Wheatstone Farm Remodel Update

Yep, the month of May 2017 will most likely go down as the most intense month of my life. I’ve had some jam-packed phases in life, where lots of projects and gatherings overlap. But I’ve never packed up an entire house for a move, and simultaneously designed and remodeled another, and then went to my office as usual. Did I mention hot flashing and sleep-deprived? Like shoveling your life through the eye of a needle.

But now we’re moved. And we intentionally made our load much lighter. Ten days ago, with help unloading our belongings off to Goodwill, the dump, and to friends–and then and only then to our new digs. We completed the move away from the giant modern, and crammed nearly all of our belongings into the garage of our sweet little farmhouse.

“Heaven on earth” I thought to myself, disoriented as I am, as I stood on my porch overlooking my new front yard–which is a consists of tall grass and forest. It was a very warm day, and the bright sun  lit up the whole scene like a glowing postcard. These are precious moments, where the deep satisfaction of solving life dream puzzles and building something big, makes my soul sigh.

The true pleasure of doing our own work, with our own hands has begun.

But it ain’t all sunshine and roses. The kitchen remodel began one month before we moved in. And, while the kitchen design thrills me, there have been some crazy obstacles to the actual structural changes to the house along the way. For one thing, our contractor ditched us.  And left us with a design that the engineer cannot figure out. So we still have no building permits as of today.  The byzantine regulations of the 2017 Building Code, mixed with litigious anxiety of all county contractors–has added some troubles as well. Luckily, we have a new contractor, who’s an awesome force of creativity, friendliness, and flexibility. He’s got the ball and he’s rolling. Eventually we’ll get those permits. And, with no actual looming deadlines, we have the luxury of taking each thing in stride and working through it, one call, one design element, and one room at a time.

Here’s a series of pictures where we begin transforming the 1980’s apartment-style kitchen, into a farm style kitchen, complete with wainscoting, shiplap and open shelving:





























Yes, I miss my easel and painting portraits, but transforming the kitchen island has been a creative blast!  We bought a second-hand solid wood dresser with a french twist–to which we added gorgeous turned legs, wainscoting, and shelves:







I’ve thoroughly enjoyed perusing other Pinterest DIY’rs and completing the wood cutting and wood working details with my own tablesaw and chopsaw. I found these tiny brads for puzzling the wood trimming together, and didn’t need to pre-drill. You can see how hodgepodge the island looks with various used lumber from the ReStore. But don’t worry! It will all come together with Halcyon Green and wax…..














I was especially happy with the shelves we added on the end of the island. I love the little filagree piece I purchased almost 20 years ago on our Donovan house renovation. I never found a place for  it, and its been carted around, waiting for its perfect home on this island. Maison heureuse.








Here are some other kitchen renovations from the first phase:

*Removing the dated tile and fluorescent lighting

*Removing, sanding, chalk-painting, and waxing the melamine cabinetry

*adding warmth with wood trimmings everywhere

*adding pulls & knobs that match our design

*agonizing over paint colors for the cabinets and island (final choice: SW Pure White & SW Halcyon Green)

*Upgrading to shiplap walls, with 6″ pieces of plywood- of course I’d love to do every project on my own, but because of our sudden move-in date, we needed to gallop through this first phase of the kitchen renovation. Here’s our pals Alejandro and Alex helping us to hang the shiplap:









Renovation can be an expensive and complex affair, but like the remodel on our Donovan home (adding a second story) in 1999, we are making a big effort to cut the cost of labor and material waste involved in this project. The most obvious cost-saving measure available for homeowners is of course doing most of the work ourselves. “In Mr. Money Mustache terms: if you want to become a bassass, you have to enjoy the hard work of your own projects. “Easier said than done”, is a common refrain among the intimidated, but “It’s much more fun than it sounds” is what those of us in the know say in response. Especially those of us who were raised by total “do-it-yourselfers” like my dad. Hopefully, I have a good handle on most of the basics of building from past experience, but in a project this large, there will be tons to learn.

DIY projects thus far:

bought one new farm home without a realtor;

SOLD one large modern home without a realtor;

moved house on our own (with much help from CL);

began remodel on farm house kitchen;


As  you know from my last remodel update, we’re frugal builders over here, recycling materials and buying supplies through second-hand vendors as much as possible.  So, another challenge is the odd feeling of suddenly becoming one of the biggest consumers in town. Almost every day we have to buy stuff. Tools, materials, and trimmings are needed in abundance for a project like this, and so we’ve spent about $3,000 in one month on the kitchen. 50% of this is labor costs. Wah. But deadlines were real and we had to splurge.

But that’s the tip of the ice berg. We’ll be spending a whole lot more money when we start bumping the living room walls out and adding the wood burning fireplace. Luckily, since we had to dismantle my son’s huge climbing wall in the other house before we moved, we suddenly have a ton of excellent, reusable 2×4’s and sheeting. However, when we start seeing the trucks and forklifts, steel and wood, cardboard and plastic wrap, I’m sure we be squarely faced with the fact that we are chewing up a huge share of our own planet just to build ourselves a dwelling.

Check back for more updates on the Wheatstone Farm!









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