Posts Tagged ‘1928 Farm House’

I have designed several “perfect” dining rooms, since I started planning houses in my mind, when I was in perhaps the third grade. Some I struggled with for many months before I was satisfied with their dimensions, features, and colors, being aware that they were not going to efficiently do all the jobs required of them. (Some simply wouldn’t fit into the floor plans and still do what they needed to do, so had to be discarded.) Since then, I have learned a few things. One, is that there is no “perfect” room; a room is always undergoing evolution of some sort, and is not a static idea. Nonetheless, I keep reaching for finality.

When we moved into the farm house, and it kicked in that here was a house I could practically start fresh in, I was excited. I have a huge collection of pictures of decorating ideas of all kinds, and when I had sorted through these, and had picked out ones that spoke to me for this house, I had a fair idea of what I was after:

Red walls, or red-orange
Woodwork as is (probably is fir wood, cherry stained)
White or light ceiling
Sage green and fire-orange accents (unspecified)

These were a couple of my inspirations:

Orange Dining Room 2  Orange Dining Room 1

All that has changed several times since that decision in 2010.

At first, I tried to accommodate Will in the planning. I felt I had to take into account the fact that, since a series of min-strokes, he is practically blind in one eye, and that dark colored walls may not be acceptable. After much thought, however, I realized that he didn’t really care what the house looked like. If he did, he’d have tried harder to make sure our previous home was pleasantly maintained. As it was, in seven years he’d never made it possible even to finish painting the kitchen, and it had a well-worn look right up to the end…scarcely better than what I was starting with in this house. I decided to do exactly as I pleased, and if he didn’t like it, he didn’t have to look at it.

So I decided to try to find a retro area linoleum similar to the rose-colored poppies I currently have. I couldn’t love it more! But it is getting hopelessly worn, to the point that there is almost as much brown showing (the backing) as there are poppies.

Paint colors were still a problem, but I knew I wanted red-orange on the north wall. I found the perfect wall paper – a pattern with a brilliant red-orange background, sage-green foliage like twirling vines, and lively-looking birds that did not seem to have just flown in from the tropics. (I don’t want tropical-looking birds in the midst of my house on the plains.) Of course, by the time I scraped together the funds to purchase it, the pattern was discontinued. Plan B was another bird pattern, this one with a white background, the birds and foliage being black and silver. It will do nicely, and I feel I will remain happy with it for some years.

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I can do the red-orange theme in some kind of flooring, or perhaps paint the black heating stove some wild shade. Engine enamels and wood-stove paints come in an amazing array of colors. I’m thinking of this brand:

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What else? I knew I wanted birds in other ways than wallpaper. Lots of birds, because nothing is quite so lively and inoffensive as a songbird, unless it be a butterfly. I was feeling inspired by ideas such as this:

March9-May3 2014 228  Nov10-Jan21 2014 231

I had regretfully discarded several other ideas, such as rabbits and coffee, deciding that they simply didn’t cover all the ground I needed covered emotionally for a dining room.

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I had put together a list of words and phrases that described my hopes for the “feel” of each room in my home, and the words for the dining room were:

Growth, Cheer, Nurturing and Productive Curiosity, Organization

I had listed all the things my dining room regularly gets used for, including:

  • Food preparation, including meat processing in freezing weather, and processing garden produce in summer
  • Cooking (on heating stove) – 2/3 of year
  • Meal planning, recipe and cookbook storage
  • Eating family meals, and with occasional guests
  • Dishes storage and display
  • Some food storage
  • Formal study periods in our homeschool (Scripture study, history, science, music, art, home ec., crafts, etc.)
  • Household planning, also school books organization
  • Art display, both school and formal
  • Socializing
  • Watching videos and movies
  • Listening to music
  • Office work and writing (Will and I)
  • Laundry (during winter weather) – including drying clothes near stove
  • Sewing and similar
  • Rock cutting and polishing
  • Tool and chainsaw repair
  • Care of wounded and sick critters
  • Raising small batches of poultry in a box or large bucket

Clearly, organization and cleanability were paramount. Besides getting used for almost everything, it is the room that is on it’s way to practically everywhere else in the house. The floorplan of the house is fairly open, as well, requiring that areas be especially compatible in decorating feel. I had originally desired to make the dining room and adjoining living room quite different in colors, but realized this was going to feel odd, as well as cost more in paint and supplies, and in the end, decided to use different wallpapers, but the same paints on most walls and ceilings. I was going for a woodland feel…so discarded the traditional white ceiling idea. The walls of both rooms were broken up by many doorways and windows, and there wasn’t much clear space to enjoy wallpaper. Only the north walls are clear enough for this purpose.

Another thing to consider is our typical weather. For up to eight months out of each year, we have snow. Not nice, Christmas-card snow (though I’d tire even of that), but snow that is equal parts dirt, having arrived in blizzards, being driven into our yard along with topsoil from the neighboring fields. White, gray, and nondescript brown dominate. So all neutral colors were out of the question, as far as decorating was concerned. I craved something springy and vivid. Hence, the red-orange, like poppies and red-wing blackbirds, and the hearts of certain new buds.

The answer was spring yellow, and deep robin’s egg blue:

Aug10-21, 2014 655   Copy of Aug10-21, 2014 763

These colors go with everything in a sweetly integrated way, and so far, everyone I’ve shown the results loves it…except one friend who happened to have a migraine headache, and felt overwhelmed by the yellow.

Relaxing in this room with my favorite mug of coffee certainly makes the gray snow more bearable. I can think of strawberries, iris blooms, lilacs, meadowlarks, and baby lambs, when I contemplate my main rooms now, even when it’s -30* F. (Living room, dining room, and kitchen all partially share the new-leaf yellow and robin’s egg blue, so I get to enjoy it nearly all the time.)

I still have a ways to go to make the room everything I want it to be, and the weather has still been too cold to risk trying to hang wallpaper. (It snowed again this week, twice…though hopefully this will be the last time this spring.) I would like to make the entertainment area more efficient, less cluttered, and easier to care for. I would like to modify my set of open display shelves, to accommodate some storage drawers, a platter rack, and also glass doors. I still haven’t found anything like the right flooring to replace my linoleum…which was laid in 1928, according to the condition of the floor under it…which has never been finished at all. The first owners simply finished the hardwood around the perimeter of the linoleum.

I might go with the red-orange, as specified before, or I might pick a black-and-white pattern, maybe something like this:

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It looks overwhelming on the page, and I’ll have to see how things are after I have my bird pattern wallpaper up, but I think it’s going to be lovely in action. We’ll see how things feel in a bit. I might save the black-and-white continuing theme for smaller areas, such as potted plants, thus:

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It would be fun to paint up some pots similar to these (above), don’t you think? And I love the sunflowers, too. I even have a copper kettle (too dilapidated to be more than decorative) which would lend itself to this lovely idea.

That brings me to what kinds of flowers I’ll need, to compliment my birds. The roses below are inspirational:

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But perhaps will not be the right item. I’m thinking, morning glories, or orange mallow flowers, or day lilies. Sunflowers are really very over done. There’s a lot to choose from there…but whatever I do, it also has to allow for Western meadowlarks, since they are my favorite songbird. There is nothing in the world quite like their liquid-sunrise music.

And of course, I’ll need some barn swallows painted on the walls of dining room and hallway (maybe living room too?) here and there, for accents and to drive home the outdoor feel of the place:

Aug.28-Sep.2, 2014 231   Aug.28-Sep.2, 2014 242

I also have a lot of figuring to do, regarding the remodeling of the understairs closet area between the dining room and hallway. I’ve chosen to split about half the space right down the middle, and make highly accessible cupboards opening off either side. (The front section, opening into the hallway, will remain a coat closet, and I want rabbits, thus:

Attic2 (2)

…lining the cabinets.) This means careful re-thinking of all the uses for dining room and kitchen, too, as the kitchen needs some help, and I am planning quite a big remodeling project for it. It has great potential, but is neither easy to use nor easy to care for. So I have a stack of pictures, lists, and thoughts related to this subject, and need to let them incubate before I’ll know enough details. Finally, I want to make my school book section more refined. These products should do:

Desk File Organizer  Clear File Envelopes

I’d love to fit this shelf in somewhere, but don’t see how that’s possible just now:

Turntable Book Shelf

Meanwhile, I feel at last that I have a space in the dining room that I can begin to be proud of, and truly revel in.

Last, but not least, here is an inspiration for outside the windows:


My house isn’t built of brick, but I can make a similar sweet look, after a nice painting job on the exterior of the house.

Note: All paints and wallpapers have been from Sherwin-Williams, and I am very pleased with the knowledge and friendliness of their staff. The desk and file organizers, as well as the rotating book shelf, come from Levenger.

Update, June 26, 2015 –

Well! I found some chairs I love.

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They are designed by a local woman, are reasonably priced, and are very complimentary to what else I have going on in my home. What do you think? (I’m not sure what the woman has available these days, as these photos were taken in August 2014, at a local fair where she was selling them.)

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For the main dining room feature, click here.

March 3, 2015 – Spring arrangement on open shelves –

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It is really difficult to get a clear picture of this shelf – the angles and lighting make it tricky – but I enjoy re-arranging once a season or so, as time and inclination permit, and took time this spring to make a cheerful set-up, full of birds, flowers, and easily-accessible teas and accessories. It has made the rest of the work this spring seem easier.

My next project is wallpaper on the north wall:

Birds of Versailles wallpaper

My mother is going to help me hang this, as I’ve never done it before. It is a pattern from Sherwin Williams, called “Birds of Versailles,” with shiny silver leaf highlights, creating pleasant glimmers in the sunlight.


August 18, 2015 – Insulating Curtain –

I needed a large, insulated curtain for my dining room bay windows. I wanted something that was not a dark color, and it couldn’t be too weighty, velvety (attracting dog hair), or hard to clean. It had to stand up well to being opened and closed often, and be suitable as a summer heat shield, even during our fly infestations (common to rural properties near pig farms).

I found an unexpected solution in the form of a bedspread, which had belonged to a friend many years ago, and had subsequently been packed away in a wooden box. I loved the pattern, which was the same as my favorite set of sheets, recently deceased. The lighting is unhelpful for taking pictures, but I get an “E” for Effort:

The pattern is sweet pea flowers on a white ground, and I’m afraid it looks a bit washed out in the photos. In life, it compliments all the main colors in the room, and is a cheering reminder that spring will come again, even though the winter does seem perpetually dim.

I have since re-arranged the mint-green over-curtains (per the second two photos), and am much happier with the effect.


August 25, 2015 – Wallpaper –

The wallpaper is installed! And I am even more pleased with it than I anticipated being. Here it is:

My dad came to help, too – and Mom and I were glad he did, because it took three people to properly handle, apply, and smooth the longest strips. Dad was also much better at cutting good edges than either of us, though I’ve had plenty of practice with a utility knife.

Billy didn’t get to help much, but he’s proud anyway.

Will is the only one who’s not too sure that he loves the wallpaper. But he likes the brightening effect in the room.


November 2, 2015 – Heat Shield for Wood Burning Stove –

Before using the dining room heating stove in earnest, we needed to install a heat shield. We chose to go with sheet metal from a company my husband has worked with several times, and bought enough to do the heat shield and also most of two walls in the kitchen, in the corner with the cookstove. Here it is:

We simply installed 2X4 boards behind the metal, attaching them with screws through the wallpaper into the studs. I painted them the same robin’s egg blue as the wall behind the display shelves, and everything pulls together very nicely.

I was afraid the metal sheet would take a horrible gap out of the vibrancy of the wallpaper, but it did no such thing. It looks as if it belongs, and frames the stove, rather than allowing it to appear random.


November 26, 2015 – Thanksgiving Decorations –

Decorative shelf in living room, Thanksgiving 2015For Thanksgiving, we had a few members of Will’s family to dine. My garden work had shut down earlier this year than normal, so I had time to give the house a thorough going-over (which it dreadfully needed). Of course, I decorated the piano-top shelf in the living room with various nature objects and figures of animals, in keeping with my woodsy-themed house.

Next, I asked my son  Billy to make himself handy with a drill, and create candle-light holes in a pumpkin for the dining room:

They are not as evenly spaced as I would have liked, but I am pleased enough. (We later fed the pumpkin to the chickens, who loved it. The  buttercup squashes, we ate ourselves.)

I had time to fix up a small table for some of us, using my Currier and Ives (reproduction) plates, and a tablecloth I had found when we moved into this house:

I confess to having loved mushrooms ever since I can remember, and this whimsical embroidery was just what I wanted. How often do things like that work out, I ask you?

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August, 2014 – Painting the Walls and Ceiling –

As you can see, I finally got my dining room painted. A long-time internet friend whom I’d never met came with his girlfriend in July, for a long visit. It was the nicest time I’d had in years, and provided a much-needed lift to my soul. Richard hates to come to anyone’s home empty-handed, so had asked me what sort of gift I’d prefer. He was thinking about a sword, since we both enjoy weapons, and have done some collaborations on fantasy and sci-fi stories. I told him this would be wonderful…but what seemed more necessary is paint for my house. I had already researched the possibilities, and so the trip to the paint store was an easy and pleasant one.

Much plaster and electrical work needed to be done before painting could begin:

Much of the updating of electricity in the house had already been done, but some things needed tweaked, and we added a couple light fixtures. Billy, above, learned quite a bit about electrical installation techniques and plaster repair from a grandfather with much experience.

Next came the painting itself:

Here are the results:

Copy of Aug10-21, 2014 763Since the painting was finished, the house has been cheerful even in dark winter. Also, the walls are a breeze to wash now, and I can sponge-mop the ceiling in 15 minutes, eliminating smoke build-up from the wood fires.

I left the north wall bare for now, as it is going to be wallpapered. The trickiest part of the whole painting process was measuring to get the blue background (same shade as the ceiling) just so behind my set of shelves, without its sticking out beyond the shelves, but not leaving a yellow rim inside, either. (The house is nowhere near square or level.) I am very pleased with it. I have many blue-themed dishes, and it suits just right. I am thinking of repeating this effect in the kitchen cupboards, but am not sure yet. I’ll think on it a bit.

(The bookshelf near the stove was moved before we used the stove again in the early fall.)

November 27, 2014 – Picture and Project Wall –

Nov.12-Jan15 2015 307This is part of our homeschooling method. It is our “bulletin board” for all kinds of things – famous speeches and portraits; maps; Scripture verses to memorize; anything that helps with planning art projects (such as the printouts of willow trees, which I am studying for a mural elsewhere); and animals that are beautiful or fascinating. Also, sometimes, we add things that are on our to-do lists – rockets to build, flowers to plant, special foods to try. It is a lot of fun, and many of the pictures get changed every two weeks or once a month, so there is always plenty of variety. I make a point of adding poetry, too, and information on the arts, as we all enjoy exploring many fields of thought.

Autumn Leaf Project –

I had read in an old kindergarten projects book that one could take preserved leaves, and make decorations by ironing them between sheets of waxed paper. So early in the year – the preceding Christmas, in fact, we had begun to save leaves, pressing them between paper towels in various large books. The kids collected throughout the spring and summer any leaves which caught their fancy, and when fall came around, we had a good selection from which to choose. I took ordinary sheets of waxed paper, arranged the leaves however it seemed good (with the kids’ input), laid another sheet on top – waxiest sides together, as the two sides of the paper are not identical – and went over them briefly with a medium-hot iron. They tape to the windows easily with Scotch tape. In bright sunlight, the arrangements look like stained glass. At night, they become opaque, but are still interesting.

When we were finished with the arrangements, toward late winter (it is essential to have colorful things up during the darkest part of the year), we laid them away in a box, ready for another time.

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Will surprised me several days ago by sending me a photo in my e-mail of a new attic floor. I happened to be away from home at the time, and when I saw the subject line, “150 sq ft of floor,” I admit I panicked, wondering what Will had decided now without telling me, and what he had done to which room? Well, when I saw the photo I was pleased. Here it is:


I am afraid Will is a bad photographer, and this picture makes me feel seasick, but it will suffice for now.

He had salvaged quite a stack of sheet metal off a roof he had re-done for a client, and while some of it has gone onto our own roof (partially done), he chose to use some of it for my attic, too! Most of my friends tell me I am pleased with simple things, but this did please me! I’ve gone four years without a floor in my attic, having to make do with scraps, boards, and things taken off the trash heap to construct platforms which will hold the various things that need stored. So this was indeed a happy day.

I had intended to lay down some junky plywood, just for an overall platform until something better could be done, but Will assured me this would not have worked. When I eyeballed the various elevations of the sheet metal floor, I understood why. In at least two places, the floor was as much as an inch out of level in a foot’s distance! No, plywood would not have worked out well. Sheet metal, flexing and quick to lay down, worked out much better.

I thanked God for saving me the loads of work involved in pulling staples out of the plywood I had in mind, too, as it had come straight off another roof years back.

Well, so much for that.

Since this photo was taken, we have laid down more sheet metal, and have almost have the attic covered. I have cleaned the floor, and begun re-arranging the cabinets I got for my sewing and craft things. (These cabinets were salvaged out of a church remodel, and while I would never have chosen the orange counter top, I’m not complaining.)

Craft Cabinets, Attic, Not in Place - February 2014

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I adore this cabinet in the upstairs hallway. I fell in love with it on sight (as it was in the photo). It is pretty, practical, and stays very clean, mainly for linens and such. When I was cleaning out this space at first, I found some carefully embroidered baby clothes. Perhaps foolishly, I attempted to save any clothes which seemed in good shape, as there were several fine vintage specimens. I even found dresses and one hat – from the ’20’s, apparently, and still in its original wrapper – with the tags still on. Unfortunately, most of these had been parked in the upstairs east room closet, where the roof leak had allowed them to get damaged. Still, I hoped I could find some place to sell the best ones to someone who cared for such things. So I packed certain things away in boxes with rosemary leaves and/or mothballs, and am looking into my options.

I mentioned the embroidered baby clothes. I was impressed that someone had taken the time to create such garments for a child who would quickly soil and outgrow them, and that they had apparently enjoyed doing so. (I had secretly wished that I could do the same, but had had no such time when my babies were small.) Of course, I have no idea where these originally came from, but other evidences, such as flawlessly-sewed enclosed seams on a slip, suggest that your mother(?) was a first-rate seamstress. I also found a half-finished quilt top in the hall closet – embroidered figures of both domestic and wild flowers – and I’ve been considering finishing that. I admit I’m not so fond of the color scheme that was chosen, but it seems a pity to waste the work, and I shouldn’t wonder but that my daughter – who is 7, and though fond of beauty, is also erratic, and as energetic as a newly-resurrected Phoenix – might not love it. We’ll see. I also found a number of quite serviceable table runners and center-piece cloths, napkins, doilies, etc. I made a mistake when washing some of these, as I accidentally threw in something that bled in patches wherever it touched a couple of them…but some dye will take care of that. They just won’t be white anymore.

All in all, it pleases me to have a specific place to organize linens, etc., as I had no such place where we lived before. The drawers are a good place to keep games, extra school tablets (we homeschool), candles, and odds and ends – more things I had to stuff as stuff can, in the previous house. Finally, I adore the gold-red woodwork.

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Dear Richard,
I  have decided to take the blogging route to sharing with you things about the farmstead that I think will interest you – things that are being done and planned, and a few of my thoughts on the place.
From August 2009 –
I took these photos in late summer 2009, shortly after seeing the house for the first time. I had an experience that unnerved me, immediately upon setting foot on the property – I realized I had dreamt of it before, in a night-time dream(s), and that parts of the property were already familiar to me through the dream(s). I was physically shaking as Will and I examined the house, because I needed to be part of this farmstead, and I was afraid we might not get it. The place has not disappointed me, though the pace at which I have been able to move, while cleaning up and beginning new projects, has at times been depressing.
Big Basement Room, Black Fur Coat - September 2009

This photo shows the basement as it looked the first time I saw it. I thought the potential for the space was rather good, and immediately began indulging fantasies of what we could do to turn it into a family and work space, cozy with wood heating stove. The plans are moving slowly there, but the original mess is pretty well gone. I am having to figure out now what to do with the mess which we substituted for it, in the way of storing our own things which are awaiting a permanent parking place.

I found it somewhat pleasurable and interesting to go through the “trash” left in the house, as I enjoyed seeing through this window into someone else’s life – what they liked and what hobbies they engaged in, where their priorities lay, etc. It was a bit like reading an historical novel.

Here is how it looked in spring 2013. Coming along, but nowhere near what I planned on. 🙂

Basement Big Room Update, February 2014

As far as my plans for the basement go, they are somewhat sketchy. I had very different ideas initially than I have now. I have watched the way my family has actually reacted to living here, and the way we naturally use the different spaces.  So I will start by saying some things I love about this big room:

Big Basement Room, Messy, Including Chimney, Closet, and View into Billy's Room - September 2009

Even when I walked in and saw the original mess, I particularly liked the brickwork in the basement…the bright golden wood on the closet…the uninhibited windows opening in the spring to let in the freshness.

I plan on insulating the basement walls with the stick-frame method, so that it is not glaringly chilly in the winters. We have strung lines for drying laundry, and have installed a 30-gallon barrel stove for heating. I would like to eliminate the false ceiling, which is coming to bits anyway and is a veritable mouse highway, and paint the woodwork – perhaps in a practical manner, perhaps fancifully, say, with a floral-vine motif. I haven’t had a chance to look past the organization work that yet needs to be done, in order to think clearly about my options. So that will come later. Will is using the heavy brown cabinet which we found downstairs for storing ammunition and the like. (He is a shooting enthusiast.)

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March 1, 2013 –

My dining room is cluttered, but shaping up:

Wedding and Family Camp 005

I recently got my copper molds hung and my shelves newly cleaned and arranged (though this corner definitely needs a light, and it is difficult to see what is arranged. The file box belongs elsewhere, but is necessary to some of my daily projects just now. Finally, the cabinets cluttering the foreground are washed, inspected, and ready to go to the attic, to my slowly-developing craft area. (I need Will’s help to move them. Things are generally cheerful, if very cluttered, and I feel that definite progress has been made.

Wedding and Family Camp 006

This shelf is made from a piano top, and bears the makers inscription in gold lettering on the underside. (Will’s mother is a piano technician, and he grew up seeing and thinking of all kinds of uses for piano parts. Lead key weights make excellent sling-shot missiles, for instance.)

Well, the place looks like our lives – too full, but creative and well-loved.

October 15, 2013 –

Will and I finally got in agreement on how and where to install a main heating stove in the upstairs. This stove is the Gatling 45, or Colorado 45, model which we had had for a time in the basement in our previous house.

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We had considered the idea of putting this in the living room, and running the pipe through the attic nook…but ultimately decided that it would serve more and better purposes in the dining room. So I moved my desk and display shelf into the living room, and made way for the stove.

K-10 the German Shepherd enjoys the radiant warmth, as does everyone else who lives here. This stove is a good, efficient model, which will burn a variety of woods, in scrap lumber or logs, well and warmly. It has enough of a platform on top to be able to cook things, and we frequently use it instead of the official cookstove in the kitchen. Making coffee, cooking roasts, and even baking fry-pan biscuits is pleasant on this stove.

Breakfast can now be taken in usually comfortable temperatures, and formal school times are much nicer, too.

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