Another home sweet home

It’s hard to believe that my last blog post was November 10th of last year and here we’re already nearing the end of January of a new year. Over two months have come and gone already. How did that happen?!

During the month of November we closed on our new house in Tennessee (more on that later) then celebrated Thanksgiving with Ronnie’s family in Arkansas. After Thanksgiving we lingered in Arkansas for several days to visit with our oldest daughter. From there we drove to our new house and parked in the driveway. We had allowed the seller another 30 days after closing to be out of the house. Not wanting to shell out money to park at a campground when we owned a house we had arranged to park the camper at the house and stay in it. The seller was appreciative of the extra 30 days while her house was in the final stages of being built so she had no problem with us parking in our own driveway. Upon our arrival we had a 30 amp outlet installed in the garage so that we had electricity however we had no running water or sewer hookup. Since it was only going to be for a couple weeks it was easily tolerable.

The day we parked the camper at the house we continued on to Kentucky. Our goal was to pick up our utility trailer at our friend’s house, stay there over night, pick up a U-Haul the following morning and then unload the contents of our storage unit so that we wouldn’t have to pay another month’s rent. We hired the fella that used to deliver wood to us at the farm house to help us. What a life-saver he was! We had all the contents of the storage unit loaded into the U-Haul in under an hour and a half. From there, Ronnie drove the U-Haul and I drove the truck and utility trailer back to the house. Thankfully it’s only about a two and a half hour drive one way.

On the nineteenth of December we were finally able to occupy our house and call it our own. Yay! We unpacked the essentials in time to head back to Kentucky on Christmas Eve to celebrate with our ‘adopted’ family. It was a slow and, at times, treacherous drive as Winter Storm Elliott had left his mark. The mountain roads and even a good portion of the interstate were iced over. We carefully inched our way there; had a wonderful celebration; stayed the night; and then left the following morning inching our way back as the roads were better in some spots but still icy in others.

The week between Christmas and New Year’s was spent cleaning, unpacking, cleaning, pondering where to put things, cleaning, refurbishing items left behind, cleaning, writing lists, did I mention cleaning? Never again will I buy a house without requesting that it be cleaned (preferably professionally) after exiting. I hired a girl from the B&B where I worked to help me clean the farmhouse before we left and I had hoped for the same. But, no. My hands and fingernails have paid the price of cleaning years worth of dust and nicotine buildup on walls and remaining furniture with lots of white vinegar. Anyway, I’m about to get it so maybe my fingernails will recover some time in the near future.

Now more on the house… After months and months of searching online we found a small house nestled on top of and amongst the mountains in northern Tennessee with two acres.

It was nothing like what we were looking for but we liked the location and the view and it didn’t need much work.

Our first project (before the previous owner even vacated the house) was to replace the rotted front steps and remove the gate.

We also walked the fence line and made any necessary repairs which, thankfully, weren’t many.

When we finally were able to occupy our house my first order of business was taking down all the curtains and drapes and either washing them or air fluffing them to get years worth of dust off them. We’re not really curtain type people but I’m keeping a few that I like then donating the rest. Removing most of the curtains has helped bring a lot of light into the house.

The next order of business was choosing a paint color. At first I wanted to paint the dingy walls a light gray color but couldn’t bring myself to do it. I saw samples of some beautiful rooms done in gray but I felt that I would tire of it quickly and I didn’t feel as though it would be very cottage-y. After hem-hawing back and forth I finally saw a paint color that caught my eye – Tempered Spring by Valspar. It’s a lovely light green that changes with the light. Part of the reason we’re not curtain-type people is because we like to see the outdoors (and we’ve lived in places where our neighbors aren’t near by so they weren’t necessary) and this shade of green helps bring the outdoors in. (The front door is still the original wall color. We’ll paint it when the weather warms up.) We painted the trim Ultra White in satin (also Valspar). We love how it turned out!

Between cleaning, painting, unpacking and shopping for project materials we were able to do a little fun shopping looking for items to fill the house. For those of you who have been following along for a while you’ll remember that before moving we sold almost all of our furniture except for two beds, our dining table, coffee table and the curio cabinet. Shortly after we moved in we were fortunate to find a couch and love seat that we liked at a local store and they were delivered the following day. Later we found a china hutch and a set of chairs for our dining table at a couple of antique stores…

… which means I was finally able to unpack a bunch more boxes! The dining room light didn’t work properly so we replaced it with the fixture you see in the above photo.

We bought a few pieces of furniture (the TV stand, desk, chest of drawers, dresser and some other miscellaneous pieces) from the seller which helped reduce the search for said pieces which completes any furniture needs.

Another purchase we made was a mower made to handle our two acres of rolling mountain top land…

The seller left a small John Deere mower but said it didn’t do very well with the terrain of the acreage. Our friends/adopted family in Kentucky own a small engine shop so we traded the John Deere in for a 54″ Cub Cadet Ultima Zero Turn mower. I think we’re going to have to flip a coin to see who gets to mow this summer! We also bought an Echo weed trimmer and pole saw from them. (I wish we had that pole saw before we backed the camper into its spot. Would’ve saved me from climbing on top of the camper with a Skil saw to trim the limbs.)

The remaining boxes (currently being stored in the open garage or rather double carport with a dirt floor) that are waiting to be unpacked will have to wait a bit as they will go upstairs which, at the moment, I have no words for that space if you can believe it. Now that the downstairs is basically done my nemesis has been the space upstairs. When we looked at the property there was a lot of stuff up there which ultimately hid a lot of things.

The house was sold as-is but when we looked at it there didn’t appear to be much that needed to be done other than finishing half of the upstairs (drywall mud) and adding a bedroom downstairs. Once the house was emptied, though, we discovered there were many small things upstairs that needed attention such as a hole in the wall, an electrical box not attached to anything and literally falling out of the wall, an unfinished floor with drywall mud caked on the edges, and a storage door so heavy that when opened pulled the frame away from the wall because there was no support behind the drywall to screw the frame to.

The past few weeks I’ve been chipping away at the copious amount of work that needs to be done upstairs. Here are a few before images…

I’ve removed more dusty curtains and dusty dowel rods on both walls that were used to hang clothes, cleaning and staining the bare wood floor, creatively mudding the walls to look like Venetian plaster (to hide numerous imperfections as seen above), mudding the ceiling, painting, installing baseboard and a new light…

Thankfully Ronnie has pitched in making the projects move along quicker.

The upstairs is an open space divided off-center by the stairs. The above group of photos is the space to the right of the stairs and is smaller than the other side. This will be my crafting & sewing space. It’s currently chock full of stuff while I work on the other side (shown below).

This side will be a guest room once I’m finished.

We scraped the merengue peaks (done prior to us moving in) off the walls and ceiling so that it’s easier to paint and doesn’t gather as much dust. Yesterday I finally finished staining the floor of the guest room which means the whole upstairs floor is finished, yay.

What a job that was crawling around on the floor and staining each board with a 2″ foam brush.

I know there are quicker ways to do it if you have the right equipment but with some sandpaper, elbow grease and lots of time this was the way to go since we didn’t have the necessary equipment.

Still left to do is painting the ceiling, installing baseboards on the bedroom side, and fixing the electrical box and storage door. Once that’s done I can get the bedroom set up and the rest of the boxes out of the garage and unpacked.

In trying to decide what to do with the two storage areas in the craft room Ronnie came up with the idea to turn them (you can see one of them in the right side of the photo below and the other one is across from it on the opposite wall) into built-ins. I thought it was an awesome idea. This way I don’t need to search for the perfect storage piece(s) and the built-ins will free up a lot of floor space. Here’s the current state of that area…

Yikes! Soon I’ll be able to get this area sorted out which will make me feel so much better.

As we’ve worked on the house we’ve had flashbacks of the farm. Thankfully this house doesn’t need near the amount of work that the farm needed but still, thinking we were moving into a move-in ready house and discovering otherwise has been a little disheartening. All the little things and projects are adding up, both mentally, physically and financially. But, we’re getting it done and each thing that’s fixed, painted or refreshed brings the house that much closer to being our cozy little cottage. They say Rome wasn’t built in a day but for some reason I feel the need to get it all done so day by day I’m working until I reach my goal or literally can’t move to get it done.

In the near future we’ll be searching for a contractor. Our plan is to add a master bedroom and ensuite. Currently, our ‘bedroom’ is in a little nook by the fireplace. Once the addition is complete I have visions of turning the nook into a library.

Like I said, the house is nothing like what we were looking for when browsing Zillow but I believe once we’ve put our stamp on it then it will be a place we’ll be proud to call home. After all, a house can be changed but the location and lay of the land can not. At least not without some major earth moving equipment, ha!

We’ve now been in the house one month and five days. We’ve gotten a lot done in that time frame but we’ve also enjoyed a lot of beautiful moments…

… rainbows, warmth of a fire, beautiful sunsets, and birds, lots and lots of birds which truly pleases me…

We have four porches – one on every side of the house – all covered except this one…

I’m looking forward to the warmer months to enjoy some outdoor moments and time spent on this porch sitting around the fire pit, reading and star gazing. But for now, I’m grateful we’re getting settled in and getting projects done during the winter months while there are few demands outdoors.

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