Home

Hanging up the Quilt

2 Comments

Recently I shared the inspiration for the color scheme of the guest house was a fun quilt my great grandmother made. I just love those little houses. I always knew it would be hung on the north wall above the beds. I just didn’t have a plan for hanging it.

Thank goodness I have a problem solving hubby.

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.

Blessings,

Karen

Paint Changes Things

Leave a comment

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.

The paint thinner made the wrinkles you see in the corner.

Still plugging along on the exterior but soon there will be paint.

We love hearing from you.

Blessings,

Karen

Why We Hired a Pro for the Tub

Leave a comment

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.

It looked rough when we got it but the dark stain was just a moldy hard water spot.

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.

Once it was cleaned there were rust stains and chips I hadn’t seen before.

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.

Thank you for following along on our journey.

We love to hear from you.

Karen

Learning to Love the Imperfections

Leave a comment

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

1 Comment

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

The Struggle is Real. Remodeling a Home is Hard Right Now.

2 Comments

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.

We love hearing from you.

Blessings,

Karen

Why I Changed my Mind About Board and Batten

Leave a comment

When we started the Guest House I was dead set on board and batten siding. You can see my vision board below.

It is a very popular look right now and liked it because it is a clean look and is something that is commonly seen on old farm cottages around our area. But I won’t be using it for our guest house. While I love the look, and think it would be beautiful, it isn’t for us because of red wasps. Yep, a bug is changing my mind. They love, love, love our guest house which is conveniently located next to our garden where they have a food source- all those bugs that want to eat our hard work.

The view from the guest house looking at the garden.

Every open space in the walls, and there were a lot- like a whole lot- has either wasp nests or spider eggs jammed in. I cannot describe the condition and won’t bore or disgust you with the details, but the picture below is a wasp apartment complex we found included five connected nests. We found over fifty nests in the corrugated exterior.

Now I know this sounds crazy, but I don’t want all wasps eliminated from our property, in fact I am glad to see them in our garden where we don’t use pesticides, I just don’t want them living with us. They are aggressive when protecting the nest and they sting. I want them to keep eating the aphids and other bugs that eat our garden, but living in the wooded area behind the garden so we need to make it more difficult for them to move in.

Board and batten leaves a void between every board that is covered by a smaller board called a batten, and that will be difficult to totally seal up. Those wasps find the tiniest little crack to get in so I want something more solid.

We are going with our contractor Thursday to look at options. It is going to be something that is a solid panel that can be caulked and sealed. I want it to look like 12 inch planks and he assures me there are options I will like. Fingers crossed.

Also I learned a term from our daughter and used that term this last week. Project creep. It is the “While you are here, could you also…” sentence that apparently happens a lot.

We are adding on the aluminum siding removal around our house and adding new siding to the eaves and soffits. We started the project with the carport, deck and porches but this will finish off the house. I am so excited! We could do it ourselves but it would mean days on a ladder.

Woo hoo! I am so excited to get this projects done. They will be painting the house and guest house too which has me giddy.

Great things are ahead.

We love hearing from you.

Blessings,

Karen

Weekly Update on the Guest House

2 Comments

Three things before I start so I can be all sunshine and roses for the rest of this post.

  • I just want one space on the building to be finished, no matter how small. Just one.
  • I believe weather folks use magic 8 balls for their weather forecasts and the one they use for our area is broken.
  • Putting up blue tarps every evening is no fun. Especially in 25 mile an hour winds, and with an inner ear infection. (This coming from the chick on the ground-not the ladder.)

Thank you all for indulging me as I complain. I feel so much better. My husband is a saint. He has put up with me, less than epic weather, me, contractor stuff, me. DIY building isn’t for the faint of heart particularly rebuilding an existing building that was used for a totally different purpose. Dealing with me for more than 40 years is no picnic either. So glad he has stuck around.

My goal is once a week to give an update on where we are on this 464 square foot future guest house. Hopefully there will be more ups than downs. Renovation is rewarding but also very frustrating.

We did have some wins this week. First of all, we now have pitched metal roof! That is a big deal folks. In spite of contractors and weather the roof is on and it makes the place feel so much bigger.

It makes me so happy to see the roof.
It has come a long way!

Another win is that we got the front door in. I will have better photos soon but the front porch was too much of a mess to get a good shot. Soon, I promise.

I made progress on the upper kitchen cabinets. They have now been cleaned, nails removed, holes filled, primed, and mostly painted. I also bought the hardware for it.

Additionally , the north wall is now covered in OSB and the windows were removed. It is ready for wall wrap and siding. There aren’t going to be any windows on this wall because there is going to be a closet on the wall and the bed headboard. We decided that was best because the north wall gets a lot of wind and rain in the winter and the view that direction isn’t great unless you like looking at our rv storage.

My final bit of good news is that we have found a contractor who is able to fit us in next week for the siding to be put up! Hooray! My superstar husband and a neighbor have put up the OSB sheathing but the siding is more than he wants to tackle. I don’t blame him one bit.

We are so grateful to be able to take on a project like this and that we get to live where we do.

Blessings,

Karen

Progress (Sort of)

1 Comment

We are making slow but steady progress on the guest shed and I have to keep reminding myself that. We. Are. Making. Progress.

Mr. Math, in true Mr. M fashion wants to do as much as he absolutely can on his own. He removed the foam insulation panels, the acoustic tiles, the hardboard wall panels, a ton of wasp nests, roach poop, and the cabinet with a sink in it. The man has had days where he limped from spending the day on a ladder but he didn’t quit. He is such a hard worker. After contacting several contractors- two never showed up- and another was backed up with Texas freeze work, we did hire someone to put the new roof on and had it scheduled to begin this past Monday. Sunday was stressful. We dodged rain and high winds to get the corrugated metal roofing off and our great neighbor helped get the last of the heavy furniture out and tarped the building.

Monday came, the sky was clear, and the weather was perfect to work on the building. The builders didn’t show. They didn’t answer texts or calls. It was radio silence. I cried a bit. Finally in the evening we got a text saying they went out of town and were very sorry but would be there first thing in the morning. First thing in the morning meant they arrived at 2:06 p.m. By that time the weather was changing with rain expected so Mr. Math didn’t want the tarp removed only to have to put it up again in an hour or so. The lumber got dropped off and that was that.

Wednesday …well Wednesday it rained followed by near gale force winds. Here the building sits. So frustrating because had it been started on time it would be totally dried in and we wouldn’t be worried about the rains.

I have to remind myself that we have made progress on the project. The front wall has been reworked, the door frame resized and moved, the wall over the area that will be the kitchenette resized and a new window installed, the window space cut in the bathroom wall, the bathroom has been framed up and covered with a house wrap. Mr. Math also got all rotted wood replaced and has everything firmed up. I can’t wait for the tarps to be off to show you the front wall.

We did take a shopping trip to pick out metal roof color, windows which was ordered and picked up Wednesday morning before the rain came, we also picked up 2 pocket door kits, an exterior door kit, and I found a 24 inch vintage door on marketplace for the closet. I have cleaned the antique kitchen cupboard, and removed the loose paint. As soon as it is dryer I will get it outside so it can be safely sanded (lead paint) then get it all painted.

I have also got three coats of Spar varnish on the front door. I am keeping it dry in the greenhouse. I love this door. I still need to do some work on it but it is going to be so pretty when it is in place.

As I work on my attitude about things I can’t control, I have to add that I channeled some of my frustration into painting the master bathroom which was the last room in the house that was the peachy-beige. I don’t love the almond colored counter and shower but I am going to make it work. I do plan on stripping the paint off the vanity and staining it weathered oak. The wall color is called historic gray. It is a green-gray that goes with the yellow tones well.

We have so much to be grateful for and I guess I needed a few days to work on my attitude.

This morning the sun is up and we are hopeful.

We love hearing from you.

Blessings,

Karen

The Guest Shed

1 Comment

One of the reasons we bought this beautiful property we live on is so that we can share it with our families and friends. We have done what we could with our home to allow for more overnight guests.  We have a sleeper sofa, a Murphy bed in the craft room, a queen bed and a a crib in the guest room.  The house holds a lot of folks.  More than once it has held 20 + young men.  (We stayed with friends those weekends… that was too much of a good thing.)

As our family and friends have come to visit we have realized that we need a separate space for visitors.  I even see us heading out to the guest house when our friends with a lot of kids or when both of our kids come with their families because we are early risers and noisy.  We also have an early riser dog. She is noisier than we are.

 This is my idea for a guest house:

I call her the guest shed.  I have dreamed about redoing her since 2015 although the colors have changed, I still want that mid century vibe.

The previous owner used this space as his woodworking shop and “man cave”.  He installed a sink, hardwood flooring reclaimed from a gymnasium, and cabinets.  He also built a wood burning stove that is the craziest looking thing ever.  


It needs a good coat of high heat paint. ( Can you tell he was a welder? )

 We are going to add a bathroom to the space, move the sink location, set up a kitchenette.   More on the bathroom later.

The vibe is going to be mid century-kitsch. The walls are going to be a really pale turquoise, there will be plenty of red and white.  Think light, bright and airy.  


I have collected some fun mid century furniture and a mint condition chrome UFO light.  The light was still in the original box, unopened.  I am smitten.  When it is on the pin holes look like UFO lights- yay for mid century atomic.  That bulb thing on the light is a pulley to adjust the height of the light.  There is a frosted glass light diffuser that attaches to the bottom of the light. 

I picked the light and two mid century walnut framed low slung chairs up at a garage sale for $2.00 each. No lie.  $6.00 dollars total.   ( Here is the post about the finds at the garage sale.)


At that same garage sale I got a porcelain cast iron sink to use in the kitchen.  ($5.00). The sink is stained and there are a few worn places but overall it is in great shape.  It is getting a coat or three of epoxy.


 I also have picked up a vintage kitchen upper cabinet set that are getting painted white. 


Before I can get started we need to replace the shop board along the back wall that is all full of holes for tools and paint the walls then install a drop ceiling. 


 This is what we are planning to use.


After the dropped ceiling is in, I am going to use the same stuff we used on our garage apartment to restore the floor without making it look brand new.

I have a double modified to be a queen sized iron bed going in along with the funky dresser and a chrome 1950’s table and chairs that are currently kicking my hiney.  Mr. Math did a much better job than me, but the back of them still isn’t done. Soon I will share what we learned from this process.  There were lessons learned!


I am so excited about this fun, funky, kitschy, bright space we plan on working on this summer.   It is going to make me happy to just walk in.  As soon as it is all finished I think we are thinking putting it on air bnb when we don’t need it for guests.  With the huge Houston area Boy Scouts camp going in down the road I think there will be a need for parents who want to stay nearby. 

Older Entries