“Now that it’s done, we love it here. There’s nothing like it, we just totally relax when we’re here,” says Tara Bishop, standing in the outport house she and her husband Wayne renovated into a weekend escape.
While their two daughters hang out in the living room, Wayne and Tara recall the extensive renovation they went through. They’re smiling, pleased with the way the house turned out, and even laugh when talking about some of the more challenging aspects of the renovation, jokingly offering “don’t do it” as words of advice for anyone thinking about renovating an old home themselves.
Local knowledge holds that this house, now a bright yellow, is one of the oldest in Chapel’s Cove. Originally, Wayne and Tara had figured it was about 80 years old, but after hearing stories of the people who lived here previously, there’s a good chance the house is closer to 100 years old. Like many old homes, it is a sturdy house but not a square nor level house.
“In an old home,” says Wayne, “any carpentry skills you have are tested…you’re constantly having to think two or three steps ahead.”
The chess-like renovation began with peeling back the walls, revealing layer after layer of wallpaper and flooring. From the start, they had intended to upgrade and replace the plumbing and electrical, but had hoped to remove only minimal amounts of wall. They ended up completely gutting the interior, bringing it back to the studs.
Wayne is pretty handy, says Tara, and they had previously renovated other houses, so they knew what they were getting into and were well-prepared for a reno job. But it wasn’t that they were necessarily looking for a new renovation project when looking for a vacation home. Rather, they wanted a place by the ocean and wanted to stay within a certain budget, which narrowed their options.
“We’d been looking for years for a place with this kind of view, a place by the ocean,” says Tara.
The living room windows look out on the ocean, and a rocky beach is just across the street. The view through the windows was exactly what they were looking for. When they turned from the window and looked around the house, however, they weren’t as happy with the view.
Now, post-renovation, the house again looks a little closer to its original self than it once did. The house was in good structural shape – the foundation didn’t need any work – but most of the character had been removed from the home in a series of renovations over the years.
Walking through the house, the couple had ideas of what they could do to give their new spot a bit more personality.
“We had a lot of things in mind,” says Tara, “because we wanted to get it back to an older style, with more character in it.”
They used tongue and groove boards and beadboard panelling to bring a bit of that old house character back, contrasting it with contemporary touches like a commercial style faucet and stainless range hood. The floor is a laminate product, chosen for ease of cleaning. The house is heated with electric baseboard heaters, which were upgraded during the renovation. While opening up the walls, Wayne found where the original chimney would have been, but it had been removed years ago.
The house is decorated with a mix of old items they’ve collected over the years: a washstand passed down through the family; a cabinet Wayne made with an old salvaged door; a pair of wooden cross-country skis; a basket of cork net floats; an old flour sack – mixed with newer items, like the leather and metal dining chairs and newer furniture.
The result is a look that evokes seaside living and brings in that character they were looking for, while also giving the place a contemporary feel.
“It’s a real mix of modern and old,” says Tara.
They considered installing traditional wood-framed windows, but it wasn’t feasible with their budget, says Wayne. Strict adherence to their chosen budget meant they also had to forego replacing the vinyl siding with clapboard, instead choosing to paint the siding.
A small front porch was removed, and they opened the wall between the kitchen and living room, giving the galley kitchen an additional entrance. The stairs were stripped of carpet, sanded and painted a bright blue. They’re visibly worn, giving the house that extra touch of character that Wayne and Tara wanted.
After months of work, sometimes questioning the wisdom of their decision to renovate, the family now has a place on the beach they had been searching for, a getaway filled with newly instilled character and charm.
“We wanted to keep the outport feel,” says Tara.