In February of 2009, my husband and I bought our first home located on a few acres in Johnson, Vermont. We live here with our dog, Ollie, two cats: Elvis and Atticus, six Nigerian Dwarf goats: May, Chutney, Poppy, Juniper, Willow, and Jokers Wild, and about fifteen laying hens. And to top it all off we welcomed our daughter, Isabel, into the world on January 11th, 2011.

We're slowly updating our 1850's farmhouse while steadily working towards a healthy, meaningful, self-sufficient life together.

This blog details our endeavors along with our successes and failures- all in good fun. Thanks for stopping by, hope to see you again soon!


May and I enjoying some sunshine
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Our Renovation Weekend

Lovingly Posted by Melissa Thursday, October 21, 2010

We were all geared up to get some work done on the house this past Saturday.  My Mom was coming down from Montgomery to help me with a bunch of little odds and ends in the rooms on our second floor, while Kyle was ready to really tackle the sheetrock in the dining room.  He had been whittling away at it through the end of the week, and was excited (if anyone can really be excited about hanging sheetrock) to have a full weekend to devote to covering the bare walls.

I was a little bummed to miss out on gathering drops over at Shelburne Orchards, but with time running out before the end of the year and baby getting bigger by the day, I was happy to help finish up some rooms.  Most of the upstairs (except for the hallway/stairwell) was finished for all intents and purposes.  So I hashed out a list of things to do in each room to keep my Mom and I busy.  We started in the guest bedroom, where the room has been mostly finished for the past year or so.  After installing a switch plate cover to the light switch in the closet, a door stop, and the hardware for the doors to the built-in cabinet Kyle made, we were finished.  One room down, three to go.

We moved on to the master bedroom which also needed a door stop as well as a second coat of paint on some of the trim.  We also hung a shelf on one of the walls, where I like to keep a mirror and some candles.  The closet also got a bit of an upgrade with the installation of some simple lights that we got from Ikea last month.  Two rooms down, two to go.

The nursery didn't need much that we could do (Kyle still had to install the new window to replace the broken, single-pane one) but we put on a coat of paint on the trim, attached the changing pad to the top of the refinished dresser, and installed a new light to replace the ugly brown one that had been plaguing the ceiling for the past couple of years.  We still need to get the dimmer switch installed but we weren't ready to cut the power to do that- so we left it for Kyle.

Finally, the bathroom has been sitting unfinished for...well, I honestly don't remember the last time we touched the bathroom.  I guess it was this past spring.  But with an additional coat of paint on the trim and wainscoting it was looking a little closer to being done.  We took the hooks off the back of the door so I could get up the towel bar (the old hooks were not only UGLY, but kind of dangerous if you ask me) and put a fresh coat of white paint on the door as well.

While we were toiling away upstairs Kyle was busy in the dining room, he managed to get the majority of the sheetrock finished, except for a few sheets on the ceiling that he finished hanging last night.  Things are really starting to come together in there.

I'll snap some more photos of the dining room tonight, because there really is such a difference having all the sheetrock up and the place cleaned up a bit.  But you get the general idea.

You may have noticed in the first picture a sneak peak of the kitchen.  We had been commenting earlier in the day about how awful it was going to be looking at the kitchen when the dining room is going to look so nice.  The kitchen, covered in layers of wallpaper, or just bits of primed sheetrock from when we had the new wiring installed, looked absolutely terrible.  It didn't help that the cabinets and the trim were painted some shade of aqua blue/green- not my favorite- with some stenciling in a dark green and even some stickers on the tops of the cabinets!  My darling Mother commented that we could throw a coat of paint on the walls and the trim that you can see through the doorway from the dining room just to get us by for now.

GREAT idea.

We primed the bench, the trim, and the walls before calling it a day.  I tackled the rest on Sunday, excited at the prospect of never having to look at the terrible color on the cabinets again.  I primed all the cabinets and threw a coat of paint on the walls that we had leftover from our bathroom renovation.  The color in these "After" pictures isn't quite true, the paint is actually a lot lighter and even a bit more yellow- but thats what I get for using a cheap point-and-shoot camera with no editing.  So, we'll all just have to make due.  So, without further ado, here is a brief 'before and after' of our kitchen.

Before (when we actually bought the house):

The horrible white appliance you see in this picture is actually a second freezer.  Our house came with two freezers, but no refridgerator.  We purchased a new one after we moved in, and placed it on a different wall, in hopes that someday we will open up the doorway a bit more.


Apologies that the pictures aren't of the exact same views, but you get the idea.  =]  We still need to get a coat or two of paint on the cabinets (primer doesn't wash very well), and I'm going to spraypaint the plastic handles on all the doors/drawers to get us by until we can really renovate this room.  Maybe we'll get to that this weekend (the finishing touches, not the full renovation).  We shall see.

So thats the skinny, folks.  Like I said, I'll try to snap some more pictures tonight, I still have a long way to go in catching you up on all the 'before and after' pictures in the bedrooms and bathroom upstairs.  So stay tuned!!


  1. Annette Says:
  2. Great Job! (I stumbled across your blog a couple of months ago. I was struck by the similarties of our lives, so I keep checking in.) I live on a farm in west central Illinois with my husband, and we are remodeling too! (only we hired out for time purposes) Looking forward to seeing more pics!

  3. Melissa Says:
  4. Thanks, Annette! So glad to hear from you- I'll have to wander on over to check out your blog. I love connecting with like-minded people. =D

  5. Hi Melissa,

    Thanks for finding the time to share your old home/homesteading project online. My husband, children and I also live in an old Vermont farmhouse (1850s with various additions, some in the 70s), which we are slowly trying to return to 1850s aesthetic with 2010s energy efficiency... while raising chickens and expanding the vegetable gardens and fruit trees every year.

    I'm also a holistic health and nutrition coach and maintain a blog about real food and optimal health. Stop by sometime www.planithealthier.com and happy homesteading!

    All the best,