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.
The house was built in 1905.
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.