While getting the limestone was stressful, the counters look great and were very cheap. I paid $700 for everything, saving about $2,000. The porous stone is not for everyone, though. If you put down a bottle of olive oil or tomato sauce without wiping the bottom first, it'll leave a ring that won't completely come out.

To help with repairs elsewhere in the house, I recruited my friend and self-taught handyman wizard Moran Vered. He helped me replace 95 percent of the cedar shakes on the house and restore most of the windows. We took the interior molding off each window frame, labeling the pieces so we could reuse them. Then we put in new sash weights and ropes and replaced some of the hardware that had been painted shut.

Since the placement of windows in the back of the house needed to be changed to accommodate the new 38-inch-high counters in the kitchen and the wider bed in the master bedroom, we moved some to other parts of the house. I also saved all of the glass from the back windows to replace the small broken panes in some of the windows we salvaged. I love the imperfections of the old glass.

In fact, it's all the imperfections of my home that give it character. I just have so much respect for something that was built by hand a hundred years ago that I ¬≠wanted to restore it back to its glory days—though I also wanted it to be comfortable for modern life. One of my favorite places has become the study. Its pocket doors, which were salvaged from another home, and old brick fireplace are remnants of another time. And now, new gas logs keep the place nice and toasty against drafts from the large original windows that I love so much.
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