Monday, June 27, 2016

BEFORE AND AFTER SERIES: The Farmhouse Living Room Part I

 
Do you remember my post THE FUN IS IN THE LIVING ROOM PLANNING? At the time I knew I wanted certain elements in the LIVING ROOM but had no idea how it would evolve.
Taking my cue from our COTTON FARM, I also knew I wanted NEUTRALS, including the black touches I had in the kitchen. . .Our home has very few rooms, so COLORS and TEXTURES needed to flow from one room to the other. . .For the ACCENT COLOR, it was a 'no-brainer'. . .DENIM BLUES were my pick.
 
 
In the beginning I had no idea my journey would take me to PLAIN AND SIMPLE FARMHOUSE STYLE. . .That came later. . .Although I had grown tired of clutter, it didn't dawn on me until I began blogging in 2011 that I desired a simpler life, as well as a simpler style. . .It's hard to part with familiar items. . .and at that time, I didn't know I was ready for it. . .
But. . .FIRST THINGS FIRST. . .
The actual LIVING ROOM RENOVATION started a year or so before we moved into the house. . .I probably have less photos of that time than any of the other rooms. . .It was before a digital camera. . .How quickly I forgot what it was like in those days of an automatic 35mm camera. . .Indoor photos were hard to achieve. . .Nothing like today with the digital photographic capabilities.
Everyone knows it's a lot easier to PLASTER and PAINT without much furniture underfoot. . .so that was our first task. . .I chose a CREAMY WHITE for the ceiling and a SOFT WHITE for the walls. . .just the opposite of the kitchen, which you'll see later. . .I took those colors from the beautiful STAINED GLASS LIGHT FIXTURES. . .We found those fixtures by chance but once I saw them, I knew they had to go in the living room. . .The house is in a CRAFTSMAN STYLE and the fixtures were reminiscent of TIFFANY GLASS that was so popular in the 1930s. . .There was no doubt they were coming home with us. . .
 
 
Once the painting was done, our next project was CROWN MOLDING and CHAIR RAIL that fit into the Craftsman style. . .We had to use chair rail to cover up the flaws in the sheetrock where the old seams joined. . .It was one very COLD winter's weekend that John and my cousin added those details. . .In fact, there is snow on the ground outside the window. . .and no heat to speak of in the entire house. . .It took a couple of brave hearts to tackle this one. . .
 
 
That done. . .John began to replace the WINDOW and DOOR FACINGS with a few subtle changes. . .the addition of GROOVED LUMBER to make the look a little more formal. . . I believe this was about the time that I began my quest for PLAIN AND SIMPLE. . .
 
 
Next. . .the FLOOR was sanded and refinished. . .We had discovered the 1930's tongue and groove flooring under the shag carpet that was down when we first took over the house. . .The PATINA was so nice that we wanted to preserve it. . .a decision we would change in years to come. . .

 
John did a fantastic job of sanding out the stains and wear. . .
 
 
 
Finally the BIG DAY came. . . We could move into the house. . .The kitchen and keeping room was still in it's beginning stages but I could make quick meals. . .and we had a living room and bath that was functional if not finished.
We had little furniture brought from Virginia. . .Making-do began as we moved a COUCH AND CHAIR from my parents home. . .as well as other ACCESSORIES. . .They weren't to be anything but TEMPORARY.
I look back at these photos and think, "Did we really need all this stuff?". . .(grin). . .Wow. . .Be sure and note the TV we owned at that time, too. . .Like I said, we moved 'bare bones' from Virginia. . .
 
 
That poor couch was so old that the springs and cushions were soft. . .yet it served our purpose until we could replace it. . .
The brown painted 1930s CABINET was purchased in Tennessee a long time before we started the living room. . .The panes are BLOWN GLASS. . .LOVE at first site. . .but it did look much better once painted. . .
 
 
 
 
The heavy DRAPES had to go eventually. . .I have never liked drapes and prefer the windows to be open to light. . .In our rural setting, we didn't need a lot of window coverings for privacy. . .I did find some beautiful EMBROIDERED SHEERS at the family home in Dell. . .It wasn't long until the vintage drapes were replaced. . .


Much better, don't you think? . .They were a little long at the front window, so I decided to let them POOL on the floor. . .something I'd never done before but found it a very pleasing affect. . .especially once the black floor went down a few years later. . .
 
 
We lived pretty much the same for several years. . .replacing the couch with two mismatched ones. . .That's when I discovered THROWS. . .So easy to pull off and wash frequently. . .Dust and dirt are a reality on a FARM. . . .plus, they helped cover up the fact that the couches were different. . .I considered making slipcovers more than once but knew that one day I'd find that  PERFECT set of couches. . .I did order one slipcover but it didn't fit as well as I wanted. . .Throws would be fine. . .and still are. . .as you'll see. . .
 
 
 After spending several very COLD WINTERS in the living room, it became apparent that we needed another floor on top of the existing one. . .We shopped and shopped for WOOD FLOORING that would not make the house look like a patchwork of floors. . .Matching the other floors was not possible. . .Should we go lighter? Darker? Wide boards? Skinny boards? . .Nothing pleased us. . .At least nothing that warranted the investment. . .We didn't want a floor that cost several thousand dollars to be one we weren't happy with. . .Then one day we stopped in at a discount flooring store in Missouri. . .We looked and looked. . .had decided on a floor 'that would work' . .Still nothing that got my HEART POUNDING. . .But we needed a floor. . .I could live with it. . .I thought. . .While figuring the number of boxes needed, the owner said he had BLACK flooring he'd sell me cheap, cheap. . .He wanted rid of it. . .He was half-way kidding but something within me got excited. . .We came back home with enough BLACK FLOORING to not only cover the living room floor, but also the bedroom floor. . .John started putting it down the next day. . .
 
 
I couldn't have been more pleased. . .The boards were as narrow as the old floor, so it appears that we simply PAINTED it. . .I can't help but smile now when I see black flooring as a common choice for many decorators nowadays. . .I sometimes wonder if the gentleman regrets selling us all of the black he had? . .We had been at the right place at the right time for sure.
Now the living room was ready for some serious STYLING. . .finally. . .I never dreamed the final outcome would take the path it did. . .not in the beginning. . .I do feel I've been on a JOURNEY. . .trying certain looks. . .keeping what I liked. . .changing what I didn't.  . .There's been a definite evolution. . .
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Coming up in PART II, I'll have many, many more AFTER images. . .In fact, the entire post will be dedicated to the PRESENT. . .Knowing this background will make that story all the better. . .As I've shown in this post, RENOVATION AND DECORATING doesn't just happen. . .and maybe not quickly. . .but once finished, the time and work are worth it. . .Sometimes, though, that's hard to remember. . .Anyone who has lived in a house in perpetual renovation knows that only PATIENCE and hanging onto a VISION will keep you sane. . .
 
 
 

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

BEFORE AND AFTER SERIES: Setting the Farmhouse Living Room Stage

 
I'm gearing up for a very long, multiple photo POST of our BEFORE, AFTER AND DURING the LIVING ROOM RENOVATION. . .hoping toward the end of this week. . .It's been in the making for a couple of weeks, but honestly there is so much I want to share that it's taking a little longer than I thought. . .maybe because I'm having so much fun with it. . .Both John and I look at the  photos and say to ourselves, "Did it REALLY LOOK THAT WAY?" Amazing. . .
 
 
 
 
In the meantime, I wanted to tease you a bit more with just a little of my SETTING THE STAGE for the photo shoot. . .It takes so much time and effort and a lot of materials before I can be pleased with the outcome. . .Sometimes it takes as much for PLAIN AND SIMPLE as it does any other decorating style. . .What you see above is only a few of the many items I pulled from the closets, drawers, and trunks. . .Thank Goodness I incorporate the 'make-do' attitude. . .To go out and shop for everything does not sound fun to me at all. . .I try to have plenty of stashes to choose from. . .
 
 
For the most part, I REPURPOSED every item. . .
but there were a few NEW additions that I did buy specifically off the net or at specialty stores. . .
 
One item was the BLACK AND WHITE CHECKED AREA RUG. . .
 
 
 
My problem. . .if there is one. . .is that I have these ideas in my head but finding what I need for those ideas can be challenging. . .I can't tell you how many months and numerous searches on the net I spent looking for a rug like this one. . .I could find cheaply made ones. . .and they looked it. . .but I wanted  QUALITY. . .I was about to give up and settle for something else when I ran across this one on sale at Wayfair. . .It's wool and woven and I absolutely LOVE it. . .makes the room for me. . .and it fits right in with our CHECKED KEEPING ROOM FLOOR.
 
I have also been thrilled to see bloggers begin to decorate with COTTON. . .Since we own a COTTON FARM, I've decorated with it for years--as many of you know. . .and I will continue to use cotton stalks as my flowers in many of the settings. . .They are a NATURAL here. . .In one of my past posts I explained that it was COTTON that gave me my inspiration for the colors I picked in the kitchen/keeping room. . .and it overflowed into the LIVING ROOM. . .
 
 
 
 
 
 
Probably my favorite piece that's make-do in the living room is this cabinet made
from PALLETS and a $10 SCREEN DOOR. . .
It serves as a place to store some of my linens stash. . .and to hide our DVDs in WICKER BASKETS and VINTAGE SUITCASES. . .
Of course. . .I had to fluff and arrange there. . .
 
 
 
 
I didn't realize it until John pointed out that our FARMHOUSE is now full of CRITTERS. . .
CATS, CHICKENS, COWS. . .the kind you don't have to feed. . .
You'll see them scattered around as we tour through the rooms. . .
There's no 'overkill' with the animals. . .They simply make one aware that this is a REAL FARMHOUSE. . .
on a REAL FARM. . .
 
 
 
This CRITTER isn't real. . .
 
but this ONE IS. . .
 
an earlier photo of BOO. . .
 
 
Our MIRACLE CAT. . .BOO. . .does receive passes every now and then to be home for a few days. . .but the ADDISON'S DISEASE keeps him with Dr. Cato most of the time now. . .He is still a walking MIRACLE and Pfiser Research continues to use him for their studies of the disease in people and animals. . .He has far outlived their expectations--by YEARS. . .
 
Our FARMHOUSE RENOVATION has always been subject to BOO's approval. . .He has helped (?) with most of our projects. . .He has definite opinions about how he wants HIS HOUSE to look. . .I had to take that into consideration, too. . .and part of the reason for our PLAIN AND SIMPLE STYLE. . .
 
 
 
 
So. . .whether it's OLD OR NEW. . .REAL OR NOT. . .Are you ready now for the first REVEAL? . . If we have no major upheavals, dust storms, or floods. . .it's coming up NEXT. . .
 
 
 
 
 
This Post has my
SEAL OF APPROVAL. . .
 
 
 


Friday, June 10, 2016

BEFORE AND AFTER: This Old FarmHouse


Well. . .here it is JUNE. . .and I am back as promised. . .beginning a series of BEFORE AND AFTER photos of our COUNTRY FARM HOME. . .It's been a journey that many of you have followed. . .but I've never shared the BEFORE images. . .In fact, I had forgotten myself what a change we have made.
But before we get to the interior. . .I wanted to share the exterior. . .I think it will help you to better understand the lay-out of the rooms. . .and how we made changes that would compliment our HISTORIC DISTRICT while meeting our needs.


Built about 1930 by my Grandfather's specifications, THIS OLD FARMHOUSE has been home to many farm managers and farm workers. . .It began life as a FOUR-SQUARE CRAFTSMAN home with a porch across the front and back. . .all under one roof. . .Around 1950 the right half of the front porch was added to the LIVING ROOM. . .Then in the 1960s, the left half of the porch was added to a the front BEDROOM. . .Pretty box-ey looking, isn't it? . .But, it served it's purpose well for many years. . .
The original BACK PORCH was also incorporated into the house as you see in the right photo above. . .When the house was built in the 1930s, there was no BATHROOM. . .Some time through the years, a bath was added on the left side of the old porch. . .In fact when we took over the house, the bathroom still had the slight slope of the porch floor . . .They made-do. . .Always. . .

 
THE PLAN:
I have renovated many older homes in my lifetime. . .Each time I tried to keep the integrity of the house, based on when it was built, in what region it was built, and the general history of the families who had lived there. . .When John and I moved back to Arkansas with a plan to save this part of our FAMILY LEGACY--and salvage some of the local DELTA FARM HISTORY--we knew we wanted to restore all of the FARM BUILDINGS as close to the original as possible. . .A survey team came from the DEPARTMENT OF ARKANSAS HERITAGE in Little Rock to assess the buildings and to recommend the farm complex to the NATIONAL REGISTER OF HISTORIC PLACES. . .They determined the buildings to be of FOLK CRAFTSMAN STYLE, the manager's house included. We had already started the renovation of the home, but our plan fit into the farm's style, especially since we would be keeping the interior rooms in the ORIGINAL LAYOUT.
THE FINAL PLAN was to add a WRAP-AROUND PORCH on three sides. . .reminiscent of several other houses in this area. . .A WHITE PICKET FENCE was also in the plan. . .For years I had said that one day, I'd have one. . .So the porch and the fence came first. . .These were two things John and I felt we could do ourselves while waiting for the carpenter to start the other additions. . .We were totally out of our comfort zone but determined to be very hands-on with our projects. . .


After many trial and errors, we had the white picket fence in place. . .I then started the FLOWER BEDS. . .There were numerous plants and flowers at my parents home that I wanted to move to the farm. . . HERITAGE PLANTS of the 1930s-50s. . .Day lilies, iris, roses, mums, jonquils, daisies, wisteria, crepe myrtle. . .not all were planted in the front garden beds. . .but quite a few. . .Over the years I've learned where each grows the best. . .where my non-green thumb and the boll weevil spray (for the cotton fields) don't kill them. . .So you'll see them scattered all around the farm. 


Finally the last of 2006, we had a carpenter!!!!. . .Construction got underway. . .The interior room layout would remain the same, with the exception of the old back porch/bath. . .The bath moved to the middle third bedroom. . .The old porch was then opened up to the kitchen and an additional ten feet added to it (upper right) for KITCHEN/KEEPING ROOM that would measure over twenty-six feet long . . .An OPEN HEARTH FIREPLACE was added, as well as a BREEZEWAY off the back of the kitchen/keeping room. . .I remembered the breezeway at my Grandmother's house. . .It was the place that she did a lot of bean shelling and butter churning. . .It's a room that usually isn't heated or cooled, where numerous windows and doors can be opened to catch a cool breeze during a hot day.

 
The BREEZEWAY leads to the DOUBLE GARAGE. . .Care was taken to construct the garage to look as if it was a CARRIAGE HOUSE. . .with track farm doors. . .The actual entrance to the garage is discreetly hidden from the road.
Of course, a METAL ROOF was added. . .What DELTA FARMHOUSE didn't have one? . .Very few. . .And new WHITE SIDING brought the old together with the new as if this house had existed for decades. . .John set to work on the WINDOW SHUTTERS. . .painting them RED to match the barns and buildings. . .
 

And, here is our COUNTRY FARM HOME  just a few months after the exterior completion in late 2007. . .The BEDROOMS and BATH are on this side of the house. . .the LIVING ROOM and KITCHEN on the other. . .It's amazing how much larger the house looks when we only added ten feet to it. . .The addition of the porch also gives the illusion of a larger home. . .We both wanted to keep it's integrity. . .and truthfully, I didn't want a large PLANTATION HOME. . .We live and work in all the FARM BUILDINGS. . .and feel that our 'home' encompasses those also. . . .I wanted the FARM to look and feel as it did when I was growing up. . .as if you've stepped back in time. . .to a SIMPLER LIFE. . .We are so blessed that we experience that each and every day. . .but it's a lot of work, too. . .Someone once commented it was a HOBBY FARM. . .Hardly. . .This is out and out hard work. . .(grin). . .We'll never finish. . .About the time we get caught up in one area, another needs our attention.

2012 barn-house
 2014

Although John and I did most of the interior work, it took years to get to this point because there were other needs that came first. . .The FARM BUILDINGS and BARNS needed much attention. . .For a while we were moving OUT-BUILDINGS around, building some from scratch, adding a LOG CABIN from the Ozarks. . .Let's see, we also moved the OLD COUNTRY STORE from Dell. . .had the Amish in Mississippi construct and move in three SHOTGUN BUILDINGS. . .Well. . .I'll just say that we have had few spare moments to work on our home. . .It was livable as it was. . .One of those things like the cobbler's kids having no shoes. . .

2012

It's HOME now. . .Once you put much time and sweat into a project, it becomes a true part of your life. . .From the outside in, our HOME is a reflection of "US". . .
John and I do make a pretty good team. . .I have the ideas. . .He has the skill. . .(Did that make you snicker?) . .He is actually a very talented carpenter, as you will begin to see next time as we make our way inside. . .
Since THE COUNTRY FARM HOME is a shared achievement. . .
I can't leave John out of these next posts. . .so. . .for a while it will be. . .

 
 

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Fruity, Nutty Sweet Bread Two Ways

 
SOURCE
 
 I recently attended an AFTERNOON TEA, English style. . .We dressed in vintage clothes. . .including big flowery hats. . .and each of us brought a SWEET TREAT. . .with the stipulation that the sweets had to be baked from a VINTAGE RECIPE. . .and each of us was to bring copies of the recipe to share.
 
I chose a SWEET BREAD from the 1940s. . .one that I had found years ago in my Grandmother's recipe box. . .I had never seen such big chunks of FRUIT AND NUTS in a bread, but found it to be a perfect tea bread. . .or. . .breakfast bread. . .I love to toast a piece and then slather on a little real butter. . .Rich and filling. . .Great with coffee or tea.
 
So. . .here is the ORIGINAL RECIPE. . .
 
 
 
Although I have to admit I am more of a traditionalist, this second recipe is quicker. . .I love cooking from scratch. . .but if you have little time. . .or you're not fond of baking. . . here's the 21st century PILLSBURY recipe that can be on your table within 45 minutes. . .
FRUIT-NUT BREAKFAST BREAD
 
 1 can (11 oz) Pillsbury™ refrigerated crusty French loaf
1 cup dried apricots, chipped
1/2 cup chopped dates
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 to 2 teaspoons milk
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray Cookie sheet with cooking spray. Carefully unroll dough onto cookie sheet. Sprinkle apricots, dates and almonds evenly over dough. Starting with the long side, roll up; seal edges. Fold ends under; seal. Bake 26-30 minutes or until golden brown. Immediately remove loaf from cookie sheet; place on serving plate or cutting board. Cool 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, stir powdered sugar and enough milk until smooth and thin enough to drizzle. Drizzle icing over slightly cooled loaf. To serve, cut diagonally into slices with serrated knife.
Both recipes are delicious. . .When John was asked which recipe he liked the best, his answer was, "Whichever one I'm eating!". . .He's only spoiled a little !!!!
 
 
 Remembering my DAD this MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND. . .
who served in the U S Navy during World War II.
He loved this COUNTRY and flew the Stars and Stripes Everyday of his LIFE.
He never forgot to HONOR those who lost their lives in war.
 
The Sweet Bread Recipe came from his Mom.
 
 
 
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