Planting Sequoias

In which I blog about a life (hopefully) well lived.


Farm Apartment: First Things First (in which we remove the roof in order to raise the roof)

When remodeling old things to make them new and useful once again, you often have to take a few steps backwards before you get to the fun stuff.

In the case of the Farm Apartment we’re building (YES! For real! Click here to catch up), we needed to remove the roof in order to raise the roof. I know, I know, it seems backwards to me as well.

But in order to support the weight of the ENTIRE SECOND STORY, we took the whole roof down. Did I mention that we’re DIYing the whole thing? THRILLING.

Let’s jump right in with a picture. Believe me when I say that this was a WEIRD, WEIRD feeling–being in the building and yet completely outside.


Oh, but it wasn’t as easy as the internet makes it out to be. I just decided to spare you of all of the hard work and the two GIGANTIC dumpsters worth of debris we chipped off that old roof. That, and I forgot to take pictures. The roof was the tar type with about an inch of accumulated tar over the decades. We would use a sawzall to cut through the tar and then we’d chip it off in large-ish chunks with a nifty shovel/prybar thing meant for this type of work. I obviously don’t know the real name.

Once we removed the tar, we removed the roof boards. In today’s construction, 4×8′ sheets of wood are used, but when this barn was built the used individual boards that were about 8 inches wide and a half-inch thick. Since they were all tar-covered and filled with nails, into the dumpster they went!

Next we removed the old joists–in this case, long lengths of 2x8s. In the picture below, you can see one of the two beams that helped support these joists.


Now THOSE we could keep and reuse–which meant removing HUNDREDS and HUNDREDS of nails. But not having to PAY to get rid of them and not having to purchase new wood means it’s worth it! They won’t be reused as floor/ceiling joists, as today’s code requires better support than that, but they can be used to frame the second story outer walls.

Oh, and let’s back up a sec and dissect that picture above. YES, that’s my dad using a CHAINSAW to get that huge beam down (the beam was actually made of three side-by-side 2x10s, not solid wood). We couldn’t reuse them, so the billion pound beam pieces went into the dumpster.

We replaced the 2 old wooden beams with one custom steel beam and three supporting steel poles. Oh yeah, and we had to take out the concrete floor and pour new concrete supports for the beam poles. Currently the floor looks like Swiss cheese–the rest of the floor will come out eventually and be replaced with a fresh new concrete slab. The old slab was too thin and rough to keep. In essence, all we are keeping of the old barn are the cinder block walls–and even those have to be raised a bit to create 8″ ceilings.

Obviously this is all very exciting, and Kenny and I are racking up the miles (and gas $$ used) driving the 35 miles to and from the farm. We’re loving it.



The Big Project: Farm Apartment (in which we make plans to raise the roof…literally)

Since Kenny and I live in a 670 square foot apartment, we frequently escape those confines and head to my parents expansive farm.

ESPECIALLY now that they’ve embarked on a very exciting, very big new project.

You might remember the master bedroom makeover we gave my parents for Christmas?

Well, this project is on the farm, but it’s not in the house at all. Let me explain.

There are a bunch of barns on the farm, all with different purposes. Some are older and some are newer. And one such barn (an old one) needs to be remodeled for a new purpose. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll have received several sneak peeks of our progress…

Let me introduce you to “the workshop,” which is what we call this barn. Each barn has a name–the yellow polebarn (that, incidentally, hasn’t been yellow in 10 years), the sheep barn, Grandpa’s barn, etc.

Here it is, on the very righthand side of the picture. The one with the flat roof.


And here’s another, summerier picture–it’s on the right again.


My guess is that this barn was built sometime in the 1940s or 1950s (though my mother can correct me). In it’s lifetime, it’s been a garage, a chicken coop, a shop for wool wares, and a woodworking shop.


It’s time now for the barn to get rebuilt. The plan is to raise the roof (literally) and create a gambrel roof (more of a traditional barn look). That will then create a whole second story worth of space, which we’ll divide into an apartment and a studio for my mom’s hobby, weaving (with gigantic looms). The first story will continue to be half shop, half woodworking area.

All photos were taken from my mom’s farm blog, which you should click over to read. And check back Monday for a progress post–we’ve already started work!


Dramatic Traditional House Tour (in which I find the perfect kitchen in an awesome house)

So, friends.

There was this one house.

Kenny and I toured it on the Parade of Homes in our city.

It was awesome.


Moody Traditional House (3)

I LOVED that this house moved away from the traditional brown/beige outdoor color scheme but kept it classy. The dark colors were eye-catching and that roofline? So cool.

The dramatic flare was not only on the outside of the house. Here’s the living room, with a bold charcoal fireplace as the focal point. Also. Friends. I’m gonna need 9 foot ceilings someday. And lots of furniture that’s tufted. Plan on it.

Moody Traditional House (2)

THE KITCHEN. Was so so dreamy.

I probably have said this before, but this? THIS? Is my dream kitchen. I cannot even begin to explain how much I love cabinets on top of cabinets. ALSO, that island. And the light fixture. I’m also gonna need a million bucks while we’re at it.

Moody Traditional House (5)

And it just gets better. See the transom window above the doorway? Duh, love it.

Moody Traditional House (6)

Okay, and here’s my one and only teeny tiny complaint about the house: the master bedroom bedside light fixtures. I think they’re a little too wierd/don’t match the house style, but hey, if someone gave me this house I’d deal with it. The fact that they’re hanging is pretty intriguing, however.

Moody Traditional House (7)

Here’s the master bath, which, while not palatial like some I’ve shown in these house tours, is pretty great. No bathtub, but that’s one less thing to clean, right?

Moody Traditional House (8)

What was your favorite? I plan on pinning that kitchen so hard. You?

Want to see more? Check out this Pottery Barn style house (the master bedroom is phenomenal), this amazing nautical beach house (with a bunk room!), this moody yet classic home (the kitchen is. incredible.), this colorful modern home (surprisingly cozy), and this lake house (BEACH). Dreamy sigh.


How Not to Paint Laminate Furniture (in which I learn a valuable lesson about not taking shortcuts)

Two weeks ago, I found this leaning against our apartment dumpster.

Excited does not begin to describe how I was feeling about this magnificent freebie.

free headboard

Ken had a hard time seeing the vision, but I knew I could transform this weighty hunk of laminate into something awesome.

And I know, I know, it doesn’t look that bad–from a distance. Up close–well, it had issues.

Not the least of which were these mysterious screws poking out the top of the headboard.

free headboard--old canopy bed?

My guess is that at one point this bed used to be a canopy bed. A quick appointment with my pliers did the trick, however, and I filled the gaping holes with some wood filler. There were also a bunch of holes down by the bottom of the legs where various bed mechanisms had been attached that I filled in too.

I sanded down the wood-filler-filled places and gently sanded the rest of the piece, and then I got to painting.

Which was my huge mistake.

Oh, don’t get me wrong. It was looking pretty awesome.

Here’s the picture I texted to my mom (I have to turn SOMEWHERE for praise, since Ken has zero appreciation for painted furniture that originated from the dumpster of all places).


Happily (and innocently), I finished painting, and the next night, I set out and distressed the things.

Only that process went a little too easily.

The paint chipped off wonderfully.

A lot of it.

And then I realized that if I even looked at the piece sideways, the paint would chip off.

Frantically I began to Google.

Apparently there’s a very important step between not painting and painting and that would be PRIMER.

Since laminate is so smooth, there’s nothing that paint can really adhere to. DUH.

I, in my infinite wisdom and constant state of impatience, thought that I would be the FIRST PERSON to finally succeed by taking this particular shortcut. FALSE. SO SO FALSE.

So, tearfully, I set up a play-date with my mouse sander and undid what I had already done. Which, in all actuality, did not take very long at all since the paint came off so easily.

And then I primed, and than I painted. This was a multi-day process spent in a dark, sweltering garage. I took no pictures because I was so mad at myself. And then I painted again. WOULD IT NEVER END???

Yes, it would.

After I’d painted it the second time (third if you count the time I sanded off; fourth if you count the primer–but who’s counting?), I got out my glaze and antiqued the thing.

I used Behr’s Faux Glaze and a test pot of brown Glidden paint I had on hand. The glaze helps the paint to remain “open” longer, aka, not dry as fast so you can manipulate it more. Note: do not use on husbands–they don’t respond well to manipulation. Either that or I’m doing it wrong. 🙂

Behr's Faux Glaze and Glidden Test Paint (brown): Perfect for creating an antique glaze

Mix these together at a ratio of 1 part paint to 4 parts glaze. I used a dark brown paint but you can in theory use any color.

Normally when you glaze thing you just smear the concoction all over the furniture and wipe it off, but I didn’t want to get my hands dirty, so I just “dry-brushed” the paint on, focusing on the edges/corners and smearing the stuff lightly all over. I did have a rag nearby so I could wipe off any part that got a little out of hand.

This is what I mean by using a “dry brush”–I just BARELY poke the edges of the bristles in the paint every couple of minutes.

"dry brush" darker paint on furniture edges to create an antique look

This method uses practically NO paint. I like to use the paint that sticks cover of the test pot and that’s about it.

It’s sort of a different way to “distress” furniture–it gives it a chippier look, as if the gray paint is wearing off to show the wood underneath, but it’s really just a big ruse. Shhh. It can be our secret.

antiqued headboard (click for tutorial!)

Also, I’m happy to report that the paint did not chip off at all once I finally did things the correct way and used primer.

I could have finished this with polyurethane or something similar, but after all I’d been through, I decided I really liked the matte finish over something shinier.

antiqued headboard (click for tutorial!)

Since we can’t keep this headboard, it’s currently posted on Craigslist (here, for interested locals)…sniff, sniff. Someday we’ll have a guest room and I will greatly lament parting with this piece, but for now, it can’t stay. Kenny keeps muttering something about wanting to “park the car in the garage” under his breath…


On Using Oil Paints (in which I create a fancy interactive blog post to ask for help)

Last week got a little crazy around here: I channeled my inner art class nerd.

Normally I stick to Pinterest-level crafts (read: easy) but my recent love of oil paintings got me thinking.

Well that, and this $5 questionable thrift store find:

old artwork in antique frame

It was large and I loved the frame, but the (fake) picture inside was pretty gross looking.

So I broke out a Michael’s gift card I’ve been hoarding and purchased myself some oil paints. And a fancy brush, because I figured that would help, right?

Unfortunately, I purchased the wrong type of brush (blame my inner cheapskate). Apparently you’re supposed to get brushes with natural hair bristles for oil painting, not synthetic. Spoiler alert: The brush worked fine for this project. Probably because I am a mere beginner.

Oil painting supplies

I assembled my supplies, took the artwork out of the frame, and flipped it over. I’m not fancy enough for a real canvas…and this was very handy.

And then I got to work piling paint onto the cardboard. I sort of used this painting as a reference as I went along.

using oil paints

It was a bit rainy and cold outside, so this was the perfect activity.

Also, mixing paint is hard for me. I had to go back to the store and buy another whole tube of white because the painting was getting a bit murky and brownish by this point. White helped the situation immensely.

using oil paints

And then I waited. Apparently, oil paintings take FOR.EV.ER. to dry. My elementary school art class failed me a little on this project.

Getting impatient, I finally put the painting in the frame last night and ran into what could be classified as a problem. The painting has bright white tones in it, yet the frame (which dates to the ancient year of 1968) is decidedly NOT white.

framed oil painting

The “inner” creamy portion is velvet covered, but I have painted velvet on a frame before. The outside strip of cream would be quite easy to paint. The gold I love, so that is staying for sure.

Since I can’t decide, I made this fancy poll.


What are your thoughts? Anyone else embracing their inner fine artist lately?