I am an advocate of using what we have. I have a beat up couch and a beat up futon and some beat up chairs and a giant puppy who likes to sleep on them. I have hand me down furniture that can easily move from room to room to create a different look.
The newly white bookshelf matches its mate now. I set it at an angle in the corner to create a smooth appearance to my mini office space complete with vintage secretary. This L-shaped living and dining room in my hundred year old house lends itself to separate areas for reading, or conversation, or entertaining.
Tomorrow I will show you what fabulous finds you can get at antique stores, garage sales, craigslist, or thrift stores that still work in this day and age and make life so peaceful and satisfying in their gentle whirrings and lack of electric usage, but there are some things I get new. Unfortunately from Walmart, but there it is. It would be ridiculous to use vintage quilts on our furniture. They are best left to beds. These quilts were twenty dollars and they are surprisingly well made and hold up as farmer’s markets table cloths and chair covers.
Even though the twinkly lights don’t look that great during the day time, come dusk they transform our house into an enchanted fairy land. They are our sole light along with kerosene lamps and candles in this space.
The Hoosier was hiding in the kitchen. The Farmhouse sign was hiding in the kitchen as well. They looks so lovely as the first things you see when you walk in our front door.
The Hoosier has been outfitted as a bar. The cupboard holds glasses. The flour case holds bottles. The drawer holds openers and tea candles.
The side table and mirror have been outfitted as a wine stand. The magazine rack holds food magazines.
The black table lends itself to drama and simple items, like birds nests and natural items found outdoors. Such perfect decoration and it can change with the seasons.
I moved a table that was in the living room into the kitchen and put a double rack on top to hold all of my cookbooks. A simple solution to dissuade the puppy from eating my cookbooks and it is beautiful in its highlight of the lamp, books, and coffee grinder.
Growing where planted and gratitude are important and the frugal homesteader can do a lot with paint and a little creativity. There is no place like home! See you tomorrow for part 3!
The last room in our homestead makeover is the bedroom. It is away from the warmth of the wood cook stove. It has three moderately sized old windows that look out into the trees and across the prairie. It is where we sit and read in the evenings before we go to bed. This room needed plenty of blankets and places to sit.
In our desire to have plenty of places for folks to sleep should they decide not to make the trek back home, we got ourselves a new bed. However, when we got to IKEA and looked at prices we realized we did not have enough for the mattress and the frame and headboard combo. And I did so desperately want a new mattress. So, we did something drastic. We went down from a queen sized bed to a double bed. We have never shared a double bed before, particularly with seven cats, but why not? We fit, the warmth is most welcome in the middle of the night, and I have three beds in this little house now. (I just need an air mattress of some sort and I can house all of my kids!)
Now anything I wanted to bring to this house had to have a use. Downsizing from 2500 square feet (including garage and basement) to 850 square feet (along with a small space to store luggage and canning jars in the greenhouse) meant that I could not pack everything. The blue door was a gift from Doug for Christmas. I love it. The door to the guest room was hanging off of one hinge and we replaced it with a screen door. I had two old doors that wanted to be displayed. By making them into a headboard, they look as if we could walk through to a magical place, if only in dream.
I painted them both red. Since one door was white and one was blue, they came out different shades. I could have painted the blue one white but I kind of like the contrast in the doors.
The doors were different sizes so I attached a valance with a pattern I love to the top to cover the edges. A string of metal stars and a sign that reads, “Always kiss me goodnight” sets the scene for sweet dreams.
They are not attached to the wall. They are heavy enough to stand on their own and behind the bed they are secure.
Finishing touches include a simple old dresser, toile curtains, layered comforters and quilts, twinkly lights, oil lamps, and of course, cats.
One could also make a charming headboard from a section of picket fence complete with a wreath and twinkly lights. Or line up old chairs behind the bed to show off their antique backs and use as a bookshelf. Or simply hang a quilt behind the bed as an eye catching headboard. There are no decorating rules. Only what you dream up.
When we originally walked into this little house, I was trying not to get my hopes up because I knew it was a little further out than we (well, not we, he) wanted. I saw the long pantry and the wood cook stove and squeaked in an attempt to shutter my squeal of joy. The living room was dark. Black curtains were hung or stapled on. Old brown carpet with forty years of pet stains and wood paneled bedrooms finished the gloomy interior. But I could see its potential. Simple changes could make all the difference.
I wanted to give homage to the families that lived here, not let one bad tenant destroy the charm of this place. Grandmothers that looked after the little ones, mothers who nursed their babies by the fire, those who may have peacefully died, those who homesteaded here and started a new life. Such as we are.
There are simple secrets to decorating that I have learned over the years. Showroom front areas are uncomfortable and have no soul. Incorporate your life, your hobbies, your family into each room. Breathe life into rooms with things you have picked up from travels or your grandma’s house. Mix-matched chairs and natural elements take out the sterility of an indoor place. Colors that make your eyes light up when you see them should be used, even in the form of pink couches.
We tore out the carpet first and took down the gawd awful curtains.
Because this place feels like a vacation cabin to me, I wanted to fill it with items that further reminded me of a relaxing retreat. My Aunt Donna’s off grid cabin in the woods and cabins that we have stayed at over the years inspired me. I stacked board games on simple shelving along with books. Outdoor chairs, that are quite comfortable, came inside (this front area was once a porch), and all of my plants that I overwinter in the house add life to this front area. The armoire hides the television. I always decorate with cats!
We did put our gorgeous antique couches out at the curb that our old kitty (rest in peace) destroyed. We went to IKEA and picked up this beauty. It was important to me that if we lived out in the middle of somewhat nowhere that we had places for folks to sleep over. Gone are the days of the pull out couch with the metal bar that pushes into your guest’s back, this couch pulls out from underneath creating a comfy queen sized bed. The chaise opens up to reveal a stash of blankets for chilly evenings.
Cubbies hold spirits while some of my favorite performers look on ready for a party.
This was the original living room if the previous one was the porch but I opted to use it as a dining room. It too had carpet and linoleum pulled up and a fresh coat of paint.
My writing corner is also in this room. The old secretary was at a garage sale near my grandparents’ house for a mere sixty dollars! My favorite painting sets the scene of contemplation and writing. The saints look on. The various ceramics were made by my children throughout their childhood. Sweet mementos. Stationary, cards, envelopes, writings, magazine cutouts, pads of paper, pens, everything one needs to write and create.
I opted to make this room (in truth, it is all one L shape) into an activity area. I did not want to tuck Maryjane’s toys away. When she comes to visit Grammie and Papa, I want to watch her play and have her be near us. The material is a bit of a mess but it is out. Should I hide all the sewing and art stuff in the closet, it will stay there hidden. If it is out I find inspiration and might think of a great use for a piece of material. The table in the center is a great square table that was made by the Amish. It serves as a sewing table, additional dinner party seating, or as a card table. We have friends coming over in a few weeks for an evening of Rummy!
I printed photographs on our printer. They aren’t the best quality but they look nice and I can easily choose other photos to switch them out with.
If it’s out, you’ll use it.
The (very) off white (very dirty) walls and windows in the laundry room just needed a scrubbing, a lively mustard yellow and lace curtains to look like a proper homestead mudroom. The bathroom was given a bright blue paint job and whimsical bird paintings and accessories to rid it of its heebie jeebie factor.
This room was too dark to take a before picture of. The white washed walls became a backdrop for the many things I was going to need to put in here. This room houses our Apothecary…all medicines, bags, jars, boxes, computer and printer, and it is our guest room.
We replaced the broken door with a screen door to let heat into the room and keep cats out. It also adds a bit of old charm to the house.
We are beginning to get settled in our house and starting to feel a regular routine coming back. Every time we walk outside we are in awe. No matter which way we look we have an amazing view. We feel blessed to be the inhabitants of a hundred and nine year old house. To be the next homesteaders here.
We love each season and each of their gifts. Renewal, Sunshine, Harvest, Rest. Each season in our house looks differently. To switch from winter to spring a house needs but a few touches. Trade heavy blankets and pillows for lighter ones on furniture. A bold Indian blanket was replaced with Kat’s grandma’s beautiful quilt. Still nice to curl up with during movies but cheery enough to emote spring. The pillow was a Pottery Barn Christmas pillow. Adorable. Perhaps time to cover the Christmas stockings on it though! A vintage pillow case does the trick. Stacks of gardening books surround the chairs.
A simple pair of humble galoshes can whisper springtime is approaching! They are good for trekking through the snow to the chicken coop or standing in the garden. I like them by the door. An invitation for springtime to come on in! (And springtime mud indeed will.)
Look closely at this picture! It is easy to be distracted by the seventeen year old “farm dog” there guarding the rug. Look at the tablecloth. For ten dollars I was able to get two yards of vinyl for our six foot table at the craft store. It lasts a whole lot longer than the cheap plastic tablecloths at Walmart, standing up to cat scratches, stains, and daily wear and tear. It just washes off. I have a vintage New Mexican tablecloth underneath it to keep it protected. There are lady bugs all over the vinyl tablecloth creating a look of picnicking on the dining room table. Lady bugs and bees welcome spring.
Lanterns and warmer weather decor is replaced with bird cages and flowers. I bought this bird cage at a thrift store for next to nothing to house vases of spring flowers (which I am yet to get) to protect them from nibbling kitties. Pots of daffodils look great tucked inside as would a bird’s nest or Easter eggs.
The indoor garden is still brightening the window sill to the south. The petunias simply love it. A package of petunias can be arranged in pots and placed throughout the house in sunny locations. They are so easy to grow. They love sun, water every three days, and dead head the plant so the blooms keep coming back to show off.
This lovely peasant dress arrived in the mail early yesterday. Something sassy to wear to Santa Fe next week (along with her four sisters I may have purchased in a spring fever frenzy. Beautiful. Where creamy whites and piney greens are show stoppers in winter, nothing beats bright colors to infuse the spirit in time for spring.
Mine aren’t quite this glorious yet, my daffodils are merely peeking their arms up out of the soil, but I do hope you planted bulbs last fall! Nothing sings spring like birds raucous and loud outside the window and fields of daffodils and tulips.
So, out with knits and winter reminiscences, and in with bright, happy decorations, clothing, and flowers. Welcome Spring!