Harmony Barn Renovation
So I'm not going to start this with what week of renovation it is. Let's just say it's in the 30s. We've had some set backs for sure, but what we ended up with is beyond our imagination of what it could be when we started. We have gone from critter-infested horse stalls, to a stylish, modern farm style gathering space. Have there been some surprises along the way? Of course. Who could have anticipated a complete loss of power to the building (probably the result of electrical storms in the area), or the need for a new stretch of road leading to the barn. Not us. But persistence is the name of the game. What can you do? Stop in the middle and call it quits? Well, I guess that's an option, but not for us or our construction team. So this weekend, we celebrate!
An exciting aspect of our Open House party is that we are able to showcase both the art and music that Mark and I are involved with. In addition my own new paintings on display (Space of a Place), our friend Rosie Carter has her art up as well (Divergent Boundary). Her art is the perfect compliment to mine. Hard lines, vs soft. Paper vs canvas. And for both of us, our subject matter is about our fascination with the landscape we live within. The trio Mark plays with (Ravensong) will be providing the soundtrack to our celebration. Join us if you can!
Momentum is a tricky thing. Ever try getting your car to a gas station by keeping your foot off the accelerator? If you are generally going downhill and get enough momentum going, you can even go up small hills before needing to apply more gas. This is what our Harmony Barn project is feeling like these days. When we lost all power to the barn a couple of weeks ago and had to cancel guests in the vacation rental, it felt like we had “run out of gas” just before reaching the gas station. But the thing about momentum is that if you have a bit of it in your favor, you can keep moving forward. Thanks to the tireless work of Mark (and of course our contractor) he was able to shepherd the process through much faster than we would ever have imagined and keep our momentum going. We should be back up and running by the end of the month, maybe even sooner!
There is now a 4 foot by 4 foot trench from our house to the barn as they had to put in a new line from the transformer and then install a new transformer to provide power to the barn. Unfortunately, our already rough driveway had to be cut through in two places and some of our new landscaping will have to be redone. The silver lining is that we will have a wide, curving pathway from our house to the barn. Maybe we should call it Tin Burro Lane or Harmony Lane. You tell us!
Everyone knows what electricity can do. It can run cities, industries and homes. It is at once ubiquitous and unseen. When power is disrupted, it can cause chaos. In this last week or so, we have witnessed first-hand the power of power. As the monsoon season continues (hallelujah) it has brought welcome rains, but also lightning. Lightning can cause forest fires and it can fry transformers. We had a lightning strike close by our property last week, and this week a transformer in Mancos blew up, cutting off power to hundreds of nearby residents – including us. We lost power for nearly 18 hours before it was restored. And in the middle of that, the barn and the guest apartment completely lost power. Not because of the transformer problem in Mancos, but from a failure of our own system. At our house we get electricity from a nearby transformer box. Then we send the power from our house to the barn. It wasn’t a great system, and we knew we would have to fix it eventually, but out of the blue it just quit working. We have had to relocate guests and cancel reservations. Something no vacation rental host EVER wants to do. The upgrade that we planned in the future is needed now. And the work will have to be done by the local electric utility company. So now we wait.
The loss of power did not stop our eveready crew. Using a portable generator, they were able to keep plugging away on the final items to make the barn space complete. They created the most wonderful barn-style doors for the kitchen door, the pass-through space, and a crawl space opening in the ceiling. They were even able to repurpose the hinges from the original dutch-style stall doors. They also touched up paint and other refinements. Still some to go, but like I said in my last blog, “So close!”
When you were a kid did you ever go on a road trip with your family and in response to "are we there yet?" your parents would say a "couple more hours," or "a couple more miles?" Two hours or two miles later they would say the same thing, again and again until miraculously, it seemed, you were there. That's were we are with the Harmony Barn renovation. We are two hours, or two days, or two weeks away from everything being finished. In the meantime we were able to host three writers who turned out to be the most patient, easygoing and enthusiastic guests. Two people stayed upstairs and we created a bedroom area downstairs in the barn for one. When we scheduled them months earlier, we didn't anticipate that the barn wouldn't be quite done yet. But Patrick, our contractor, made sure we had electricity, water and a toilet downstairs. Delays are inevitable in any construction project, so we are just happy that the crew was so responsive and that our writers were so gracious. After their week at the Harmony Barn was done, we are happy to say they loved it! Janet, Shannon and Wendy (the cookie lady), you are welcome back anytime!
Now that our guests have left, construction and finishing have resumed. Bathroom tiling is finished, kitchen cabinets have their hardware and the tinted concrete just needs a finishing protective layer. Electrical fixtures have been installed and most of the landscaping is complete. Appliances will go in soon and then the fun begins: setting up the barn with rugs, furniture and welcoming touches. Ready for gathering! Give me a call, or email, if you would like to learn more, or are interested in booking the Harmony Barn. Jody 303-917-4627, email@example.com.
Check out our Harmony Barn Gathering Space page.
Water loves to flow. It flows through river beds (when there is water!). It flows through drainage ditches and irrigation pipes. It flows over structures when it rains and best of all it flows into aquifers supplying those above ground with much needed water. On a recent trip to Mexico, I had the wonderful opportunity to sit on a beach and watch the water crash on the shore and flow through the rocks. I could sit and watch this for hours. It is so full of power and beauty. It’s mesmerizing. I am kind of glad that I don’t live next to such an unending distraction. I don’t think I would get anything done. The mountains are bad enough with their ever changing weather and beguiling views.
Back at home, a river is running through it. A river of rock that is. Ground crews have been hard at work creating a system that allows water to flow down the slope and be diverted around the Harmony barn, instead of into it, like it has in the past. A diversion ditch was built which has now been covered in rock creating our rock river. I like rocks. Especially in a dry climate. Landscaping with rock still requires work as dirt settles between the crevices giving weeds a cozy place to take root. Once someone posted a question on Facebook. “What is something you own a lot of?” I’m sure there were answers such as shoes, hats, pennies, that sort of thing. I responded with “rocks.” When we had our xeriscape landscaping done at our house, over 30 tons of rocks were ordered. That’s alotta rocks! Now we have even more with the barn landscaping. We still are keeping much of the natural grass meadows (former pasture), but rocks are definitely helping the water to flow where we want it to go – when there is water of course.
One of our deepest wishes for the Harmony Barn is that people will have an opportunity to gather where they don’t just view the landscape but interact with it. We would like our guests to feel a strong sense of place and develop a connection to the area. To support this, I am creating a series of paintings that reflect my affinity to the surrounding landscape. Painted in a loose, expressive style that borders on abstraction, I hope to share my love of the area with others. Also, a practical reason for these paintings on canvas is that they will absorb sound, and help improve the acoustics. In the future I hope to share the walls with other artists during pop-up shows and events. Here is a sneak preview of some of the paintings that will be going up on the walls as the interior nears completion.
Construction is moving steadily along. The kitchen cabinets have been installed and the concrete floor has been stained a lovely terracotta/bronze color. Between the floor and the lower kitchen cabinets that are a French blue, it is nice to see some color in the space. The exterior walls have been waterproofed, patched, and trimmed and a fresh coat of black stain is bringing it all together. We are thankful that our upstairs weekend guests have been so tolerant of moving through, and staying above the construction. And we are grateful that the builders leave the area as tidy as possible when they are done for the weekend.
There are a lot of reasons to go to Santa Fe, New Mexico. Visiting the galleries, historical sites, restaurants, the plaza and surrounding shops, is enough to keep one busy for days. But I have discovered another good reason to visit Santa Fe — the consignment stores. If you are looking for vintage clothing or gently used furniture, it’s the place to go. Make sure to bring a truck, trailer or van to haul your treasures home. I once stuffed the back of my Subaru Forester so full I was afraid there wouldn’t be room for my traveling companion. This time I knew I needed some big furniture pieces for the Harmony Barn so I burrowed a van and boy was I glad I did. I got some great deals, and I love not always buying new. I feel there is a bit of history and character that comes with each used piece, and my budget loves the savings. Some of my favorite places for furniture are:
Congeries Consignment (now two wonderful locations run by the same folks)
The Consignment Warehouse (nicely displayed items with a good range of pricing)
The Raven (so much to look at, a bit pricey but an experience to shop there)
Goodwill (I always make a point of stopping here and ALWAYS find great things at a steal)
Some of my favorite places for clothing are:
Art.i.fact Consignment Boutique (great collection of clothes and accessories and good prices)
Consignment Boutique at 801 (designer and one-of-a-kind clothes at a fraction of original prices)
Double Take (they have boots, clothing, furniture, home decor - everything!)
Ooh La La Consignment (super cute shop with interesting and designer clothing)
The Cat (a thrift store that supports a cat shelter. Nicely arranged store with real finds)
Santa Fe Vintage OUTPOST (great vintage western wear and jewelry)
While I was shopping in Santa Fe, a lot was happening at the barn. The interior walls were painted, and the beams and posts were getting spruced up and readied for painting. On the outside, the exterior was being weatherproofed with caulking, trim and additional siding. It looks a bit patchwork now, but once it gets a new coat of black paint it’s going to look consistent and, best of all, be able to keep the weather where it belongs — outside. They also prepped for the new cement pads outside the doors. One will be at the main entrance where people will be able to roll up their equipment, wheel chairs, or anything else that could benefit from a stair-less entry. On the south cement pad, we made it a size that could accommodate a band. And the third pad is under the east upstairs deck. This will be the garden patio area with potted plants and shaded seating with a view. We figure we are about a month away from completion so we are getting pretty excited to turn this blog from revocation to Open for Business!
Roads are made for journeys, not destinations. - Confucius
It’s been a couple of weeks since my last blog entry. In that time I have journeyed on many roads with destinations as far as Denver, Colorado, Brooklyn, New York and Ocean City, Maryland. At times that journey was frustrating (canceled flights, positive covid tests, bad weather) and at other times rewarding and worth every bit of inconvenience. The thing about traveling is if you don’t go with the flow, you spend your time and energy worrying. And that gets you nowhere – fast. Leaving our little place of paradise in southwestern Colorado is also a good way to realize what I love about it and how excited I am to share it with others.
Weeks 19 & 20
When you journey up the drive to the Harmony Barn, you will find a huge amount of progress. Our road has been redone. The past winter’s ice and thaw, not to mention huge cement trucks and other large vehicles, did a real number on our humble dirt road. Not built to accommodate more than a bit of residential traffic, the road/drive was really just a big dirt path that had huge ruts and holes where water collected and turned to mud. Now it is an engineered road. There are layers of proper road material, and a convex profile so that water drains off the road into the new ditch. Not a sexy addition to our plan but a necessary one, so that the drive up to the Harmony Barn is a harmonious one, not a rough one. Other progress on the barn includes grading of the landscape, to help water drain safely away from the structure, and the finishing of the walls so that they are ready to paint. The finish line is within sight!
This week we had guests again at the Harmony Barn Apartment. It was nice to have people enjoying the beautiful spring days and knowing that summer will bring a steady stream of people to enjoy the area, many of them for the first time. Turns out it takes a bit of work to reopen a place after having been shut down for a few months. This is what owners of cabins and second homes must have to deal with, but I wouldn’t know. The main thing in getting the place ready is making sure the systems work. It’s good to have electricity and plumbing, and when the toilet started leaking and flooded the bathroom after it was reconnected, that was NOT good. Hours, and many soggy towels later, the apartment was ready. The wifi was humming along, and the welcome mat was in place and our contractor had moved the gigantic trash trailer from the parking lot and entrance. Of course it still looks like a construction zone around the lower part of the barn, but it looks like a neat construction zone and hopefully our guests won’t mind too much.
The barn progress is cruising along. Drywall is up and drywall mud and finishing is starting. The other big thing to start happening is the landscaping. Right now the land slopes right into the South side of the barn, which means water drains right toward the barn. The land will have to be scraped away, and reconfigured so that water drains away from the barn. And then walkways and hardscaping will be put in.
After having moved to a small community after living in a large city, I have noticed how important non-profit organizations are to the health and vibrancy of the community they serve. It is true in the city as well, but how much you connect with these type of organizations depends on the smaller groups you belong to. For example, when I worked at a large inner-city high school, there were specific groups to support the school’s students, teachers and staff. The more support a group received, the better chance that group had of thriving. In the three years that we have lived in the Mancos area, it seems that volunteer and non-profit groups have a real impact on the health of the town and its people. There are groups that support teen well-being, economic development, trail maintenance, agricultural practices, and a myriad of health services, just to name a few. Where governmental services are limited, people step in. It’s a good reminder that we need each other, and that supporting each others helps us all to thrive.
Week 17: What Makes a Strong Building?
As we have watched the renovation and building of our barn into a gathering space, we’ve seen first hand the benefits of planning, coordination, and cooperation within in the process. There is a specific order to how things get done, and the skilled tradespeople need to work together so that key things are done at the right time and in the right way. Our contractor is the conductor and his job is to see that process is done right. We are now in the crucial part of building where many things are happening simultaneously and if we are to have the place ready to go by July, they have to happen with the right timing. Drywall is almost complete and finishing and painting will happen soon, as well as the staining of the concrete floor. The plumbing needs to happen this week - as we have guests in the apartment this coming weekend. You might say: If it takes a village to raise a child, then it takes a village to create a healthy community, and it takes a village (of talented craftspeople) to transform a barn.
In January 2020, my husband and I bought a barn on 10 acres adjacent to our home property near Mancos, Colorado, and asked ourselves, "What do we do with it now? Since then we have renovated the top floor into a vacation rental and are in the process of renovating the bottom/main part of the barn into a gathering space. Join us on our journey!