MARSTON -- Mark and Carolyn Cherry bought their home here five years ago and made energetic plans for the major remodeling projects ahead of them.
Carolyn owns Customs Last Stand and sells crafts, clothing
and accessories. The business is housed in a one-time gas station located along the property's road front. Mark, a former a cabinetmaker, creates "Rustic Furniture" in his workshop, a shed within view of the kitchen.
"We wanted the new kitchen to include a windowed office for me at the back of the kitchen," said Carolyn. "So, that between the two of us, we could watch our children playing in the yard."
Mark's "stick chairs and tables" have become so popular that, when the couple had finally saved "just enough money" to pay for a new kitchen, he had no time to do all the work for the project.
"We had to hire parts of the job out," said Mark.
They looked at cabinetry for about six months before deciding on oak. Then they worked with a kitchen designer who advised them on which cabinets would best suit their needs.
"I am going from two to 14," said Carolyn. "Other than the number, I'm not exactly sure of what I ordered. Having no experience with just what I needed, I relied on the designer's judgment."
With delivery on the kitchen cabinets imminent, the couple went to work on the other preliminaries. The week before the renovation was to begin, the water pump broke.
"Carolyn has a guardian angel, though," he said. "She got an order for plant stands the same day."
Without further ado, he set to work.
"The walls came down in a weekend," said Mark. "First, there was dark paneling, then layer after layer of wallpaper. The previous owner must have hung a new pattern about every five years."
Mark admitted, with a smile, that he had a little kitchen experience. He redid the summer kitchen, a small outbuilding on the property. The children use it as a playhouse.
"We like to sit out there with our coffee on summer evenings," said Carolyn.
To enlarge and brighten the room, the couple removed a mud porch from behind the kitchen and added several more windows -- six across the back of the room and several more along the side.
"Besides watching the children, I wanted a view of our cherry tree collection," said Carolyn.
One casualty of the remodeling was the leaky tin roof over the mud room.
"When it rained, it made a delightful noise," said Carolyn. "We used to tell the kids elves were dancing on the roof."
Tin roofs are popular and fashionable now, said Mark, and much more expensive. The Cherrys saved about $700 by replacing theirs with regular asphalt shingles.
"When I am rich and famous, I'll do another tin roof," said Mark.
They did raise the roof, however, to install cathedral ceilings.
"I was so tired of low ceilings," said Carolyn.
The tearing down and remodeling necessitated many trips to the county dump, courtesy of several neighbors and their pickup trucks.
"It's amazing how much stuff you get rid of, when you start a project like this," said Carolyn.
Their formal dining room resembled a small grocery store as the dishes, cookware and non-perishable contents of the kitchen were stacked among the dining room furnishings. They either dined out or microwaved meals.
Before Mark could lay a sheet of light tan linoleum across the kitchen floor, the contractor leveled the subfloor. After the sheet rock was hung, the couple painted the room a creamy beige.
After eating fast food or microwaving frozen dinners during the weeks of kitchen remodeling, the Cherrys are planning a celebratory meal. They are inviting all their helpers, especially the "ones who took the kids for a night or two," Carolyn said.
When they have put the kitchen work to bed, it's on to the next project: an exterior paint job.
"We want to paint the exterior in shades of green to complement Mark's furniture," she said. "We are going to put touches of cherry, too, to let people know who lives here."