Two Steps Forward, Three Back

MAYBE THE GYPSY WAS RIGHT. Last summer, a storefront fortune teller told me I would take two steps forward and three back. At the time I thought she was full of it; now I see her point. Last week I had the guest room renovated, with a new window, new ceiling, and re-plastered walls, below. Yesterday, the roofer finally began my job after a months-long delay. Two steps forward, right?


But then the roofer discovered, whaddya know, extensive rot in the plywood and roof beams in that very guest room area, extending to the walls of that structure, below (the guest room was apparently added on to the cottage later). He said I ought to have had the carpenter who installed the window gut the whole room, and I have no doubt he is right. But I hadn’t noticed any new wetness and thought any signs of water damage were all from a long-ago leak. Combination of wishful thinking and trying to save money — always a disaster.


At any rate, the virtual rebuilding of 1/2 the guest room from the outside, below, along with replacement of a dozen or more sheets of rotting plywood in other areas of the roof, will cost me some $3,500-4,000 more than expected. I had to crawl under the covers for a while to digest that news, while banging continued above my head.


The roof is going ahead and will be finished on Monday, but everything else is on hold: the fireplace, the bathroom, the deck. Three steps back.


The gravel parking court can’t wait though. So much snow has melted in the past couple of mild days that my normally fast-draining sandy soil can’t keep up. And with six or eight workman trampling about, and dumpsters and trucks pulling in and out, the front of my property is now a deeply rutted, squishy sea of mud.

And the fresh cedar shingles they’re using over a large area at the front of the house will need to be matched, somehow, to the dark, weathered ones (that I was going to clean anyway, but there will still be a huge color discrepancy). What? Wait for them to weather naturally, you say? That requires patience, which I have in short supply.

Same goes for the landscaping. I’m hatching a gardening challenge for myself: making the barren parts of the property look like something by mid-summer.

About cara

I blog for fun here at casaCARA, and write about architecture, interiors, gardens and travel for many national magazines and websites. My recently published posts and articles can be found here:
This entry was posted in COTTAGE LIVING, HAMPTONS, LONG ISLAND, OLD-HOUSE MAKEOVERS. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Two Steps Forward, Three Back

  1. delftblue says:


    what was the deck plan? have I missed that post? do you have an inspiration photo? there are a lot of “deck” alternatives out there now.

  2. Mary-Liz says:

    Oh no!! But it will be worth it because you will have wonderful, appreciative guests staying in the newly walled & roofed guest room!!
    Good call to wait until after the roofers have finished before doing the drive!

  3. cara says:

    No, delft, you didn’t miss anything re the deck. My concept is so simple it doesn’t even require a drawing — a 16’x25′ rectangle with one wraparound step is all I want. But if you have deck info to share, please feel free, especially now that I’ve got extra planning time…;-)

  4. coppermaven says:

    The guest room looks lovely even though it caused a headache and a liedown!

  5. WOW, Im impressed, you’re
    moving fast for “out here”.
    Love the window for the Guest room.

  6. kathleen says:

    Rotten luck! Sorry for the pun, could not resist.

  7. cara says:

    The final bill from the roofer was less onerous than anticipated. I learned something: offer cash. Saved a bundle. Next up: parking court!

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