It was a beautiful sunny moment when Rip and I walked into the kitchen of our little farmhouse for the first time when we knew it could be quite the kitchen, yet, would need a whole lot of refresh. Nothing about it was offensive or dirty – actually, it was hugely immaculate and full of cottage and vintage charm! The owners didn’t live there because they actually lived next door and were so caring to maintain such a clean little farmhouse. It had been in their family for years (generations) and it was so touching to see how they simply would not let that sweet little farmhouse go neglected. But it had to be the mauve linoleum flooring installed in 1951 that really showcased their love for the house … because not only was it still in fantastic condition, but the way it reflected the light proved that for years it had been treated with a good o’ Mop & Glo shine!
We moved in and placed a small craft table into the kitchen to help us have a little more counter space. For a small kitchen, it worked. There was and has always been such a sweetness to this farmhouse that made it ‘feel’ peaceful and serene. With all the sunlight pouring in through the windows, it was a ‘happy’ vintage kitchen. But one thing Rip wanted to do soon after we got all settled in, was build all new trim and cabinetry around the refrigerator. In this photo, you can see that it was a free standing frig and he envisioned what it could be with added storage all around it.
There was carpet in the dining area of the kitchen, but that didn’t stay long. We pulled it up and found more square tiles underneath. Once the tiles were removed, we finally got to the pine wood floor. They had been stained an amber color ‘back in the day’ so we just left them as they were until we could sand and seal them.
The dining area, as you can see in this photo, was so full of natural light that we could only imagine what it could be if the exterior wall where the window and back door is located was taken down and we extended the kitchen into a keeping room/sunroom. For three years, that’s all we did … imagine and plan toward having that additional space.
We eventually had all the new cabinets and pull-out drawers, (located behind the long cabinet door on the far right), completed around the refrigerator. Rip added floating shelves beside the frig, and we painted the walls Amazing Gray (Sherwin Williams). The wood floors ended up getting sanded and sealed because we had worked on the flooring beside the kitchen in the family room. We changed out the chandelier above the kitchen table for one that was still true to the charm of the house, but larger. But from 2018-2021, we were pleased and content with the kitchen as you see in the photo below. It had undergone a little bit of updating, and we were now even closer to that envisioned could be kitchen!
Then in 2022, it was time to do the work toward making it the kitchen we saw it could be. All the cabinets along the North and West upper walls came down, along with the microwave. The dark brownish granite came out, too. Rip pulled up layers and layers of flooring before he ever got to the original pine wood floors. A few of them needed to be replaced, and the original floors had been covered with glue down tiles before 1951, that the ‘lines’ simply would not sand out. But, we both see those tile lines as a way the house takes us back to generations of families and their own renovations and years of “hard-work living” in this sweet little home.
The countertops are a white quartz with a very light and subtle gray marbling, and we put something similar in the 1st guest bathroom, too. (It had the same dark brownish granite in it as the kitchen.) After all the cabinets were removed, we realized there was no exhaust for the built-in microwave. So, Rip went into the attic space and got it all installed properly, but it was only AFTER … he plumbed for this pot filler!
My friend, Denise Kelly, and I have had good laughs about this ‘necessity’ because when you look at how far (or rather how close) the sink is to the stove top, I could just about pivot on one foot and have water from the sink faucet in a pot and back on the stove in all of 4 seconds!! haha! But Rip has always wanted to be able to add water to any pot or saucepan while cooking at the stove, so for him…it was a must have! It’s a Delta Traditional Stainless Steel Pot Filler and it works great!
After installing some beautiful white distressed wood corbels that I purchased from the French Mercantile in SC, he built the vent-hood. See that teeny tiny ‘stub’ coming out of the wall?? Yep, that’s the new water line Rip ran for ‘his’ pot filler! Next, it was time to build the vent hood.
Throughout all the renovations, if Rip built it, I caulked, dapped and painted it! We had a lady in Mississippi who had the machinery to engrave wood, so we took her this platter and we absolutely loved what she did! And Viola! THE POT FILLER!!
We thought about putting the tile all the way across all the walls – the wall with the stove and the wall with the sink – but the more we considered the bead board that wrapped all around the entire kitchen, we decided to simply put new tile where it was originally; directly behind the stove. and keep the bead board wrapping throughout the kitchen.
The photo below is what our current kitchen island was before we got our hands on it. We were asked to go to a house that was going to be demolished to the ground and get anything out of it we wanted. One day Rip realized, after he got this built-in pulled out and stored away, that it actually could be a great island for our kitchen. One end of the credenza, he removed all the cabinet space and put two legs onto the new open space…space were bar stools could one day be used. Then, on the other end, he removed all the cabinet doors and built a shelf that would hold a new microwave. He put a floor outlet in the kitchen so the microwave could be utilized right there in the island.
And here is the after photo showing what the island is now … Rip has such an eye for how things could be! The following photos are from our MLS listing.
We moved into our home in 2018, and now that it is 2023, we both can look back at these past 5 years of constant chaos, clutter, hard work and a whole lot of prayer and determination and be grateful. Grateful for everything he and I did together. In prayer, we called on the Lord to help us … guide us, direct us, provide for us, keep us healthy, keep us strong and give us His sufficient grace to do what needed to be done.
We demolished and built the island side-by-side. He built the top and I stained it, sanded it, polyurethaned it. Chalk painted the base, and he ran the electric so we could have outlets on both ends. I painted the walls and the trim, and Rip sanded and sealed the floors. We laid all the underlayment membrane over the subfloors and then hand placed every brick paver in the keeping room addition. Then filled in with the grout, and after it dried for 24 hours we sealed the brick three times. We put in all the insulation in the walls and ceiling of the keeping room, and Rip ran the electric. He installed all the can lights, flood lights and ceiling fans. He even moved the chandelier that is over the island to a new position of only 4″ so it would be centered over the island and then repaired the hole and repainted the entire ceiling.
Together. Side-by-side. Literally. We did it all together and I can’t begin to tell you everything I learned simply by being Rip’s second set of hands. I’m amazed at all this man knows and can do!!! I’ve never known a man who can not only envision, but can take a piece of paper, draw out the full design, think through it all down to the electric, plumbing, angles, materials, etc., and then he just gets busy! I’m there to be that second pair of hands in whatever we have to do – but one agreement we had from the start was, “He builds it, I caulk and paint it!” We worked side-by-side throughout these past 5 years of renovations, additions, and remodeling and the memories we have are memories we will always treasure! Some people like to travel. Some like to ski. Some love boating, and some people love sports. Some love landscaping and gardening. Rip and I love to make things be what they ‘could be‘.
That’s why every Saturday night during the last year of our main renovations was our “Pizza Night Date Night” – it gave us something to look forward to as we worked so hard during the week – not only on our house, but for clients houses, too. We’d get a pizza, bring it home and sit in the family room with Ginger Ale and kitchen dish rags as napkins and watch a movie or a ball game together. I sooo looked forward to “Pizza Night Date Night!” It was our ‘reward’ to each other after a hard HARD work week.
So if I may, I’d like to give you a little bit of encouragement…
If you are going through something that is draining you, causing you to exhaust a lot of energy and maybe even sacrifice what you ‘want to do’ with what you ‘need to do’, try to keep the end in mind. We lived in utter chaos. Majority of the spaces and rooms in this house for many years did not have order or organization. And so often we’d go to our day jobs as weak as worms and with wood stain under our nails. But, it was all worth it! Was it worth it because of the end results? No, not entirely. It was worth it because of the work God did in us by allowing us to experience His grace in new and wonderful ways.
It was worth it because it gave us memories that Rip and I get to cherish…
- memories of collapsing in each others arms after a long work weekend.
- memories of watching YouTube videos to make sure we knew what we were doing.
- memories of being tired as all get out, but we knew…we knew that one day we’d have all the “could be’s” completed
- memories of holding hands in church and worshiping God with tired bodies but full hearts for how His grace continued to keep us healthy, and strong
- memories of encouraging each other when one of us would get plum exhausted and overwhelmed, overworked, overwrought and overstressed. When Rip would say, “Baby, just go lay down”, he was really saying, “Time for you stop. Rest. I got this.” And then there was those time when I could see he needed to recover himself, so I’d say, “Let’s just do nothing today. You need to stop. Let your body relax.”
Then we’d get back at it … together! You see, all the “could be’s” were the means that the LORD used in creating in both of us certain character qualities. He used all the “could be’s” to teach us more of His nature – His faithfulness, His all sufficient grace, His provisional power, His endurance and His plans and purposes in it all. We may have had the dreams and thoughts of what “could be” in our home, but those thoughts were actually given to us to help us learn attributes of Him and to recognize areas of weaknesses and shortcomings in ourselves. Which is always a good thing. The “could be’s” were all a part of His providential hand in our life to teach us, grow us, and humble us.
So, here’s an idea: Consider making a list of the home projects you may have. A list of all the small or large changes you would like to make to refresh areas of your home. And then talk together about it all as a couple…and pray about it. Then, if you agree on starting into any of the projects on your list, then be sure to keep the joy of how you both came together, discussed, and prayed about these projects. Why? Because you BOTH had it in your mind and in your heart of what it all …
“Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we could be.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
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