We spend a lot of time outside and porches are important to us. It shouldn’t be a surprise that the guest house has a little porch to welcome guests. The original building had a sort of porch but we took out the original slab and reconfigured the space. We now have an eight foot by twelve foot porch that is blocked by the north wind and rain we get in the winter but open to the prevailing southern summer breezes. It has a great view of the garden and down the road will have a nice front view. I have plans.
The porch ceiling isn’t finished yet ( or the top section of the house caulk and paint) but we are still moving forward.
Our future plans for the porch are to put in a shiplap ceiling painted haint blue, cover the front posts and beams with cedar, and possibly do something with the concrete slab.
I am excited to say that the house got a coat of Behr True Taupewood, it is a gray with brown undertones. The trim is almost done and is painted Behr Dove. It is going to look beautiful with the door, swing, and cedar trim.
Speaking of swing, my goodness this four foot cypress beauty is a show stopper. A friend makes swings and other items in his shop. I love that it was custom made for us, It is stained a cedar stain and has three coats of Spar Urethane so that it can hold up to the weather.
We also have an Adirondack style rocking chair that was literally salvaged from the trash and rebuilt by Mr. Math. It got a good coat of black spray paint and has a place on the porch.
On top of the finishing up we need to do, I also want to make a barn quilt for the blank wall by the door. The view from the swing is just a blank wall and this house is all about quilts.
The Behr App has a project tab where you can save colors and look at how they go together.
All of the paint is in my shop right now so the 36 x 36 inch plywood is all that is needed.
We are making great progress now and it feels like we are getting somewhere finally. I am so thankful for all the work my husband has put in to get here.
We are lucky enough to own a home with a garage apartment in Huntsville, Texas. The house is in a good location near Sam Houston State University and Huntsville’s cute downtown Our home is on a pretty corner lot. The one bedroom garage apartment door faces the backyard and has a sidewalk and deck off the doorway that provides privacy and a feeling of living more in the country than the city. My daughter in law says it feels like a treehouse and I agree!
The first of August we got notice that our awesome tenants in the garage apartment would be moving out due to graduating and getting a job in downtown Houston. We were bummed and a little nervous because ideally we like to switch tenants over the summer before August 1 for college students. Our tenants went above and beyond to move out by August 15th and to find us another tenant that we totally approve of and are thrilled to welcome. They move in September 1st.
Since our last tenants were there almost 3 years we knew we had some sprucing up and maintenance before the next move in. The guest house we have been working on recently is on a short hold while we get things taken care of at the garage apartment. Bummer.
We had some leveling to do because a center beam in the garage settled, a little rot around the stairs that needs to be addressed, and some stabilization of the steps by connecting the steps to the garage wall. It is an ongoing struggle with exterior upkeep. Huntsville is pretty hot and humid along with being amazingly rainy, the back yard is in the shade almost all the time, the trees drop leaves everywhere, and well, the building is 71 years old. The original garage floor was dirt which wasn’t uncommon in 1950. At some point concrete without any reinforcement was poured and it made the garage doors so low that only a sports car would fit in there.
We also touched up paint on the exterior. I am so grossed out every time we switch tenants with the front door that I was positive it wouldn’t be white again. I decided on red- Behr dark crimson to be specific.
The change is dramatic. I like dramatic.
We also switched from the exterior wall paint on the deck outside apartment to porch paint. I am actually shocked we got five years out of the porch being sprayed with exterior wall paint. We are going with Behr Slate Gray on the wood decked porch. It will provide a nice contrast to the blue paint. Mr. Math spent half a day power washing, nailing in popped nails, and scraping 6 by 6 the deck and stairs to get us ready.
During the hard freeze we got in Texas last winter a pipe burst in the bathroom and thanks to the Texas power grid issue, we went way more than 24 hours in the very low teens with no electricity. All the pipes are exposed in the garage below. Of course we fixed the burst pipe but knew we had damage to fix on the inside this summer. The water from the burst pipe seeped into a crack in the grout then froze under the tiles. The concrete backer board under the tile absorbed enough water that it swelled and burst in places causing four tiles to need to be replaced. We expected hardwood floor damage but weren’t aware of the bathroom issues. Four of the avocado green tiles in the bathroom had to come out. Surprise, surprise, we couldn’t find new green tiles. So, this quick reno involves four new beige tiles. I don’t love it but the bathroom is part of our long term plan and will be totally renovated down the road to allow for stackable washer and dryer and for the bathtub ceiling area to be raised.
The original to 1950 pine flooring is one of my favorite things about the garage apartment along with a super cute phone niche and the original trim and doors complete with crystal door knobs. The floor took a hit during the freeze with water covering the entire floor. There are also some pretty deep scratches from a tenant who lived there when we purchased the property’s two huge dogs that have to be addressed. This time around we will be patch staining and re-polyurethaning the floors. I really wanted to sand and strip but it will involve sanding, stripping, using wood filler, and probably replacing a couple of boards. The exterior walls of the house needs to be leveled before we tackle that. Since we have a two week turnaround, the poly needs to have time to harden before moving in furniture, it will have to wait.
We also cleaned the walls, windows, appliances, did interior touch up paint, cleaned inside the cabinets and will be having all the plumbing redone next week to the kitchen and bathroom. Hopefully the Pex piping will not be as prone to freezing.
We are almost there. The list is nearly complete.
Beside the plumber coming Thursday we need to add new solar lights along the gate sidewalk, exterior cleaning and new silicone to the tub, replacing 2 mini blinds, and a smoke detector, we will be done.
Owning and maintaining our own rental is hard work. It isn’t for someone who doesn’t mind getting theirs hands dirty and backs sore but it is a great investment opportunity.
We laid out the quilt and decided to display 9 squares in a 3 x 3 pattern.
Mr. Math designed a quilt hanger using two sections of 1 x 6 painted boards and four bolts to basically hold the quilt in place by squeezing the folded quilt in place.
Slipping the folded quilt in was tricky but the idea worked!
Mr. Math cut off the bolts then we hung the quilt with some small brackets that held up the wood part without touching the quilt.
It looked good the first try but a little too low. I could just see it getting pulled down.
The second try was much better.
I am so glad to have a place for the quilt. The frames next to the quilt hold two framed prints of quilts that we bought in the early 90’s and a piece of tatting my grandmother made. Still working on getting something cohesive for the pillows on the beds when using them as daybeds.
It is so nice to have another project done.
Thanks for following along with us on our journey.
I bought this piece of Ethan Allen cabinetry at a resale shop years ago. It would have been part of an entertainment center. It hung out in storage then had legs added and moved into my principal office as a printer cabinet after it was painted a vivid turquoise. It served me well until I moved to another position where I couldn’t bring my furniture.
It was moved with us and ironically ended up stored in almost the same spot where it now is in the guest house for years.
When we got all the furniture out I thought it would work with the color scheme but the two 1950’s chair cushions were too much for the space.
Of course the solution was to change the color. The only color I could see it as was red. I also wanted some of the turquoise to come through because even though it is bright, I like it. Believe it or not there is a bit of a paint shortage in our area. Apparently it is the time of the year that students paint their parking space and red was hard to find. It took three stores. I would have loved that… back in the day’
I brushed a few areas with paint thinner, painted the cabinet classic red, then sanded over places to let it look a little distressed.
It is amazing how it changed the look. Of the piece.
Not sure the folks at Ethan Allen would approve but we like it. We have installed a television so the cabinet is going to hold dvds etc.
Still plugging along on the exterior but soon there will be paint.
Five years ago I bought a complete 1930’s upper kitchen cabinet set on Craigslist. It was solid, but filthy. The cabinet sat in storage at our house from the day we brought it home but I always knew where it would go when we finally got the guest house started.
We literally figured out how big the front window could be, the location of the window, and the door based on this cabinet set. There was math involved and a little fussing at each other over getting everything just right.
When we started the building the cabinets were moved to the outdoor kitchen so I could work on it.
I took all the cabinet doors, hardware, and all the nails from when it was removed from the wall off then sanded everything down. It took several days.
Apparently at some point the cabinets were in a shop or garage and some knucklehead stored oil in there. It too a bit of sanding and strong primer to get the oil stains covered.
The cabinet doors had to be stripped and all the holes filled. The outdoor kitchen is only partially under cover and we have had the rainiest summer I can remember. Most days it was under a tarp.
The cabinets were painted with Behr cabinet paint in bright white. I picked chrome hardware to play on the vintage feel. Hardware is expensive people. For four knobs, two handles, hinges, and fasteners it was over $50.00 but it is so pretty!
The cabinets sat so long outside that when the were installed they needed another cleaning and a coat of paint. The biggest challenge was to get cabinets that were taken out of an old house, then put in a storage unit, then moved, then again in storage, then outside then moved again installed so that they were level and square on the wall.
The first try didn’t go so well.
The wall isn’t square, the floor isn’t level, but with some adjustments and more fussing, it looks better. Adding vintage kitchen ware on top helped too.
We have a beautiful butcher block counter, vintage sink, refrigerator, microwave, and storage going in after the exterior gets painted. I am making myself wait but it is hard.
If you know us, you know that we do as much work as we can on our projects unless we don’t have the strength or skills to do the work. We definitely did not not have the skill or experience to refinish our tub and sink so we hired it out. This post is not knocking someone who refinished their own tub or sink. If you were able to successfully do it I applaud you. I just know our limits. Together Mr. Math and I can do basic construction, plumbing, electrical, tile, and paint but haven’t had experience with bathtub refinishing.
We have hung on to the old farm sink since March of 2015. I paid a whole $2.00 for the sink and moved it with us here to Providence Acres. I loved it at first sight and would have been so disappointed if I messed it up trying to DIY refinish it.
The sink looked much better once I used CLR and toilet bowl cleaner to clear it up but it still wasn’t good enough to use as a kitchen sink.
The 5 1/2 foot long claw foot tub that we bought on Facebook marketplace for $200.00 was painted lime green on the base when we picked it up. I thought the porcelain looked to be in good shape but once the professional got started on it, I could see the pits and dings all over it.
A pro has access to the chemicals I don’t have and knows how to use them safely. Jesus came with exhaust fans, respirator mask, and a truck load of chemicals. I think his vehicle should have a hazmat warning sticker on it.
Muriatic acid, epoxy bonding agents, super thick oil based primer, and two part epoxy all smelled bad and took gloves and a mask along with a special fine mist sprayer, sander and porcelain bondo meant I would have never been able to have done this job as well as someone who does this for a living.
Jesus showed up at 11:00 with a helper and worked non stop until after 5:00 and then returned the following week to buff out some rough spots after the enamel had cured. We are just thrilled with how both turned out. So clean and shiny!
The finished project is beautiful.
I can’t wait to get the bathroom tiled, septic in and everything installed. We are getting closer.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Well hello there everyone. Sorry I didn’t update you on our progress last week.
Last week was a bit of a challenge. Well actually this whole project has seemed a little rougher than anything else we have done. That is saying a lot for a couple of serial DIY-ers. It seems we, along with the rest of the country, are in a home improvement boom. According to these articles by NPR, and CNBC the pandemic is only partially responsible. The data below is from the two articles linked and a Forbes article on the rising cost of lumber.
Deck construction is up 275% ( We built a deck so I guess we were part of the crowd.)
Fence construction installation is at 144% compared to 2019
Home Depot, sales for the second quarter of 2020 were $38.1 billion, up 23.4%
Lowe’s reported $27.3 billion in sales for the second quarter, compared with $21.0 billion for the same period in 2019
Houzz, an online home remodeling platform, reported a 58% annual increase in project leads for home professionals in June.
Kitchen and bath remodels saw a 40% jump in demand in June compared with a year ago.
The Lone Star State added nearly 374,000 residents between July 1, 2019 and the same day in 2020, according to the Census Bureau’s December 22, 2020 report
Conroe, our nearest large city, has consistently been one of the top ten fastest growing cities in Texas since 2017. People are moving here. Conroe’s population has doubled since 2000 and continues to grow at record speed.
Lumber prices have increased 171% since COVID started.
All that information plus the great Texas freeze means finding construction materials and manpower in our neck of the woods is harder and more expensive than a year ago. It makes the whole building process more complicated and stressful. There have been times on this project where we looked more like Building Alaska than the happy couple on Fixer Upper. We scoured every barn on our property for left over lumber and removed nails and reused lumber removed during the remodel, checked all storage areas for screws, nuts, lock rings… all because getting materials for construction is like shopping Black Friday or looking for bottled water or generators before a hurricane.
All that said, and that is a lot, we are making big progress. Most of the insulation is up, all the interior wiring is done, all the hot and cold water Pex pipe is in along with the drain pipes, and we have cleaned around the house.
We have found a contractor that we really like and his crew is working hard in spite of the electricity to the building going out and rain. I am so grateful for their good attitude and work ethic. Because we have help we now have most of the house covered in siding. They have also started planking the eaves of the main house.
We have had about nine inches of rain in a week, a blowout on our trailer, our washing machine line stopped up, and a friend had to help Mr. Math replace the underground electric line to the shop and guest house. I have to wonder what lessons I am supposed to be learning!
In spite of all our little problems, we have so very much to be grateful for. We are healthy, we have friends and family that love us, and in spite of everything, we are still moving forward.