Acres and Pains: The Outbuildings Photo Journal Part 1

The property was neglected for years, overgrown into a tangled jungle, its outbuildings vandalized by paintball warriors and wayward sons.  Here’s a before/during/after photo journal featuring some of the transformations of the outbuildings.

The Henhouse Gets a Facelift

The henhouse had nesting boxes on two walls and a small fully-fenced “run,” but the fencing was rusted through in several spots and the overhead “roof” fencing had years and years worth of leaf and debris accumulation, not to mention a tree growing right through it. First step was to clear away all the overgrowth and fallen tree limbs, and then that creepy mold-encrusted vinyl siding…



henhouse1b henhouse1c

Framing up for run… this is the “safe” yard where the hens are protected from predators and where they can hang out in the mornings until we drag ourselves out of bed to open the gates…

henhouse2 henhouse4   New siding, painted… yard “run” framed in and ready for wire fencing sides.



 The bruised and broken big barn out back…

barn before (3) barn before (4)

rotted siding along foundation replaced…

East Side of Barn During 7-1-2009 5-17-30 AMbarnside during1West Side of Barn During 6-25-2009 6-40-46 AMWest Side of Barn After 2 7-1-2009 5-14-57 AM



That’s the way the kitchen crumbled…

Although settlement on the Mannheim Avenue property went down in March of 2008, we didn’t actually “make the move” until six months or so later.  So I find myself counting fingers  to figure how many years it’s been around this time every year…and it’s been five.  Granting myself the luxury of time to pack (and purge) and gracefully transition from the 20-year stint in “family neighborhood USA” resulted in carrying two mortgages for a month shy of a full year and settling for many K less than what I thought was a very fair listing price on the  neighborhood house. But with the real estate market slumping deeper into the abyss with each passing day right around that time, it could have been a lot worse.

Our house on Mannheim is a bungalow with a narrow but cozy loft, spacious basement (which flooded just days after piling its floors with our packed belongings), and a long, rectangular addition. The house may have been “move-in ready” by the lender’s standards (or we wouldn’t have gotten a mortgage), but by our own modest living space needs, it hinged on uninhabitable. Months of big-dream anticipation for all its potential manifested into overwhelm as the ink dried on the contract of sale, but once we confirmed we had running water and the toilets flushed, we set about working first on the most important room, the heart of the home:  the kitchen…from the brick and mortar flooring to the “Flintstonian” faux beamed ceilings.  Below are a couple kitchen photos taken the day we “toured” the property.

 (“Before” view from fireplace wall)

Behind the fridge wall is a laundry room with toilet and sink. Considered making it a pantry, but the narrow entrance with three doors vying for the space (basement, laundry, and north side exit) helped convince us that a sink with a window made much more sense.  And this side door wound up becoming our main entrance.

(“Before” view from front entrance)

The wallpaper was kind of cute, a vining ivy pattern, the cabinets were old, filthy,  piss-poorly faux “antiqued,” and lacking any contrast whatsoever against the light-colored walls. Posts and beams may appear rustic and charming at first glance, but these too are “faux” and not even realistically hewn; more like “Bam-Bam was here.”

commence the deconstruction…
Wall units down. Old pantry closet on far right gutted… soon to be a coffee/beverage/microwave nook!
View into a then existing laundry/powder room. Considered making it a walk-in pantry, but decided having a more open kitchen with a window above the sink was a better idea.  So that wall came tumbling down.
Wall and laundry room gone… kitchen opened up and gutted down to the studs


Bam-Bam beams and posts soon to be “wrapped” with an Arts & Crafts style facing…
View of the opposite end of the kitchen lifted from the listing agent’s slide show…

   …time to lighten things up!

Posts, headers and beams wrapped.
‘rocked, brick flooring filled in where wall once stood, old pantry doors removed
Bam-Bam ceiling beams removed, replaced with white-washed tongue ‘n groove, some ceiling lights installed
Former neighbor and friend, Steve “The TopMan,” measuring for our “low-cost” temporary laminate countertop … running low on funds here!
Posts and headers painted in Valspar’s “Sailcloth” white.
Decided to go with black pulls and button knobs, which haven’t yet arrived.
Sink and faucet installed, window template cut out and awaiting moving the utility meters inconveniently located on the outside wall where the window will go.
Ample space left for the future purchase of a 48″ range and french door fridge.

I think we’re ready to start sleeping here now …

Thanks for visiting and please stay tuned for restoration updates! 

West Side Story

Freddie assessing west side of barn
The “big barn out back,” nearly the size of our “little house up front,” was in such a state of neglect that a couple of our friends actually suggested we just tear it down.  Freddie  included.  (More on our BFFreddie later.)  NO WAY was I going to witness the sacrifice of this character and NO WAY could we afford building a replacement from the ground up.  This was going to be our garage and the Harley workshop/hangout; divided in purpose with the back half where the built-in tack room and feed storage bins were to remain “on task” for farm-related things and animal housing when needed. Sliding stall doors from the front half (which was partially gutted to accommodate our tractors and implements) are going to be roughly restored and definitely repurposed in the house… eventually.

As luck would have it, a friend of Debi’s (more on my beloved  sister-in-law later) had recently been laid off and was looking for a temp position that involved long days of laboring, heavy lifting, underbrush clearing, dismantling, rebuilding, painting and occasional authentic Costa Rican meal preparation for ten bucks an hour and a place to shower up and catch some winks afterwards.  Enter our open arms, Lenier, and let’s make ourselves a barn.

“The West Side (of the barn) Story”

After clearing away a few year’s worth of leaves, brush and the “dumped debris” beneath, the foundation was shored up and the hopelessly rotted facade removed.  We rented one of those huge demolition dumpsters as there was also tons of trash and scrap left behind and/or dumped both inside and outside the barn by a prior owner who was in the roofing and siding business.  The west side of the barn (as seen in the first photo above) was in the poorest condition, so that was tackled first.

The process may have been as painful as a root canal at times, but here you can begin to see the fruits of their labor after a couple of the window sockets were filled with double dutch doors. 

“the happy ending”