Summer Shape Up

Once again (there seems to be a pattern here), my renstoration plans were derailed somewhat by a combination of life events and the necessities an old house presents.

On a personal note, my dad was diagnosed with brain cancer in May so we were sent scrambling trying to absorb that news and establish a plan for treatment and surviving. I’m happy to report that dad finished his radiation and initial chemo protocol on September 2nd and he’s doing well. That scenario is going to continue to be a day-by-day situation and the family appreciates any and all prayers and good thoughts.

On the house front, the old deck boards started collapsing right in front of the patio door. So, my attention had to be redirected to repairing that. The deck is not part of the permanent master plan but need trumps want sometimes. Since, I was making the repairs on the deck, I decided that I would update the front porch and add in some of the permanent accessories.

The first step was to take up the old boards to figure out why they were collapsing.

What we discovered was that the joist hangers for the first four joists were completely corroded/rotted away. The good news was that the joists were still in good shape so we could reuse them. The boards were too far gone though so they needed to be replaced along with 8 new joist hangers. Then I gave the whole thing a good cleaning and power wash.

While the deck cleaner and power wash made a huge improvement by itself, I decided to paint the deck with Olympic restore because the remaining boards were not in the best condition. I also decided to paint the railing. Here’s the finished product after the paint was completed.

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The other changes made as part of the deck project was changing the lights, updating the door trim, replacing the PVC pipe railing with a wood railing, and painting the skirting. I also decided that the adjacent stone patio needed an infusion of love. So I added some of the permanent accessories like a hammock, the new outdoor dining chairs, and the string lights, all of which will remain beyond the temporary fixes.

As far as the front porch, the update was fairly basic. I removed the lattice as railing and installed new spindles and then painted the railing and skirting and stained the floor and stair treads. I also added beadboard to the ceiling and changed the lights.

Here’s how the costs broke down:

Railing Paint…………………………………..$110.94

Skirting Paint………………………………….$54.50

Front Porch – $186.68

New Spindles…………………………………..$44.22

New Post Caps where missing………………$8.52

Ceiling Beadboard……………………………..$59.91

New Lights………………………………………$37.05

Stain………………………………………………$36.98

Deck and Patio – $1,828.52

New Floor Boards……………………………….$69.65

New Railing………………………………………$36.74

Deck Cleaner…………………………………… $16.98

Floor Paint………………………………………$134.96

New Door Trim…………………………………..$53.91

Base Molding Paint………………………………$15.48

New Lights & Mounting Blocks………………$43.46

Solar Railing Lights……………………………..$23.98

Electrical Outlets………………………………..$104.59

Cable for String Lights…………………………..$59.13

String Lights………………………………………$71.95

New Patio Dining Chairs……………………….$706.14

New Outdoor Fireplace & Mat………………….$185.03

All in, that totals $2,180.64 but if I take the permanent items out of the total, I spent $723.30 to update the porch and deck, both of which will be removed during the master renovations. I did most of the labor myself with the help of my boyfriend for the heavy lifting and my brother for the electrical items. I’m still focused on not spending money on items that won’t be part of the final renovations so that’s not too bad considering the deck work was more a necessity than something I wanted to do this year.

Without further ado, the finished product…..

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Post Script to 2015

As I’ve noted before, I’m trying hard not to spend any unnecessary monies on renovations always keeping my eye on the “master plan.” But, I also want to be comfortable in my home until I have the resources to actually implement the “master plan.” That being said, some (what I’m calling) intermediate updates are occurring. Most of what I did in 2015 included these intermediate updates. I tallied up the receipts and can share what the 2015 aesthetic renovations cost….

Kitchen/Dining – $3,066*

*Some of that total includes the appliances which may or may not be reused in the “master plan” depending on their condition by the time I’m able to do that work. Plus, the dishwasher necessitated being changed since the existing one was non-functional. And, the existing range was so filthy that even after a full day of scrubbing, it didn’t come clean; I wouldn’t have prepared my dogs’ food with it. So, if I take those costs out of the total since they were really more need than want, the kitchen/dining update cost $1,166. Here’s the breakdown:

Subfloor Leveling……………………………$30

Flooring………………………………………$393 (also includes the half bath and entry area)

Floor Transition Trim……………………….$16

Cabinet Paint…………………………………$30

Wall Paint……………………………………..$30

Spray Paint for Cabinet Hardware…………$8

Beadboard Backsplash……………………..$20

Countertop………………………………….$200

Island & Microwave Cabinet Countertop…$0 (barter item)

Island Top Stain………………………………$12

Soffit Molding………………………………..$80

Dining Light Fixture…………………………$79

Island Light Fixture………………………….$85

Floor Heat Registers (Cast Iron)…………..$63

Trash/Recycling Center…………………….$120

Refrigerator……………………………………..$0 (hand-me-down from parents)

Range…………………………………………$1,100

Hood……………………………………………$200

Dishwasher……………………………………$600

Parlor/Library – $381

Paint……………………………………………..$30

Bookshelves……………………………………$90

Light Fixture………………………………….$250

Entry Flooring………………………….w/kitchen

Floor Transition Trim………………………….$11

Half Bath – $401

Paint………………………………………………$12

Drywall for Ceiling………………………………$0 (picked up scraps from another project)

Ceiling Molding…………………………………$25

Flooring…………………………………..w/kitchen

Toilet……………………………………………….$7 (used existing main bath toilet but needed a new wax ring)

Faucet…………………………………………….$90

Cabinet Hardware……………………………….$13

Light Fixture……………………………………..$93

Exhaust Fan………………………………………$48

Accessories………………………………………..$99 (includes TP holder, towel ring, towel tray, trash can, tissue box cover, toilet brush, and soap dish)

My boyfriend, brother, sister-in-law, and I did the labor so the dollar value for labor was $0. All in, that totals just under $4,000 to update four rooms including the kitchen. And, if I take the costs of the appliances out the equation because of their need rather than want, the total comes down to $1,948. Not too bad!

How Time Flies…

2015 seems to have been a blur! I realize that I haven’t posted here in over a year. It’s not for lack of progress but I just had a really full plate last year. The first third of the year found me, my significant other, brother, and sister-in-law helping mom and dad downsize and get settled into their retirement home. That took my time and resources away from the farm for that duration but the rest of the year was pretty productive.

The garden was expanded by one large bed which included prolific eggplant plants, beans, snap peas and sunflowers.Garden 2015

The kitchen soffit was expanded so that it follows the cabinetry. Trim was added to make it more aesthetically pleasing. soffit progress

I finally finished painting out the kitchen cabinets. And, the parlor, dining room and kitchen all got a fresh coat of neutral paint. All of the rooms got new light fixtures. I also installed a floor in the kitchen, dining room and half bath. I ultimately want wood, but for now, a wood-look vinyl plank floor will do. Kitchen Floor Progress

I also removed the concealed spline ceiling and replaced it with drywall in the half bath. The door swing was changed so that the door now swings into the bathroom instead of out into the parlor. The mustard yellow toilet was removed. A piece of inside corner trim was added to the existing 1 x 4 crown to give it a little more character. The light fixture and all the hardware was updated from the dated polished brass to oil rubbed bronze.CAM00842

Then, in the fall this year, I decided to host a Halloween Garden Party and Haunted House (with the help of my brother and sister-in-law who have done one for years). We used the garage as the haunted house by adding black painted plywood partitions to create scenes of horror. These partitions were easily erected and taken down after the party. The porch also got a Halloween ambiance.Halloween Porch

Unfortunately, also in the fall, the furnace finally gave up its ghost and I had to replace it. At least the late fall was warmer than usual but I know that the icy winds of winter will be approaching soon. Now I’m set!New Furnace

Anyway, to give you the full perspective of my progress, here are the before and after (for now) photos:

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New Flooring at Entry (so wet shoes aren’t directly on carpet)

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Parlor Before

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Parlor After

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Half Bath Before

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Half Bath After

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Dining Room Before

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Dining Room After

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Kitchen Before

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Kitchen After

Fall Functionality

Resignation can be an interesting motivator. Since finalizing the plans for the renstoration, I turned my eye to the financing. Until I can claim my lottery winnings, it seems that I will need to wait until some existing debts – namely the some old school loans and credit card bills – can be paid off before I can endeavor to start the big additions or renovations. It took me 10 years to complete the renovation of my old home (that was a neglected foreclosure when I purchased it). My goal here at the farm is to finish my renstoration in less time than that. The bulk of the aforementioned debt will be paid off in approximately five years and that’s my target date to start the big projects. In the meantime, I’m refocused on tackling the functional aspects of the house.

The garage door installed at my anniversary is now automated thanks to my brother and boyfriend. I’ll be able to easily pull the car into the garage in the impending winter weather without getting out of the car to open the door thanks to the newly installed opener. This spring will herald the arrival of the newest toy on the farm…a riding mower. That alone will cut down on the time it takes me to attend to my weekly chores. And, the plan is to also get the furnace replaced because at its age, it could go at any time; and that is certainly not something I could deal well with. The past few months I had to take care of a couple of things that demanded my attention and also took a bite out of my budget for the year.

The siding needed to be power-washed as it was covered in algae and maybe even mold. So, while I couldn’t afford new siding, this little fix certainly made it look new. Gentile Painting is excellent; I’ve used them at my old house and will continue to use them here. I highly recommend them.

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And, the flashing around the chimney – which was a hack job to begin with – final opened up and began leaking. So, I had both chimneys re-flashed properly with break metal and some shingles replaced. The upside is this is now complete for when I redo the roof but it was an unexpected cost that hurt this year.

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Clarity Contractors of Mays Landing did the nice job. And, I had them give me an estimate on the roof replacement while they were here so now I know how much to budget for that job when the time comes.

I rearranged the rec room furniture to make it feel more comfy. I also have some work to do in the kitchen that I want to complete as a temporary update until I can afford the real kitchen remodel. And, with the renstoration plans firmly in place, I can start some of the work ahead of the big renovations like scraping popcorn ceilings and getting rid of the “cake icing” texture on the walls and ceiling in the upstairs hallway.

As with most things in my life, having a plan is key. Now, I can start to (slowly) implement that plan.

Farm Fixation: Plans, Drawings, Finishes

While I can’t provide any real tangible progress on the farm for the past few months, I have been busy with the details of planning the renovation. Anyone who has been to my home recently can attest to the fact that my dining table looks more like a designer’s studio than an eating surface….

Current condition of my dining table. Plans, fabric swatches, tile samples....

Current condition of my dining table. Plans, fabric swatches, tile samples….

But, let’s back up a moment and let me explain how I got to where I am.

Home Style
After researching the style of my home, I discovered that it fits the nomenclature of Folk Victorian. That descriptor really doesn’t mean much except that it is a farmhouse that was built during the Victorian era, a period that spanned 1870 to 1910. From what I could find, unlike Victorians that were designed by professional architects for well-to-do citizens, Folk Victorians were usually designed by the same people who built them – the homeowners and/or carpenters. What distinguishes them from any other farmhouse is that they may incorporate some of the elements of the Victorian home that were now being mass manufactured and, more importantly, shipped by train to areas farther away from city centers. Some of these elements could include flat, jig-saw cut, trim or gingerbread on the façade or porch, turned porch spindles, bright colors, and decorative gable-end detailing, as a sampling. Window production had progressed to a point where large panes of glass could be manufactured so the once pandemic multiple-paned windows were no longer used and, instead, one finds two-over-two or one-over-one sashed windows. The Folk Victorian, however, is always a simpler style since these homes were still ultimately built as basic shelter for the common folk.
Ironically, Victorian is my least favorite architectural style. I’ve always found the frou-frou too excessive and busy. But, I also feel like a home’s décor should coalesce with the home’s overall style. In my humble opinion, walking into a mid-century modern house with traditional furnishings is an affront to the senses. It makes me uneasy. I want my home to be my sanctuary so I will be incorporating some of the simpler details of the Victorian era to keep the styles consistent. But, mostly, I intend to focus on farmhouse simplicity as that most closely fits my personal style. It will definitely be a balancing act for me. That being said, I’ve spent months refining and then tweaking my plans.

The Plan
Part of my challenge is the orientation of my home on the property. Originally, the rear was the front and vice versa. Where the rear deck is now, once stood the original front porch. And, according to the history provided to me by the previous owner, the patio doors were once the location of the front door. What I found I needed, over the past year living here, is a proper foyer and better layout of the half bath, coat closet, laundry facilities, and master suite.
With those things in mind, I decided that I am going to enclose the current front porch to create a foyer and add a new front porch across the entire front of the house. While making that change, I’ll update the roof line over the porch to better identify that as the front of the house. Next, I plan to build an enclosed breezeway between the house and the garage to allow for getting to and from the house in inclement weather.
The largest part of the renovation will be the rear addition. I’m going to demolish the existing deck and build a two story addition in its place. Essentially, the intent is to appear as if I enclosed the original front porch and what could have been a second story sleeping porch (which was commonplace in Victorian era homes). The first floor of this addition will house the relocated half bath and laundry facilities and will be the mudroom from the house to the yard. The second floor of this addition will house the relocated master bathroom – complete with clawfoot tub – and new walk-in closet. A new deck will be built off of the addition.
Instead of building a separate home office, I’m going to use the space where the current half bath stands now and create a built-in desk area. Then, the rest of the house is getting an up-to-date facelift. A kitchen renovation is on the plans as is the main bath renovation. New paint, flooring and light fixtures will be installed throughout. All of these changes are being made with an eye and mind to the simplicity and style of a farmhouse built in the Victorian era.

Front (North) Elevation

Front (North) Elevation

New First Floor Plan

New First Floor Plan

New Second Floor Plan

New Second Floor Plan

Schedule
Until I can claim my lottery winnings, I am going to have to do this work over several months and years. Part of the planning is phasing out the work. In the meantime, I will be continuing to make the existing home fit my tastes as best as possible without spending unnecessary monies in the process. I’ll keep posting the progress as I go. My last home which was a foreclosure fixer-upper took me ten years to complete. My goal here is to finish in less than that time frame.

But, for now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to ruminate over Bedroom 3 fabric swatches and try to find a wood floor that makes me happy!

Happy Anniversary!

Today marks one year since I made Oak Haven Farm my home. A lot has been done already, although to me it still feels like not enough. Of course, anyone who know me well, knows that I won’t feel like it’s enough until I can complain that I don’t have anything left to do! But here’s a quick flashback on what I have accomplished in the first year here on the farm.

Getting the wallpaper (and matching curtains) off the walls was priority number one. I still have to tackle the borders in the master bedroom and small guest bedroom and the wallpaper in the larger guest bedroom but at least the first floor has been de-papered.
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Dining

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And, of course, getting the carpet out of the kitchen was a close second. I also started refinishing the cabinets and replaced the countertops. The dishwasher and range both needed to be replaced. Finally, I installed an inexpensive beadboard backsplash and new faucet.
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kitchen carpet removed

kitchen beadboard backsplash

A couple of functional aspects were addressed. The furnace was serviced and a new ignitor needed to be installed. The AC unit, which I was told had a bad motor, was also serviced and found to only have an incorrectly installed capacitor; so now I have central air conditioning. And, the hot water heater sprung a leak and needed to be replaced.
Water Heater

With the spring, my focus turned to the outdoors. I cleaned up a few planting beds and got in my herb and vegetable garden complete with my Butzemann Hans.
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Eastern Dining Flower Bed

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Porch Western Flower Bed

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Garage Flower Bed

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And, finally, for our anniversary, I got the house a new garage door.
Garage Door

Stay tuned; there’s much more to come!

May I Present…..

When I bought the farm last May, a small part of my thought process was that there would be enough land/room to build a parents’ suite for my mom and dad. After much conversation and number crunching over the winter months, it doesn’t seem that that is going to be feasible financially or logistically. I’d still like mom and dad to move to Jersey but that’s an entirely different topic for an entirely different blog.

Having crossed a parents’ suite addition off the renstoration plans, I was able to fully develop the master plan for the house. I’m still tweaking the interior layout but here’s the site plan (at least the portion closest to the house). I am going to build a small addition to house the relocated laundry/mudroom and half bath on the first floor and the master bath and walk-in-closet on the second floor. And, I want to enclose the existing front porch to create a proper entry and coat closet. I’ll add a new covered porch across the entire front of the house and a breezeway to connect the house to the garage. Finally, I’m rebuilding a new deck and paver patio and reconstructing the outside basement access.

So, without further ado, may I present the Master Site Plan for Oak Haven Farm…

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In the next few weeks, I’ll be adding the new floor plans onto the Floor Plans page so stay tuned. 🙂

 

With Spring Comes Renewal

Blue Haven Farm - die Blohaafe Bauerei

And, as such, a new name for the homestead!

I was reflecting on the farm last weekend. I’ve got all sorts of beautiful spring flowers popping up all over the property – daffodils, crocuses, snowdrops, hyacinths, etc. And, then, the majestic oak in the front yard caught my attention.

He’s had my admiration since I moved onto the property. It’s difficult not to admire him. He’s front and center in the yard and stands strong and proud. Knowing that he’s probably between 200 and 300 years old only adds to my reverence. And, the fact that most oaks in my area had been forested for housing really makes him a special guy and deserving of honor.

I also started turning my mind toward the actual renstoration of the house. Realizing that the current property name is probably a nod to the blue siding on the house, it feels too transient. While blue…

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Winter Blues to Winter Muse: Reflections on the Farm

Blue Haven Farm - die Blohaafe Bauerei

I must admit winter is my least favorite season. Most years, I take something of a hibernation period during winter catching up on books and TV shows or movies and just planning for the spring. This year was no different in that I used the winter to plan for upcoming changes around the farm. But, as if to remind me why I so dislike winter, this particular one was for the record books. The first snowflake fell before winter even officially began at the beginning of December. We ended up having the third snowiest winter for the region. More days with high temperatures below freezing than is normal. It was literally warmer in Alaska than in southern New Jersey this winter! And, as I write this in the beginning of March, there’s actually the possibility for more snow in the coming week. Old Man Winter just does not want to give it up!

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Fall on the Farm

Blue Haven Farm - die Blohaafe Bauerei

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As one would suspect, fall has been a busy season around here! I’d love if it included harvesting but alas, I did not get my gardens in this year. Instead, it was all work inside (and the usual festivals, potlucks and get-togethers this time of year brings). I did step back and regroup a bit. I have a big end of year Holiday Open House every year so I want to ensure that the main floor is in the best shape possible for the party.

A friend and colleague who just happens to own a demolition and concrete company was kind enough to clear out the garage of all the – ahem – treasures left behind by the previous owner. And, I put my usual OCD skills to task and cleaned and organized that space. It’s wonderful having all my tools in one place and tidy. That certainly is making all the updates…

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