The work on Tim and Tami Satterfield's Monkton dream home is finally done.
It was nearly two years ago that they first spied the old Amish barn on the Gunpowder Falls that would become a home to them and their two children.
The family lived in the barn during the renovation process that started in the fall of 2001. And through it all the Satterfields endured life without heat, a kitchen, a private bedroom, clean laundry, air conditioning and a bathtub.
They've been surprised by snakes, covered in dirt and dust and wakened by contractors nearly every day.
At various points along the way, a contractor, several cats and Tim Satterfield have fallen through the ceiling. And who could forget the night lightning set their Dumpster ablaze?
Why would anyone put up with this aggravation?
"It was a tremendous amount of work, but it was worth it," he says.
It all seems a little unreal, the couple said, reflecting back on the task.
"We went down by the river to look at the house. All this time, it was hard to think of this place as our house," he said.
"We never had a chance to step back and get the entire picture," she added. "It's so striking to look at the house and the pentagon-shaped window."
The barn is more than 100 years old. The last occupant was an artist who lived off the land and slept in the unfinished hayloft.
The couple wanted a home with all the comforts and amenities that come with newly constructed houses. They envisioned a whirlpool bath, cathedral ceilings, whole house audio, a gourmet kitchen and loft beds for their children's rooms. But they didn't want to lose the rural charm of the home, which is why they bought it in April 2001.
The Satterfields worked closely with their architect, Paul Pare, to design a building that kept the integrity of the original structure. For example, instead of just attaching a two-car garage to the side of the house, Pare designed it to look like a smaller barn, with matching siding and a hayloft.
The Satterfields' builder, Jay McCardle of McCardle Custom Homes, preserved much of the barn's original wood and recycled other pieces of wood for parts of the home. The dining room table is made of floor planks, and the original barn siding marks the entranceway into the house.
Using leftover pieces of flooring and wall planks, Tim Satterfield built an aquarium stand for the living room and a rustic-looking bench for the foyer.
Some neighbors feared that the couple would design an ultramodern home that clashed with the pastoral area. "People told us that we finished the house in a way that Russ [the artist] would have liked," Tami Satterfield said.
The renovation taught the Satterfields new skills. They worked closely with McCardle, who was always willing to let them pitch in and do some work themselves.
Tami Satterfield became adept at wallpapering. Her husband installed a clothes dryer vent. Both did a lot of the demolition work and interior painting. They also sanded and stained most of the floor of the family room.
Doing some of the work themselves kept the couple on budget, they said. "We did not go over," she said.
The couple bought the home and the nearly 4.5 acres for $455,000 and budgeted an additional $400,000 for renovations, which were completed in January.
"It was a trade-off," Tami Satterfield said. "In order to have one thing that we really wanted that was over our budget, something else had to be under-budget."
The couple spent their money on things that really mattered to them, such as real wood for the interior doors. For other things, like the closet in the master bedroom, the couple settled for the standard wire rack shelving instead of wood, which they had wanted.
Tami Satterfield also spent a great deal of time on the Internet tracking down bargains on items such as doorknobs, kitchen faucets and cabinet hardware.
"It's important to know where you're spending your money," she said.
When the Satterfields started the renovation process, they began writing on the walls out of convenience and because they knew those walls would be torn down.
First they scrawled the phone numbers of their contractor, architect and subcontractors. Then they began documenting milestones in the renovation process, such as when the Dumpster arrived. Sometimes they included quotes from literature or other points to ponder.
Those walls are long gone.
The Satterfields don't write on walls anymore, but there are two new messages in the house.
In the home office is a quote by Willy Wonka: "A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men."
The words are burned into a piece of wood used to cover a ceiling hole a subcontractor cut by mistake.
By the entranceway into the home, "Chop wood, carry water" is imprinted in concrete.
"It captures our new life here," Tami Satterfield said. "Life as work. Returning to the land."