Monday, November 14, 2011


Have you ever heard the expression 'HOT TO TROT?' We definitely have, and we definitely feel very 'hot to trot' after a long weekend of painting at SUGAR CREEK. Of all the projects we've worked on so far, this one had the biggest impact-- both on the overall look of the house, and on our energy levels. By the time we left SUGAR CREEK last night, heading for our full-time home, we were so exhausted that we had the giggles. My neck ached from painting three coats of white paint on the wooden ceiling, and my arms were hanging from my shoulders like limp noodles. But you know what? The TROT looks like brand new again, and it was definitely worth the effort.

You're probably asking yourself the question, "What the heck is a TROT?" It's the long, open ended hallway that dissects the center of historic dog-trot homes. The trot is usually long and thin, and in the rendering below I have colored the area a nice beige to separate it from the other rooms. These TROTs are the architectural details that separate dog-trot homes from all other historic houses. And ours is a rare jewel because she has been enclosed (and completely protected from the weather) since the 1940's. Take a second to look at the rendering below so that you'll know exactly what I'm talking about when I say TROT.

A pre-renovation sketch of THE HOUSE AT SUGAR CREEK.

Now that you've familiarized yourself with the location of the TROT itself, I'd like to give you a peek at what the TROT looked like before we began working at SUGAR CREEK. Below is a photo that I took during our first weekend at SUGAR CREEK. Isn't she gorgeous! Hubby and I both recognized that with just a bit of sanding, painting, putty for nail holes, and a lot of elbow grease, the TROT could shine up very nicely.

Now bear in mind a couple of details as you're looking at the photo below. Hubby and I must remove the staircase that is clogging up the open-aired TROT, but we can't remove this staircase until we build another one to replace it. (The new staircase will begin in the living room, with most of the staircase being hidden behind a new bathroom wall.) So we are painting around the staircase until the day comes when we remove it and expose the original wooden walls that are hiding behind it.

The TROT pre-renovation.

On Saturday evening, hubby and I arrived at SUGAR CREEK and began scraping the peeling paint that was covering the TROT's wooden walls and ceilings. This process took quite some time, as we took proper precautions to protect ourselves from any lead paint dust/residue. After all paint chips were removed and the floors were thoroughly scrubbed to remove dust, hubby and I crossed our fingers and began to apply the first layer of white paint to the walls and ceiling. We had originally wanted to sand the walls down to the original wooden texture and forgo paint entirely, but after much research we decided to seal the painted walls with a fresh coat of white paint instead. Here I am, standing by my trusty ladder during Saturday night's paint chip extravaganza.

Me (Jackie) in the pre-restoration TROT of the house.

It took three coats of exterior paint to cover the wooden walls and ceilings, but it was worth every single minute of the 30+ man-hours that we spent on this project. I wish you could see our handi-work in person. These photos simply do not capture the beauty of the hallway, which is almost impossible to photograph with the old staircase still in the TROT. The crisp white, painted walls of the dog-trot are absolutely beautiful. And we're loving the satin finish of the paint... it's just shiny enough to look new and sleek, but just matte enough to leave you wondering if the paint is original, too.

Notice that we did not repaint the very end of the dog-trot where the door and windows currently sit. We're removing this section entirely, and replacing it with a set of all-glass French doors and windows that will match the original nine over nine window panes that are found in the rest of the house. We already have the French doors... now we're searching for wavy-glass window panes to use in the new front door/window construction. But that, my friends, is a project for the future-- we have ten rooms to scrape and paint before it's time to work on the new entrance to the TROT. And on a side note, we chose to paint the TROT with EXTERIOR paint because we will have the hallway open on as many days as possible from here on out. We love the breeze blowing through the center of the house, and we're no longer worried about the potential threat of lead paint dust as the wind carries through our home. Six points for Team Lewis, despite the fact that this was probably the most difficult weekend of work so far.

Did I mention that restoring a historic home is not for the faint of heart? You should never try to do something like this unless you look at the project as something more "fun" than "work." Otherwise, you'll go crazy. Hubby and I have come to realize that a historic renovation does not take brilliance, it takes determination. Truth be told, it's not difficult to restore windows, sand wooden walls, paint trim, etc... it is simply time consuming. But hubby and I are looking at our weekends at SUGAR CREEK as an opportunity to do something productive with our free time. Instead of lounging on the couch and watching television, we're bringing an old house back to life again. And there are few things in life more rewarding than saving a beautiful piece of our local history.

After photo of the painted TROT.

After photo of the painted TROT.


  1. It is so beautiful! Your hard work is paying off. That trot is "the h0tnez" ! :)

  2. Thanks, Jubilant Jeri! This was the first project that really knocked me off my feet. I started screaming and saying, "Oh my gosh! It's a REAL house now!" I guess it really hit me in that moment... we're bringing this lovely old house back to life, and it is an amazing feeling to see her begin to shine again!

  3. I love that you are "Little Red Hen" :) This is so much WORK but I can see how fulfilling it must be. We are loving doing things to our house too but it's nothing like what you guys are accomplishing out there!

  4. I think the name "Little Red Hen" is hysterical! ;) I can't wait to come see your new place, Christine. I miss ya!