This is an excusive look inside a farmhouse whose occupants have been busy with shows promoting their farm, fluffy farm animals, and writing books. I warn you, these written images are not for the meek.
There are cat boogies in my hair
the lamb just peed under the chair
the dining table is filled with business and such
the dishes in the sink are too scary to touch.
I have lost the dog, I must confess
He’s probably under all this mess
Scary spiders have moved into the cobwebs, you see
Something under the couch is lurking at me (oh wait, that’s a kitten)
Spring clean I must!
Scrub, and sweep, and certainly dust.
Been writing books, and my mind’s elsewhere with all this fluff
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.
I wonder what Laura Ingalls Wilder must have felt like at the end of her life. To have seen the wild west as truly that. To have only used candles, wood stoves, and root cellars. Then to watch as electricity took the nation by storm, coffee makers and dishwashers plugged in, refrigerators and stoves. I am sure it was amazing and something to marvel. A woman’s life made easier. But, I wonder if there was any mourning for the way things were done.
Fast forward and we see that feminism brought with it the ability and expectation to not only work full time but also get to take care of the entire household at the same time! Chemical cleaners, packaged poison food, and quick medicines with side effects, day cares where someone else can raise your child, and all the electronics you can handle are our everyday life now. All to make a woman’s life easier.
Many folks want to go back a little. Get a little land, live a lot simpler. One overwhelming comment that I always here is, “But I want running water and electricity!”
My Aunt Donna has a cabin up in the mountains built circa 1800’s. I used to take my son there when he was small. It sits nestled in a canyon with a sloping, giant of a mountain as the back yard. Tree houses and forts dot the landscape from family members past that played in those woods. A small meadow with a pond and a stream is in front of the house. The sun rises over the meadow and brightens the landscape.
At the time I stayed there, electricity was not present. There was water, gravitationally pulled I imagine, a well I don’t remember, for there was a shower outdoors in the back. Water ran from the sink. The outhouse was a small walk away through the fresh pines and the smell of clean air. Birdsong escorting you there. The peacefulness that the cabin bestowed was something that I wish for in my everyday.
At twenty one or so years old, I never even considered the fact that it had no electricity. Oddly, I took to the woodstove instantly. I started a fire and cooked meals on it without problems. The smell of sweet wood. Fresh fish. I kept the cabin warm in the evening. I also started a small bonfire by the pond and cooked potatoes and corn over the fire. My son and my wolf by my side.
I know that running a full household that way day in and day out may grow old, particularly if one were to have several children. It’s just me and Doug now. The children skip in and out, mostly out. And our house is getting quieter and easier to run. I can cook on a wood cook stove. I can heat the house with wood. It certainly would be less shocking than the electric bill I got in the mail the other day. I could use the water from the sinks to water the garden. I could use a root cellar. I could….
There is a small farmhouse with my name on it out there. And a cook stove waiting to be lit.
This time of year we are anxiously trying to finish all of our farm chores before winter sets in. Yesterday we pulled up corn stalks that may as well have been aspen trees. The tomato plants had grown roots equally as long and did not want to budge either. We are both a little sore today! I planted 115 cloves of garlic and 60 bulbs of daffodils and tulips. We cleared the dead pumpkin vines and will mow the lawn, add compost to overwinter on the beds, and then cover them with straw. Then we will repeat in the side garden with all the raised beds. All before we head out on vacation next Friday!
This time of year is our New Year’s. The season ending. Food stored away, markets and shows on their final countdown (5), and holidays around the corner. I have nearly caught up on housework that I was behind on all summer. Despite the beds that need to be tended, we are slowing down. We can sleep in a little. I like to rise with the sun, not beat it by an hour! We put the chickens up earlier and settle into our chairs at night earlier as the dusk creates a sense of lateness and stillness. The oil lamps and candles are lit earlier which signals our bodies to slow down and relax.
Winter is coming and the house feels snug and warm. We’ll be spending more time here so creating a house that is filled with comfort is my goal as a farm housewife. I love the feel of a reading nook, a writing corner, a place that positively calls you over to snuggle into the warm blanket provided, with a cup of hot chocolate and a good book.
I dislike overhead lighting and prefer twinkly lights, candles, and oil lamps. This creates such a sweet ambience. It makes the space feel enchanted, magical. Warm fleece, furry, or quilted blankets are thrown across every chair and in the corners of the couch. There is always a cat within reach to cuddle. Candles and piles of books cover the coffee table with just room for a cup of strong coffee. Oil lamps can be moved from side table to side table to create more light for reading.
Paper and pens, or art supplies could be put out to inspire creativity, magazines laid out for seasonal reading, cookbooks, and library books within easy reach.
Our house is small and with the addition of the furniture from our closed shop, it may appear to be overcrowded, but it is actually just lovely. Lots of seating provides easy entertaining, comfy places for friends to sit with a glass of wine and hors d’oeurvres strewn across the table. Laughter fills the candle lit air.
We’ll be celebrating the stillness of winter from our dreaming…writing…drinking…entertaining…relaxing…book reading cozy farmhouse nook.
I bought my first house when I was nineteen years old, new baby in tow. I have always loved decorating and lovingly infused the new place with hand me down furnishings, trash finds, and funky antiques. Lace curtains, wood floors, black and white tiled linoleum in the kitchen. It was quaint, it was home. After a few years of modeling, I got a little high falutin’. I was tired of used items and old stuff. I sold my house and walked away with a whopping 30,000 in profit. I sold every single item in the house and moved to a nice townhome. I headed to American Furniture Warehouse and walked around like I was the Queen of Sheba, irritated that no one would talk to a twenty-four year old with $30,000 to blow. I spent nearly all of it on new furniture. Which all fell apart or was ruined by three children under the age of four (Emily loved to put lipstick on everything!). I can sure look back and get the woulda, coulda, shoulda’s but I try not to, because it was a lesson learned and what good is life if you learn nothing from it?
Fast forward…ahem…a few years and we are in our rented house on 2/3 of an acre. This house was built in 1920 and is just full of charm. It is a cute, little ranch style farmhouse. I painted it in colors that were warm and cozy to me. The huge windows cast such fantastic light in the winter throughout the open living room and in the summer it is shadowed and cool. I originally started painting it apricot, trying to create an adobe feel. It actually made me start to cry! It was so bright and little girl-like, I just stopped mid-wall and went and bought Cinnamon colored paint. You can do that. Don’t be afraid of bright colors. Color infuses the spirit of the place with warmth. Doug and I have decorated this place with Craigslist finds, antiques that we understand will have to be reupholstered at some point so we don’t stress over drinking coffee on the couches, or the cats climbing up the back. We filled it with items from our trips, or just trips to the thrift store. Items that remind us of New Mexico and the vibrant spirit there. Pick a place that you love…fill your home with things that remind you of it.
Old photographs of grandmas, our wedding, our children, goofy pictures, pictures of Maryjane. Only keep what you love.
I rearranged the house and moved the art/sewing room and all its chaos to the living room. I don’t care anymore about where things are supposed to be! If you sew a lot more than you serve fancy dinners, maybe the dining room is where you can sew or maybe the dining room table should live on the porch all summer for al fresco meals. There are no rules!
We infused the house with items that are funky and fun. One Christmas Doug kept telling me that I am going to love, love, love my Christmas present. I was so certain I was getting red high heels. Much like this last Christmas I was ever so wrong. I held my breath and opened the package and there was a stuffed moose head. A fake one. A stuffed animal to hang on the wall. I sat there with my jaw open for awhile. We named him Christmoose. I adore him. (And my girlfriend sent me some sexy red high heels from Montana!) Pat and Rodney gave me the cute wine sign. Doug got me a gift certificate to an antique store in the mountains one year. One of my favorite gifts. I was able to purchase something that I never would have for the price otherwise. This fabulous old door has a different color paint on each side so is essentially reversible!
I love this picture of the Rat Pack Andy so proudly bought me for my birthday one year. Their sheer joy and laughter makes me smile too.
This piece was out in the yard in a pile of debris when we moved in. I salvaged it. I love its folk art appeal.
I collect wooden saints. It is nice when under a lot of stress to simply light a candle in front of them and they can go on praying for me.
I fill the space with candles, oil lamps, and twinkly lights. It all simply feels magical. I took the bird feeders from the back yard and put them all around the front porch where I will see them more. I hung my own paintings up. I filled the house with cats and dogs….and chickens. I fill it with friends, and board games, and wine. Forget fancy furniture, this place speaks of home.