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Friday, January 28, 2011

Phase II: the barn room

To recap,  we are currently working on Phase II:  turning the original attached barn into living space.

The barn attaches to the house via the kitchen, as seen in this first photo.  The bottom floor of the barn was converted into a three-car garage during Phase I.   (click to view post)
The main floor of the barn will have a barn room which will be our "great room", a mud room which provides access to/from the garage, a small storage room, and stairs to the loft- which sits above the mud and storage rooms.
The barn itself dictated the size of each room via its original design.  By "listening"to the structure we have been able to keep a lot of "real estate" per square foot which is always a good thing.  When we first imagined a barn room in the space we briefly (very briefly)  thought about using the entire barn  (all 27' x 38' with a 32' ceiling) as the barn room, but it was just too, too big for the size and scale of the rest of the farmhouse.  Scale and proportion are extremely important to me and it wouldn't "feel" right to walk in to such a huge room from the relatively small scale of the main house.  For scale reference the barn room is 23' x 27' and has 12' 4" ceilings. For design reference I want the barn room to have more of a European-barn than a rustic-barn feel.  To me that means rustic in materials, yet with beautiful furniture, fabrics and art.
I realize it is difficult to "see" how everything connects and comes together, so please ask for clarification if needed. 
(In this post I will focus on the barn room and show you the mud, storage and loft rooms in a different post.)

Kitchen doorway into the barn.  The board on the floor covers up the five steps down into the barn room.
(Antique transom added during Phase I.)

When we purchased the property the barn was an actual livestock barn. 
Sadly, we don't have many photos of the interior of the barn as we were so focused on house photos.   This is how the space that is to be the barn room  looked when we found the property.


Northwest corner of the future barn room.

This is the same northwest corner (as above) of the room after it was framed for new windows in Phase I.  The entire room was framed to provide a squared room when finished.

 This view shows the stairs into the kitchen (notice the brick fireplace on the far back wall for reference.)  The opening to the right of the steps is the half bath which is accessed from the barn room. This space was added on to the barn in Phase I.   It is the only bathroom on the first floor of the farmhouse.  Just to the left of the steps is the framework for one of the new french doors.

 this french door!
French doors being installed. (click to read post)
 Interior view of above photo.

Phase II
This is the east wall and faces the back meadow. 
There will be a gravel patio off of the french doors.  Same view as above with soy-based blown-in insulation on the walls. The 4-foot Craigslist find chandelier was temporarily hung in the room so that I could see the scale.  Between the two french doors (where Ella is sitting on the chair) will be a large fireplace.  The addition of this fireplace will give the farmhouse a total of 4 fireplaces and 5 rooms with a fireplace! (the kitchen/dining room share a fireplace)  The fireplace finish will be stucco and incorporate an antique beam as a mantle, and a large slab of granite as the raised hearthstone- both from the property, removed from the barn during Phase I of the renovation.

This is the south wall. 
This view is similar to the 4th photo showing: the entrance into the kitchen (under the added transom), the half bath door to the right of that opening, and the new french door.
All of the walls in the barn will be covered in random width (8"/10"/12") ship lap pine.  In the barn room the boards will be hung vertically with the smooth side out.  The walls will be painted gray.  The engineered structural beams in the room will be wrapped in old barn wood and the ceiling boards will have a white-washed finish.

This is the west wall of the barn room. 
The original barn door (encased in plastic in this photo to protect from the insulation installation) will be hung using its original rolling-rail hardware, and moved to the wall in the photo above- immediately to the right of the half bath door.   The wall that the door is currently resting on in this photo will be enclosed.  The open area under the ladder will become a doorway that takes you to the barn mud room,  the storage room and the stairs into the loft.
A pair of antique iron doors from Argentina, found locally, (solid on the bottom open on the top) will be used in the doorway to "visually" divide the barn room from the mud room. (The small storage room sits behind the barn door is in this photo.  The area you are looking into behind the barn door on the second level is the loft.  And, for reference... the master closet sits directly above the barn room ceiling- the two small, square windows above the french doors as viewed from the exterior.)
I will hang a much-loved collection of approximately 50 antique herbariums on this wall.

This is the north wall (as seen in the 2nd and 3rd photos above.) 
Between the two windows will hang the (gulp...........) "man-sized" TV.  A 65-inch plasma with mega sound system .  It is the TV watching room after all, but it is still a bit difficult to wrap one's decorating mind around this animal!  ( I cannot tell you how happy I am to have those two windows there, or no telling how large the TV would be otherwise!!)  Under the TV will sit a rather large antique French commode that we found at the Scott show in Atlanta.  I'm hoping that its beauty will distract you from the behemoth TV..... ok, I'm praying!
(Dan just issued a request that all you husbands out there, like Carol's husband;),  reading in bloggy-land chime in with your thoughts on the size of the TV.  He says he needs backup!)  

update on the chimney:

The stone mason starting the footing of the chimney.  (note: This is approximately 12 feet below the threshold of the french doors in the photo below... in other words-  he had a long way to go!)

Scaffolding for the chimney.

...more scaffolding!

Making a "tent" so the mason can work through the winter!

Carry on men! 
With the heater going inside the tent it's a good 70 degrees- they work in t-shirts!

Inside the tent today.... this started to happen- reciprocating saw cutting out the opening into the barn room.

Which looked like this on the inside (saw blade coming through the barn room wall.)

which became this...

and turned into this....
oh wait... I changed my mind- I don't think I want a fireplace there after all!!!!

and,  just to be clear.... so you do not think that this is project is easy on any front.....
for my European friends minus 23 is equal to...... oh, I don't know- it's COLD!!!
(Dan just said it is minus 30C!)

Luckily, those temperatures only lasted a couple of days.   Currently it's a balmy 22 degrees!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

seven random things and a very thankful heart!

I have been honored the past several weeks by being given the Stylish Blogger award!  I am overwhelmingly flattered, and would like to say thank you to each of the following bloggers who so kindly gave me this award....

Elizabeth at Southern Comfort

Lisa at Shine your Light

Jenny Beth at Life on Lyford

This award states that I share 7 things about myself.  Since my blog is all about me and the farmhouse you already know most of what is to be known, but here are seven random things about me!

1.  In my twenties I met and was blessed ("Bless you my child")  by Archbishop Desmond Tutu....

2.  I haven't worn a watch in over 20 years.

3.  I am scent-sensitive, so I am not a fan of perfumes.  Certain fragrances can give me an instant migraine (so when you come to the farmhouse to visit would you mind not wearing perfume/scented lotion that day?!!:)

4.  I have a wee-bit of an addition to these.
We belong to Sam's for one reason only- to buy Perriers in glass bottles. (please recycle!)  My Costco only carries the plastic bottles, and it is just not the same.
(photo:  for the love of a house)

5.  I own the soundtrack to The Wizard of Oz!  It is one of my top ten favorite movies.  I defy you to have a bad day after listening to Ding-Dong the Witch is Dead five times in a row!  see... you're humming it right now aren't you?!!

6.  I'm in my "happy place" when:   the farmhouse is freshly dusted and vacuumed (I am Fifi the maid btw), I'm in the kitchen cooking, listening to  Something's Gotta Give soundtrack  (Dan knows all is right in my world if he hears that playing!) and ...

having a glass of this.....

discussing the day's events with my sweet husband, and....

getting and giving sugar from this precious girl!!
In this photo Ella is doing her Flying Nun impersonation!  I did not do this to her ears!  Ella does funny, hysterical things with her ears!  for example.....

her Princess Leia impression!   About three weeks after we adopted Ella she walked up to me looking like this..... I think I laughed for an hour straight!!

7.  Jackson Hole Wyoming / the Grand Tetons is my favorite place in the world.
I grew up going there on summer vacations as a child.  Several years ago Dan and I spread my father's ashes in the Tetons, as it was his favorite place too.
(This photo of the sun rising on the Grand was saved from a webcam in the Tetons that we visit every day) 

The rules of this award state that I am to pick 10 newish-to-me blogs to pass the award to.  
I find it impossible to pick just ten.
So, after much consideration I have decided to "bend" the rules a bit and 
instead, I would like to pass this along to all of you
Please consider yourself tagged, snag the award logo and tell seven things about yourself! 
I love reading these lists, so please let me know if you play along!


I also want to say Thank You, Thank you to each of the following bloggers who did posts on
for the love of a house!

I am deeply touched by your kindness and generosity.
Thank you for all the blog love!!

Mama Bear's House :For the Love of a Kitchen..


And last, but certainly not least, a HUGE thank you to the fabulous (seriously, how can you be 28 years old and such a design talent?!) Artie at Color Outside the Lines who worked with me to design my new header and layoutIt is because of Artie that I can now show you large photographs!   Finally!  Thank you Artie!
If you would like help with your blog design contact Artie at:

Sunday, January 23, 2011


antique French armchair found in Marseilles years ago sits in the reading room,  recently back from being reupholstered...
chair covered in a natural linen with a vintage alligator hide back.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

do you Craigslist?!

If you do then you know the great finds that can be found; if you don't may I suggest you do!

One of our favorite stops on Craigslist is the "free" section.  We are constantly shocked and amazed at the really good things that people give away for free.  (We are also shocked and amazed that people list postings like:  one free container of baby formula - I kid you not!) 
I can't tell you how many times I have told Dan I could decorate a whole house with the things that people give away.  I do acknowledge that we seem to have a very generous free listing section here in New Hampshire.    For example...before Thanksgiving there were probably 50 listings giving away Thanksgiving dinner to families in need- some with all the ingredients to make your own, some in a restaurant and some actually invited strangers into their home.  I realize this sounds crazy and frightening to many (depending on the size of your city) but we have found New Hampshire to have a very helpful and generous spirit.  I thought maybe this was the new "thing" but after looking at a dozen cities (of varying size) across the country the only place I found people offering free Thanksgiving dinners to those in need was here. 
But, even if your free section isn't as overly generous-  still check, you never know what you will find!

Yesterday Dan and I (and, of course, sweet Ella) drove 5 hours round trip, in the snow to pick up a free antique Victorian sofa that we found on Craigslist.  Neither of us could bare the thought of it going on the burn pile which was to be its next stop (the burn pile was literally roaring when we arrived!)   It was a very dark day which is why this photo is so grainy.  This is how we found the sofa- sitting alone in the dark corner 'praying' it wasn't next to go on the fire.  I thought it would make a fine addition to the loft (office space) that we are creating in the barn.  To be perfectly honest, this is not a typical style of sofa that I would normally chose, but it was exactly because of that, and that I think the lines will look fabulous with the exposed beams of the room that I wanted to have a closer look!   The piece is indeed antique with its original horse hair peaking from under the springs, and once the rather ornate woodwork is sanded down and either left with hints of the white paint (that someone unfortunately slapped on years ago), or maybe painted a gloss black- then upholster in a brown/mushroom velvet with one long, down-wrapped linen cushion......  I'm thinking it will be fabulous and fun, and it was FREE!!!

Look past the hanging springs, the b.a.d. white paint on the frame and the nasty 1970's upholstery ripped and exposing even older upholstery to the lines and curves of the back and the arms!  The sofa is really long and deep, and looks perfect for napping!  And, if you can't look past all those things, then I will say what I occasionally say to Dan.... "trust me on this one!"

Dan and the husband of the woman who posted the listing carrying the sofa through several feet of snow as it wouldn't fit through the doorways to enable it to be carried out the front of the barn.
A favorite part of this sofa story for me is that this couple was hired to clean/clear out the house and the barn, no doubt making minimum wage... that the woman saw the beauty in the sofa and took the time to take a photo, post a listing and take phone calls regarding the sofa warms my heart.  It would have been much easier to simply toss the sofa on the fire and be done with it.  I thanked her profusely for taking the time to help the sofa find a new life (and slipped them a twenty;)

This iron chandelier will find its home in the barn room, and is another recent Craigslist find.  
And, although I paid for this one it was still an amazing find and bargain!  I have had my eye out for a chandelier for the barn room for well over a year.  The room is a good size, and I knew it would need a rather large chandelier.  I knew I would not find anything that large in an antique, and all the beautiful new ones I could find that were large enough were thousands of dollars, and that wasn't in the budget!  One day I thought to look on Craigslist, and kept expanding my search to neighboring states.  I stumbled on this beauty in Connecticut (another 5 hours round trip!)   People are notorious for posting bad, blurry photographs and not giving any information, so don't hesitate to ask.  In the original photo this chandelier was laying on the ground in front of what was obviously a really large staircase and it covered the expanse, so I knew it was big.  I was thrilled to find out that it was just over 4 feet.....  perfect scale for the room!
She was asking $300, I offered $250 and got it!!
The chandelier is not old, but is hand wrought and has great lines.

Dan and our carpenter hung the chandelier in the barn room so I could see it up and see the scale!  I will probably paint it  a brown/rust color.  The piece of plywood is giving the illusion of a large candle sleeve!  (oh, and I'm sure some of you are wondering.... the green stuff on the wall is soy-based insulation!)

I would love to hear of your great Craigslist finds!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

the kitchen: details

Thank you all so very much for your wonderful, fabulous, delightful comments and emails.
You made me laugh.
You made me cry.
My heart is full...  thank you!

In this post I will go back through each photo giving details of the room. I hope to answer all the questions that you asked, but if I miss anything, or you have any additional questions please let me know .
(further info can be read by clicking on the highlighted words/phrases)

This is the view as you walk into the kitchen from the entry.
The antique French wood chandelier was found in pieces in a field at Brimfield.
The antique pedestal table was originally found with a leaf in it that made it oval, which I loved, but ultimately, I felt it worked better in the room as a round table.
The slipped chairs are from Ikea. (Henriksdal Arm Chair- unfortunately, the chairs are no longer available.)
Three of the chairs have antique tapestry pillows.
Seagrass rug from Lowes.
The menu board was originally an antique mirror frame that we found in a shop in Oklahoma. Dan cut a piece of plywood to fit and I painted it with blackboard paint.
The french doors were added during the renovation.


The fireplace was added during our renovation, the original fireplace (which only opened into the formal dining room behind the kitchen)  had major repair issues and was taken down to make a see-thru fireplace between the kitchen and the dining room. The bricks are from the original fireplace. The mantel board was found in the barn.
The 19th c. French painting (in its original frame) above the fireplace was found at Porte de Vanves (a weekend street fare) in Paris.
A 1913 Biltmore hotel tray (one of a pair that I have) holds hotel flatware and an antique ironstone pitcher in which I always keep some kind of white flowers.
The doorway to the left of the fireplace takes you to the dining room. The black door takes you outside to the back porch.

The cupboard to the right of the fireplace is original to the house, and has its original iron bin pulls on the drawers. I adore the small panelled door! On the door is an unframed antique bovine painting hung with antique chain and an antique square nail found on the property. I researched the old iron bin pulls hoping to find replicas for the island. I did! I was thrilled, yet they were slightly smaller and the detailing was slightly different. I kept looking. And, then I found exact replicas- exact size and details, but they were in solid brass. I purchased them, and spray painted them a mat black to match the originals. The two iron handles on the island that you see in this photo are from Restoration Hardware.

Closeup of the cupboard.
Antique ironstone, hotel silver, cake stands and my cookbooks fill the shelves. The antique white jardiniere that you see on the edge of the mantle in this photo was found at the Scott Show in Atlanta, it's an unusual piece with the top lip being rimmed in iron.

The wire basket found in France sits on the large hotel silver tray that is the mate to the hotel tray on the dining table. It holds an antique English ironstone ham stand with a small fern, and two topiaries.... one from Snug Harbor Farm in Maine, and the other I have been growing for nineteen years!
The marble on the island is honed Bianco Venatino. I had originally thought I wanted Carrara, but found the slabs at the time of the renovation to be very creamy (instead of white) and to have very little veining. When I spotted this slab at one of the many stone fabricators that we visited I fell in love! I loved the veining and the movement of the piece. I felt the island at a little over 3 feet x 7 feet needed to have a presence, and the movement of the veining gives it that importance in the room.
(To read my post on marble click HERE.)

The countertops are soapstone. I love them! They have a small amount of green veining which I find beautiful. In my research I read that soapstone can be soft depending on where it is quarried. I have not found that to be true of mine, as it is very durable. For the first month I mineral-oiled it once a week, then for the first year once a month, and now just occasionally. If anything scratches it the oil covers the scratch. And, nothing stains it which is really nice. It is also very heat tolerant, so you can sit hot pots/pans directly on it.
(To read my post on soapstone click HERE.)

The hardware on the drawers is polished nickel from Restoration Hardware.  I used bin pulls (Gilmore) with handle pulls (Aubrey) in two different sizes (6" and 8", depending on the drawer size) to vary the look.
I designed the kitchen using all drawers. Years ago I found this idea in a magazine and thought it was brilliant! I have one corner cabinet and a cabinet for sheet pans and cutting boards; every thing else is a drawer! I can not tell you how easy it is to just pull open a drawer to find what you are looking for, and to lift up the heavy pots.
Glass front refrigerator is Sub Zero.
The island pendants are turn of the century mill lights found at Smith-Zukas Antiques in Maine.
The light above the sink is from Circa Lighting.
The wood ceiling is 6" v-match tongue-and-groove which I paint with a gloss; a little trick I use all over the house-  it makes your ceilings look taller by reflecting the light.
My backsplash is real beadboard, and the floors are random width Eastern white pine from Carlisle which happens to be a local company located 35 minutes from our house. We loved knowing that just as the original floors,  the new floors were also from New Hampshire!  All the floors in the house are finished with tung oil which is what was used a hundred years ago.
The wood brackets under the glass front cabinets, the large polished nickel silver cupboard clasps (these are much larger than Restoration Hardware's) and the exact replicas for the bin pulls on the island were all found at House of Antique Hardware.
Ella's bed was purchased years ago (actually for her sister Kelsey) and I do not remember from where... sorry.

The glass in the cabinets is original to the house! We took the antique wavy glass from windows which were removed during the renovation and had it cut for the cabinet doors.
The glass front cabinets are filled with ironstone, hotel silver, green yelloware, hotel and vintage bamboo flatware, drinking glasses and crystal, and white everyday plates. While some things, of course, get used more than others I do believe in using all my pieces;  I open and use the cabinets daily!

The sink bridge-faucet is a Perrin and Rowe, and the farmhouse sink is a 36" Shaw. I removed the doors I had originally had made for under the sink to soften the long line of cabinets with a linen skirt.
All of the rugs are antique. The one in this photo was found in Portland, Oregon some 20+ years ago for $5! I love the wear on them, and the softness they give a room.

Stack of ironstone, wicker, and wire baskets on a hotel tray with a demijohn bottle and a small lamp made from an old ironstone sugar.  The little lead bird in this photo was a turn-key to an old stove,  found at Round Top.  Several of you commented on the lamps that I use in the kitchen- I have used small lamps in my kitchens since I was in college!  There are so many wonderful old items that can be turned into lamps.  I really like how they bring you eye down to the counter and highlight the display.

For reference, the kitchen measures 14 feet by 30 feet, and I have 9 foot ceilings on the first floor of the farmhouse (8 1/2' upstairs)  which is very rare in antique homes here in New Hampshire!  The church window frame came from Fredericksburg, Texas and was given to me by my sister Susan after she could no longer use it.
In the right side of this photo (currently closed off) under the transom window is the entry into the barn room!  There are about 4 steps down to get to the room.

Wall color is Benjamin Moore Gray Owl OC-52

Cabinet, trim and ceiling color is Benjamin Moore White Dove OC-17.
The woven wood shades are made by: Ambria, collection: Rangoon; color: Green Tea.
They were custom ordered through Lowes.