LollyGag Facelift happened 10 years ago today, on the New York / Quebec border on the July 4th weekend of 2003, with an amazing transformation of our old milk barn, fondly called “Woop Woop” was lovingly recreated as a spectacular garden retreat – a summer dining & lounging cottage as a birthday surprise for DJ.
Following the LollyGag Facelift “reveal”, a surprise birthday party was revealed with DJ’s friends and family from all around North America.
The Facelift team has never worked on a farm before, or tackled quite as huge a job as we did when we arrived at Toby and DJ’s rural acreage. The main farmhouse is surrounded by a number of barns and sheds, and it was the milking shed that was to be transformed into a peaceful oasis, unlike anything the owners and animals had ever seen.
The milking shed was originally built to store milk, and had a hayloft above, still loaded with hay. There was an interior partition with window openings cut out for the cows’ heads to poke through as they would stand while being milked. We gutted the interior to open up the cathedral ceiling and make space for some seating and tables.
The concrete floor was cracked and filthy and would need some serious attention, but the lumber from the ceiling and floor was thick and still very solid, so we recycled these heavy old planks to make the furniture and doors.
The front door wasn’t adequate for what we had in mind, so we made a series of double doors on the side of the shed that open up to a large deck and views of an Asian-style garden.
The milking shed is aptly named Woop Woop, which Australian-born Toby told us means ‘middle of nowhere.’ The exterior shell is all that is left; it is now designed for a completely different purpose as a retreat for DJ, Toby and friends to party or relax after work in the big city.
All the hay was forked out of the loft and the ceiling removed–a horrible, dirty job made worse by the heat and rain. Once cleaned up, the interior was primed and painted a wild citrus green. Cobalt blue makes a cool contrast on the exterior of the building and the decks. These two colors are not your common country shades, but they work perfectly to set a young, lighthearted mood.
The shed floor was in dismal shape, but a company that specializes in decorative concrete came to the rescue. They unrolled a huge stencil and sprayed tinted concrete over the pattern to produce the look of flagstones. This product, first made for driveways is extremely durable and weather resistant.
Three double doors were cut into the side of the shed and open up flat against the wall so that everyone gets an unobstructed view of the garden. A cobalt blue deck outlines a perfectly designed space filled with a water fountain, fire pit, pebble paths and plants.
We had a good supply of lumber from the old ceiling and partition, which was cleaned up and recycled for benches and day beds, a table, and as part of the new double doors.
Lively colored pillows decorate the handmade benches that double as beds, and as a final whimsical touch, we fashioned an oversized chandelier from tree branches and tiny white lights. It makes a magical display.
Letter From Debbie
This was the biggest Facelift ever. It took 40 people, including a bunch of teenage boys, 5 days and about $130,000 to complete this makeover.
Toby and DJ have been partners for over 16 years. They left the hustle and bustle of New York City to live in the country. After the turmoil of 9/11 they bought a farm in the country. Toby is a famous Broadway producer who now commutes between the farm and the city. DJ is learning the complexities of running a working farm.
I met Toby for the first time on a rainy spring day when he invited us down to see his place with the possibility of surprising DJ. I thought he meant his farmhouse but what he had in mind was a small milking shed. The last inhabitants were the cows and they had definitely not cleaned up behind them!
Well always up for a challenge, we moved in a few months later after an unassuming DJ had left for a family visit in town. Although it was an enormous amount of work it was more like the ‘Facelift team go on holiday’.
The hotel was so horrid that we all ended up camping in the local fields. Luckily they had a pool so the extreme heat and intense dust was relieved with periodic jumps in the pool.
I hope you all have as much fun watching this show as we had converting a run down milking shed into a bright cabana with it’s own Zen garden.
Lots of love,
Letter From DJ
THE AWARD FOR THE MOST DRAMATICALLY IMPROVED MILK BARN GOES TO…FACELIFT AND ITS TALENTED TEAM OF DESIGNERS, LANDSCAPERS, ARTISTS, CARPENTERS, FILM CREW AND DELINQUENT TEENS LEAD BY THE AMAZING DEBBIE TRAVIS FOR WOOP WOOP.
Each time I pull into LollyGag I relive that day. I can still hear my passenger, Anastasia telling me to get out of my truck and the dead calm of the farm. I felt like I stepped into a movie set in an old western ghost town and I was waiting for the tumble weed to blow across the driveway. Instead I saw a lone camera man moving across the rooftop of our house. Then the calm broke and turned into the best birthday bash LollyGag has ever seen. We will never be the same.
I didn’t even notice the color of Woop Woop as I parked my truck (which is surprising since they are my FAVORITE colors!); I thought to myself that Toby had gone a little overboard for my birthday with the trees and lattice. I just could not figure out where everyone was — not a car or person to be found — and for LollyGag that is not normal.
When I finally realized something pretty amazing had taken place, there was Toby, tears rolling down his face, G&T in his hand, sitting in my new little piece of heaven — what is the all new Woop Woop. Then someone grabbed my arm and I instantly recognized her as Debbie Travis and history at LollyGag was made.
We have spent many nights reminiscing the events of the past few months — the “reveal” and surprise party with my large family who came from all over North America — both on the front porch and inside of Woop Woop watching the trees sway to the sound of water from Kim’s rock waterfall and hosting friends under the rustic chandelier inspired by Anne — of course raising a glass to you Debbie and your talented team.
I need to thank you and every one who put their energy and talents into this special treat at LollyGag. I find it unbelievable that for months I was controlled, manipulated and talked into doing things to support the transformation of Woop Woop with out ever knowing it. From now on I will second guess everything Toby tries to talk me into — and I guess more importantly those things he doesn’t!
What a way to celebrate a birthday — I cannot wait to see what Toby does next year to top it!
Debbie, you, Hans, your teams led by Anne, Catherine, Kim and all your talented staff are welcome back to LollyGag anytime. I promise to take care of a very special place we call Woop Woop.
Thank You Thank You
With the utmost respect and bushels of love.
Your latest and very happy victim