Renovations of the Past and Renovations to Come – Part II

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  Shortly after Jill and John got married, they called me and asked “would it be okay if we lived in the old farmhouse?”  I admit I was surprised because the old house was far from appealing and it was a stretch to consider it “livable.” Yet – their interest in coming to the farm to live was, of course, very appealing to us and so the answer was “of course, you can!”
  The wheels of change moved very slowly at first. Stabilizing the house was priority number one since it need some securing at the foundation – needed a chiropractor (of sorts) to level up some of the sagging joists, and a one-of-many trips to Lowe’s for lumber and hardware.

  My husband, David, has had a lot of experience with building since he helped oversee the building of our own house and the subsequent repairs. Jill’s husband, John, has been around some construction crews and brought energy and exuberance  to the equation.  Jill and I (plus family and friends on way too many occasions) helped with demolition, clean up, running to the store, organizing the mess, running to the dump, segregating the boards for future uses,cleaning and sanding – and more cleaning and sanding.  I swear there was 100 years worth of dust and squirrels nests packed into those walls.  My mother was the cook but considering that during this extended year long episode – Jill, John, and David all maintained jobs so it was a huge help to have my mother cook us supper so we can eat and crash each evening.
  We peeled layers after layers of wallpaper off of the walls and discovered beautiful boards hiding behind it all.  We salvaged any board, trim, or door that was feasibly possible.  But admittedly – what started out as a simple face-lift slowly began to morph into a full blown renovation.  Thankfully, that evolution played out slowly.  I am sure if we knew how complex and extensive the needs of this old house were from the beginning – we wouldn’t have had the inclination to tackle them. But many things in life are that way and fortunately – as we sweated through each complicated task – we saw glimpses of the treasure that this farmhouse could become.

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  Piece by piece, board by board, we took them off, figured out whether we could salvage them somehow. If we could – then they were set aside to be sanded. If not, then we replaced it. But our budget was very tight and so partly out of necessity and partly out of a desire to maintain the old timey feel of the farmhouse, we repurposed and reused as much as possible.  I think I sanded boards non-stop for about 3 months but the beauty of the farmhouse with those board walls has made it worth it. 
  After a couple of dozen drawings had been hashed over, a good floor plan was decided on by opening up a wall and creating a great-room effect. Adding a bathroom off the back kept the floor plan simple and the budget on track. Very little of the work was contracted out and for sure – we can relish the fact that this was a labor of love. All of Jill and John’s sweat equity turned an old eye sore into a home and mine and David’s contributions helped to facilitate a new beginning for the farm with an extended family unit. Jill was pregnant through much of this and the time clock was ticking to get to a “move-in-ready” stage before the arrival of baby number one.

  The house was deemed “livable” (though not finished) just in time for baby number one (Tucker) to arrive. We had promised everyone that we would have an Open House to show off our progress.  So many had helped and watched and encouraged us along our way that to finally be able to show our fruits of labor was a huge milestone.
  The renovations did not stop then. Anybody who has owned an old house can tell you that the projects never end. We like to think that we have made the old farmhouse young again – given her a new life to start a new generation with a new family. We do know that we have left her better than we found her. Let me show you a few side by side photos.
The farmhouse as we found her (in the mid-70’s)  and the farmhouse last month.

 
Believe it or not – the photo on the left is John in the “now” Bridal room. The room had layers of linoleum on the floor and layers of that old-fashioned wallpaper that is more like cardboard glued to the wall and to the ceiling. Behind all of that gunk was original wood floors in fairly good shape and great board walls and ceiling – all just needed a good scrubbing and some layers of paint. (I say the word “just” lightly but in reality – this was weeks worth of effort.)
   The same room is pictured below. This photo was taken a few months ago. Huge change, huh?
  And of course, the saga continues. The farmhouse is a slew of projects inside and out. Jill has perfected repurposing and turned this old decrepid house not only into a home but into an attractive and quaint reflection of the past – bringing out the best of her features for many to love and admire.
  When part III begins, I will take a glance back at the farm and how it too has evolved over these many years.  Till next time – Margie