Farmhouse Renovation

Of all the things I've greatly underestimated in life, renovating this farmhouse is certainly at the top of the list. The house was move in ready at the time of purchase. It had been vacant for two years but well maintained. There were no structural issues, we simply wanted to make it "ours."


To give you an idea of our timeframe, we purchased the house in the beginning of April, 2016. We had an existing lease that extended through the fall, but managed to secure an early exit without paying fees. At the time it seemed reasonable to believe the cosmetic changes we wanted to do could be completed within 4 weeks, so we planned to move the beginning of May. The scope of these changes included:


-Painting the house top to bottom

-Removing carpet on First and second Floors

-Updating the (only) bathroom

-Removing upper cabinets and painting lower cabinets in kitchen

-Relocating washer and dryer from kitchen into mudroom

-Adding an island to the center of the kitchen

-Updating the plaster throughout the First Floor to remove existing texture

-Drywall second Floor walls (in lieu of existing wood paneling)

-Drywall bedroom ceilings (in lieu of existing popcorn tiles)

-Updating appliances


Anyone who has engaged in this process knows that if you start to pull a thread, often what unravels is the entire sweater. As it turns out, all of the "strange" things in existence within our 150+ year old house were there for a reason.  We REALLY got into trouble in terms of our capabilities, budget, and timeline when we:


-Realized the Flooring beneath the carpets had more patching than original wood

-Tried to remove the faux wood beams throughout the front rooms and discovered an unsightly header right in the middle of one room

-Decided to remove the door and a wall to open up the staircase

-Determined that in order to maximize the bathroom we needed to absorb the front room closet, close off two doorways, and relocate an ancient cast iron pipe

-Decided to remove a faux brick wall

-Realized we should probably update the electric system, given we had children


In any case, here are the before shots...



As May came and went, we found ourselves living with Ben's parents and deeply in over our heads. We moved into the farmhouse at the beginning of august. at the time we had dumpster #3 outside, I was mid-way through our second pregnancy and by then everyone was familiar with the make-shift outhouse as the only means of plumbing.   It took us ten months of working literally every spare hour we had to get the main Floor to what it is today.


The only work we contracted was for the plumbing, electrical, and plaster. The rest of the manual labor was primarily completed by Ben, myself, and my dad. Ben's parents, his grandmother Betty, and a handful of friends also spent countless hours helping us complete critical stages of painting and cleaning. To all of you, we are forever thankful.


In the end, here are the changes we made:


Front Rooms

  • Closed doorway to bath
  • Opened stairwell
  • Removed faux brick tile
  • Removed faux wood beams
  • Closed off closet doorway
  • Painted
  • Skim coated existing plaster to remove texture
  • Updated trim for windows
  • Painted windows
  • Updated light Fixtures
  • Removed carpet
  • Installed wide-plank Flooring (from sawmill)
  • Made custom vent covers (due to non-standard sizing)
  • Updated baseboards



  • Installed wide-plank Flooring (from sawmill)
  • Removed upper cabinets
  • Painted lower cabinets
  • Made Custom wood countertops (from sawmill)
  • Relocated washer and dryer, removed cabinet and hookups
  • Updated appliances
  • Updated sink/faucets
  • Updated trim for windows
  • Painted windows
  • Installed antique door
  • ReFinished salvaged workshop bench for an island
  • ReFinished salvaged jelly cabinet for storage
  • Custom hood for vent (A Friend Made this for us)
  • Updated light Fixtures
  • Added pendent lights over island
  • Updated baseboards



  • Demoed entire existing bathroom
  • Dropped sub-Flooring a few inches
  • Absorbed front room closet
  • Relocated cast iron pipe
  • Added clawfoot tub
  • Added European open shower
  • ReFinished antique buffet as vanity
  • Updated Fixtures
  • Added canned recessed lighting
  • Plastered ceilings
  • Added sliding Five panel door
  • Added large window for more natural light
  • Updated baseboards



  • Installed wide-plank Flooring (from sawmill)
  • Relocated washer and dryer
  • Painted



  • Removed carpet
  • Sanded and painted original wide-plank Floors
  • Removed faux wood paneling
  • Added drywall for walls/ceiling
  • Updated trim for windows (in progress)
  • Painted windows (in progress)
  • Painted original doors
  • Custom shelving in closets


Many lessons, tough conversations, and years later, this is where we stand. The second Floor still needs trim work for the doorways/windows/baseboards, as well as crown molding and vent covers, but the major components are complete.




I'll leave all the exterior work for a separate post!




Falling Back Into the Habit of Reading

Cool air and cloudy skies have us all kinds of happy over here. When you are in the business of depending on nature's life cycles, weeks without moisture will ruin even the best-made plan. So, although we are slightly delayed in harvesting our fall crops, we'll gladly take the alternative.


While we love being outdoors (even in inclement weather), sometimes it's nice to use the change of season to make being indoors a more enjoyable experience. One of the habits we stumbled upon prior to farming was selecting a few books to dive into once the weather turned. While thinking about what I'd like to read in the coming weeks, I figured it might be nice to share some favorites with you. If you are anything like us, you'll have these in your Amazon cart and arriving on your doorstep in a matter of days.



by Jeannette Walls

If you've read The Glass Castle you are no stranger to Jeannette Walls. I wasn't particularly crazy about the well-known memoir, but it adds an interesting layer that allows one to fully appreciate this book, given what the future holds for these individuals.

Half Broke Horses tells the story of Jeannette's grandmother, Lily Case Smith, an extraordinary woman who weathered several troubling familial situations. Lily is able to make a way when there is none in a place and time that has yet to see much development by way of technology, innovation and entrepreneurship.

This is by far the best book I've read in years. I'll be honest, before noticing the author, the first line of the book sold me. It reads, "Those old cows knew trouble was coming before we did."  

We recommend this book far and find it's been a favorite no matter who the audience is. If I had one pick, no doubt this would be it.



by Harper Lee

I don't know how anyone (cough, my husband, cough) made it through elementary school without reading this book, but something about it shakes me to my core each and every time I read it. Given the epic ham costume, how could it be excluded from a fall reading list? 

There are so many profound lessons buried within the fabric of this story. I often return to the scene where Scout finds herself outside the jailhouse the night a mob decides to lynch Tom Robinson. These lessons are perhaps more applicable than ever. Mob mentality has by no means diminished; it simply evolves into a contemporary facade.



by... See Below

I'm going to preface this next one by saying I have a background and a degree in literature, so please don't think I'm the People magazine type. That said, some might gawk at this recommendation because it's authored by Nicholas Sparks. Just quickly move past that fact... This is a leisure reading list, after all.

What is fall without the tender feeling of deep regard for another human being? This tells the story of high-school sweethearts. The wife, Missy, is tragically killed in a hit-and-run accident that goes unresolved.  Her husband, Miles Ryan, happens to be the deputy sheriff and does everything in his power to sift out details of the crime. He eventually starts to move beyond it and begins dating his son's second-grade teacher. I've lost most of you by now, I'm sure of it. I'll wrap this up by saying if you are remotely into love stories, this is my favorite of them all.



by Rudolf Steiner

I'd only recommend this if you are into either agriculture or philosophy. It can be a heavy read, which is why dark quiet hours make for a good time to ruminate on the concepts presented here. Nevertheless, mindfulness regarding food production and farming practices are priceless these days, and this is a good place to dive in.



by Wilson Rawls

Ben recently started reading this with our daughter, which I adore. He chose it as their first book, because he wants her to have the memory of them reading it together. What more can one say than that...