Monday, November 19, 2018

Fall Garden Update

We had a fairly successful spring/summer garden for our first season at the new house--everything in our raised beds did pretty well. Our main failure was what we planted in the ground--the soil just was not prepped well enough for anything to grow very well even with tilling and some soil amendments added to break up the clay. We will just have to try some other techniques over the winter and early spring to break up the clay and amend it to make a healthier soil.

Earlier this fall we were still getting the last of our tomatoes, peppers, and okra. In October I pulled the last of the surviving tomatoes and okra out of the beds, leaving the peppers as they were still producing.

We planted various types of fall greens, radishes, and beets back in August but with all of the rain we have had I'm afraid the seeds may have been washed out (they never germinated). My other suspicion is that our seed is just too old. I tend to reuse extra seed for 2 or 3 years except for tomatoes and peppers. We recently just replanted collards, kale, onions, and parsnips so we will hope the greens will germinate and grow this time around!

Another garden failure this year were our pumpkins that we planted in July or early August. It seems that the squash borers got to them first and pretty much every vine eventually withered and died, leaving only a single fruit that actually made it despite dozens of seeds planted. It grew well, but could not seem to survive. Our winter squash, of which we only planted a few, also succumbed to the pesky little insects.

Our fall garlic has been planted and is thriving! It will be ready for harvesting in the late spring. We did not have the time to get garlic planted last year with just having moved in so I have really missed it this year!

Next on the fall planting list are turnips which down here in North Carolina are a crop that can grow during the winter. Another winter crop that loves the cold are rutabagas, but I've yet to try growing those. They also say collards love the cold weather down here and will survive and grow through a mild winter.

That's about it for our modest fall garden. Eventually I'd like to try some fall peas and maybe a few other veggies but this is enough for now :)

Friday, November 2, 2018

Fall Living Room Tour

Even though this room is not "finished" the way I would like it, I thought I would go ahead and share it with you. Welcome to our living room--or the "great room" as our house plan referred to it.

The room is an open, two-story room that has very little wall space on which to place furniture. The rear of the room towards the screened-in porch actually functions more for traffic flow because of the opening into the kitchen, access from the master bedroom, and access to the screened-in porch, leaving a smaller space than we realized that is actually usable. But, nevertheless, we made the most of it with furniture arrangement by placing our sofa against the stairs and chairs around the periphery.

The focal point of the room is our beautiful fireplace and heart pine mantel--made from very old-growth, reclaimed, heart pine wood. We love the natural look and did not want to mar its beauty by staining or painting it. You can clearly see how tight the graining is in the old-growth heart pine. Our builders simply sealed it for us with no stain. The fireplace surround is thin brick that matches the brick used on our foundation and chimney, called "Oakton" from Triangle Brick.

The bookshelves and cabinets to either side of the fireplace as well as the overmantel designed with beadboard and trim to match the rest of our trim were built by our wonderful builders who are master craftsmen. They are painted "sea salt" by Sherwin Williams to match our kitchen cabinets. They are so simple, replicating the Shaker-inspired cabinetry and trim throughout the house.

I had a difficult time choosing a chandelier for this room--something simple with a farmhouse look but also large enough to fill up the tall ceilings and contrast with the white paint. We thought about pendants and so many different styles of light fixtures, but in the end I chose a classic oil-rubbed bronze chandelier with 9 lights that hangs from a generous chain from the ceiling.  We also have recessed lighting in the ceiling that illuminates the space really well.

For the stairway, we chose to continue the dark walnut stain with the standard red oak wood for the stair treads, stair railing, and the boxed newel post. We painted the stair risers white as well as the simple "pickets" in the railing. I love how our stairs turned out--very simple but still elegant.

We installed a gallery wall going up the stairway wall with mostly family photographs. We plan to expand this as we locate and frame more old family photos and take new ones :)  I did not systematically measure these but rather just by eye placed the frames offset from each other in a balanced way. 

The floor is standard oak hardwood flooring stained in dark walnut with a satin finish. We reused a rug from our previous living room but I'm considering getting something with a little more color in it for this space as a nice contrast to the light-colored furniture.

The space between the back doors to the screened-in porch functions as a traffic flow area, with areas to travel from the living room to kitchen, master bedroom to living room and kitchen, porch to living room and kitchen. and from all of the above-mentioned spaces to the upstairs. It gives the space a nice open, airy feel but it is also a large amount of "wasted" space. We have my husband's keyboard in this space but can't really put any other furniture here without crowding it too much.

All of the furniture here is what we had in our old house--nothing new. If you have any questions about specific pieces--just shoot me an email or leave a comment and I'm happy to give you the details!

Currently we have a canvas of a family photo sitting above the fireplace mantel but eventually we would like to frame some artwork for the space that goes along with much of the Shaker-influenced design choices we made for our house. Our thought is to either frame a print or paint ourselves a "Shaker Tree of Life." This emblem is found all over the former shaker communities that are now historic villages. We especially love visiting Shakertown, or the Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill in Kentucky.

Hope you enjoyed our fall tour of the living room and stay tuned for more room tours of the new house!  I don't know about you but I am LOVING this cooler weather.  We have already had a couple of fires in our fireplace :)

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Our Farmhouse Kitchen

Welcome to our simple farmhouse kitchen!  Of all the rooms in our new house this is probably my favorite next to our master bathroom and screened in porch.

There are so many things we deliberately did or did not do for this kitchen to not only save on costs to be able to afford the quality we wanted, but also to achieve a Shaker-inspired, "farmhouse" look for our new farmhouse on our budding homestead.

FYI--this is not how our kitchen normally looks :)  I've cleared off all the clutter so that you'd be able to see the details of everything.

The overall layout of the kitchen is a large, open, plan with no island. I wanted traffic to be uninhibited and to me, an island always makes it hard for folks to get through when there are a lot of people in the kitchen at once. Although we don't have as much counter space without an island, we use our kitchen table for a lot of what we would be using an island for. We still have plenty of counter space for prepping, baking, and general day-to-day use.

Our cabinets are a Shaker style painted in Sherwin Williams "Sea Salt," with a simple Shaker panel inset door. The color is a cross between a light grey, light green, and light blue and looks different in all kinds of light. I like that it is neutral but not white and adds some contrast to our white quartz countertops. The floors throughout most of the downstairs except for bedrooms are a standard oak hardwood, stained in Dark Walnut.

We chose a Kohler cast-iron farmhouse sink that I absolutely adore. It is so deep and large to hold our biggest pots and pans for washing. An oil-rubbed bronze faucet that I won in a blog giveaway works beautifully. The three windows above the sink are casements and can be opened all the way--I just love having the fresh air and being able to look out over the garden while I cook and do dishes. The dishwasher is a Bosch with a wood panel placed on it to match our cabinets. I really wanted this feature since we were going for a farmhouse kitchen instead of a stainless version.

Our builder made some open shelves for us that hold a lot of everyday dishes and serving pieces for us. We opted to do very minimal upper cabinets (only on one side) and it saved quite a bit on costs. All the cabinets on the bottom are either drawers or cabinets that open up with pull-out drawers, even the smaller ones.

The stove is a GE Cafe slide-in range with four burners and a grill in the middle that can be converted into an additional two burners if needed. The lower oven drawer also functions as a double-oven where temperature can be adjusted like a normal oven. We chose a very simple, white subway tile backsplash above the stove and our builders crafted a stove hood that matches the look of our trim and cabinetry throughout the house.

One cool little feature that my husband requested are these two appliance garages below each of our large upper cabinets that have the look of small Shaker drawers when closed. When opened, they hold all our small appliances on the counter that can remain plugged in.

We reused our refrigerator from our old house as well as our old kitchen table--except we painted the table "Sea Salt" to match the cabinets. Our builders constructed these movable benches for us that create a little banquet seat by the windows around our table and they are perfect for cleaning up after small children. Overtop of the table is a $20 pendant light fixture we bought from Lowes. The rest of the lighting in the kitchen is recessed in the ceiling. We will eventually figure out some type of artwork to hang on this wall above our table...yet another project to complete at a later time.

We use the small space entering the kitchen from the living room to hold a little table and chairs for the girls that was made for me when I was little :)  Above it is a Shaker-peg wall shelf that we had our builders make for us to hang things like aprons, dried herbs, etc. and display some of our collectibles.

Our kitchen is super functional for us, has plenty of storage and is an enjoyable place to be--our old one was quite dark and lacked ample counter space and storage. There are some days when I wish we had more counter space or I wish we could see into the living room with more of an open plan, but those days are few and far between. I am really loving this kitchen and since we cook from scratch a ton, it is truly the workhorse and heartbeat of our house :)

Friday, September 21, 2018

The Guest Room and Bath

I apologize for being MIA lately--I've been both lazy and so busy that blogging is not at the top of my priority list. But I miss it just enough I've decided to try and finish out the room tours of our new house. Next up on my tour of our recently completed farmhouse is the guest room and guest bath. I'll start with the guest bath:

Because we have quite a bit of company that visit us all throughout the year (lots of family and friends), we really needed a guest room that had its own bathroom. Both the girls' room and guest room have a bathroom embedded in the greater bedroom area that is entered from the loft area on the 2nd floor.

Since it is a small bathroom, we were able to fit in our budget a classic grey and white tile pattern on the floor as well as on the shower floor. The shower is a walk-in shower with glass doors, grey and white subway tile walls and oil-rubbed bronze hardware. We added a wooden teak corner seat for seating and extra storage.

The vanity has a interesting story--we actually found it on Craigslist early on in our house building journey as a washstand and our builders converted it for use as a vanity. It already had the marble top and we selected a vessel sink with a wall-mounted, oil-rubbed bronze faucet. Most of the shelving and cabinets in the vanity are still usable and offer much-needed storage. Because a lot of the counter space on the washstand was taken up by the sink, we installed a little glass shelf above the faucet as well as some storage shelves to the right of the sink for additional storage/counter space.

The mirror is one I already had--a family heirloom. The light fixture is fun and different--I think it fits the vibe of the bathroom pretty well.

We installed hooks for towels on the walls instead of towel bars and I hung some pictures with black frames that contrast nicely with the white walls.

The guest room, on the other hand, is far from "finished." We really have only outfitted it with the bare necessities needed right now for guests--a bed, a chair, a luggage rack. A few furniture pieces like the trunk in this room simply because we don't have another spot for them right now.

The room has two nice big closets with shelving which has been glorious for storage and space for our guests to hang their clothes!

I have not developed much of a design scheme for this room except with what we already had on hand. Perhaps it will get updated later on down the road. I did hang family photos on the walls and above the bed are two Ale-8 One wooden crates (A Kentucky soft drink) that add some visual interest and texture to the space.

The floor throughout the upstairs is carpeted in this color, and even though it may not be the most attractive--I LOVE how it feels and I love its functionality for the girls, us, and guests. It is so comfortable, cozy, and easy to maintain--great for kids!

The view from this room is exceptional--overlooking the rear of our property and the side yard where our chickens and vegetable garden are located.

Before I leave you (hopefully for not nearly as long this time), I'd hate to not share some exciting news our family has been blessed with lately: we are expecting our third baby--a total (and shocking!) surprise. The girls are so excited to welcome a baby sister in late January. Stay tuned for future posts because you'll never guess where we have set up the nursery :)