Our Goals for Danascara This Year


Do you remember how Danascara looked when we bought it in July? Here is the video tour if you’re interested (sorry about the quality — I wish I could go back in time to film it horizontally)!

And the original post with all the before photos here.

When we first looked at it, these were our original plans for what needed to be done, developed along with our contractor.

  • replace broken window glass in old windows
  • install interior storm windows
  • add a fence around the pool
  • replace the rotted front porch steps and the rotted soffits around the porch roof, plus the porch floors on the front and side porches
  • replace the kitchen appliances
  • gut and replace the upstairs hall bathroom
  • add a whole house heating system and remove the old electrical heaters in the walls of each room
  • replace missing slates in the roof and repair roof soffits and fascia where it has rotted
  • tear down the burned addition and repair any damage to the original house
  • inspect the electrical system
  • repair plumbing in the basement where copper lines were stolen, lines were broken, etc.

Here’s how the back of the house looked after we were finished with the list –


Other things we did during that time that were not part of the renovation loan:

  • drained the pool and cleaned it, had all pool lines tested (they were in good condition!), had missing spots in the gunite pool patched, and refilled it.
  • purchased, prepared and installed wood countertops in the kitchen
  • cleaned the house top to bottom (which took forever!)
  • had the yard brush hogged, and removed some brush ourselves
  • had three dead trees taken down
  • built the bathroom vanity and resurfaced the bathtub
  • lots of caulking and patching in the boy’s bedroom and the kitchen

A few of our plans changed along the way. For the heating system we went back and forth between forced hot air and hot water radiators. In the end, for the size of the house and the way it was set up, we learned that forced hot air – with one furnace in the basement and one in the attic – would be the most efficient system. The heating system was also the main reason we went over our budget and used the contingency from the renovation loan, but I’ll talk about that in another post!

We also decided not to do the sprayed in foam insulation. There is some batt insulation inside in the stud walls built inside the brick walls but there is varying information out there about the use of spray foam insulation on brick walls — apparently it can cause moisture issues because the bricks can never fully dry out with the foam insulation on the back of them. What’s more, the foam insulation is not easily “reversible.” For now, we left the batt insulation in the stud walls and did not add any foam insulation.

We moved in to the house November 1. By that time, the upstairs had been completely scrubbed and sanitized, but the downstairs had not. The heat was installed and working upstairs, but not downstairs. That was an interesting few weeks as we wore our coats downstairs (it was a freezing cold November!) and tried to unpack what we could.


Once the heat was on downstairs, I started cleaning it, and only finished the last few sections just before Christmas! You can see an example of the grime with this baseboard before and after, below.

Now that the house is clean, everything is unpacked, and we are relatively settled, we are making plans for what we want to accomplish this year. When you’re working on an old house, things rarely go as planned, so I won’t be devastated if we can’t complete this whole list. This is more like a wishlist for what we realistically hope we can accomplish this year.

  • Address the pool: In the spring, we need to drain the pool, have it painted, and have new pool equipment installed.


  • Clean up the pool area: The addition that was taken down was right next to the pool area. That slab and the surrounding patios have not been completely cleaned of glass and debris yet. That will be the first order of business once the snow melts for the year. Then, the pavers all need to be taken up so that we can add soil to level the patio, replace broken pavers, and lay the patio back down.


  • Clean up the yard: This is a huge job — I feel like it merits more than one bullet point! We have 2.5 acres here, and it needs a lot of work. There is a large pile of brush from the trees we took down that needs to be disposed of, there are still logs that need to be split and stacked from said trees, brush that we cut down on the hill behind the pool needs to be cleared, the tennis courts need to have their root and leaf carpet removed, and grass seed needs to be laid down in the spots that were torn up when we had the brush cleared out of the yard. There is also a broken fence along the side of the property that we will remove (and replace with something else in the future!).


  • The garden: I would love to work on the garden this year — adding paths and fence posts, and maybe even a fence if we get there (but that may have to come next year). And of course planting vegetables (the cutting garden I plan to put in one side of the garden will definitely be waiting until next year). You can see the outline of the garden, as my father and Steve were beginning to rototill it, below.


  • Choose exterior paint colors/some painting and prep: I doubt we will actually get to painting the house this year, but I do want to choose the exterior paint colors so that we can paint and protect certain areas that need it. The fence around the pool will need to be painted or stained and I want to make sure it fits with my vision for the house before we choose a color. The stairs on the front porch also need to be painted (or at least primed) for protection. I also want to start prepping for the eventual paint job by fixing wood details that have rotted and removing the shutters since many are broken. We will 99% put functioning shutters back up at the time that we paint the house.

Screenshot 2020-01-08 at 1.09.11 PM.png

  • Vacuum and organize the attic: self explanatory.



  • Finish the Phase 1 Kitchen: I’ve mentioned before that we are planning to completely overhaul the kitchen in 5-7 years. Until then (that’s a long time!) I want it to look beautiful and function well, so we have been doing a Phase 1 renovation. We have replaced the appliances and countertops and removed a few sections of cabinet, and we plan to patch and paint the walls and cabinets and patch the floor where it was rotted. I will post all our plans for the kitchen in a blog post soon, as we are working on that alongside the bathroom project.


  • Make sure all closets provide maximum organization: We have worked on this a little bit since we moved in, adding extra closet rods and some hooks to hang purses or belts, but we still have more to do. For me, making closets efficient is so important to making our family feel comfortable on an everyday basis — it keeps the house cleaner because everything has a place, and everyone knows where the things they need are located. You can see the sad current state of what is supposed to be our cleaning/coat closet and our kitchen pantry below.


  • Replace the barn roof and rebuild the cupola: We hope we can swing this big project this year — this will be one that we will hire out. The barn roof is very old and leaky, the soffits and fascia are rotted, and the cupola has partially collapsed. We are going to have the roof replaced and rebuild the cupola exactly as it was — a project that makes me nervous because we need to get it right!


  • Dream project this year: Make the large uncased openings between rooms downstairs into smaller cased openings. I have been debating whether I wanted to add double doors between rooms and I am still deciding, but I know I want to at least add molding around the large cased openings that were put in in the 1980s renovation. These openings mark the places where large steel beams were put in to support the house — which is one of the reasons the floors in this old house are so straight and strurdy! I appreciate the function of the beams, of course. But these openings feel too modern to me for this house. They also make it impossible to start and stop paint colors or wallpaper. And, I think the rooms would feel cozier if they were a little more separate (I love open floor plans in the right house — but in an old house I really appreciate the feeling of separate rooms.). There is one between the living room and the foyer, another between the foyer and the dining room, and a third between the dining room and the back hallway that leads to the kitchen (you can see them all below). One thing I do want to make sure we retain is the wideness of the openings — I have dreams of huge holiday dinners where we can set up extra tables that extend from the dining room straight through into the living room — just like my grandma always does! I’ll be searching for four matching extra-wide pocket doors or glass doors this year.


So that’s our wishlist for the year. I plan to post at least one update later in the year to check in on where we are with this list, what has changed, and what we have added to the list.



6 thoughts on “Our Goals for Danascara This Year

  1. Thankyou for the tour. The video was great. You did a nice job. I have relatives that live in the area & am familiar with Danascara. I’ve never seen the inside of this beautiful home so i appreciate the tour. Thank you for your efforts in the restoration of Danescara.

  2. Thankyou so much for posting such a detailed saga of the restoration of the Great Danascara. Looking forward to seeing ALL your future dreams come true.

  3. Jessica and Steven. I love ready all about the house. You have really got a lot done. I would love to do something like that,but I too old. Can’t wait to come see it. Hugs to the boys.love you all. Aunt Jo

  4. I don’t remember but I love all what you guys have been doing. Saw a recent pic of the front door and it was beautiful not to mention the beauty accomplished inside. I can tell how passionate you are by how you explain things. I myself lived on a farm as a kid and have so many great memories living there. My father had great skills in bring that farm back to life. Keep up the great work!

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