Opening the Floor Plan
It wasn’t until the windows put a shine on the place that Robin saw what the kitchen, dining room and living areas needed. The Cockerlines combined the three areas, knocking down walls to create an open layout. As the walls came down, Robin decided the plasterboard ceiling had to go, too, even though it recently had been added by the previous tenants.
“It looked too perfect,” Robin explains. Plus, it gave the part of the house where the Cockerlines would be spending most of their time a claustrophobic feeling. “It felt like the inside of a Kleenex box,” she says of the low ceiling and choppy floor plan. Fluorescent lights in the living room and exposed conduit were among the first sore points to be eliminated.
Of course, the replacement of the fluorescent lights with a wall sconce and lamps in the living room and cable track lighting in the dining room did wonders. The ceiling demolition revealed the house’s handsome post-and-beam construction.
When the time came to remaster the walls, Allen had to get up to speed. He’d never plastered before so he went to the local independent hardware store, where the shop owner gave him a crash course and illustrated once again that small-business community ties triumph over national store chains. At first, Allen just winged it. He practiced in the pantry cupboards where he knew any blunders would be hidden. With time, he mastered the art of adding the right quantity of water to dilute the compound for a smoother finish as he worked, and even though the initial plastering attempts had more texture than a typical professional job, the Cockerlines enjoyed the textural look that resulted. Some of his earliest attempts turned out to be their favorite walls.
For the painted trim, they chose a sage shade called Vale Mist, which they mixed with white to make it pop without stealing the show.
The Cockerlines added a mantel to the living-room fireplace for a finished appearance, but a sense of homey comfort was achieved with comfy, overstuffed chairs and a sofa clad in white slipcovers.
About the Author: With goats and organic gardens around her Connecticut cottage, Tovah Martin is every inch a hobby farmer. She is a freelance garden writer, lecturer, blogger and author—her most recent book is The New Terrarium (Clarkson Potter, 2009).
This article originally appeared in the November/December 2011 issue of Hobby Farm Home.