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Learning to Love the Imperfections

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Our guest house started life as a greenhouse complete with harvest gold fiberglass corrugated panels. It wasn’t designed to be lived in, insulated, air conditioned, or heated. There probably wasn’t much electricity needed so there weren’t many outlets. Because you could see all the studs inside there was no concern about how far the studs were apart. The walls weren’t insulated and their wasn’t Sheetrock.

This is what the greenhouse would have looked like. The same as our small greenhouse near the home.
During demo you could see the fiberglass corrugated panels with light shining through.

At some point the greenhouse turned into a wood shop. Water was run to the building along with to the garden and outside the shop at some point, a wooden floor (reclaimed from a high school gym) was installed, insulation and pegboard covered the walls, the corrugated fiberglass was spray painted grey to look like metal, a wood burning stove was installed, and a 48 inch wide door was built. There was an awesome wood burning stove the owner had built out of a propane tank and other assorted parts inside that took three men to get out.

Nothing about the building was plumb, square or level. In order to straighten the back wall Mr. Math pushed it with the bucket of his tractor while the roofer added support beams so it could be firmed up.

When the roof was raised the two by fours above the old roofline don’t exactly match up to the new ones.

The vertical boards above the old roofline are right, below not so much.

All of my explanation is to remind me that what has been accomplished is that much more special. The walls may not be perfect, our contractor may have done a terrible ( really, really terrible ) job on the Sheetrock and siding but in spite of everything the house is solid, the house wiring is done correctly ( the wiring to the building still needs work), the plumbing is all straightened out, and Mr. Math has spent a lot of time fixing everything from over cut outlet holes to installing a vintage door into the most crooked wall, to removing screws the Sheetrock crew put into the pocket door works.

Measure twice cut once.

What I have learned is that this cute little house isn’t going to be perfect but the quirks and imperfections are what makes it special. The slightly unlevel floor, the patches in the Sheetrock, the wonky v groove planks, the ripples, the wood floors that are patched in several places with pine boards that aren’t the same width or exact color, the concrete slab in the corner where the wood burning stove was located are all a part of the little space that make it our own.

When you come to visit us we will gladly show you the quirky things that make the little home ours.

Right now we are working on the exterior. Caulking, adding nails, patching holes, adding additional trim work. Very soon we will paint. Woo hoo!

We aren’t the fastest but we really are making steady progress.

We love hearing from you.

Blessings,

Karen

My Guest House Inspiration

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My great grandmother (Katie) was twenty when she had my grandmother (Helen), my grandmother was twenty when she had my mom, and my mom was twenty four when she had me. That means my grandmother was forty four when I was born and my great grandmother was sixty four. Sounds crazy to me but I had really young grandmothers. I am saying this as a sixty year old grandmother of a three and five year old.

Katie standing by her board and batten house in 1959, three years before I was born. She always worked outside in a bonnet. I love that the wood stove metal shovel is hanging in the background.

All that talk about my linage is because both my grandmother and great grandmother had a huge impact on me. My grandmother was a career woman, a worker bee who made her on destiny and was the bread winner for her family after my grandfather was injured on an oil rig because that was really her only option. My great grandmother lived alone for many years on the homestead of her husband’s family after my great grandfather passed away. It was 17 miles from a paved road. We would turn off the highway onto a gravel road and into the interior of Louisiana to a land grant that had been in the family since the late 1800’s. Katie was a great cook, had a quite strength, and was a hard worker.

There was no indoor bathroom or phone at Katie’s house when I was young. I think a bathroom was installed when I was in elementary school. There was an elevated cistern outside the kitchen that caught rain water so that the kitchen sink had running water. Of course there was no television. I can remember going to my great grandmother’s house when I was in elementary school with my grandmother for a week during the summer. Funny, but I don’t remember being hot. It had to be really hot there but it isn’t one of the things I remember. My grandmother didn’t learn to drive until she was 50 so heading out for a trip to Louisiana was an adventure for both of us. It was like going to pioneer camp or time traveling back 100 years. We would get up in the morning, Katie would make breakfast, milk the cow, find the eggs (free range chickens), throw leftovers to the hogs, and I can even remember churning butter in a glass butter churn. My great grandmother had a treadle sewing machine that had been converted to electric at some point that she sewed on. She loved quilting and during the week she would work on a quilt. She would either work on squares or use her stretcher to do the quilting depending on where she was in the process.

I loved being there. Even when I was so young I knew how special it was to get to spend time with those ladies. I have such happy memories of the homestead that I wanted to make my guest house feel like going to Katie’s house. I picked the colors from a quilt she made. I have no idea when Katie made the quilt, my guess is mid 1950’s because of the colors but my grandmother gave the quilt to me when I got married in 1982 and the quilt looked ancient then. The quilt colors are what I am using as the color scheme in the house.

The kitchen walls at Katie’s house had what I believe was bead board on them. I know it was slats. When I had v groove planks given to us I knew it would work for the kitchenette area. I loved it so much it became a whole wall.

Everything was functional inside and outside of Katie’s house but she managed to insert pretty things where she could. I believe that is why she loved to quilt. Bright colors and fabrics with a function.

I don’t remember a lot of purely decorative items in the house. I plan on not having a lot of purely decorative things in the space but want to have things that serve a purpose and are pretty at the same time. I plan on hanging up my grandmothers’ (both sides of the family) rolling pins. They are packed away right now but will be coming out soon. Glass and wood with many a biscuit and pie crust between them. I am getting an old map of our county framed to hang from before the lake was built. That just feels like something my grandparents would have hung up along with the feed store calendar and pictures of the family.

I was so fortunate that my daughter got to meet her great-great grandmother, Katie. I love this picture of them together.

I can’t wait to show you the progress that has been made. I also have a few funny stories to share.

Have a wonderful weekend.

We love to hear from you.

Blessings,

Karen

Finally an Update on the Guest Cottage

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Hello friends. It has been a while since I let you all know what was going on with the guest cottage. Remember what Thumper’s mother told him? “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all,”. We went through a period where there wasn’t a lot to say that was nice. Since I last updated you, it rained, every day for over a month. Every. Single. Day. Then, our contractor flaked on us only to come back and do the worst job possible on our Sheetrock.

I have seriously cried more tears over this silly 486 square foot building than any other remodel we have done. Even our rent house that the city of Huntsville had tagged as uninhabitable.

Soooo, that is why I haven’t had a lot to say but finally we are back on track and moving forward.

First of all, what hasn’t changed since my last update. The exterior hasn’t been touched.

Still looks just like this. No caulk or paint.

What has happened since I checked in last, is the interior and the front door.

The front door had to come out completely and get reinstalled before the doorknob could be put in but thanks to my sister in law’s boyfriend coming to help out Mr. Math but now it works great and gives me a lot of joy. I love that reclaimed door and it makes me happy.

From the inside this morning.

Also, after the terrible Sheetrock job got some love from the hubby, okay, lots of hard work not love but the Sheetrock messes are mostly fixed, we got the ceiling and walls painted.

The Sheetrock walls were painted Helium which is a very light turquoise. It doesn’t photograph well but it is a beautiful color.

We installed v groove planks on the 12 foot tall wall. Nothing about the cottage is plumb, square or level so installing horizontal planks was a challenge. My husband purchased a laser level that made our life so much easier. I am thrilled with how it turned out. One of the smartest things I did was to paint the planks before nailing them up. Being able to paint the grooves while it was laying flat and I was standing on the ground made the process so much easier! Soon I will show you the whole beautiful wall.

The bathroom has been painted. Well, the part that will have paint. The tile isn’t up yet but upcoming.

Canned lights, ceiling fan, and bathroom lights have been installed along with our split unit air conditioner.

There are electrical problems that will be fixed this week but the ac is functional right now which made working inside the building bearable in July.

Finally, I found someone to refinish the claw foot tub and sink for the house and they look amazing.

More to come. I have lots to say now that we are driving the bus on the remodel and lots to celebrate.

Looking forward to sharing our adventure.

Blessings,

Karen