! Also, to echo the others. Your grass will be back to green! give it about 8-10 weeks from now and just plan to irrigate from the well next summer to keep it green through this season next year! SO EXCITED FOR YOU!

Kate
5 days ago
Reply to  Danielle

I was coming to add a note about PT Lawn and their micro-clover.

Thank you Emily for noting that our current Portland climate differs GREATLY from people’s perception of what the Pacific Northwest is like. Yes, it rains in the winter, but it is HOT and incredibly dry in the summer and we have to conserve water (we haven’t had any measurable rain in three months and we are desperately looking forward to some rain in the forecast this weekend, especially because it will help with the *still burning* wildfires in our state).

Do look up PT Lawn – the micro clover both keeps it looking green and effectively fertilizes the lawn as it’s a nitrogen fixer.

https://ptlawnseed.com/collections/drought-tolerance

Rusty
5 days ago
Reply to  Emily

You can buy SOIL WETTER CRYSRALS that retain moisture to lawns, gardrn beds, etc. It’s a grsnular sprinkle-on product and not hugely expensive.

Margaret
5 days ago
Reply to  Jenn

Chiming in here to say you probably don’t need to worry about the grass. I live in Indiana, and refuse to water; most years (not this soggy one) my grass would be burned brown by now. It has always come back.
And I don’t do a thing for it except mow and shovel dog poop. No fertilizer, no reseeding.

Kathryn Galloway English
5 days ago
Reply to  Jenn

Same. The grass is ALWAYS brown in the Summer, unless you have a sprinkler system, and green in the Winter. IT is 100% normal. We have also always had a Meditteranean climate. WE are more akin to Portugal or Northern Italy. It is why our wine is soo good. I think it has been a long misconception Oregon is rainy, and gray…on the coast, 100% yes, in the Willamette Valley not so much. My husband studies climate as part of his job and climate change is very real but more realistically expressed in extreme weather. So far, we still mostly experience varying degrees of normal, sprinkled with crackling fry spells. La Nina is coming, and she is bringing RAIN this winter. That grass will be perky and green in no time!

Karrie
5 days ago

Exactly! The grass comes back to green and lush after only a couple of rainy days. Your trees look fine and green and healthy despite the “drought” – not a drought just a dry hot summer there.

kk
5 days ago
Reply to  Jenn

Are you guys setting up rain catching tanks with an auto irrigation system? A grey water system for recycling household water? Seems like a really good idea considering the lawn/ garden/ average, variable weather and rainfall, needs of any livestock and your desire to deal with climate change and model as green as possible building techniques. I bet you could get a sponsorship for it.. examples are here ( not a seller, I have been researching it for my own home ) https://www.rainharvest.com

kk
5 days ago
Reply to  kk

ACERAGE/ not AVERAGE

Ellie
5 days ago
Reply to  kk

This is a very good comment. The downsides of unequal resource consumption can, and should, be mitigated somewhat when you have resources, privilege and access.

5 days ago
Reply to  kk

I came here to make a similar comment regarding setting up a greywater system. Sooo smart to do in the time of climate change. Well water (if potable) is best for drinking, and not used for irrigation if you can help it.

5 days ago
Reply to  Emily

That’s awesome! Here’s 1 vote for a greywater blog post 🙂

Rusty
5 days ago
Reply to  Emily

It’s cheaper and easier to install at the construction phase, instead of having to retro-fit.

kk
5 days ago
Reply to  Emily

YAY thats thrilling! Watering plants with rainwater is such a great feeling… I wish I could do greywater. I was just reading about water heat recycling which sounds so cool. Having a fantasy of greywater fueled underfloor radiant heating for you! Until recently I had no gutters here so I just threw trash cans under the massive roof waterfalls and caught it. Now we’re doing DIY gutters and real rainwater catchment. Im so excited!

Merry
5 days ago

I’m so excited!!!

Rusty
5 days ago

That would’ve been a huge shock to your eyeballs and made yourheart skip a beat!😳
But, knowing what it WILL be makes it all okay.
The messy chaos is the storm, before things take shape and calm settles in.
Breathe. Be still.
It’s all coming together. 🥰

Nicole
5 days ago

Emily, you don’t know how amazing and valuable this post is. You are in the worst phase of a reno (been there) and you are a bit discouraged, doubtful, and tired. But if you are going through that -an accomplished designer, with a ton of experience-, it’s ok for the rest of us to go through those emotions as well. I love to see these reality-check posts. It shows us that not everything happens overnight and that even the experts go through the frustrations and doubts of a renovation. Not everything is Instagram-perfect.

Eleanor
5 days ago

I agree with other posters that the grass will come back. I live in New England and do not water my grass – during dry summers, they turn brown but come back green in the spring. Or this may be a great opportunity to switch to more drought-friendly grass or meadow-like “lawn”. This is a nice article I found the other day https://www.vox.com/down-to-earth/22662490/grasslands-better-than-lawns-yard

Also, stop double-guessing yourself on renovation v tear-down! You have made a decision so looking back is not going to accomplish anything except make you feel bad. It will turn out great.

Beth
5 days ago

Just wanted to offer reassurance— as a lifelong PNW resident— that the grass does this every year at our place and it only takes a few good rains to be back at that lush green again later this fall!

Marisa
5 days ago
Reply to  Beth

Yes, it’s not a new thing that the grass turns brown in late summer in Portland. It only stays green all year in very wealthy neighborhoods. Consider not wasting the water to keep it green! I promise it comes right back.

Roberta Davis
5 days ago
Reply to  Beth

I was going to say that! (In the Midwest where I grew up and lived for my first 42 years, it’s a given- the grass goes dormant and brown in hot weather unless you water it a lot. Then it greens up when the rains come and the weather cools a bit)

Rose
5 days ago
Reply to  Beth

Ditto as a forever PNW resident! I know Emily lived on the OR coast and that’s a different story than the willamette valley so I can see why there was confusion about not green grass. When I lived on the OR coast I was shocked by how much greener the lawns are but that makes sense given the proximity to the ocean.

It will definitely come back this fall/winter. Each year we don’t mind the grass going dormant because that’s 2 months where we don’t need to mow our huge yard.

Roberta Davis
5 days ago

Exciting! I’m glad the city is protecting the trees. The space looks amazing already, all opened up.

Katie
5 days ago

Oh I remember those should we have just torn it down feelings so vividly! It will be worth it! We also worked with Sierra Pacific for our windows and they were great to work with and our windows are beautiful so I’m very excited to see yours! Fun story, the protected tree on our property blew down in a windstorm during our construction and crushed its own protection fencing… oh the irony. It was so nice to meet you at the farmers market and thank you for this farmhouse update!

5 days ago

The whole permit process is so weird to me. It was interesting to hear you discuss it. Wow what a major renovation you have planned. It will be so cool to see how you gave new life to a space that needed some TLC. I love how you shared the before photos and the current photos.

Kim
5 days ago

Thus update honestly made me a little sad. I’m sure this home will be fabulous when finished, but there is literally nothing left of the charm of the old house (save for the one window on the staircase). Those “before” pics are so charming, with the beautiful windows and trim and the old built-in in the dining room, but the progress pics just show EVERYTHING gutted. There is nothing left of the historic farmhouse and it leaves me a little sad, that’s all. I’ll be glad to see what Emily does, but this is a new build, not a renovation.

Amber
5 days ago
Reply to  Kim

If it makes you feel better, Emily has said that they are just moving the built in hutch.
I have many conflicted feelings about the extent of the upgrades — where to draw the line with improvements is hard — but I do know that it often looks scarier and charmless at this phase of the reno than when it’s done.

rebe
5 days ago
Reply to  Kim

I agree with you, Kim. I have followed Emily for years and appreciate her design aesthetic. However, as someone who also treasures the quirks (both good and not-so-good) of old houses, this has been gutted and the charm is gone. As a society we too often renovate (aka throw) away the uniqueness and beauty from years past. If you want a vaulted ceiling, new cupboards, floors that don’t squeak, fancy windows and lots of light, that’s perfectly understandable; all are quite appealing. But then please, for the love of all things vintage, don’t buy a farmhouse from 1910 and destroy all but the fireplace (maybe?) and a single window. Especially considering Emily said herself that it was “in strong shape.” So much for that. I shudder to think of what’s coming for the poor 1860s kit house, “dripping with charm – and totally falling down.”

It’s too late for this house, but please, I beg of Emily’s many followers, don’t follow in these footsteps. Just because you can afford to do so, doesn’t mean you should.

5 days ago
Reply to  rebe

You guys– the before shots of this house were NOT of a pristine 1910 gem lovingly cared for by one little old lady who has never changed anything. They were of a dark, disjointed space that had gone semi-commercial with a bad 90s addition. It seems like there weren’t mold issues, so it would have been possible to tear out less, but I think most renovators of this space would have torn down even more. Emily is acknowledging her feeling of self-doubt and grief about the reno in this post, but she also loves what this house can be and I have no doubt will turn it into a unified, bright, beautiful space that is true to the heart of this house and will give it lasting new life. And I say this as someone lovingly renovating a house from the 1600s that went through extensive beautiful rebuilding in 1907 and then a bad 90s reno! Our house looked much better in the “before” pictures than it did after we had to dig through the floors and walls to put in new electric wires and a radiator system– that’s the nature of this “what have we done” stage.

rebe
5 days ago
Reply to  Maya

Again, I’m not arguing that Emily won’t create a “unified, bright, beautiful space.” She is a very talented designer. However, I am permitted to have a differing opinion from both her and you with whether *this* particular house needed to be gutted the way it was. Yes, the 1960s add-on needed work – no argument there. The heart of the house was built in 1910 though – those were the old windows, floors, hutch (which someone above said might be saved), kitchen cupboards, etc. NOT all of that HAD to be taken out. Emily has a vision and decided to make her house look the way she wants. She is perfectly entitled to do so. But as someone who has also renovated old houses, you do not need to take it down to the studs and concrete floor in order to bring it up to code. Like I said in my initial comment, there is nothing wrong with wanting a bright and airy house. It becomes a point of contention when you make the choice – not of necessity – to gut about 90% of the original features of said 1910 house. Emily is clearly free to do as she… Read more »

Linda
4 days ago
Reply to  rebe

I think the huge land plot in central location was the main selling point, not the old house and its structure, fit-out etc.

5 days ago
Reply to  rebe

And to say you “shudder to think what will happen to the 1860s” house seems quite unnecessarily sanctimonious– that house HAS to have extensive structural renovations or it has to be bulldozed, period! Thank goodness Emily can afford to save it!!

rebe
5 days ago
Reply to  Maya

I’m not quite sure how it’s sanctimonious. They had the opportunity to work with the 1910 features – for example, do you not remember the kitchen and its cabinets?! Or the 110-year-old original floors?! – and chose not to do so. They made radical changes that were not structurally necessary. I’ll believe “the save” when I actually see it. Until then, I suspect it will end up being just like the current reno – quite lovely, but not authentic.

Renee
5 days ago
Reply to  rebe

I agree with you 100%. Definitely not sanctimonious, and we’re all entitled to our opinions. I was sad to see so much of the original house gone too–even if they are saving a few elements.

Susan
5 days ago
Reply to  rebe

I am in a similar aged farm house that we are renovating on the west coast and the old growth redwood it was built with is INSANELY magical. When we bought the house the front porch was caving in and part of the garage had wood damage and we worried that the wood in the house was similar. Well, fast forward, the porch and garage were later additions, this newer wood, and the original wood frame and redwood siding (that was suffocating under aluminum siding for 60+ years) are in incredible shape. Our plumber was stunned that cutting into the hand cut original wood frame sustained drilling 110 years later – he said new wood would crumble. All to say, money can’t buy old growth wood – it is irreplaceable and I feel sad that Emily decided to replace it and throw it in a landfill when I have witnessed it’s remarkable qualities. As Julia Roberts said in “Pretty Woman,” “Big mistake. Huge.” No matter how photogenic the house may turn out, the materials and craftsmanship will never rival what has been destroyed. People who appreciate and belong restoring 100+ yo homes understand that. Emily wants a huge kitchen island… Read more »

4 days ago
Reply to  rebe

Rebe, to clarify– I was saying that your comments about “shuddering” to see what will happen to the *1860s kit home* were sanctimonious, because from what Emily has said, it’s structurally unsound currently, which means that it’s essentially a teardown. It sounds like Emily is determined to save it (meaning make it actually habitable again), though if something changes and she can’t, I’ll understand that too– structural issues are no joke. It just seems like you’re coming into this with a great deal of judgment (“shuddering” is incredibly harsh language) and the assumption that Emily is ripping out features willy-nilly in service of her own aesthetic, when you don’t understand all the research and thought that went in to these decisions. (She had mentioned many times that the cabinets weren’t original, for example, and despite this she worked hard at first to find a way to keep them.) I understand how you feel about old houses– I feel the same way about ours– but to be “shuddering” at the mere anticipation of someone else’s thoughtful choices is sanctimonious because it shows a) your certainty that your own choices would be morally superior and b) your belief that you are justified… Read more »

L
3 days ago
Reply to  Maya

Maya, it’s not “incredibly harsh language”- it’s just a figure of speech. And I guess one could argue is it more “sanctimonious” for Rebe to share her opinion (even if it expresses distaste) or for you to repeatedly call her out on it? 
Structural and electrical modifications aside, you don’t have to be an old-house purist to see that this project is turning into yet another “modern farmhouse” that sacrifices much of its original charm for new build appeal. Ripping out features in service of her own aesthetic, is exactly what she’s doing. That’s her right as homeowner and designer. No doubt it will be beautiful…it’s just a little disappointing to some, myself included, who were excited to see Emily design around the existing home- not tweak the home to fit on-trend design.

rebe
5 days ago
Reply to  Emily

Emily – thank you for taking the time to clarify about what was original versus not. I could tell the countertops were replacements, but I did not realize that the cabinetry and floors were reproductions, as well.

And truly, I love your designs and have been faithfully following you since Design Star. I know the house will be gorgeous, I was just bummed to see so much get yanked. Strangely enough, I now feel better about everything being ripped out and will just silently curse those who owned the house prior! 😉

p.s. Welcome back to the PNW. As a Midwest transplant, I love it despite how every August brings dormant grass and omnipresent smoke.

Ellie
5 days ago
Reply to  Kim

I agree. I originally got my back up about the misunderstanding of how grass behaves in this area (showing that she likely hasn’t spent any time outside of very privileged areas since she moved). But the gut reno to the studs thing bums me out too. I didn’t see that coming at all, what with the property’s amazing original features to work with.
Living with imperfection (or “imperfection”) is interesting, relatable, sustainable, responsible and so much more dynamic. Brand new shiny everything and completely unnecessary upgrades (see: pot filler argument between two people physically capable of carrying a POT OF WATER across a kitchen, but don’t….want to?) is just so boring as a reader. Ugh! I was so excited about this reno/property.

MJ Moore
5 days ago
Reply to  Kim

Trust ARCIFORM, they do beautiful, appropriate restorations of vintage homes. Just wait, Emily’s home will be beautiful and still have it’s vintage charm intact.

Ellie
5 days ago
Reply to  MJ Moore

Arciform IS amazing and the house will be beautiful. But nothing of its original charm will be “intact.” Echos of the original charm will be recreated from new materials and integrated into Emily’s existing aesthetic. Which is obviously fine if that what she wants….but it’s also fine for readers to disagree with the approach and mourn the loss of the original home’s features.

Ellie
5 days ago
Reply to  Emily

Thanks, that context does help.

5 days ago
Reply to  Kim

It’s also possible that they have carefully removed and stored some of the existing elements so they are not damaged during the renovation and plan on reinstalling them when it’s safe to do so.

Eve
4 days ago
Reply to  Kim

Houses are not people, I think some of you are overly precious with inanimate objects in a way that is stifling. Even if the kitchen and floors etc had been completely original (they’re not) it would STILL be 100% ok to rip them up. When the house was built I don’t think the person building it considered it as a museum piece that should never be reworked, instead they built according to what was practical, affordable and fashionable at the time. Houses are meant to be lived in, to enhance the lives of the family who own them, and they should (in my opinion) be constantly evolving not frozen in time. Imperfection and patina are beautiful elements but keeping an original feature or fitting purely because “it’s old” is a very rigid way to think. I love seeing how a space gets reimagined, even if it might cost more than building from scratch there is just something magical about seeing the potential within the original bones and realising how shifting a wall, lifting a ceiling or adding windows/doors can massively improve a space in both function and aesthetics. Many people might not have the budget for such a large scale… Read more »

Jenms
5 days ago

Don’t worry about the grass! It always goes dormant in the summer — in fact, I think you even mentioned it in a prior post about moving to the PNW…

Kristi
5 days ago

Would you consider having a series on the blog that is somehow directed at environmentally conscious renovations? I live in the midwest and even learning that Portland requires an arborist is blog worthy to me as I drive my daughter to school this morning and a corner lot has been clear cut to make it a more marketable commercial property.
I would love to see interior design influencers push the envelope by encouraging those with the means/building the larger homes to budget carbon footprint offset into their reno/building budget. (How do we not require renewable energy sources from those building the $$ homes already in the US?) Btw, you do a great job navigating these touchy situations and giving your audience space to learn alongside you. Keep up the good work!

Kate
5 days ago
Reply to  Kristi

Nothing, besides empty words, about any of Emily Henderson’s are environmentally conscious. Nothing.

She justified moving to the PNW by saying she’s planning to fly from Portland to LA every few weeks to meet with her team. She isn’t qualified to write the post you are asking for.

Kristi
5 days ago
Reply to  Kate

I think she does need to do more for Mother Earth and I think she (can) be a great spoke person, honestly. She’s positive, humble and yes does have a learning curve here (frankly as do I but I don’t have the means for such renovations-environmentally friendly or not). I know she loves the environment truly and I want to encourage her to take things a big step further for Mother Earth and utilize her platform.

Rusty
5 days ago
Reply to  Emily

I’m impressed that you re-edited your book for this reason. Walking your talk.👍🌏

Irene
4 days ago
Reply to  Emily

Your daughter’s robot parent story made my afternoon better (sitting here listening to “brush” being cut down with a chainsaw in my neighbors’ yard 5 feet away while I read about environmental conundrums – at least the neighbors saved the one actual tree on our lot line).

Does Charlie believe in the robot parent theory, too? Somebody should use that as a plot for a book; it’s brilliant!

Vicki Williams
5 days ago
Reply to  Kate

Wow! Maybe you need to move on to some other environmentally conscious blog you can better relate to. If you are in such disharmony with Emily why follow her? So you can spout your discontent?

5 days ago
Reply to  Kristi

I was so happy to hear that she is installing a heat pump and I would love to hear more about that!

Kj
4 days ago
Reply to  Kristi

Kristi, don’t watch them clear cut trees in your neighborhood and complain. Tree protection happens at a very, very local level. Find out what your city’s tree ordinances are and work to change them if they aren’t protective enough. That change is easily created by a few concerned citizens.

Ellie
5 days ago

If you are seeing green grass anywhere around Portland in the summer it’s because people are watering it. A lot. Take a drive through in any neighborhood NOT inhabited by wealthy resource hoarders and you’ll see the natural life cycle of lawns in this climate. My kid’s school? Brown grass until the rains start. Climate change is real…. and using up water resources for a lush green lawn only hurts. Please please don’t turn your property into a water guzzling show piece. “Your” well(s) are still drawing from communal resources.

Virginia Hanna
5 days ago
Reply to  Ellie

Agree. Would love to see Emily and other designers/influencers take a lead on green building / landscaping projects. Particularly their own. Concerned about climate change? Then walk the walk (on brown grass : )

MJ Moore
5 days ago

When I moved to Portland almost 50 years ago, coming from the east side of the Cascades, one of the hardest things to get used to was the grass dried out in the summer and that it was green in the winters. So few people watered their lawns in the summer, that was so backwards to me. You’re luck to have wells for irrigation. The other surprise was that you don’t walk across the lawn in the winter, the ground is not frozen, you get yourself in a very muddy mess. Those trade offs were worth it given the beautiful greenery, evergreen trees, Azaleas, Rhododendrons and Hydrangea. Oh.. the hydrangeas! ❤️
Your home and property is going to be so beautiful Emily! Thanks for taking us alone on the adventure!

Parker Wyeth
5 days ago
Reply to  MJ Moore

The wells in the area are extremely low. One of my family just told me theirs has gone dry.

5 days ago

Maybe I’m crazy, but the “apocalyptic” stage of our renovation was kind of my favorite part! That is where anything seems possible before the permanent choices you have made come to fruition. It’s before the “we should have done _________ differently” happens. It’s odd to me that freaked you out considering you’ve done this so much.

3 days ago
Reply to  Tara

Can’t it be exciting AND scary-looking?

I think a subtext of this post is that Emily knows WE will freak out at seeing the farm like this, as you can see from a lot of the comments!

Patricia
5 days ago

Anyone who lives in the Pacific Northwest will understand the need for all those windows. Our previous home of 32 years, a very charming brick Tudor revival, was so closed in, we needed to turn on the kitchen lights even in the summer.

A
5 days ago
Reply to  Patricia

I live in a saltbox style rental home in New England on a thickly wooded slope and also have to have lights on in the summer plus our kitchen doesn’t even have a central light ; I feel your pain/understand completely! Currently designing/building a home and all I care about are windows/light! 😭

5 days ago

It sounds like you are already deep into landscape planning but I wanted to recommend an EXCELLENT book should you choose to prioritize sustainability and build resilience on your property. It’s called “Gaia’s Garden; A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture” by Toby Hemingway. I kind of can’t say enough about it. My family just bought our first house and I plan on using it as a guide for planning my entire property. The Washington Post named it one of the ten best gardening books of the year when it came out. Not only is it rich in insight, it’s also a hands-on guide including diagrams, plant tables and design examples.

From the back of the book, “Working with nature, not against her, results in more beautiful, abundant, and forgiving gardens…..Ecological gardens meld the best features of wildlife gardens, edible landscapes, and conventional flower and vegetable gardens. They are based on relatively new concepts such as permaculture and ecological design, yet use time-tested techniques honed to perfection by indigenous people, restoration biologists, organic farmers, and cutting-edge landscape designers. These gardens combine low environmental impact, low maintenance once established, and high yields with elegant aesthetics.”

Rusty
5 days ago
Reply to  Alexandra Rose

Fabulous resource!!!👍🌏

Caitlin
5 days ago

We moved out Labor Day weekend two years ago so that our renovation could begin. I saved all the photos to Google and have been getting reminders of what was going on two years ago. Your photos remind me of my own so much! We moved back in just as COvID began in March. So grateful for how the timing worked out! Not a day goes by that I don’t look around the house and appreciate how beautiful and cozy it is now. It will be your turn soon and while the coming months will be stressful for sure they will fly by!

Tina Schrader
5 days ago

It’s such a cliché, but I really do think that all is happening as it should. I can’t imagine doing what you’re doing. At this point, I’d probably just be sweeping the floors going, “Well, maybe we could put the couch there, and put the TV by that wall and paint the door.” I’d have no clue and would be so overwhelmed that I’d quickly put the house up for sale again and just rent an apartment. 😉

iLa
5 days ago

It’s going to be so beautiful!

monica
4 days ago

At least in New England, grass always turns brown at the end of the summer. It comes back next year, as it is perennial. It may even green up again in the fall if it rains.

Rupali
4 days ago

So much to pick apart in this post, but I will just say.. How on earth does anyone who lives in California/Oregon/Washington/ anywhere in the Western US not know that grass turns brown in the summer? Every single year? These are literally called the Golden Hills in the Golden State.

Catherine
4 days ago

Hi Emily!
I can’t wait to see what you’re going to do with 1/2 the kitchen being vaulted. We have something similar -the new island will be partially under the lower part of the ceiling while the extended part of the kitchen will be under the vault and skylight. Slowly making two ceiling heights work over here 🙂

Milly
3 days ago

Emily, your grass will come back on its own! 10 years into our own Oregon adventure, I still panic every summer when everything in my entire enormous yard turns brown and crispy in August. It’ll be a green paradise again by November. We’re currently in the (long) process of replacing most of the grass in our huge yard with drought-tolerant natives— something to consider!

Amy
1 day ago

Renovating is definitely a privilege, but also stressful! I’m glad you’re feeling better about it now. I’m also obsessed with natural light; the first thing I did when we moved into our current house was remove every single blind on the south facing windows! (Kind of a mistake when summer came, but oh well.) Don’t worry about the grass, it’ll come back when it starts raining again. It happens every year. It’s totally depressing in August (earlier this year cuz of the heat dome,) but you get used to it. And our winters are SO green! Can’t wait for more updates!

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